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Waiting for lunch.

Just outside our front door sits a cement pedestal bird bath. It stands surrounded by a line of box woods, a Gardenia, a rose, various seasonal plantings, an old man’s beard tree and two crape myrtles.  All of these help create our fast food bird sanctuary.

It is a pleasure to see Tufted Tit Mousses’, Chickadees,  many Cardinal’s, Sparrows, Wrens, even an occasional miscellaneous Red Winged Black Bird ( I’m still thinking this bird was somehow displaced by whatever took out so many Black Birds up North) along with the seasonal arrival of Robins. Dale and I take a keen interest in the Cardinals as my Grandmother Franque did. They mate for life and usually their  kids hang around, perhaps even for too long, as they grow up. So we at least get to imagine we recognize the families of Cardinals we see here.

Small but the bravest in the face of our presence. Chick-a-dee,dee,dee,dee, dee.

Mr. Tuft, a bird who by song thinks he is a squirrel...

Slowly these birds learn to tolerate our presence as they individually or in a group spring to the feeders and then back again to cover right before our watching eyes. Something feels so right about being somehow connected to the life around us. And it is of interest to note these birds don’t seem to filibuster one another out of the food arena either. See? Birds of mixed feathers do stick together as well. (Listen up Congress)

And this gets me wondering. Actually we have a large Mockingbird population too. I enjoy their montages of melodious songs. Where are they? I’m thinking it just could be there is a mafia of Cardinal’s of sorts that may have staked this local turf as being out-of-bounds for nest runners? War may have no bounds after all? At any rate, we continue to feed all those fluffy feathered birds who do come along.

Then it hits me today. Am I more or less creating a well-fare state, an SSI, a Social Security or a Food Stamp program for birds? What would happen if I stopped feeding our birds? Would they all show up on some other local food, bird bath line waiting for handouts? Will I soon be over run by worms and insects since our birds no longer need to eat them? I could, in fact, be turning my whole world upside down and not know it! And of course, as you knew several paragraphs ago, this all leads me to the Grand Canyon. Say what?

(OK. I didn’t know this either.)

Ah, the Grand Canyon. It was about 12 years ago when my wife and I stole my Aunt’s car from Phoenix and drove our family up to see this wondrous sight. Sure, my aunt actually lent us her car but that still doesn’t explain the police cars I see following me now? Anyway, this canyon is truly a glorious place to view. I stood awe-struck by its size and by its scope. River rafters so far below were invisible to the naked eye and were only able to be seen through telescopes mounted on the canyon’s ridge line. As usual, I began to wonder.

A State Ranger walked up so I asked: “What made all the erosion happen?”

The Ranger looked at me who is nuts and answered: “billions of years of run-off.”

“So the water was up to the top ground level at one time?”

“Yes.” I could tell he wanted to leave the crazy guy as soon as possible.

Hey look! It's me-without feet!

“How high are we here?” Just asking.

“OH, around 6800 feet above sea level.” This Ranger knows her facts.

“SO- at one time this water here at 6800 ft was even to another body of water, to stand here as it did back then?”

“Hmm, not sure about that.” I feel our minds merging.

“Well maybe it was always, since forever, running out through here from some where into some other lower land area. I guess any lower land area would eventually get filled up?” Still just asking.

“Sure.” The Ranger makes her escape as I watch her go through the crowd around us.

So, I think it odd. The Colorado runs enough to cut a gorge almost a mile deep or so for a billion years. But, I’m just saying, where did all that water come from, and where did it go? Was everything below this canyon’s 6800 feet above sea level top once under water everywhere on our planet? Were other bodies of water keeping the Colorado River water of today level at 6800 feet above sea level way back then before ‘a dike’ burst or something? Questions, so many right?

Just a little bit of a run-off problem.

I almost imagine the Earth being as described by creation stories. I envision the Earth surrounded by a vast cloud cover, a cloud cover bursting into water vapor and filling all the Earth’s low laying areas by emptying its entire contents through this vast gorge now known as the Grand Canyon. Picture the sky as a vast pitcher of water, just pouring and pouring out its contents of water until our oceans were full, all of it through the Grand Canyon. It could be?

As usual our sense or reality about this Grand Canyon ‘run off’ idea is as well grounded as our sense of Time, Space, our sense of purpose and our beliefs about our true beginnings and endings are. We simply exist in a Swiss Cheese sense of reality all the time.  Who can’t find an older piece of human bone than the one we currently have ? I’m just asking.  It’s all , our ideas and most meaningful theories about time, space and our Earth’s history, a crap shoot, just saying.

You see? We don't have a clue as to how many it takes to tip our World, the 'boat' or say, the platform!

It all takes me back to a time I wasn’t really present at. It’s the moment a young boy, say six or so, asked a question to my wife as he saw the ocean for the very first time in his life. He simply stared out across the ocean’s horizon and wondered out loud: “Who put all that water in there?” Good question.

Where's the faucet?

I’m thinking this boy seems to be starting to ask the right questions at a very young age. Maybe this little guy will be President one day? It could happen-anything is possible.

So I’ll continue to feed the birds and let my thoughts flutter around as they do.  It feels nice to sit here watching them fly, eat, sing and then wing away again to safety-this I’m certain of.

Franque      ps—-

 

My sister sends these photos from the land of people who don’t realize it’s cold up North:

I've decided to go into the bird coat business

and

And now I'm thinking : What about Bird Umbrellas? These might sell well?

Still- Franque

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Forged by Memory forever

Things happen. Life goes on; we pass by a vast myriad of happenstance as we go on our way in life. Most moments, though perhaps never forgotten, get shelved into some mental folder and put away in our brain, into a folder we may never open again as long as we live. It’s just life; it’s just the way it is.  So  much comes and goes.

We live in an age awe struck by the abilities of ever increasing powerful computers. Now, governments friendly or not to one another, use computers using Petaflops-programs able to perform a trillion operations per second. Incredible. Is it really time for Mankind to take a back seat to the machine, to the computer, to the petaflop? Maybe. But there is this:

Many years ago, around Easter as I recall, I traveled North to Asheboro, North Carolina to visit my Uncle,  Aunt, cousins and my 89ish year old Grandmother. It was a large gathering comprising people of different ages from many different  regions of the country. The weather was perfect. My Aunt Donna forever ingrained in me during this gathering the truth about her unending patience and willingness to provide for all those who crossed her doorway: as such I remember her mostly in the kitchen, serving breakfast or preparing the meals we all enjoyed. All this happened while my Uncle John, my dad’s youngest and hippest brother, often sat in the finished basement expounding on stuff I never even had thought of.

My generation mostly all wore their hair long, fought against the laissez-faire establishment and smoked as much weed as possible to prove it.  My brother had traveled with his wife from Massachusetts, all of our college attending cousins had made it a point to show up and I arrived with my ‘new’ companion, Dale. Even a few Morgan Pirates showed up from their caves in Northern New York! It was my task to return to Florida with my Grandmother once we left this gathering.   I looked forward to this trip as my grandmother then and until the day she died at 95 remained as keen as ever, often recalling days I could only read or dream about.

“Tell me more Grandma, tell us more.”

It was only  several weeks after I’d introduced my companion Dale to my Grandmother at this reunion that I heard she’d thought ‘Dale’ would be a guy, and she’d had expected  to accept I was homosexual.  Heck, even today, when I mention my wife’s name to strangers on the phone or in person they  still seem to react or sound like we’re keeping a secret. It’s odd, but true, I still experience this reaction today-for those who have same sex significant others I can only imagine what some of your interactions are like on a daily basis? Chin up.

Anyway, the days went by too quickly as all fun time does-just think about dates, good ones and ones you wish you could get out of. See? Time changes.  But even in the whirlwind of cousin companionship a group of us found  time to hit the basketball court for a show down. With shirts off, wearing belts  to hold up our jeans hanging on no bellies what-so-ever, with sneakers squeaking the driveway pavement,  we bantered,  we laughed, pushed, shoved and missed shots while needling one another about it. This was, after all, the one and only Championship game of this reunion. Claims would be made afterwards-we all knew it.

Of course, the moment passed. But today I still recall my exact feelings for this moment-I can feel the wind, hear our voices, see the shoots hit the rim and swoosh the net. I can see the light in each other’s eyes and still feel the hope we each had for ourselves and for one another.  I can hear my Grandma’s voice, my Uncle John’s laugh and see myself playing guitar at the kitchen table.

So yes, computers are amazing-but what about people? How many petaflops do we instantly use when recalling  moments we want  or need to about any given occasion? Sure, some of our memories may be skewed from reality due to our emotions presently or due to the emotions we had during the time of the moment being recalled. But you know what?  How deep, how many layers, nuances, twists and turns do our emotions have? How many petaflops does it take to store them? And, most importantly, how many computers could ever feel them?  Yeah-that’s what I’m thinking-our emotions are unto us, completely unique, unmeasured by quantities.

Yes. We need, love and use computers. But I don’t care how many Petaflops a computer has, I don’t want to date one. And as for our human abilities to remember our past experiences? The jury’s out on how many layers, calculations and calibrations are really involved with them.

Franque


It starts as any other early morning fishing trip-at about 5 PM, just before dinner. I cut myself shaving, can’t find a towel and miss the toilet. Tough. But there’s plenty of work to do if I’m gonna make it down to the dock by mid-night. Remember, this dock is sixty descending stair steps below, no small task there.

You know it’s not just getting to the dock that lies ahead. Heck, once there  I’ve  got to maneuver myself into the boat. Time’s a wasting.  And first, if  I do survive the steps and get to the boat,  I’ve got check the motor for gas, check to see if the boat lights are working, gauge the charge on the electric trolling motor, look for the anchor, flash light, lures, rods and life jackets. You see? It’s all too much, so, in truth, why do it? I don’t-,  tomorrow will come. I’ve only have time for a no sauce dry sandwich, stale chips and a cold beer. That’s better.

Leaving the dock I feel  General Custer in my pocket: what could go wrong? I organize my plan for fishing tonight by noting a few important details right off the bow: I can’t tell the wind direction; I don’t know the weather report; I forgot to check the water temperature and I never knew the boat was leaking this badly in the first place. It all adds up to a well mis-placed decision, maybe even to a de-ranged one-it’s full go ahead men: me, myself and I have hope.

Fishermen, it is good to note, are not half crazy. This would be an all too well undeserved compliment.  Think of fishermen as a compilation of all the lost oars, lures, over turned boats and rubber boots you’ve ever seen floating in the water. There is actually a vast array of other items I might mention here as being components of most fishermen but I want to stay married, I don’t want to give her too many ideas. And , as you can see, I’m actually a quite reasonable fisherman as it turns out.

Motoring my way around Hamon’s point means I am now out of sight and shooting range of anyone who knows me. Home sweet home. Safe. But I do hate seeing all the mosquito’s putting on their party hats whenever they see me coming. It just isn’t right.  Anyway, I scan to see there are no other boats fishing my destination so ramming, farting, belching, all that stuff  will not have to be done this evening, not on purpose that is. I catch a break there  right off the lure.

It used to be, back in the days before people went crazy, I could come out here and catch a bass every few minutes or so. And tonight is only different in that during the first three hours  I haven’t caught anything at all. Still, for the most part, it  still feels like it once did:  I have the  wind, wet water, darkness, missing mosquito repellent, blinking running lights and a non working flash light. Then it hits.

Wack! Whamo! Holy Bananas I just spilled my beer! I’ve a fish on. What to do? Now I remember , I’ve got to reel in. At first, for two seconds, my rod bends, the reel cranks, the line tightens and  the fight is on. I told you I’d catch something. Then it happens.

The reel that cost me half my summer’s savings seems to have disappeared. Odd. Nothing. You know, zip-zotta, no can see, feel or touch, nada, gone reel. You see this is different- I usually fish with reels. Not this time. NO. All I have left is a slight  glint off a faint outline of my line in the quickly fading evening light. I grab for it and hold tight. I can feel the fish is still  on.

Hand over hand I pretend I planned this. The more I pull the more the fish pulls back, forcing my line into cracks and new-born cuts in my palm. Ha! Blood in the water-not half as bad as siting on a treble hook. Though it could be worse than getting hooked in the head with a lure, but then again not as bad putting two hooks through the same finger on the same fishing trip. I balance  it all out and decide to hang in. Pulling, hand over hand. Plus, you know my reel is somewhere down there on this line too. It’s all about savings.

Yeah, every fisherperson will tell you it’s all about savings. After buying a hundred dollars worth of tackle, you only need a boat, a few hundred dollars of safety equipment and licenses and whala–you have two pounds of 7.99$ per pound bass in the pan before I do! Darn it! But this one I can tell is big. Well worth all these cuts I’m sure will heal before vacation ends, maybe.  Finally the fish, the one I most likely would have never caught and gotten to the boat with the reel in place, is thrashing by my boat. But there’s something odd about it.

The fish is about a pound and 1/2. But hand over hand it felt like a five pounder?! So there you have it. Primitive people probably invented fishing poles thousands of years ago but quickly realized they take the fun out of fishing and threw them out.  Now we pay big bucks for upper echelon rod and reel combos that take the thrill of catching a fish out of it. Perfect! So here’s my 21 st century reel coming out of the water. I quickly see its casing frame is hopelessly broken at its base: a piece of trash looking to happen. So what to do?  I hate to just throw it out. It’s no good as an anchor. I guess I could save it and throw it at someone I don’t like-but then the lawyer bills and what not would be such a hassle.  Truth is all I can do now is say a prayer when I throw it out being thankful this was my 68$ reel and not the 90 $ one. Amen.

But I do have one question in all of this: where do those mosquito’s get those hats from?

Franque is for Fisherman.


Is it all a hill of beans? I don’t think so.

According to the grocery store I have shopped in for the past twenty years  I’ve saved enough upon check out there to be a millionaire! I just can’t find all those savings anywhere in my savings account. Darn It! It’s things like this, crazy dialoguing,  slogans and crazy actions that just drive me to worse off. Lets take for example the famous Mexican border fence we tax payers have shelled out four million dollars per mile for just construction purposes.

http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/01/two_young_girls_climb_usmexico_border_fence_in_18_seconds.html

I think one of these climbing sneaker footed girls made it to the top of this bazillion dollar fence in less than sixteen seconds! As some comedian said awhile ago, I was thinking people who wanted to get over this fence would just build a longer ladder. Silly me. And, anyway, what about those 3 mile long tunnels they find everywhere along Mexican boarder towns–ones with train tracks in them and stuff? How does a fence stop that? Just asking? Will you tax payers please spend all your tax money on me instead? I could write a jingle every month and give you a laugh for your buck…though, come to think of it,  maybe not as good a laugh as this fence does.

Apparently my blog is an exercise in how to create enemies and influence no one. But still, in light that this is a new, improved,  better than last year, year I seem to want to continue this trend.  Cause, you see, writing  this post is akin to taking a horse manure truck load of historic proportions and dumping it on my head-I know this, and, of course, I’m up for it!

It all started yesterday when I drove under a banner stretching across a busily traveled road here in Gainesville. The banner read: ‘ Martin Luther King-a nine- day celebration’. Well, I’m thankful to get a day off for Martin but nine days would be a hell of a delivery! What kind of labor is that? Nine days! Heck we should at least have a couple of days off here for his Mom, don’t you think? Nine days? Any woman will tell you-that’s really stretching it.

This is not doubting for a minute the accomplishments Martin Luther King achieved in his life time and after. It’s just  I guess as a juxtaposition to other great people and their lives in our history, ones for whom we take not a minute off for, I get a little confused by it all. Adding to this is the idea that next month will be Black History Month and again, this man, Martin Luther King and his life  will be a center focus of this month. In all it makes a grand total of 39 days here in Gainesville when we will celebrate this man. Fine-but what about  guys like Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln, Edison, Franklin? What about these honchos? Got a minute?

So now I’ve laid it out-where the hell is the celebration, the days off for all the great white or other colored guys who helped form our lives and this great country of ours? First off I remember all the Presidents birthday’s being rolled into one day..now kids most likely think these people actually were born on the same day. Anyway, at first we still paid respect to the lives of  three past  US Presidents by having one quick day off. Now? Most places just stay open for business as usual during this day-seems fair right? Hell no.

What I’m saying is there is a reverse prejudice going on here in our society that’s eating at me. It happens in many ways too.

People like to say too many blacks  have too many welfare benefits, too many  entitlements, but poverty really doesn’t see color. It’s a black , white , tan or brown issue. Here the point is who is going stand up and define the difference between legally poor and legitimately poor?   Who has the guts to tell the difference between a loafer from a person who really can’t help themselves, one who really needs our time and our money to get by? I’m thinking not anyone who wants to get re-elected. Me? I really want a shovel to be called a shovel and manure called manure: I want to stop being buried by one with the other in this country.

Entitlements deserved, national health care security, these are not America’s problems today. The problems in America are  fraud, lying, cheats, criminal neglect, corruption, mis-leading slogans and cross hair gun sights placed upon people who have a right to say and think as they do. Somewhere, somehow, the mis-direction leading our lives and thoughts here in America has got to stop. I’m all for it.

Shakespeare said it best: ” All are Punished”. Never has this been truer than it is today here in America. We all suffer due to our allowance and due to our acceptance of ideas, slogans, and programs that do not truly represent our realities. People ask why our younger generation shows so little respect for our elders? Well to start with, how do we show respect for great elders from our Nation’s past by not observing National holidays for them? Answer: We don’t. None. No respect is what these great people get Nationally- this is what our children see; this is what our children learn; this is what we all live with.

So call it one birth, call it nine days, call it a month, but call it what it is. Martin Luther King is one man deserving of our respect. But what about all the other great people in our society? What do we call them? Are these others just names to get right on school tests? A hero should be a hero in my book, not a rock-n’-roll singer or a football player. And my check-out savings? They should all be adding up in my savings account like savings do…not being deposited in some grocery store’s banking account.

Words, actions: they matter..to me, they matter to US.

Franque


“Go fishing with you Dad.”

After all he is just another little boy, someone’s small son.  He is just one of many young boys who often hold high hopes, banking on a fishing trip way too early in the morning. So this morning, he tugs at his sleeping Dad’s arm having no thought about his parents needs, adult habits, no idea of what vacations really mean to those who work all 50 other weeks of the year. To the boy it is a simple truth, plain, one certain, just as peanut butter goes with jelly: vacations are not to be wasted on sleep.

There is an eerie early morning light slanting through the white hemmed green window shades now gently moving in the wind. The boy’s bare toes grip a tongue and grooved plank flooring, ones still wet from the night’s dampness. The cabin is a small one. Very open to the sun with a porch overhanging the lake down below. The boy can smell the water, he can feel the wind. His dad snores on, and on, spending precious first light the fish are biting time on sleep. The question arises: How dumb is that?

The boy is absolutely desperate to parley this day’s earliest hours into a fishing bonanza, but what can be done? He tugs again on his dad’s night shirt sleeve. Nothing. Then again, maybe there is a slight movement, a flittering of the eye lids or twisting of the lips. That’s it!=: Mighty Mouse to the rescue!

It’s not easy climbing up on the squeaking mattress and box springs. Why on earth people insist on sleeping two miles off the floor is anyone’s guess. But if the boy hangs on tight enough to the covers as he stretches out one hand after another, pulling forward while sliding backwards at the same time, he will eventually make it up to the top of his sleeping dad’s trampoline chest. Perfect! Let the bouncing begin.

Now standing upright on a sleeping chest is another matter all together. The boy assumes his air-plane stance to better balance on the lumpy blankets beneath his feet. Arms straight out in both directions. Stomping lightly. Slam! Quickly and expertly the boy lands his knees into the stomach area of his suddenly awakening dad.

He just knew his dad would wake up sometime but this is a miracle! Parents do eventually wake up! But for just an instant the boy thinks he might have been told before not to jump on his sleeping dad, just like he has done now. This could be bad. But then again, his dad is a loving father, one not prone to yelling, spanking or even getting riled much by anything. And,-we’re talking fishing. But it’s clear his dad can hardly make out what the boy is saying- this would be nothing new.

You see early on in life this boy realized what he said and what people heard were two different things entirely. At first he figured the world to be at best half deaf or disinterested. But as time would show it would take three years of speech lessons during his middle school years before his tongue would stop sledding on his lips as he talked. So now, this morning, no doubt what his dad heard was a series of Ssss, with Shssss and Thssss all mixed together as the child spoke. His dad rubbed his eyes again,.

“What?  Awe, Golly nad, come on now-it’s too early.”

“Cometh on nowsss-leths, go!”

“Awe, honey, I’ve been up til three!” (And no doubt, if truth be known, his dad spent much of last night barking at the moon from the dock down below with his sister and Brother-in-law. This was and still is a family tradition…spending late nights out by the lake trying to imitate sober people. Even today this same family in younger generations boasts of perfectly looped Loon calls, wobbling quackless duck sounds, astrological zodiac sightings of widely varying opinions and countless Northern Light exposures.)

But then the miracle really does happen. The boy’s father swings out of bed, plants both feet on the floor, stands up and says: “OK.”

Zooming down the outside stairs, feet pattering the dock boards, gear, tackle and smelly worms all load the boat along with one sleepy unshaved  father and one super hyped up child. Early dawn lake mist rises from the water’s surface cooling everything it touches. The boat is untied; oars are in place,  a wake gently parts before the boat’s bow. It’s a morning to remember.

Of course, you know this boy is me from so long ago. How else would I know how much this morning had meant to the child if the child was not me? Just how far we rowed, where we fished, what we caught and exactly when we came back to our dock, I really just can’t recall. To remember these things now would only be my imagination reaching back in hopes of getting at least one snap-shot memory to focus vividly in my mind. But there is one thing I didn’t forget.

Looking back now what I recall most about this day is the one word I heard spoken by my dad at his bedside in the early morning light: “OK.”

“Ok.” It is a simple word. Oh I know, I’ve been there in parenthood, a time when the clock simply losses several hours every day. Sometimes the answer just has to be, no, not now, maybe later, we can’t, better not, I’m busy. Life can all be such a rush. But perhaps this word is not used often enough. Maybe it would do us all good to try and take a step back from our hurry and turn time upside down for another just by using this one, simple, short word: “OK.”

Night into day; no into yes; forgotten time into one remembered.

Good Luck.

Franque

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