Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Requiem for Uncle Bob, Part II

Uncle Bob took great pride in being a curmudgeon, in expressing total contempt for everything that might even smack of sentimentality. He was on occasion too good at it, and his unwillingness to suffer what he saw as stupidity could often border on hurtfulness. Yet his capacity for love and goodness for those close to him was boundless.

For many years, he wrote a column for his local newspaper, the Atascadero (California) News, which totally belied the face he liked to present to the world. It was called “The Sunny Side,” and I am sure the paper will not mind if I present his final column below:

The time has come to say farewell—while it is still possible.

It’s been such fun these past 13 or 14 years, since Lori got me started on this every-Fridayessay, or column, or whatever-you may call it, in an attempt to balance out the Letters page—that is, to point out all the wonderful, beautiful, happy-making things around us “On the Sunny Side of the Street.”

Stevenson wrote: “The world is full of such a number of things. I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings!” Well, as Kipling wrote, “The captains and the king depart,” but we are still here—until our time runs out. There will always be spring flowers out by Steel Creek, and the beautiful, winding, climbing roads of our county, and Black Mountain out past Pozo, lifting its lordly beauty, with its calm and silence.

There will always be an annual crop of children, full of curiosity and joy—sharing all their exciting discoveries with us, as we once shared with our grandparents. What delights they are, and we must strive to see that the world they grow up in will be even better than the one our parents built for us.

In due season will come the breezes and the winds, the black clouds or the fleecy clouds of purest white. The trees and bushes will bud and leaf out and blossom, and flowers will pop out of the ground, seemingly overnight. The birds will come back and my favorite mockingbird, Moxie, will sing his heart out under the moons of spring and there’ll be Moxie XVIII before we can blink!

In its season will come rain, but nothing, in our part of the world, will rule us as will the sun—and its “Cooker Days.” And so the grapes ripen, “to make glad the hearts of man.” And this old earth turns and our solar system does, too, and our galaxy goes spinning through space—a tiny dot in the vastness of the unknown.

So let’s do the best we can, while we can, and smile oftener than we groan, and chuckle more than we sigh, and look on the sunny side…and so, goodbye.

Goodbye, Uncle Bob.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads.com and Amazon.com; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com. You can find information about Dorien's books at his web site:  www.doriengrey.com: 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Requiem for Uncle Bob, Part I

When I received word that Bob Combs, my “Uncle Bob,” had died May 19, on his 92nd birthday…a birthday I never remembered, though he never failed to remember mine…I felt nothing, like the song from A Chorus Line.

Bob wasn’t my blood uncle, of course. He became “Uncle” only when, as my parents were leaving for home after visiting me in Los Angeles, where I was sharing a large home in the Hollywood hills with Uncle Bob, my dad gave him the instruction to “look out for Roge,” which Bob took to heart and exercised diligently for nearly 40 years.

I’d met Bob through his roommate, a beautiful young man named Skip who exuded the joy of life from every flawless pore, and both Bob and I were enthralled with him.

I didn’t feel anything when I got the news because I didn’t want to feel anything. I’ve felt the loss of loved ones too often in the past. I did not want to start thinking of him; of our ability to make one another laugh at the most inappropriate times, or our bickering or my frequent irritation with him for being unrelentingly cantankerous. However, he was also one of the most intelligent people I have ever met; it seemed he knew everything and everyone and had read every book ever written. He wasn’t boastful about it: it was simply a fact.

I did not want to think of the house on Tareco Drive, or my parents’ visit, or to be reminded of Skip, who died with incredible bravery only recently after a several years’ long battle with cancer. Uncle Bob had cancer, too…of the larynx. He endured it without a word of complaint for about as long as Skip did. I don’t think it was the cancer that killed Bob: he’d fought it too long and too hard. I think he went when he did because he was simply ready to go.

To think of Uncle Bob would be to think of all the people I associate with him, many of whom I met through him: Jimmy Stone and Ron Crawford and Bill Weed, and Jason Peugh, and John Pitt, and George Little. Reacting to Uncle Bob’s death would inevitably mean I would have to once again feel something for each of them. Uncle Bob’s death dropped a huge boulder into the quiet sea of the past, sending unwelcome waves of memory through my mind and heart.

When Mom moved to L.A. to be near me after Dad died, Uncle Bob took her under his wing and they became fast friends. They would go out to a Marie Callender’s restaurant often for coffee and pie, and to talk and laugh. Uncle Bob bought a Toyota my dad had had at the time of his death, and still had it on the day he died.

How can 40 years of friendship be crammed into one short blog entry? It can’t, of course, so I won’t even try. And even though the next entry will also be about Uncle Bob and his last message to the world, it only underscores how much more there is to say about him.

Uncle Bob is dead, and I’m trying so very hard not to feel anything. It isn’t working.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads.com and Amazon.com; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com. You can find information about Dorien's books at his web site:  www.doriengrey.com: 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


While I didn’t really know Nick long enough to call him a friend, he was definitely a part of my journey through life.
Nick never knew his father, though his drug-addict mother named her son after him. His name was Nicholas, and the fact that she deliberately misspelled her son’s name as “Nickless” was only the first indication of his fate.

While still very young, he was taken from his mother and placed in the Foster Care system, where he was passed from foster home to foster home like a bowl of potato salad at a picnic. His last ten years in the system was spent with a former marine drill sergeant who continually sexually abused him.

Whether he aged out of the system or ran away is not clear, but he wound up basically on the streets. No real education, no idea of how to behave in the society to which most of us belong and take totally for granted, he drifted. His few friends tended to be other lost souls like himself who simply existed in any way they could.

He was, not surprisingly, frequently in trouble with the law.

I was living in northern Wisconsin when I met Nick through a friend from Milwaukee, who had picked Nick up one evening while hitchhiking. Nick was living with a fellow lost soul he referred to as his “brother,” and the “brother’s” girlfriend. They spent their time smoking pot and dreaming the dreams of the lost.

He did whatever it took to survive, and worked at menial jobs wherever and whenever he could, but never for very long at any one place. And of course when each job ended, it was never his responsibility. Responsibility was not a word in Nick’s vocabulary.

My friend took Nick under his wing and asked if Nick might stay with me for a while, to try to break him free of those chains to his past, and I agreed.

Nick was around 23 at the time; a tall, handsome, and basically good young man who, like an abused animal, trusted no one, and his entire life experience had proven him correct. But of all the things that had been denied him, from the day he was born, the greatest by far was the feeling of being loved for anything but his body. He revealed himself only through his drawings, which he kept in a tattered notebook. He carried a sheathed knife in his belt and it was with him everywhere. When I arranged for him to apply for a job at a local supermarket, he wore the knife. He did not get the job.

Even in a small area like the one in which I lived, he managed to find others like those he had left behind in Milwaukee and soon got into the pot habit—it was, after all, a form of escape from a world he simply could not relate to and did not understand.

On the verge of being arrested yet again, Nick returned to Milwaukee…where he subsequently was jailed yet again. With absolutely no other realistic options, and without far more help than is available, Nick defines the term “lost soul.” He is so deep into the dark forest that I fear he will never find his way out.

When I think of Nick, and of what he could have been had someone…anyone…taken the time to care for him, to love him as any child should be loved…my heart truly aches.

So why have I told you about Nick? Simply because those of us blessed with all the things of which Nick was deprived simply do not comprehend just how fortunate we are. We too often are so consumed with our own petty problems that we cannot appreciate what we have.

Nick is the candle I hold up in the darkness of my own self-absorption. I hope he can somehow, someday, find his own light.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads.com and Amazon.com; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com. You can find information about Dorien's books at his web site:  www.doriengrey.com: 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Letter to Norm/Aftermath

[I am posting two of Dorien/Roger's blogs today as they are so closely related.           --Gary]
Norm: I hope I might have the courage to read you this letter before it is too late, though it is far easier to write a blog for the whole world to see than it is to speak directly to the one person for whom it is intended. But to do so is to admit to myself and to tell you that I know that you are dying…which we both of course know. But avoidance is one of the silly games we humans play.

I wanted to let you know how much you have meant to me these past 52 years, and how integral a part of my life you are.

I remember the August night in 1958, two months out of college, when I first saw you at the Haig, a bar near Chicago’s Lawson YMCA. We didn’t speak in the bar, and you left before I did, but when I walked out, you were standing there waiting for me. We moved in together less than a month later.

I remember how we built our couch from plywood—we painted it a high-gloss black, and used a foam pad, for which we had a cover made. I remember visiting thrift shops to buy tables and a dresser…the dresser I still use today. And I remember the 3-foot harlequin lamp we both loved when we saw it in a shop window, but could not afford it, and how, serendipitously, we found exactly the same lamp in a thrift store, its base shattered, and how we bought it and remolded the base. I had it, too, until I moved from Wisconsin to return to Chicago. I remember the small faun’s head I bought you one Christmas, which you still have.

I remember the party we had to which I invited everyone with whom I worked at Duraclean International, and how I broke my toe while we were all dancing the hora, and how we ran out of liquor and Phil Ward drank the juice from a jar of olives.

I remember how my parents adored you, and the time shortly after we got together when we all went to Maxwell Street and, as you and Dad were walking ahead of Mom and me, I realized “Hey, I think I love this guy.” I remember our trips to the cottage on Lake Koshkonong with our friends, and how we helped Dad build an apartment for us above the garage. I remember water-skiing, and ski trips, and the time, coming back to Chicago from the lake in my then-new red Ford Sprint convertible, you spent most of the trip rummaging through a huge bag of potato chips looking for the perfect chip.

I remember evenings of cards and games with friends. And the one thing I remember most is that we never, in our six years together, had a really serious argument.

Of course I also remember that it was not all idyllic. Your job took you on frequent business trips, often several weeks at a time, during which we both, being young, were promiscuous, which inevitably contributed to our parting of the ways. I remember your never wanting us to take vacations together on the basis that we were together all the time, and that I could never understand that.

And after we broke up...it was me who broke it off because my promiscuity got out of hand…I spent, literally, the next ten years kicking myself around the block for having hurt you, because I know it did, deeply. We had little contact over the next 25 years or so, seeing one another occasionally, exchanging Christmas cards, but it was awkward for both of us.
Yet you remained close to my parents, and were there for my dad’s funeral, but were away somewhere when Mom died and I couldn’t reach you.

And then when I decided, after nearly 40 years, to return to Chicago, I naturally moved in with you until I could get my own place, and our friendship, minus the romance, resumed.

You have been one of the largest stones in the foundation of my life, and I love you in a way impossible to put into words. You are my family and it is important for you to know that. But I fear I will not be able to bring myself to say so directly to you, because to do so would be to release you, and I simply cannot do that. You’re part of who I am, and will always be.

I will try to let you know. I promise.
My friend Norm died at 12:35 a.m. Thursday, February 18. Despite explicit instructions to notify me immediately, I did not learn of it until I showed up to visit him at 2:30 in the afternoon. When I went to sign in on the visitor’s register and the receptionist could not find his name, I pretty much knew what had happened. When she went to check with a supervisor, who came out to tell me he had “passed away” (good LORD, how I detest that term!!!) I demanded to know why I had not been notified. She called the nursing supervisor, who was of course all apologies, saying “We called his brother” (in Wisconsin). That’s all well and good, lady, but you did not call me despite my having seen them write a note and my phone number as his Power of Attorney on the face of his chart.

I later called his brother, who apologized for not having called me himself, but said he was sure they had called me. He had indeed been called at 2 a.m. and asked “what do you want us to do with the body?” He told them that I had Norm’s P.O.A. and had made all the arrangements in advance, and told them to call me. He gave them my phone number once again. They did not call. Their explanation was that the Power of Attorney had ended at the moment of his death and I therefore had no legal right to do anything at all…which apparently included being notified of his death.

At any rate, it was all eventually resolved, and I walked the one block to Norm’s condo to begin the after-death detail work.

Norm has lived in his condo for 40 years, and though he is/was now dead, there are 40 years of his life within those walls: photos of friends and family, high school yearbooks, certificates of acknowledgment for service to his church, bowling trophies, drawers of paid bills and receipts and records. Paintings, artwork, little stuffed animals, countless “things” collected over the years, closets full of clothes, a broken plant stand he’d never gotten around to repairing, a collection of antique irons—the kind you heated on the stove—at least three coffee makers, a wok…and on and on and on. And all of them meant something to him. But to whom else, really?

His diploma from a school of horticulture and flower design, carefully framed, pages of detailed notes on his investment accounts, lists of his medications and which ones were to be taken at which time...but here I go again, off on another recitation of things which were all part of Norm.

But though all of them were Norm, most of them are now utterly meaningless to anyone else, whose lives are also and already filled with things.

So I select those things which I assume his brother would want—family photos, his parents’ framed wedding announcement, an ornate, gilded wooden cross—and set them aside. When I returned home Thursday, I carried with me the small Faun’s head I had given him for Christmas so very many years ago. His roommate, Eric, a wonderful and caring young man who had moved in to help Norm when he was no longer able to care for himself properly, told me Norm had said it was one of his favorite things, and that made me both happy and infinitely sad.

So Friday I went to the lawyer to begin the legal processes necessary to implement my having been appointed as the executor of the will. Then will continue the sorting out of things, the calling of an antiques appraiser to try to dispose of some works of art, furniture, etc. Then, when those are gone, the calling of an estate buyer to come in for what remains. Then the listing of the condo for sale, the decision of whether to replace all the carpets, scratched doors, torn wallpaper destroyed by Norm’s beloved Jack Russell terrier-from-hell, Jezebel, who lived up to her name, or to sell it as is. And given today’s housing market, even with a magnificent 35th-floor unobstructed view of Lake Michigan and the Loop, it may take a while.

But it will be over, eventually. And when I leave the condo for the last time, it will be empty, and whoever lives there next will have no idea of who Norm was. They won’t know, or care. 

But I will.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads.com and Amazon.com; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com. You can find information about Dorien's books at his web site:  www.doriengrey.com: 

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Simple Delights

Yesterday I received an email. Not exactly “Stop the Presses!” news—I just checked and see that my Gmail “in” box contains 24,441 of them—but this one triggered both my Little-Boy-delight and The-Past-Is-Now buttons.

The email was from Diane Kopp, a girl I worked with at Security Mutual Insurance Company…the second job I ever held after leaving college. Diane and I hit it off right away. She was charming and funny, and we became good friends. On a couple of occasions she joined Norm and me and some other friends on weekend trips to my parents’ cottage in Wisconsin. But as our friendship grew, I became concerned—probably wrongly—that I might be conveying the wrong signals to her, and so one day I told her that Norm and I were more than just friends. She was the first straight person to whom I admitted being gay…and I was 26 years old! (To reread that last sentence and see the word “admitted,” as though I was confessing to being an axe murderer or child molester, gives you an idea of the times in which gays and lesbians then lived.)

Diane took it all in stride, and we remained friends after I left Security Mutual, but when I moved to Los Angeles in 1966, we lost touch. I thought of her frequently throughout the years, wondering what had happened to her, whether she’d married and had a family. But there was no way I could get in touch with her...until, 50 years later, I got her message. And once again, the fraying ties to my past were reinforced.

I wrote her immediately, and hope we may pick up our friendship where it left off so many years ago.

We each have special people in our lives; people who hold a unique place in our minds and hearts even though we can’t pinpoint exactly why. Diane is one of those people, and I find it hard to describe how happy I am to have heard from her. I have been, in fact, extremely lucky to have had two other such reestablishments of friendship in the past six months or so. Ted Bacino—with whom I was in Cub Scouts at St. Elizabeth’s Social Center in Rockford, Illinois, and with whom I continued being friends throughout grade school, high school, and my first two years of college before I left for the NavCads—and Effie Foulis, another founding member of my college “gang.”

To reconnect with friends from long ago is, to me, indescribably comforting. It is a safety line in the increasingly blinding and frigid blizzard of years. And by clinging firmly to that rope, I can look back through the blur of years to see, however dimly, light from the windows of a world long gone, and feel the warmth it represents.

Each reconnection with someone from my past sets off a falling-domino-like cascade of long forgotten memories. People, places, things, visual images, smells, and a myriad of tiny details spring to life. Being reminded of shared memories through the other person’s eyes also sharpens the focus. (I mentioned that Diane and I had worked together at an insurance company. It was in the Loop, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember where. Diane’s note mentioned its being at Jackson and LaSalle. I still can’t picture the building, but you can be sure the next time I go to the loop, I will walk by Jackson and LaSalle and see if I can’t catch a glimpse of an oh, so much younger me going to work.)

I’m so grateful to Effie, and Ted, and Diane, and for their friendship over all these years. There are so many more old friends out there, waiting to be found.

It is the totally unexpected pleasant surprises, the serendipitous little pleasures and simple delights, which remind us what a precious gift we have in being alive.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads.com and Amazon.com; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com. You can find information about Dorien's books at his web site:  www.doriengrey.com: 

Sunday, August 06, 2017


Odd how the memory of someone you’ve not thought of in years will suddenly be sitting patiently on the front steps of your mind, as though they’ve just dropped in for a visit, and you are surprised at how happy you are to see them.

This happened with me last week when I suddenly found myself thinking of my immediate boss at Duraclean International, Phil Ward. My job at Duraclean, then located in Deerfield, Illinois, was one of the longest jobs I ever held...from 1960 to 1966. Duraclean sold franchises for a carpet and upholstery cleaning system which involved the franchisee getting down on his hands and knees and actually scrubbing the carpet. The secret to its success was in the cleaning foam, which for some reason could not be applied mechanically. I never could really understand how anyone would be willing to do it, but the company was quite successful.

The staff was small and a really nice group of people with whom I enjoyed working. One of my most vivid memories of working there, though, was one day in…what?…1961?…when the president, Grant Mauk, who later went on to run IHOP, came around to each of us saying that the company was planning to hire a black secretary and asking if we might object. Frankly, I was astounded by the question, but the early 60s were a very different time. She was of course hired and immediately became one of the family.

But I meant to talk about Phil, here. Phil was a very large man, heavy set, thinning hair, glasses, and a gap-toothed smile which he used often. My job at Duraclean was to put out the Duraclean Journal, the company’s trade publication for its worldwide franchisees. I was technically the Assistant Editor under Phil. I can’t recall ever having a nicer boss.

I remember going to him one time with an article for which I couldn’t find a finish. He looked it over and said: “Have you said everything you wanted to say?” When I said “Yes,” he replied: “Then it’s finished.”

Phil loved stories, and he had a wealth of them. He once told me of a job he’d had in which he had written an impassioned article on something or other, and titled it something like: “Framostats: Wave of the Future? Yes, say Experts.” He turned it in to his boss who so totally rewrote it that it came out with the title: “Framostats: Wave of the Future? No, say Experts.”

Phil had an absolutely charming, very attractive wife, Shirley, and a young daughter, Pam, and Phil doted on both of them. He announced proudly one day that Pam had learned to write her name, and a week or so later said that Pam had written a letter to her grandparents. A little puzzled, I asked: “What did she say?” He looked at me calmly and replied: “Pam.”

A year or so later, he announced that he and Shirley had gotten Pam a kitten. “It’s not much right now,” he said, “but you give it six months or so, and it’ll be good eatin’.”

Phil’s one quirk was that he could not use the restroom without turning on all the faucets in the sinks first. And he often forgot to turn them off when he left. I have no idea why, and I never asked, of course. I figured he was entitled to an eccentricity or two.

Having opened my own faucet of memories of Phil and Duraclean and the wonderful people who worked there and of who I was then and who I am now, I find myself tempted to just let it run. But I think I’d better turn it off for now, lest it overflow the sink and keep pouring out memories until they sweep me away.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads.com and Amazon.com; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com. You can find information about Dorien's books at his web site:  www.doriengrey.com: 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Compared to What?

I’ve always loved, and often quoted, the anonymous (to me, anyway) bit of wisdom: “When people tell me ‘Life is hard,’ I’m always tempted to ask, ‘Compared to what?’” Life, and our reaction to it, is inevitably one endless string of comparisons. We are constantly weighing ourselves on some sort of ethereal balance with the things and people around us.

Depending on one’s emotional makeup, this can either be a healthy and constructive way of judging and adjusting to our position in life, or a constant reminder of our own failings and shortcomings, real or imagined. It will come as no great surprise to anyone who has followed these blogs for any length of time to learn I tend strongly toward the latter view.

I spend a great deal of time being angry with myself, and for my egocentric insistence that I am alone in the world when it comes to feelings of falling short in nearly every comparison challenge. I seem to insist upon finding the bruised banana in every bunch. And I also have a tendency to be somewhat selective in those individuals and situations I compare myself to—invariably, it is to people/things I envy or want. I don’t usually compare myself with those who might objectively be considered to be my peers. (Perhaps this may be due in part to the fact that I have always felt myself so apart from others that the very concept of having peers is a little foreign to me.)

That I am not the only person to have difficulty with comparisons, or who always feels at the short end of the stick is hardly surprising. The fact of the matter is that few people have or take the time to consider things outside themselves and their own realm of existence. They still constantly compare themselves to others in a million different ways…jobs, wages, possessions (“Keeping up with the Joneses” is a classic way to describe it)…without really considering what they’re doing.

Eastern cultures are not nearly so concerned with the need for constant comparison; their philosophical bases are very different from ours. They tend to see the world as a level playing table. Western cultures are more likely to see the world as a ladder. It’s in our nature to look up the ladder to the next rung. Whatever we have, there’s somebody who has more: more money, more talent, more possessions, more power. And we’re never happy until we have it, too. (And then when we get it, the cycle repeats itself endlessly.) Comparisons, by their very nature, lead to dissatisfaction.

Our society is pretty firmly rooted in greed, and as a result, the deck is stacked against the person doing the comparing. We seldom compare ourselves, or even give any consideration to—though we should—people who are a few rungs beneath us on the ladder. For far too many people, it’s not what we have, it’s what we want.

When it comes to comparisons and the resultant problems of low self-esteem, the negative power of television has no equal. Everyone on television—both women and men—is young and beautiful, and rich, and knows exactly what to wear and how to act in any given situation. Stare at any primetime soap opera for an hour and then take a look in the mirror. Recent studies have shown—stop the presses!—that low self-esteem and many of the serious problems affecting young women, from anorexia to bulimia and on down, can be traced to the false ideals of “attractiveness” they’re constantly exposed to on TV. Wow! Talk about an “I didn’t see that one coming” revelation!

And men are not immune. Why do you think spammers make fortunes on products guaranteed to “make her scream with pleasure” (pardon me while I projectile-vomit)? That men love porn is hardly a revelation, yet even though the men in porn movies are not the intended focus of attention, they always seem to be far above average in the “endowment” department. How can poor Sam Schlub, after watching a porn flick, expect to compete?
Comparisons are an integral and important part of life…they act as a sort of compass guiding us through existence. But it is time we began putting things in perspective. We can start with the simple realization that each of us is only one human being trying to measure ourselves against nearly seven billion others. And with those odds, there’s absolutely no contest: you’re gonna lose. A little more self-acceptance would vastly relieve all the unnecessary grief we put ourselves through every day, and greatly simplify our lives. Then we can switch our attention to things that really matter, like whether Tiger Woods will reconcile with his wife, or whether Paris Hilton will survive her brave battle with her most recent hangnail.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads.com and Amazon.com; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com. You can find information about Dorien's books at his web site:  www.doriengrey.com: 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Pebbles II

My mind is a seashore strewn with the pebbles of random thought. As I did when I lived near Lake Superior, I wander up and down the beach with no clear goal in mind, idly collecting them. What there is to attract me to a particular pebble of thought I don’t know, but something causes me to notice them, and I bend to pick them up and study them carefully for a moment before letting them drop back onto the sand and moving on. Sometimes I remember where I dropped them, and return to pick them up, but mostly they’re just there and then they’re gone.

My days are made of pebble moments. Most are just passed by, relatively unnoticed, but some are picked up to become emails to friends, or the inspiration for blogs.

Two of today’s pebbles are cases in point. And though I had a reason, at the moment, for selecting them from all the others, your reaction as to why I chose them might be more one of puzzlement than enlightenment.

The first pebble was sent as an email to my friend Gary. It involves my cat, Crickett, who has developed cancer in her left rear leg at the site of a past rabies shot. The vet says this is not uncommon, and Crickett is, after all, around 17 years old…I can’t remember exactly, though I’ve had her since she was a kitten:

“Crickett’s leg is now all but useless. Today, as I was sitting on the couch, she tried to jump up to be with me. She could not make it. I leaned down to pick her up, but she yeowled…the first time she’s done that. I put the empty box the printer had come in on the floor up against the front of the couch, so that she could jump up on it fairly easily, and from there jump to the seat of the couch. She did not grasp the concept and refused to use it, instead walking around it. She made another one-rear-legged jump and made it this time, by digging her claws into the couch and pulling herself up.

“I’m now giving her medication every other day in hopes that it relieves her discomfort. I wonder if she knows she is dying. I know.

“Life is not easy.”

Earlier in the day, I’d gone to buy a new printer—the box for which being referenced above—my old one having given up the ghost. Though I knew it was dead, I kept delaying the inevitable (I am quite good at that) in the hopes that the next time I went to use it, it would work fine. It never did. Went to Best Buy, which is my nearest electronics store, and looked at endless rows of machines with prices ranging from $49.00 to God-knows-what. To me, they all looked identical. There were two HPs side by side. One for $69.00, one for $79.00. 
On reading the little cards that accompany the price tag, I noted that the $69 one seemed to have more features/advantages than the $79. When I pointed that fact out to a clerk, he told me that the $69 one was on sale, though there was no indication of that fact anywhere. When I asked the original cost, I was told it was $89.00 but, on checking, he amended that to $99.00. So I bought it, brought it home, managed to install it all by myself—no mean feat, I can assure you, given my total alienation from anything with moving parts or that requires plugging into a socket, and it’s worked quite well so far. (I always find it necessary to modify positive statements.) There is even a little digital display like a tiny TV screen which guided me through the installation process and thereafter advised me on the status of my printing and scanning. Probably it was the glow of that little digital display that attracted my attention to this particular pebble. See it?

Ain’t science wonderful? So are pebbles.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads.com and Amazon.com; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com. You can find information about Dorien's books at his web site:  www.doriengrey.com: