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The Blue Chevy [revisted]

November 6, 2022

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Drive

The Blue Chevy [revisted]

My uncle Victor gave me a car one day for no reason. 

Since his stroke three years ago he’d occasionally call and ask me if I could help him with things around the house. Chores he couldn’t do anymore, small things, like mowing the lawn, changing a light bulb on occasion, pick up something at the store on my way home from school. Like I said, small stuff.

As he was talking about the car he just gave me I wondered if maybe my doing things for him was his reason for giving it to me rather than giving it to one of his children, but I never did find that out. In truth I never minded helping him because my uncle Victor was a nice guy. He had stories that were more interesting than my other uncle and a lot more interesting than my two aunts, and he never said anything when I’d sneak a sip of his beer. He also called me John when everyone else was still calling me Johnny. This was all before his stroke. It was a small stroke they said, and he didn’t drink beer now, and he didn’t talk very much. Or drive. I never helped him after the stroke because I thought about getting something in return from him. I just helped because— because it’s what you do.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was raking leaves from his back yard when he gave me the car. It wasn’t my birthday, Christmas, or any special day. He just walked over and told to follow him because he had something for me. We walked around to the front of the garage, him going slow and me keeping the pace, and he pointed to his car parked in the driveway and said, “That’s for you, John.”

“What’s for me?” I asked.

“My car. I’m not using it anymore and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather see drive it. I want you to have it.”

When I asked him why he was just up and giving me his car for no reason, he smiled his crooked smile and said, “Just because.” He wouldn’t say any more about it other than to, “Drive her in good health and take good care of her.” I didn’t know what to say and was afraid to say what I was feeling so I looked away from him and focused on the car and reassured him that I would always take care of it. “Thank you,” I said with more emotion than I’d felt in a long time.

The car was a sapphire blue 1959 Chevrolet Brookwood station wagon. It had some miles on it but that’s to be expected with a 14-year-old car. The tires were good, the windshield held no cracks, the wood grain dash was in one piece, and the vinyl seats were time-worn, but they weren’t torn or frayed. I fell in love with the car while Uncle Victor stood behind me with his good hand on my shoulder.

The car had bench seats that would seat three in the front and three in the back and there was a fold down bench of rear-facing seats. I couldn’t think of any reason I’d ever have more than four people in the car, but those rear-facing seats held good memories of me and my cousins and those memories made me smile.

Uncle Victor opened the driver’s door and ushered me inside and shut the door. I rolled down the window and he leaned in and gave me the keys and the title. He reminded me once more to take good care of her and then he turned and walked back toward the house. I yelled out a question, but he didn’t turn around. He just raised his good hand in the air and waved.

The first thing I did when I got home was wash my new car. I worked my way back from the hood and when I got to the rear quarter panels, I noticed some rust peeking out from behind the dirt just above the wheel wells. I scrubbed the dirt away, but I washed softly over the rust, and I was sure to dry those quarter panels especially well. I was taking good care of her. 

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#Ragtag Daily Prompt, #RDP, #NaBloPoMo 

Rule (16)

November 5, 2022

The Weekend Writing Prompt #284 – Rule

Rule (16)

The Golden Rule:
Treat me like you want me to treat you.
Why’s that so difficult?

#NaBloPoMo

Charles Bukowski said . . .

November 4, 2022

Charles Bukowski said that, “Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”

I am experiencing a creative slowdown. While that wouldn’t, for a couple of reasons, normally bug me, it’s happened during NaBloPoMo and just days after I said I was going to try and blog every day for a month. Failure isn’t so

In no particular order, I blame it on Friday, the weather, the need to grocery shop, and stress.

For what it’s worth, I had this same problem in 2011. I got around it then and maybe will again. Back then I quoted George Pelecanos who didn’t believe in writer’s block and who said, “People who have other jobs report to work every day when they don’t feel like going. Get back to work.

Personally, I’ve come to not believe in writer’s block because there’s always something to write about. If it’s not part of your work in progress, or not a response to a prompt, or your journal entry, there’s always something there. Even if it’s just a grocery list and recipes for the week. I think it’s just an easy excuse to not write but that’s me. And I’m not saying that’s bad, not wanting to write for however long. It just is what it is.

For what it’s worth, Charles Bukowski is well worth taking the time to read. And so is George Pelecanos.

#NaBloPoMo

Don’t ask me!

November 3, 2022

For $4 a month I can remove all of the ads from my blog. I used to think I should do that because I thought the ads were intrusive and I thought that maybe, because they were placed between the end of a post and the Like button and the comments section, that the millions and millions of my daily readers, busy readers all, wouldn’t scroll down far enough to see they had choices to make (if they so chose to choose) because they’d get caught up in reading the ads.

I’m sort of glad that I didn’t pay to remove the ads because some days they’re kind of interesting. I never click on them – and you probably shouldn’t either – but sometimes the ads, or what WordPress calls “Sponsored Content” are entertaining. Like celebrity fashion gaffes. Or how to melt belly fat while sleeping. Or the one that promised to tell us the one co-star Henry Winkler couldn’t stand working with. I did want to click on that one because after seeing it I made a bet with myself that it was Michael Keaton when they starred together in Night Shift.

Why Michael Keaton? No special reason other than I’ve never been a huge fan of his. Why? I don’t know. It’s not that I dislike him or that he’s a bad actor, and there’s certainly nothing offensive about him (like there is with Bruce Dern). Maybe it’s because he has the same last name as Diane Keaton, and on some level I thought it possible that sharing the same last night could be confusing for some? Imagine paying to see the lovely Diane Keaton in a movie and the opening credits fade and there’s Michael. I suppose you have a 50/50 chance of still liking the movie, but no matter how good he is, he’s not Diane. Or Buster for that matter, but that’s another blog post for another day.

Back to the WordPress ads. While some of them are entertaining, others are just plain weird. Like this one that promises to tell us whatever it is that’s baffling urologists. Personally, when I saw this picture I was sort of baffled myself. What the hell is that exercise supposed to be? Don’t ask me!

#NaBloPoMo

NaBloPoMo

November 2, 2022

November is the big month for writers to take part in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. I tried NaNo a number of times and on the (few) years I made it past the what-to-write-about-idea stage, I lasted for a day. I tried it again last year because I sort of liked the idea I came up with and I liked the person who coordinated a NaNo team that I joined and last year, armed with an idea and a team, I made it to four days.

<insert uncomfortable applause here>

It’s not an easy task to write 1,666 words every day for 30 consecutive days. Especially a short month like November that has two holidays. Like why not have it in April when people are doing nothing but watching the showers that lead to May’s flowers? Or even in the summer when the days are long and people have nothing better to do than sit by a pool or in a hammock. I guess writing in a hammock would be difficult, maybe impossible, but a lawn chair or beach blanket would certainly be doable.

Anyway, in 2011 I discovered an alternative to NaNoWriMo and it was NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I liked that challenge because the level of commitment and determination to making writing a daily habit was there, but without the pressure to write 1,666 words every lousy day. I don’t know if NaBloPoMo exists in any official capacity any longer. I know the host site that I knew back then (Blogher) left and then came back, but they don’t appear to have any mention of NaBloPoMo. As a matter of fact, no one does. It’s almost spooky.

It’s almost like… it never was.

But it’s ok because I wasn’t that happy with Blogher anyway.

I decided to try NaBlo again this year and who cares if there’s no host site to connect to, I’ll just go it alone. That’s right, I’m making the commitment. I’m putting pen to paper. I’m resolute in my resolve. I’m vowing. Pledging. Promising. I’m like the guy in the Eagles’ song Desperado (but only when Linda Ronstadt is singing it). I’m sure there’s a profound quote about there somewhere about being along or working alone or thinking alone, but I’m not going to take the time to look for it, so I’ll just make one up.

Being alone is being. Only alone, while being. At the same time.

“Pledging” sounds like someone who is dusting furniture.

So much for day two. I think I’ll start ending these posts with a hashtag in case there are any other lone NaBloPoMo mavericks out there. If you’re one of them please let me know so I can stop by and read you. And if you’re reading this and thinking that you’d like to try NaBloPoMo it’s not too late. Do it! Please? I don’t want to be here all alone!

#NaBloPoMo

Feats Don’t Fail Me Now*

November 1, 2022

One week left until the election and I’ve had enough. Enough attack ads, enough mailers, enough phone calls, enough text messages, enough polls, enough commentaries, enough debates, enough sound bites from the debates.

Stop telling me what to do!

You know what I have? I have the apolitical blues. And you know what? That’s the meanest blues of all. That’s what Lowell George said in 1972, and I believe him.

The Apolitical Blues is from the most underappreciated and underrecognized band (and songwriter) in American Rock and Roll history: Little Feat. The song is from Little Feat’s second album, Sailin’ Shoes.

* The title of this post is the title of the band’s 4th album.

Lyrics shared here without permission.

Well my telephone was ringing
And they told me it was Chairman Mao
Well my telephone was ringing
And they told me it was Chairman Mao
You can tell him anything
Cause I just don’t want to talk to him now

I’ve got the apolitical blues
And that’s the meanest blues of all
Apolitical blues
And that’s the meanest blues of all
I don’t care if it’s John Wayne
I just don’t want to talk to him now

The boy

October 31, 2022

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for this Halloween day is gruesome.

Spooooky!

My mind went in a less spooky direction.

The boy

Once upon a time there was a boy who had a very secret crush on a girl. The girl had shoulder length hair the color of butterscotch and amber-colored eyes. The boy wanted to talk to the girl, to say hello, but the boy’s fear was strong, and it kept him from talking to the girl. And the girl, as pretty as she is, the boy said to himself, had no reason to talk to him.

Even though the boy was young, he was old enough to know that what he felt in his stomach when he looked at the girl was something uncommon and something very special.

Yes, the boy wanted to talk to the girl, but just the thought of walking up to her at school gave him a much different feeling in his stomach and this was a bad feeling that chased the uncommon and special feelings away. This feeling, this bad feeling, sometimes made the boy want to cry.

If you asked the boy, he wouldn’t be able to tell you what happened, or why it happened on this particular day, but for whatever reason the boy shut his school locker with a little more force than usual and turned and faced the girl at the end of the hall. She was standing with two friends and laughing, and as the boy watched the girl, once again taken in by the glow of beauty that surrounded her, something beautiful happened. At that moment in time, for whatever reason, some never-before used electrical circuit between the boy’s heart and the boy’s brain triggered into action and the boy responded by taking a deep breath. Then, almost as if by magic, the boy suddenly gruesome. The boy squared his shoulders and with stars in his eyes and a song in his heart and something that looked very much like confidence, walked down the hall toward the girl. The boy stopped in front of the girl. The boy didn’t pay attention to the surprised look on the girl’s, or the girl’s friends, face. The boy just smiled. And the boy said, “Hi”.

A story (78)

October 29, 2022

This is for Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt where the word this 283rd prompt is Dunk and the challenge is 78 words.

A story (78)

Some of the best stories are true and some aren’t. You can decide on this one.

I studied math, I flunked it.
I had a donut, dunked it.
I had a car, broke down, I junked it.
I saw a cave and I spelunked it.
I heard a rumor, and I debunked it.
I wanted to dance and so I krumped it.

I asked the pretty girl for one quick kiss,
she said yes, who woulda thunk it?

Random Thoughts #41: Nice people

October 29, 2022

I’ve been conducting an unscientific poll for the last couple of months to determine if there are more nice people in the world or more not nice people in the world. My tiny spot in the world to be precise.

While my poll was random, because it took place totally within my mind, I can’t say that it was unbiased. And because it took place totally within my mind it was very small. And because it took place totally within my mind, I can’t say that I didn’t forget a good chunk of it. I don’t think I did, but there’s limited space up there and sometimes things get purged and when that happens it’s pretty much out of my control.

In the end I can’t say if there are more nice people in the world or not nice people in the world. Or my tiny spot in the world to be precise. But I can say that I discovered that by me being nice to other people it made me feel nice which makes me a nice person in the world. Yay! And really, I thought, being nice to others, does anything else matter? Can you dig it?

There are other nice people in the world. Lots of them. There’s no precise number of nice people in the world, but according to US News and World Report (in an undated report), New Zealand is the friendliest country on earth. So that would be a good place to start counting.

The United States is #46 on the list which is kind of sad. But there are nice people in the United States, which is nice, and one of the nice people here in the US is Lois. I know Lois from the Blogiverse. Please go HERE and read her blog and let her brighten your day.

And maybe a song will also brighten your day

Random Thoughts #40: Huh

July 25, 2022

I have no thoughts.

Brevity (12)

June 25, 2022

First, I’d like to apologize to the women of the United States who yesterday lost the right to control their bodies and the freedom to make their own health care decisions and will be forced to give that control to politicians and government. The decision was disgusting and shameful.

= = = =

This is for Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt where the word this weekend is Brevity and the goal is a brief 12 words.

Brevity (12)

Dishoner and disrespect,
    two keys to love’s brevity.
Instead:
        Discuss,
            discover,
                disrobe.

Free to go

June 24, 2022

From Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is this week’s story challenge.

June 20, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about what freedom feels like. Whose point of view do you use? Does the idea of freedom cause tension or bring hope? Let the reader feel the freedom. Go where the prompt leads!

Free to go

I said I’d help him move.

“Meet me at 2:00?” he asked. “Helen’ll be at work.”

He had little: A few boxes. Some pictures, clothes, records. An old Magnavox all-in-one stereo with a cracked dustcover. No furniture, television, kitchen stuff.

I wasn’t sure why he needed me.

We dropped everything off at his new apartment.

“You wanna celebrate freedom with a beer?”

“Nah.”

I started to reply, but he cut me off. Told me he just wanted to be alone. Said he was free to do that.

I went home, showered, changed, and met Helen for dinner at 7:00.

###

Maybe I’m a cynic

June 19, 2022

Maybe I’m a cynic, but I watch PSAs and read letters asking for donations for whatever charitable cause it is they’re asking for, and you always hear, “Proceeds help benefit the blah, blah, blah…” and I wonder how are proceeds defined? Are that non-profits proceeds defined as everything received is given to whatever blah, blah, blah is, or are that non-profits proceeds defined as what’s left over after everyone running the organization gets paid and the overhead is covered? I suppose I could also wonder how “help benefit” is defined? Does it mean that people who are hungry (which, BTW, there are 42 million people in the US alone who are food insecure) actually get food and money to buy food and have edcuational resources available to them, or do they just get a box of macaroni & cheese and a digital download cookbook?

A lot of charities do provide this information, but sometimes it’s not easy to find. I think it should be included right up front in every donation request. A person shouldn’t have to go look for the information.

There might not be a maybe. I probably am a cynic.

“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.” – Ram Dass

Steps on the path…

Revelation

June 18, 2022

From Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is this week’s story challenge.

June 13, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a danger zone. It can be an exciting plot-driven story (think “story spine”) or a situation a character must confront. Play with different genres, and use craft elements like tension, tone, and pacing. Go where the prompt leads!

Revelation

His next step would define the rest of this life.

He sat, legs overhanging the rock ledge, watching the waterfall in front of him. He listened to the water crash over the crest, he breathed in the mist that rose to the sky.

He leaned back, closed his eyes.

Analytical to a fault he ran the scenario through his head repeatedly. He would leave someone behind, would they care? But he might make someone very happy? Both paths uncertain. Both carrying varying degrees of risk and danger.

What do I want?, he thought.

He opened his eyes and smiled.

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Too warm

June 15, 2022

I consider it an achievement that I was able to sleep at all last night.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Achievement

Random Thoughts #40: Let me at it

June 14, 2022

I don’t know why toothpaste manufacturers make it nearly impossible to squeeze out every bit of toothpaste from the tube. I know there’s at least one, maybe two, brushfuls of toothpaste in the tube after it’s been all rolled up and squeezed. Life is difficult enough without having to throw (not really) empty tubes of toothpaste into the mix.

They go to 11

June 13, 2022

I read today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt, VOLUME, and this was the first thing that came to mind. Because sometimes you just need that extra push over the cliff and what do you do?

Talking the other day

June 12, 2022

Someone, I suppose you could call them a friend?, was talking to me the other day about their job. They like their job, they go to work every day, they take pride in their work and the results and recognition they achieve and receive.

But… what they don’t like are the people they supervise. They are weird, they said. Irresponsible, they said. Frequently thoughtless, they said. Not above lying, they said. They act like children, they said. Then: I’m supervising children and it’s not rewarding. It’s (pause) depressing.

I wondered if they couldn’t talk to them, their staff, and explain the expectations in the workplace.

They gave me a funny look. Talk to them? They won’t stop listening to themselves and each other long enough to listen to someone else.

But you’re their supervisor, I didn’t say.

Instead, I wondered if there wasn’t someone they could comfortably talk with. Maybe their supervisor.

The person shook their head. I’m comfortable talking with you, they said. They feared talking to their supervisor because they feared exposing a weakness in themselves and their performance. They feared being told they can’t do the job.

Your supervisor likely knows, I didn’t say.

I wondered about weakness not necessarily meaning fault, and about not all weaknesses being bad.

They didn’t say anything.

Then they did. I’ll just keep on with what I’m doing, they said.

(Not to decide is to decide)

I thought that when it’s your responsibility to tend to the temper tantrums of adults and placate overly sensitive egos that produce inappropriate behaviors, and that task is making you uneasy and anxious and sad (and sick?) then it might be time to recognize that reality and find something else to do. Or a different way to do it.

Of course, I didn’t say that to them. Not everyone wants to hear advice even though they may think they want to hear advice.

If you’re wondering if this is true, some of it is and some of it isn’t.

Vernacular (90)

June 12, 2022

Weekends were made for Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt.

Vernacular (90)

“Hey, youse guys, check out the dame.”

“Huh?”

“The brunette, some dish, yeah?”

This was one of the weird things about Carl. After a few beers, he’d start talking in the vernacular of 1930’s/40’s Warner Brothers crime movies. Imagine James Cagney wearing a Todd Snyder Mystic Aqua polo over a pair of 5” faded black shorts.

“She’s aces. But you got the lettuce?” Eric loved playing along.

Carl stood, squared his shoulders and adjusted an imaginary fedora. “I’m no crumb, pal. I’m made in the shade.”

Carl really shouldn’t drink.

###

Who’s afraid?

June 11, 2022

From Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is this week’s story challenge.

June 6, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features stone-stacking. How does the activity fit into a story? Who is involved? What is the tone? Do the stones have special meaning? Go where the prompt leads!

Who’s afraid?

An armchair historian, I sit with others like myself at Porkey’s eating Danish, sipping coffee, and remembering the invasion of Boarsville.

The invader, a shaggy beast, filled his mammoth lungs and blew Boarsvillian houses made of sticks and straw to dust and ate the inhabitants.

Three survivors huddled in the last house in Boarsville. A sturdy house of brick and stones that was impervious to the invader’s powerful breath.

Exhausted and breathless, the invader took one last breath, wheezed, and dropped to the ground. The survivors poked him with a stick, then summarily skinned, seasoned, cooked and ate him.

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(With thanks to James Halliwell-Phillips)

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