Monthly Archives: January 2013

Don’t Just Sit There Doing Your Job….Fail!

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“What are you doing?”

“Sitting here, watching.”

“Don’t get caught sitting!”

“I’m not just sitting. I’m watching to make sure everything is working!”

“Look, you’re getting paid a lot of money to do your job.”

“I am doing my job! I’m doing it so well, everything is working fine!”

“Don’t let them see you sitting there. They don’t like it when someone sits. They expect to see you doing something. What did you do yesterday?”

“I un-did what I did the day before, thought about it, turned it around, and then re-did it exactly the way it was. I was satisfied I’d done it exactly correct the first time. It took most of the day. It’s working fine.”

“Well, find another one to do!”

“I’ve found another one to do nine times. I’m watching them all right now. Every single one is doing fine.”

“Over there! They look very busy, and they are behind!”

“I know. They do that very well!”

“Take one of their’s and do it.”

“Ok, but that will give them one less and give me one more! Their’s never work correctly until I do them. Because I did it, they let me keep it so I can watch it. Now I have 15 and they only have nine. I’m only one and they are three!”

“Are you counting? You’re kind of petty! They don’t like petty people!”

“Sooner or later, I’m going to have so many I won’t be able to keep up! I’ll fail!”

“Whatever. The guy you replaced got caught sitting there. They can’t stand it when someone is just sitting there.”

“I can’t quit. We need the money! I think I’ll become a writer!”

© Copyright 2011 gottagosee (UN: gottagosee at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.

gottagosee has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.

Watching Tomorrowland Grow

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I used to sit on the wooden, front porch with my feet up on the whitewashed rail looking over the top of, or between, my high tops, watching the world churn, left and right, right and left, every way across the sky, and up and down the sidewalk that borders my side of this boulevard.

I’d gone to Disneyland the first summer it opened. One of the rides was called ‘Tomorrow Land’, an animated diorama of what life would be like in the big city of tomorrow. On this spot, on Hawthorne Blvd. in Hawthorne, California, I believed I was watching change before my eyes. Looking back from now, it was changing every day!

I’d watch all of the different people, traveling inside of their bubbles, some large some small, some important bubbles, and some not. Most have learned not to pay attention to what is going on outside of their bubble except for those things that will harm them or get in their way! It was a kind of radar developed from years of learning and sorting that determines the size of the bubble you are comfortable in.

Me, I’m a little different. My bubble extends way out there across the pavement, past the sidewalk on the other side, right through and across six lanes of traffic, engulfing everyone else’s bubbles. Sometimes, when the tides of vehicles are a dull drone, I could let my imagination tell me the story before my eyes, feet up, my hands behind my head, observing, knowing all! Disney told me what was going to be, and there it was, the planes, the trains, the super twenty four lane highway, the people movers, shopping centers and skyscrapers. Disney told me!

Because I blended into the porch, oftimes only the soles of my shoes were visible on the street side of the porch guardrail, passersby would do things thinking they were unobserved. They’d swat their kid for whining, adjust their underwear or hose, talk to themselves, and pick their nose. I’d seen that stuff so many times I would hardly notice, because behind them and up in the sky, I was watching for my first jet airliner, soon it would be there Disney said.

This is the boulevard where I got the scar on my chin. That bike my brother built from salvaged parts only had one pedal, which worked out ok because you needed your other foot as a brake. When you needed to stop, you put your tennis shoe between the seat support tube and the rear tire, and sort of twisted and wedged it in there like a brake pad. It usually did the job fine, except one time!

That bike was too big for me in the first place. I had to run alongside of it, put one foot on the single pedal, throw my other leg up and over the seat, and center myself for balance. Once sitting on the seat, my Keds tennis shoe would lose contact with that pedal until it had started up on its journey back around. If it didn’t have enough speed to start it going up on the back side, you had to push down on the stub that didn’t have a pedal on the other side to bring the good pedal side up, timing was critical!

I remember coming out of the driveway and turning right. The boulevard was to the left. I didn’t ride that bike enough to enjoy being that high off the ground and one pedaling it beside all of that noisy traffic. The fact that there was no formal brake didn’t even enter into my fears! It wasn’t the number of cars as much as it was the roar they made when they accelerated out from the stoplights or the whoosh, silence, whoosh as each car went by.

So, I went to the right, one pedal, one pedal, one pedal, brake, turn the corner, one pedal, one pedal, one pedal to the corner, brake, one pedal, one pedal, downhill, getting up some new speed, one pedal, maybe brake, corner coming, brake, too late, corner, brake harder, boulevard, cars, green light, engines roaring behind me, brake, I ain’t gonna make it! I’m going out into the street and get smashed; the cars are roaring, a metal light pole, bang, stars, sky, screeeeeeech!

*****

The sky was blue; the earth stood still, the sidewalk was hard.

I had managed to slow down enough so that the bike and I hit the scalloped metal light pole straight on and had bounced back onto the sidewalk, separately. I’d gone over the top of the handlebars and my chin ricocheted off of that pole. The sight of me hitting that pole must have scared the bejesus out of the closest drivers because they all hit their brakes hard.

The next thing I remember was some guy cradling me up. The sidewalk was bouncing as the man ran toward a clinic on the corner of the next block. His route took me right past my front porch. My mother came running out, grabbed me like a halfback taking a handoff and ran across the street and through the open clinic door. The nice man had run ahead of us and held the door open.

I saw a moving row of ceiling squares with holes; I looked sideways and heard my mom thank this red shirted man. I looked the other way and saw my red shirted mom looking very worried.

Everything kind of calmed down for a moment. I heard a snip, snip and got cold as my red soaked white T shirt went past my eyes. Someone had their hand on my chin and they were pressing very hard. All motion stopped and someone said something about “six stitches”! I knew what stitches were. I had some on my knee once.

I tried to sit up, “I’m ok, don’t need stitches!”

I was too late. A strong hand held me, the needle came down toward my face, and sting, sting, numb, stitch, stitch, stitch, stitch, stitch, stitch, snip, and done.

Emptiness!

That’s all I can remember when I’m sitting there thinking back. I can rub my chin and feel the scar when I want to make sure it wasn’t something that I read. I can see where the old stoplight pole used to be. Hawthorne Blvd. is now an eight lane boulevard, so there is a bigger, newer stoplight pole on the new corner. The cars are all lower and longer and they don’t smell so much like blue smoke. Their windows are always up so I don’t hear the music as well anymore. There’s less noise when they take off from the stoplight too, but when something happens and they have to hit their brakes hard, that screech is just the same, and it gives me unpleasant visions and goose bumps up my spine, every time!

Those are the memories of our last week in that house. It was going to be torn down, because the widening of the road took up all of the space right up to the sidewalk and they want to turn that into an emergency and right turn lane.

The house was old and I know new things are coming. There’s a new ‘Supermarket’ way over on the other side. One morning, I saw Oscar Mayer’s Weiner mobile and a crowd in front of the market. I learned later it was the ‘Grand Opening’ and they were giving away free Oscar Mayer wiener whistles.

It seems like every house I’d ever lived in was torn down right after we moved. It really doesn’t matter I guess. I got to watch progress happening right in my own front yard. I have a million stories to tell about life as seen from that fantastic front porch, poop deck, stage, window to the world!

Did I ever tell you that I’d heard Roy Rogers yodeling “and the cattle are calling” on the TV inside the house? I spent years of hours, before paperbacks and beers, sitting out there when it was a four lane, yodeling while pretending to fish off of that front porch. I was really good, and I was sure everyone enjoyed it as they drove by. They must have, because I would see them several times as they cruised by on Hawthorne Boulevard, windows open, in that year 1957.

Well, time to go. Thanks for listening to my story. I have a new place that doesn’t have a front porch opened up to the world. I have a fenced in back yard that borders on a wash in Tucson. I have a beer and read my paperbacks back there, while on the other side of the fence, the world of bubbles passes by never seen by me and they never suspecting.

On a good day, when I have the Country Music Classics channel on the surround sound, ol’ Roy will start singing Cattle Call.

Ya, I still got it!

Help! I Just Killed the Bird of Paradise

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In my back yard is a beautiful oak tree. I purchased it, planted it, nourished it, and pruned it to its present magnificence. The lower limbs are trimmed high enough so I can mow without getting a branch in the eye.

From the Ramada outside of my humongous sliding glass door, I can see the two bird feeders, one hummingbird feeder and spike board that I put orange and apple slices on to feed the, pair plus one, Gila woodpeckers.

I started this hobby last winter during the extremely irregular cold that fell on Tucson. Food is energy and I like to have the birds around, so I fed them. I bought a book and started to identify each species that came into the yard. My wife even got into the act and tells me “I (speaking for herself) must have had thirty doves under the tree. I had all three Gila Woodpeckers, a Cardinal, a Hummingbird and that Pyro all at once,” although she never fills the feeders!

Winter changed to summer, and the local plants went to seed. I took my feeders down for the summer so the young quail and the young of everything else would not depend on me and learn to feed naturally.

See! I’m a truly caring and deliberate person. I have a conscience about nature and think of myself as a fairly good Earth steward.

Please hang with me. I’m eventually going to make a point!

Summer has turned to fall. I’ve retired from work after fifty-two years and have time to put the feeders back out and maintain them. Each day, when I’m not writing, I enjoy the chaos at the feeders. The birds that feed on the feeders kick seeds on the ground and the doves and quail bare the ground, walking in circles and chasing each other. I have a menagerie!

All my little chickees (baby talk) are getting plump and colorful. They even scold me when their feeders are empty. Now I’m obligated! They sit right there in that tree not four feet away and are on those feeders the second I walk away. My expense has gone from fifteen dollars a month to thirty, and they expect me to spend more because they keep inviting their relative’s relatives.

One day, I was sitting at the breakfast bar looking toward the patio door. A Coopers hawk swooped in and nailed one of the doves on the ground. It all happened quickly. There was an explosion of wings and feathers and forty of forty one made it out of there. I’d been noticing piles of feathers in the grass for a while now.

I moved slowly to the door edge and took a picture with the digital while Mr. Coopers was eating breakfast. When he was done, he took a drink from the water bowl on the ground, wiped his lips off and flew away. I got to witness another nature thing. Hooray for me!

The lawn needed mowing, so I cleaned up the feathers and other leftovers with the lawnmower, refilled the feeders, and went about my business.

About noon that same day, I only had the screen door closed; I heard the explosion of wings again. As I peeked around the corner of the door, a Peregrine falcon was perched on my fence overlooking the yard. He sat still for a few moments, realized he’d scared all the food away, and then silently glided down to the water dish and stepped right in it with both feet and just stood there. I think he was cooling himself. I could see a metal band on one leg which reminded me that raptors are protected.

So, I got to thinkin’ and realized what I’ve done is created a smorgasbord for, who knows, how many different predators! And those chubby little birds are probably spreading diseases amongst themselves bathing in their drinking water and fighting over the food that’s beginning to break me.

It all started because I was kind hearted.

BUT I SCREWED WITH MOTHER NATURE, and now I’m paying the price!

I feel a little guilty about all of this! Should I stop feeding the little chickees, so I don’t feed the predators? Should I keep feeding the birds, so I get to see the raptors too? What’s more important, me, my feelings or them?

Of all the answers I received, this person answered my question wonderfully. He said “what I witnessed in my back yard was going to happen somewhere near anyway! Enjoy the nature happening ‘right in your own backyard’. Enjoy seeing those predators up close, doing what predators do in the normal cycle of life.”

And Then the Artist Died

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I once knew a young man who dreamed, and then bought a piece of land to create a tree nursery. As sometimes happens, dreams can come easy, but fulfilling them can be difficult. It turned out; this piece of land couldn’t produce a healthy, profitable crop. The young dreamer discovered this when he planted his first crop of trees. They did come up from the ground, but spindly and almost naked.

He tested the soil and found it depleted of the vital life giving nutrients. He tested for worms and insects and found few living there. This piece of the earth was poison and anemic from many years of poor soil conservation.

The young nurseryman, determined to turn this land into a productive and healthy environment to raise his family, massaged and nursed this wretched piece of earth until life returned to it. Each year, his piece of Earth grew healthier as did his harvest of young trees.

As his land produced, so did his wife. Their two beautiful daughters grew up in the open air, with the rich work ethic this man and wife practiced. Another dream fulfilled! They did their jobs, each an artist with individual style, raising what each raises best. Both were artists in their own right.

I worked during the summers for Ray. He taught me, a fatherless boy, the things that successful men do. They handle business, other people, and life with panache. They hold their heads up and look other men in the eye. They do their best to do the things that are righteous and that make sense.

He planted his trees and bushes all over the state for shelterbelts to stop the prairie winds, and landscaping projects to make the country beautiful. No matter which direction I drove, I saw his hand in conservation, soil preservation, and beauty.

He created his style of art where there was once nothing. That’s what some artists do!

*****
I grew up and began my own adventures. These adventures took me far from my home, and Ray’s Nursery. Time passed, and I dreamt, created my family and a style of my own.

While I was gone, Ray grew old, sold the place, and passed on.

I returned home a few years later and drove out to the nursery for nostalgia’s sake. The large white and red sign that said Ray’s Nursery was gone, and there was a tractor cultivating corn where the young trees should have been.

I was heartbroken and angry!

A man spends his whole life conceiving, planning, laboring, and succeeding. When he dies, someone comes along and ploughs it under, turning new soil to the top, and burying all of the memories deep. In a few years, the memories of what was created here will be forgotten.

I ask myself, “Why bother fighting so hard! When I’m gone, someone will only come along and bury everything I’ve done, and as time moves on, what I’ve created will be forgotten.”

*****

A writer’s mind is a funny thing. The conscious mind handles day to day tasks while back in the mind’s workshop, there is serious creating going on. Most people never realize it is happening.

That’s why there are so few artists. Learned artists and writers not only know it’s happening, but massage it, nurture it, and give it room to work.

When it is ready, sometimes with a little encouragement, the mind produces the most remarkable things. For a writer, it may be only an idea, but hopefully a complete story pours out, like this one.

Once I got over being angry, I remembered what I once thought about driving hundreds of miles in any direction, and seeing Ray’s handiwork. There are thousands and thousands of trees, elms, cottonwood, plum and cherry, still there, feeding and giving shelter to wildlife, holding the soil down, and they will be doing this for centuries to come. Ray’s signature is written so large on the land; it can’t be seen by most, and no one can bury it all!

I know it’s there.

The question is, “What can I do to honor this artist?”

I just say, “Thank you Ray!”

Then publish this piece “in his memory”.

Moby Ben

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Moby Ben

Heart thumping and racing, I ran from the one eyed harbor thug. A quick turn to the right, and I ran up the gangplank of a tall sailing ship. An overly dressed man in a tall hat was sitting at a table with a quill in his hand.

As he wrote in a large book, I could hear him bark questions at the first man in a long line of sailors. I got in the line and kept my face turned away from “one-eye” as he tried to locate me in the chaos of the dock. I saw him turn and retrace his steps, slowly searching.

This ship smelled different than the one from which I was running. It smelled of ambergris and burned whale oil. A ‘whaler’ heading out to the hunt was signing on a crew. The ship I escaped from smelled of slaves kept too long in the hold. I think the memory and that stench shall never leave me.

I was shanghaied in Portsmouth, forced to work as a deck hand on that slaver, and made a promise to myself; I would escape first chance I had, wherever I was. This is the place, Nantucket!

The gentleman hollered, “Next!” as the line shortened one man’s worth.

I heard him tell everyone, “This ship leaves on the tide,” which was around ‘Ten’ tomorrow morning.

Realizing I was not ready for another eternity at sea, an internal battle ensued. Should I stay on this ship and be safe from the slaver, or should I pursue my fortune inland where I have never been?

Needing time to think, I cautiously walked down the gangplank looking left and right. I need to move, make a decision, so I let my luck lead me to the right, past the name on the bow of the ship.

“PEQUOD,” A strange name I mumbled to myself.

“What’s the worst that could happen if I chose the ship?”

Having given ‘luck’ the tiller, ‘luck’ would have this day! I walked smartly past the gang plank, still thinking about the name, but never looking up.

I turned landward, west.

‘Special Bargain’ Poem

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This poem would be a bargain,
if you paid double the price.
But, it’s a first time offering so,
I thought half would be nice!

To save you even more,
I’m writing half as much as I normally would.
And if you’ve read my other writings,
You’d know why that’s twice as good!

If you’re buying this poem today,

I’ll charge for two stanzas, but give you three,
And if you buy this all the way to the end,
the truth is, this poem’s on me!

© Copyright 2011 gottagosee

The ‘Hubrilic’

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The ‘Hubrilic’

I’ve been writing almost all of my life. My wife saves all notebooks and scraps of paper she has found lying around, and in my pockets at the washing machine. Recently, some limericks arrived in a box of my stuff my mother (86) saved from grade school, scout camp, high school, and college. I’ve written ideas down, short stories, memories, and of course, poetry.

My most current writing adventures are in what started out to be a political blog. I’ve spent two years bloviating, and actually created some articles worthy of national attention. Some of my comments in a Washington, D.C. daily, actually changed conversation threads and terrorized the opposition.

I’ve been a member of WDC since 2007. At first, I read and critiqued other writers gently. I slowly began to create my own writings capable of the top twenty-five percent, maybe. There are exceptionally talented people leaving great creations here!

There is also a plethora (herd) of others. I’m trying extremely hard not to be one of that herd. Even though, I’ve been writing for years, I realize that I need to develop further as a writer, so I try writing something of everything. I could best be described as having moments of pure genius surrounded by a ring of mediocrity.

One night, while trying to write a stock poem called “I Am a Weary Traveler”, a whole nonrelated stanza popped into my mind. I’d been reading about the different contests to be entered. One was a limerick contest as we were close to St. Patrick’s Day. This must have been working in a corner of my brain because out popped this non-limerick (but close) stanza:

I began to write the perfect poem,

But realized I can’t!

To close the door on other’s dreams,

Is something that I shan’t!

I began to laugh out loud. I ran into the living room and recited it to my daughter, who also began to belly laugh. There was a short rocks glass with ice and Coke Zero in my hand, which usually had a little Bacardi in it. She asked me how many of those I’d had and I told her there was only Coke Zero in it. She laughed some more and told me, I needed rest.

After looking up the word shan’t, and inserting the apostrophe that was not there, I realized writings this important need a name. I also realized if I wrote the perfect poem, I would ruin poetry for everyone for evermore. I’m too new at this writing art to do that to everyone. I’d had one of those “genius” moments too early in my career. Alas, through the eyes of the professionals, I had not paid my dues!

I would end up ruining it for every little girl and boy that wanted to write about love and their first love, the darkness of reality, and their hopes for the future.

I would ruin it for all of those poets that write line after line with a word brush I just don’t have yet. But what shall I call these four lines that saved poetry for the world? It’s not a limerick! It’s way too historical to be a just a four line poem! I left it on my “white board” for a couple of days with the trial title “Poetry Reprieve”, and let it digest.

On Saturday afternoon, I woke from a nap and immediately looked up at the “white board”. It’s a Hubrilic*. Hopefully the last one the world will ever see! There just isn’t room for another poet, that writes as good as me!

Gees, I did it again. IS THERE NO END!

*A combination of hubris and limerick. (Hubrilic)

© Copyright 2011 gottagosee (UN: gottagosee at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
gottagosee has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.

Benjamin

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“It looks like I’m the last dog to go home!” I said to JB, as he was putting the bar stools up on the tables for the cleaning lady.

“Yep!” he said, “Time to close up the shop, it’s been a long day.”

I stood to leave.

JB said I didn’t have to leave in a hurry, because he still had to fill the coolers.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a ‘house quarter’.  It had fingernail polish on one side so it could be used in the pool table or juke box and wouldn’t be counted as profit at the end of the day.

He told me to put it in the Juke and hit C 3, as he flipped it across the room to me.

I missed and watched as it rolled across the floor, straight into a hole in the corner by the back-bar.

“Damn!” I exclaimed.  “It rolled right into a hole in the wall!”

I got down on my knees to get a better look.

“Don’t worry about it.” JB said.  “That’s Benjamin’s place.  See the little table with the little checkered table cloth and little chair, just off to the side, and behind the back-bar?  That quarter will be on that table in the morning!”

“You’re joking!” I said.

“Nope!  Every night, before I lock up, I put a shot glass of beer and a piece of “Nut Goodie” on that table, and every morning when I open, there will be a stack of all the coins people dropped during the day!”

He poured a shot of beer and put it on the little table.

“Stop by at nine when I open.  You’ll see!” He challenged.

He held the door open.  I laughed and headed out.

“See you at nine!” I said chuckling, while giving JB an artificial nod.

I had no intention of showing up at nine.

But I did!