Monthly Archives: October 2022


A friend of mine sent me a book by Verlyn Klinkenborg , a member of the editorial board of The New York Times , called ” Several short sentences about writing ” and I’m just over half way through reading it and it’s pretty good , I think , but I’m not sure why he sent it to me unless he thinks that I need a little help in my old age at writing or , at least , with writing sentences .

Not sure . Doesn’t matter .

I appreciate the gift . Might inspire me . Might energize me to write .

The friend who sent me the book is a writer , always has been during the almost fifty years that I’ve known him , as well as a musician (mainly guitar )and an artist who draws with a particular style drawings , mostly , and , lately , a prolific poet and blogger and , as well , a wonderful story teller if a bit meandering at times ; although his profession , despite starting out and ending up with teaching , was in a completely different realm , I’d say , of pursuit . Well , he had to make money to support his family and , as most of us know , teaching is not usually the place to make your fortune so at some point he temporarily ( for about thirty five years , I think ) abandoned that profession and applied himself with his various skills and determination to another field of endeavor but eventually he went back to teaching at a college level and , I think , found satisfaction in that and , perhaps , wondered if maybe he might have stuck with teaching from the beginning but maybe the thought never popped into his mind because he has otherwise built a good life for himself and his family for all of those intervening years earning a better salary that he would have in the teaching game and learning another universe of information and gaining a multitude of life skills from a whole different -from- teaching perspective and maybe knowing that , some day , he’d be teaching again.

Nice going ! , I say .

Oh , by the way , changing the subject , that trial in Wisconsin of the guy who drove an SUV through a parade killing several people and injuring dozens finally wound up . The jury went in for deliberations and I guess I blinked or went for a glass of water or something and they were back in the courtroom having determined a verdict. The judge was reading the verdicts when I peeked in. Seventy-six counts . Guilty on all of them as far as I know . Good . Justice done .

Next week comes the penalty phase of the proceedings . The prosecutor asked if some of it could be done over Zoom . The judge okayed that .

I don’t know if Wisconsin has the death penalty or not . I don’t know if I believe in the death penalty or not . Good thing I’m not on that jury . ( Of course , now that I checked on Google, evidently Wisconsin does not have a death penalty . )

Meanwhile , a couple of friends of ours are coming over to dinner . He’s a gourmet cook and she’s a talented decorator and gardener , but I doubt either of them has read a book of any sort from cover to cover any time in the last several years . Everyone is different . I haven’t cooked a gourmet meal . Ever. Or , for that matter , ever decorated a room . Ever .

But does assembling a table from Ikea count ? No , I didn’t think so. But assembling a table from Ikea requires a certain set of skills , nevertheless , you know , and extreme patience and some other interpersonal social skills in order not to alienate others in the vicinity during the process . As our friend Nancy says : Just saying !

I guess we all wander our own deserts always hoping for a Promised Land .



Filed under humor

older times


Filed under humor


Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother forty whacks ………….

I was reading today about homelessness and health care . One homeless person said , ” I’m my own doctor .” That stuck in my mind .

My neighbor a few years ago used the same phrase about his yard . I had recommended that he hire the gardener who cleans up our yard once a week . ” I’m my own gardener ,” he said . He said it with a definite ring of arrogance . That’s how I heard it .

………………….and when she’d seen what she had done , she gave her father forty-one .

I’m thinking about a little rhyme about the suspected ax murderer Lizzy Borden and a few other crimes from long ago in the USA . No , I’m not obsessed with them , but for today …………, well , here we are .

There was a guy in Los Angeles in the 1920s who kidnapped the young daughter of a well-off businessman . I think the girl was twelve . For ransom . He had plans to attend divinity school and he wanted money to pursue that goal . No lie .

The girl died during the process . The guy disemboweled her , stuffed her with newspapers , sewed her up and propped her up in a window to trick her father into thinking that she was okay so he’d pay the ransom .

It didn’t work .

I have a random memory of reading of a student who walked into the Principal’s office at a high school in Pasadena , also in the 1920s , and using an ax to chop up the Principal’s desk , etc. The Principal exited the office and called the police . I guess the boy was agitated about his grades or something .

Also , we had the cop in Arcadia in 1927 who was on routine patrol about midnight and was murdered . Three nineteen-year-olds were sitting in a stolen car near a street corner not far from where I am right now . . They had driven out from downtown Los Angeles evidently intent upon robbing an Arcadia bar-b-que joint . The cop parked his vehicle , approached them on foot , and asked for identification . The guy in the back seat emptied a pistol into the officer and the police car , instantly killing the cop .

I saw in this morning’s paper that they just picked up some suspect to the murder of a local rapper . Found him in Vegas . They’ll bring him back to Los Angeles for trial .

So on we go .

My neighbor doesn’t work on his yard , At first , he went out with various high-end tools to attempt some work , but they didn’t work well for him . For example , his yard vacuum would make a lot of noise but didn’t really pick up the tree droppings or other debris lying around . Soon he gave up his efforts and installed fake grass and left it at that . ” I’m my own gardener !” in practice didn’t really pan out for him .

I had a feeling from the beginning that’s how it would go . He never does any gardening !

His yard accumulated leaves and sticks and crud until , if you ask me for my conjecture , his wife finally got on his case about the mess . He then hired my gardener to clean up his yard once a week . The worm turns. Well , that’s not the appropriate saying , but you know what I mean .

I’ve been watching a Wisconsin trial off and on for the last several days . The defendant is a man named Darrell Brooks . He’s the guy who drove an SUV through the Christmas parade in Waukesha in 2021 . He killed six people and injured at least sixty-two others .

I say without hesitation that he did it after watching much of ten days of trial so far . The prosecution has video of him driving through the parade . They have video and witnesses tracking his movements before , during , and after his crime . They have the red SUV that he committed the atrocity with , witnesses tracing his steps after abandoning the vehicle , etc. etc. He told the police that he didn’t have a car , never was in a car that day . Keys to that car , which is registered in his mother’s name , were found in his pocket when he was arrested .

And on and on and on .

He wanted to act as his own attorney . He fired his two public defenders after the judge danced around with him about it for two or three days . I say danced around because she had to put him out of the courtroom into an adjoining room a couple of times for bad behavior . Incredibly bad behavior . The judge has been patient with his antics day after day after day .

Today he began his defense . The first two witnesses sounded like prosecution witnesses . Brooks asked meaningless questions as he dug his grave minute by minute deeper and deeper .

Oh , and he objects to being called that name . He has repeated that objection aloud hundreds of times . The judge responds , ” Your objection is noted . ” She must be tired of that .

At one point the judge admonished him to do something . Sit down ? Stop interrupting ? Stop making comments under his breath during trial ? He demanded to know if she ( the judge ) was asking him , or was she telling him ? If she was telling him , he said , then he would not do it . He’s a grown man , he told the judge , with children and no one , NO one , tells him what to do . The judge said that she was admonishing him . A couple of days later he tried the same assault . Are you telling me or asking me ?” , he demanded .

” I don’t have to ask you ,” she said . ” I’m telling you !” Her patience was wearing thin .

And on it goes .

I couldn’t help but wonder if the jailers would be as patient with him in the prison for the rest of his life when he was told to do something . No , probably not .

A day or two more of trial , as far as I can figure . I guess that he might as well mouth -off and drag the farce out for as long as he can . It will be his last opportunity , I think , to get away with such nonsense .

Of course , it takes only one juror to refuse to convict him and he avoids immediate punishment .

He has a large Bible on the desk as he tries to defend himself . As a song says : God might forgive you

but I won’t .

Lizzy Borden stood trial in 1892 for the murder of her parents . She was acquitted . No one else was ever accused of the crime .

Yeah , you say : what a weird post ! What about this neighbor , the ” I’m my own gardener ” guy . How does he fit in ? How indeed !

And on we go .


Filed under humor



Filed under humor

no news

A good friend of mine , Joe , sent me an email yesterday . It was a newsletter from the college where he got his master’s degree . ” Scroll down ,” he wrote ; so I did . I expected to see , maybe , an article about Joe or at least a picture of him , maybe in the background . Incidental . Who knows, I thought , maybe a short article about him : Graduate Makes Good . But I didn’t see anything .

I was reading the L.A.Times today . There were at least a couple of long articles about people complaining about their prospects for retirement . Not that they shouldn’t . It’s just that to me that’s not news .So you’re not saving enough to outdo rising inflation or rising prices on just about everything ? Sorry , but I don’t want to spend my retirement time expecting news but instead reading about your particular idiosyncratic retirement concerns . But good luck anyway !

My friend Bill , the surveyor , is 77 years old and still working and not because he has to . He was telling me that he didn’t have much work last week and he’s a little concerned about it . He’s worried that the whole economy is going into a slump and he won’t have much work in the coming year. I suggested that he quit working . Just an idea . He has enough money . He agreed that yes he has enough money . Always saved more that he made each month , he said . Likes to dabble in the stock market ; owns a lot of stocks. I pointed out to him that he does not live extravagantly . So what’s the problem !

I think I’ll be seeing a follow-up article about Bill in the L.A Times , about how this guy named Bill is worried about the future of the economy and wonders if he has enough money set aside to withstand retirement . I won’t read it , though , even if it’s about someone I know . It’s not news .

Ain’t a newspaper ‘sposed to have news ? Not enough reporters these days , I think , to go out and report , so we get these unwieldy expatiations about what so-and-so thinks about this -or-that . No one has to go too far from their phone or laptop to come up with this sort of “news”. We’ll all recycle information from the internet and be satisfied . So , by the way , what do you think about this or that ?

So I gave up the newspaper for the moment and scrolled down the newsletter sent to me by my friend Joe . I still expected to see something about him in there . Maybe at least a short article along the lines of ” Graduate Makes Good ” , or at least a photo with his image incidentally in the background . Something .

Instead I noticed a short obituary of a man who had been a student of mine in the 1970s . He had been Joe’s student too . Way back when . He passed away recently .

That’s news .

I remembered the boy , back when he was a fifth grader . Joe taught him in the 6th grade . Joe taught his older sister , too , and I had one of his younger brothers a couple of years later . I remember his parents , too . Nice people . They respected me and liked me , too , I think . I couldn’t say that of many parents of my students in later years .

Joe , who remembers the former student well too said , ” I don’t know these people ,” since our memories relate to people , places , times , and events that happened almost fifty years ago ; but we exchanged fond memories over the phone about what happened with those people so long ago .

As an old retired teacher , I revel in the knowledge that one of my students made it , made a good life for himself , and finally cashed out with dignity albeit somewhat early . What I know I know from the brief obituary that Joe passed along to me . I hope that all of my former students make it through life with respect , love , and purpose , and I always like to hear about it when that happens . Of course , as Joe says , ” I don’t know these people .”

What’s that old saying ? No news is good news ? Give me some good news . How about that !


Filed under humor