When Putin Opens My Letter

When Putin opens my letter, he will be disheartened. He will see several paragraphs. He will want with all his heart to read it, but he has several million other letters to get through. He will toss the letter.

He will then open the next letter and discover, as he suspected from the envelope, that it is from a child. It includes drawings, one of a sad little girl because Putin is being mean to her nice friends, and one from a happy little girl, because he has had a change of heart. Putin will smile faintly, for everyone loves children. He will put this letter aside. Possibly he will show it to his grandchildren someday.

He will open the next letter. It will also be from me—not the same letter but worded and reasoned anew. He will roll his eyes. “Another letter from that windbag Harley,” he will mutter, and toss it in the trash.

(from 2017)


Diedre Wins a Skirmish

The overnight tech is tired, overweight, underpaid, overworked, as she would tell you, (likely omitting the 2nd item) and perhaps it is so. Her rough treatment of those in her charge has hurt some of them and they dread disturbing her. They hold off until absolutely necessary. Only Diedre, recuperating from a fractured shoulder and hip, determines within her heart to win her over, as she tells us later, with a twinkle in her eye.

When my wife calls the nursing home, she is told that Diedre is not available because she is doing rehab in her room. ‘How long will it be?’ she asks. ‘Oh, I don’t know,’ comes the answer. ‘I think they just go in there to visit; she is so nice.’

She is. We all know it. Camping with us and the kids long ago, we would say about those in the neighboring cabin: ‘Diedre, go find out about those people.’ Off she would go with a disarming ‘hi.’ Fifteen minutes later she would return with their entire life stories.

She wins a skirmish. Coming to her side at 2AM for pain, the tech says, ‘I hate to see you suffering like this. You really are a good patient.’ ‘So she is coming around, just a little bit,’ Diedre smiles and chalks up the win.

[Edit: I spoke with Diedre after this post was written. She referred to that tech as "the sweetest little thing," before clarifying that she really wasn't little. I had just thrown that in on a hunch that she was overweight. I really didn't know. When Diedre left after several weeks recuperation, some of the patients cried. The staff begged her to visit, adding that many former patients say they will, but never do. They do not know that, with Diedre, it is a certainty.

Does she 'witness?' No, not particularly, though she is always ready should something come up. Rather, she is one of Jehovah's Witnesses, it quickly comes into conversation naturally, as when a person mentions what they do for a living, and thereafter everything she does or says becomes a witness.

When she attends to the hospital stays of her own children (who unfortunately, have had a few) she quickly is on a first name basis with every tech, nurse, and doctor in sight, who all look forward to exchanging a few words with her. She doesn't look at each person as 'an opportunity to give a witness.' Instead she looks at them as an opportunity to make a human connection. Sometimes that leads to a verbal witness. It always leads to a nonverbal one.]



Shocked at Any Time for No Reason at All

When the dog arrived at the house where it knows it can be shocked at any time for absolutely no reason at all, it rushed to see Jen, because it likes Jen. But then it decided it had seen Jen enough and went back into the car, atop it’s bed which had been brought along for the stay. I spilled it off the bed with difficulty when I pulled it from the car and it trotted down the driveway past the spot where it would have been shocked had its collar been on, thus indicating either it had learned nothing at all from the dog restraint system or that it was smarter than anybody might have figured, realizing that absent the collar, it is immune. It kept trotting down the road, as though it would trot all 30 miles home, but my sharp voice, made sharper at the approach of a car, made it pause, reconsider, and reluctantly return with tail shyly wagging.

This is not the usual dog restraint system, where you get too close to the buried wire and get zapped. This is one of the newer 'opposite' models, where you stray too far from the central transmitter and get zapped. Everyone feels bad that the dog is so scared of it and wonders how it happened. There is such as thing as properly acclimating a dog to the system, but it is very hard to believe that my friend would make any mistakes in that regard, because she never does. Maybe there is some quirk about the device itself.

At any rate, he acclimates. I am told he gets better and better. Picking up the dog, my wife and I always ask if it was any trouble. Our daughter’s friends invariably blow off the question as almost too stupid to ask. When I take the dog to the dog park, almost to the person people tell me how good natured he is.




The Man Just Likes to Restore Mustangs

What can I say? The man just likes to restore Mustangs.

If you set your price in the thirties, the cousin's husband says, potential buyers beat down your door. But if you build it thoroughly modern and set your price in the fifties, "that slows them down a little." He has shipped one to Germany and two to Australia. The Aussie sent him back a photo of the car with a surfboard strapped on top. This did not set him back at all. "It's his toy. He can do what he wants."

Are unrestored Mustangs common? "They're getting mighty hard to find," he says.


My Brother Does Nothing But Cheat

On my second turn, I scrabbled to make ‘records.’ But then my brother cheated to also scrabble and make ‘painter’ which tied the score, probably using an ordinary letter flipped over, trying to make me believe it was a blank. Never in our playing have two triple word score squares been exposed so soon. I took one to make ‘hair,’ mostly so that he could not use it. But then he cheated to take the second, making ‘pup,’ so I could not use it.

Soon thereafter I traded in some letters and he lyingly said I was a wuss for not playing through the ones I already had. Then he traded in some letters, and I astutely observed that if he were really any good at Scrabble, he would be able to use his existing letters.

Through skillful playing I built up a significant lead. But then he cheated to put his ‘x’ on a triple letter tile, making a word both ways. It is amazing the damage such an unfair move can do, and with that underhanded technique, he almost closed the gap. I brilliantly surged ahead still more, showing magnificent command of ever-evolving language, employing that new-age flakey word ‘qi,’ which amazingly, can be pluralized. But then he cheated to put down a ‘v’ and make both ‘vet’ and ‘vid.’ Who would think that ‘vid’ is a word? It is so unfair.

By doing this, he deceitfully deprived me of the opportunity to use my ‘v’ in the same place, I had missed the move altogether while he was dishonestly distracting me, and I was stuck with the letter at the end.

Through such despicable methods, he actually came from behind to beat me, 368 to 364. It was a very sad day for truth and justice.

IMG_0376 (2)



On another occasion.....

.I saw no need to snap the photo below, but then my wife reminded me of my brother. It is always hard Scrabble playing with him because he does nothing but cheat. Nonetheless I decisively thrashed him last night. The victory would have been greater were he not keeping score.