Birthday Dinner 2016

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

February 23, 2016

Today would have been Kathy’s 61st birthday.
I am going to celebrate with a nice steak dinner. Kathy always liked a nice steak.
For reasons that I will not go into here, I did not celebrate the birthday in this way last year, but I think it might become a tradition.

Fleming’s is a good steakhouse. I am thinking of a ribeye, though a porterhouse would be more historically accurate. When we first met, Kathy would grill porterhouse steaks for us on a hibachi grill on the little patio behind her apartment in Long Beach. But these days, I prefer the ribeye.

Reservation made for 7:00 pm. Table for one.
It is a stormy night. The restaurant is in a part of town that I don’t know very well, so I have some trouble finding it. An building in the parking lot of a local mall. In any case, here I eventually am. Stormy Tuesday, (I guess Tuesday really is just as bad) the place is mostly empty. I get a table near the bar. I explain to the waitress that I am in no particular hurry.

Bombay Sapphire martini, up, with a twist to start. Then a shrimp cocktail for appetizer with a glass of sauvignon blanc, ceasar salad (while finishing the sauvignon blanc). Then the 14 ounce ribeye (medium rare), baked potato, asparagus and brussels prouts. I don’t notice until later that the sides are meant to be shared. I don’t know why they can’t offer smaller portions, but no matter. Nothing much matters tonight. Besides, maybe I am sharing it. The food is good. I get a cabernet sauvignon for the dinner.

All very good, but I don’t eat everything. Some needs to go home to Drake. I get a cheesecake with coffee for dessert. Then finish the night with a glass of Port (Graham’s 20 year Tawny). I remember this because I asked the waitress to write it down for me.

So, that is our birthday dinner more than a year
has passed now and I wanted to write it down so as not
to forget.

Sitting in that restaurant with nothing
to do but enjoy a dinner at a table for one.
Which is nearly the same as nothing at all to do.
Nothing to do, for quite some time.

Leaving the restaurant, the storm has passed.
Stepping off the curb to go to my car, I glance back.
Thinking I heard someone call for me.
But no.
I am still alone.
Almost home.


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Alaina arrives

Sorry, this is just an announcment that I forgot to make back in February 2016.

Alaina will be with us for a little while.

I know what you are saying:  “What is a little while?”

I don’t know.

Oh, well maybe she is just replacing Jeremy.

In the morning, we did see evidence of Jeremy.

But it hasn’t been in a week or more.

Jeremy had, perhaps a better place to be.

And the rest of us, not too long before.

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To Snuggles


And then his name was ‘Snuggles’

The old man and the old lady were by now nearly the same person.  As also the little girl and the little dog.

Returning from the walk, the old man wants to show her that some rabbits have eaten the tomato plant.   So, they look.  But it is not a rabbit at all and soon enough they (she really) see the culprits, hornworms.  The old man doesn’t like it.  There are four of them.  He picks one off and puts it off in the weeds.  Same with two more.  She has some interest in the fourth.

“Wait, I want to look at it.”

He is not happy, but he hands the leaf on which the caterpillar rests.


Well, she is liking it.  Enchanted perhaps.  But it can’t go on too long.

“Let’s put him out on these leaves, so he might go on.”

“I want this one.  Look, you can pet him.  He is soft.”

Well, he has a thought that maybe this can be a lesson.  A glance back at the tomato plant shows that there is not much hope for him out here.  Maybe we can raise this thing, and I don’t have to touch it.  Okay, we can get a jar, and put the remaining leaves and the caterpillar, and see what happens.

“His name is Joey.”

But before too long:  “His name is Sparky.”

So, we (I mean they) take him inside.  The man looks for a suitable container.  Finds a jar with a lid.  Drills holes in the lid (does he really need air?), puts the rest of the tomato leaves, and then . . .

Two hours later it is clear that the girl is an Aristotelian.  I mean a careful observational biologist.  The old man is waiting for the “Of Mice and Men” moment, but there is no chance of that.  She is handling it, and it is handling her.

After two hours of such careful observation:  “You know why it is so soft,” she says, “it has fur.”

It will have to sleep in the jar.  It can’t sleep in the bed with you, because you might roll over and squish it.  So, it spends the night in the jar, eating.  And pooping.  The poops are kind of pretty, but the leaves are gone, and it is amazing how much of the leaf is waste.  He grows a quarter inch over night, and the old man, and maybe the little girl, start to wonder where they can get a bigger jar, and more tomato leaves.


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The Lady Game

All the world’s a stage

And all the men and women merely players.

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages.

Scene 1, living room with sofa and coffee table.  Books strewn about.

A [as A]: Let’s play the lady game.

T [as P]: Okay, I am being quiet anyway.

A [as A]: [ducking under the table When you hear this ‘errrh errh’, that means she is knocking at the door. And when yo hear this: ‘rururr’, that means the door is opened.  She has a package and you don’t know what it is. And you say there is something under the table. errrh errh.

T [as P]: Oh hey who’s th

A [as A]: rururr She’s in now.

T [as P]: Oh, hey, how are you.  I see you have a package, looks like a present for somebody.

T [as L]: Yeah, it is.  I just saw something I though you would like, so I got it for you.  I wrapped it up for a surprise.

T [as P]: Oh thanks, that will be fun.

A [as D, quietly]: wooof

T [as P]: Oh yeah.  You know what, there is something under this table.  I have been waiting for it to come out, but it seems to be maybe scared or something.  It might be a dog, or at least a puppy, or something.  So, maybe if we are not too noisy, he will show himself.

T [as L]: Okay, let’s be quiet for some time.  Don’t open the present right now.

[A (as P?) peeks from under the table]

T [as P]: Oh, there it is coming out

A [as A]: No, I want to tell you something.  You say, maybe if we go in the other room, he will come out.  You go in the other room, and close the door.

[A disappears under the table.]

T [as L]: You know, maybe if we go in the other room he might come out and we can see him.

A [as D softly]: wooof

T [as P]: Well, yeah, but I am kind of tired right now.  I really feel like just sitting here, or maybe even lay down on the couch.

A [as A]: No, you go in the other room.

T [as P]:  Oh, maybe you are right,  and I would like to see what it is.  Ok, let’s go in the other room, for a while.  Maybe I will get a cup of coffee first.  You want anything?

T [as L]: No, I’m fine.  I’ll wait for you in the other room.

exeunt T as P, T as L

[A (as A) from under the table, loudly]:  And close the door.

Scene 2, Office, love seat, library table with computer, a flat screen TV in front of the love seat. P sitting on love seat, sipping a cup of coffee.  Door is closed.

[Door swings open, A as D runs in (on all fours), hides behind the love seat.]

T [as P]: Hey, there it is, but now it is hiding here.

T [as L]: Yeah, it looked like a dog, but what kind, it was sort of white, wasn’t it.

T [as P]: Well, maybe a puppy, might be a Dalmatian puppy, seemed to have some black on it.  But you know, Dalmatian puppies don’t have spots right away.

[A (as D?) peeks from behind the love seat]

T [as P]:  Hey, there he is!

A [as A]: No, I am telling you something.  I am a Dalmatian puppy, and I have my spots.

[A goes back behind the love seat]

T [as L]:  Maybe we could get some food for it, might be hungry.

T [as P]: That’s a thought.  I will go see what I have.

exit T [as P]

enter T [as P] with small plate of broccoli, sits back on love seat.  A [as D] runs and hides under the table.

T [as P]:  Here puppy, you want some broccoli.

A [as A, from under the table]: Those are treats.

T [as P]: Oh, right, here puppy you want a treat.

[A as D comes out and approaches the broccoli [as treat]]

T [as L]: Oh, look how cute.  He seems friendly.

[A as D takes the broccoli [as treat]]

T [as P]: Yes, very cute, hello, puppy.

[T [as P] pets the puppy.]

[A [as D] stretches and lays down on the rug.  Then gets up and paws the TV.  Eventually, turns the TV on.

T [as L]:  Looks like maybe he wants to watch TV.  You think he might like Octonauts?

A [as D]: Woof, Woof.

T [as P]:  Well, I guess so.  Come here puppy, you can sit here with me.

[A [as P] runs (on all fours) and sits next to T [as P] on the love seat.  She turns and looks at T [as P].

A [as D or maybe A]:  Can I be a human now?

T [as P or maybe T]: You can be a human whenever you want.  I think you make a very nice human, though I am not sure which act or role you are in or playing.  Pretty sure I am near second childishness, not quite mere oblivion.

Curtain on T [as P] and A [as A] sitting on love seat, A [as A] munching broccoli.

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what now

I think this must be what a leaf feels like when it falls from its tree.

Lawrence maybe wasn’t always truthful, but sometimes he was right. I am at a loss.  More later, when I think of it.  Jeremy is gone.


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Our Dear Kathy

A Memorial Service will be held August 9, 2014 3:00 PM at Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham.

August 9, 2014 3:00 PM

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I bought some carrot seeds.  I think I can grow some carrots.

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Remembrance of things lost

“The oil in the hold is leaking, sir. We must up Burtons and break out.”

“Up Burtons and break out? Now that we are nearing Japan; heave-to here for a week to tinker a parcel of old hoops?”

“Either do that, sir, or waste in one day more oil than we may make good in a year. What we come twenty thousand miles to get is worth saving, sir.”

“So it is, so it is; if we get it.”

I left it somewhere, but I don’t remember now exactly where. Maybe I have lost it entirely. But, then it is the sort of thing that gets lost. Small, and easily mislaid. Still, I wish I knew where it was. It should be in my jacket pocket, but it isn’t. Or on my office desk, but not there either. So, I look. Where do I last remember it? Last night, in the bar, reading quotes from Lawrence which I had copied out from the book to the notebook. Yes, that’s right, something about riding a bicycle up a hill, and painting pictures from photographs (a miserable business apparently). I had that written out in the little notebook.

An R50, made in Japan. My sister noticed that I noticed, and she sent it to me for my birthday, I think. But I don’t think she would mind much if I lost it. A small thing like that, you are just going to misplace it sometime, and then there it goes. It is better not to be so attached to things, and yet. Where is it? What did I have in it anyway, nothing personal or important. Everything is replacable. Well, not everything, but this thing at least.

I got up from the table, distracted by something, so I might have put it down then walked out without it. I should call that place and ask if anyone found it, but who would find it? I put my name on it, but otherwise some random notes about what I have been doing. A grocery list, and maybe some sky charts, well, not charts really, but pictures of what things look like through the 25 mm objective on a clear night. Clear night? I should get a light pollution filter. It might help me find things again. I should not have carried it with me, or taken it out of my pocket, but it is too tempting. Sometimes, it is fun to look for things, and sometimes it is just aggravating. Maybe being sure it is up there. Whereas, this notebook, I don’t know. Intentionality is that way. We look for intentionally inexistent objects. M65 M66 in Leo. Not inexistent, not entirely anyway, maybe there is something. The notebook, probably just gone. I should forget about it. Think of something else.

Sometimes I put it in the car. So, now I am hopeful? But I want to give it up. Things are not supposed to matter. Anyway, it is not in the car. It is not in the car.

Well, then, it is lost, and I can just forget about it. But I have had things slip off and end up under the seat in the car. Maybe.

Well, there was one time when I lost my Peterson field guide. And my notebook and the bag I carry them in. This one turned out nice. At the airport on Dauphin Island, we were looking at some tri-colored herons, and maybe there was also a Peregrine falcon that flew by, so it is not wonder that we misplaced the bag. Anyway I should know better than to carry everything together like that. It’s all together, so it all gets lost at the same time. I had meant to transcribe those notes into a more permanent location, but of course, never did.

But then Kathy, reading the bird blog sees a lost and found entry: found a field guide and notebook at the Airport on Dauphin Island. “Hey, that’s gotta be Tim’s”, she says. We respond and then something happens. I get in touch with whoever has it, but he is in Mobile. I could, and most likely will sometime, drive down there, but he says that he will be in Birmingham this coming week end, and if I can call him sometime, we can meet. Well, it feels good to find something, even after you had talked yourself into not caring much anymore,and that sort of thing can be replaced, after all, as it can.

Trouble is, between now and the week end, I lose the phone number, and I don’t hear from him, and the week end comes and goes and no books. Again: “Well, that’s okay, I didn’t really expect it. But I did expect it.” But then, as the songwriter says: “. . . must you wait? just you wait!” But then, another email. “Did you get your book?” “Well, no, but I guess it is in Mobile with someone, I am not sure how to find.” “No, we left it in Birmingham. You should check there, with . . .” So, I check.

Yes”, she says, “I have it here. I can leave it on my porch. Just stop by you can pick it up.” So, now I am just looking for a house I can’t find. But, no, I can find a house. So, I could tell a story about looking for a house, but really, you must know that story already. Just down the street. One of those neighborhoods with hills and curvy streets. But now, there is a house there, and that house has a porch, and the porch has a bag, and the bag has some books (and a pen) . . .

So, some things that are lost are found again. Not just souls, but also books. I am happy to have it back. No, I have not transcribed the contents into a safer location. I have not stopped carrying everything all together. I have convinced myself that it is not such a tragedy to lose the thing, so I have that. And perhaps they can’t take that away from me. Which is not to be said for everything. There are things lost that can’t be found. There are things that can’t be saved. Not a parcel of old hoops, or a book or notes, or memories of the taking. Some things are lost.

Now, though, what I was looking for in the beginning, oh, wait, there it is.

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We can mow

Denn alles Fleisch ist wie Gras und alle Herrlichkeit des Menschen wie des Grases Blumen. Das Gras ist verdorret und die Blume abgefallen.

The back fence is full of wisteria and some kind of grass.  It is where I once had a garden that produced so many green beans that we could blanch some and freeze them for the winter.  But not anymore.  In the interim, my neighbors have cleared some of their property, but have left enough trees to shade my little plot to the point of infertility.  Well, not quite.  A couple of years ago, I had cayenne peppers that did well.  Peppers enjoy the shade, and apparently they are strange enough in my environment to be unattractive to insects.  I still have some of those peppers.  They were pretty on the plant.  First flowers, then green, then red.  Now they are dry and resting in a vase.  Still pretty.  When fresh, some were used to make some spaghetti sauce.  But how much sauce do you need?  Don’t ask me.


The yard

The only other crop I had of which I still have some remnants is some cotton I grew many years ago.  This was in the sunny part of my front yard.  Some storms came through and uprooted some pine trees.  After cleaning up the trees there were some bare spots left.  I used one of those spots to plant some cotton seeds.   The local hardware store had them, and I got them.  Six cotton plants.  Green leaves, nice soft purple flowers.  Bugs got to some and wrecked them.  In any case   made them different enough so that they couldn’t produce cotton.  Maybe that isn’t really wrecking them.  Maybe some preferred not to make cotton.  And the bugs need something too, right?  The cotton harvest was sparse, but I still have some.  Will cotton lasts longer than dried peppers?  We are waiting to find out.

This time of year, even though I haven’t really planted anything, everything in the yard is growing.  Nothing needs to be added, you just need to be happy with what you have.  But sometimes there is too much.  Looking for a place to walk, and not finding it.  Looking for the fence, and not being able to see it.  (Something there is that does not like a fence.  So you can knock the fence down, which apparently is what frost does.  Or you can cover the fence up, which is what grass and wisteria do.  Helped by lots of other vines and bushes.

So, I go out.  Armed with a lawn mower.  But first the string trimmer, and some pruning shears, to try to get things down to the level appropriate for a lawn mower.  If it is really bad, I can use Roundup(r), which I do sometimes.  Mainly on poison ivy and wisteria.  But right now, I just want to clean out the back fence line, and I won’t be able to do that.  There is too much.  Still, I get a corner mowed down, and now I can open the back gate, after cutting off the vines.  All I am trying to do is stop some out of control growth.  Is that so difficult?  All my tools and intelligence brought to bear.  Still can’t stop it.  Next week I will be back again.  Just trying to stop, or maybe at least slow down a growth.  I can’t just kill everything, because there is too much out there that is good, too much that I need, or am not willing to sacrifice.  There are birds nesting in the wild roses and privet.  I do what I can in the winter, but the winter is a long way off.

Just want to walk around the yard.  Just walk without interference.  Not even all the yard.

We should be able to stop uncontrolled growth of invasive things.  But we can’t.  Not every time.  It is worth something, but not worth everything.

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South Florida

Here are some pictures from Florida Keys, and Everglades National Park. Not too many, since we sort of decided not to worry about taking pictures of scenery or animals, or whatever.  I guess there are enough pictures of alligators, etc.  These are just pictures that were taken with my phone.

One is from a lunch stop at a place in Key Largo (I think) called Lazy Days.  It seemed like an appropriate stop to make for a couple of Days who were doing their best to be lazy.  Anyway, the food turned out to be pretty good, and they had a nice deck to sit on overlooking the Atlantic (or that part of the ocean).  We sat and watched pelicans and gulls (laughing gulls, I think).  More on the bird sightings later.  Our bird list is in my suitcase, which was not put on the plane in Ft. Lauderdale for the trip back, so it is delayed.  Not lost, I don’t think, but delayed anyway.  So, I will be getting it sometime tonight.

Oh, well there is one picture of a bird.  That is a black vulture looking down on Kathy.  We had jumped out of the car to try to get a better look at a Swallow Tail Kite that had just flown by, and when we got back to the car, he was sitting on the tree looking at us.  I suppose they are attracted to cars on the side of the road.  Never know.  Oh, we did see the Kite.  Saw him more, and better from a back country boat ride we took from the Flamingo Landing in Everglades.  That was a nice place.  But, I will get back to that.  Maybe we will put a few of Kathy’s pictures in the gallery as well.  Just don’t expect a lot of nature photography.

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