Mean Ol’ Wind

Last evening would have been a perfect one to drop down to the Uncompahgre River and throw tiny bits of feather and of yarn at the water, which is my inelegant version of fly-fishing. It would have been but for the fact that the air was moving past us in 40 mph gusts.

Breezes like this don’t rattle a fisherman who uses jigs, because the lures are heavy and gravity is your friend. All you need do is attach a large lump of metal to your line and drop it straight down from your boat . Thus the attraction of fishing for walleyed pike back in the Midwest. It ain’t art, but those fish are still delectable.

However, fly fishing depends on control that you simply don’t have when the wind is blowing hard. So I stayed at home and mowed the lawn. Urk. I fear that my former feral nature grows weaker and weaker as time goes by. I can begin to restore it a bit by getting outdoors and away from houses and couches and anything requiring electricity, but I will probably never get it back to its primacy, where I ate my food raw, slept on rocks, and resisted being clothed.

Yes, I have to admit that I am nearly completely domesticated. If I get any tamer, Robin may one day feel safe when we have people over for dinner, and not have to worry that I will stand at the charcoal grill garbed only in a bearskin loincloth. And as to the matter of my gnashing my teeth and growling at table … that will have to go as well, I suppose.

Mean Ol’ Wind Died Down, by the North Mississippi Allstars

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A couple of weeks ago a friend in AA died unexpectedly. Well, not completely unexpectedly, I guess. After all, the reaper comes for even the best of us eventually. It was the timing and the suddenness that caught us off guard. One day here and feeling fine, the next day an empty chair at table.

It happened that Phil was the treasurer of our small AA group, and there was the matter of where had our dues gone? So last evening Robin and I drove to his house and found his old Volvo still parked outside. We rang the bell and were greeted by his son Jeff and daughter-in-law Katrina who graciously invited us in, hunted through the mountain of stuff that Phil had left behind, and came up with the small lockable steel box containing the AA group’s wealth.

But that wasn’t the end of it. We stayed and chatted for nearly an hour. Robin and I learned much more about Phil’s life that we did not know, and his children learned something about what he had meant to us, which was considerable. Phil had a lifelong interest in photography, and Jeff was now going through thousands of pictures, negatives, and slides in an effort to catalog them and place digital images up on Phil’s personal website for his friends all over the country to share. Quite a task, but Robin and I agreed that his taking on this duty would have made our friend proud.

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A Dick Guindon cartoon

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Friday’s NYTimes had a review of a film entitled “Vortex.” It is about an old couple going steadily and depressingly downhill. The review starts out with a Philip Roth quotation: “Old age isn’t a battle; old age is a massacre.” Apparently the director of the movie has the same opinion, and after reading the review I think I’ll skip it. Not out of denial, but because I am in my own version of that movie (as are we all), and don’t need to spend two hours being artfully reminded that there are days when aging seems an endless series of compromises, downscalings, subtractions, and confrontations.

Od course there are good days, or it would hardly be worth getting out of bed in the morning and the phone at the Hemlock Society’s office would never stop ringing. There are such mornings as today, when I appreciate that I have the time to appreciate, and am amazed at how extraordinarily wise the passing of the decades has made me. If only I could get others to see that … there would be a long line of people waiting at the door for the chance to meet me and hear my opinion on their life situations.

There I would be, wearing simple cotton garments and sitting on a homely cushion, my words enriching the existences of all those pilgrims coming through the door. There would be no fee for this, but … I might set out a tip jar.

Couldn’t hurt.

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This Sunday morning Robin and I are in a motel in Durango, and will head home later this afternoon. We drove over because both Aiden and Claire were in separate school plays being presented on Saturday and there was no question of our not attending. Command performances indeed.

The cast put on the musical Into The Woods, and did a remarkable job. One of those times when you become aware of how much talent there can be in a single high school in a single small town. Humbling.

Grandson Aiden … what can I say … when and where did he get that voice?

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