Friday, December 06, 2019

M is for Middling

In the last 36 hours I have:
  • Lost my wallet and $190.
  • Negotiated with burdened outdoor renovation workers to access my own driveway.
  • Attended the 8th or 9th annual Wafflepalooza of which I was a founding father.
  • Hugged friends.
  • Reminisced with my dear writer pals concerning the inspiring ascent of The Liaison, who departed oh so young on the verge of a writing career breakthrough.
  • Hugged more friends.
  • Tinkered with yet another indulgent mindcrack lair.
  • Found the wallet!
  • Barely -- barely -- endured the 45-minute torture of an ultrasound session in which the tech sweated buckets trying to push holes through me (drawing blood even but not much).
  • Butted heads politely with a senior bank associate trying to smother Gramps and I in a blanket of red tape and liability paranoia leaving me exhausted and almost hopeless before a wonderful junior associate, a young black man with brilliant instincts, wisdom and kindness gave us everything we needed as soon as the former departed.
  • Parked strategically so Gramps could piss in a parking lot.
  • Talked about life and literature with Earth Writer and remembered how we used to be closer (I think).
  • Attended Scooterville NaNo Thank God Its Over celebration.
  • Won nice little prizes.
  • Hugged friends I’m very glad to find are still friends.
  • Sat in the car hoping that a young person I will always care for will come to understand I would never ever want to hurt his feelings and that I only want his life to be better and him to be happy. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
I’m in the middle of things.

Peace.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

L is for Lights


Grandpa Munster called me on my new cell-o-phone that my new employer made me accept. I admit it is a convenience at times, though at a great cost, and often too much of a convenience.

He was looking at another bill; a phone bill from Koodo which was chock-full of extra penalty dollars because he was running behind. I have let him run his little financial picture into the ground again while I’ve been blind to his account details since getting the new laptop and losing some login codes including that for his bank account. Careless of me I know but at the time I thought things were under control.

“I don’t have enough money for this,” he said, and his voice became unstable as he tried to find his way through a jumble of words: Trillium, GST, Pin money…

“Okay well I’m at work but I’ll tell you what. I’ll call your bank and make an appointment for us. We’ll get your account back on my laptop and we’ll sort it all out... Gramps…? Gramps are you upset right now?”

“It’s going to be a terrible Christmas,” he choked out. I knew he was crying now.

“Hey hey! Listen up. I’ll make the appointment right now. We’ll get your finances all sorted out within a week. I’ll do another study like last time. We’ll find out where all your money goes and how to get it under control. And I’m gonna be free Christmas day. We’ll find something fun to do.”

My own family gathers on Boxing Day. My own finances are looking up. I can loan him funds short-term when necessary. He doesn’t even have to know about it. I’ll find a restaurant that’s open through the holidays. The house will give him one good turkey dinner - either Christmas day or eve. I’ll take him out for dinner on the other evening. I’ll figure out some modest gift for him. We’ll play some Crazy 8’s. And I’ll do some research with regards to the more spectacular Christmas lights displays. He likes that. We’ll take a tour.


Wednesday, December 04, 2019

K is for Kenny (and Joe)

This is the true story of Kenny and Joe: They were best friends since childhood; best friends for life it seemed. They were at the centre of one of the circles of friends which I inhabited. A sports crowd. We played hockey weekly and sometimes golfed or what-not. Kenny and Joe were always near the centres of attention. They were the biggest personalities; informal leaders. Beneath their party personas Kenny was quietly the smart one; Joe quietly the big-hearted one.

Kenny and I took a little trip together, to see a big game in another city far away. We were both fans of that team. This was before the cell phone days. Kenny would have to step aside to make a phone call at an appointed time to get an update from a girl he was sleeping with. Not a girlfriend. Just one he was sleeping with. He needed an update.

I drank alone until he returned to the bar table. “I talked to her,” he said, “and yeah… she’s pregnant.”

I could tell he was pretty blown away. He had already resigned to becoming a father. Ready or not.

They skipped the girlfriend phase and went straight to fiance. She was younger and a little wild and frankly had scored pretty good with Kenny. He was a responsible dude with a good income and lots of his shit together.

She… liked to have a good time. I started hearing troubling stories from guys in the group when Kenny wasn’t around.

Finally I drove Joe home one night when he’d drank way too much. I was surprised that Kenny didn’t take him. I knew something was wrong. We sat in his driveway and talked.

“She tried to sleep with me,” said Joe. “And it wasn’t just flirting either. She practically tried to rape me. He told me all the sordid drunken details. Joe had gone to Kenny, determined not to let him get blindsided by this girl. But Kenny had cut him off almost at once and threatened him: Don’t ever say any bullshit about my girl again or we are through. I’ll never see you again.

“I can’t let this marriage happen,” Joe told me. “Kenny has no idea. He would never go through with this if he knew. Why is he trusting her instead of his lifelong best friend?”

With the wedding just days away, Joe had a terrible decision to make. He could have played it safe and shut his mouth. Or he could risk losing his best friend by telling the truth, in order to save him. He felt he had to speak up. It was the right thing to do; the honourable thing. I supported his decision.

But Joe didn’t go about it the best way possible. He could not summon the courage until the night before the wedding. He was very drunk. This thing was weighing on him; killing him. Kenny was not taking his calls. Joe went to Kenny’s parents home. He needed their alliance. And he was almost like a second son to them.

He showed up at their place, drunk, blurted out the story and said, “We gotta stop this wedding.”

Kenny’s parents were enraged. They kicked him out of their house, told him not to attend the wedding and to never let them see his face again.

Game Over.

After the wedding Joe and Kenny were sometimes in the same dressing room together or on the same bench, or at the same bar but different tables. Everyone knew that something was wrong. The group wasn’t the same after that and not long after I parted ways but more so for other reasons.

The marriage ended in divorce very quickly to no one’s surprise but Kenny and his parents. Yet no reconciliation came out of it for Kenny and Joe.

I’ve been thinking about Joe the last couple days and how he tried to do the right thing; tried to avert what he feared would become a disaster - at the risk of losing a friend and how he went about it badly and the friendship ended for good. It’s a sad story but… I’ve been through something of late and what I think now is that Joe probably feels okay about everything because he knows he tried to do the right thing. It is a great comfort to know such a thing.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

J is for Jackass

So Daphne… we’ll call her Daphne. She works with me and is by far the most gregarious of the staff here, and typical of any “class clown” type in an office environment, she targets me as someone to have fun with. And we do. The jokes fly back and forth on a daily basis.

Over this last year and a half it does dawn on me that she probably does not have similar views as me, politically for instance, but I don’t let that concern me. She’s my client and thus I must be respectful, and on top of that, many people in my life wouldn’t score well on my personal subjective personality test - but so what? We’re all human and all have flaws. Mine are different than other peoples. No reason we can’t make the best of things together.

But yesterday there was a large immigrant family in the waiting room where I am situated (by the main entrance). So Daphne comes through on her way to lunch (and probably a quick trip to the liquor store nearby) and as she passes she flashes me her cell phone and says, “What do you think of this? You get it, right?”

On her phone is the image of the Canadian flag but it has been altered to contain the words: FIT IN or FUCK OFF.

Very disappointing.

I look her in the eye without expression and shrug my shoulders.

“You get it,” she says. “I know you do.”

“It doesn’t resonate with me,” I say. She smirks and departs.

I don’t know if she knows what resonate means. I’m realizing that she might be an even duller tool in the shed than I’d assumed.

It’s rather sad how many cowering racists see me and imagine I must be a safe audience to reach out to for… kinship.

But it only ever happens when I’m in uniform. I must look vaguely military or something, and thus a real Canadian. In fact I had just had my hair cut quite short before this happened.

Fit in… or Fuck off…

I wish the instructions had been clearer. Fit in to what? Our culture? We have many cultures here. My own is nothing like Daphne’s. I presume she means her culture and not mine.

So what she’s saying is… Either get a job you hate and watch the clock all day and then rush home and get drunk every night and raise a kid to be a dull and lazy non-contributor in regular trouble with the police - and oh yeah - be a non-creative unthinking pea-brained racist… or else… I will insist that you must “fuck off” using an anonymous rudimentary internet picture-page that Uncle Jesse crafted between reality show binges.  

What must I do to ward off these morbid unwelcome advances? An “I’m a security guard, not a moron” sign would surely be ineffective not to mention unsavory from the client’s perspective.

You know - some guards wear their little military pins and medals on their breast pocket. Maybe I should get some pins and wear them. Pins that represent diversity? Like multiple religious icons, a rainbow… It’s a thought.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Dispatches from the Social Assistance Office

Senior Lady: "Are you playing with your gizmo there?"

Security Guard: "My computer? I’m working on a project."

Senior Lady: "Oh, well have a nice day. Bye!"

Customer Service Rep: "Did she just ask you if you were playing with your-?"

Security Guard: "Let’s not talk about it."



Young Lady: "Hi handsome! How are you?"

Security Guard: "Not bad thanks. Don’t forget to ask for extra money for new glasses."

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

H is for Hole.

It’s been a long long slippery slope falling this far in two years. Down here at the bottom of this barrel is a swirling swill of sleep deprivation, slothdom and immobility.

Back when I’d graduated (or thought I had) from my long stint at the banyan tree, I was so inspired; so motivated. My goals were so clear and so promising.

But the universe, as if Satan himself feared what I might accomplish, threw nothing but hurdles at me. The long gradual erosion of inspiration and motivation have surrendered me to my instinctive laziness. Several times I thought I was on the verge of climbing out, only to bang my head into more hurdles and collapse again.

And now, here at the very bottom (how I hope this is the bottom and it can’t get worse), what hurdles does the universe throw now?

None.

Now it throws only life-lines.

Three medical professionals are giving me as much of their time as I wish. Four dear associates who appeared to drift out of my life have recently reached out to me; revealed I am not as forgotten as I assumed.

The Eloquent Potter continues to be a miraculous comfort to me. The guy is a genius; incredibly wise and truth-seeing. He always understands me at once, and does not flatter. He understands my total alienation to this place, and feels it himself, but unlike me, is empowered to leave. And soon he will go. But we have the miracle of internet and so he will never be entirely out of reach.

I have started regularly listening to music again and feeling moved again by familiar words of wisdom.

I’ve managed a couple effective steps toward better sleep potential (and there are many more outstanding).

I sometimes ponder tasks without feeling overwhelmed; without imagining that the effort will be lethally exhausting. I don’t always rise and do them. But at least they’re not so intimidating.

And here’s something: I recently pulled up my work on the novel Crazy Legs (working title); the first 14,000 words. I was a little stunned to discover that I am not alienated from it after all this time! The characters are still intimate and very real to me. Everything was perfectly familiar! This has never happened before after such a long layoff. I know I am fully capable of picking it right back up again. November first and National Novel Writing Month is coming. I have a week to properly prepare.

I am not motivated. I am not inspired. But I’m thinking that maybe this stuttering semblance of momentum might breed more of itself and carry me, if even in fits and starts, until I can carry myself again.

Monday, October 21, 2019

G is for Gutted

Last season our tall tough ace defensemen Riggsy and Grace were gradually absorbed into our Junior A affiliate team and were not around for our historic playoff push to the conference finals and not beyond. After a Scooterville Tigers executive meeting the other night I am told we will lose the following this coming year: Junior B leaders L-Robb and (goalie) Naggs; Our fan-favourite ace defenseman Downtown Brown; the occasionally-brilliant and always-entertaining Aggador-Spartacus and… the Wizard.

The Wizard. The guy who is worth the price of admission every game. The guy whose stick skills alone were enough to make me fall in love with this game again - though I do credit that to the whole team.

“How is he not in Junior A?” I once asked an assistant coach.

“I think they think he’s too small and gimmicky.”

“Great. Their loss.”

I am kind of broken-hearted. Have I been in denial that this is a development team? And as such we are always at a disadvantage against the outlying lacrosse-first communities who throw all their best players into their junior B program and maintain those kids’ loyalty through to age twenty-one.

We are a team of perennial teenagers, waiting for their shot at Junior A. How am I supposed to market this team as THE elite spectator sport product of Scooterville? (Yes, even better than the supposedly-professional basketball team and supposedly-professional football team and threesome of Junior hockey teams. None of those teams will send more of their players to actual pro leagues then we will send to actual pro lacrosse. The guys I have named will all have a shot at the NLL.) How do I adopt such an elite professional attitude and posture in terms of marketing when few of our best players can really fully commit to us? It seems incongruous to me.

“Don’t worry. We’ll have another good team,” said my old pal; our GM and head coach; our guru, “We’ll just be younger.”

I don’t care how good we’ll be. I was invested in some of these guys. I’ve been planning how to market them. I’m fond of them.

The Wizard. Well god damn it. I’m happy for him if this is what he wants. But I’m sad for me.


Sunday, September 29, 2019

F is for Freddie

Finally watched the Bohemian Rhapsody film last night. That song will always carry new freight now when I hear it. The lyrics harken to poignant moments of Freddie (Bulsara) Mercury’s life and death; moments both preceding its composition and those it foreshadows.

I didn’t feel like I’d gotten to know Mercury a whole lot upon receiving the film, but then, perhaps he was just difficult for anyone to know. Where I am forced to judge the writing, direction and acting is in the lack of depth in the remaining characters of the band Queen. They spent enough time on camera to have deserved more research. I felt their blandness very noticeably held the film back.


Nevertheless the production accomplished much. I was moved to significant emotion and the climactic Live Aid scenes were delightful and inspiring, so long as you look at it from the context of Freddie’s story.


The actual Live Aid operation, perhaps too ambitious by some accounting, was deeply flawed in its long roster of technological shortcomings, a deluge of petty controversies and the sinister fact that most of the money was embezzled by government for guns.

But I loved it for two reasons: Queen’s performance which is more recognized than any as the greatest live rock performance ever, and the way that it dragged global responsibility for feeding humanity onto the consciousness of people everywhere. So much that first world governments are now compelled by the peoples they occupy to keep it on the political radar. They brought about a new and improved normal.

As I contemplated the Freddie Mercury story I was unusually caught up in the matter of drive and determination. Stories of famous people so often reveal an intense motivation. I find it fascinating at this time when I am decidedly unmotivated. What fires them up? One could surmise many things of egoic nature; things probably not even healthy. Meanwhile I am so close to giving up my big dreams; my big goals. This as my view of my society and my perception of its tolerance for me continue to plummet. I have become terminally lethargic, both from an absence of motivation and - and this may sound strange but - peace. My inner contentment with life itself and my place in the universe dulls any sense of alarm as my weight, and a few other things, continue to climb out of control.


Right now the only productive things I do, I do out of commitment to my employers and volunteer employers, to my mom (more on that later), and to my dietitian and counselor. I struggle to perform the most basic and paltry life functions so as not to disappoint them. Internally I’m at the top of the world by North America’s deplorable standards while logistically I think this may be at rock-bottom.


“Carry on, carry on, as if nothing really matters.”--Freddy Mercury (Bohemian Rhapsody)


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

E is for Elite

Here we are on the rez. We have the leading goal scorer in Ontario Jr. B. He’s only 19 in a league of 17-to-21-year-olds. Our goalie is either the best or narrowly second-best in the league depending how you interpret the statistics. And he’s only 18. They are both too good for this league; destined to be surrendered to our Jr. A affiliate team next year almost certainly.

Our opponents are up two games to nil in the best-of-five conference finals. We are finally facing elimination after a great run. Our opponents have the game in their blood, some would say. They are loaded with a dozen 21-year-olds. The bulk of our squad are teens. We have a handful of 20-year-olds and one 21-year-old who we picked up at the trade deadline from a failing opposing team because he’s a class act; a young man of substance who deserves one last playoff run. And the guys here love him like family and did so at once because that’s just who they are.

Our affiliate team is going to the Junior A finals. We have not withheld players from them. Our stars are where they are for legitimate reasons. Our opponents have an affiliate too. Right in the same community. But theirs is not going to the finals. No one has pondered, at least not aloud, if their stars are here legitimately or not, and I’m not asking now. It doesn’t matter.

We’re up 3-to-2 on the scoreboard but I think we all know this is temporary illusion and we do not have any such momentum. We have the same fine tools as our opponents but not the same confidence. We have four gears to their five.

By the second intermission we are well down on the scoreboard and a lot of proud Scooterville parents are making peace with things, or else just resigning.

The players emerge for the third and final period. Our boys of August. It is still July but they will always be the boys of August to me though they will not play on that calendar. What you do and who you are, are two different things. August is who they are. They are that quality. No one can possibly doubt that.

I slip into the vacated dressing room and out the back door. I am parked right there. I load the two cases of bottles into the big cooler and then the ice. And I add a bottle of root beer for the VP; an abstainer. There’s enough for two per player and one per attending staff. I don’t give a shit about the government and their rules. This is family. This is the least we can do. I intend to be anonymous about it but if shit flies I will happily take the blame and probably do it again next year if, like this year, it’s the right thing to do.

God the sucker is heavy but I drag it through the door and into the dressing room where suddenly our star scorer is present and readying to shower. So much for the Santa routine. I’m busted.

“You’re ejected? What did you do?”

“I gave the refs some advice.”

I think for a second and nod. “Fair enough,” I say gently and head back toward the floor to give him his space and to watch the game. Not to work it though. Just to watch. And really take it in. There is still joy to be had. When will I see two such fine teams again? “Oh and have a beer,” I say over my shoulder.

“Thanks.”

The third period goes well for both teams. No land-slides. And it’s over. I’ve never elected to participate in the handshake all year but now I go. I have things to say. I praise what few of our players I have the chance to while the new guy holds things up with long embraces. Most of these players have known each other most of their young lives. This team is home grown. But it’s the new guy who garners their immediate concern. He’s 21 and this was his last shot.

In the dressing room I usually visit briefly and just inside the door where I study the brick wall while listening to what the coach has to say and who gets passed The Hammer.

Tonight I am looking and listening to a surprising silence. A few have grabbed a beer already and no one on the staff has said a word about it.

The coach speaks. He speaks well and is kind and full of praise but keeps it real. This team was designed to win it all and no one pretends otherwise. Still we have made Scooterville history and that will have to be enough for now. Coach opens the opportunity for others. The VP speaks with his back to me. He speaks from a historical perspective and I am impressed to hear his voice breaking. I put a hand firmly on his shoulder. Most staff pass on the opportunity. Of course I do not. I speak truthfully:

“It’s been two decades since I was last involved in lacrosse. I did not see many Junior B games back then. I was not a fan of the B game back then.

“When I came out to see you guys, you blew me away. I had no idea… It has been such a joyful experience watching you guys play lacrosse. Everyone in this room - and I mean everyone! No exceptions - has left me breathless at least once this year from something you did on the floor. Left me in a state of wonder. It’s been such a joy; such a thrill. I’m real grateful you all took me along on this ride. Thank you.”

I’m sorry they did not get what they wanted and worked so hard for, and made sacrifice for, so I don’t tell them how I, on the other hand, received everything I could have asked for. And thanks to them. They made me fall in love with this game again.

I had no choice but to write about the experience, but I deemed it unfit for publication. Too personal a perspective. Too sentimental. The players might feel it an invasion.

It sat on my computer a couple days until I knew that the piece, or some version of it, needed to be on the web site, at least for posterity. I gave it a solid edit: toned it down; eased in a little subtlety, and slipped it onto the web site with no links from social media. My two main media associates with the club were informed, and being coincidentally the last two team officials likely to tolerate sentimentality, they made perfect gatekeepers. If they wanted to plug it online then it had to be safe to do so.

They did.

Here’s the article. It’s brief. I hope you give it a look. Because I’m proud of these guys:

https://www.hamiltonlacrosse.com/news_article/show/1037743


Saturday, August 10, 2019

D is for Defeat

I pick up Grandpa Munster and take him out for coffee. He seems to have given up shaving for good now. More significantly he has given up thinking that Detective Biff or the Faux Counsellor will ever let him graduate from his 810 supervision orders. He has come to peace with that, and the fact that he will never fight these renewals in court even though he can’t lose. No judge would ever support the ongoing renewal of these temporary orders under Gramps’ condition but that doesn’t matter. He is too intimidated to stand up to those who he views as his oppressors, and is afraid they will lie to get their way and that the judge will believe them and not he.

I am actually fine with this. I think it’s the best outcome. The orders do not get in the way of the ersatz lifestyle he is saddled with. It just means he will have to continue with the faux counselling sessions every week or two even though he finds it unpleasant and sometimes predatory.

It’s better than life behind bars, which at one time was a likely fate.

It’s good to finally put this behind us and move on.


Friday, August 09, 2019

C is for Combustion

LTC (Long Time Companion) does not cook much, and in his improved state of health he has been working very hard at renovations to his former rental house he intends to sell (or maybe rent out again?). The kitchen at his home-home has become more of a construction office. And it was there that he unloaded an armful of boxed light-fixtures onto the stove top.

Later he fed his dogs their meds encased in cheese and left the wrapper beside the stove top. It's a gas stove. Some of you may already see where this is going.

He left the house. One or both dogs would have immediately went for the cheese wrapper. Whether they succeeded or not they did succeed in knocking a stove dial into the on range.

The boxes would have gone up in flames immediately; kitchen cupboards soon following.

When it was done the house looked like something from a horror movie. I tried not to look in any direction I didn’t have to but I had to see where I was going. The flames had been contained to the first floor but the smoke was devastating at level two. Sadly the four-year-old dobie was terrified of the smoke alarm and had fled to that second floor. The younger dog was very clever; went to the only open window (cracked about 4 inches), stuck her nose through and survived. God knows what went through her mind.

LTC got a phone call and rushed home to find firemen working on the poor boy-dog, with oxygen mask and CPR. They couldn’t save him.

LTC is doing very well, all things considered. Some of his friends have reached out to me for updates and advice. I have suggested we try to keep him a little busy over the next six to eight months, while he lives at the rental with the surviving pup. Distraction is his best coping tool and it is too late in life I think, given his particular hurdles, to try to teach him other ways.

So a week after the fire we got together for a game night with some of his finest pals at the home of Uncensored Family where teens, mom, ex-boyfriend, grandma, LTC and myself had a good time with my Red Herring game - and not the family-friendly edition either. We aim to make a monthly habit of it.

Love you Halo.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

B is for Brocrastination

Okay that was a cheat. But B is for bed-ridden, blurry-eyed and.... Bengals.

Bengals as in Bengal tigers - as in the Jr. B lacrosse team that landed in the middle of my life about the time I disappeared from blog world, and swept me away.

An old pal - we'll call him - LaxMasterMind has quietly become an internationally elite lacrosse GM and coach in the fifteen years since we were associates with the Chiefs Jr A team. Oh wait - I blogged about this two years ago.

Long story short: I was dragged out of my Total Lacrosse Retreat by LMM with the news of a local Jr B team which he was basically running and which I did not even know about (this community has spawned previous junior lacrosse enterprises over the years which emigrated to nearby communities). I saw a game, was amazed at the new elevated caliber of Jr B lacrosse, felt inspired to write about it, but was at a complete loss how to do so. One: I have changed so much in the intervening years and competition, winning and losing have become so very uninspiring compared to such higher-evolved things - like creativity for instance, and generosity, which are for me important elements of lacrosse. And two: I was no longer an insider. I knew nothing of the current lacrosse community and its peoples. How would I write as an outsider?

Fast forward April 2019 and LMM speaks up again: the team is looking to fill new exec positions including Director Marketing and Media Relations. I seize on that one. It's my way back in. I take it on faith that I will find a way to write about it. And god knows I should have the time for it given the 101 important projects I've been blissfully ignoring (B is for blissful ignorance).

"I'll be your director media marketing," I type back after literally about 20 seconds of deliberation. I was intentionally bold. Take it or leave it.

He took it.

The task I took on for myself; the goal, is enormously ambitious. The work I cut out for myself is potentially endless. And I admit I don't know how to accomplish the goal, if indeed it's possible. But I trust in finding useful components and pursuing them on faith that they will be part of the final solution. More on all this some other time.

Was I crazy to take this on given I can't keep up with anything currently? Here's my weird rationalization: To take on a world of work which is unlike most of my current work in that there are tight schedules and outside stakeholders, which means I will be properly motivated to Get It Done, which may be just the thing to re-teach me a proper work ethic. When the season ends in a few months I can move my new work ethic and apply it to my own works.

Well that time is now.

So I'm back.

I say that I am here to stay. Fingers crossed.

And by here I mean blog world, yes, but I mean much more. I want to really be here. Being present again. Being productive. Making a difference. Being the person I should be instead of the loser I have been for the last year and a half.

This morning I arose after 6 hours of sleep (not bad! though sleep remains a critical Needs Improvement Area) picked up Chess Champ, met up with The Healer, journeyed to Station One former fire-house turned cafe and there met Sweetproserpina and the Ponderer for a joyful write-in. Here I am. The Ponderer's partner is beating her cancer. The Healer's mate has finally become employed again by a college where I worked for awhile. And Chess Champ has finally released some writing to the semi-public sphere. A big step. I really look forward to finally giving him a read. Given sleep and eye problems I have not really read for this year and a half. Another Needs Improvement Area.

Continuous improvement. Every day. Am I back? It would be nice if I were back.

Love Fwig