Just a Short Hike

Just a Short Hike

Just a short hike

to get my legs in shape,


I cut my nails

so not to rub my boot;


wrapped the gimp

ankle with some tape,


grabbed the hiking

stick to assist my foot-


age on the rocky trails

That led to Piestewa Peak,


a far cry from where

we’ll turn back arriving at


the condo no worse for wear

just a block off the street


on the first hike of that

season to work off fat.

A Travelogue

A Travelogue

Nine days on the road, three thousand miles north to south and west

along the coast, in the French Quarter, into Texas through the most

horrendous rush hour traffic imaginable to the friends

hadn’t been seen since the memorial service eighteen

and a half years ago,


wife of sixteen years went over

like gangbusters, had a ball for a day

and got on our way


through what had been a closed highway

the day

before due to snow and ice on the way


down south on into New Mexico and then the copper mining

town of Bisbee after Douglas and before Patagonia

where we met a fly fishing guy with a tie

to Michigan and the north branch of the AuSable and Lovells and Grand

Rapids and knew


Holland and the big lake who knew Jim Harrison and drank with him

in a local bar but hadn’t seen him lately, in fact, maybe a year or two,

to Nogales and finally Phoenix.


Four days to recuperate,

clean the bikes, ride to the grocery store stop in the bike café

to have them check the brakes, chitchat and drink a cup of

fresh Americano. Bikes sat on the balcony for eight months

through the really hot, dusty season. Not a good idea.


I think we will put them inside when we leave in April.

Three Checked into an Inn on Christmas Eve

Three Checked into an Inn on Christmas Eve

We three checked into an inn, a La Quinta to be specific, on Christmas Eve, five-hundred-plus miles in one day from Saint Anthony to the Crosses –

a lot farther than Joseph, Mary, the baby and the donkey had to go, but we were on good roads and driving a Camry.  Communion which will be celebrated

shortly consists of low carbohydrate bread, turkey slices, radishes, really fresh tomatoes and avocado purchased earlier in the day along the way at a grocery (near where we

thought we were going to have to stay for the day because of dire weather predictions) frequented almost exclusively by Hispanics so, I figure,  the avocado

will probably be smooth, creamy, soft, but not too soft, and really flavorful and the last day of the hearts of Romaine that lasted eight days in an iced down,

red cooler not to mention a few glasses of the $9 one-and-a-half liter Sauvignon Blanc from a Texas vineyard (our salute to the Lone Star State).

That was for the two humans.  The dyslexic gift from God spelled dog, otherwise known as Boomer, the pastoral Chocolate Lab, had really expensive dry dog food (recommended

by our vet because it helps his football player knees and arthritic hips and, as a side benefit, makes his coat a lush, thick, dark brown

which is really pretty and nice for the winter) topped with a half-can of beefy dog food in sauce. We checked into the inn (They didn’t have to offer us the cattle yard down the

street which looked really crowded.), had a quick drink and went for a Christmas Eve jog in the quiet, industrial park across the street.  For the first time in forty-some years,

formal worship will be midnight mass on the TV from New York if we can keep our eyes open at 10 p.m. New Mexico time. I think I will because

I have to take the dog out around then. I’m giving thanks this Christmas Eve to be in the inn and not leading worship somewhere else.

I’m looking forward to be getting back on the road again tomorrow, Christmas day, for points west after bowing before the rising sun in the east.

I filled up the gas tank this afternoon just to be sure.

Usually I Sit at the Bar

Usually I Sit at the Bar

Asked to do a review of a recent film, I sat in one of the booths close to the door of the really big, two-story, wooden bar and, I think, grill (with an “e” on the end)

although I couldn’t understand why, because I never, ever saw food and the place didn’t rate an “e” if there had been food given every thing else about the place.

Usually I sit at the bar and for a little while I did, but when I wrote, I was in the booth.  I got up and noticed that two, rough-looking guys were coming down the sandy street and

jumped into the back of my 1980 red Mustang.  I rushed across the street yelling, “Hey, no smoking in my car.”  The skinny, scruffy looking guy

with the cigarette dropped it on the seat on purpose, because I saw the smirk on his face, but I grabbed the cigarette before it could burn a hole in the red,

velvety upholstery and dragged the guy out of the car.  The other guy came along. I’m not sure how that happened, because I had to reach over one guy

to get at the guy who purposely dropped the cigarette on the seat. Apparently that was the end of that because they disappeared and I walked home for

some reason leaving the Mustang where it was.  Passing a golf course I saw some golf balls embedded in the sand traps and along the back fence

behind a green.  I stopped and picked up quite a few putting them in my pockets. When I looked up I saw the owners of the bar, a man and woman and someone else, sitting

outside their little row house laughing at me.  I waved them off and continued walking toward home wherever that was.

I don’t know if I was using my computer to write the review, but I didn’t have it with me when I left the big, two storied wooden bar and, for the life of me, I can’t understand why I

left the 1980 red Mustang parked on the street near that really big wooden bar and grille. My pants pockets bulged with sand and golf balls.

At the Wooden House

At the Wooden House

My old, seminary friend, who was most recently the retired president of that very seminary, and I met at the wooden house

which was my house and located on the top of the hill below which was the very nice home of that old, seminary friend.  We sat inside

and the roof started to leak.  Rain gushed from all kinds of places in the roof and I thought we would be late for the gathering of the seminary

graduates in the chapel near the wooden house which was mine and just to the right of the home of that old, seminary friend.

He told me that I needn’t worry because the wooden floors were really hard and would withstand the water falling on it.  I felt relieved.

We talked for a while and then he said that he needed to go to the graduation. I got up with him and started to go and I think I made it to the

front door of the Grecian building and maybe looked inside and saw all the graduates in their black robes but stayed outside. His wife, who had been a friend of my late wife,

when her husband my old, seminary friend and I were in seminary, knocked on the door of the wooden house.  I was back inside. I saw her but didn’t answer the door.  I didn’t

want to talk to her.  She said a few things through the door and then she left.  I suppose she went to the graduation.  I wiped up the water on the floor.  I wondered why it had

poured through the roof so strongly when it hadn’t even rained that day.  It had rained the day before.  Had all the water just sat there waiting for a while only

to gush through when my old, seminary friend and I were sitting in my wooden house?

We Pulled Onto Basin Street

We Pulled Onto Basin Street

We pulled onto Basin Street, parked in a tight space and headed west to Canal. Needing to pee real badly, I stepped into a Clarion Hotel and asked to use the bathroom

because I was in a jam. The clerk didn’t deny me the privilege; she just looked at me with disdain and said, “The restrooms are for hotel guests,” while she slowly slid the plastic key

along the counter. “Hey, this is an emergency.”  I grabbed the key and sprinted to the commode. By this time she had collected a crowd behind the desk made up of the

manager and another clerk. Placing the key back on the counter, I said that anytime they were in my town they could use my bathroom. As I walked out the door,

I told her, as she picked up the key, that I had peed on it.  No, I didn’t, but I thought of it later.  We wandered up Bourbon Street and Boomer, the pastoral Lab, was the center of

attention. One barker outside a girly show stopped us and wanted to pet him and talk about his own lab.  Next to him was one of the dancers in a skimpy bra and g-string.

She bent over to pet the dog and said, “Hey, Boomer, come over here and let me stroke you.”  Actually, I think she said “pet you.”    I looked at wife Chris

and tried not to look at the dancer’s boobs bobbing and jiggling around in the little cups.  After trying real hard to look her in the face, I noticed that she had

really pearly white teeth set against her bronze skin.  Chris suggested that we move along to the historic Roman Catholic Cathedral, erected during the French

occupation of what was to become the state of Louisiana because she knew how much I appreciated old, aesthetically, beautiful buttresses. At the mention of buttresses,

I thought it was probably a good thing the dancer hadn’t turned around and kneeled down.

We Sit at the Bar in the Seafood Shack

We Sit at the Bar in the Seafood Shack

We sit at the bar in the seafood shack on a 70-degree late, December day in Biloxi as the fog bursts through the open window obliterating the view of the Gulf

and chilling us as the temperature drops.  I go to the car for the fleece pullovers and return for the beer and a dozen really plump, pop at the bite and slide down the throat

oysters on the half shell right out of the BP debacled waters. The Tabasco is fresh out of the bottle and never hotter.  The horseradish gallops up my nose. We are in town on

our way to Phoenix from West Michigan via the Gulf coast, New Orleans, San Antonio, Bisbee and Tubac by the day after Christmas when the shops will be open so we can see

all the great fiber sculptures. We will be on the road Christmas day but we figure there will be room at the La Quinta Inn. Instead of being in a stable with smelly animals, we will

be in a nice, clean motel room with an eighty pound, ninety-five year old in human years Chocolate lab who is really smelly because he gets nervous when we travel.  He sleeps on

his own bed so he doesn’t smell up the carpet. He’s a great traveler but he does smell. He’ll get a bath in Phoenix.  Instead of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, it is Chris, Bob

and the baby Boomer, God’s gift of unconditional love. We finish the oysters and beer, head to the motel and think about tomorrow’s drive to New Orleans along the coast.

I hope the fog lifts.

Christmas Shopping

Walking, talking, strutting, gawking,

all of us are out there hawking,

looking for the looks we get

wondering if we’ve made a hit.


You are too much that’s plain to see.

In other eyes there reads a plea.

Look straight at the one you’re with

even though your mind’s adrift.


Weaving, swerving, dodging shoppers

look where you’re going show stoppers.

Push that cart filled up with gifts

while your head fills up with myths.

stained blue overalls

there’s this couple from south chicago. he started out in the garbage business and she was a homemaker for other people in other peoples’ homes.

every morning at four, they got up. he went out to clean the alleys of beverly hills, and she washed yesterday’s caviar, artichoke hearts, and t-bone steak juice out of his stained blue overalls

then she went to work and cleaned the homes of beverly hills and as she worked she dreamed.

at noon, he’d eat his summer sausage sandwich and he’d dream, too.

every evening they dreamed together. yes, they worked as a team and then he made it big, bought the business with their hard saved money and called himself the owner of a sanitation engineering company.

she quit her job and never washed overalls again.  he was busy and stayed away a lot. she made herself busy, somehow.

on a lonely day, she looked out the window and saw a garbage man in stained blue overalls and as she watched she dreamed.

We Gathered In a House

We Gathered In a House

We gathered in a house I did not recognize but apparently was mine to hear the wisdom of my long ago college chaplain who died but was alive for this occasion.

It was an interesting group — two friends from my high school days who didn’t go to my alma mater and had never heard of the chaplain and several others I couldn’t identify but whom I knew pretty well.

There were around eight of us males and females.  Some of the females were young like daughters.  We waited downstairs for the doorbell to ring but no results.  Finally, a couple of us ventured into the darkness

upstairs just to see what was or wasn’t going on, heard a rustling on the couch and turned on a light.  There was my formerly dead chaplain resting.  I asked him why he didn’t ring the bell and come downstairs.

He simply said he didn’t wish to disturb us.  We all came upstairs. The chaplain sat on the couch; I noticed he was wearing pedal pushers.  He regaled us with his wisdom. I couldn’t tell you a word he said

but I did notice that he noticed that his pedal pushers were wet from the crotch on down and pee was running out the bottom onto his socks and into his shoes.  I could tell he was self-conscious.  I got him a couple

of towels one to put between his bottom and the couch and the other to cover him.  I certainly didn’t want him soiling the couch. For one thing it was cloth and not leather. I guess when he crossed over to the other side,

his incontinence wasn’t fixed; either that or when he crossed back again, the old infirmities returned.  It was getting late and it had been dark for a long time and the chaplain had run out of wisdom so it was time to leave.

He was going to accompany the young ladies home safely and my two high school buddies were going to ride with him.  The remainder of the group just disappeared into the night.  Because everyone left except me,

I guess the home which seemed foreign was really mine. One high school buddy sat at the top of a giant slide next to the front door and the other one sat at the bottom of the slide.  The chaplain asked when they

were going to be honest and come out of the closet with each other.  I thought it was strange because I knew their wives but the chaplain had significant powers of perception even before he crossed over.

I could only imagine how much more perceptive he was now.  I could only bow to his gay-dar even though I remained puzzled. My one buddy who sat on the slide at the bottom seemed to give it serious consideration.

The one at the top seemed oblivious to it all. Actually, I think the chaplain addressed only the one at the bottom of the slide.  As I looked up to the top of the slide at my other buddy, I could understand.

The chaplain really was perceptive. They all got in the car and left.  I just stood on the front porch thinking everything was really strange.  I hoped the chaplain had a safe trip back to wherever and

I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back into the house.