Saturday, March 17, 2018

Day 3-They deserved a parade.

His name is Carl.  Her name is Ruth.  They are neighbors.  I met them in the Spring of 2014 a few months after we moved here and after they returned from wintering in Florida.  They are an interesting couple who married late in life after their first spouses died.  Each is well read and happy to share opinions based on their readings.  And their combined ages come close to two hundred years.  On warm days they sat in their open garage to visit and observe.  I often stopped by and always enjoyed the time I spent with them.  The winter trips to Florida ended shortly after the first ambulance came for Carl.  He came home and the garage visits resumed.  Not too long ago I realized that I hadn't seen either of them for awhile.  Of course they wouldn't have been sitting in their open garage.  It's been too cold for that.  But I hadn't seen any movement in or around their house either.  I have another neighbor who seems to know everything about everyone so I asked her about Carl and Ruth.  "Oh, they moved into assisted living," was the reply.  I felt stunned by this new information about people I never really knew well at all.  I wouldn't have expected any type of contact from them.  But they just seemed to have disappeared from a street on which they had lived for years.  I don't believe anyone should just disappear.  At the very least flyers might have been distributed saying something like, "We're off on another adventure."  A parade with a drum major and trumpets might have escorted them down the street they knew so well and maybe even to their new home.  No one should just disappear without a trace.  Their home is dark now and perhaps in the near future new owners will claim the place as their own to do with it whatever they wish.  For now, though, the home of Carl and Ruth is dark and the garage door is closed.  They deserved a parade and so did we.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Day Two

So here I am wondering how to use the gift I was given.  My gift is the ability to put words on paper or on screen or wherever we put them these days - words that will move people and inspire people and give encourage them to actually think.  I've squandered that gift for far too long.  It's time to put it to use now.  The challenge is to figure out where and how.  I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Habits Are Hard To Make

But they are oh so easy to break.  Research indicates that a behavior must be repeated on a daily basis for at least one month before it becomes a habit.  So just a heads up here.  I'm going to write something in this blog every day for at least one month even if I have absolutely nothing on my mind about which to write.  I'm hoping to reclaim the habit of daily writing.  I've now warned you.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Tell The Wolves I'm Home

I just finished reading this amazing book by Carol Rifka Brunt.  I didn't want it to end and at the same time I couldn't wait for it to end so I could find out how it would end.  I suggest you drop everything, go buy this book, and start reading it immediately.  The central action takes place in 1987 during the height of the AIDS epidemic and its accompanying fear and stigma.  Woven brilliantly into the narrative is the damage that can be done by family secrets and the misguided attempts to control information and events.  Throw in two sisters trying to reclaim their relationship and a family doing the best it can and you wind up with a powerful novel of the redemptive power of love.  Just go read it.

Monday, February 19, 2018

My Father's Gun

I grew up with a gun in the house.  My father inherited it from his father who inherited it from his father.  All three Walker men carried the Winchester 25-20 in scabbards attached to their saddles.  This particular lever action rifle was first manufactured in 1892 and could hold six bullets.  I inherited the gun from my father.  I have never carried it in a scabbard attached to my saddle and I have never fired it.  Nevertheless it is among my most treasured possessions along with the memories associated with that gun.  The gun was, when not in its scabbard, leaning in a corner of the living room.  Out of its scabbard it was never loaded.  In fact, I'm not sure I ever knew where my father kept the bullets.  I was often given the honor of cleaning the rifle.  My brother and I played with it.  The rules, however, were strict.  Before picking up the rifle we had to first check to make sure it was empty.  And then, even confident there were no bullets, we could never point it at any living being.  My brother followed that rule even when a stranger wandered up to the door of our screen porch and began asking when our parents would get back home.  The man was disheveled and wide eyed and scary.  Our doors had no locks and we had only an old rifle with no bullets for protection.  Luckily we had been playing with that rifle and it was leaning against the wall near my brother.  Just as the stranger reached to open the door my brother stood, picked up the rifle, and pretended to chamber a bullet with the lever.  As he did this he quietly said, "Sir, you need to turn around and leave and never come back here."  The man looked from my brother to the rifle, turned around and walked back down the road into the desert.  My brother followed the rules and never pointed the gun at the man.  Besides learning and adhering to strict gun rules, the rifle and my father taught me a deep respect for life.  During my childhood wild horses still ran on our ranch.  On rare occasions a very old near death horse would find its way to our barn.  A practical man, my father chose to euthanize the horse using the by then old 25-20.  On one such occasion I asked my father if I could shoot the horse.  He said I could but before even lifting the rifle into firing position I must first take a moment to look into the horse's eyes.  I did as instructed and in that moment I saw the pain and sorrow of a life lived freely coming to an end.  I gave the rifle to my father whose only comment was that taking a life should never be easy.

Friday, February 16, 2018

This Guy Is Brilliant

I refer, of course, to Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens, my current read.  I'm currently on page 24.  I've got 392 more pages to read but I'm in no hurry to finish it.  I'm stunned by the information and inspiration I find on every page.  Let's start with the basic premise that a hundred thousand years or so ago there were at least six human species inhabiting the earth.  The question then becomes how of all the Homos did we the Sapiens become the only humans around today?  Our first encounter with our neighbors the Neanderthals didn't go too well for us.  About thirty thousand years later, though, we, the Sapiens, began doing different things.  We returned to our Neanderthal neighbors and drove them and all other human species off the face of the earth.  About fifteen thousand years after that we crossed an ocean to Australia.  And then we invented boats and oil lamps and bows and arrows.  We created art and religion and commerce and social stratification.  Harari calls this the Cognitive Revolution.  Many scientists attribute this Revolution to accidental genetic mutations that changed the wiring of our brains.  Whatever the reason, one of the first things we did with this mutation was develop an altogether new type of language.  It wasn't the first language because every animal has some kind of language.  But our early language proved to be incredibly supple and with it we could share information about each other.  Put in the basest possible terms, one of the first things we did with our amazing new language was gossip.  Research indicates that we've been gossipping for about seventy million years.  The other amazing thing we do with language is talk about things we have never seen, touched or smelled.  With that ability we create myths and legends and gods and religions.  These creations are not individual to each Homo Sapien.  Our fictions become the collective myths of nationalism and religion shared by millions.
I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A flat tire turns into a Valentine gift

Linda Walker
The news yesterday, Valentine’s Day, was dominated by yet another gun killing at a school, this time at a high school in Parkland, Fla. And yet another NRA-backed bunch of politicians mouthing the same tired, sickening lines. Too soon to talk about possible solutions, but thoughts and prayers blah blah blah.

But there was another story that also deserves attention. This one happened very close to home. It involved numerous acts of kindness, and it happened to my wife, Linda Haley Walker, who is herself a kind and gentle person.
Linda also is a good writer; she co-wrote our new novel, the soon-to-be-published “Half in Two.” So I’ll let her tell her story.
“I went to our grocery store in the afternoon to pick up groceries for the week. My adventure began when I came out of the store to find it raining. (This is a somewhat rare occurrence lately for us who live in Tucson. It is very much generally appreciated since we’re almost constantly in the middle of a drought.)
“I put the groceries in the trunk of the car and went to the driver side door where I found a note informing me that I had a serious car problem:


 "I checked to see, and indeed, the tire was flat as a proverbial pancake.
 "Since I don’t have, and never have wanted, a cell phone, I went into the store to use the store phone to call AAA. The store employees were very sympathetic and allowed me to tie up their phone line for several minutes. The lady at AAA told me that someone would be there to help within an hour. She also said that if I didn’t have a usable spare tire, they would send a tow truck to take me home.
“After transferring the groceries from the trunk to the back seat so AAA could get to the spare tire, I waited in the car for about twenty minutes (the rain falling even harder) and then got out to be more visible to whoever was coming to help me.
“A man and woman came out of the store, got into a van parked in front of my car, and backed out to leave. Then, I guess, the man noticed me standing with my umbrella, and he pulled back into his parking place and asked me if my battery was dead. I told him that I had a flat tire and had called AAA.
“He got out in the rain and came to tell me that he couldn’t leave someone in distress. He then found my spare tire, which, unfortunately, also needed air. He apologized for not having an air compressor to inflate it. And then, he reluctantly left after wishing me well.
“About fifteen minutes later a AAA repair truck arrived with a very pleasant and helpful repairman.  Without even checking my identification or membership, he re-inflated the spare and put it on the car for me Again, I received an apology. He said that he was sorry that I had to wait so long in the rain and then he wished me well and went on his way.”
So that’s it -- the end of Linda's story. Nothing too dramatic or earth-shaking, but no shootouts in the rain either. Just people being kind, caring for others, doing their jobs well.
I wish every day were like that. Every day could be Valentine’s Day -- the good kind, with love and kindness.