42 Years and Counting

Tomorrow is March 1st. For the past month and a half I have been visiting with this Christian household comprised of an elder and his wife, (Dennis and Maurine Chesley) with one adopted son, a single mother and her two young children (Charlotte Oda), and what would soon become 4 single women, Judy Hullings, Gaye Hurtig, Cindy Warner Baker and Lindy Combs. Lindy didn’t live in the household, she rented a room in a home nearby. Tomorrow Judy will drive me down to the YMCA at 836 So. Wabash in Chicago to pick up my sole possession, a box of books. We will return to Evanston where I will reside with this household during my term on parole, for I have just left prison after 6 1/2 years. (For bank robbery). Nobody in the household will ever ask me what I was in for. We are bound together in our belief in Jesus Christ, yet we are pretty much strangers (to me). Looking back I can see many questions about how this could turn out, but none are asked. This is God’s plan, on that we all agree and pray that it is so. There is no more dressing to this story. The household did come down to the prison to meet me for the first time on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Day. Dennis and Maurine were friends with Mary Lipscomb from years past and while Mary was in the Fellowship she was not part of this household. Now how well did Mary know me? Very little and only as a volunteer and school teacher in the prison. Everybody is trusting God on this one. For the past month and a half I have been looking for work. In the back of my mind I am realizing that getting out of prison has never worked for me, 3 months the longest I have ever made it. The Bureau of Parole stated, “There is no reasonable probability that you will live at liberty without violating the law.” These people, every last one of them are committed to helping me adjust every step of the way. The date was March 1st 1978, 42 years ago. Thanking God and these people is why I celebrate this date every year.

1.7 Seconds

That’s how long I have to grab your attention before you scroll on to the next shiny thing. But this morning, or sometime else during the day I am going to post it at various other times because we are never on here altogether noways.

As we wend our way through the morass that we call the election process our focus will be guided by those who have skin in the game to what’s important. We have had the President’s ‘pat on the back’ State of the Union which portends to tell us just that, the state of the union. We even had our President and Vice President tell us where we stand in preparation for the advance of the coronavirus. In my opinion, none of any that I described amounts to a hill of beans.

It does not account for ‘the people’ who are hurting in America. Our economy might be great in financial terms while homeless encampments abound in major cities. Mass shootings, gangland shootouts, brazen robberies might call for gun control in politicians minds but in my mind I see a lot of people in anguish at the loss of their loved one, the desperation of those committing these heartless acts speak to lost souls whose lives are earmarked for desolate endings. It’s not the disparity between the have’s and have not’s, It is the hopelessness of the have not’s that they ever will have.

Those without, tend to do without for a long long time. The government will never comfort ye my people. Jesus said, the poor you will have with you always. And a lot of people think, okay, it’s not me. That is the group we need to heal first. Those that believe it’s not them, who fend for themselves, who make do as best they can, who live just above that threshold of pain either don’t know, or have forgotten where they came from. There is no condemnation of those folks. I’m just pointing out where our help is going to come from. From the same We The People group who live and walk among us.

Which brings us to We, to Me. The ones who are going to MAKE A DIFFERENCE are US. Where is our part, what can we do…and we don’t need permission. One kind act can turn a frown to a smile. One word of encouragement can light a spark of hope. Sharing knowledge, not selling it can provide a new path to someones future.

On March 1, 1978. a young woman drove me to downtown Chicago for the purpose of extricating my mere possessions of a box of books as I signed out of the Half Way House completing that portion of my 12 year prison sentence to become ostensibly a FREE MAN. Without a job, or place to stay or any additional help I would need with my finances, ($22.00), my medical health, readjusting to society after 7 1/2 years, I moved into a household of barely met Christians who belonged to a communal church, Reba Place Fellowship. Without that Difference Making Love. I most surely would have drowned in despair. And as I had so many times before, gone back to ‘my people’ behind Walls of hopelessness.

God’s Promises small group .

We Lament Alot…

We lament a lot. I am not even going to attempt to answer the many questions that arise from out Lamentations. Indeed, I cringe sometimes when I hear religious people respond so quickly with some christian retort that is not only hurtful but neglects my pain when I cry out against the injustice of a death that needn’t have happened.

Murdered on stage. Christina Grimmie

We live in a fallen world, yes that would be a true expression of our condition were it religious or not. I could easily slip into a denunciation of all the deranged people in the world but I really want to reflect on our lamentations. Since we are lamenting all the time, daily, personally, incessantly, we need, one would think anyway, I resist people saying “we need” anything. No you need to stop saying ‘we need’, you may need, I don’t. Okay, forgive me for getting sidetracked. How do we lament is a better question., because you can bet before the week is out we are going to be lamenting another horrid death or condition somewhere.

Murdered on stage. Selena

I was listening to the heart wrenching words of a woman from the Netherlands describe how she promised her son that he would be safe as he was with his older brother as they boarded Flight #17 that would be shot down by Russian missiles. There’s not enough lamenting to assuage the guilt she feels that she led her son to die. Nor would I find it manageable myself. Even Jesus, while on the Cross said; “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.”

I am not going to suggest how you deal with lamenting I can only hope and pray when it comes time for you to lament that you find a way. Peace,

The End

“You’re A Blabbermouth”

I wrote this a year ago and I don’t think it included punctuation because even I was out of breath by the time I got done. What is it? My bio, meshed into one paragraph.

Before I step out today, I have already been deluged by information overload. I have heard that term for awhile now but, have never felt that it applied to me because how was one to act having been overloaded with information. I guess you start with a dazed look. Then when you write and you forget something or worse yet, somebody’s name you just say ‘what’s his name?’ That doesn’t even begin to describe the problem. Write something they say. Write what? How does that make you feel? Now you’ve done it and maybe you should step back a few paces. Really, you want to know how I feel. Let me check what the consequences might be for actually telling you how I feel. So, I was amused by this woman who decided she wanted to be in the Olympics and took, let’s say, unconventional means to get there. And then duped somebody to actually allow her to ski in an event. Her performance was underwhelming to say the least. And there are people who are upset with her that she has done this. I can understand how everyone must feel. I in part, did something similar but not as quite extraordinary. I ran for City Council of Evanston, no, that wasn’t all that out of the realm, many people run for political office, even people with records such as I have or worse than mine. Nor was it the run for the Park District, that’s the same thing. Nor was it the little class I devised to teach Creative Writing, Geography, and Math, using nothing more than baseball cards as my text. That was unique and fun, and by the way I had a class of 6 or so, did it for 3 years, got a former MLB Pitcher and Traveling Secretary of the Chicago White Sox to be our Guest Speaker at the Banquet we held at the conclusion one year. I even approached Robert Crown to host my class for which I received a class room (and they paid me). I like to start things and things that I am not suppose to be able to do. They told me and I quote, “There is no reasonable probability that you will ever live at liberty without violating the law.” So, I ran for public office, became a Notary Public, served as an Election Judge for 20 years, normal stuff, and I may have got a traffic ticket or two, and maybe the biggest thing I have done which is due in large part by this amazing woman I married, is raise a family, who now have kids of their own and made me a grandpa. On March 1st, 1978, Judy Hullings drove me to the YMCA at 832 Wabash, Chicago and I picked up my box of books never more to return to any Dept of Corrections. Except for when I returned to the same prison I left when I brought in a choir for Christmas, or basketball teams to play the men, or as a volunteer to visit the men, or actually work for the DOC as a counselor for the State Halfway House. I think I did make it to the Olympics of Life, I was reanimated and brought to life. The End

Before She was Gaga.

Today’s discussion is brought to you by In The Rear Mirror. Other people have their own opinions and I am not contending with that fact. The hardest part of halting smoking was picking a day. Should I tie it into something like the day they supposedly landed on the moon. (Man, that was so fake looking. We had nothing to compare it too.) The hardest part was having a cigarette available when you woke up the next morning. ‘Were you going to stop when you woke up or after that first cigarette and then you quit.’ The hardest part was, do I wean myself off cigarettes or use some sort of assistant approach, like patches? The hardest part was do I tell someone I am going to quit or not. People will really show themselves on this one. People who were most vocal about me quitting, dropped me like a lead balloon, once I quit. I was selfish though and that more than anything got me through. The hardest part was those first 3 days. That’s how long it takes me to break a habit. 3 days. In three days I saved $30, add $10 a day and I am on my way, and even though 95% of people who quit ‘cold turkey’ fail. Well, let’s just say I once went on a hunger strike while I was in the hole for 7 days so I know my will or is it stubbornness. ALL THAT TO SAY. You know I weigh myself every morning and for awhile now I have been hovering around the 257/8 mark. Then a few days ago after having been feeling ill for a few days, I noticed I was down to 252.8 lbs having lost 4 lbs. in about 5 or 6 days. Today I was 251.4 h’mmmm, I say to myself, I may be on to something. But I am not going to tell you what that is. We’ll see how it goes, because it could blow up overnight. The End

Zoe In The Rear Mirror

“I’m very much down to earth. Just not this earth.” Karl Lagerfield

I really don’t know why but Vonn is getting on my last nerve. Every where I turn it’s Vonn this and Vonn that. I haven’t watched one minute of the Olympics but she is really a distraction. Fred Hoiberg is another one, but I think I took a vow not to talk about the Bulls anymore so let me just move on from that. Who do I like these days? As celebrities go, no one really. The crybabies are already coming out of the woodwork over the new rules in baseball aimed at speeding up the game. I hope Contreras does make a fool out of himself because eventually they’ll put some teeth to the new rules and he’ll be catching down in Tuscaloosa, Alabama somewhere. I am excited about the White Sox core of young talent though and may fixate my allegiance on the south side where I was born and raised. Dang, I missed the news at 10. Oh well, they’ll replay it in the morning. That drive at 5 in the morning is going to be a real humdinger with the conditions being what they are going to be. And for all the talk about taking a nap this afternoon, I never did. Watched a couple of movies that I have seen scores of times and got caught up playing Tetris which I am probably going to have to throw my phone away because I am addicted. And we missed Queen Victoria on Masterpiece Theater last Sunday because we had the Charlie and Zoe show here. They’ll re-run it again a couple more times before the next and final episode plays in two weeks. They have already indicated that there will be a 3rd season. Reckon I oughta turn in for the night. On The Morrow.

I walked into a flea market in Missouri once and there sitting on a table looking all lonely for its appearance sat a stack of books. I immediately recognized them as “See You At The Top” by Zig Ziglar. I was amazed at the price they wanted $2. There were 8 books in the stack. I purchased 4 of them to be used as gifts for young people when they graduated high school, or college. When I went to purchase them I was further amazed!!! They wanted $2 for all 8 books. Whoa, they didn’t know the gold that laid between those covers. I was going to leave some copies so as to allow others to benefit from them but then no one had up to that point so I took them all and over the years did exactly what I had intended, gave them away as gifts to graduates. Stay tuned for the rest of the story.

“Mary Munson, who got out of the Bridewell on Friday was found on the street the same afternoon very drunk and attracting a large crowd by her noise. She was arrested and discharged on promising to do better.” Mary Munson never knew, nor anyone else for that matter, that her story would be repeated 157 years later. This story is from the Chicago Tribune dated February 20, 1860. And that’s the way it was.

In the Year of my birth, 1944.

An Assemblage of the past

So as speculation goes certain of our psychoanalytical professionals give credence to the plausibility that maybe there is something too these “past lives” theory. I think they pose the wrong hypothesis. Rather than attribute such things like deja vu to this phenomenon they should look to other possibilities. Dispensations to those who claim to have lived here before from paying taxes. After all paying taxes in a second life would violate the double jeopardy clause of double indemnity. Equally important is if you have lived here before aren’t you more likely to live again in the future so death should not be as scary a thing unless your life on earth was scary enough. Throw in the possibility of their actually being aliens from another planet and have they too lived past lives as humans and are now aliens, or vise versa? Now Ancestral trees are going to be difficult which could explain why DNA might not be as helpful as the criminal justice system seems to think it is. We could come with endless quandaries on the subject and throw in enough fifty cent words and we almost sound like professionals ourselves. After all who is there to refute what we speculate about, no one. The End

Historical Perspective

According to my weather bug I just missed Sunrise. Been doing that most of my life. This weekend we had an interesting day with one of our grandchildren being taken to the ER last night and discovering they have strep. She had been kept home from school Friday for feeling poorly so she was feeling the effects even then. She’s medicated now and all is well until the next one of us gets it. Browsing through the news of the day I see there is really a conglomeration of events traveling the country and the media is trying real hard to make them important but I don’t see the people buying that. For more pertinent historical perspectives I have been reading the Chicago Tribune from the 1860’s prior to and leading up to the Civil War. Alarmist that I am I was quite taken to see that there is much from that time period that mirrors are present circumstances and how uncanny that the issues are quite the same. Now get this, Abraham Lincoln, though today revered was not a popular President being held in disdain much the way Trump is today. Hangings were announced as events to be attended. More about this as the week unravels. The End.

Cats are considered to be fairly smart, right? So my two cats get in a fight with another cat, though Buddy was doing most of the scratching and hissing, he being the bigger one and the opposing cat wasn’t backing down either, having already been blown out of a tree with the high winds and what not. Mary came and broke up the fight but the other cat wouldn’t leave even after Mary waving several times for it to scram. Finally, Mary just pulled down the shade and all the cats went their own way. Oh, I didn’t tell you. The other cat was outside a closed window on our window sill and the only thing that took any blows was our window glass.

Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Eloy On Over

Here we go again with professional baseball teams trying to keep from outsmarting themselves. The Chicago Cubs may have given the Chicago White Sox their Most Valuable Player when they traded Eloy Jiminez for Jose Quintana. In the first place you never trade an everyday player for one who only plays every 5th day. But like the Cubs with their future HOF’ who plays 3B (what’s his name?) the White Sox want to take a year of playing at the Major League lever away from Eloy because they want to protect his status or some such malarkey. “One of the top prospects in the game, Jimenez was perhaps the best hitter in all the minors after getting traded from the Cubs in the Jose Quintana trade this past summer. He has monstrous raw power and an excellent hit tool, profiling very nicely as a future cleanup-hitting right fielder. The White Sox will face a difficult decision with Jimenez this season, as he could be forcing the issue for a promotion to the majors at some point this summer, but if they are disciplined enough to hold him down until April 2019, they would gain an extra year of control.” See what I mean, I hate that. But the White Sox still want to thank you Cubs for sending him over in the game of Red Rover, Red Rover send Eloy on over. And they did. Add Eloy to several other up and comers and you could see the White Sox besting the Cubs in a not to distant World Series and how sweet would that be considering Rick Renteria was dumped by the Cubs in favor of their present manager because Renteria wasn’t good enough. Now before you say that’s not going to happen you also said the Cubs weren’t going to happen. The End


Valentine’s Day from year”s gone by

Uncanny how as year’s go by the plateware stays the same only those sitting around the table change. This year our son, Brendan joined us but we didn’t take any pictures.

Today is hosting a plethora of events, none planned, they’re just happening.

As I stepped out of my vehicle this morning a swarm of B-52 Bombers swarmed over head. Looking skyward, in perfect V formation, I could scarcely see them as they came into view, geese; heading to Millenium Park no doubt to maybe catch some of the stars from last nights NBA All Star Game.

Our Geese, Chicago’s geese, no longer fly south for the winter, Canadian or other wise. And the flocks they are a-growin’. No longer satisfied to exclusively call golf fields their home, they will settle down in any open space they can lay claim too. Would that be a sight for Wrigley Field, already often abundantly covered by sea-gulls and pigeons, let’s add geese to the mix and really be entertained. Unlike Randy Johnson who threw over 100 mph, the Cub pitchers have been known to throw lollipops that no amount of cheating by the Astros could ever decipher.

Strolling through the marketplace as I was, there was Erika and her husband. I don’t know where they live but I see them often enough, on the streets, in the stores, passing through the park. Let me figure this out, math comes slow sometime, 1984. The year our daughter Naomi was born, the year we moved to Missouri, the year the Cubs won their division only to be dismayed as I was, to see the ball dribble through the outstretched glove of their first baseman, Leon Durham. 36 years ago. I called Erika during lunch break. She answered by saying, “I hope this is not one more call that you are leaving.”
Actually, Erika, I am. Erika was my Supervisor in the University Relations Department at Northwestern University, where I worked as the Accounting Clerk II. I had been there 3 years and there really wasn’t any reason to leave, other than I thought the grass was greener down in Missouri. Trust me, it isn’t.

I continued my shopping, picking up 2 dozen eggs, 2 gallons of milk, a packaged slab of bacon (made real sure it was processed in America) 2 pieces of Carrot Cake, (our wedding cake) and 2 Belated Valentine Cards for my wife. Are there such things as Belated Valentine Cards? No, but I have known my wife for 48 years, I think she’ll give me a pass. The End.