Monday, August 15, 2016

One for this year...

Hey y'all!

I recently meandered in this direction.  I noticed that it has been a while for me and really most of those I followed in the glory days of blogging (for me).

I read the last handful of posts.  There were notifications of loss and promises of more blogging (maybe).  Well, I ain't here for that stuff.  But I will give you a quick update for those not already up to speed.

There are no major losses for me to report.  The only thing I have really lost that I hold dear would be my weekends.  But that can be a positive thing sometimes.  Business has been pretty damn good for the "side hustle".  So good that if there is a RARE off weekend, I find I have no idea how to spend the time.  Probably because there is so much that I go into overload and laze out.  But that rest has been needed.  So my laziness in this case is a good thing.

20 years have passed since my wedding day.  As a gift I am taking my wife on a cruise.  She is ecstatic and has been counting down the days.  So ecstatic that she is willing to overlook her mistrust of airline travel.  So it has been her motivation to keep pushing them goods out the door the last couple of months.  And it will be my first REAL vacation in several years.  I can't wait either!

I have also rediscovered my one of my favorite hobbies.  Last year I found my way to Slow Roll and I have been spending regular time on my bike ever since.  Not to the same degree as the golden years, but I no longer have to ride alone.  Group rides are the best.  So good in fact that they have motivated me into being out of doors during the summer.  I haven't done THAT in a while!  And I noticed some differences between my chest and forehead skin the other day.  I thought it was due to me cleaning out the gutters and attempted to wash it off.  Somehow the soap didn't do the job.  I think I am trying to look negro or something now.  My wife seems to be enjoying the light chocolate haze that has settled on me so it's all good!

Not only has the bug to ride bitten me hard, but I am motivated to build some new skills because of it.  You see I have been digging the new bike culture in Detroit.  People are even making bike clubs in large quantities.  And most of the club members are riding custom cruisers around town.  Some are pretty damn sweet.  More important the riding posture looks way more comfortable than the "curled up like a shrimp" look that was the way to go when I rode FAST.  And my hands are no longer young and have developed a touch of achyness.  So the old riding style is not that comfortable for my elder more corpulent body.  This brings me to the desire to have a different steed for the type of riding I do now.  Thsi in turn brings about a few problems as follows"

  • The first problem is that most of those fly rides are single speed with coaster brakes.  I need my gears, and I like big boy brakes on my bike.  
  • I also want something that is a little different from the norm looks wise.  Not that easy to find. 
  • Thirdly, most of the frames with the right ergonomics are too long.  They are more stretch/limo cruisers.  I am thinking more "power cruiser"
  • 4th, most of those are also too narrow between the rear dropouts for me to "reconfigure" them to my intended use.
  • AND most of those designs are not quite how I want them.  Some are close but none are cigar.
  • OH ANNNNDDDD... almost all of them use Hi-Ten steel.  Even the fairly expensive ones (at least expensive for my cheap ass).  I can't do Hi-Ten.  I gave up cheap bikes YEARS ago!  I can't go back.
I am guessing you can see what is coming, right?
I have two paths to glory.  Either find a custom builder to make it to my specifications, or learn the skills to do it myself.  I am guessing you weren't just skimming to get this far.  So you already know that I am cheap as hell.  So you probably figured out which option I am not planning on taking.



I'll wait for those of you who are a little slow...



.. Okay done waiting.

Yep, you guessed it.  I have decided that side hustle number two will involve some metal work, welding and powder coating.  Hopefully the investment in these skills will save me money over paying someone else.  And I have like four designs I would like to see in my garage, so it may be cost effective in the end.  And with the proliferation of bicycles in the area, there may be some decent cheddar in it.  We will see how that goes.  Or IF it goes.  Main hustle and side hustle number one are some greedy mofoz.

So...  Things seem to be steaming along pretty good right now.  I am doing okay.  Things could be better, things are not worse.  I will take that any day.

I won't make any promises about when the next update will happen here.  Seems I am not too good at keeping them, sooooo....

Oh, and GO Team USA!!!  Some great stories in these Olympic Games this time around, huh?

Yours truly,

The Second Sixty-Eight

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Two Years

Wow.  Two years.  That is how long it has been since I published a post in this space.  Okay, and change...

I realize why now that I look back at the last post.  Even now reading it brings tears.  It is no wonder that I stayed away.  My therapy (this space) often is a harsh reminder of the things that motivated me to tell these stories.  I even feel a little bad about some of the things that have been put down in this space.  But hindsight is 20/20.  Looking back you can afford to have regrets.  Now you only have memories of the pain, not the actual experience.  Then however, that was when it was happening and fresh.  The words begged for release so that the accompanying insanity could escape as well. 

This space was then.  A lot of what generated these 400 odd posts is either gone, severely lessened, or no longer worthy of the posts.  Well, mostly...

See something happened recently.  Something small and seemingly harmless.  What had happened is that I bought my first smartphone y'all!  YEAH!  I KNOW IT IS 2015! SHADDUP!  I am a late bloomer.  And I was waiting for them to get the kinks out...  Really the reason was that my wife lost the phone connected to the number on our business cards.  And she kept forgetting to check the voice mail for messages.  So I transferred the number to a brand spanky new phone.  Which comes with a bill.  Which I can now afford because of more budget room.  Which prompted me to buy a second phone.  Which means I needed apps!  Which led me to loading a bunch of popular social networking apps.  I resisted the Facebook app for two weeks.  Then fell into the trap.  Now I am connected.  For better or worse.  I also connected to my Twitter and Skype accounts that have been largely unused for the last 5 or 6 years...  They are still mostly unused too.  Oh and Instagram as some of you already know from the follow requests...  I guess I need to use the camera to make that useful.  Eh, we'll see. 

What also happened is this.  I feel the need to express again.  Not saying how long it will last.  Or how it will manifest itself this time around.  Maybe back to the roots I go.  And I likely will relaunch my Wordpress space for the project.  I had previously used that space to mirror this space.  Might start fresh.  I guess I will keep y'all posted on this if I launch it.  If there is anybody who even reads this...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Honoring The Fallen

As of late, I find myself somewhat obsessed with death. Not in some unnatural way mind you. I guess a better description is that death has taken great interest in hanging around me. So of course I have taken great interest in return. Naturally.

As usual with the specter... no spectre (I like that spelling better...). As usual when the spectre of death hangs around, it brings many things with it. Usually those things are not positive. For me it has brought on a bit of surliness, less ready smiles, I am more withdrawn, a little more extreme. Some days I just plain old require solitude.

You see death has taken a toll on me recently. As I write this, I still can't fully measure what I have lost. Mostly because I can't see things from an objective perspective. At this point I don't want to understand. I don't want things to make sense. I just want death to go away for a good long time. I know people don't come back, so I don't really want that. But I do want that spectre to realize that it is not being very fair to me. Far be it from me to wish such a thing on someone else. But when dealing with such, that is sometimes how things go. “If not you, then who?” seems to be the question. My answer is “NOT DAMN ME! Come back when you have evened things out EVERYWHERE!” I know how that looks. But then again, pain doesn't give a damn how things look.

I guess I should take a minute and give a bit of backstory. I find that context tends to help paint the picture.

Two days before Thanksgiving, the phone rings. I think nothing of it since I was the farthest from the phone at the time. Then I hear “Nooooo!”. I have only heard that once before in my life. Fear fills my insides like there was previously a vacuum there. Just as it did the first time. The questions “What?” “Who?”, “Where?”, “When?” and “How?” all explode in my mind at the same time. Then I hear “Don't tell me that!”. Now every possible alarm bell is going off. At this point I know the relationship between the caller and the callee. I also know it is VERY bad news. The list suddenly narrows itself down to a 4 year old girl and a 65 year old woman. I am desperate for information at this point and am on the verge of knocking my wife over and ripping the phone out of her hand. Instead I try to concentrate on calming myself before my heart thundered itself right out of my chest. And then “Please don't make me tell this man that!”. The odds on the 4 year old suddenly dropped to near nil. My wife finally composed herself enough to realize that I was waiting on confirmation that my mother had passed. All of those questions I had were either answered buy that or became unimportant because “Why?” was the only one I cared about at that moment. Over the next several hours I spent time with a lot of sad and shocked family members. You see, my mother had some health issues, but she wasn't ill. She was watching TV as she always did and folk were coming and going. My nephew went to the store to get them some snacks and was coming back to massage her legs as she asked. My sister returned home less than 10 minutes after he left and she was gone. And my life changed. Those next few hours was the first time I have ever felt alone in the company of people. She was laid to rest with a wonderful memorial service. Her ashes will be spread at her favorite park either on her next birthday or around the 4th of July during our annual family picnic.

Fast forward to the end of January. I am at work during a lull in the action. I log onto Facebook to see what is happening. I get an instant message from a great aunt that I barely see online. She tells me to call her. The fact that she contacted me that way told me it was something of great import, so I called her immediately. She infomed me that my Uncle Frankie had passed the night before. A sad event to be sure but not unexpected. He was 81 and had some heart problems for a while. Of course it was too soon for me. I mustered up the strength to make one more call and grabbed my cell phone. I went to a little used spot in the building where cell reception was better and privacy was higher. I called my wife to give her the bad news with a ton of tears in my eyes. He was one of her favorites in my family. She didn't take it well either.

Fast forward to the end of March. I am working from home early one Monday. I get a call from my cousin, who was like my brother while growing up. I hadn't heard from him in a while because as many of you know, I am part hermit. And other such grown folk stuff too. So we chit chat for a minute or three. Then he says to me, “I was calling to ask if you could be a pall bearer”. My immediate reply was “Who, what, when, what?!?!?”. His reply was “Oh, you didn't know! Dad passed on Saturday.” I didn't know because I was still a little down and had not been to the family page on Facebook or the family website on My sister also neglected to pass the word on. I told him that “I could do no less for him and that it would be my great honor to do so.” This really messed up my day and no work would get done. You see this man was like my other father. I was the salt in his salt and pepper twins. He was also one of my mother's favorite cousins. Needless to say, I was pretty messed up. My wife was rather fond of him and his wife. Again, not news she took well. The depression I had been running from for the last few months found me, and it held on tight.

Rewind to mid March. I read a FB post about a cousin from my father's side. He was in hospice for cancer. I called his brother to find out what was going on. We talked for a few minutes. I got caught up on cuz' situation. By this time I was running that losing race with depression. I wasn't able to bring myself to call Auntie though. Fast forward to Mid April. I run across another FB post about the cousin I talked to on the phone. It seems he had a stroke and was in the hospital with little to no memory of anyone. AND another cousin was in ICU because an asthma attack nearly took him out. A couple of days later the stroke patient has recovered some memory and function. The asthma patient improves enough to leave ICU. A few days after that my sister remembers to call. The cousin in hospice passed early that morning, his brother was still in the hospital recovering from the stroke AND their mother was admitted to the hospital due to stress and other complications.

Today is the day before my cousin's home going service. For me, this will be the fourth time in five months. Let me restate that. Four funerals in five months with two near misses. Obviously I am not doing that cool. To the point that I let slip my own self discipline and desire to be better. Some days I win, some days I lose. But I shall still strive until I no longer have the ability. I will get back on my meds and stay on schedule. I will get back on my bike and ride like I am young again. I will try that damned Insanity workout again! I gotta say though, that shit was hard!!! I must be a glutton for punishment because I liked it. My old, fat body didn't necessarily agree with the abuse and I had to wave off before I snapped something. But I will be back. And I will give myself a better diet and a better attitude.

I promised myself I would not write depressing stuff here again. But I needed to let this out. And I had to something to honor Loraine, Charlie, Donald and Layman. I don't think I can get better without having done so.

I ain't promising that I am back. But I am removing that dumb promise to myself. When I fell of writing here, I fell off having that therapy. I thought it was because things felt better. But I do this to make things better. Every time...

Monday, January 02, 2012

A New Year And A Day.

Happy New Year folks!!!

Not much else to add at this point.  I am just here inflating my totals for this year.

And to wish you the above.

And just because.

I would tell you that I have stuff to share but just haven't yet decided how much.  But you probably heard that before.  So I will just share stuff without the foreshadowing...

Anyway, love you all.  See you in the later!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

And Now... None

R.I.P. Big Ma.

I got the news about an hour ago...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

And Then There Was One

Life has ways of being interesting.  A lesser known fact about me is that I have had nine grandparents.  How do you ask?  Well... My father's parents, one and two.  My mother's parents, three and four.  This is the usual configuration for most people.  However life happens and sometimes there are additions.  In my case it happened several times. 

My mom's parents divorced. 

Her mom remarried, five.  After a (not very long) while, he passed.  One gone, I was just a babe.  I wish I had known him, I am told he was a really good man.

My parents divorced a couple years later.

Not long after, dad's mom passed.  Two gone.  I can barely remember her myself.  But she lives on in the memories and stories of her children.  A very kind and intelligent woman and mother of 13.  Three years is not nearly enough time, especially when there were so many others to share her with.

Not long afterward my mother's father remarried, six.

Not long after that my father's father remarried, seven.

My father remarried.  Though that bond came her parents, eight and nine.

It is around this time when I am really aware and can remember people and events.  So the relationships began to develop past familial to personal.  Mom's mother was Grandma!  Straight, no chaser, grand parent of all grand parents.  For me she was the most constant.  The greatest presence of all the grands.  She also happened to be my family's Madea... But I digress...  My mother's father, he was number two.  So much I can say about him.  Too much going through my mind to even write it.  That was my man though.  My father's father was a ghost to me.  An occasional visit here and there.  It was hard to be a part of his life since he relocated to California before I really got to know him.  Which of course meant that I didn't really know his wife either.  My mom's step mom. She was grandma too, but without the capital "G".  She was a pretty nice lady from what I can remember.  But there was something I couldn't put my finger on that put up a barrier.  I guess the families never really quite meshed.  Her children never quite felt like uncles and aunts.  Her grandchildren never quite felt like cousins.  I guess they really weren't because after her death, I didn't see much of them.  After his, they became pretty much legends...  My step mom's parents are the last two.  I will be the first to admit that this was a strange relationship.  I never had a problem connecting with either of them.  But it was not really a grandparent grandchild relationship.  More like beloved great uncle and aunt.  There was a certain distance between me and my sister and my step mom's family as a whole.  Just never really engaged with the clan.  No nights spent over folks houses.  No cousins ever came by.  Now that I think back, it was almost always a case of me going where they were.  I guess to a kid, one way don't cut it.  In fact it probably explains the distance between my brothers.  Meetings usually on their turf, not mine.  Hmmm...  Different post that.  But back to it.  Pappa and Big Ma were their identities within the family.  Poppa to me was a stereotypical good humored southern farm boy.  Always happy to see you.  Honest, hard working, Salt of the earth kind of guy.  A great big old teddy bear.  Big Ma on the other hand quite a bit soft spoken.  Seemingly as small as he was big.  Always willing to take up the conversation or relate a story.

This is the grandparental landscape as it was when I was five.  It remained that way for several years.  Then my mom's step mom passed.  This was the first grandparent I really engaged with who moved on, three down.

Things stayed stable though my teens.  Mostly...  Grandma was the next to go.  This was the one I really connected with.  I got a lot from her.  I remember one incident that sealed the deal.  She had a fireplace in her house.  There were pictures of all of her all over the place.  I remember mentioning to her (with my lip poked out) that she didn't have a picture of me up there.  She gave me that "are you effing kidding me?" look.  Then she said something that pretty much meant the same thing.  Then she steered me to the photo albums.  Told me to look though them.  Needless to say after a few moments I felt like a complete jackass.  And never more loved...  Best believe that a couple of years later upon my high school graduation, hers was the first picture I delivered. Four down.

About a year later Grandpa was also gone.  I think he was heartbroken mostly.  He took Grandma's passing, and the circumstances, really hard.  First time I remember seeing him cry.  I will always remember the lesson he taught me about respect and paying attention to what folk say.  Seems he sent me to the store.  Gave me a list of stuff to buy him and I could have the change.  I came back with a half assed order for him and the bounty of the gods for myself.  I think he was a little pissed.  I remember the laughter more.  And that had more of an effect on me.  I will never forget that.  Mostly because he never let me.  Five down.

A couple of years later, my father's father and his wife returned from California.  His health had starting heading south.  As had her memory.  They needed to be cared for, so they came home.  I got to spend a little time talking with him as an adult,  Digging through the stories and history that he had available in his head.  But there was not enough time.  At least I never thought so.  Six down.

His wife was the one where the connection was weakest.  As I said, they were in Cali most of my life.  When the came back she was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's.  By the time of his funeral, her memory was mostly gone.  Pretty much everybody was a stranger to her.  I remember the last couple of conversations we had.  She looked at me with a sad and apologetic look and said "I'm sorry, I don't remember you."  I was slightly taken aback.  Remember, Dad is one of 13.  13 who were fruitful.  So there were a lot to remember.  Even in the best of circumstances, that statement was not unexpected.  So I tried to explain who I was.  We both felt better for the understanding achieved.  The next time I saw her, the conversation started the same as before.  This time I simply replied, "That's okay, I remember you".  Not long after that she joined her husband.  Seven down.

Poppa was the next to leave.  He was a good man, who lived a good life and raised a family.  Can't really remember that man ever having anything bad to say about anybody.  We were always happy to see each other.  My biggest regret is that we didn't have more of each other in our lives.  Eight down.

This leads me to the somewhat deceiving title of this post.  See Poppa passed years ago.  So there has only been one for over a decade.  Big Ma is 93.  Good health and a bit of spunk to boot.  She and my father celebrated their birthdays together and the family showed up.  I still smile when I picture that scene,  She was sitting in the chair by the window.  Somebody asked what she wanted from the store.  She replied that she wanted something to drink.  After folk asking about various soft drinks and juices and getting "no" as a response, somebody (I forget who), said "The hell with all that Big Ma want her a DRINK!"  The very satisfied grin she wore after that pretty much told that tale.  She got her a little cognac for her birthday drink.  Job well done!  I also remember looking at her a couple of times during the event.  She wore a beaming and satisfied smile while the late winter sun beamed down on her through the picture window.  An beautiful day, a good drink and surrounded by family in celebration.  That included my absentee ass...  I have to say her last birthday was a good one.

Today she inspires the writing of this post.  Because of recent events, one may soon be zero.  A couple of weeks ago, she fell and broke her hip.  The doctors said she needed emergency surgery or she wouldn't walk again.  The surgery was successful I guess.  However there were some complications that ended up in her falling into a coma.  I was by dad's house this weekend.  She is there, sleeping.  I stole a quiet moment to hold her hand.  Not believing that after 93 years that her time may have arrived.  Though her end may be soon, her legacy is strong.  And like the others, she shall live on.  In me...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Work The Black Page...Here And There

For some reason, I am getting the urge to start or even write this whole post in song lyrics.  In the last two minutes I have fought down the urge (mostly, see title) to quote lines from Sting and Stevie Wonder as openings to this post.  But while they might speak to some thoughts in my mind, they don't speak the words needed for THIS post.

See, I am here because of two things, fear and reemergence.

Fear has kept me from leaping into the future.  I feel myself being TOO cautious.  I fully understand why.  I just don't want to end up back where I was before.  But overcompensating is bad in this case.  Slow feet take more time to cover the same ground.  I find myself in a funny place because of it.  The mind knows.  But the mind believes different.

To illustrate that point, I got a story for you.

Way back yon three quarter score ago there was a young man.  Freshly enhappied and newly wed.  Young dude and his new bride arriveth in the magical kingdom of Toronto.  And being young (and dumb(ish)) he loudly proclaimed that he would take her to the highest venue in the land.  And when they would arrive at the high, he would drag her across the magical floor that looked upon everything below it.  So up, up, up, up they went until reaching the highest plateau.  Around the dark circle they strode, until they beheld a most wonderful sight.  Why it was the brightness of the sun blazing up through what appeared to be an enormous hole in the floor.  They walked to the very edge of what seemed to be oblivion.  They gazed down upon the kingdom.  They felt like a king and queen even as they gazed down upon men who fancied themselves Royals.  Many men named Jay in suits of Blue attempted to defeat these men of such lofty goals.  To which the new bride uttered "That's so cool".  And off she went.  She floated across the bright abyss as if an angel with new wings.  Her journey began with her new husband's hand in hers.  It ended with that hand empty.  The husband had attempted to fly with her.  But his foot never actually crossed the threshold between the solid ground and the lighted abyss.  It seems that his mind KNEW that there was a magical force field called plexiglass there (damn you Rio!).  His mind would NOT believe that the next step on solid ground called for a 1,100 foot drop before his foot would reach that ground.  Needless to say, attempts to get him to venture out were (mostly) in vain.

I tell you this story to say that I find myself again not able to put that foot where I know it should go.  When I think about it, I wonder why I am hesitant to walk into the future.  When I don't think about it, not walking seems normal.  That said, I think it is going to take some more work for me to reestablish my freedom.  I have shed some of the shackles.  This one is the most challenging.  Challenging because my mind is quite the formidable opponent.

From The Black Page,