The Death Clock

I got an email from my dear friend Laho the other night.
In the subject box it read: The Clock is Ticking!

Hmmm . . .

I opened the email to find a link to a site called The Death Clock, a cyberspacial destination for anyone wondering when they’ll be “re-formatted by God”.
I put in my information and was told that March 17, 2025 will be the day I get promoted to subterranean truffle inspector.

Those loveable folks at The Death Clock do offer some hope in the form of a ‘delay your death’ link, a possible out for anyone slated to buy a pine condo too prematurely than they originally anticipated.

I told a friend of mine about the site and he went immediately and began entering his information.

Imagine my surprise when he told me he died 16 years ago.
Ah, the internet still has its imperfections, doesn’t it?
Thank God.

I did begin reminiscing about my own reservation at the Chateau Eternity and how I never seriously think about that final day of de-animation.
It’s a morose thought at best but I will say there’s something oddly fascinating about spinning the dials at DC.
It’s bullshit anyway and if you take it seriously you’re crazier than me.
But it’s interesting.

March 17, 2025.
Saint Patrick’s Day, no less.

All I can say is I better not be in the middle of a Guinness.
That would be a tragic waste of 2 perfectly good Weight Watcher points.

~m

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Birth

This was my NASA Image of the Day on my IGoogle homepage
(and just too damn beautiful not to share)

From NASA:

“This image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows infant stars “hatching” in the head of the hunter constellation, Orion. Astronomers suspect that shockwaves from a supernova explosion in Orion’s head nearly three million years ago may have initiated this newfound birth.

The region featured in this Spitzer image is called Barnard 30, located approximately 1,300 light-years away and sits on the right side of Orion’s “head,” just north of the massive star Lambda Orionis.

Wisps of green in the cloud are organic molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These molecules are formed any time carbon-based materials are burned incompletely. On Earth, they can be found in the sooty exhaust from automobile and airplane engines. They also coat the grills where charcoal-broiled meats are cooked.

Tints of orange-red in the cloud are dust particles warmed by the newly forming stars. The reddish-pink dots at the top of the cloud are very young stars embedded in a cocoon of cosmic gas and dust. Blue spots throughout the image are background Milky Way along this line of sight.”

Click on the image above to go to the actual webpage

A Fiver from Mr. Crippens

The following is a meme I saw at Alabaster Crippens blog and thought it looked like fun and found it oddly creative.
It’s all about what someone wants to know about you.
It’s revealing and quite personal and the charming Mr. Crippens has graciously come up with five fascinating questions.
For those of you that visit me on a regular basis you may think you know how I’ll answer…then again, maybe not.
Be sure to visit ‘Alabaster Crippens Doesn’t Know What’s Going On’ for one hell of a ride.
Now onto the questions. . .

1. When were the last time you cried and the last time you laughed? (I mean really cried and really laughed…a proper belly laugh)

The last time I really cried was the day of my mother’s funeral.
Emotionally, I was fine at the wake and hell; I gigged the night she died.
Knowing her as I did she would have wanted the show to go on.
I learned of her passing on the way to my gig. Read ‘Angel’.
I was doing alright at the church until afterwards when we walked outside into the bright July sunshine.
That’s when I heard ‘Danny Boy’ being played by bagpipes.
That lonely and haunting song on such a day opened up the faucets for me.
I cried for myself, a father who was too far gone mentally to even attend, my wife and daughters for all they’d been through and witnessed.
But most of all I cried for a special woman that didn’t deserve the biological fate that consumed her heart and soul before leaving behind a duplicate husk for us to remember her by.

I was watching TV several weeks ago when I clicked on a stand-up comedian named
Jim Gaffigan.
Usually, I watch for a few minutes before moving on to the Food Network hoping Giada DiLaurentis is doing something creative like jello wrestling with kittens.
But Gaffigan floored me and delivered multiple belly laughs so I continued to watch.
The routine was called “Beyond the Pale” and had me almost crying. (my wife, too)
After the show was over I figured I’d check ITunes to see if they had anything by this guy. Turns out they had the audio for ‘Pale’, the show I’d just watched.
I think I pulled a groin muscle leaping up to get out my credit card.

2. What do you value most in your marriage?

This is difficult simply because there are a vast number of appropriate answers that fit.
If I had to choose one thing it would be the fact that we are each other’s best friend.
We embrace the notion of compromise in our marriage, the day to day ‘give and take’ that any successful marriage must have in order to survive.
On my wife’s behalf I will say that over the years she’s had more to contend with regarding my life. I’m a creative being which makes me moody and a general pain in the ass sometimes, but every time I need her, I turn around and she’s there.
I’ve come to believe that’s what friends do.

3. Your house is on fire…you’re the only one inside…what do you grab before you run outside?

I’m thinking this is the easiest of all the questions. I’d take our three cats: Sherlock, Opus and Guinness. If I had no cats the only thing that comes to mind are a set of rosary beads that once belonged to my grandfather (Mom’s side). They’re archaic but stunning.

4. Would you rather be deaf or blind?

I’ll take ‘blind’ for 1000, Mr. Crippens.
Seriously, if I were deaf this is a partial list of sounds I would never have the chance to hear:
* my wife’s voice
* my daughter’s laughing
* the words “I love you”
* music
* thunder
* the ocean
* the wind
* the sound of rain
* a cat’s purr
* Michael McDonald’s voice
* birds
And on and on and on, ad nauseum
I don’t think I’d be a very happy camper, do you?

5. How would you like to be remembered?

There are the obvious things; a good husband, a fair and loving Dad, a dear friend that was always willing to listen.
I want people to smile at my wake and say, remember when Michael did this or Michael did that…
I would want people to feel their lives were changed (for the better) in some small way because of me.
I hope people will smile if they see a bumper sticker on my casket that reads:
‘Promoted to Subterranean Truffle Inspector’
Hopefully, they’ll laugh and say, “Man, he was nuts.”

~m (atilde)

ps. {AC, the post pic is especially for you. . . grinning}

 

GO

I’ve waited over 8 years to write this.
My mind just wouldn’t let me do it I guess.
Maybe that’s the way it was supposed to be.
I got a bit misty eyed during the writing of this.
Just a warning.

If you’re new to this blog you may want to read THIS first.
“Home” is the precursor to this entry.

 

 

I don’t remember the exact day we physically moved my mother out of the house but I remember how blue the sky was that day.
It was a brutally beautiful day and one that still haunts me emotionally.
My mother never saw it coming, I’m convinced of that.
To this day, it still feels like I was selling her soul to Satan; a sale that desperately needed to happen, for her sake and my father’s as well.

I told myself it was for her safety, her best interest, the fact that my father could no longer watch over and care for her, any reason that would validate my personal termination of her current residence.

My sister and I had previously moved many of her belongings to her room in the waiting facility; the only thing left to move was my mother.

Getting her into the car was no problem, bringing her into the facility was even easier. But leaving her there and walking out the auto-locking door would be a very difficult thing to do.
And God, it was.
Through all this, I felt like Judas Iscariot; you will deny me three times.
I felt I’d denied my mother three to the third power.
This is what it ‘felt’ like not what it actually was.
I think.
I see it now for what it was but it felt so different back then.
20/20 right?

We brought my mother out to the car and told her we were taking her ‘someplace nice’, another white lie spilled out on the bare ground like an unwanted bottle of Boones Farm Strawberry wine.

When we arrived caregivers and staff were waiting for us with open arms.
We checked out my mother’s room and made sure she was settled before we approached the staff and asked, “What’s next?”

Just leave,” they said, “Call us in three days. She’ll be fine.”

Just leave?
This is it?
How can I just turn around and walk away?
How can I deny her?
I can’t just walk away.

Go. Don’t worry.”

Yeah, right, I thought; easy for you to say.
As we were turning to leave I heard my mother saying, “Wait! Where are you going? Don’t leave me here!”

 

And, we did.
To this day, I still don’t quite know how, but we did.
My father, sister and I walked through the self-locking door and out into the warm sunshine of the free world.
I was cracking inside but felt the need to hide it while my father and sister broke down.

My sister would be alright, she was a long time R.N. used to dealing with intense emotional turmoil.
My dad was another story.
I looked at him and realized he was the farthest thing from a happy ending that I’d ever seen.
And my heart went out to him.
I went to embrace him but his Irish bravado violently pushed me away.
In my mind, for all intents and purposes, he’d just said his last goodbye to a wife of almost 50 years.
Can it get much sadder than that?

Yeah, it can.
Aren’t you glad I’m remembering this? 😉

We drove away lost in our own private asylums of thought; my dad staring thoughtlessly out the window, my sister wondering whether my mother would be alright and me wondering why—period.

My sister and I had previously planned on making my father’s afternoon a light one with a BBQ at my house afterwards.
Dad needed a few beers and some food to get ‘right’ and I was just the guy to do it.
I’ve no doubt my father wanted a cold one as much as I did.

My thinking was indeed correct.

We got to my house and immediately got my father situated on our deck with a cold brew and some munchies. That was most important.
He seemed to relax almost immediately.
The worst was over . . . for now.

I walked into the kitchen as my wife’s eyes began to examine me.
She said, “Are you okay?”

My eyes filled up and I shook my head ‘no’.

She held me tightly as the stress, pain and profound sadness of the day flowed out of me; stormy oceans of regret pounding the waiting and not surprisingly able shoulders of my wife.

My life suddenly felt so wrong and there was nothing I could do to stop the feeling.
I couldn’t solve a complicated puzzle when there were no pieces to arrange, if that makes any logical sense.
My wife said, “Get a beer, start the grill and cook. Forget about it for now. Today is over.”

I couldn’t put my finger on it but there was something bigger than all of us happening here.
Maybe it’s better I never quite figured it out.
I lit the grill and then my cigar and let my inimical thoughts drift up and away in the ethereal clouds of smoke.
Had I known then how many storms were to rain down on my life, this blog may have never been.

Maybe there’s something to be said about guardian angels.
Lord knows, I’m married to one.

Lucky me.

 

~m

 

 

 

HB2AMR

{thought I’d post this one early. Many folks will be doing 12 oz curls on Saturday and too inebriated to visit, which is fine. Have a Guinness for me, I’ll have one (4) for you as well…}

In 1995, I found myself on a battlefield of sorts playing a woefully inexperienced medic to parents that would get sicker by the day.
It was a dark time in my life and one that I somehow chose to chronicle.
I’m still not sure exactly when it happened but one day I picked up a legal pad and started writing and I haven’t stopped since.
But this post isn’t about my mom and dad.

The years went by and it wasn’t until December of ’99 that it occurred to me that the internet was bursting with writing opportunity and educational counsel.
Through a series of internet searches (Google being the starting point, no doubt) I came upon a free online fiction course called F2K sponsored by a site called WVU (Writer’s Village University).

If my memory serves me correctly, the course was 12-16 weeks long and touched on all the various elements of fiction writing from plot and P.O.V.,
to dialogue and the overuse of adverbs.
There was something for everyone.
The concept was quite simple: write, post, critique and be critiqued.
The hope was that the writer would come away with some new and fresh knowledge and style.
As it turned out, I didn’t learn much that I didn’t already know regarding the craft but WVU put me in touch with several unique and talented people.

There was one particular writer that really intrigued me.
She was smart, witty, a verbal powerhouse and a real straight shooter when she critiqued your writing. We connected immediately.
Her comments were always brutally honest and I admired her courage to voice the truth as she saw it, a tough thing to do at sometimes at WVU where egos were not unlike eggshells.
Her own work had a shine to it and she could make me laugh, cry and ponder the big
‘life questions’ with one single post.

Seven years later and we’re still in touch on a weekly basis.
It’s wonderful with the transient nature of cyberspace.
This post is for the chick that kept all of you entertained while I was on vacation last summer.

I’m evil, y’all.

I knew that one small taste of blogging and she would be jonesing a blog of her own.
Her post ‘Cream Boogers’ is a blogging classic and one of my favorite posts.
She’s written posts about me and I don’t believe I’ve ever returned the favor.
That stops today.

Needless to say, her words, wisdom, candor and fiction delight many folks that visit her corner of cyberspace daily.
I haven’t said why this post is for Annie, have I?

Silly me.

It’s her birthday on Saturday.
St. Paddy’s Day!
I’d love it if everyone that reads this post visited her and left one short comment.
Just one.
By my blog stats, she’d have a serious number of comments.
Can you do that for me?
Ahhh, I knew that you could…

 

 

AMR-

If reading this gave you just one wee sparkle in those Irish eyes of yours, this post will have found its way home.
I wish you peace and infinite rainbows…
Happy Birthday, Kiddo.

~m

Blogiversary II

It was on February 22, 2005 that I first posted this.
It was read many times but never received a comment but it was my first tentative step into the whacky and obsessive world of blogging.
I like to think that people that visit here are appreciated and today is no exception.
I can’t imagine how drab my life would have been had it not been for my blog.
I love the writing, posting, editing, changing of templates (And Moe rolls her eyes {grin}), maipulating of widgets, uploading of custom banners; I love all of it.
But none of it would be worth anything if it weren’t for you.
Yeah, you.
The person reading this post right now.
That’s right. . . you.
I thank you from the bottom of my almost empty Guinness glass (the bottom of my heart seems a bit shallow right now).
You make me smile, think, laugh and obsessively look forward to this crazy hobby called blogging.
I pray you’ll stick around because I feel the best is yet to be.
A special thank you to the woman that allows me the time to be creative, my wife.
Blogging takes time. And she gives me all the time I need. That’s love.
I’ve put together a slide show of all the different artwork that has graced these pages over the past year or so.
It’s fairly short but fairly hip.
Click on my Blogiversary cake above and enjoy the show.
To all of you still reading, thank you.

~Michael

ps. it’s already the 22nd downunder, hence the early post =0)

Love Letter

It was a cold, snowy day in late February of ’86 when I first left her bound for a two month club gig in Bermuda. The money would be good for us and I could logistically do the gig since we’d yet to have any children.
I was leaving her with a big old house, two cats and a promise that I’d be waiting on the tarmac when she touched down on Easter Sunday.

It was to be the first time I’d ever been away from her for longer than a night or two.
And I wasn’t worried about my Fender Rhodes or any of my equipment, the flight or the gig—I was wondering how the hell I was going to walk out the door.

It wasn’t a ‘By the time I get to Phoenix’ kind of thing but it was the middle of winter and it was snowing and there I stood trying desperately to say goodbye to a crying wife.
She’d been battling a cold as well which did nothing to lighten her spirits.

I felt awful.
I was crumbling at the realization of a vulnerability I’d never known before that moment. My ride pulled up and it was time to go.

I held her close while she sobbed against my chest and decided to close my eyes if only to remember the mere scent of her, the sheer essence of memory, possibly to stop my own tears.
I climbed into the van and saw her in the window holding one of our cats, my temporary replacement.
The snow was falling at a clip that made the moment seem surreal, postcard-like, and silent.
She waved and I waved back as we took off headed for Logan Airport and the short flight to Bermuda.

I was never one to write love letters but I found myself missing her so badly after one week that I needed to do something.
I was so lost on this beautiful island because I had no one to share it with and that little nugget of information nearly drove me insane.
I had to tell her somehow, someway that I loved her.
Unfortunately, a telephone call took forever and cost a small fortune so it only seemed logical that I write her letters, several of which she’s saved.
They’re sappy and sentimental but I’m hoping they meant something just a bit deeper.

I still remember my first phone call to her.
I was nervous!
I found that hysterical in retrospect.
Married for three years and I’m nervous.
What the hell was up with that?

Hearing her voice thousands of miles away was a deeply moving experience for me, a prayer answered.
Just the sound of it brought me home.
I’ve tried to find one of my letters to her but have come up empty handed.
I will tell you many made her cry but I know in my heart they were happy tears.
Should I find one in the future I promise to revisit this post.

I did find a St. Patrick’s card she sent that year that said:

Without you on St. Patrick’s Day…
My eyes have nothing to smile about.
I miss you!

And God, how badly I missed her.
Time has an interesting way of draping a gossamer curtain over emotional waves of the past almost making us forget the intensity of those moments and how much they re-arranged our insides…I did say almost.

Pamela,

You are the heart, soul and warmth in my life.
I honestly don’t know where I’d be without you in it.
I love you now as I did on the tarmac so many, many years ago.
You are my own angel of mercy…stay with me.
Happy Valentine’s Day,
You are mine. . .

~m