Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Saturday, January 25, 2020

1/13/19 Give Credit

1/13/19 Give Credit

Dear Rita Mae Brown,
What’s the point? I sat and wondered. What’s the point of life? More specifically, what’s the point of doing this task over that task, or any task?

I contemplate this as I work a jigsaw puzzle on my laptop computer with altering feelings of laziness, being disconnected, rebellious, and even anger at all that calls to me on my giant “to-do” list.

“Gather sky-blue pieces together.” My mind must have thought this at some point, because my fingers move to accomplish the mission. Perhaps it is automatic, since I don’t recall thinking it, but now the sky is done, and I watch the grass connecting piece by piece.

What is before us, we do. Handle, complete, process, avoid, we “do” something with everything. And time passes. So, this is life and still, “What’s the point?”

In my imperfect human mind, some echo tells me that it is of utmost importance to do the thing that brings positive results, a cleaner kitchen, a tidier home, a well-groomed garden, a lean body, and so on. I have none of the above by the way.

So, here is the struggle. The puzzle is before me. All else is just inner turmoil. Piece by piece, the carousel horse’s mane takes shape. A pink bridle reaches to an open mouth and a silent whinny.

My mind seeks a more all-consuming escape. I que up the comedy sketches on my smart phone, which is smarter than I am, I’ll admit that. My awesome nephew set it up. I tap an icon and wah-la. Like electricity, I don’t know how it works, but I know where to tap to bring the light or the comedy. And yes, its smartness does concern me, but those are musings to dissect on another day. I tap the phone.

In that flash of mere seconds, instead of receding as I begin listening to the first comic, thoughts multiply and expand in defiance of the new intrusion. What is the point of one’s career like a that of a comedian? A doctor’s purpose is clear, a lawyer, a farmer, they all work towards their own positive result. 

However, a comedian, a novelist, an actor, a puzzle maker, they capture our attention, and is that a good thing? What positive result is there in their chosen career when they allow me to avoid accomplishing my own? I watch the comedian explain the pains of being the second born twin, and a surprise at that. He “crashed” his own birth.

Then Lucas Bohn appears. A white comedian who adopted black baby, he relates the humor he encounters because of this. I smile thinking of my nephew and the black baby he holds in the photo on my phone.

Next is James Veitch’s elaborate wrong number prank on a man who thought he was calling his landlord. The caller insists he fix his apartment. Obligingly, James concocts a plan, complete with over the top visuals about what he intends to do to this angry renter’s apartment. At some point the renter is clued in and seeks the correct number for his landlord, but not before we are entertained and enjoy a happy ending.

Jay Larson, another comedian, handles a wrong number call regarding a business’ budget, where he engages with the caller, who he refers to as Random Guy. He invents expenditures, figures, and even coworkers as he names them to add relevance to his story. A few days later the gig is up, and Jay reminds them, by his actions, to lighten up.

The last three comedians wheedled joy into my heart. An answer to my recent inquiry unfolds and what a wake-up call it is. Credit is due to these three men.

That positive result isn’t always tangible, it isn’t necessarily a cure, a court battle, or a field of corn, nor a trim body, or orderly surroundings. It can be a feeling, like joy. It can be happiness, peace, and a sense of connection, all full of laughter and light. Although, this can be found in producing our own positive results, it can also be given, shared and cultivated in one another. Because beyond anything tangible, all of those good feelings, THAT’S THE POINT.

Happy returns,

Sunday, January 12, 2020

1/12/19 Happy Birthday DDD

1/12/20 Happy Birthday DDD

Dear Rita Mae Brown,

Today is his 85th birthday. On January 12th in 1935 a baby boy was born who would one day become my father.

This memory stands out. Some fifty years ago he carried me upstairs to bed after I fell asleep in our family’s Pennsylvania living room, nestled in the middle of a military housing complex.

He has taught me a lot of things by example and by his words. I’ve matured enough now to absorb those lessons more than before.

As a Marine he fought for his country in 2 wars and now helps recognize and show appreciation to Wounded Warriors for their service.

We refer to him as Dearest Daddy Darling, said with endearment and a bit of over the top humor. It seemed important to say something today. Memories flood in. I am fortunate to have a chance to express gratitude to the father that carried me up those stairs and who has carried our family in his heart these many decades.

Happy Birthday Daddy Darling Dearest!


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

12/24/19 RMB Christmas Eve Shadow

12/24/19 RMB Christmas Eve Shadow

Dear Rita Mae Brown,

On this Christmas Eve our sunny California skies are shuffling clouds, dropping buckets of rain, and there is a cold chill in the air. Our mountains have snow and Teddy’s bird baths in the high desert freeze overnight. Her feathered friends wait patiently for the sun to melt their morning drink. Winter is upon us.

Somewhere over the skies of Delaware this evening a little cat named Shadow has crossed over to the other side and is in heaven now. Life was a struggle for this little gal, but she had a good life with someone looking after her. Shadow’s spirit will live on in the heart of my friend Moe.  

That’s our best hope isn’t it, to have someone who holds your spirit in their heart. Christmas Eve calls those to mind that we hold dear, near and far, from companions in our daily lives to those of our youth, our families, our circles. We exchange good will, share stories, relive memories and make more.  

Tonight, on this Christmas Eve, I’m sending my best out to you, to Shadow in Heaven, to my circle and to our future, may it be full of good cheer!

Merry Christmas,

Thursday, October 31, 2019

10/31/19 RMB Be Anything

RMB Be Anything

Dear Rita Mae Brown,
Another month has zoomed by. I’m catching it by the tail to wish you and everyone a Happy Halloween.

A Facebook post mentioned enjoying this day because it is a day where you can be anything you want to be.

In my recent studies of the brain, which includes behavior, habit, chemistry, you name it, the thing I’m most impressed by, is our ability to switch from sad to happy, to motivated, burdened, joyous, inspired, stressed, calm, impatient, kind... We are unlimited in our range of emotions and attitudes.

Switching from one to another happens, often from outer influences, yet the shift is within. Just knowing that, realizing it, seeing the mechanics if it, has helped me control my own switches, direct myself in a more pleasant direction.

Why walk barefoot over thorns, when a cool sandy beach with water lapping at your toes is a thought away? Because it’s not always easy to switch and it isn’t automatic. Sometimes it takes little effort, often it takes thought and intention, but it is there, that easy feeling of the sand between your toes and the light breeze on your face, waiting for a flip of the switch.

Today, and always, we have the opportunity to mentally put on our cowboy hat, our fireman’s jacket, our clown nose, or whatever suits our fancy and be anything.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

9/30/19 RMB Clock Said 6:30

9/30/19 RMB Clock Said 6:30

Dear Rita Mae Brown,

I drove home my usual route determined to notice something, anything. It amazes me how many moments pass and how few of them we remember. I wanted something special to mark this day, the last day of September.

Stopped at a light I looked to my right at a row of houses I have seen hundreds of times, steady soldiers holding their ground as if they would remain there forever. But we know that’s not true, we who have seen houses grow old and then be replaced by a large apartment complex or completely cleared away for a new highway.

From one house hung a clock. It was over a foot in diameter, hanging from gold painted bars, looking for the world like an over-sized pocket watch. I thought it was just for decoration. It couldn’t be working, not out in the elements, even though it had a nice shiny glass covering its face.

I glanced at the hands and they clearly marked 6:30. The time was correct. In that moment, I was in another world, a place where giant clocks can hang and keep time while barely covered by the roof of a porch, where homes are forever and the setting sun waits for a solitary driver to acknowledge the day before it sets and takes the day away.

Remembering that moment,

Monday, September 9, 2019

9/8/19 RMB Diane Shea, Writer and Champion of Peace

9/8/19 RMB Diane Shea, Writer and Champion of Peace

Dear Rita Mae Brown,

Diane’s daughter introduced me to her. She sparkled with energy. Plants responded to her care and her backyard was a wonderful place to be. Flowers bloomed and fruit could be picked right from the tree that stood near the ever-ready chairs and canopy. 

She joined our Writers Circle and as the years passed, a history was revealed of an adventurous woman who joined a Peace March across our country in her youth and traveled through other countries, sharing their wonders with her children, including my friend.

Reading and writing were two of her favorite hobbies and she did both with a flare. She published a book of poetry and left several notebooks full of her life experiences. At our Writers Circle gatherings, she sometimes read from those notebooks. What treasures they held.

Tonight, her breathing is labored, and the coming days hold a new adventure for our friend.

When the time comes for her to depart her presence will be missed, she will forever remain in our hearts. I believe our loved ones return to visit even from that far away. I’ve seen too much proof of it to believe anything else. She will be with us again, even more closely than she has been recently as her body and mind provided challenges that her spirit worked to overcome.

My dear Jennifer, who has mothered her mother these last few years will be set free of this burden of love. And I wonder if what she will feel is anything at all kin to what Diane felt as her little girl went off to school for the first time or when she sailed away to Baja California with her new husband.

All transitions tug at our hearts, threaten to break them and leave new strengths and understanding in their wake.

9/9/19 It is morning now and Diane has crossed over from here to there. She leaves us with the lifelong work she did for Peace, her writing, her joys, and a bond with each other, made stronger because her spirit is a part of our Circle.


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

7/22/19 RMB Treasured Friend

Dear Rita Mae Brown,

That winter night was cool as we leaned against her white ‘78 Chevrolet Camaro with the two pin stripes of black and maroon reaching from headlight to taillight. The shiny pavement glistened with recently fallen rain. Trees stood tall, full of leaves shiny with moisture. They waved in the wind, sparkling from the glow of the streetlights.

She tossed a coin over her head and a second later we heard it drop in the dark. “What are you doing?” I asked.

She shrugged, “I don’t know.” And tossed another coin.

“Don’t do that. You’re going to hit someone’s car and break a window or something.”

She laughed, “I hadn’t thought of that.” The fall of the next coin made more of a chinking sound.

“Seeee. Why are you throwing coins?”

“Well, look at this?” she said and showed me another coin before tossing it. “I won’t miss that coin. But tomorrow,” she shook a finger for emphasis, “some kid will find it and it will be like, ‘Wow! Look what I found!’”

Nearly 40 years have passed since that night. Yesterday we sat at a small table with another old friend on the third floor of the Marriott Hotel and talked about who had made it to the 50th reunion of the San Diego Comic Convention. She, a past Treasurer of the Con with her husband, a past President of the event, were flown here for the anniversary.

I could recall most of the people she mentioned. We three shared photos of family and took new ones of each other. That long-ago winter’s night comes to mind as I consider the whirlwind of our Comic Con weekend with its sprinkling of short visits, time between panels she was scheduled to attend and the parking meters or other obligations calling my name. 

Yes, there were treasures to be found on that street nearly four decades ago and mine was standing right beside me all the while.