Happy anniversary, Lizzy

We have spent one memorable year together.. It’s been a time of growth and change in the mental health system that we have explored together. We are a vital part of the Recovery Advisory Committee that has guided the implementation of Comprehensive Community Services. This Medicaid benefit could potentially speed the recovery of people in Milwaukee County. It may seem strange or unromantic talking about the work that brought us together but that work is an outgrowth of our values, the things that we are about.

We are people who came of age during our nation’s darkest hour, mired in a horrible war in Southeast Asia that killed hundreds of thousands and continues to kill Americans, Vietnamese and so many more. But we didn’t stop with the idea that our country was on the wrong track. We have set out to help people through compassion and service. That is what made us a couple.

This year has included sadness and challenge, the death of a cat and our growth as people. I am the man you were seeking. I am not one of those sappy granola eating guys who will moon over you all day long. I am a lucky oddball who has been fortunate to find someone who matches my various quirks and eccentricities. May the next 40 years be as much fun as the first as we continue the search for intelligent life in Wisconsin

This is one of those time when waiting and looking for a sweet little atheist really paid off. I am always saddened when I read these stories of atheists complaining that they somehow can’t find non-religious people to have as partners and friends. I think they simply need to keep looking. I’m glad that I did.

Why I will never have black walnuts

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I just finished talking with my older sister Chris, whose childhood picture is just above. It took place just after the Green Bay Packers and the Buffalo Bills won their respective football games. I used to hate the Packers when I was growing up and cheering for the New York Giants. The Bills were the hometown favorites who began playing in the American Football League. They were champions with Jack Kemp at quarterback. After retiring, Kemp became a congressman and then Secretary of Housing.

But this is a story of home and my wonderful mother’s quirks or flaws, as Lucy from the old Peanuts comic strip would call them. There are several things to know about Mom: she is a retired nurse, she grew up in a small town and she is always involved in some small business which fails due to poor planning. Today I learned that some of these ventures involved black walnuts and squirrels.

 

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Black walnuts like those above may seem harmless but in the hands of an experienced person, they can be power weapons for chaos or make you a fan of squirrels everywhere. My sister talked about how, mom had collected some black walnuts at our old home and left them in the back of a pickup truck overnight. The next day she awoke to find a bunch of squirrels hung over from the walnuts and some marijuana a neighbor had generously donated.

I grew up unaware of this story so as an adult I was free to create my own disaster with the dreaded nuts. When I was living in a small apartment a carpenter friend Brian said that he and his wife had some of these tasty black walnuts they had collected out in the country. If you know anything about these nuts, you know that their shells are as hard as titanium and they have a strong and loud scent. That was what I learned after a week of keeping them in a window. One day after returning home from work, I found a squirrel in the apartment and my roommate and I had to get help from the apartment maintenance man in chasing the overfed rodent out of our humble abode. The walnuts found their way into the garbage and never darkened my door step again.

Today I learned that black walnuts are gracing mom’s garage while the squirrels eagerly sit and watch mom and puff away on their Colorado gold. Some things never change. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

An old brain in a young body

I was horrified last year when I heard the story of Jovan Belcher, a young man who had played football.

http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/11612386/jovan-belcher-brain-showed-signs-cte-doctor-says-report

Jovan played pro football 4 years before killing his girl friend and then himself in December 2012. He killed himself in front of his teammates with the Kansas City Chiefs. His body was recently exhumed in order to examine his brain and the discovery that his brain displayed signs of a disease that had attacked the brains of other players who had committed suicide. He was losing his mind as a result of his chosen career which was sad enough, but the fact he was only 24 was indeed shocking. As a lifelong football fan I have watched two players, Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, kill themselves as a result of brain disease. We have to examine our roles in this situation. Do we want young people playing this sport? Would you want your son to become a football player? And what about other sports like boxing that I wrote about last week where a 28-year-old hockey player died from drugs and alcohol after a career as a so-called enforcer. Basically, he was a fighter and got his brains beaten over and over again. We must protect young and old brains alike.

Old coffeehouse friends

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I saw Craig Seimsen and his wife Patty Stevenson performing last night at the 19th street coffeehouse. It is hard to imagine how long I have known them. I met them when they were living in a community house. It was long ago and far away. In between, life happened. He had a long career with the Milwaukee Public Schools. They went on countless walks, made albums, love and almost met wild animals.. Now they are the proud parents of a teenage daughter.

I never met a more perfectly matched couple. Craig has grayed nicely while Patty is probably a witch because she doesn’t look any older than when I first met her. I bought Craig’s cd, It’s About Time, which has one of my favorite songs called  We’d Rather Make Toys.The cd had originally been released in 1990. Wow, 24 years ago.

It was not the first time I had been the only African-American at the coffeehouse but it was the first time I had bought cds and albums in the same day. Earlier I had been with Liz and bought some Art Blakey, Johnson Coltrane and Dave Brubeck albums. I had started out in the coffeehouse scene as a high school student listening to songs of peace.

I was hoping after the concert to see a classic edition of Saturday Night Live with Richard Pryor and Gil Scott Heron but it was not meant to be. As it happened, the episode had aired when I was still at the coffeehouse.

There were many others at the coffeehouse besides Craig and Patty. For instance Bill Murtaugh, a long time poet, was in the crowd. Other coffeehouse performers were there, too.

To say I have eclectic tastes would be an understatement. As Craig would say, it’s about time. Are you ready to roam?

Here come the goons: what does this have to do with hockey?

A guy I knew from elementary school  used to idolize the Montreal Canadiens who were the top team at the same time the Boston Celtics were ruling basketball. This afternoon I heard a story about a young man Derek Boogard who was only 28 years old when he died from an accidental overdose after a career as a so called hockey enforcer. i think of this because I grew up watching hockey among other sports. I can’t recall ever cheering the fact two idiots were fighting during the game. When I watched the finals of the National Hockey League i was excited at how few penalties were called. And yet, there is a young man who died and suffered many concussions as a result of his hockey fights. he did not live to be almost 64. He was not especially athletic or graceful but he was big and he lover to drop his gloves and fight. He loved the excitement  and the pay was probably good, too. But he’s dead.

Are you a goon in training/ A junior league enforcer, dropping your gloves and slugging it out? If you are, this message is not for you, because I think you’re a menace, part of what needs to be eliminated from the sport of hockey. When I’m 64 speaks to growing older, retiring, and entering a new field. But it’s not possible if you’ve had your brains beaten inside and out. if I was in charge of hockey in Canada and the US i would develop policies to ban fighters and those who promote them. If you want to fight, go become a boxer. Hockey is about passing and strategy not dropping your gloves.

The Bucket List

This about living to a standard I would like to live by and things I would like to see in my life.

The uppermost in my mind is to have one lasting romance. I’m speaking from the standpoint of being divorced and many lost relationships. have Ii found the woman  to retire with?Will the remaining years be the best ones I ever had?

That’s the beginning of the Bucket List.