Clark, is your house on fire?

I wouldn’t call Loretta and I scrooges.  I have been in quite the humbug Christmas mode for nigh onto 45 years now.  The so-called joy of Christmas waned drastically when my parents said something like, “Since you are now aware there is no Santa Claus, we will be cutting back…(yah dah yah dah)”. The rest of that sentence involved “less of this, less of that”, less of, well, presents.  Not to mention my Dad was in a year long period of unemployment, I had to prepare myself for the fact that I already had my LAST real kid Christmas…the year before!  Let it be known, we got more presents that year than any year before…go figure.

You must know that that scene in Christmas Vacation where Clark ‘Sparky” Griswold, trapped in the attack, sits watching old 8mm Christmas films with tears streaming down his face is a reasonable, fairly accurate facsimile of me.  In fact, I relate in many ways to ‘Gris’, not the least of which was my attempts to make our house a Christmas Winter Wonderland of Lights and Decor minus the movie magic budget of Christmas Vacation.  I used to love Christmas, even after my parents’ sit down lecture that fateful year reminding me there is no Santa Claus and your father is unemployed.

In many ways, I still do adore the holiday season, if not for just the memories.  We did the Xmas thing for the kids when they were growing up.  We had some holiday gatherings with other family members and their children.  We exchanged gifts.  The gift exchange quickly evolved into exchanging gifts for the children and not the adults any longer.  That was just fine.  What do you get your sisters for Christmas, a fruit cake?  A waffle maker? A Chia pet?  Yeah, that’s it!  Note to self:  Send my sisters each a Barrack Obama Chia pet.  They will appreciate the thought, the effort, and the sarcasm behind such a heinous idea for a Christmas gift.  And now that all of our kids are close to if not over thirty…well, you know the rest.

So, suffice to say, I, we, have not been the harbingers of the coming of Christmas for quite some time.  When the first TV ads appear or the first bits of holiday decor go up in the stores…I wince…DOH, it’s that time of year again!? It just doesn’t hold the same fantasy, warm thoughts, or joy that it used to.  And, of course, I am not alone in this.  Let’s say the luster is gone due to family lack of interest, the overblown retail focus, geographical restrictions, and work schedules.  It’s just not the same as it was.

Clark:  Dad, how’d you get through the holidays?  Dad:  I had a lot of help from Jack Daniels.

So…what’s the point to all of this re-hashed holiday poo-pooing and whining?  This year will be a little different!  Notice I didn’t go all the way and say simply different.  I am making an attempt to improve my attitude about this lovely time of year, and, I can tell you the moment my attitude changed.  It was the other day, walking into, of all places, Walmart…and we passed the real Christmas trees for sale outside…and they smelled terrific!  I was slapped in the face, not once but twice, on the way in and the way out, with that pine tree smell that can only come from cut Christmas trees.  I can’t say that it brought me back to days of old, sitting on Santa’s lap or finding the bicycle sitting next to the tree in the morning, but it did inspire me to do a few things for Christmas…if not for us but for one person: my grandson Rowan.

Rowan, Jen, and Roth will be coming from Seattle to California for a week or so at Christmas.  They will spend Christmas itself at Roth’s parents up the hill in Sonora, which by the way is where we will be on Christmas Day (accepting their gracious invitation for the first time in 5 years or so).  The “kids” and “kidlet” will travel down to Modesto for a couple of days before driving back to Seattle.  We will have Xmas decorations about (Loretta is always up for that), some lights around the front window, and a Christmas tree with a train running around it.  A few other simple yet effective surprises are in store.  Three year olds are easy to impress!

We will be privileged to spend a couple days at our house with Roth, Jen, and, of course, Rowan.  For us big kids, we will cook some non-holiday meal at least once, ie, we tend to lean toward some sort of bistro-inspired concoction, usually something I’ve never attempted, drink a little holiday cheer, watch (possibly, what else), THAT movie to which I eluded above, and enjoy each others company and some holiday cheer.  And from what I hear from Jen, Rowan is totally getting into this Christmas thing for the first time, he will be three in December.  He deserves to start a string of holidays that are magical for him, since it will all fade eventually and he will have to revive it for his kids, then again for his grandkids.  That last part, I will make an valiant attempt to do this year for the period of time I will spend with my grandkid.

By the way, my holiday 8mm movies were transferred to VHS a few years ago by my Mom, and, they are in a box in the rafters of the garage (we have no attic).  I will resurrect our VHS machine and sit blubbering in front of the TV at least once this year.

Wish me luck.  Where’s the Tylenol…and the Jack Daniels?

What was I thinking?

I reminisce.  I think we all do despite some denials by people who only wish to think to the future, for whatever reason.

I do, for the most part, fondly look back into my past.  I think about the good things mostly since there have been mostly good things in my life.  It’s been fun so far!

But from time to time I do recollect times and occurrences I’d much rather forget than dwell upon.  And believe me, when I do go “there”, I don’t stay “there”.  These thoughts just pop into my head and I try to deal with them the best I can.  And since there have been many more good things than bad, those thoughts kind of drift away, dissolve into thin air, making way for the good stuff.

This morning I was just thinking, not languishing on anything other than the present.  This particular thought was about trying my hand (again) at making bread at home.  I’ve done it a few times with only a modicum of success, ie, it was indeed edible but not “artisan” status, bread that I would hand to someone and say, “Try this.  I made it”.  This is one of things I was thinking about at 7:47 am, November 29, 2011, age 61 plus a few months. And then…I wondered to myself, what was I thinking when I was 14, or 9, or 7 on any given day.  And I was kind of at a loss, naturally.  How can I be expected to remember thoughts like this.  How  can one be expected to sort through the millions of impulses that come and go in nano seconds in your brain, especially from years gone by.  But I did.

It was January 31, 1957, 11:18am, Terra Bella Elementary, Pacoima, California, I had just turned 7 years old, I was in the 2nd grade.  I know exactly what I was thinking then. This link will take to one of several websites that are maintained to this day by people like me who were there.

The plane crashed into the athletic field of Pacoima Junior High, just on the other side of a high chain length fence separating the two schools.  The plane came down maybe 100 feet from my classroom, crashing into scores of junior high students on the field.  Several died instantly, several others passed away the days following, scores were injured, some very seriously…and a handful of us watched in horror through the large windows of our classroom as this tragedy unfolded.  We saw it all.

I won’t go into the details of what I witnessed, I have written about this before, it’s something that just doesn’t go away.  It’s probably one of the few memories from that long ago that I retain to this day.   A memory I can attach to a very specific time and date. And I still don’t really know how to reconcile it…except in one simple thought.  I survived that incident for some reason, probably just luck and fate.  I’ve survived a few other things in my life that have taken other’s lives, ie, heart disease and surgery, cancer surgery, Vietnam, just plain life in general.  The bottom line is that I still think about that day in 1957, it will never go away.  It comes up at the strangest times.

But I do feel fortunate.  I feel fortunate considering some of the shit I’ve been through (am going through), that I should at least learn how bake bread properly!  And that is what I am thinking about right now, 8:54 am, November 29, 2011, age 61, 11 months, 29 days.  The incident in the school yard will remain in the vault, but I’m sure it will never really go away.

apropos of nothing

I sometimes feel there is something to be said and I have got nuthin’!

I often feel I have something to say in photos, but just can’t pull the trigger on it. I managed to begin to compile of list of Planned Photo Projects and it resides on a folder on my desktop.  That should help move this project forward.  I’ve set up the studio garage again ready for those fine art efforts as well as any portrait jobs I can gain enough confidence in to actually agree to.

I most look forward to doing the food styling/photo projects, vis a vis, I love to cook new things and I love to photo them.  It’s quite a juggling job requiring a decent amount of planning and staging, mis en place, patience, energy, motivation, and a few days of feeling well enough.  I’m thinking this weekend may be time for a good food shot effort.

Thanksgiving, or should I say our plan for this Thursday, is still up in the air.  If I come down with the chemo blues I ain’t going nowhere.  As it stands now, even our going out to the buffet plans have been stifled due to other factors, ie, our other friends bailing on that idea.  So be it…Loretta goes to Boston Market.  I do know we will not subject ourselves to the chaos, mess, and ultimate disappointment in cooking anything at home, at least not right now.

We’re kind of planning a few days in Pismo in January.  On a good week for me, we may drive down to my mom’s then Loretta will ferry herself right along Highway 101 to Lompoc to visit her mother and possibly a son, a sister or two, a great grand baby, and a grandchild or two.  She has a lot of people to visit down there in LOM-POCK.  I will remain for a day or two in the land of A. Pismo Clam.

And just a less than adequate mention to all the people who know about my situation and who diligently say prayers for me on a daily basis.  Thank you.

Tonight, I will walk Loretta through one of her favorite dishes that I make…King Ranch Chicken.  It gets a bit involved so I will remain patient and guide her through the whole thing as she gets a bit out of sorts trying to make it through a menu.  “I hate to cook!”, is one her favorite sayings.  But with leftover chicken to use and all the ingredients newly arrive at home from her shopping spree the King Ranch Chicken game is afoot…a casserole fit for any upscale diner!

Cheers, I thought of a few things to write about (and keep me busy) anyway!

Is it what you do that’s important? Or is it what you are?

What I wanted to be versus what I do versus what I am.  These are three separate, distinctive, and different things, lists really, about my life.  All three of them have almost nothing to do with the others.  I’ll get to those three lists in a minute.

Let’s take a doctor.  I am going to assume that if anyone can combine all three of of those lists, it would be a doctor.  I wanted to be a doctor, I am a doctor, I do doctor. Let’s face it, when you spend a minimum of 12 years in college  and interning (let alone 18 years of grammar, middle, and high school) that your life, your want to be, your am, your do lists all say “DOCTOR”.  right?  I must add “perhaps” after that “right”.  There must be doctors who don’t live, eat, and sleep doctoring…for a variety of reasons.  For one, they may have an extremely rich personal and family life that requires a certain amount of time.  Doctors, at least what I’ve been led to believe about young doctors anyway, interns, they don’t have a lot of free time.  Perhaps I sat through too many partial episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. They work long shifts while going to medical school, have overly important drama queen (and king) personalities, and must find time to screw one another in clandestine storerooms or empty patient beds.  All of this cavorting done between life and death surgeries and long periods of whining and self pity.  Again, perhaps Loretta “forced” me to watch too many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. Perhaps when all of that schooling and interning, screwing, and residenting is done and they join a medical group or start their own small town practice, then and only then, perhaps they have time for a full and enriched personal life away from doctoring.  Right?  I don’t rightly know, for a I am not a doctor and haven’t known a doctor on a personal basis, either while growing up or as an adult.  Certainly none of the doctors I’ve ever  met, ie, been treated by, in no way fit any of the “doctors” on TV medical shows!  I assume there must something to all of that cavorting and brooding based on reality.  Perhaps, not!

Maybe the same can be said for, let’s say, an architect, which, by the way, is one of the things on my wanted to be list.  After a semester or so of drafting classes in college, and being told that I had a real talent for graphic art (back when the “art” of architecture was still done by hand on a drawing board and not through a CAD program), I found out that it takes 12 years to become a full-fledged architect…12 years!  Involving at least 6 years of school, it also included another 6 years or so “interning”, or as they call it, “junior draftsman” status.  Some of that later can be done concurrently with class schooling, so that 12 years about which I speak can be whittled down a bit.  At any rate, I bailed on that career when I found out that radio broadcasting could be easier, more fun, and I could meet women more readily.

Here is my wanted to be list, in chronological order:  lawyer (my Mom’s wish for me at a very young age, I didn’t really even know what a lawyer was so that didn’t last), zoologist, marine biologist (these last two I was very serious about through my early teens, I loved fish, frogs, snakes, and dissecting things in school…didn’t follow through with it, lost interest, discovered girls?), cinematographer (probably my most passionate and long-lasting career desire, never followed through on the schooling, went in the Navy, blah, blah, blah), radio announcer (spent about 18 years in that business, lost interest due to lack of equitable pay in a small town, opted out for restaurant management, something that shows up on my what I do (did) list.  That concludes my wanted to be list.  That’s it, that’s all I ever wanted to be until recently.  Add writer and photographer to this list.

Here is my what I do (did) list: employee at McDonald’s (from 15-17, was courted to go into management, had no interest), employee at Sears (I was 18, worked in the store, then outside in the tire department, got fired because someone’s tire fell off when they drove away, they couldn’t prove I did it so I drew unemployment for a couple months, no injuries in that errant tire fiasco), Creamery Technician (processed milk at the local community college while “attending” classes, I was 18-19 at the time), Navy Airborne Anti-submarine Warfare Technician/Operator (19-23, spent 4 years cavorting around the Pacific, Southeast Asia, Vietnam, etc, Honorable Discharge after being “courted” to stay in and become a full-fledged officer and a pilot, I opted out to go back home and grow my hair long…1973 priorities you know?), Radio Announcer (about 18 years in this business, see above on the wanted to be list for why I am not still a radio announcer), Restaurant Manager (got into it almost by accident after getting fired from my last radio job, spent another 18 years or so in this miserable profession, decent money though later on in my “career”), Photo Technician (at Walmart for the last 3 years, no money to speak of, have been courted for management but that will never happen again in this lifetime, pays the bills while biding my time to turn 62 and only work there part time).  This is what I do and what I have done.  It seems I have left some things out, but I’m sure someone will remind me.

And now, the what I am list.  This is what I always remind people who are not happy in their job or career, which has been in reality most of the folks I have met.  I remind them that this (your job) is what you do, it is not what your are (or who I am).  If what you do is also who you are, then you are indeed a lucky, if not self actualized person…and that is rare. (Refer back to the doctor or architect paragraph above).  I am a father, brother, son, friend, husband, writer, and photographer.  As I get closer to actually retiring, I will do more of what I am,  vis a vis, a writer and photographer.  At some point, I won’t work part time at Walmart, I will just write and photograph, if not for money but just for the pure enjoyment of doing what I am.  I am getting to the age where I feel I have earned that distinction, that ability to make the choice.  I have no more lofty career goals or fantasies to full fill in the work force.  I am at least truly done with that.  I am ready to let all that I have learned and experienced soak in for as long as I can.

Chemo, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday.

I thought I would fire off a few words this morning since I go for my infusion a bit earlier than usual today, 9:30.  Loretta asked me why I went from 1:30 to 9:30 and I said it’s easier than sitting around for 6 hours waiting to go.  I do have some anxiety about this session, simply because it’s been 3 weeks (not 2 weeks) since the last one.  I don’t worry about the actual infusion itself, that is relatively pain free and not that uncomfortable relatively speaking compared to some of the other things I’ve been through the last few months, ie, endoscopies, colonoscopies, cholecystectomies (gall bladder removal), colectomies (colon removal and resection), CT scans, chest port implantation surgeries, wound packing, and so on.  This is simply a few hours in the infusion lab chair watching TV drinking some juice and eating a few graham crackers.  The actual insertion of the IV into the chest port involves a nano-second or two of stinging pain, but then it just subsides into a dull only slightly uncomfortableness for 3 hours hooked up to a beeping, shushing, ticking infusion machine.    I seemed to have gotten used to needles! From time to time I twist my head back to gaze at the bags hanging there to see how much longer I have.  The “good” nurses keep me appraised of the time left, “Not too much longer, maybe 30 minutes or so!” For two days I sleep with the chemo baby bottle, then go back Wednesday for its removal, then settle into a few days of funk.  Loretta spoke to a co-worker and a customer last night at work who went through worse (and longer) chemos than I and they both echoed how I feel after mine, ie, “…it’s hard to explain the feeling if you’ve never had it”.  For me and other “fortunate” ones at the very least it’s just an over all on the edge of nausea funky feeling that includes restlessness, edginess, insomnia, fatigue, and depression.  My appetite wanes and I drop a few pounds this week (after having gained back a few the week prior).  I pace the hallway, living room, and kitchen at times.  The remainder is spent in bed or the living room couch watching TV or reading.  I beg to allow myself to fall asleep for a nap that rarely comes.  I wake up in the middle of night and turn on the light and the TV for a while when I can’t get back to sleep.  Poor Loretta just throws the covers over her head and puts up with that. Speaking of my wife, she’s such a trooper keeping everything spic and span and clean.  Not that she doesn’t do it normally, but during the chemo week she puts a bit more effort into cleaning and washing.  They told us my immune system is going to be slightly compromised during days following infusions and it’s best to keep the environment as “sterile” as possible.  For others less “fortunate” than me, chemo involves loss of hair, severe nausea, loss of appetite, and worse.  Yes, I do feel “fortunate” in some ways.

So Thanksgiving is this Thursday and we were planning on meeting some friends at a local buffet place early for dinner.  They put on a nice spread and it would be cool to taste some turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie on a day when Loretta has to go to work at 5pm.  Those plans are up in the air as Thursday has traditionally been one of my worst days following chemo and my chemo schedule has changed due to this past postponed week.  I don’t know if going out in public will be the most judicious move.  If that’s the case, we don’t go, Loretta has suggested she just go out to Boston Market and pick up a nice big Thanksgiving plate for one and we will share it.  I feel bad that she has to work, but at least she can commiserate with quite a few co-workers who have to do the same thing:  work late on Thanksgiving getting Walmart ready for Black Friday.   On another side note, what a heinous, insidious, disgusting day for retail workers.  Black Friday in retail is akin to Mother’s Day in the restaurant business…the busiest day of the year and the worst day to have to work!  Customers clog the aisles of the store, are rude, impatient, demanding, and impolite even to each other let alone store employees.  It’s guerrilla warfare in the marketplace.  It can’t be fun for customers or workers.  And now, unlike years ago when stores simply opened their doors at 6 am instead of 10am, it starts at midnight, or worse now, at 10 pm on Thanksgiving…that’s when WM is starting Black Friday.  No one camps out in tents in front of Walmart, least not as often as at Best Buy.  There are hopeful morons sleeping in tents as I speak in front of electronics stores, days before Friday dreaming of getting a big screen TV or laptop at a deep discount.  Most of the time, those items are in severely limited supplies, sometimes only a handful are available.  But I assume if you are in one of first dozen or so tents you might be lucky enough to score an item you’ve so diligently planned to buy, ie, camping out in a Best Buy parking lot.  Funny, I wonder if those little 2 and 4 man tents are in short supply since this Occupy Wall Street BS has been going on!  It seems of late I see the cops tearing them down every morning.  And, by the way, I hear that most of them are empty as most of the “protestors” set up their tents the night before then go home and sleep in their warm beds only to return the next day when conditions and the weather are more pleasant for hanging out in cheap tents.  I got off topic, but it had to be said! LOL

So, I go today at 9:30.  I suspect by Saturday I will get up and say to Loretta when she asks how I’m doing, “Hmmm…let me see.  Not too bad today, relative to yesterday.  Get back to me Sunday”.

What a splendid topic: use of the word splendor!

 splen-dor [splen-der] noun: brilliant or gorgeous appearance, coloring; display of imposing pomp, grandeur; brilliant distinction; glory.
It seems that far too few of us regular folk have ever or will ever experience anything in our ho-hum lives that could be considered splendor.  It’s a great word, don’t get me wrong – I love the word splendor.  But in lieu of the dictionary definition of the word stated above, just exactly what is splendor or (possibly) “splediferous”  in our lives?  I know, splendiferous is not a real word yet.  You may substitute the word splendid for splendiferous if it makes you feel more comfortable.
When I think of the word splendor, what immediately comes to mind is the book and movie, “Splendor in the Grass”.   I picture Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty in the movie version – unrequited, forbidden love, heartbreak, and drama.  The only time I experienced those emotions was when I was 10 years old and had a crush on Susan Sutton in the sixth grade!  We, Susan and I, actually did become boy and girlfriend for about 15 minutes one day, holding hands in the schoolyard and everything.  She dumped me the next day for some kid named Harold who got straight A’s on his report card.  So, I could say I once experienced “Splendor in the Schoolyard” , but that’s about it.  But it certainly was not a splendid experience.  The strange comic book of sorts, “American Splendor”, by Harvey Peekar (played by Giamatti in the film) also comes to mind.  But the splendor in this case is used in a more sarcastic sense in consideration of the material Pekkar writes about, ie, his mundane (far from splendid) existence.
We may not have splendor in our day to day lives, but we probably do have occasional splendid moments. From the Latin splendidus meaning brilliant, elegant, first-rate, remarkable, or celebrated…splendid seems quite accessible. “We went to the museum the other day and had a truly splendid time”.  Most likely we wouldn’t say, “We experienced the splendor of the museum”, even though it’s almost the same word as splendid except it is an adjective and not a noun.  The word splendor has the same Latin derivative as the word splendid, but not used nearly as often, especially today.  I can’t remember hearing anyone (at least anyone in my age group) use the word splendid in a conversation with me.  I suppose the old English librarian named Mrs. Hannaby I knew in my childhood would throw in  that word from time to time, “Oh, yes, Master Skip, you must read “Treasure Island”, it’s a splendid read for a lad of your age!”  I never really knew a Mrs Hannaby, but you get the picture (?).  Perhaps I heard Simon use the word splendid on American Idol.  After all, he is English.  The English do have more than a proper way with the King’s than we bourgeois Americans.  We were and always will be the “colonists”, the “revolutionaries” who run willy nilly here and there destroying and recreating the English language at will.
I like the words splendid and splendor.  I would like to use them from time to time in this blog and in conversation.  Maybe not so much splendor, but certainly splendid as in, “This first cup of strong Yuban coffee each morning is simply splendid, I just love it more than any other time of the day”.  So is the first cigarette of the day (of which I no longer enjoy the splendor), but that’s another story and another blog:  smoking.
Here is a suggestion for using the word splendid.  When someone asks you casually, “How are you doing?”, respond with, “Splendid, I’ve never had it so good”. That last part I borrowed from my friend Bob who started saying that years ago just to mix things up in those awkward times when someone asks you that over-used question.
I’ve had a splendid time writing this blog entry.  Now I am going to close and enjoy the splendor of this first cup of coffee.  I’ll stop now!

Yeah, I’m a cry baby…you wanna make something of it?

Anyone who knows me more than in a casual sense is aware of what a sentimental sap I truly am, not just deep down, but recently right on the surface.  I’ve just become so hopelessly, pathetically nostalgic, pensive, reflective, and just plain sappy I surprise even myself at times.  This kind of transformation from the more narcissistic, conceited, grumpy Skip from years gone by ( time I like to fondly remember as my successful business and income years) to this sensitive, I care about the dolphins but still eat tuna salad, not quite a tree hugger but cares about deforestation in the rain forest advocate, to the truly balling baby when I see abused animal public service announcements person.  The change, though, was not an overnight occurrence my friend!  It all started about ten years ago I think and it’s been building up to what I am today…a cry baby! There was no epiphany, there was no one day or one event type thing in my life.  I just started tearing up at what could be considered really stupid stuff.  The end of E.T. for example…I can’t get through it without half sobbing out loud when that pipsqueak rubber-faced alien leaves poor Elliot standing there in the forest and flying off into the far reaches of the universe.  His soul mate, his bossom nerd buddy, his only really true friend since his father divorced Dee Wallace and ran off with the secretary, left standing there for gosh knows how long…waiting for the sequel that never came!  It’s brutal every time I watch it.

Forget about when Alan Ladd rides off into the sunset and leaves Brandon DeWilde standing by the corral in tears (“Shane!!!”), I cry when the Xmas tree bell rings at the end of It’s A Wonderful Life, “Look, Daddy.  Teacher says every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings”. “That’s right!  That’s right!”, says George Bailey, “Attaboy, Clarence!”  Tear city!  I can’t handle it.

It seems most of the tears are elicited from movies and, of course, the occasional cancer public service or cancer treatment center spot, especially when it’s about the kids.  I don’t think I’ve ever been this sentimental.  Considering the majority of the remainder of my time, I am a grumpy, curmudgeonly, old bird.  I say old bird because an old girlfriend on Facebook recently offered a well-meaning comment about my cancer, “Oh, you’ll get through it.  You’re a tough, old bird”.  Hey, I’ve seen old birds…I work at Walmart when I’m not sick at home on a well-deserved leave of absence!  I know what old birds look like…old bags, too.  I’ve seen plenty of them, up close and personal! I’m not an old bird…yet.  But I have become such a cry baby, not with the popular squirting tears like daughters are able to do after becoming full fledged kids and not babies any longer, but watery eyes, a lot of sniffing and flowing of those emotional crying endorphins.  It’s better than morphine!

Besides when watching certain movie endings, I get choked up when I think about when my kids were, well, kids.  From time to time I put together photo montage videos set to music.  That’s curtains for me at least half the time I spend editing them.  That’s nostalgia and there is nothing one can ever do to relive it.

It’s still is and always will be…all about the memories.

Was Harry Potter sartorial?

You know, when I write in this here blog, I truly attempt to keep the writing, the grammar, the spelling all in check.  I also try to keep things as simple as possible, to get to the point within a reasonable amount of time.  And what about that point you say? Do you always have a point Skip?  And the answer to that is yes, I do!  I have a feeling you may be referring to the fact that I all-too-often start out yapping about one point then end up deeply ensconced in some other point altogether.  And I’m willing to accept that observation, I totally agree.

Now, this particular blog is not about writers, bloggers, and lurkers getting to the blog-point in a more judicious manner.  Nope…I’m changing points here…it’s about using unfamiliar synonyms just for sake of sounding, well, learn-ed.    Notice I used the word judicious (manner) above.  Judicious defined as wise, discreet, and prudent in its simplest form.  So couldn’t I have just said, “…getting to the point quicker.”?  I used just five words here, where above I wasted another five trying to sound, well, more learn-ed.

Case in point, I was reading another blog, written by a very clever 30’s female with an incredibly dry sense of humor.  It’s one of those “I never really know what she’s gonna say in the next sentence, and, I can’t stop reading until I finish the blog entry!” sort of thing.  Anyway, I digress (again).  She’s very readable.  In a recent entry she used the phrase, “…in all our sartorial splendor”, the caption from an old photo of her at a much younger age. I always had though I knew the definition of sartorial.  I thought it meant something like having a mystical aura about you, an enigma of sorts.  Doesn’t that sound logical to you, “Harry Potter’s sartorial splendor while wielding that wand is something at which one has to be amazed”.  Not?  Not.

The definition of sartorial goes something like this: of or pertaining to clothing or style or manner of dress.  In other words, your sartorial self is all about how you dress.  Where’d I get that mystical crap?  That enigma bilge?  TODAY is when I looked up sartorial, for the first time evidently, and was enlightened.  But at first it did make me feel  un-learn-ed, ignorant (which, by the way, simply means without knowledge), wimpy, worthless, and weak (as a writer) for about five minutes.  At that point in time, I said to myself, “Oh, yeah…well I’m going to write a blog and use the word sartorial in it!”  That’s it, just go for it!  And so…I did.

By the way, one of definitions for mystical is: unintelligible, cryptic.  Makes a lot of sense after reading stuff like this, yes?!

That story is a load of crap!

I woke up early this morning as usual, about 4:15.  I turned on the light on my nightstand and just sat on the edge of the bed as I often do this time in the morning, among other things, contemplating getting up or trying to go back to sleep.  I also sat there wondering why I have the name Thomas Crapper swirling around in my head.

I thought I knew for years the truth about the claim to fame of Thomas Crapper.  When I was on the air in the radio business, the name Thomas Crapper used to be fodder for a little early morning bathroom humor.  “I’ll take the first correct caller who can tell me what modern convenience was invented by Englishman Thomas Crapper.  Winner gets a Supertramp album.”  You see, it’s widely thought that Thomas Crapper invented the flush toilet in the late 1800’s.  Thomas Crapper died in 1910 leaving somewhat of a legacy in the plumbing world but not the legacy of inventing the flush toilet.

It’s been debated over the decades as to the origin of the word crap as well…another myth is that it came from this guy’s name – Crapper.  Let me set this straight, for me and for anyone else who thinks it’s cute mentioning these myths at cocktails parties.

The word crap comes from the Dutch krappe or German krape  meaning a vile and inedible fish.  The word crapper (in reference to a toilet) came from World War I soldiers seeing Thomas Crapper’s named on toilet tanks.  You see, Thomas Crapper was a plumber and applied for certain patents involving drains, water closets, and pipe joints, and had his name and company name put on the tanks.  This ‘back formation’ for crapper and crap survives today but is not quite true to history.  The German and Dutch words had been around for hundreds of years.  Believe what you will.  The Thomas Crapper story is convenient and sounds logical, but is not all true.

So why did I wake up with Thomas Crapper’s name burned into my now conscious mind?  Who knows?  I’ve awoke with things on my mind more bizarre and just plain heinous than Thomas Crapper.

Perhaps there is also a name in the books like Edwin Shitter?  Perhaps he was once a plumber way back when.  Maybe I should perpetuate that bit of mis-history?  Since I am not broadcasting on the radio any longer my audience is few and far between, a bit limted.  Highly unlikely this piece of literary flotsam will generate much buzz.  Perhaps it may get some mileage at a cocktail party somewhere.  If I ever get invited to a cocktail party again, I’ll bring it up!

By the way, supposedly an English author named Sir John Harrington came up with the idea for the flush toilet in the 16th century for his Godmother, Queen Elizabeth I.  The first patent for a water closet was issued to Alexander Cummings in 1775, 60 years before Mr. Crapper was born.

A link to more info about the “crapper man”...just so you don’t think I’m totally disturbed.