This update is a few days later than usual due to several on-going events, only a few of which are related to writing. Kindly accept my apologies for the delay – and bear with me as I attempt to explain.
The major activity concerned the move of my daughter Laura to a new location in Omaha. As I said, not writing-related (although parts of the process resembled a Peter Sellers comedy, so at some point the proceedings may serve as the basis for a story). Laura recently bought a beautifully renovated 1900-era home. A few days ago, Nita and I helped with the move from her condo in the mid-town area to the new place in the ‘burbs. We managed to fight our way through the Omaha potholes (more on that in a minute) to reach her new place in the aftermath of a heavy snowstorm. So ... I had the occasion (a rare, but not completely welcome opportunity) to break in a brand new snow blower to clear the driveway and sidewalk. Laura taught a full day of classes that day so Nita and I did odds and ends and house sat while new locks were installed throughout the residence. That evening (Friday) we began the process of loading up the SUV with items from the condo and carrying them to the house.
Saturday morning we went to the condo to prepare for the mover’s arrival at noon. Two very nice young guys showed up on time – and then the rest of the day became sort of a goat rope. It began when the movers found that their van was too small to take all of Laura’s stuff. We wound up getting the furniture, pictures, etc., moved but there was no room to take the items she has in a downstairs storage area. We then made the happy discovery that one of the two elevators in the building (Laura’s condo is on the seventh floor) was not working. Then, the second “working” elevator periodically pooped out throughout the day. Still, we managed to get the stuff loaded and delivered to the house –only to have to unload it in the midst of a driving snowstorm. Gee, what a good day …Despite all that, between the moving van and SUV trips we got the major items moved to the new place so things ended up pretty well.
On Sunday, back to the condo to get it in shape for an early afternoon showing arranged by the realtor – lots of scrubbing, cleaning, nails removed from walls, etc. The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent at the house putting up curtain rods, hanging curtains, pictures, shelves, etc. Quite a weekend – lots of laughs and a few occasional choice words, but hey it turned out okay.
Actually, the snow blowing activity was kind of fun in an unusual way. It provided an opportunity to use some of the personal gear that was issued before going to Sarajevo – padded boots, thermal socks, long johns, winter hat with ear flaps, etc. Our military equips its troops very well – I doubt that there are few that are any better. Other than using those items once or twice while sledding, that was one of the few times I’ve had the excuse to put them on. Interesting memories.
Just a word about Omaha potholes, then at long last we’ll turn to writing (which, if memory serves correctly, is supposed to be the purpose of this blog). Lincoln’s pothole problem is bad, but Omaha’s set the gold medal standard. As I have mentioned to others, some are so wide and deep that the city should consider charging tolls to get across them. Quite a few cars are parked along the side of the roads, victims of flat tires, broken rims, or damaged axles. This winter has been devastating to streets in the Midwest. The cold and snow have persisted for such a long time and the freezing and thawing cycle really stresses the pavement. Interestingly, that too brought back some recollections of Sarajevo. The number of mines planted in soil of Bosnia-Herzegovina quite possibly numbered in the millions (estimates vary and many of the fields were not well documented). Many of the devices the Serbs got from the Russians are made of plastic. They are difficult to detect and they are not biodegradable. Those that are not found will be a threat for years to come. There is some hope that the freezing and thawing cycle during the severe Bosnian winters may expose at least a few of them. As I mentioned in the Sarajevo commentary in A Pilgrim in Unholy Places, some of the mines were insidiously stacked one on top of the other, so a mine sweeping team that disarms the first device is placed in jeopardy by a bigger problem lying just underneath.
Now, as promised, some writing news at long last. The winter edition of a local magazine carried on nice review of In the Shadows of Victory II: America’s Forgotten Military Leaders, The Spanish-American War to World War II. I enjoyed the review because it was positive, well written, and the reviewer actually seemed to know something about history.
There has been too much going on to devote a lot of time to a prospective In the Shadows III edition to the series, although that remains in the general game plan. In the meantime, as the moments allow, I have been screening some articles, short stories, and poems I have written in the past but have not focused much on getting published. I sent a short piece of whimsy titled “The Low Hard One” to Baseball Bard, a site that has over the years graciously published three of my works. The first, “1908? Has It Been That Long?” was written a few years ago before the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. “Doubleheader at Mudville” is a sequel to “Casey at the Bat” that preserves the length, names, and rhyming pattern of the original. “The Slugger” is about the humor, foibles, and parental emotions associated with peewee baseball. (See this month’s poem.)
I have worked a bit on a piece titled “No One Ever Tried So Hard: The Search for Heidi Seeman” and may try to see if anyone might be interested in it. The story is about the search for an abducted child whose father, an Air Force Master Sergeant, worked for me in San Antonio. What started out as a small endeavor grew into the largest search in Texas history. A version of the story appears in A Pilgrim in Unholy Places, but the work needs to be revised a bit to adjust to a different audience and bring the references up to date. It might be useful to have a piece out there that draws attention to a continuing problem.
There are a few more things that might deserve a second look. “The Sound of Silence” is about waiting for a klaxon to sound during the Cuban Missile Crisis. “The Yom Kippur War” has been published in a small Air Force periodical but possibly could fit elsewhere. There may be some other stuff as well. We’ll see.
It is now time once more for the seldom-acclaimed feature WHO SAYS THEY DON’T WRITE GREAT POETRY ANYMORE. I promise, that this will be the last baseball-related verse for a while, but it seemed appropriate to include it as parents and kids gear up for forthcoming small fry seasons. (There are currently snow drifts on the ball fields, but I have confidence that eventually the world will correct itself and that someday there will once again be baseball throughout the land.)
Pinch runner “Slugger” McBickell got
caught in a run-down pickle
(and was tagged out near second base).
The steal might have worked had
misfortune not lurked
(Slugger stopped to tie a shoe lace).
Slugger dusted off with a grin and
waved to his mom as he jogged in
(while the coach tried to keep a straight face).
In the field Slugger watched a soft pop fly … and
watched it further as it rolled on by
(then tripped while giving chase).
On deck, Slugger could hardly wait to
take his turn at the plate
(but stepped into the wrong batter’s box space).
Can he possibly be that bad? Mused
his tormented dad
(who slipped away to a quiet place).
Maybe we should try another sport … Maybe
take him to a tennis court …
(something more suited to his natural grace).
Or he might take to track with a bit of a hint. We
probably should try a dash or a sprint
(after all, he did well in that Easter egg race).
When the umpire reminded Slugger to put on his hat, his dad
resolved to sell his glove and his bat
(But not yet … just in case.)
Then everything became settled and clear; for sure
we’ll do this again next year.
(Slugger hit a dribbler off the other team’s ace.)
Best wishes, everyone. Hope you have a great spring.