Sunday, May 31, 2009

pearl of onion wisdom

Overheard by a vagabond at the market...

A little girl, riding shotgun in a cart, holding a bag of baby onions to her ear: "Mommy, I can't hear them crying."

Friday, May 29, 2009

the june bug

With June rolling out to fly, tearing away the pencil scrawled month of May from the calendar on the wall, my thoughts just naturally drifted to flight and a postcard of the infamous Albany Flier, piloted by Glenn Curtiss 101 years ago, the first flight in the USA traveling one kilometer.

And Flight always reminds me of composer Michael Kamen's lifting end theme to From The Earth To The Moon.
Close your eyes and just soar:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

last in line

I seem to remember way back in elementary school when it was 'music appreciation' time and a box of percussion instruments was passed around, and when it lastly got to me with my arms folded patiently, the only item left in a bottom corner of the dilapidated box was a broken sharp stick with a droopy balloon leashed.

I'm not sure what in the hell that stick/balloon combo was suppose to represent from the percussion family, but I still happily played blubba blubba blubba right in beat with the scratchy 45 Mrs. Kurkowski was spinning. Actually, the mysterious little instrument mirrored the profile of Mrs. Kurkowski when I held it out steady at eye level.

Blubba Blubba Blubba!

Monday, May 25, 2009

O helpless soul of me

'Death's outlet song of life--
(for well, dear brother, I know
If thou wast not gifted to sing, thou would'st surely die.)'

Walt Whitman ~
When Lilacs Last In The Dooryard Bloom'd

Friday, May 22, 2009

all geared up

The field of 33 is set for Sunday.
30 men.
3 women.
800 punishing left hand turns.
And 1 container of milk for the winner.

Conan Doyle on his birthday

It was in the latter days of September, and the equinoctial gales had set in with exceptional violence. All day the wind had screamed and the rain had beaten against the windows, so that even here in the heart of great, hand-made London we were forced to raise our minds for the instant from the routine of life and to recognise the presence of those great elemental forces which shriek at mankind through the bars of his civilisation, like untamed beasts in a cage. As evening drew in, the storm grew higher and louder, and the wind cried and sobbed like a child in the chimney. Sherlock Holmes sat moodily at one side of the fireplace cross-indexing his records of crime, while I at the other was deep in one of Clark Russell's fine sea-stories until the howl of the gale from without seemed to blend with the text, and the splash of the rain to lengthen out into the long swash of the sea waves. My wife was on a visit to her mother's, and for a few days I was a dweller once more in my old quarters at Baker Street.

from The Five Orange Pips(1891),
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Saturday, May 16, 2009

the visit

I’ve been visited twice in the night.
Some things I can remember distinctly, and others parts are vague and broken bits of memory.

One night, many years ago – I guess I was ten years old – I dreamt that a spaceship landed on the far side of the woods across the road from our house. I watched as the huge ship hovered for a moment, then settled down in the shadows beyond the trees. A solitary visitor, in a silver suit, appeared out of the woods and walked over and stood in our front yard. As I stood on my pillow and peered out of my bedroom window he motioned for me to come out into the still night. He looked human and friendly enough, so I grabbed my ever-trusty Batman flashlight and ventured out into the damp night.

"I'm ten."
“Hello, ten, you looked troubled,” he said, with a gentle smile.
His face was olive colored, and his deep-set eyes were black.
“I’m not like the others,” I said. “I don’t fit in,” I mumbled, as I felt the wet grass like sand was squishing between my toes.

After a short exchange, the words now are a little vague, I felt comforted and elated – yes, buoyant.

“You’re welcome to come back with us,” he said warmly.
“I better not. Dad and Mom will be mad at me. I better go back in.”
He nodded and seemed to understand, but frowned with a long slim finger at his lips.
“If you want, the moon is yours, my friend,” he offered.

I had a genuine affection for the visitor. I was scared but I never questioned his purpose for seeking me out.

He patted my head, smiled, and turned back towards the woods. I made it back into the house just as the fire from the jets lifted the thundering rocket skywards. There was a fleeting moment where I'd changed my mind wanting to go, shining my flashlight out the bedroom window, hoping he'd catch that hundred and eighty six thousand miles per second blue beam before he was too far gone.

A few moments later I woke and looked out my bedroom window into the moon-less night. There was nothing except a strange, rat-tat-tat and swishing sound. I slammed the window and ducked under the covers, scared and shivering.

In the morning I saw what the sound was – our next door neighbor left his water sprinkler on all night.

And then he returned.

It was August, 1975. I had just turned 17 and it was the summer before my senior year in high school. I was sitting on our front porch in the early evening, dressed in a suit with my tie loosened and the top button unfastened. I was exhausted from a trying day – back from my dad’s funeral. The house was full of relatives but I needed to be by myself, so I settled down into a chair at the far end of the porch and drifted away.

“You remember?” my friend asked soothingly.
“Yes. But I still can’t go. Not yet,” I replied. “My mom….,” I started.

He laid his hand on my shoulder and sighed wistfully. He looked the same as years before, but this time it seemed like I could see deeper into his shining eyes. They were familiar and far less haunting than I would’ve expected. I looked to my left through the same woods that I had played in as a child, although back then they seemed deep as a black forest, and could see the multi-colored lights spinning at the base of the craft. I felt a chilled and a tingling sensation throughout my body.

“Ah, well, you’re time will come,” he said assuredly.
I turned towards his voice to ask him something but he was gone.

My beloved Aunt Doris was sitting next to me as I awoke, and she softly kissed me and took my hand in hers. We were always so close that we could sit in silence together knowing what the other was feeling inside. She was a little woman, pale skinned, but with a big heart and a kind, sweet, knowing smile. Just like your aunt is supposed to be.

“You haven’t eaten. Can I fix you something?” she asked quietly.
I started to cry.


Sometimes, late into the night, I’ll just stand outside looking up, scanning the sky to both purple horizons, hoping that maybe on this evening I’ll be lucky enough to dream of another visit. I feel so out of place in this world, like I was meant for another galaxy – or somewhere else in time for that matter – and that on the next visit I will definitely climb aboard.

Monday, May 11, 2009


vagabond menu
stick potatoes on embers
shoestring spaghetti

Sunday, May 10, 2009


When I was a boy I did not want to get out of bed and go to school. She would plead, softly, not whining. Lastly, she would straighten and smooth the bed covers tucking them up under my chin. It confused me so much I got out of bed, dressed, and went to school. You can't learn that in books, no sir.

Friday, May 8, 2009

post card from the moon

When I was ten years old, our family took our first vacation ever and we drove up to the scenic Wisconsin Dells. Sandwiched in between my two older brothers in the back seat of our Olds Delta 88 I had a lovely eye level view of the green vinyl back of the front seat all the way. It had a sickening smell like a dentist's office back there too. Lovely memories.

When you're in the middle, and the youngest, and nervous to boot, of course, you have no control. Flying elbows everywhere. To escape, I’d close my eyes and pretend I was on the way to the Moon. The month before, in that historic July, my heroes Neil, Buzz, and Mike, had made a hazardous close-quartered trip of their own. So, I thought, if they could handle wayward elbows, odd claustrophobic smells and motion sickness, I could too. I even took along and kept in my back pocket a baggie and twist tie to gather some rocks and dirt.

Houston: “Don’t forget to take a contingency sample, 88!”
Delta Lander: “I won’t, Houston, over.”
Houston: “ We’re counting on you!”
Delta Lander: “Roger! 88 Out!”

I don't know why, but I remember constantly jutting my head over the seat asking my dad if we had enough gas to get there. Maybe it was because I had read the owners manual to our first air-conditioned car ever and remembered the warning written in bold red font about how that luxury reduced gas mileage.
"Yes, we do," he'd answer for the one hundred and eightieth time.
"How much left, dad?"
"Three quarters of a tank. Sit down," he'd deadpan. Mom just looked back and smiled at me, her eyes hidden behind those dark green lens in white frames, and wrapped in her pink sweater so close to the cool vents.
Ten minutes later I'd ask again, and he'd answer back in a way that I'd just soon not write down here that has left me with a permanent twitch in my left eye. I wasn’t the only victim. Later, my brother told me the vibration snapped the small rubber bands on his retainer.

The Dells were glorious. The beautiful layered rock formations we'd view up close from a slow shady boat, lush waterfalls spraying fine mist over stone ledges, and Native American folk dances kicking up red dust in a miniature amphitheater. To this day, I can still smell the black thunder off at a distance in the night sky. Near a roadside picnic table where we stopped to devour sandwiches wrapped in wax paper, I meticulously scooped some of Wisconsin’s finest dirt and a couple small rocks, spun the baggie, and secured it snugly with the space age tie. I held it up to show my mother and she said it was nice and to wash my hands for lunch. I walked into the visitor’s bureau restroom and thoroughly cleaned the moon dust off my hands.

When we arrived home four days later, under the fiery hot reentry of that August day, and with the fuel gage under the ‘E’ (just like Neil and Buzz!) and we were unloading luggage out of the trunk, my dad asked me good-naturedly if I had had a swell time.

I nodded and twitched.

Friday, May 1, 2009

1000 postcards

Sweet story about a bus driver dad writing postcards while waiting at red lights and sending one a day to his daughter at college.

11,041 vagabonds plus:
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