Thursday, April 19, 2018

I'm feeling 40, How Old Do You Feel?

I am increasingly discovering that at various places I find myself, I begin scanning to determine if anyone is older than me.  Too often anymore, the answer is no.  I also get the occasional, "How old are you?"  This question is designed, of course, to determine just where you fit in the questioners boxes of possible kinship to themselves.  In other words, is this guy going to be able to keep up with me or is he squaresville, whatever that is.  I heard someone say a few months ago that age seems to be a big deal "because they never let you forget it."  They being: commercials, people, well, everyone and everything.  I think she is right.  

People who say they don't judge are lying.  We judge every time we meet someone new, every time we try something new, every time we eat something new, every time we see something new.  One of the things we judge is age.  Young is good, moving, reckless, fearless, funny, aware and cool.  Age is...not.  Age is ""I've fallen and I can't get up."  Age is endless Medicare commercials.  Age is Tom Selleck and his reverse mortgage spiel, and Wilford Brimley trying to find some way that Coccoon will keep him young.  

All things being equal (I think I always hated that phrase) and advanced health concerns aside, age is a chronological measurement that has nothing really, to do with vivacity, smarts, outlook or coolness.  Sure, I get the bias: young sells, and as I tell anyone who will listen everything is about money.  Old people ain't pretty.  

The East reveres its oldsters.  And I'm not talking East Coast.  I'm talking China and Japan and that general area.  Over there young people stand when an older person walks in.  The young are supposed to defer to them, let them speak first, sit down after them and never contradict them.  The older you are the more respect is accorded.  Nursing homes are not common over there.  It is expected that the family will take care of the elders when they reach a certain age.  That is starting to change however, because of the longtime one child policy that adopted.  Other societies that respect their elders are Greece, Korea, India, African-American, and our own Native-American culture.  There are others I'm sure, but I don't want to get too far astream of our own.  Here, we just don't want to be around old people.  Maybe they remind us too much of our futures.  Maybe they smell.  

Is there any changing our culture?  Cultural change is glacially slow.  Think bump stocks.  I am reminded of Shakespeare, however: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."   Perhaps we can begin to become more self aware, more mindful of older folks.

I, for one, will strive not to ask the question "How old are you" except to my granddaughters who seem to love the annual advance in their age.  To be honest, I haven't asked anyone this question in years - its always seemed a bit unnecessary.  Ann Landers always said to ask the asker, "Why on earth do you want to know?"   Besides, we really already know, don't we?  We can come up with a ballpark guess.  Leave it at that.

In addition, recognize that Madison Avenue colors our perceptions and subliminally directs us toward the "Young Is Good" ideal.  That new $42,000 BMW SUV they advertise on TV is hawked by a young 28 year old long haired brunette in a red flowing full-length evening dress.  I don't know about you, but I've know a lot of 28 year olds, and I was one once, and none of us could even afford the rear view mirror of a $42,000 car.  Here at Sinkhole Estates, or Death Valley as I call it, there are all kinds of cool wheels that people here can actually afford.  A certain red retro T-Bird convertible with a couple in it who are decidedly NOT 28 years old careen around in it with giant smiles plastered on their wrinkled faces.  You won't see them on any TV ad for cars.

We are what we are.  We all want to be younger.  We all want to live forever.  Time marches on...for all of us.  Let's be kind and respectful to those who have been marching longer.         

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tuesday Tidbits

1960 - Tighty whities because Marj told me to.

1985 - Boxer briefs because I didn't want stuff to slosh around down there.

2000 -Boxers because I wanted things to slosh around down there.

2018 - Tighty whities (in different colors) to keep pesky old man drips from wetting my pants.


trump's lawyer is being investigated in Manhattan, his son-in-law is being investigated in Brooklyn, his former campaign manager is under indictment, his former national security advisor has pleased guilty to lying, a couple former campaign advisors are cooperating with prosecutors.  My God! What could we have done with our deteriorating infrastructure, healthcare, public education, and a host of other things needing examined if we'd channeled all this effort to cheat into an effort to improve.



Every night at 9:00 pm a horn is blown at the four corners of the market obelisk in Ripon , North Yorkshire, England.  The tradition dates back to 886 when Alfred the Great granted a charter to the city with a horn.  At the King's advice a person was appointed to patrol the settlement and at 9:00 the patrolmen blew his horn to let the townsfolk know he was on duty and all was well.  

In 1604 James I granted a second charter.  This time the patrolman was appointed by the democratically hired Mayor.  After the horn was blown he was to find the Mayor wherever he was and blow the horn three times, raise his hat, bow his head and tell the Mayor, "Mr. Mayor, the watch is set."


I came across an ad for dried morel mushrooms you could buy.  So I did!  I got the 2 jar special.  Little did I know (communications is sometimes dicey around here) the current Mrs. Blythe also got that special.  We now have 4 cans of dried morel mushrooms.  How cool is that?


As I write this on a lazy Saturday morning, I see the Mets are 11-1 on the year.  The Cubs are 6-7 and the Cards are 7-7.  Hey Cubbie fans, "Where's your Messiah, now?"* (Look at the last blurb today for more on this)

Speaking of baseball, does anyone do Opening day better than the Cardinals?  The Reds have their parade, the Mets just play ball and usually win, the Cubs try to grow a ground weed on brick that doesn't fully take till June and play a video of Harry, but those Cards!  Bringing all those old players in on Cardinal Red Mustangs, the present players shaking hands with them before they take their spots on the baselines and then the Clydesdales jogging along the track with that iconic organ Budweiser music.  That's real showmanship.  By the way, two guys are on the wagon and the driver is working like hell to manage those horses.  I want to be the guy who holds the dog.  


Madison Avenue ad agencies are at it again.  Their primary goal is to separate you from your money.  I saw an ad last week for Pantene Foam Conditioner.  It's a hair conditioner that is "air-infused".  Ha!  They put bubbles in it (which decreases the amount of real product), and claim the bubbles help in some fashion.  This is the same as the chocolate candy bar we mentioned a few months ago they advertised as air-infused.  Same thing, less product, higher cost.  Madison Avenue wins again. 


This is a 10 week old puppy that has chosen to live here for a few days or years.  She is the runt of a litter from a daddy who is a full-blooded Aussie Shepherd, and a mommy who is a full-blooded BMC, which makes this a full-blooded mutt.  

The deal was as good as done, or rather my goose was really cooked, when Kenzie and Norah got involved.  

I'm not sold yet since I judge things by the heart AND the head, unlike others around here who judge only with the former.   No name has yet been inscribed but I'm leaning toward Whizbang.  


It's been a long time since I'd been on a trampoline.  This is in Brendan's back yard and Norah talked me into it.  It was more work than I remembered.



Yesterday was fun here in Kitschland, in general, and Death Valley, in particular.  We had weather!  Real, honest to goodness rain, thunder, lightening and lasted longer than 10 minutes.  It was a long afternoon of hard blowing rain.  Yeah!




* This refers to Edward G. Robinson's alleged Brooklyn accent in the film The Ten Commandments.  It has become a kind of on-going joke between the Wombie and I.  It's perfect in almost any situation.  The joke, of course, is on us.  Eddie never said that in the film, but comes from a comedy routine from Billy crystal.  Who knew?   

Monday, April 16, 2018

Map of The World

When I was a kid I enjoyed the National Geographic our parents bought for us, and loved the maps they'd put inside every few months.  A map is essential for navigating.  I still have the ones I used for my summer of travel on the motorcycle to South Dakota Utah, Arkansas and Wisconsin.    

Maps are cold things.  They are efficient and single-purposed.  They provide you a way to get from here to there.  It is a one-dimensional exercise putting on paper what lies in front of you.   They record places, but not people.  They plot homes, but not hearts.

The map above charts the village of Seaton.  It sits in the water shed on the East End of town where the town's water guy, the Wombie, has his daily work.  The symbol on top right says "Not to Scale".  All the homes, streets and alleys are on this map.  

1.  Our house, known as the East End.  

2.  This was where an old fenced hutch was that was the home of some sheep.  It is where bro Phil found some brown M & M's.  

3.  This is an empty lot - was back when and still is.  This is where we would (on holidays and family get-togethers) grab a club and golf balls and have a driving contest. 

4.  This was the garage at Roy and Mabel's place and Phil kept his nice convertibles.  It was where we (the Wombies) would scare him when he walked home.

5.  This is the Frey's house which no longer exists.  It was where I ran away from home.  Evelyn took me in and gave me cookies.  They had the coolest lamp:  There was a shade inside that rotated when lit as a kind of diorama thing.  

6.  This was the creek the Wombie and I would go as kids and hunt crick critters like frogs and crawdads.  Funny, I wouldn't do that now for anything for fear of snakes.  Didn't stop us back then, though.

7.  This was dad's elevator.  It still is there but now terribly dilapidated.   

8.  This was the grade school we all went to and also the ball diamond.

8.  Yeah, there's two.  Don't know why - pilot error.  This was Mina Seaton's house, tucked back behind trees and bushes.  Hard to see - was always mysterious and and a bit scary. 

9.  This was where someone put a donated a chicken coop as a playhouse for us East End kids.  The fire department came and washed it all out with their pressure hoses.

10.  This si the bank and the flag pole we raised a road-kill badger with a Seaton Bank check attached to its paw.

11.  Every small town has its characters.  This is the place where Dick Douglas had his house on stilts.  He was a brilliant guy able to fix anything and usually seen with more than one pair of glasses on to get just the right prescriptive power. 

12.  The elevator weigh house.  What a place to sit and just listen to the farmers who come in.  Lehman, Frank, Boyd, Poverty Paul,  a host of others and let's not forget VG who'd come in and pound his stuffed chair ranting about the "goddamn democrats".  

A map will tell you the best way to navigate a one-dimensional  area on paper.  Indispensable tools for navigation and travel.  But the next time you see a map think of the lives that lived it - trod it - made it.      

Friday, April 13, 2018

Flashback Friday

"Whitestown Jan 5th 62

Dear Friend

At the commencement of the new year I thought I would write to you I had a very pleasant ride home I got home about half past six o'clock they were somewhat surprised to see me come in I didn't write and let them know I was coming.  It has been very sickly here, lately there has been a great many cases of diphtheria & black measles both at one time. 

In a great many instances it proves fatal I go to school to Whitestown seminary and board at home.  I have a horse to drive it is a pleasant ride every night and morning only three miles and a half I have four studies it takes me until 12 oclock most every night to get my lessons we had company Christmas, new years day I took a ride there was eight of us in one sleigh.  we had a grand time new years eave went to a party  

Last night went to a singing school I am bound for a donation.  next Wednesday evening they have put me on the committee.  How are you enjoying this new year(are the girls all bossy as the devil) or are they dried up How do you like the (Se????) school Have you been to an m??? sac???? since I left how is Mai?? Pratt give my best respects to her and all that  enquire about me what is Bessy about

When you write tell all the news do not follow my example but write a good long letter There has been a large fire in Whitesboro since I came home less? about $19,000 dollars  Please direct to Whitestown Oneida County NY

Write soon
From Seth Whitehead

PS There is a lady attending school at Whitestown by the name of Almy


Letter writing.  A lost art which will never return, except in the next World War when the grid is wiped out and Bic makes a big comeback.  

We accumulate things in life and sometimes we find things tucked away and can't figure out where it came from or how you came to own it.  The above letter is one such item.  Don't have a clue.  I also don't know if it is from either side of the family or if I got it from Ebay or some such thing.  I can't imagine paying for this since it has nothing to do with anything.  I'm thinking family.  I tried locating this guy near Whitestown, New York but had no luck.  It will remain a mystery.

Letter writing as I have postulated many times on this site should be brought back into vogue.  It makes us think, and use our penmanship.  It forces us to construct complete sentences without using 4 as for or ur for your.   We should be told, by government, to write so many letters per year for a reduction of our taxes.  Speaking of taxes I finished mine and I'd like to write a letter - alas, if I did then I'd be writing another to the judge attempting to absolve myself of my actions.  

I guess there is nothing stopping us from writing.  Huh, as the guy in the boat said.  Maybe I will start a one man attempt to bring back the art of letters.  Just you watch.   And by the way, did ole Seth have a thing for Almy?  Watch out for those horny Seminarians.   

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Cost Of Dying

"Let us prepare our minds as if we'd come to the very end of life.  Let us postpone nothing.  Let us balance life's books each day...the one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time."  Seneca

It pays to be a good consumer, even after you have stopped consuming.  The modern funeral industry is waiting for you.  They know you'll show up eventually.  And better take your checkbook.  They have an almost perfect business model:  they will get your business, sooner or later, and they know you will open the vaults (pun not intended) and give them whatever they want.  

You may want to click on something else before you read the rest of this - not all of it is gentle.  It deals with death and what happens to us naturally, or unnaturally, when it comes for us.  I'll wait (but not long).  OK, are you gone?  Alright, let's chat.

Before I begin, did you know that death wasn't always such a surety as it is today.  Some people had such a fear of being buried alive that they rigged up bells that the decedent could ring for help from the grave.  


These were "safety coffins" and used various techniques to summon help in case you were only kind of dead.  The phrase "saved by the bell" came out of that funeral feature.  

In a box somewhere I have dozens of those leaflets they hand you at a visitation or funeral.  As I proceed through life, rapidly it seems, it is only fitting to begin to think of my service, or lack of, as well.  And what I see is no service at all.  Of course, I won't have the final word.  I have heard of final wishes being dashed to the wind to suit the wants and needs of the surviving family.  Legally, my remains belong to the current Mrs. Blythe.  So there you go on that front.  But I will, eventually, put to paper my personal wishes.  Naturally, I won't really give a dash one way or the other, but having broached the subject with her, I don't think there will be much resistance.  And since she doesn't read this blog, then you guys can sit in the back of the room in your hard pew or folding chair and "tsk, tsk" at my abandoned wishes.  Just remember, disappointment is no stranger to me.  

On average, a typical funeral will cost the family between $6,800 to $11,000 depending on lots of things.  Casket, vault, embalming services, services fee, plot, opening plot, cemetery labor, funeral home costs including that nice little flier and other sundry items will insure a nice ceremony for friends and family.   Of course this also doesn't include the little metal marker and eventual headstone.

You can do a cremation cheaper but those ole rascally undertakers still want you to reach into your pocketbook to honor your loved ones appropriately.  That usually still means all the fixins' without the labor intensive handling charge of your casket or the super-sized vault.  They'll still want you to buy everything else of course - gotta still look good in a nice box and all that.  If you start to balk, the directors will dip into their handy reference manuals all the platitudes that will get you to fork over:  "the service is for the living" or "it's a way for your family to honor the memory" or any number of tricks-of-the-trade to get you to fork over.   

With that in mind I plan on instructing those who own my dead body to reject the entreaties of the traditional industrial funeral machine. 

I am instructing my family to opt for a "direct cremation".  No embalming, no casket, no visitation, no laid out under a rose colored light, no cosmetic work.  Wrap me up and throw me in the oven.  Why on earth would I want to be stared at dead?  I have seen what some deaths do to contort the faces of people.  Some have been unrecognizable.  Sorry, that's not for me.  I didn't like being stared at in life either.  Introverted to the end.  I guess if you want to see me, catch me now.

I opt for cremation because I am not too keen to have my body liquefy and become a smouldering anaerobic exploding mess in that casket.  It's not pretty.  Let's just skip it.  

There is a p
lot at Pope Creek Church cemetery in Seaton next to my folks that will do nicely for whatever remains of me.  I have toyed with the idea of small baggies of my ashes going to a number of places that meant something in life.  Maybe the grounds of Mary Davis or the hills around Denver where Jan and I had a meadow picnic.  Maybe the Seaton ball diamond.  Forget Florida, please.  One real possibility is the NHCC.  Maybe a nice small jar sitting on a shelf overlooking things might be nice.  Anyway, I haven't got that part all worked out yet.  No flowers, no Bible verse readings, no need to take a day off or skip that ballgame on TV.   I'm thinking a couple hours at the Club or Beer Bellies where the beer is on me, or rather the estate, such as it is.  Come on in, order a cold one, think charitable thoughts and leave it at that.    

Well, that's basically it.  It's not all about the money, although that is a large factor.  I do not see the need to spend thousands on a casket that will be seen for about three hours, then shoved into a fancy vault that will never be seen since its already in the ground.  Its rather obscene, really.  My kids or grandkids can have much more valuable use to those funds than the poor beggars in funeral industry.  Its also my natural inclination to just do it all quietly, away from the limelight, and recognize it would be a small affair anyway.  I don't have a large entourage - mine is small but solid.  Please don't shed tears for the undertakers should I decline to take advantage of their full, traditional services.  My little meager act of defiance won't affect them in the slightest.  The funereal machine is greased and ready to take someone else's money.

When it is all said and done stop by Pope Creek sometime.   

And if you hear a bell near my grave, shut your damn cell phone off, I'm trying to sleep.