Sunshine on my Shoulders

“Slurring is the cursive of speech…” 

― Amor Towles, Rules of Civility

By god it’s easy to forget how amazing Karen Carpenter was. An angel. Rainy Days and Mondays’ was playing when I walked in. Listening to her while reading NY Times coverage of the latest shooting in Texas makes me want to take a bottle of tequila under a table and cry.

It seems we spend a good part of our early life trying to run away from where we’re from–and the last part of it trying to get back.  Restitution of sorts. Perhaps. Or so it seems to me. This is on my mind as I finish up the move to a house right across the street from my parents. I left home at 18 and never looked back–visiting only once or twice a year for 35 years. Then, a first cautious step back a few years ago–moving to within a hundred miles or so. And now the full return to the family circle.

I never had a hesitation about family–it was the region. I loved the West and returning to midwest wasn’t on the radar. But alas. I remembered that where you live is far less important than who you spend time with. So all is well.

Summer is upon us. Or at least solid Spring with a hint of summer. We are in Missoula as of yesterday. For rugby and comaraderie and to just to remember what spring in the West feels like.

I really hate moving—says the guy who has moved 27 times in 40 years. I hired a freshman kid to help me. He was all I could get because it was prom night and so the kids were scarce. Liddell was a decent hand for 16 years old. He didn’t talk much and carried a few boxes. He’d never heard of Nelson Mandela though, which depressed me. Perhaps par for the course for a kid educated in a small country high school that likely puts the liberation of 42 million Africans in the CRT bucket. Or something like that.

After the move, I was famished but of course the kitchen was mostly still in boxes and the Big Green Egg in the garage. So I old school’d some BBQ chicken on a homemade ground grill outside the back door. Delicious. The things we learn in Africa.

Just arrived in Boston after my Uber driver took me to the wrong hotel. A few miles away geographically but light years in style and neighborhood charm. I am out near the airport. But his GPS got confused and originally took us to a different Marriott in an idyllic beautiful downtown Boston neighborhood chock full of quaint restaurants. Alas I am now at the courtyard in-house pub with all the charm of a tired TGIF’s and a haggard old battle-scarred bartender who reminds me of Bart Simpson’s old aunts. Not a great welcome back to the city. But on the ole non-profit budget, compromises must be made. Not working for JP Morgan Chase anymore. Appearances matter here. JPMC is shameless.

To say that capitalism has run amok is a massive understatement. Obviously. Exxon Mobile, who recorded a record $56 billion profit in 2022, just set a new 1st quarter record of $11.4B in the quarter just ended. So we are making a handful of people phenomenally rich to destroy the planet. While a great many of the children in our country go hungry and without decent access to medical care or a proper education. But do not, under any circumstances, suggest those profits are obscene and should be taxed. That is socialism. 

BDR continues to inspire and awe. But it seems superfluous at this point to keep repeating it. I just knock on wood and pinch myself a few times a day. My own little Valhalla. 

It’s been chilly and rainy the past two days. Today might be a little better, although right now I cannot see the river for the mist. But we will make it a nice Saturday one way or another. Maybe a drive, or if the weather breaks, a decent hike. Maybe stain the remaining two interior doors or some of the remaining trim that remains native tone. But no hurries. It’s Saturday. 

Cooking ribs and chicken sausages, jalapeño poppers and baked potatoes. My song list somehow had James Brown immediately following Joni Mitchell.

Brittany and I met Kenny and Laura for dinner last night at the local country club/Elks Lodge. We had a nice dinner of spaghetti and salad and garlic bread and a few drinks. Laura, at one point just blurted out ‘I love drinking’. And I knew I had found my soul sister. I too love drinking. It’s not an easy thing to admit in public these days. We are told we should cut back and drink mocktails and do yoga everyday in some insane pursuit to live forever. So I loved her for saying that. We high 5’d and had a moment.

It’s tempting here to take pictures every minute of the day—the view along the river, backdropped by the mountains, changes each minute. Especially in the mornings and evenings as the light of the sun pushes mist up and down the valley and the light mutates. But there is never a bad scene. The storms are as lovely in their way as the green of the trees against a blue sky. The river itself exhibits a few dozen colors and shades of colors depending on the season, the rainfall, light, and other variables beyond my understanding.

In the week I’ve been here the leaves have appeared from the wooden branches through the magic of nature. Where there was nothing, there is now green all around. Where once I could just see the outline of my neighbors house across the canyon, 1/2 mile away, I now see only fully dressed forest.

Yesterday was a near perfect Saturday. I was up early and read some Towles and then wrote a bit on my re-write of SV2SA. Marti and I walked our 2.5 mile forest trek. Brittany and I and the Fox then took a nice hike in Pipestem State Forest—climbing the viewing tower for the 360 degree view of the mountains and forest. Marti was nervous being so high, and was glad when we descended. We drove around the park a bit then stopped at River Grill in Hinton and sat on the deck in the sunshine and watched the New River, swollen by recent rains, roll by. We had cold beers and each had a friend chicken sandwich that was surprisingly good.

After, we came home, I drove the jeep to the riverbed and cut some wood and then chopped it to fireplace size. Good honest backbreaking work. Then I hauled 900 lbs of sand in 50 lb bags to a pallet adjacent to the garage. A needed shower. A cigar and scotch by the fire. The neighbors dogs visited so Brittany loaded and cocked her BB gun but the dogs sensibly headed back down the hill before she was able to get a shot off. She takes protecting Marti seriously.

I baked a loaf of homemade bread and we ate delicious chili and fell asleep with the contentment of the exhausted.

Brittany and I did a photoshoot for a local PR gig last week. It was a trip. I got a little drunk, since I am not a professional model who can smile on demand and besides, why not. It was a hoot. We got some snacks and free drinks and danced and joked with the crew. It was at the Schoolhouse Hotel in White Sulphur Springs which is a very cool property—if they allowed dogs it would be a great place to stay. Instead we retreated to our reliable and very acceptable Escape Hotel in Lewisburg.

On the train now from Boston South Station to Worcester. Save the company a few bucks and besides I love traveling by train. And South Station has a good baker with an excellent ham and Swiss croissant that is worth the effort. 

We start integrated testing this week. Everyone is exhausted from the work required to get to this point and anxious with expectations of issues. Me included. Sleep will be scarce this week, but then we’ll be into it and we will settle in and do our jobs.

Before every rugby game, no matter how big or small or how important, I was always super nervous just before game time. Pacing in a circle, thinking about the game and my opposite number. But then the kick-off and the first contact and then I hunkered down and played. Testing feels like that. Just need some initial contact to settle in and see how things are going to go and course correct as necessary.

No other news of note. Glad the move is done. It will be my last. I am sure of it. Mostly sure. Just endeavoring every day to stay happy and loose and enjoy every sandwich — as our good friend Warren Devon liked to say.

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