…the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. —Ecclesiastes 9:11

……………………………………….

Nearly 50 years ago, I was driving home after visiting some friends. It was about 10pm on a warm summer night. There was a new moon so it was fairly dark as I rounded a small curve in the road. Suddenly, something grey appeared in my headlights. Before I could react, the grey flash ran in the path of my car. I heard a thump.

Looking in the rear view mirror I saw a rabbit limping to the side of the road.

I felt terrible for Jack, or Bugs or Roger, whatever his name was.

But what could I have done? I was only going about 30 mph and by chance the unfortunate leporid decided at that time and that place to run in front of me.

I thought about that event for weeks to come every time I rode past that section of road. I even looked in the adjacent field to see if I could find some trace of the rabbit I encountered that night. But, nothing.

Eventually, I forgot about the rabbit, until the other day.

As it happened, I was driving along Clayton road about 10 am on a beautiful spring morning, when I came upon a turtle crossing the pavement. He was in the middle of the road just on the painted stripe. Without thinking a whole lot about it, I stopped my car and got out. With a gesture of my right hand I directed the drivers behind me to stop also. To my amazement,  they did.

I walked up to the little reptile, as he plodded to get across the street. Picking him up,  I carried him to the side of the road and put him gently in the grass. He continued his slow march to who knows where.

Then, I got back into my car and traffic began to flow again as the turtle continued to plod along.

I don’t know what Aesop had in mind when he composed the fable of the Hare and the Tortoise, but my own tale of these two whom I encountered some 50 years apart makes me believe that chance and fortuitous circumstances have a lot to do with whether you win (or even finish) the race.

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Memorial Day

May 26, 2012

This past week, members of the 3rd Army regiment called The Old Guard, have placed hundreds of thousands of American flags at the gravesites of our nation’s fallen in Arlington National Cemetery and other military cemeteries around the D. C. area.

The tradition, known as “flags in,” has been conducted annually since The Old Guard was designated as the Army’s official ceremonial unit in 1948. Every available soldier in the Regiment participates, placing small American flags one foot in front and centered before each grave marker.

As part of this yearly memorial activity, Old Guard soldiers remain in the cemetery throughout the weekend, ensuring that a flag remains at each gravestone.

Of course, there are veteran’s cemeteries all over the United States, and many have flags placed at their gravesites, recognizing the soldiers and marines who are buried there. The day before Memorial Day, the Boy Scouts place thousands of flags on military gravesites at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in south St. Louis. There are also memorials such as the U.S.S. Arizona for the fallen to rest right where they died.

In addition, there  are memorial cemeteries overseas. They are in Europe, in France, Belgium, England, and Italy. They are in Tunisia, Africa and Manilla, Philippines and many other places around the globe. There are also countless thousands lost and buried at sea, when their ships went down or their planes crashed. These fallen have no flags on their graves but must be remembered by us as well.

War is so terrible, but these, our fallen young who died fighting in war are so precious.

We remember you all and may you rest in peace.

When I was a kid, nearly all of our meals were eaten at home. There were very few restaurants around, virtually no “fast food” establishments and there was no money for eating out anyway. The only “food truck” was the one driven by the ice cream man who came around ringing a bell to alert you of his arrival.

If I got my mother in a generous mood, I could nag her for 7 cents to buy a lemon ice pop.

The only other recollection I have of food on wheels was occasionally on a Saturday, my father would take me to the hot dog man who had this little trailer full of hot dogs and sodas. He parked off the highway a few miles from our house. There, I would get a hot dog and a coke…my “pay” for working in the yard all morning.

Well, now food trucks are all the rage, especially in the bigger cities. I suspect you can still get hot dogs, however, more exotic fare seems to be what people crave. Imagine, Lobster Thermidor or Chateaubriand out of a truck.

Well, the other day, Wendy called to say she spotted this GoGyro truck with a HUGE line and she was going to get some Greek food. She wanted to know if I wanted some too. Unfortunately,  I missed the call so she left a message which I did not get until later in the afternoon. After lunch.

The next day, I decided I was going to find out what all the hubbub was about, so I went over to the place where Wendy said the truck was parked.

No Truck.

I started to drive around looking for it, until I ran low on fuel, so I stopped and got gas; $50 in gas and I had not even eaten a gyro yet.

I called Wendy and told her the truck was not there.

“Dad, the truck moves to a new spot everyday! That is why it is a truck”, She admonished, “If you want,  you can follow it on ‘Twitter’.”

“I don’t care about any twitter”, I said. “How can they expect to stay in business if they keep moving everyday.”

I drove around for a few more hours without finding that damn truck, until I gave up and went home.

Calmly, in a kitchen without wheels, wishing it was a gyro, I made a tunafish sandwich.

Contemplation

May 17, 2012

Usually after I take Mikey for his walk, we stop at the contemplative bench for a while. It is an old stone bench that I rescued from the Brandenburg estate. I moved it (with great effort) to the nexus of the garden glade and the nature trail. Over the years, the bench has acquired an old world patina which adds to its calm aspect and meditative mood.

I like to sit there on the bench for a few minutes in quiet reflection while Mikey explores and sniffs.

Lately however, because of the gigantic Limb of Damocles above the bench, I have been contemplating less about the meaning of life or the existence of God and more about that limb falling and knocking me in the head.

Now, Fabiel assures me that the limb is solidly connected to the tree trunk and not hanging by some thin strand of horse hair. However, it is hard to think about the beginnings of the universe with the possibility of my own universe ending at any moment by some giant hunk of maple.

This bench/limb combination has become such a distraction that I have moved my contemplation activities to the rose garden gazebo. There sheltered by its well constructed Amish roof,  I am free to think to my wit’s end.

Mikey was a bit upset with the move at first, but I think he is OK with it since he discovered a mouse living under the floor.

The best of Baseball

May 14, 2012

Last week, my friend Mike called me.

Mike is a giant of a man who used to play football for a big ten university. Now,  he sells stocks and bonds for “The Bull” on wall street. We usually have lunch at the river city grill. That is the little river city on the Peace River not the big city on the Mississippi.

We always talk sports and that day,  he call to ask me if I wanted to watch the Stone Crabs play the Cardinals. Not the St. Louis Cardinals,  the Palm Beach Cardinals, the single A minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

I said sure.

I have been to a lot of professional baseball games, but I think I enjoy the minor leagues the best. First, the stadiums are much smaller and you get to sit closer to the field and the players. The players are for the most part young kids, except for the occasional Crash Davis.

The Charlotte Crabs’ stadium holds about 7000 fans as it is the spring training camp for the Tampa Bay Rays. The night we went, there were about 500 people there for the minor league game.

Another good thing about the minor leagues are the prices. Tickets cost about $7  with $2 hot dogs and $2 beers. We got to watch a great game. The Cardinal pitcher, a kid from the Domincan Republic was throwing 97 MPH fastballs for strikes.

How can you spend a better evening, beautiful weather, baseball and beer.

Cardinals beat the Crabs 7-4…and I bought a cool Crabs hat,

Happy Birthday, Mikey!

May 11, 2012

I have always had serious dogs. Dogs that let you know they were there to serve and protect. Last year when we lost GSD Kuno to cancer,  I was heartbroken and never thought I would have another dog in my life.

Then Mikey came along and we went from the sublime to the ridiculous. Mikey is a clown and makes me laugh everyday.

He is now three and celebrating his birthday WEEK… Happy Birthday Mikey!

 

Mikey and Oscar after a night of partying.

Acid irony.

May 7, 2012

Over the past 15 years or so, I must have grown 50-60 million pounds of oranges. I don’t know how much citric acid was produced by those oranges, but let’s just say , a lot.

So I was somewhat surprised when Dr. Pugil called me with the results of my 24 hour urine collection project.

Recall that was the time a couple of weeks ago when I thought I messed up the envelopes and sent my tax return to the lab and the 24 hours of urine to the IRS. Well, apparently, the post office got it right and the urine got to the lab and the tax return got to Washington.

Or, perhaps the IRS did some DNA analysis in an attempt to track me down!

Regardless, The results showed that my citrates were too low and that was permitting the kidney stones to develop. Well, you could have knocked me over with an orange peel. Apparently, just being around oranges does not provide you with citric acid. I had no idea.
Anyway, now I am sucking lemons, eating oranges and drinking their juice (with or without vodka) with reckless abandon.