Posted in Encouragement

Sometimes

Last evening, Robert and I headed over to Big Bon Pizza in the hip Starland District of Savannah. (Being so hip myself, I like going to hip locations. As long as my right hip cooperates.) After voraciously enjoying their WONDERFUL hot-outta-the-brick-oven pizza …

… the Universe spoke to me as I waddled past Big Bon Bodega/Big Bon Pizza’s sandwich board:

An enlightening message I most definitely need to heed much more often!

(Even with the comma issue. 😩 Retired English professor.)

Here’s my mental activity as I continued waddling to the car:

Now isn’t that better?

Wait a second! Halt the waddling! Did I really just proofread and edit THE UNIVERSE?!

Posted in Throwback Thursday

Neal‘s Post from the Past: “Merry Autumn”

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Fall is most definitely my favorite season of the year.  Even with its touch of “summer’s over” melancholy, autumn slowly paints the world with warmly joyful colors, smells and scenes.  The season makes me feel energized and ready to start anew (maybe partly because I’m a retired educator and still connect fall to the new school year).

Autumn wants to make us pause and smile.

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Here’s a terrific poem, by late 19th century poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, which shows fall’s happy face.  Read it out loud to feel, as well as see and hear, the words.

Merry Autumn

It’s all a farce,—these tales they tell
About the breezes sighing,
And moans astir o’er field and dell,
Because the year is dying.

Such principles are most absurd,—
I care not who first taught ‘em;
There’s nothing known to beast or bird
To make a solemn autumn.

In solemn times, when grief holds sway
With countenance distressing,
You’ll note the more of black and gray
Will then be used in dressing.

Now purple tints are all around;
The sky is blue and mellow;
And e’en the grasses turn the ground
From modest green to yellow.

The seed burs all with laughter crack
On featherweed and jimson;
And leaves that should be dressed in black
Are all decked out in crimson.

A butterfly goes winging by;
A singing bird comes after;
And Nature, all from earth to sky,
Is bubbling o’er with laughter.

The ripples wimple on the rills,
Like sparkling little lasses;
The sunlight runs along the hills,
And laughs among the grasses.

The earth is just so full of fun
It really can’t contain it;
And streams of mirth so freely run
The heavens seem to rain it.

Don’t talk to me of solemn days
In autumn’s time of splendor,
Because the sun shows fewer rays,
And these grow slant and slender.

Why, it’s the climax of the year,—
The highest time of living!—
Till naturally its bursting cheer
Just melts into thanksgiving.

— by Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Posted in Life and Death

The October Rose: Sorta Sad, Sorta Not, but More Sorta Sad than Sorta Not

Morning walking in Savannah’s Forsyth Park the other day led us, almost Alice-in-Wonderland-ishly, into the little old, hidden-away, walled and overgrown Fragrant Garden. I knew it was there, having walked by the usually locked entrance hundreds of times. But I had forgotten it.

I was pleasantly surprised to see from just inside the gate how many roses were still in bloom. Dozens of bursts of color. Isn’t Halloween nearly here? And the bushes were standing so beautifully tall! Proud, regal.

I was taken aback at my sudden jolt of happiness. And I thought of what my buddy Anne (you know, of Green Gables) told me one time: “Neal, I’m so glad we live in a world where there are Octobers.” What a perceptive young lady.

But (and just for the record, if you think about it, whenever someone says “but,” the words that follow are often not the most uplifting) my Fragrant World smelled a little less joyful as I realized that the bushes were so very tall because they had not been pruned nor tenderly cared for. And looking more closely, I saw that most of the blooms were beginning to lose petals, droop a bit and some were even whispering an elegantly tortured “goodbye.”

Fall has forever been my favorite season. Autumn isn’t so childishly young as spring, doesn’t exude summer’s arrogance, thinking itself so very hot. And fall doesn’t give you the icy stares and cold shoulders of winter. Fall is gorgeously colorful and aroma-therapeutically delicious.

But fall is also, of course, the season that recognizes, even blatantly exposes, her mortality as those leaves drift earthward, and annuals lose their colors and die, while the last rose of summer falls from her heights to the untilled soul in the Fragrant Garden.

Sad but a part of the universal cycle.

Celtic Woman expresses the sentiment beautifully in their rendition of Irish poet Thomas Moore’s 1805 poem, “The Last Rose of Summer.”

Posted in Humor, Neal's Writing, New, Savannah Joy, The Joy and Wisdom of Children, Transition, Uncategorized, Where Happiness Finds You

The Bear and the Unicorn

For my recent suxteee-seckth birthday, I celebrated with my big ole’ modern family …

… at Savannah’s Tequila’s Town restaurant in Sandfly.

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(Seriously?  Can you believe they come hooting “Happy Bday” laden with tequila for the celebrant!  Even though I had my large head prepared for an oversized sombrero and some flan.)

Post-tequila I received some neat gifts, but perhaps my Favorites came from five-year-old grandtwins Madison (inappropriately pictured above next to the tequila) and Matthew. Their mom let them pick out their gifts for me.  Madison gave me a pink unicorn in a love mug …

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…while Matthew opted for a brown bear that actually smells like chocolate when you rub it vigorously!

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(Matthew is in an over-smiling-for-the-camera stage.)

Oh, they also each got me a large skein of yarn–yellow from Madison and green from Matthew.  Not that I knit (who has the patience for that?!), but because they like to unravel the yarn, make giant spiderwebs and throw it all over the furniture and each other.

Thus, inspired by the tequila, when I got home I opted for a quick photoshoot to document my suxteee-seckth.

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Moral of Story:  the strangest little gifts ofttimes make for the biggest shots of … Joy.

Posted in Holiday Joy

A Most Awesome Father’s Day & Night!

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I hope your Father’s Day (and night) 2015 has been a peaceful and joyful one.  Mine was/is.  Spent time with both daughters and all four grandies.  What a blessing to have them all in my Savannah.  My cards:

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And an incredible Facebook post by older daughter Amy:

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“Happy Father’s Day to my very hip and high impact dad!  I am blessed to have a dad who taught me to love without discrimination, to have joy in all circumstances, and who creates an environment of safety and acceptance where I am free to develop into my best and truest self.”

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What a Difficult and Unparalleled Joy Fatherhood is!

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Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers — 5/22/15

MAY — an incredibly joyful month, don’t you think?

Five Reasons for Happy:

1.  An early morning walk along the McQueens-Tybee Island trail (between Savannah and Tybee Island–10 mins from my apartment).

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2.  Grandson Daniel in his end-of-year Who Am I? Research Biography presentation.  (He was Paul McCartney, btw.)

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(Okay. okay, maybe I helped him a little with the tri-board.)

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(He could only get such coolness from his grandfather.  Seriously.)

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The kids had to explain their research, poster-board-presentation-style, to the folks in attendance.

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They do that kinda stuff nowadays in 2nd Grade?!  Research?!  All I did in 2nd grade was spend a year of trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to stop crying for mama.

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3.  Being a judge for the 2015 Savannah Authors Anthology.  Such fun!

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(I want to be a judge … full time.  And get paid.  Exorbitantly.  Call me if you or yours need high-end judging.)

4.  Getting 2015 Beach Ready.

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5.  Seafood at Safe Harbor in Mayport, FL.  (After taking the ferry across the St. John’s River on the south end of Amelia Island.)

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Safe, Joyful Weekend ahead to you all!

Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers (10/31/14)

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It’s All Hallow’s Eve!  (Wasn’t it just July 4th last week?)  And I am spookily happy.  Seriously.  Here’s why.

1.  Yesterday going to my grandtwins’ nursery school and carving a Jack O’ Lantern.  Here it is:

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Okay, that’s a lie.  I took that pic near my place in historic district Savannah.  Here’s the one I did:

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Sorry but that’s a lie as well.  (Is that a bat?)  Here’s mine:

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For more decades than I care to mention, my Jack O’Lanterns have looked EXACTLY the same.  But what fun with Matthew and Madison and their little classmates.

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2.  Speaking of pumpkins, here’s my dinner Wednesday night–Butternut Squash Soup in Pumpkin Bowls.

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Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Gourmet heaven.

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3.  The Savannah Film Festival this week, hosted by my SCAD–Savannah College of Art and Design.

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Such fun.

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What incredible films I saw, including a fascinating documentary about Summerville, GA artist Americana Howard Finster and a mesmerizing selection of short films from Ireland.

4.  Singing with James Brown in Augusts, GA.

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We’re belting out “Papa’s Got a Brand new Bag,” followed by “Make it Funky.”

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5.  The joy of holidays.

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Happy, Happy Halloween to you all!

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Posted in Humor

Sometimes I Get What I Deserve

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So today I ate lunch at Savannah’s hip Green Truck Neighborhood Pub on Habersham Street near Victory.

Here’s how the story went down.

As some of you know, I no longer bring meat into the house–it’s all vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds there.  But I occasionally indulge while eating out.  And for some some reason, today I had an all-too-powerful-to-ignore-or-resist hankering for a hunk of grilled meat.  So I pulled up to the Green Truck, bellied up to the bar to avoid the table wait and ordered the  Green Truck Classic Burger, described in their menu as “plain and simple as an old truck: lettuce, tomato, onion and our soon-to-be-famous house-made pickle.”  (I added cheddar.)

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Yum.  No, double yum!

I kept furtively looking around to see if any of my vegetarian friends might have followed me inside.  I was nervously poised to slam my meaty plate in front of one of the folks on either side of me at the bar.

Anyhoo, I savored every moment, every bite.  (Do Not Tell Anyone About This!  It’s Just Between You And Me.)

Well, when I finished, (and be forewarned, the rest of the story is probably TMI, so stop right now, if you like, and you will still have my burger story), I went to the non-gender-specific bathroom–I’m so 2014– before waddling back to the car.

There was the coolest retro sink inside.

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And the typical cabinet.

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But for some reason I glanced at the cabinet again …

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… and thought, “I wonder what’s in that little cabinet?  And if the contents are also non-gender-specific?”

(P.S. When inviting me to birthday or Avon parties, put some of those plastic child resistant lock things on your cabinets.  I’ve never been able to figure them out.)

So, of course I reached up and opened the cabinet door.  Wouldn’t you?  No?!  (I also opened a door in a huge hallway in the Biltmore House in Asheville some years back, and a piercing alarm went off, terribly embarrassing my family and friends.  Me?  When things like that happen, I just try to go to my Happy Place inside and block out externals.  There might have been an “Alarm Will Sound” notice on the door, I can’t remember, but really, how often would the Biltmores have changed the batteries?)

Lo and behold, an alarm of sorts also went off when I opened the cabinet door inside the Green Truck’s non-gender-specific bathroom.  Here’s what was scrawled on the inside of the door:

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I walked out of the bathroom beet red.

(P.S. II:  I was so taken aback by the message that I completely forgot to see what was inside the cabinet.  If someone wouldn’t mind, would you rush over to the Green Truck, pretend to have to use the bathroom, and snap a pic or two of the inside of that cabinet so I can go to sleep tonight?  Thank you.)

Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers — 9/11/14

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Summer is slipping away.  Can you believe that Sept 22 is the First Day of Fall?!  Would someone please tell Savannah’s daily temperatures that bit of info?

1.  Even though it caused a catch in my throat, seeing the pics my daughter Emily sent of the grandtwins yesterday morning — September 11.

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2.  Actually borrowing an egg from my next door neighbor.  (Is it okay to still do that?)

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(Of course she put the egg in a cute tiny bowl she found in Italy.)

I paid Vivian back with some Werther’s Originals–Chewy Caramels in the same bowl.  (Is that normal?)

3.  This green lion who (which?) lives nearby in Savannah’s historic district.

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4.  Taking four-year-old grandson Gabriel to his first-ever tennis lesson.

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Looking back at me, “Abu,” to make sure I’m watching.

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5.  And speaking of Gabriel, when I picked him and brother Daniel (7) up from school yesterday, G told us that he made a BIG picture of Batman in pre-K art class.  When we got to his house, of course we hung it in the dining room.

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After a few minutes, big brother Daniel, after pointing out that Gabriel had spelled Batman with an M (Matman), said to me, “Matman sure looks like a monkey to me.”

Gabriel screamed, “IT’S BATMAN!”

Happy Friday Folks!