Monday, July 31, 2017

"A Lazy Day" by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Recently, Poem-A-Day featured this lovely poem by one of my favorite poets.

"A Lazy Day"
By Paul Laurence Dunbar

The trees bend down along the stream,
Where anchored swings my tiny boat.
The day is one to drowse and dream
And list the thrush’s throttling note.
When music from his bosom bleeds
Among the river’s rustling reeds.

No ripple stirs the placid pool,
When my adventurous line is cast,
A truce to sport, while clear and cool,
The mirrored clouds slide softly past.
The sky gives back a blue divine,
And all the world’s wide wealth is mine.

A pickerel leaps, a bow of light,
The minnows shine from side to side.
The first faint breeze comes up the tide—
I pause with half uplifted oar,
While night drifts down to claim the shore.

(Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in 1872, in Dayton, Ohio. His collections of poetry include Lyrics of Love and Laughter (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1903) and Poems of Cabin and Field (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1899). “A Lazy Day” was published in Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1905). He died in 1906. You can subscribe to poem-a-day at Poem-A-Day.)

Friday, July 28, 2017


So a friend of mine was carrying a little bag at lunch, and I made a joking remark about how lovely his alligator purse was.

"It's not a purse," he said. "It's a tactical bag."

"Oh," I said, admiring the marketing geniuses who had come up with a way to sell traditionally feminine things to men. "It must be a handy way to carry your tactical lipstick and tactical perfume."

Which is why I finished the meal alone.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Unsent Letter

Dear Fitness Coach,
Yes, I know exercise is good for us. In fact, there are few things I enjoy more than a good, brisk nap.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Inuit poem

I love this poem. It's quoted at the end of the movie Never Cry Wolf.

I think over again my small adventures,
My fears,
Those small ones that seemed so big,
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach;
And yet there is only one great thing,
The only thing,
To live to see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world.

- Anonymous (Inuit, 19th century)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Wedding ceremonies are always so happy. It's the years afterward where people seem to run into trouble. At least at the ceremony, you get cake.

Monday, July 24, 2017


So many of my friends have beards now, and I don't think it looks good on the women at all.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Saw a t-shirt the other day that read: "Been there, done that."
Mine would say: "Been there, done that, didn't learn, did it again, still didn't learn, repeated it a few more times because I have all the vast intelligence of gravel, Lord help me."
Not as pithy, though.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Unsent Letter

Dear Friend,
Whenever I'm burdened with sorrow, you're beside me.
Whenever I struggle with life, you're beside me.
Whenever I'm hurting, you're beside me.
I think it's time we faced the truth: you're a troublemaker.
Cut it out.

Friday, July 21, 2017

I Want a New Drug

What I really want is the meds that the hosts on the shopping channels must be using. I just saw a woman shout with joy over a new mop. No kidding.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


At night, when I'm in bed and the house is quiet and I close my eyes...I can't hear anything and I can't see anything. What? You were expecting wisdom at 1:12 a.m.?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

First Pomodoro

And we're off! I'm using a Pomodoro timer to time this writing. And what is Pomodoro? It's a time management technique where you work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, and then resume. Because it's so late, I will only go 25 minutes.

I've read a lot about Pomodoro. It sounds simple, but apparently a lot of creative people have found that it keeps their "muse" from becoming fatigued. I hate to use "muse" like that, but it's a shorthand expression that's too convenient. Thus does expediency encourage sloppy whimsy.

A few of my author friends work by schedules. I've always admired that. I find my mind wanders a lot. I suspect I have ADHD, but I've lived with it this long. I prefer to think it's simply my brain being busy. I hate that it decides to be busy at night so consistently. I would like more sleep. I have been taking naps sometimes, but I can never seem to time them correctly. Either I sleep too long and wake up feeling terrible or not enough and receive no benefit. Naps require skill.

Even as a kid, I wasn't a napper. I wanted to be up and looking around. A lot of things needed my attention. Sleep? Who needs sleep?

Well, I do. And most of America does. According to the experts, despite our time-saving machines and routines, we're getting less sleep than any prior generation. I wonder if it has to with all the screens we look at: TV, computers, tablets, iPads, phones, etc. I wonder this even as I look at a screen as I type this.

Supposedly, the blue light of our screens disrupts our sleep patterns. According to Scientific American: "The light from our devices is “short-wavelength-enriched,” meaning it has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light—and blue light affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin more than any other wavelength." You can adjust your screen to emit more red light at night. They say it helps.

Anyway, I was determined to try out writing in 25 minutes intervals today. Time got away from me, as it often does, but I decided I would put in at least one 25 minute writing period before heading off to toss and turn.

Now, I'm thinking about all the power strip and clock and TV lights in my room. I might start covering them up. They seem bright when I wake up in the middle of the night. I wonder if anyone has ever studied the effect they have on sleep. I know they use more electrical power than we think. Many studies have shown that standby devices consume significant amounts of electricity. Same studies say we should have everything on power strips so we can turn them off at night. I would, but they have clocks on them. I might have to figure out a way to power the clocks separately from the other devices. Funny thing though, my power strips also have bright lights on them.

We live in a world of light these days. So much so that many people have never seen the Milky Way. Or rarely do. Even in my small town, there's enough light to obscure many of the stars. One of my friends is an amateur astronomer, and he drives out into the country and uses special filters on his telescope to attempt to compensate for the artificial light flooding the sky. I know professional astronomers have attempted to get cities to use special lights and shields so that the light is aimed at the ground instead of the sky. They have only had limited success. It would be great if every town and city did so, but that takes money and municipalities have plenty of other issues that need money and attention.

Well, my time is up. I will be using Pomodoro more, if only to give it a proper evaluation. For tonight, I'm ending this here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


My hairstylist has decided that she now wants to be known as my magician. And I must say that she dyes my scalp better than anyone else.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Unsent Letter

Dear Fitness Coach,
With complete sincerity in  your voice, you just told me that someday I would enjoy these punishing workouts. Listen, a man who can lie like that should go into politics. You're a natural for Congress!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Unsent Letter

Dear Fitness Coach,
I read your health plan for me: "Exercise daily. Eat right. Get enough sleep." Humph. I didn't know I would be doing all the work.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Limit of Logic

My therapist: Any problem can be solved if you apply logic to it.
Me: There's this woman that...
My therapist: Oh, no, I didn't mean you can apply logic to women.
Me: Hm. Ooookay.

Friday, July 14, 2017


So I went to dinner with a couple who had just returned from their honeymoon (his second marriage and her third) and they went to an island, which sounded wonderful...white beaches, palm trees, great service, the emerald ocean.

And I said, "Show me your pictures."

The wife glanced at her husband and said, "You wouldn't be interested."

"No, I love vacation photos," I said, which is true. I am a great armchair traveler.

The husband shrugged, messed with his phone, and then handed it to me.

I put on my glasses and looked at the first photo. Then I took my glasses off and handed the phone back as my face and ears began to glow Rudolph red while they laughed.

It turns out that my friends are closet nudists.

I've had some awkward moments in my life, but I do think that is a particularly notable one.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


I'm reading this news story, and I come to last word of this sentence: "His admission about his New Zealand citizenship opened the possibility that the Commonwealth could pursue him to pay back years in salary and allowances, but Mr Ludlam said he was confident that would not eventuate." Eventuate? EVENTUATE? What in the name of Strunk and White is that?

Oh, I know it's a word. A word which I will never use and which arouses in me a true sense of revulsion.... Imagine, by the way, Hannibal Lector saying what I just said. That's the voice I used in my head.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Unsent Letter

Dear Insomnia,
I always try to be a gracious host. I figure if someone makes to my house through the warning signs over the moat past the dogs under the razor wire, then they should be welcomed if only to lull them into a false sense of security before I send their sorry hides packing. However, you are here and should leave. Remember what Ben Franklin supposedly said about house guests: "Fish and visitors smell after three days." You're reeking like a Congressman's promise now.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Unsent Letter

Dear Naps,
I need to apologize to you. As a child, I fought you terribly. You were my sworn enemy, and I vowed I would utterly defeat you when I was older. Well, I'm older now. As it turns out, you're awesome. I was wrong and welcome you now. Just thought you should know. Hope you will forgive me.

Monday, July 10, 2017

A good thing

I did a good thing. I stepped outside briefly, and three mosquitoes landed on me. I did the noble thing and helped them back into the karmic circle of life so that they can be reborn as a higher life-form on their journey to Nirvana...or I squashed them. Take your pick.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Of course

Of course, there are lot of people with anxiety disorders these days. It just makes sense. Have you watched the news lately? Just the morning report is enough to give the Pope the shudders.

Saturday, July 08, 2017


A friend was telling me how good her five mile run made her feel, and so I asked if it was as good as hot peach cobbler topped with vanilla bean ice cream.

There was a long pause, and then she said, "No. And I hate you."

Friday, July 07, 2017

Child proof

I had to open a new bottle of meds tonight, and it had one of those child proof lids.... Apparently, I'm a child. But I'm a child with a hammer. I think Houdini himself couldn't have got into it.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Bon chance mon ami!

My therapist is actually leaving the therapy field. It's so sad. His other patients must have been really tough on him. Why, sometimes he would weep during our sessions after a hard day of talking to them. Poor guy, I hope he's happy as a long haul trucker.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017


Have you heard of the elephants graveyard? Where the elephants all supposedly went to die? Apparently my entry way is the roly-poly graveyard. Where are they coming from and why are they coming here to die? I give them a respectful burial as long as you define "respectful" as being being sucked up by a vacuum, which I think most of us do.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Happy July 4th!

Yes, we have problems as a nation -- and what nation since the dawn of time has not? -- but I'm proud to be an American, blessed to live in this diverse and amazing nation, humbled by the sacrifices of those who have given their lives to keep us free, and excited when looking forward to our future. The naysayers and political pundits like to highlight our shortcomings, conveniently ignoring our past and continuing accomplishments. We truly have changed the face of the world, and although we have made grievous mistakes, we have also been an unrelenting force for freedom and liberty. God has blessed us immensely, and may He continue to do so! Happy Fourth of July!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Future needs

I think a robot car would be nice. I could nap or watch movies. People get upset when I do those things now while driving.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Pastoral visits

I have always found a great way to see my pastor is to be in some totally innocent, but seemingly compromising situation that I can never adequately explain. Although I really think he's used to me now. At least he doesn't toss holy water on me anymore. Which was quite refreshing at times.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Scene from the End of One Story

"Scene from the End of One Story"
By Stephen B. Bagley

...This is how one story ended...

Eve walked into Milligan's with her friend Bette, and as always, her eyes searched the restaurant for his shoulders and that ratty leather jacket and his soft worn hat that felt like velvet when she touched it. For seven weeks, she had searched all their places. The coffee shop, the bookstore, the library, the pier, the Seafood Shack. But Jeremy had disappeared from her life.

She didn't know how to live without him, but she was trying to learn how. She took a gym class, went out to movies with Bette and her other friends, and focused on work, turning out reports with an efficiency that even her boss noticed. A couple of guys--Kevin from Sales and Joel from Receivables--asked her out, and she said yes. Nice enough dates, and she had enjoyed them. Kevin even made her laugh, and Joel was sweet. But she kissed them good night at the door.

Bette threaded her way through the crowd, looking for a table. Eve followed, wondering when she would stop feeling that pit in her stomach when she didn't see him. She stumbled and caught herself on the edge of a table. The men seated at it smiled at her. She apologized, backed away, turned toward Bette, and saw Jeremy.

He didn't see her. He stood by a table talking to two other men. The crowd closed between them, and she lost sight of him. For a moment, she paused, feeling her heart beating hard. Then she pushed forward, leaving Bette behind, weaving her way forcefully toward her last chance.

"Jeremy," she said.

He turned and saw her. He started to smile, but it faded away.

"Eve," he said. "How are you?"

"Fine," she said. But that wasn't what she meant to say. She meant to say she was falling to pieces, her heart broke, her life in shambles, but the words wouldn't come.

"Where's Ben?" he asked.

"I don't know," she said. "Back with his wife, I guess. We're not together."

Jeremy nodded. "Sorry to hear that."

"I broke up with him," Eve said, wanting him to understand. "I sent him away. I remembered what you said. 'If he cheats on his wife, why wouldn't he cheat on you?' I should have listened."

"He cheated on you," Jeremy asked with a flash of anger in his voice.

Surely that meant something, she thought. "No, but I realized he would. I realized the love of his life was him." She laughed.

Jeremy took a deep breath. "Well, I'm sorry to hear things didn't work out. It's good to see you. I've got to go. I'm leaving New York in a couple of days. I have a lot of packing still to do. Got a job in Boston."

"Oh," she said. "Boston. Good. Good. Is it one you wanted?"

"It's a job," he said. "I've always liked Boston." He grinned. "Great clam chowder."

She laughed to keep from crying out. He's moved on, she thought. He's moving away.

"It's good to see you," he said. "You look...beautiful." He smiled. "Well, take care. Tell your parents I said hi."

"I will," she said. "You take care. Enjoy that chowder."

And he walked away while she stood in a crowd of strangers and she realized that would be her life--to always be alone in a crowd.

"No!" she said. She took three quick steps and grabbed his arm. "Jeremy, wait."

He turned back, his face surprised. "What?"

She couldn't find the words.

"What, Eve?" he asked again. "I need to go."

"Okay," she said. "Can we talk outside? Just for a minute."

He looked down at the floor. "I don't think that would be a good idea. Don't you think we've hurt each other enough? I can't take any more."

She swallowed. "Just for a minute. I need to tell you a few things. It won't take long."

He took a deep breath. "For a minute."

They found a bench in the tiny park across the street.

"Well," Jeremy said. "What do you want from me, Eve?"

"Nothing," she said, but her heart called her a liar. "I needed to apologize."

"No," he said. "No. I don't want to do this."

"Please," she said. "I just wanted to know how sorry I was. How I would give anything to go back and fix things."

"Eve, we're--"

"I know you're not in love with me anymore," she said. "I know we can't go back. And that you don't want to. You've moved on. Good. I'm glad. I want you to be happy." She could feel the tears behind her eyes threatening to overflow. "I wanted you to know I will always want the best for you."

He looked away.

She wiped her eyes. Time to go. Time to walk away. Time to let him walk away. Time to face the bleakness ahead. She needed a few moments to gather her strength.

He stood and took a couple steps away. She wanted to weep, but she didn't. This was the result of her decisions. She had made them, and she would live with them. She had enough courage to do that.

She rose. "I'd better let you go. I'm sorry if I hurt you."

He turned, his face shadowed. "I'm at a place in my life--"

"You don't have to explain," she said. "I understand." She shook her head and wiped her eyes. "We had something lovely, and I broke it. I didn't mean to. But I guess that doesn't mean a thing. I wanted you to know I miss you. Oh how I do."

"Let me finish," he said. "I'm at a place in my life where there are more good-byes than hellos. More people lost than found."

She watched him, almost afraid to breathe.

"Comes with getting older," he said with a short laugh. "You can't imagine how...lost I've felt without you. How empty. But then I saw you with him, and I was angry. It was better to be angry than empty. But now...."

He was silent for longer than she could bear, but she bore it anyway. Please God please, she prayed. Another chance and I won't blow it. Please oh please.

"Too many goodbyes," he said finally. "Not enough hellos. I don't want that for my life. I don't want to tell you goodbye." He looked at her. "Hello. How are you? I missed you. I missed you."

She sobbed and launched herself into his eager arms.

...This is how one story ended and a new one began...

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thanks for reading.)