Category Archives: Life

Happy birthday, Heidi

Today is my daughter’s 26th birthday. Although I have had no contact with her in over five years, I do want to wish her a happy birthday. Hopefully someone who knows her will see this and relate a message for me. It would be nice if she and I could get together and talk. Maybe we could resolve our differences and go back to talking again. I know her mother and her brothers would love for that to happen. They miss her probably more than ideal, and I miss her a lot.

Also, happy birthday to my niece Margaret, who is 45 today. She is my brother’s Tom’soldest firstborn, just as Heidi is my firstborn. Kind of a weird coincidence that they share the same birthday! What are the probabilities on that one? Anyway, happy birthday to you as well, Margaret.

Peace and love!
John you are

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The Barbarian

According to the Oxford English dictionary, the origin of the word barbarian is from “Late Middle English (in barbarous (sense 2)): via Latin from Greek barbarous ‘foreign’ + -ous.” Since I am technically a foreigner in America, that makes me a barbarian. I also am a barbarian by ancient heritage. I am descended from one of the Germanic tribes and one of the Slavic tribes, both of which are not Roman or Greek in origin. That certainly qualifies me as a barbarian, something I am very proud of.

 

The word barbarian has the same root as the word barber. Mostly, from the Latin word for beard. If you are a student of Roman history, you know the Roman men were pretty much always clean-shaven. It was only the “savage and primitive” tribes that the Romans warred against and usually conquered who had beards. Well, I have a beard. I guess I qualify as a barbarian on that count as well. 🙂

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A Voice Crying in The Wilderness

I did the original draft of this post close to two weeks ago, but decided to hold off posting it for reasons that will become clear as we go through the new version below. I want to dedicate this post to those former high school classmates who were on my Facebook “friends” list with whom I have had an interesting exchange of comments in the last week. I’m not going to name names. There is no need for that because the relevant parties will know who I am talking about, if they happen to read this.

 

The whole thing started over a week ago when one of my friends called me Bernard instead of Bernhard. You would think that someone that I went to school with for six years and whose brother I considered my best friend would know my name. At least he did not call me Bernie, which is the name that most people called me back in high school. That is the name I absolutely hate. Even my mother really disliked people calling me Bernie. She often asked me why I put up with it. I explained that I had tried to get people to call me Bernhard when we first moved to Willow Grove, PA, and I started attending North Willow Grove elementary school. That was an exercise in futility. Back in those days I did not enjoy banging my head against the brick wall, so I gave up and resigned myself to being Bernie. I also swore to myself that the first chance I got I would change my name to something people would have a hard time screwing up.

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Another Lone Crazed Gunman

That’s the expression one of my Facebook friends, and former high school classmate, used to describe and referred to the shooter in Las Vegas last week. I commented that we have far too many of them and that lone crazed gunman seem to be endemic to American history. We have an unnatural love affair with weapons, the more destructive and easier to use the better. This madman was not happy that his rifle was a semi-automatic. He bought a conversion kit to turn it into an automatic rifle. That’s why he could kill so many people in such a short time before taking his own life. It is apparent that this man put very little value on human life, both the lives of others as well as his own.

 

My friend Dan responded with the usual “gun control does not work because criminals will always be able to get guns.” I totally agree with that sentiment. I said, in my original comment, that we needed to make some drastic changes in the hearts and minds of humans. Apparently, Dan missed the point. So, I responded to his comment about gun control not being effective.

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Pigeonholes and Language

Yes! Yes! I know. It has been over a month since I have written anything on either of my blogs. Rest assured, I am well and doing fine. So, what was the problem? I guess you could say that the stream of creative juices slowed down to a mere trickle. I guess we all have spells like that from time to time. Unfortunately, it seems the older you get the more frequent the droughts are. I guess it’s just something I have to live with. The alternative does not excite me at all. I kind of do want to live forever.

 

I guess I’ve been a creative person, more or less, all my life. I took up acting when I was in kindergarten, but then did not do anymore until our junior class play way back when. I took one more stab at acting my senior year in high school. Doing “the Mouse That Roared” was one of the major highlights of my high school career.

 

I have also dabbled in the visual arts. I did cartooning starting in junior high school as the art editor for the junior high school newspaper. I did cartooning posters for my mother’s bakery shop back then as well. In my 20s, I took up photography rather seriously. I even did exhibits at several local art fairs. I still have a 35mm single lens reflex camera but have not used it in a very long time. My isolate just doesn’t permit me to do that anymore. I have never been much for cameras that do all the work. I do not like giving up creative control. However, I have finally given up and ordered a simple digital camera online that should be here next week. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make that one work and you all will see an occasional photograph on this blog and on my Facebook page.

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Oh Well

When I was in high school back in the mid-60s, my favorite rock groups were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, as well as the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons. When I went off to college in 1966, my taste in music changed. I became a huge fan of Bob Dylan, the Kinks and Fleetwood Mac. Not the Fleetwood Mac that became very popular 15 years later, but rather Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac. You see, although the band is named for the drummer and bass player, it was originally a Peter Green sub-band. How Peter lost that band is a very tragic story which I will tell in just a few minutes.

 

Fleetwood Mac from 1967 to 1970 was predominantly a blues band. In fact, had Peter Green not suffered his “tragic accident”, I think Peter would be discussed in the same breath with Eric Clapton as the greatest British blues guitarist. To see what I mean, click here. The first song you will hear is “Black Magic woman.” Most people associate that song with Santana hat I mean, go to YouTube and search “Fleetwood Mac live 1970.” But it was Peter Green who wrote this song and Fleetwood Mac who originally recorded it. To this day, Fleetwood Mac’s version is still my favorite version.

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The Great Pretender

Writing this post has been very difficult. I’ve rewritten it several times, which is something I don’t normally do. Normally I’d just write it and then let Michael edit it for me. But because of the emotional investment that this post requires, I have had a hard time putting my thoughts and feelings into words that make sense to anyone other than me. After all, isn’t that the goal of any writer worth his salt? Making his words make sense to his readers.

 

As some of you may know, I am now 69 years old. That is a lot longer than I thought I’d ever lived. I probably have spent more than 50 years of my life pretending to be someone I am not. Actually, I think a lot of this do that. No matter how much we pretend, there always is a core that is the genuine you or me. Sometimes that core gets so buried that you lose track of who you really are. That’s what happened to me. I spent so many years being one different me or another, that by the time I got to a point in my life where I could actually be myself, I really wasn’t sure who that was. It took me probably almost 20 years to really figure out who I was and to get rid of all of the sides I had accumulated over the first 40 years or so of my life. It is and has been the love of my wife Elizabeth that has made it possible for me to undergo a rather torturous and lengthy reconstruction of myself.

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Witchy Woman

In my previous post I mentioned that breaking up with Alice, my high school sweetheart, was the second worst day of my life. For those of you who know about my life a bit, obviously the worst day was the day my mother was killed in an automobile accident in January 1966. I talked quite a bit about that day on other posts, so I’m not going to spend any time on it today. What I want to talk about today is the third worst day in my life – the day my marriage to my second wife, Glenna, ended on a very ugly note.

 

My relationship with Glenna was rather unusual even for the 70s. We had an “open” marriage, that is, no required monogamy on either side. I reluctantly agreed to this condition for us to get married because I was so totally “bewitched” by Glenna. She truly was the most captivating woman I had ever met up to that point. What I did not realize until it was far too late was that what Glenna wanted out of life was far different from what I wanted. She wanted material security along with her freedom to do as she pleased, while I wanted a stable traditional marriage with lots of love, both physical and otherwise. Material security did not mean much to me then and it still doesn’t. My interests and passions are more, for the lack of a better word, spiritual than those of most people. By spiritual, I do not necessarily mean religious in the traditional sense. Rather, I am looking for something more mystical, more esoteric. I am looking not only for a physical union and a psychological union, which is pretty much the definition of a good traditional marriage. I am looking, and apparently have found, a soulmate: my present wife Elizabeth.

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Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me

There is something special about your first love. No matter how the relationship ends, you carry a torch for that person for the rest of your life. That is certainly true about my first love, Alice, who I met back in the summer of 1964. I had just finished my sophomore year in high school. She had just finished her freshman year at a different high school. We met at a district convention for Teenage Republicans of Pennsylvania, which was held at Valley Forge.

 

I really don’t remember how we actually met during that can convention. All I remember is spending most of the day with her. The reason I was at that convention was because I had been elected treasurer of the local TAR chapter. The guy who had just been elected its president was a friend of mine named Jack. He was a senior. He asked me if I wanted to go with him to the convention. I said sure. I really had nothing better to do that day. It turns out Alice had been dating one of the other members of my local club who did not go to the convention. His loss, my gain. 🙂

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In Memory of Greg Allman

For those of you who were never fans of the Allman Brothers band, the title of this post is a tribute to one of my favorite songs of theirs, “In memory of Elizabeth Reed.” The Allman Brothers were an iconic band for my generation. They were still playing together, with some new personnel, a few years ago. I saw them on TV (one of the music stations on cable) front a performance in 2013 or 2014. Given the fact that a number of the members of the band where into their 60s then, I doubt they performed all that often, which is way sad.

 

The Allman Brothers were basically a blues band. Greg was the lead vocalist and keyboard player. Boy, did he have the voice for the blues: kinda low and gravelly. The band has gone through more personnel changes over the last 50 years than even the Rolling Stones. Their first two losses there were the loss of Duane Allman to a motorcycle accident just when the band was getting popular. Duane also appeared on the Derek and the Dominoes album. It is his guitar that is at the forefront on “Layla.” For someone to outperform Eric Clapton is really doing something and Duane does on that song.

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