McCrory really does want dialogue (not)

McCrory on Meet the Press

McCrory on Meet the Press

The North Carolina Governor plainly told the nation, on ‘Meet the Press,’ that we need more dialogue.

“And let’s have this dialogue and I welcome that dialogue,” he said.

In another interview, he says, “What we need is dialogue, instead of threats. […] I see at the national level with presidential politics, I see even with this issue with the threats and the letters and the boycotts—I don’t see conversation. I don’t even see people reading things before they threaten to boycott. Why don’t we have a conversation?”

I wonder if he really means that — or what he means by that.

Skye Thomson, a transgender boy, says The Governor declined to have dialogue with him. This young man is still offering that opportunity to The Governor of North Carolina.

Open Letter from Trans 9th Grader to NC Gov. Pat McCrorySkye_Thomson.0

I’m thinking that dialogue, in McCrory’s world — the world of politics and getting re-elected — means that he hopes people will spend from now until the election talking about how right he is for being in favor of having separate bathrooms for men and women. It’s hard to disagree with that. What a dialogue!

And something else of high interest to our Governor:  What must it be like to be in the bathroom with a transgender person? A person whose genitalia does not match his or her appearance? The governor is quite interested in that — and he hopes all of us will be too.

These are fascinating dialogues.

A dialogue like that takes the attention off things like declining public education, declining higher education, unpopular and ineffective building of toll roads, inadequate minimum wage, loss of human rights, and the huge economic and cultural damage caused by legislation he has signed into law.

Not to mention the fact that North Carolina taxpayers are spending billions to provide health insurance to low income residence of other states, while half a million low income residents of McCrory’s state are denied health insurance, because he and the legislature have denied Medicaid expansion here. To heck with morality or dignity or humanity in matters of health, life, and death. Better to be right about that pesky Obamacare than allow care for the poor in his own state.

He also caused much pain to those who were already suffering when he cut unemployment benefits in 2013, at a time when North Carolina had an unemployment rate over 8% and workers here were pretty desperate.

We’re not talking about bad stuff that happened under his watch. Good and bad has happened under his watch. The governor is not all-powerful. He did not cause jobs to be lost.

But these things — real damage to public schools, state universities, state workers, economic development, providing health and well being for people, and cultural losses — these were not unintended consequences. These things are the result of a clear intention. These things happened because he caused them to happen as a direct result of legislation he signed.

Much has been written about the Governor’s hypocrisy (see The epic hypocrisy of Gov. PatMcCrory).  I’m saying that McCrory is telling the truth. He does want dialogue. He wants lots of dialogue, between now and the election.

And he wants that dialogue to be about bathrooms and human sexuality (fun stuff that anybody can talk about). And, although he won’t directly start it (he’s no Donald Trump), if he can frame the conversation such that a little hate speech for sexual minorities becomes the dialogue-du-jour between now and the election, he’ll welcome that kind of dialogue too.

It’s an excellent distraction from real issues that impact the lives of real people in the Tar Heel State.

It’s smart politics. It’s not a very noble way to govern a state that’s been pretty good to him.

Jackie Mudpie: The one who never left

jackie1

We rarely called her by her full name, Jackie Mudpie. She mostly went by Jackie, and sometimes Jack-Jack or Sweet Doggie, or various sounds like Doggie-woogie-beegie-baggie-boo.

Most people have a special voice they use for their dogs, and so did I. It’s a high tone that’s a little squeaky, a little weird, and full of affection — and it comes from a different place that’s reserved for objects of pure delight.

She had a long life for a dog and was a baby until the end.

She was a fast learner and messed the house only twice — on the first day we brought her home, and twelve years later, on her last day of life.

The day we found her is a vivid memory for all of us.

A few weeks prior, we had lost a dog in a tragic accident. The guy who mowed my parents yard had not shut the fence gate on departure, and the love of my daughter’s life, Honey, had raced onto Innes Street and been hit by a car.

jackie7In the days that followed, I took Emma to look at puppies and none were suitable. I begged her to settle on a puppy to ease the pain. There was no replacing Honey.

Emma was still in love with Honey and still too struck with grief to consider another dog, but my mom, like me, had other ideas. My mom was a person who knew what was best for her grandchildren, whether they agreed or not. And she was persistent — not one to lose an argument, even with a grieving eleven year old.

She persuaded Emma to keep looking, whether she wanted to or not, and insisted, one Saturday morning, that we take a ride to Albemarle. She had the address of a woman with a yard full of dogs that needed to be rescued.
As it turns out, the dogs did need rescuing, but the woman who lived in the house needed rescuing more. She was a stressed out mess with 50 dogs on her hands. People dropped them in her yard. She fed them bread from the day-old bread store. She begged us tell people about her, to send help, to get Mom to write an article about her and her plight.

Mom had not gone with us. Neither had Alicia. That task was assigned to my father, a man of action. Dad was the primary finder of things that matter: puppies, cars, shoes, houses, safe spaces. He drove, leading us on this adventure to Albemarle. I sat in the front. Emma sat in the back with Sarah, her older sister, her pillar and protector of all things emotional.

jackie2The place was depressing, with too many unhappy dogs, all begging for their freedom inside a maze of fencing. Emma proved that she was right. There was not a single dog on the property that could replace Honey. We turned to go home.

As we walked down the hill, toward the car, there was a puppy on the loose that seemed to appear from nowhere and somehow sprang into Sarah’s arms. Emma immediately joined the 3-way embrace.

Sarah shouted “Jackie.” Emma shouted “Mudpie” and the naming was thereby final, joyous, spontaneous, and complete: Jackie Mudpie.

Having survived a diet of bread, Jackie was sweet, frail, and grateful. She was anemic and walked with a limp. We thought she was a lab and hoped she would live.

I remember Dr. Almond’s smile as she advised us on bathing and brushing and other matters of care. She told us Jackie was a feist and gave us vitamins.

Alicia is quite skilled at nurturing young beings, and our new family member soon thrived.

Jackie never gave us any problems. Emma taught her to sit, shake, turn around, lie, come, and speak.

jackie3She would get on the couch and be petted by three or four people at once. In our house, Jackie was like the Beatles. She was the object of our over-the-top group affection.

We took a thousand pictures of her, trying, unsuccessfully, to capture her true essence. She was so black that she barely showed up in photographs.

We often walked her three blocks to my parents house to visit their dogs. My parents also had a cat. The first time Jackie tried to play with the cat, she got scratched on the nose. After that, when she saw the cat, she took cover behind a human being and cried.

Aaron was off at college. My father passed away. Sarah moved to Alaska. Emma went to college. Mom’s health declined and her life came to an end.

And then it was us, the empty nesters — Alicia, me, and the one who never left, Jackie.

She slept on our bed. Some nights, when we were up late, working, she would go upstairs around midnight and keep the bed warm and wait for us.

She took turns being with Alicia, while she worked in her office, and with me, in my office — until a few months ago. I don’t know why, but toward the end of her life, she stopped coming to my office (which has a separate entrance outdoors).

jackie6She had amazing bladder control. When we took day trips to visit Emma at college in Asheville, we made frequent stops for her to pee and no matter how much we coaxed, she would never go. Jackie was a bit of a private lady, and a creature of habit. She held it until she got home to visit her familiar bathroom spots in the ivy bed.

When we got chickens, she behaved herself, although sometimes she would chase them briefly, for a moment of fun and exercise. Sometimes, when they free-ranged, she would be naughty and enter the hen pen and eat their food — but she was all-in-all gentle and friendly with any and all living creatures.

She enjoyed walks, especially in the Catawba Nature Preserve, where she often went for a swim or momentarily sprinted after a vanishing deer.

Up until her arthritic end, she devoted her entire being to pleasing Alicia and me. She could still take a two mile walk, and, although it took maximum effort and sometimes a little help, jump up onto the bed.

But I knew the time was coming. I had given considerable thought to the location of her final resting place and had chosen a spot in the yard for that.

jackie5Alas, I didn’t expect it to happen the way it did. Somehow we talk about the future like we know it, and of course we never do and never could. It happened on a cold day of frozen ground, with earth too solid for me and my shovel and Jackie’s entry.

Her death came on Super Bowl Sunday. Very early, when it was still dark out, she wanted to go out. That was unusual. Once out, she did not want to come back in. Also unusual. We got her in and soothed her with our words as she lay on the couch, thinking she had eaten something bad. The last time that happened, the vet said not to give her any food for a day, and she got better.

I was hoping that was it — that she would throw up again and start to feel better. But I feared it was the end and said to her what I needed to say. I told her I loved her and thanked her for being such a great dog.

She didn’t get better. She started to cry. We called our vet, and then the emergency vet — who said to bring her in.

We loved her deeply, and she knew that.

Mostly she loved us. No one teaches the art of love and loss like a pet dog. What a gift.

On Sunday, we situated a blanket underneath her and carried her to the car, and, at the moment we gently laid her into the backseat, the one who never left, left.jackie4

Going to see ‘A Parie Home Companion’ and I’m Sorta excited

phcIn a few minutes, Alicia and I will be making the pilgrimage to see A Prarie Home Companion, in Brevard, NC.

That show begin a month after I graduated from high school, and I’ve been a fan since then.

My dad liked it, and I have a vivid memory of sitting in the car on trips and listening and laughing. After all, I was an English major, and Mr. Keillor has always had a knack for English major jokes.

I’m not much of a concert goer. I could count on both hands the number of I’ve been to in my life. I’ve been to more political rallies — and a whole lot more training and development weekends 🙂

But this is special. He’s retiring, and I’ve always wanted to go.

So this is just to say I’m pretty excited!

Conservative think tank workers cancel July 4th Vacations

novacationDeclaring this past week “an emergency,” conservative think tank thinkers have canceled July 4th vacations so they can use the time to come up with new ideas for the future of our country.

“We lost same-sex marriage, health care, and the rebel flag — all in one week,” said the head of RTTCTOA.

“And Obama looks a lot less Muslim now, after he sang Amazing Grace from the pulpit of a Christian church.

“It’s time to regroup. We have plenty of money with which to spread our ideas, but we need some new ideas to spread.”

Some of the ideas under development are

– Making Hillary Clinton look like a murderer

– Making Hillary Clinton look like a thief

– Making Hillary Clinton look like she’s brain damaged

– Making Hillary Clinton look old

“All of these ideas have potential, but they are underdeveloped. We need a comprehensive strategy, clear talking points, and a few rehearsals before we launch.

“It takes time to convert an idea into the truth. That’s why we’re working over the fourth.”

Scrum, chickens, and extra time

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two weeks trying to outsmart a clever flock of backyard chickens.

I did not succeed.

Humans have a long history of dominating these little creatures. We eat their eggs and eat them. We live longer, eat more interesting food, live more interesting lives, use languages, create science and art. So one could say that we are the superior species and I’m happy to report that in the end my will has prevailed.

chicken in hot weatherBut let’s back up.

The last two weeks have been very, very busy.

I work at home, which is great. I love it and I’m not complaining.

That said, I publish a paper 52 weeks a year and vacations are few and far between.

Two weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to take an eight day trip to Seattle. While there was some work involved, and two days of training — most of the time was spent enjoying ourselves and visiting with family.

However, on the plane, I listened to a very awesome book called Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time …

I was inspired. When I got home, I subscribed to a software service called Scrumdo.com. The system is designed for software developers. I’m not that — but I’ve applied the method to my own brand of madness, using it as a kind of ‘to do’ list and have, well, gotten a lot done…

I’ve done stuff around the house, accomplished tasks for the business, attended networking events, made progress on the writing of a screenplay, participated in a training and development program, and other stuff…

And I’ve also spent a lot of time dealing with something I was not planning on doing — trying to outthink a chicken!

It’s been a grand experiment, an adventure.

chicksOver the winter, our older, retired birds (who had not been laying eggs for some time) got even older, and died.

In the past, we got chickens when they were young — a few months old.

This time, I went with my daughter and her friend to Tractor Supply and picked out a shoebox full of iddy biddies — one day old chicks.

Alicia and I have been busily obsessed with the raising of these birds, and they have thrived.

At first, they pecked and chirped under a warming lamp in the house, then on the porch, and finally in the henhouse (with an extension cord and light to keep them warm). Next came warmer weather — no more lamp.

Finally, the day came when it was time to let them free range. We let them loose.

Such freedom. They were a joy to watch. It was fascinating to see them stick together. If one chick decided to dart across the yard and explore the area underneath a bush, the others scurried to join her. They were a tightly knit group — funny, adventurous, and entertaining.

chicken in a treeAnd then, a couple of weeks ago, the summer heat kicked in abruptly, early, and with a vengeance. The temps reached the upper 90’s and that’s where we’ve been each day.

One night, after sundown, when I went to close the door of the hen pen, they were not inside.

Moments later, I found them, high up in a tree (actually a large holly bush), enjoying the night air.

The next morning, they were eager to get back inside for food and water.

We punished them by leaving them inside for a week — a time of retraining.

The idea is that these chickens live in the hen house, lay eggs in the morning, free range and eat bugs in the yard during the afternoon, and return to their pen at night, so they’re in their proper place to lay eggs in the morning for our breakfast.

They are due to start laying in three weeks, and we need the routine in place NOW.

During their week in the hole, I replaced the door with a screen, and then upgraded to a shutter window, for ventilation.

Again, we let them free range.

I’ll spare you the drama, but after they spent that night in the tree (all together) getting them back in the henhouse was not as easy.

I ask you. How do they get to a height of 10 or 15 feet in a tree?

My assumption was that they flew there.

So we sentenced them to another week of captivity and then clipped their wings. It’s a two person job. I held the chicken and fanned out the wing while Alicia administered the feather cutting.

We’ve done this before, with past chickens, to keep them from flying over the fence. It does not hurt the chicken. It’s like a haircut. You only clip the feathers on one side. That way they can still fly — but they’re off balance and fly in a circle and can’t go high enough to jump a fence or, presumably, reach the upper branches of a large holly bush.

Last night, just before dusk, we gave these clipped fowl a few minutes of freedom.

My theory was this: During their week of incarceration, they had probably forgotten about the tree, and if even if they remembered it, it was already late in the day. They didn’t have time for a lot of exploring. They would stay close, and go to bed in their proper place at night.

And even if they did not feel the time crunch and wanted to try the tree shenanigans again, they would be hindered by their lack of balance.

I should have known. The past clippings never stopped them from jumping a fence.

They slept in the tree.

I spent much of today trying to coax them back into the henhouse.

They certainly remembered the clipping and took it personally. They held it against me. They were aloof. They kept their distance.

I gave them treats of pineapple and banana. I shook the can of cracked corn (Pavlov’s discovery is pretty obvious when you shake a can of cracked corn near a group of chickens. They will come running for it).

chickens in holly bushThe plan was to befriend and outsmart them. I’ve done it before. Lure them home, into the pen, and then come up with another plan.

They spent the day ignoring me and my treats.

They would eat the treats, but not the way I had in mind. I would throw out some corn and they would act oblivious, like they didn’t care. Then, when I walked away and looked back from a distance, they would enjoy the treats.

Manipulation, domination, and trickery did not work.

This evening, at dusk, I stood at attention, daring them to fly into the tree — and I got to see it. They weren’t flying into the tree. They jumped, one limb at a time — up, up, and up.

A couple of them (such good girls!) actually went to bed in their pen.

A couple of them roosted on branches I could reach. After dark, I grabbed them and put them to bed.

When it’s dark, a chicken is nearly blind and completely vulnerable (which is one of the reasons I don’t want them in the trees — for their own safety!).

Tonight, with Alicia shining a flashlight up into the tree, I was the one who was perched — perched atop a stepladder and still unable to reach these girls. So I bent the branches until I could grab a sleeping chicken’s foot and wrestle it off it’s comfy branch.

With one, rather than falling off a ladder, I had to pry its leg from the limb and drop it to the ground and chase it around the yard.

Like I said, a chicken is nearly blind in the dark — so while it wasn’t easy, I did have the vision advantage and finally chased it into the darkest of shadows and grabbed it.

Now they’re all in, where they are safe and have a modest sized run. It’s time for plan B, whatever that is.

So for the past two weeks, that’s my life. The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time… and spending that extra time trying to outsmart a chicken.

Responsibility cast and production team

 

I had an eventful Easter Sunday.

The Theatre Department at Lander University, in Greenwood, SC, put up an evening of Student Directed One-Act Plays — and they held a Sunday matinee.

Senior Nik Blocker directed one of mine, Responsibility.

I went to the show. It was a bit of a drive, but I took the back roads, through Sumter National Forest, and it was quite pleasant.

Not knowing what to expect at 3pm on Easter Sunday in a black box theatre in rural South Carolina, it turned out to be a blast. There was a great audience and plenty of good material in the five one-acts — and a great assemblage on stage of talented, fully self-express college students.

There’s something about spring on a college campus. All that end-of-year emotion — the vibrancy of youth mixed with the anxiety of upcoming exams and pending completion.

Seeing ‘Responsibility’ was a blast from the past. It refers to CD’s and videos from Blockbuster and the American Taliban.

The students were wonderful and did a great job. The best part was getting to meet them after the show.

I have a big ol’ soft spot in my heart for education, and am grateful to be included in this way.

I wanted a picture, and ended up being in it.

L-R. Sam Post, Markeita Cornelius, Pamela Mitchell, Matthew Holley, Nik Blocker, Holly Horton.
L-R. Sam Post, Markeita Cornelius, Pamela Mitchell, Matthew Holley, Nik Blocker, Holly Horton.

(Left to Right) Me, Markeita Cornelius (Mother), Pamela Mitchell (Daughter), Matthew Holley (Father), Nik Blocker (Director), Holly Horton (Stage Manager).

Who’s the fool?

Yesterday, I played an online April Fool’s joke.

I asked Alicia to take a picture of me in the yard. I called the dog and the chicken over. The chicken did not obey, so Alicia sort of herded it in my direction.

And she took the picture.

I slapped on a a picture of a goat and posted it online and sent a few emails.

Voilå. April Fool’s was complete.

April Fools GoatDaughter Emma sent an immediate text: “April Fool’s.”

I asked if she was fooled at all.

“For a minute,” she texted.

My sister emailed and said “adorable.”

Lisa Davidson emailed saying she “can’t wait to see it.”

Daughter Sarah was delighted. She texted her mother that she had always wanted a goat.

I called someone tonight who happened to have seen that picture. That was yesterday. This was today. And this was about a completely unrelated matter. Immediately upon answering the phone, she asked, “How’s the goat?”

So I had the opportunity to say “April Fool’s” a few times. I’m guessing I’ll have the opportunity to say it a few more times in the future.

However, many of the people who saw my Facebook post are old or geographically distant friends. Some of them I haven’t seen or spoken with in years. Are they curious to know what’s become of me? I wonder what they must think now, considering I’m the proud owner of a little goat.

Although things in social media have a degree of permanence, they also have a certain ephemeral quality. It’s a vast, noisy space. It would not be plausible to contact them all with the news that this was my way of celebrating the 1st day of April.

I know that we give less than a nanosecond of thought to most things that go by on Facebook, and that few people gave this a full second of thought.

Nevertheless, I am experiencing some incompletion around the joke.

It’s one thing to play a joke on a person and then finalize the event by saying “April Fool’s.”

But posting something to social media just puts it out there, leaving some people with the thought that I’m crazy enough to live within the city, with a modest sized yard, and own a goat.

No disrespect intended for those who have goats.

And I have nothing but respect and admiration for goats and the contribution they provide.

But I’m sort of left with the thought that I may have April fooled myself.

Who’s the real goat?

Yard Sale

I wrote this little play for the Lee Street 10 minute play festival. The guidelines requested a comedy with the theme Yard Sale. Alas, the period of suspense has ended and this script was not picked. Which gives me the opportunity to share it here 🙂

The picture here is my front yard — and what it will look like, briefly, in a couple of weeks.


 

Copyright 2015. Samuel M. Post.yard

SCENE 1

MAN: (answering the phone) Yellow!

WOMAN: (on phone) I saw your listing on Craigslist. I’m calling about the yard sale.

MAN: Yes Ma’am. What do you need to know?

WOMAN: Well, how long have you had it?

MAN: Forty-nine years.

WOMAN: How big is it?

MAN: She’s two thirds of an acre, and of course there’s the house.

WOMAN: I’m not looking for a house.

MAN: No ma’am. We live in the house. Just selling the yard.

WOMAN: How big is the yard?

MAN: It’s right around half an acre.

WOMAN: Does it include any trees?

MAN: We’ve got some trees.

WOMAN: How many?

MAN: Let’s see, it’s got some old shrubs. Of course, a shrub is not a tree. It’s got three beautiful dogwoods. Five or six pines, and there’s a maple tree.

WOMAN: I’m just trying to visualize how much shade it has. I’d like to have a garden.

MAN: You could have a garden. I don’t know if it would suit you. You’re more than welcome to take a look and see for yourself.

WOMAN: I might do that. When could I come over?

MAN: I’m home now.

SCENE 2

(They walk around the yard.)

MAN: We used to have a garden. Right there.

WOMAN: That’s all shade. What did you grow?

MAN: Mostly tomatoes. We used to love tomatoes. Tomatoes and cucumbers. One time I tried beans but that got out of control.

WOMAN: Did they get enough light?

MAN: It was before I planted that maple tree. Dumbest thing I ever did. But if you cut it down, you could have a nice vegetable garden right there. That’s good dirt. I promise you that.

WOMAN: You wouldn’t mind if I killed a tree you planted?

MAN: Lady — I’m selling the yard. Whoever buys it can do anything they want.

WOMAN: I’d like a garden.

MAN: Is that why you’re looking to buy a yard?

WOMAN: That and some other things. I just like the space of my own yard. I like sunbathing. I also like to sit outside and read. So some trees are good. I could get a hammock. But mostly, it’s for my dog. I’ve got an apartment and we’re happy there — but she needs more room to play.

MAN: What kind of dog?

WOMAN: She’s a mutt.

MAN: Big dog?

WOMAN: She’s sixty-three pounds.

MAN: That’s a big dog.

WOMAN: Not so big. She’s friendly. Do you like dogs?

MAN: Sure I do.

WOMAN: She loves people. You don’t have to worry about her.

MAN: If it’s your yard, you’re free to do whatever you want in it. You can have a dog, cat, chicken, camel — whatever you want.

WOMAN: So I could put in a fence, for the dog?

MAN: You can build a ladder to the sky if you want. I’m selling the yard in its entirety.

WOMAN: Why are you selling?

MAN: We’re retired and we have some medical expenses. The house is perfect, but keeping up with the weeds and the grass is more than I can handle. One thing about a yard — it never stops growing. In fact, I’ll tell you a little secret. I’m not trying to discourage you — but just to be straight. You don’t have a yard. A yard has you.

WOMAN: I understand. It’s a big decision.

MAN: Yes it is.

WOMAN: My dog would love this.

MAN: What’s your dog’s name?

WOMAN: Ginger.

MAN: That’s ‘cause of her color.

WOMAN: Yep. With a little dark brown on her paws and white patch under her chin.

MAN: I had a little beige dog. Named Stranger. Best little dog you ever saw. Buried her right there.
(He points at where she’s standing. She steps back a little.)

WOMAN: Here?

MAN: Right there.

WOMAN: When was that?

MAN: Sometime back in the 70’s or 80’s. I also buried a few cats over there. And some other dogs. Fru Fru, Kellie, Ding Bat. My daughter’s mouse. That cockatiel. Come to think of it, your standing on quite a little graveyard right there.

WOMAN: I was kind of thinking about putting the hammock there.

MAN: It is a good place.

WOMAN: Not if it’s a graveyard.

MAN: It’s been a long time. It’s just a yard. Dust to dust, as they say.

WOMAN: I wish you hadn’t told me that.

MAN: You know what that is?

(He points up)

WOMAN: That piece of wood?

MAN: Yep — know what it was?

WOMAN: A birdhouse?

MAN: Nope. That’s what’s left of a tree house. I’d say it’s about forty years old.

WOMAN: Did you build that?

MAN: My children did.

WOMAN: How many children do you have?

MAN: Two. They used to take a lot of food up there. What is it about kids and a tree house that makes them want to eat in it?

WOMAN: I don’t know.

MAN: I guess when there’s food in there it makes it like a real house.

WOMAN: Maybe that’s it.

MAN: They got to where they’d take their dinner up there rather than eat in the kitchen. And they’d sleep in there too. Now right over there, they had a playhouse. I built that. They never woulda’ ever thought to eat or sleep in the playhouse. And believe me, it was a lot nicer than the tree house. We had this swing set over there. Two swings, a slide, monkey bars. I guess you could say that’s why I don’t need this yard anymore.

WOMAN: They grew up.

MAN: Grew up and now they’ve got their own yards.

WOMAN: It’s a nice yard. I’m gonna go home and think about it.

MAN: Do that. It’s a big decision to buy a yard. It’s not going anywhere.

WOMAN: Somebody else could buy it.

MAN: They could. But most people are looking for a house with a yard — not just a yard by itself. You don’t want to rush. By the way, that strip right there is not for sale. We’ll need a way to come and go.

WOMAN: If I buy it, I won’t mind you walking through my yard.

MAN: Oh no. I wouldn’t want to impose. We just won’t be selling that little strip there.

WOMAN: Is there anything else I should know? Anything underground you haven’t told me about?

MAN: There’s a water line, of course. And gas and electric. You can’t move those.

WOMAN: Of course. Anything else?

MAN: That’s it. That’s the yard.

WOMAN: I’ll call you.

MAN: Okay. Bring Ginger back if you want. Let her have a sniff.

WOMAN: I might do that.

MAN: Oh — there is one more thing.

WOMAN: What’s that?

MAN: That little patch we wanna keep — to get in and out of the house.

WOMAN: That’s fine with me. If I buy it.

MAN: My wife and I — we want to be buried there. That kills two birds with one stone. Access while we’re alive, and then a final resting place. It won’t be on your yard, but I thought you should know.

WOMAN: You want to be buried there?

MAN: Just that one spot. The rest of it will be yours.

WOMAN: I don’t want you buried there.

MAN: It won’t be on the part we sell you.

WOMAN: I want a yard, not a cemetery.

MAN: Same difference.

WOMAN: I don’t think so.

MAN: Well, you can go home and think about it.

WOMAN: I’ve thought about it. I don’t want it.

MAN: Because we’ll be buried there?

WOMAN: Yes! I don’t want that.

MAN: Then it’s a good thing I told you.

WOMAN: Why can’t you get a plot in the cemetery?

MAN: Why?

WOMAN: Because that’s where everybody else is!

MAN: You think it looks better?

WOMAN: Of course! That’s weird, being buried over there like that.

MAN: I’ll be dead, so I don’t care how it looks.

WOMAN: Okay — I thought this was an actual yard sale.

MAN: It is.

WOMAN: Not when you plan to put yourself in it.

MAN: Hopefully that won’t be for while.

WOMAN: Never mind. I don’t want it.

MAN: Ma’am, everybody’s gonna die and end up somewhere.

WOMAN: That doesn’t mean I need a daily reminder.

MAN: What reminder?

WOMAN: You being buried next to my yard!

MAN: You can’t ignore it.

WOMAN: I most certainly can. Forget it.

MAN: That’s fine.

(as she leaves)

WOMAN: Nice meeting you.

MAN: I’d like to meet your dog.

WOMAN: No thanks.

(She exits.)

End of play

Buddy Snider

BuddyservingA week ago, my friend Buddy Snider passed away, and it broke my heart.

Buddy grew up next to the City Park tennis courts. Boyd Gilman lived across the street. That was like my second neighborhood, where I hung out all summer and most days after school. In the summers, my parents would drop us off on the way to work, pick us up on their way home for lunch, and take us back after lunch. My dad — a tennis player, would come to the park after work and we’d all play more tennis.

Buddy and Boyd were always there. Before I ever knew either of them, they were classmates, neighbors, and best friends to each other. They became my great friends also and a constant presence in my life for many years.

Children seemed to have a little more space to explore the world on their own back then, and we mostly managed ourselves and had some awfully fun summer days, playing in the creek, the lake, the woods, and on the courts. We also spent our tennis breaks on the swings, the slides, fishing, and even climbing the old fighter plane that was parked at the park for many years.

If we needed anything, we called our parents from the pay phone, went to Buddy or Boyd’s house, or asked Mike.

Mike Corthum was always there or nearby. He lived across the street. Mike was a Catawba professor when I was very young and my high school biology teacher when I was a little older. He also worked for the city, directing the tennis program for many years. He taught lessons and managed the courts. He was the best tennis player in town. I owe Mike a lot of money. There was a Cheerwine vending machine beside the courts and Mike would lend us quarters when we were thirsty and wanted something more lustrous than water.

Mike had a Volkswagon bus, and he would fill it full of kids (Buddy, Boyd, Jeff Hyman, Peter Tennent, me, my brother Jonny, Greg Alcorn, Dan Weant, Shane Smith and others) — and take us to far off places like Greensboro and Lexington and Winston-Salem and even Gastonia for tennis tournaments.

buddyHollar Brown and Mike Rimmer lived a block away. Martha Parrot also lived on that street (she was my age and she could beat me in tennis, I admit). David Beaver, another tennis player, lived within earshot of the courts.

I could name more kids from that neighborhood. It occurs to me that years and years of Boyden and Salisbury High School tennis teams consisted of kids in that neighborhood. That makes sense, since learning tennis is a lot easier when one has access to courts.

Tennis is a family sport and Salisbury had a big community of tennis families back then. The city park was the central gathering place.

Buddy was a lefty. We were on the tennis teams together at Knox Junior High and Salisbury High School. He played in the top six and was reliable to win his matches. Those teams won championships.

One Friday night during my junior year, Buddy gave me the support I needed in order to drink my first beer. I remember how bad that first sip of Schlitz tasted, but it didn’t seem to stop me from drinking the rest of the can, and several more. In fact, I learned to rather like beer and have enjoyed it ever since.

We played together, partied together, did a lot of wise-cracking, and grew up together.

Later in life, we would go years without seeing each other — and yet he was one of those special people who I could say anything to, about whatever I was dealing with, and count on him to be completely attentive and generous and straight.

I got married fairly young, but not as young as Buddy. He met Jane in college and married either before he graduated or soon after. He taught us how to grow up, be a man, start a family, show some responsibility. He led the way.

Thanks to my own family drama, Alicia and I got married in a bit of a swirl, on a Thursday afternoon in Reynolda Gardens (a week before the planned date). Buddy worked that day. Jane, his wife, was one of a dozen people at our wedding. My bachelor’s party consisted of having a few beers with Buddy at his apartment the night before.

A few years before that, the day after high school graduation, we were up all night waiting outside Buddy’s house for the sun to rise. We were on our way to the beach and Buddy’s parents did not want us driving at night. I remember sitting there in the car, with friends, in the dark, and Buddy bounding out of the house at dawn. I also remember some of the things that happened at the beach. Buddy left behind six grandchildren, and it would not honor them to talk about some of the crazier things that happened. So I won’t.

There are so many stories that involve a lot of fun, youth, and foolishness. Many of those memories have been flooding back this past week. We were connected, so much a part of each others lives in those active, developing years, that the connection was something more powerful than I had realized until now. I have memories of Buddy at his house, the tennis courts, my house, the beach, the mountains, college/party visits at Wake Forest and Appalachian, tennis tournaments all over the state, talking about girls, going fishing (without ever catching a fish) — and countless nights romping around Salisbury doing things we should not have been doing.

When my father was in the last years and months of his life, at home much of the day by himself, dealing with his health, he would report to me that Buddy had been by for a visit. I was busy being a busy guy — often too busy for the people I love most — and Buddy was sitting with my ailing father. Two great men.

As adults, Our conversations were few and far between — but the level of connection and sharing was fun, meaningful, and rich. The last time I saw him was a couple of years ago, at a funeral. The time before that, we ran into each other at Lowe’s. He was carrying a heavy load of lumber across the parking lot, speaking proudly about his family, and advising me on whatever I was dealing with in my life. He probably gave me some handy how-to information regarding the homeowner’s situation that had me shopping at Lowe’s.

A couple of months ago, I called to tell him about our 40th class reunion. I was on the reunion committee and made many reminder/invitational calls, but the only person I spoke with at length and tried to convince to come was Buddy. He wasn’t feeling up to it. He said his energy was down. I see now that he could have been experiencing symptoms of what would take his life suddenly last week. I don’t know. He didn’t say. We had a long, heartfelt conversation that night and I will always cherish it.

Every conversation with Buddy made one thing clear. His friendship and loyalty to the people in his life were absolute. Fortunately, that included old friends like me. I’m sure it included the people he worked with and the prisoners he took care of.  Mostly, it included his family. He was completely devoted to them. A loving family like his is an accomplishment, and Buddy was enormously proud of that.

Buddy was a dear friend, and one that I loved. I never told him that and wish I had. I’m lucky to have known him and will always miss him.

Pretty juice

juice2Ajuice1fter making juice this morning, prior to stirring and pouring out, I thought it deserved a picture, or two.

It was so beautiful!

In the picture on the left, there’s a bottom layer of green — spinach, lemon, orange, apple, and cucumber.

Then there’s the beet — an overpowering deep red that, moments later, had taken over.

The top layer includes a bit of celery and carrot.

And it tasted fabulous.