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Too Damn Lucky

May 23, 2017 1 comment

The birth of a new person creates a considerable disturbance in the lives of the parent(s) and other people. Some newborns have the misfortune to be born into a dysfunctional family, or an impoverished family, or to a drug-addicted hooker. Those people come into society already in a deep hole, out of which they must climb. They must, to rise within their environment until they can escape it. It’s a forbidding quest.

Some people, myself for instance, are born into poor families that intend to not stay poor. We lived above a corner ‘smoke shop’, my parents, my grandparents, my uncle and me. I was surrounded with love and protection, and had no idea I was poor. I was comfortable and well fed.

My father was smart and ambitious, and by the time I was four, we lived in a lovely little house, outside of downtown. It had a front lawn, a back yard, a concrete driveway and a cute garage. My mother had roses growing up the sides of the garage, and a blossoming cherry tree in the middle of the yard.

My father had been partners with his brother in a small, downtown lunch counter. After a year or so, The Second World War came along. My father took a job in a scrap yard. After he learned the ropes, he bought a classy suit and a pickup truck. Mornings, he would put on the suit, look great, and go out to manufacturers to buy their scrap metal. At midday, he returned home, ate lunch, put on work coveralls, and returned with the pickup truck to fetch the metals he’d bought. He then sold the load at a profit, to an established scrap yard. Soon he had a scrap yard of his own, with cranes and trucks and railway sidings. Stuff was happening.

Then came a large home, cars for my father (Buick), my mother (Pontiac), and me (Corvette). Also, a lakefront cottage, and several boats. We had rowboats, speedboats, sailboats, and my father’s large cruiser. I don’t know how dad did it, but I was certainly a beneficiary.

After a while, he sold his scrap business and started a lumber business. He was a restless man, always seeking new, unlikely challenges. After the lumber business, he became founding president of a new department store chain. I didn’t benefit so much from that plateau, because I was grown up, out of the house, and getting my own life going.

All my life, I’ve been too damned lucky.

06. THE LAND OF MILT AND HONEY

May 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Chapter 6

Milton Korn sat in his cramped studio, staring at the unfinished canvas on his easel. He was unable to get clear, his vision for the painting, and it was almost frightening for him. He’d never before had the real world interfere in his private, creative world. For the first time, a melange of thoughts pressed his creative mind aside.

His thought batted back and forth, like a badminton bird over a net. One moment he’s consumed with concern about his bold assertion to Honey Freed. He could easily afford the 100 acres, with money left over to build a studio. His mind pulled from thoughts of Honey and wandered through visions of the property. The Maple forest on the southernmost 12 acres was a rare enclave of mature trees that had not yet been cut into lumber. If he was owner… co-owner… he could protect those ancient beauties.

Would Honey Freed also be a tree-hugger, or might she be mercenary, and wish to turn the trees into cash. Hopefully, she would share Milton’s ecological interests. If not, perhaps he could help her to understand its importance.

Milton forced himself to stop beating around the bush in his head. What about Honey Freed. She’s smart, a successful professional, tall, and too goddamn gorgeous for Milton, he thought. He would have living quarters adjacent to his studio, on a wing of the house far from Honey’s quarters.

He envisioned separate basic bathrooms for each of them, conveniently connected to their living quarters. Each would have a sink, a toilet, and a medicine cabinet. There would be a mutual bathroom, with a spacious Jacuzzi tub and shower, mirrors and so on. They would make a schedule between themselves, as to when the central bathroom priority was for Milton or Honey.

As for Honey Freed, she had less time to muse on the proposal than had Milton. She was busy with pre-production meetings, casting sessions, and all the other complications in producing commercials. When she at last got home, at 2:20am, she began her analysis of Milton’s suggestion. She had come to think of it as, “The Korn Roast.”

She tossed her clothes on the floor, and stepped into her shower. As the warm water flowed softly over her body, she didn’t need to think about the property. She had been enjoying it in her mind for months. She had to think about the romantic aspect of sharing a home with a tall, good-looking, successful artist.

Honey imagined that they’d design the home together. They could have their rooms across a hall from each other, just for safety. They could have animals, and let them be free to wander in the Maple forest, and frolic on the open pasture. She hoped that Milton liked the idea. She felt certain that he’d want to keep the forest safe and whole. If not… it would be a problem.

Both Milton Korn and Honey Freed slept well, with visions of their possible partnership in the country. Milton dreamed of beautiful light in his studio, and the peace and quiet in which to paint. Honey saw herself in farm clothes, caring for horses, Scottish Highland Longhorn cattle, lamas, goats, and dogs. Lots of dogs.

Within a week, if Honey decides to accept Milton’s offer, they’ll be negotiating joining lives, while they don’t even really know each other. They are each very intelligent, and will be aware of the inevitable problems they will have to overcome.

The (Drudge) Lady of the House

May 1, 2017 Leave a comment

We all knew that Claire’s home would be perfect, as always. I confided in Lois that it was difficult to understand her horrible personal taste in clothing, considering the flawless design and colour pallet. Her home is the epitome of aesthetic perfection, yet her wardrobe seems to be made of dishtowels and drapes.

“I suppose it takes all kinds,” Lois said

“Some kinds of aesthetic decisions should be stopped,” I said.

“How could one do that?” Lois said. I paused a moment.

“I’m going to confront her with it,” I said. “I’m going to ask her why her home is so perfect, yet her fashion sense is lacking.”

About ten days later, after I had confronted Claire about her aesthetically perfect home and less attractive garments, I phoned Lois.

“What did she say?” Lois said.

“She dropped her clothes off, right there in the kitchen,” I said. “Then she said, ‘What do you see?”

“What did you see!” Lois screamed into the phone.

“I see a stunning body, a gorgeous face without a speck of makeup, flowing black hair and legs that are long, and beautifully shaped, as is all of her. That’s what I told her. She said that she used to dress in fashion, with good aesthetic designs and fabrics. Men would not take her seriously, nor would they leave her alone. She shows herself to men that she chooses, and the rest of the time, she lives her life unmolested.”

Sugaring

May 1, 2017 Leave a comment

I was about 8 years old, sitting at my antiquated desk in the antiquated grammar school in my district of Toronto. This was about 1945, and John R. Wilcox School was living in the 1930s, but that’s another story. This story is about sugaring, the wonderful procedure of extracting sap from trees and making into one of the world’s wonderful, natural treats. I mention the school because that’s where I was when I opened a book and saw an illustration that stayed in my mind for decades. Actually, to this day, I can easily see that picture in my mind’s eye.

The illustration was of a family, ‘sugaring off’, as they refer to it. A large workhorse was harnessed to a sturdy wooden sled. A man sat on a bench at the front of the sled, and held the reigns to steady the horse. The sled bore a large, round, metal tub. People were gathering buckets from trees. The simple line-drawn illustration made a strong impression on me, although I have no idea why. I wished I could have that experience. I remember a time, many years ago, when I was at a New Year’s Eve house party in Paris. A gentleman approached me and asked if Maple Syrup is Canada’s national beverage. I explained that it comes from hardwood trees, and is used similarly to honey. They found it difficult to believe.

I had the sap to syrup experience, 40 years later. We owned a horse farm in the mountains, as a hobby. We had an agreement with a neighbouring farming family, wherein they could seed and harvest the open fields, and tap the Maple forest for sap. When the early spring weather was right, the sweet sap began to flow. Freezing cold nights and bright, warmer days bring the sap into its run.

I was happy to volunteer to help with the Maple harvest. I found myself in that drawing from many years ago. The smell of the horse, the steam from his nostrils, and the jingle of the chains and buckles on his tack set the background sound. Cheerful voices of the half dozen people expressed pleasure with the yield. It requires 40 liters of sap to make a single liter of syrup. The buckets hang on small spigots that are drilled into the trunks of healthy Maple trees. These are unique buckets with convex bottoms, so they cannot be used for other purposes because they will not stand up.

We picked up buckets, one at a time. Each was carried from the tree to the sled with the large tub on it. We poured our sweet sap, clear as water, into the tub. A cover on the tub had a hole wherein we poured the sap. Efforts are made to keep insects and leaf bits out of the sap. They could discolour it, so it couldn’t be made into the clearest, number one syrup. The buckets are also mostly covered with metal lids.

I was privileged to go to the sugar house that night, under a bright moon. I fed the pieces of firewood to the old man as he fed them to the fire. He was boiling the sweet, watery sap into sweet, flowing syrup. It was especially a privilege to be there, because I was able to watch the old man teach his sons and daughter how to do it right. He’d take a ladle of the hot liquid and hold it up to let the golden syrup pour in a long stream, back into the cooker. He’d eye the consistency and the colour, and advise the siblings on what to observe.

The adventure ended that night with two sweet things: I got to taste a spoonful of Maple syrup, hot, straight from the cooker. The second thing was the ride back down to the road from the sugar house in the hills. There was a bold, full moon in the black velvet sky. The path to the road was deep mud. I stood on a fitting of some kind on the rear of the tractor, between the huge rear wheels. Looking down, I could see the squished mud moving past, a few inches beneath my feet.

It had taken 4 decades, but I did, at last, live that drawing that had so captured my imagination. I believe, if you keep a vision in your mind, without aggressively doing anything to realize it, it will come to pass on its own. Take care not to hold negative images, because they, too, will be realized. Read Psycho Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. It worked for me

03. THE LAND OF MILT AND HONEY

April 24, 2017 Leave a comment

Chapter Three

Milton Korn wandered down to the gallery the day after his show was launched with a traditional vernissage. It wasn’t the gallery he wanted to visit, it was Honey Freed. He saw her a half a block past the gallery. She was producing a commercial for a shampoo product, and they were taping the final scene. A woman with gorgeous hair blowing in the wind was to stride happily past a hair salon. The wind was produced by a six-foot tall fan.

Milton stood quietly at the side and watched the busy crew. They pushed the camera around, they hoisted lights and deflectors, and they pulled a large number of heavy cables back and forth. In the midst of the controlled chaos, Honey Freed stood tall and looked beautiful and exciting. She was tall and slender, in tight blue jeans and a white shirt tucked in at her tiny waist.

There were some uniformed police around the location, to control traffic and people. One of them went over to Milton and asked what was his business there. Milton just wanted to watch the crew work, without getting in the way. That’s why he stayed back there. The cop told Milton to move on, which pissed Milton off. He told the cop he was a friend of Honey Freed, the boss of this crew. The cop said he’d ask her.

Milton watched the cop thread his way between boxes and light stands, over cables and sand bags, up to Honey’s side. He spoke to Honey and pointed at Milton. Honey shaded her eyes from the midday sun. When she saw it was Milton, she broke into a broad smile and waved him to come close. He picked his way through the same obstacle course as the cop, who scowled at Milton as he passed, on his way out.

“I’m so glad you’ve come,” she said, and put her hand on Milton’s shoulder. He felt the heat. It’s strange, he thought, that a casual connection can generate such physical responses. He believed it was olfactory at work. An unscented fragrance, if that’s possible, that arouses otherwise dormant feelings in two people. Not any two people, but two people whose fragrances attract each other.

Of course, Honey’s physical beauty was certainly magnetic. She was accustomed to men approaching her, dating her, and sometimes proposing to her. Honey was not a lonely woman, but she was not living the life she hoped to live. When Milton felt the warmth of her touch, Honey also felt the heat.

Honey also felt something unique when she studied Milton’s artworks. She sometimes collected art, and was knowledgeable on the subject. She apologized to Milton that she had to work for the next couple of hours, to capture the final shot they needed.

“Can we meet for breakfast one day?” Honey said.

“Tomorrow?” said Milton. “I have nothing scheduled.”

“Tomorrow morning, 8:00am, at Goldstein’s on Walsh Avenue,” she said, decisively.

“See you there,” Milton said, and went home.

(To Be Continued)

The Woman With Her Kite

April 24, 2017 Leave a comment

Sunday morning dawned sunny and warm. I went out to the porch with my coffee and sat to look at the old park across the road. Huge, ancient maple trees dotted the broad, grassy clearing in the centre. Further along, there were the high fences of the tennis courts, and a children’s play area.

I finished my coffee and took the empty mug into the small kitchen. When I went back to my chair on the porch, a woman had appeared in the park. She had a large kite, and she was trying to get it up into the morning breeze. She was too far away for me to see just what she looked like, but I could see that she was very tall and slim. She moved like she was an athlete or a dancer. I went down to the street and across to the park

I sat in the sun on a bench that faced the clear area where the woman was working with her big, red kite. She was getting frustrated. Frankly, so was I, watching her try repeatedly to get the kite to fly. It just flopped along on the grass, while the woman ran across the clearing in vain. I stood up and took a step toward the kite.

“Perhaps I can help,” I said.

“I don’t want no help,” she said, in what was almost a snarl. I stepped back and sat down again. I’m an average sized man, about five-foot-eight, and the woman was considerably taller than I am. I didn’t want to antagonize her. She looked tough and sounded tougher. I watched for a while longer as she helplessly laboured with her kite. After another half hour, she was clearly dejected as she walked over and sat on the other end of the bench.

“Would you like a cold drink, or coffee or something,” I said. She was sweating and breathing heavily. She looked at me with hard eyes. I could see, now that she was close, that she was perhaps in her thirties, and had suffered some hard times. Her face was attractive, although somewhat lined and stern.

“Coffee would be great,” she said, perking up a bit. He voice was softer, but still tough.

“I live just over there,” I said. “Bring your kite. You can sit and relax on the porch while I start up a fresh pot of coffee.” I strode briskly away to my place without looking back. Once on my porch, I glanced back to see that she had rolled up her kite string and was following me, with her large, red kite carried like a warrior’s shield in front of her. I decided to think of her as a warrior

I was setting up the coffee maker when I heard her behind me. She stood in the kitchen doorway and leaned on the door frame.

“Why did you offer to help me?” she said.

“Because you were trying so hard, and failing,” I said. “You were trying to do alone what is really a two person job.”

“Nobody has ever offered to help me before,” she said.

“What, to fly a kite?” I said. “How do you take your coffee?”

“Black,” she said. She went back to the porch. I followed soon after, with two mugs of black coffee. We sat together in silence for a while, until she turned to me.

“May I stay with you tonight?” she said. I didn’t expect that, and I was wary of the situation. The woman was a stranger; she was bigger than me, and in much better physical condition.

“Why?” I said.

“You might not believe this,” she said, “but your offer of help was something I’ve almost never heard before.”

“That’s difficult to believe,” I said.

“I’m not often around people like you,” she said. She looked into my eyes. “I want to see what it’s like to be held, gently.”

“You’re bigger than I am,” I said. “Do you think I can give you what you seek?”

She stayed the night. I taught her gentleness, with caresses and kisses in special places. I made us Eggs Benedict in the morning. We kissed goodbye, although I was uncomfortable that a woman had to bend down to kiss me. She left, and I’ve never seen her again. I don’t know her name, and she doesn’t know my name. However, the big, red kite is still here. Perhaps she’ll return for it someday.

I Received Two Proposals

April 11, 2017 1 comment

When I was a sixty-five-year-old retired man, two very diverse women asked me for marriage. They were unlikely marriage prospects for me. Both were successful business people, and both were very pretty and slender. I was grateful that I would never have to choose between the two desirable, mature women.

The more physically attractive woman was tall for a female, about 5 feet 7 inches. She kept herself lean and trim by frequent workouts at her health club. Her face and hair are strikingly similar to that of Demi Moore. Her work is managing her late father’s business. They manufacture and distribute unique fridge magnets, jacket patches, and various other small items in large quantities. She’s a Jewish suburban Mom with two teenage children, the girl a bit older than the boy.

The other marriage proposal came from a single Mom with two teenage children. The boy is older than the girl is, in this case. The woman is shorter and a touch heavier than the other woman, and attractive in the Irish way. She was your typical Irish lass, with red hair and green eyes. She created a company that does follow-up calls for car dealers. After a vehicle has been in for service and returned, her people make courtesy calls to the customer, checking that the service was properly done and the customer was satisfied.

I was sixty-five, as I’ve said. The Jewish suburban woman was forty-five. The Irish woman was forty. They were 20 and 25 years younger than I was. I was not wealthy. I was sufficiently good looking that some women found me attractive. Each woman approached me on line, I did not approach them first.

Of course I asked each why they responded to a man so much older. Both responses were similar: they were seeking a gentle, knowledgeable lover. Apparently, they were not attracting thoughtful men, but were approached by immature boys. One woman said that she had a boyfriend who was more affectionate to his pickup truck than to her.

I’m 80 now, and grateful that I wasn’t tempted into a marriage with those splendid young women. They would be 55 and 60 now, and an 80 year old husband would be no fun. I have the most wonderful wife now. She is just nine years younger than I am, and she is the most fabulous woman I’ve ever known. I love her deeply, as she does for me.