Rule for Living #3

A father’s advice:  Life lessons accumulated over years of trial and error (mostly) for the benefit (I hope) of my kids and maybe a few others.

Rule for Living #3.  NO Credit Card Debt

Never charge anything on a credit card that you can’t pay off – in full – the next month. Be smart and save yourself from misery. Use credit cards for your convenience only: Don’t even start down the slippery slope of financing purchases over time at credit card interest rates.  Otherwise, that new pair of shoes could end up costing you three times the price tag.

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Good Poem #3 – The Second Coming

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.” William Butler Yeats’ The Second Coming is an example of commentary on contemporary life expressed in poetry. Written nearly 100 years ago, the poem helps us keep in perspective doubts about our own times.  Somewhere in the desert is a beast with the head of the man and the body of a lion stretching its legs? We’ll see.

The Second Coming
–  William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart;
the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming!
Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15527#sthash.7dgeMkHq.dpuf

Old Places

Tearing down old buildings has for years been common in our part of the world. Giving our leaders the benefit of the doubt, I assume that they believed they could enhance our lives by allowing significant physical parts of our shared history to be replaced by new buildings.  The replacement structures tend to be thoughtless boxes, mimicking the same style found all over.

We have been dispossessed of much through these ignorant and short-sighted policies. My sense of just how much we have lost was highlighted by a trip to Charleston, SC.  What a delight to visit a city where old places are treasured and put to good use. Charleston survived by being a Sleeping Beauty of a town that slumbered for a hundred years after the Civil War.  While prosperity, progress and consequent demolition were carried on apace elsewhere, Charleston’s fine old houses and commercial buildings lay quietly.  By the time the 20th century dawned in Charleston, preservation and zoning protections were in place, saving Charleston’s human scale. Today it is a marvelous place with an other-worldly atmosphere where, like Santa Fe, tourists come just to be able to look at the past.

Charleston - the Battery

Charleston – The Battery

This called to mind that the leaders in my home town have torn down my old elementary school.  Longfellow School was a red brick building from the early 20th century that could not have been anything but what it was:  A brick eminence where generations of children were educated and held dear. The school, the old trees that lined the way to its front door and even the rise on which it stood have been replaced with a totally forgettable structure.

Many of us loved that old building and still mourn its loss.  We’ve been deprived not just a piece of our childhoods, but a special place that made the town what it was. Meanwhile, city leaders try to figure out how to attract tourists. But, people don’t come to visit what they can see in every other place.  I don’t even drive by the old schoolyard anymore myself.

Longfellow School

Longfellow Elementary School, Owensboro, KY
Photo by Gary A. Adams, AICP

So, like the old good news, bad news joke – we’re completely lost, but we’re making good time.

But I digress . . .

Bird of the Year

Bird of the Year

They say that the first bird you see in the New Year will be your theme bird for the year.  My first bird was the kestrel that hangs out at our place, often perching on a wire where he surveys his kingdom like an absolute monarch.  This kestrel can be easily overlooked as just another bird, but take a close look, ideally with binoculars, and you see that this small raptor has a handsome profile and beautiful colors.  The kestrel can stay in one place by rapid flapping of its wing, working like hell and getting nowhere.  I know the feeling.

But I digress . . .

American Kestrel - Falco sparverius

Underappreciated Movies #2: Rancho Deluxe

Continuing a series of movies that deserve viewing:  

#2 Rancho Deluxe  

Low-budget comedy gem from 1975 with character actors deluxe: Elizabeth Ashley, Jeff Bridges, Sam Waterson, Patti D’Arbanville, Kentucky’s incomparable Harry Dean Stanton and Slim Pickens*.  It’s the new West and no one is who you think he/she is. Written by Tom McGuane, author of the novel, 92 in the Shade (subject of a future blog) with music by Jimmy Buffett.  FYI – McGuane is married to Buffett’s sister and is good friends with writer Jim Harrison (subject of a future blog).

Watch toward the end for Slim’s character’s big moment and for the sign Rancho Deluxe.

*Pickens was a long-time cowboy actor but is remembered for his turn as Major King Kong who rode the bomb down in Dr. Strangelove.   He said after that, he went from being called “Hey, You” to “Hey, Slim”.  He also had a significant role in Blazing Saddles.

rancho deluxe cover

Rule for Living #2

A father’s advice:  Life lessons accumulated over years of trial and error (mostly) for the benefit (I hope) of my kids and maybe a few others.

Rule for Living #2.  Have the courage to stick to your guns.

I joke sometimes that a fundamental Galloway quality is that we don’t change course, no matter how stupid, painful, useless or expensive.  My sister, Bobbie, demonstrated the positive side of this trait.  She was 15 when I was born.  The next year she fell in love with Bernard.  About to get called up in the draft, Bernard enlisted in the Navy and was shipped to the West Coast, but Bobbie and Bernard could not be separated. So, at 16 Bobbie decided to join him.  She secretly packed a suitcase held together with rope and bought a train ticket to California.  My aunt and uncle caught up with her at the Owensboro L&N station as she waited for the train to St. Louis where she would change for a train to Los Angeles and then change for a train to San Diego.   They begged her to wait and even told her they would buy her a new suitcase if she just stayed until the next day.  But she knew better and took the train for two days and two nights.  Bobbie and Bernard were married in San Diego and remained married for 44 years until Bernard’s death in 1991.

bobbie and bernard

Owls vs. Peas

Owl Hoots vs. Black-Eyed Peas

New Year’s Eve was clear and cold in our little corner of the world.  Right after dark I went out to get firewood and heard, for the first time since we’ve lived here, an owl hoot in the little wood lot behind the house. Now, the old people say that an owl hoot foretells a death (Actually, I wish I hadn’t thought of that). But we had black-eyed pea casserole on New Year’s Day which everyone knows brings good luck.  That surely trumps any foolish superstition about owls.  So, could the owl hoot mean a death for 2014?  Well, it can’t be me: I still have 114 movies in my Netflix queue.

owl

black-eyed casserole

But I digress . . .

Good Poem #1 – Once by the Pacific

Before there was writing, there was poetry.  It was made up of rhyme and rhythm so it could be easily memorized and recited.  Poetry committed to memory still enriches life. I have some poems I’d like you to meet or make their re-acquaintance. Here’s a good one (even if a little dark).  It’s short and easy to remember.

Once by the Pacific
–  Robert Frost

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The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,
The cliff in being backed by continent;
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God’s last Put out the light was spoken.

storm-boat-2

Underappreciated Movies #1: The Commitments

I can’t resist commending movies that I feel are not recognized for their excellence, either because they quickly disappeared or, even if celebrated when they came out, have been swamped by later releases.  Here’s the first on my list:

  1. The Commitments – if you don’t know it or haven’t seen it lately, do yourself a favor and start the New Year with one of my all-time favorite  movies, “The Commitments”.  This  wonderful 1991 movie based on a Roddy Doyle book chronicles the rise and heartbreaking fall of a Dublin soul band.  It’s way better that this sounds.  The characters come alive.  The sound track is outstanding.  Watch for the appearance of the Wilson Pickett character towards the end.  FYI: One of the producers was Louisville native, Marc Abraham. Watch and listen to the trailer.

the_commitments_disc_1-39