Author Archives: cmeyers

The Fourth of July Fireworks

The sun would set in another hour. Tired rain clouds, still proud, framed the sky, their burden delivered hours before. From the top of the hill, trees in summer leaf spread out across the valley.

Nothing moved. All was suspended until the sun had set. Even the trees were still. Yet hidden in their branches, thousands of birds filled the air with their evensong, chirping and calling, cheeping singing in gentle cacophony. Surely an alien would think that trees on earth were capable of speaking for so it seemed even to us.

Originally it was just Dave, myself, Ralph and George on the roof to see the Fourth July fireworks.  We brought popcorn and fixings for gimlets and while Dave set his camera on the tripod, Ralph and George lit up a joint in the shelter of the stairwell. I made myself a drink considering the best possible spot for observing the display.

The roof was of an old parking garage converted into a warehouse converted into artist loft spaces. Four floors up, it provided an unobstructed view of the downtown plaza from where fireworks would spring, come dusk.

The old-fashioned city spread out before us. Three-story frame and brownstone houses obscured by hundred year old maples stretched between our vantage point and the plaza — a monolithic complex of 14-story government buildings jutting into the eastern sky.

Rising from the summer evening streets and backyards like mist from a country field came the sounds of firecrackers.   Hundreds of firecrackers, popping and banging throughout the city. Occasionally, a skyrocket shot through the sheltering trees, scarring the sky for a hot pink instant.

As darkness approached , I could feel anticipation growing in the streets below. Cars scooted across side streets. The frequent  pop-and-glow of the home fireworks dimmed, and an expectant silence underscored the hushed atmosphere.

We had heard there would be upwards of 50,000 people on the downtown plaza. As we ourselves had retreated uptown to our rooftop, summery couples, families, laughing groups, converged  on downtown.    Fifty thousand people in the plaza, in a half mile square area.  Fifty thousand people waiting.

Throughout the city on rooftops and rises everywhere were thousands more.   Waiting for dusk and the Fourth of July fireworks.

 
 
 
 


Arnie – A Fragment

I’d known Arnie for 13 years before I thought of him as a friend of mine. He worked at the luncheonette where I would get the Sunday papers on the way to church; my father and mother waiting out in the car. The apron over his T-shirt would be stained with counter breakfasts. I’d be dressed up for church.

When I was a teenager, he worked at the gas station. Not the one my parents used. But when I started to drive, I’d drive in and he’d check the air in the tires. I never needed gas. The tires never needed air.

He was tallish. Thin with muscles on his arms. Dark curly hair and a boney face with deep, dark eyes. Serious. Always working, it seemed to me.

I never saw him in the winter when I was in school. My dad would get the paper on Sundays. I didn’t drive in the winter because of the snow. It was as if Arnie were a part of summer.

There was a romance about him because of that.

 

(If you are inspired to add to this fragment and move this story forward, use the comment section below!)


The Balloon Ride

The Big Red Balloon – A Poem

When the big red balloon is filled with hot air
It rises.
To be nudged by an evening breeze
First left, then right
Or carried downwind like an inflated sail
Blooming in the clear morning.

In the beginning there are
yards and yards of billowing cloth
Inflated by an electric fan.
Then the propane flame heats
the air in that red cave.

Heat.
Spew heat.
Wait. Spew heat.
Spew. Keep it hot. Keep it hot.

The warm air takes the shape of a
balloon clutching a tiny basket
with its wire claws.
We rise.

The horizon expands.
The countryside spreads below.
The basket becomes a floating room In the evening sky.

Keep it hot. Keep it hot. Spew.
The burners stop all comment.
The heat beats down on one’s head.
The world unfolds on an idle breeze. So.

Then there’s a sinking.
Gradually noticeable.
Then hard not to notice.
Still spewing, but lower.
Much lower.
Now hesitant. Suspended for a moment.
Then down again with knees bent.

Bouncing the way a ping pong ball clicks across the table.
We come to rest.
The red balloon preens before an admiring crowd.
Spew.
A beacon to the neighborhood.
Perched upon the earth…almost floating.
“Weight!”
Nailed to the earth by willing helpers.
Now pulling the thermal plug.
Hot air mingles with the cold.

The red balloon shivers.
Collapsing its heat into the night.
Spread shriveled on the ground
its claws are loosened from the prisoner basket.

Condensed into a canvas sack
The splendor awaits
The propane torch.

Too Many Passwords – Update

Whoohoo! It’s almost 10 years later and password management apps are de rigueur. Since that post way back in 2012, not only are there multiple ways to save passwords including in your browser (which I would not recommend) there are passwords needed for absolutely everything.

Right now I have more than 500 passwords stored in my password manager. And have just added the “family” feature so passwords that should be shared don’t end up in someone’s notebook on or a post-it note stuck to their computer.

Here’s what I was thinking back then.

 

       

Remembering Calvin and Hobbes

Once upon a time way back in the 1980s there was a cartoonist called Bill Watterson. He elaborated on his own childhood to create one of the all-time most hilarious, insightful and delightful cartoons of the 20th century.

Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin is a precocious eight year old. His stuffed tiger Hobbes (the reference to the philosopher is not lost here) comes alive when they play together.

With consummate wit, masterful drawing style and deep understanding of the wondering mind of a super smart, relentlessly imaginative and hyper-energetic kid whose best friend, companion, playmate and confidant is a stuffed tiger, Watterson created a comic world where he could comment on childhood, society, and family life in suburban America. My favorite was ‘Scientific Progress Goes “Boink”‘ published in 1991 by Andrews and McMeel Universal Press Syndicate*.

 

Each winter season I would look forward to a few strips devoted Calvin’s snowpeople. Here is a compendium of these side-splitting cartoons all in one place.

Calvin’s snowmen

There’s a film about Watterson’s career called “Dear Mr. Watterson” that traces the impact of this marvelous strip. You can see if on Amazon.


*This image is of book cover(s), and the copyright for it is most likely owned either by the artist who created the cover(s) or the publisher of the book(s). It is believed that the use of low-resolution images of book covers to illustrate an article discussing the book in question qualifies as fair use under the copyright law of the United StatesOther use of this image, on Wikipedia or elsewhere, might be copyright infringement.

 
 
 
 


Mystery Science Theater 3000 for cooking shows

I’m ready to start a new project. It will be along the lines of the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 TV shows, you remember the ones, where silhouettes of  Mike and his two robots who are stranded in space are forced to watch cheesy movies and comment on them in highly humorous ways.

Well, my take is to watch cooking shows and comment on the progress of the recipes.

“That can’t be at tablespoon full, looks more like a quarter of a cup!”

“He added more salt? I’d hate to be the crew member who gets to eat this meal after the show.”

“Where does she get that garlic? It’s amazingly juicy and perfectly plump. Mine are always hard and gnarly and have brown spots.”

And so on. Hilarity will ensue. Well, maybe on paper anyway.

 
 
 
 


Thoughts while mowing the lawn

Lawn Mower

 

Mowing the lawn, like doing the dishes or weeding is the kind of activity that sets the mind free to think about anything that pops up. Today’s lawn mowing subject was why running for public office has boiled down how much money the candidate has at his disposal.

Sweating back and forth, back and forth, I wondered how we have come to the point where public service does not seem to be a calling but rather a job. It occurs to me that it has to do with where our culture is at the present time. All our thoughts are focused on money. The machinations of the stock market. Ponzi schemes. IRA depreciation. Euro drama. Bank finance. Costs for gas, insurance. Lack of jobs.

Is it any wonder that “more money” is the leitmotif of Americans and consequently that of the aspiring leaders of the country?

       

Vegan (cringe)

Vegan foodVee-gan or veg-an. It’s veg-itable and veg-itarian. But without the “i” it becomes vee-gan with a hard “g”.

No matter how it’s pronounced though the meaning is clear: no animal products of any kind in the diet. I’ve read where some folks won’t even eat honey.

Along with the vegan diet often comes the vegan attitude. The curled lip at meat eaters. The querulous tone, “What’s in this?” The lofty sense of righteousness.

The American diet is tough on a vegan. There’s cheese in everything. And butter and eggs lurk in every recipe.

I know. I was a vegan for a while. But then I took the Dali Lama’s caution to heart (this is my paraphrase): If you are served food in love, accept in love.