Monthly Archives: April, 2020

The Tyranny of Need — The Jazz Man

I have been grocery shopping, again. My first adventure was at Aldis, and it was packed with customers. No social distancing was possible…although it was suggested throughout the store, including posted arrows, every few feet, to direct the patrons which way to go. About half of the shoppers had on face masks, while the rest […]

via The Tyranny of Need — The Jazz Man

Morning — The Jazz Man

I accidentally dropped my cell phone the other day. The way in which the light shown on it, I was relieved to see that I had not damaged the screen. Later, I was under different light, and I noticed that I not only had cracked the screen…but I had cracked it across the width of […]

via Morning — The Jazz Man

The Soft Glow of Peace in a Storm

I am becoming accustomed to Zoom Church.  I have attended 5 weeks in a row.  Borrowing a baseball analogy…I customarily bat 500.  When I see the faces of my fellow church goers…I am filled with love and appreciation for them.  I think that I have renewed appreciation…during our time of pandemic.  Pastor Kerry, is simply, preaching some of the most comforting and timely sermons that it has been my privilege to hear in many years.  And, I have been listening to sermons for 51 years!  As Carlyn sang, my favorite song, Amazing Grace, I looked at the azure blue sky that contained the most lovely fluffy white clouds…moving past the panoramic view from my porch.  It seems that during our fearful time, I am noticing the beauty in everything that I see.  I meditate on the fact that there will be a day that these old eyes will not behold the natural majesty that I can witness on a daily basis…during the best of times…and during the worse of times.  I am overwhelmed with the splendor of my earthly surroundings…to the extent that I wonder how what I am experiencing…could be real.


When I see MJ, or Aaron, or Jonathon…I wonder how a poor boy like me…came out so blessed to be a member of this family?  When I feel their daily care and see the love in their eyes…I am humbled…and honored.


When I witness the poor helping the poor…I am ashamed that I have not done more.  When I witness the powerful demonstrate humility…I know that God is real…


I first became a member of a faith community in 1969.  I was 12 years old…but I thought that I was 22.  I rapidly developed a church full of friends.  The minister was very kind to me, as was his wife.  They loved and appreciated me…though I had nothing to give…but me.  Through the past 51 years I have remained a christian and continued in fellowship with other, fallible human beings, who are seeking to help their fellow travelers on the way back to Jerusalem,  and fulfill Christ’s teachings.  I told my replacement, as superintendent of Building Services, shortly before my retirement…that my management philosophy had been to be merciful and if I erred…to err on the side of mercy.  My leadership construct had been…to follow Jesus example.

I have been reminiscing about our friend, who graciously and lovingly brought meals to our family after MJ had spinal surgery…last year…in December.  She reassured us and spoke kind words of healing to MJ regarding her recovery.  Now, she has experienced the most devastating of losses, her beloved husband.  It is good to have friends on the rocky road of life.

Life brings us bitter tears…and warm smiles.  Life brings us abject darkness…and brilliant sunlight.  Life brings us paralyzing worry…and jarring joy.

Everything is being written down.  I believe that God has a book of our life…from the first cry, as a newborn baby…to the last prayerful breath…as we return to him.  Our Creator is in control…we are passengers in the vehicle of life.  He knows the end prior to the beginning.  Angels are by our side….


Some of my best friends are gay.  Many of the kindest people in my life have been African Americans.  My, metaphorically adopted son, Alfie, is an African American Muslim.  I have many friends who love and admire President Trump.  I want all of these people in my life.  I cannot afford to marginalize anyone.  God created us all…and it will not be long until we meet our Creator…  All of them have held my hand…and spoken words of encouragement to me…and I have their love and appreciation.  I have eaten dinner in their homes, and worshipped alongside them, and known their sufferings and trials and doubts and confusion…and their humanity.  All are important…we are one family…with one creator…understanding is essential….Communication is vital….Love is the answer….Before the darkness….


Hope Vanquishes…Despair — The Jazz Man

It is Saturday, and I know so because I looked at my calendar. Rain is promised, throughout the day and evening and tomorrow morning. The weather is a bit like our pandemic. It is not over. I would not have believed that I could ever receive so much comfort from the modern invention of the […]

via Hope Vanquishes…Despair — The Jazz Man

The Whole World Is Watching

It is the closing of April 24th.  A date that may not be significant to you but it is one that tells me that I am now 62 and 1/2…on the down-hill slide toward 63.  Often, I ponder…how did I become this old?  I recall the beginning of 2020.  It was only 4 months ago.  MJ and I were blessed to enjoy a week with, Ron and Ira Kaye, in Destin, during the first days of January.  We relished breakfast at a local restaurant, The Donut Hole, and the room was packed with people…with many congregating around the front door, waiting for a seat.  I wiled away the hours sitting on the balcony and watching, and photographing the ocean.  We visited the Waterford store, and found some good deals…that were exciting.  I was able to secure a new Tilley Hat…as was MJ.  The weather was balmy…with a good dose of fog the last few days that we were there.  We visited a little bookstore, in Seaside, and I brought home three, very, interesting books.  The businesses, and Bed and Breakfast, and hotels…are in pastel colors…as are the native Floridians.  We watched the second season of the Netflix drama, Ozark…and throughly enjoyed it.  When we arrived back home…it was bitter cold!  We proceeded to plan on MJ’s birthday, and then Jonathon’s birthday, and our trip to Maine at the end of May.  Oh…there was a news story regarding a strange named virus…that was killing people…in Wuhan, China….

So, life has dramatically changed.  The plans that we thought we had…we don’t.  The life that we thought that we had…has changed.  The excitement of the beginning of a new decade…has started badly.  We all react in different ways to a overwhelming tragedy.  As a youngster I lived the Vietnam War on a nightly basis.  The renown newsman, Walter Cronkite, gave the American people a nighty update regarding the deaths of our soldiers and the deaths of the Vietnamese.  I lived in the time of the draft.  Upon your graduation from high school, unless you were enrolled in college, you were drafted.  My cousin was drafted less than a month from his commencement.  Everyone that I knew talked about the war in Vietnam.  It had gone on for several years…with no resolve of the conflict.  It was a war where our soldiers fought and retuned home physically and emotionally and mentally scared.  Rather than be welcomed home with cheers and the thanks of a grateful nation…there were greeted with chant’s of hate and derision.  It was a divided time in our country.  I believed that I would not see another time, in my lifetime, that there would be such divided understanding of a battle that we are engaged in…

Now we are engaged in the fight of our lives.  Messages from, some, of our leaders…are confusing, and insulting to our intelligence,  and dangerous…and scary!  We need a Marshall Plan for our recovery from our 2020 pandemic.  

‘The Marshall Plan, also known as the European Recovery Program, was a U.S. program providing aid to Western Europe following the devastation of World War II.  It was enacted in 1948 and provided more than 15 billion to help finance rebuilding efforts on the continent.  The brainchild of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall.’    History Channel 

On Saturday, the 22nd of February we had dinner at Bella Milano in Bellville, Illinois and then travelled to St. Louis to Powell Hall to enjoy the sweet dulcet sounds of Mr. Aaron Neville.  The seating, in the old theatre was very close.  We had to get up close and personal with our fellow theatre attendees.  

Monday, the 24th of February, which is MJ’s birthday…we drove to Cape Girardeau, where we enjoyed lunch at Katy O’Ferrell’s Public House…courtesy of Jonathon.  Then…we brought home a large bronze statue of Fredrick Remington’s…Bronco Buster.  We still did not fully appreciate what was coming like a freight train in a dark tunnel!


‘Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country,’  Patrick Henry said.  Actually, Henry said, ‘party,’ rather than country.  Charles E. Weller, a typing teacher, replaced, party with country…’because it exactly fills a 70 space line.’    The Straight Dope

The world is watching…as the world is suffering.  We do not have the option of opining as to the efficacy of injecting lysol or bleach or utilizing ultraviolet light…when we are overwhelmed with our inadequacy…and seeking clear, and concise, and calm…leadership!

‘Trust…But Verify’

Former President, Ronald Reagan, was one of the most popular presidents of my life.  He remains a hero and a Northstar in the Republican Party.  President Regan is credited with the demise of the former Soviet Union.  He and the Soviet Union Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, developed a relationship of communication that was something to behold during the 1980s   At several of their summits, Reagan would quote a Russian proverb, that translated in English means, ‘Trust…but verify.’  In short, Reagan was not going to accept, at face value, what the Russian leader assured him of regarding nuclear disarmament, without verifying the assertions for himself.

man hat usa portrait

Photo by Pixabay on


Life progresses in our 2020 pandemic.  Sadly,  the number of deaths from COVID-19 will surpass the total of, American, deaths during the Vietnam War…in the next few days.  MJ was telling me of a nursing home where there are over 70 residents and skilled care providers that have tested positive for the Coronavirus.  Governor Pritzker has announced that he will extend the stay at home order for Illinoisans, throughout May…with minor modifications.  The majority leader of the senate, Mitch McConnell  was quoted that perhaps the states should consider filing for bankruptcy.  Could it be that he was speaking of the bluegrass state of Kentucky…or the ‘blue’ state of New York?

Is it fear mongering when medical professionals are honest and truthful with the American people?  Winston Churchill was one of the greatest leaders of the last century.  He told the British people the bitter and unvarnished truth of what they were facing and how difficult that it was going to be to go through World War II.  The English rallied around Churchill and spent night after night in the bomb shelters.  We visited Winston’s bunkers, in London, with our friends, Jeff and Margo, and it was a sobering and enlightening experience to walk through the small cramped rooms that Churchill and his cabinet and staff worked from and lived in…during Herr Hitler’s blitz.  There was no need to tell the residents of London…that everything was going to be fine…and that the war would be over soon…and that they were winning.  The verification of their condition…rained down upon them…nightly!

I read an Indian quote regarding the privilege of being able to stay at home and practice social distancing.  The narrative went on to explain that the majority Indian citizens were not afforded such a luxury.  Sheltering in place is not possible for many of our brothers and sisters in the United States, either, as many are deemed to be essential…but are paid paupers wages.  Many live in urban settings were the living is close and confined and your neighbor is at your door and in your hall…and in your bedroom.  The poor 70 Nursing Home residents and staff did not have the option of social distancing!

There is hope for us…and our pandemic will end.  But, my hope is in you…and your hope is in me…  The cowboy mentality and philosophy that says that each of us are responsible for our self…and that we pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps…and I am not going to worry about you…and you do not need to worry about me…is our prescription for devastation!

It is raining…but then again…it is April.  And so we know what to expect in May.  I am placing some additional books on my, Main Street Books Wish List.  They are books about pandemics, and apocalypse…night reading for troubled times…


Skeleton — The Jazz Man

I have always loved skeletons! From my early experiences with halloween costumes, to my first seeing a real skeleton in biology class, to the, expensive vodka that comes in a crystal skeleton head bottle (a skull), to my favorite ink pen that my brother, Brock, gave me for my 60th birthday, that has a skeleton […]

via Skeleton — The Jazz Man

Permanent Change…Or Keep The Change? — The Jazz Man

The first, of five puzzles, has arrived. MJ and I worked on it for over an hour this morning. Since I do not posses the puzzling skills of my wife…she schooled me in the manner that we would begin. After an hour…I had united 3 pieces…MJ had completed 12 or more. The puzzle is the […]

via Permanent Change…Or Keep The Change? — The Jazz Man

“Same Basement, Different Day”

Another great Jonathon Brooks, Story!


Jonah and Zachariah were singing their prison song blues. They were locked up. Each boy was doing time away from the outside world. The food was about the same in prison as it had always been when they were free boys. Zachariah and Jonah were best friends who just so happened to be currently grounded by the authorities in their lives, their moms.

The crime, or crimes, in question is not of importance. Boys the age of twelve often behave like boys the age of twelve. Alas, it was summertime and there was no summer shenanigans for Jonah and Zachariah. Any and all fun or shenanigans had currently been canceled. Both boys were dreaming of August and school like they were the spectacular escape from the belly of the whale of their basements.

The good news is that neither prisoner was grounded from the entertainments their homes had to offer…

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This morning began in a lovely fashion!  I opened my email to find a, heartfelt, encouragement from my friend and colleague, Rob.  He had written me a note regarding my latest blog, and it made my day!  From his, kind, words I took courage and was encouraged.  So often when I complete a blog…I wonder if my readers, if indeed there are any…wonder what possessed the old man on Ash Wood Lane to compose such pedestrian dribble.  I throughly enjoy writing and my, retirement, habit of writing virtually daily, brings me much joy and satisfaction.  However, I ponder if when those who see another one of those, Happy Traveler or Jazzman blogs…think…enough.  So Rob’s praise for my meager wordsmith abilities and my, equally, slim skills as a photographer…had a brightening effect on my Monday.

I wonder how many people that we know, and that we meet…in non-pandemic times, simply need a word of encouragement?  Many are carrying terrible worries and significant issues…that they hide better than the most edept magician….and their friends and, even, family, do not have a clue of the internal struggles that they battle each day.  

During our present time of fear and terrible uncertainty…you could be the difference in another human having the strength to carry on!  I believe that we often want to say a kind word to another, but fear that they will misunderstand our intent or rebuff our extended, metaphorical, hand of friendship.  I have found that almost always a genuine compliment to another person is received like rain in the desert!  

There is a real reason that social distancing is difficult.  We are social creatures.  We need each other.  It is in our DNA to crave meaningful fellowship with our fellow travelers.  Our world is often a scary place.  We seek the warmth and security of another when we are looking for light in the darkness. 

It has been said that a person may not remember what you said…but they will always remember how you made them feel.  

The popular motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, said, ‘I really do not care how much you know…until I know how much your care…about me.’

‘A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.’     Proverbs 25:11     KJV