Monthly Archives: February, 2021

Shampooing Carpet and Time Travel

Jonathon was my able assistant today….as he often is. Whether it is installing a front door knob, that I calculated would take us an hour…and it ended up taking us 4 hours. Our task was to shampoo Parker’s room, which used to be one of Aaron’s 2 bedrooms. MJ’s new Daybed is coming to live with us this Wednesday. We have a new carpet shampooer. It works better than any that I have had for home use. Since we had the task of preparing Parker’s room…which contains her kennel…I thought why not shampoo my loft office as well. We did the loft office first and then the necessary job. About two thirds through the task we noticed that the machine vacuum was not retrieving much solution that had been applied to the carpeted floor. Needless to say we discovered that Parker’s hair had stopped up the vacuuming process. So…we removed the hair and went back over the wet carpets to see much dirty water. As has been said, ‘A job worth doing is worth doing well.’

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

I was reminded, by Jonathon, that I had probably done many hours of carpet extraction at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. I answered that had shampooed carpet untold hours at the University. Early in my career I was placed on a Carpet Shampooing team of two. My partner in the endeavor was, Ardell, and he kept me laughing the entire shift. He was a natural comedian. We should shampoo 25 – 30 rooms per night. Often I worked through my lunch and my breaks. I literally loved cleaning carpets. A few years later I became the assistant superintendent of Building Services and continued to shampoo carpets, by myself, due to our superintendent having a slow down policy designed to create so much dirt that the University Administration would be forced to provide us with more help. I inquired with the Administrative Aid to the President of the University as to whether she thought that their carpets needed cleaning and she said that they did and then asked when the carpet crew would be doing the task. I informed her that she was looking at the Carpet Crew and that I was going to shampoo their carpets that same night. Later when I became the superintendent of Building Services I formed a Carpet Crew that cleaned carpets on a nightly basis.

Life is improving! Things are getting better. We have been frozen in amber…but now we are breaking free. MJ has secured the airline tickets to Destin, Florida in May. We customarily traveled to Destin each year of our retirement for several years. Now I know how precious those trips were! We visited Europe 4 times in 6 years. I thought that we would visit Europe every 2 years as long as we were physically able to do so. We visited our favorites state, Maine in 2019, but could not make the trip due to our pandemic in 2020. We plan on visiting Maine in 2021. Life has been as if we hit the pause button…but now we are turning the corner…with a renewed understanding as to how interconnected that we humans are.

All of our life experiences are inextricably united into the person that we are. We are the sum of our aspirations and our experiences. We either choose to grow or we choose to die. I prefer to the opportunity to grow and learn new things and become more than my biases and fears…

My First Round of the Covid Vaccine

Our weather is a bit cooler today at 45 degrees but it is a vast improvement over last week. There is a residual of snow left from the over 9 inches that we received a few days ago along with a sheet of ice. Today on campus you could only witness a little snow that had originally been plowed into a large piles.

Spirits are lifted around the Books’ home this week as we have all received our first dose of the Covid Vaccine. MJ got her jab a few weeks back and Jonathon received his Wednesday and I Thursday and Aaron today. I wondered if I would ever be able to receive the Vaccine. After waiting a year, much of which was the development and testing of the various vaccines…and then the protocols for who gets their jabs first…it seemed a possible dream to be a recipient of the life saving vaccine. I was amazed at how few people were availing themselves of the Vaccine yesterday when I received the first dose. The Vaccine was being facilitated by the Illinois National Guard and the Jackson County Health Department. I had a 1:00 P:M: appointment and arrived a full 30 minutes early and was taken right in…there was 1 person ahead of me. MJ’s hairdresser told her that she had been told that there is vaccine that is thrown away every day because not enough people are availing themselves of it. Indeed there were several tables staffed by soldiers and they were petitioning me to come to their table.

I feel different after having received my first jab, as the British say, and I find myself looking toward the future with a heightened sense of safety and security. Our world has undergone pandemics in the past. Polio was a horrible scourge and tuberculosis was feared by millions…but science, by God’s grace, defeated those devastators of the human family. We are in the process of coming out of a life changing pandemic. It is our duty to look forward and embrace that light that is before us. Whatever good feeling and emotion that we feel…let us share that encouragement with another! When a little light shines upon our darkened path…let us grab the lantern and hold it in front of our caravan…to show the way…one step at a time…for our fellow travelers.

A Polaroid Picture Worthy Day

Please enjoy a wonderful blog from Jonathon Brooks.


Celebrations are good and good for us! My family practices the habit of keeping the party going for holidays and birthdays. I believe in celebrating all new days gifted. Each new day I aim to be better than the day before and have the new greatest day of my life. For me this is the best way to plot my days.

What was one of the happiest days in your life’s story? Has there been a wonderful moment that you recall often with fondness and joy? Or is there one Christmas that topped all of the others? One of my favorite birthdays was when I turned 23 because a friend had my stories published as a surprise present and also because I realized how truly young I was.

Let us celebrate for the applause of angels or the best of friends! The sorrow in our lives will have its say…

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Adapting To Change — The Jazz Man

A few weeks ago I mentioned to MJ that we should be seeing the first hints of spring at the end of February. Shortly thereafter we received the first a significant ice storm and then the largest snow that we had partaken of in the last 17 years. That was last week…today I am writing […]

Adapting To Change — The Jazz Man

A Winter To Remember

It is 52 degrees this Monday. Last week our numbers were in the single digits. We are experiencing the melting of a 9 inch snow. My friend, Mark, told me that we have not had a snow of the magnitude that we received since 2004. Jonathon and I struggled for over an hour in the endeavor of pulling his car out of our driveway so he could drive to work. A substantial snow and ice event will make clear what the saying, ‘So close…and yet so far,’ means. In our neck of the woods we natives all remember the blizzard of 1978. I recall when people in Eldorado, Illinois regularly put snow chains on their tires to facilitate their being able to drive their cars on the snow and ice. In my youth virtually all automobiles were rear wheel drive and they were like bumper cars at the carnival when a little snow fell. Many of the automobile models of the 1960’s and 1970’s were extremely sensitive to cold and consequently would not start when the weather was frigid. During my childhood the homes of the day had virtually no insulation and single paned windows. Often the houses were not built square and had gaps big enough to throw a cat through and the wind found its way into your living room and all other rooms that you inhabited. I lived in a house that I had to put Duck Tape all around the front door facing and along the threshold to ensure some semblance of normality and to aid in keeping the babies teeth from chattering.

Where will you go first once the pandemic fear has lifted? My friend, Linda, asked me that and I responded that I would go to Destin, Florida and then Booth Bay, Maine. After those two journeys…Edinburgh, Scotland is in our sites… It is amazing how much we can change if we are properly motivated. I saw an elderly lady today, and I am old, who was walking carefully with a walker along the clear pathways of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. She caused me to reflect on the many senior Parisians that I observed when I visited Paris. The walked with canes and walkers and hunched shoulders and stooped backs…but with a determination that was inspiring. We Americans often take to our rocking chairs on our front porches when we retire. We enjoy the absence of the, seemingly, life long requirement to work at least 8 hours per day and we rejoice in our freedom from labor. In just a few years our joints begin to stiffen and our eyesight grows dim and our hearing abates. Soon we move inside our homes to the recliner and the ability take a nap anytime…and the sap in our tree subsides. Then, when challenges arise we are certain that we are not longer able to address the needs before us…

Life is for the living and our physical bodies are made for movement. I have been dedicated to walking at least 10 thousand steps per day for a month now…and I feel better for it. Our pastor, Kerry, told our church yesterday that he was going to continue to present us with new things to keep our minds active…and I heartily agree! Travel is one of the methods that keep life interesting and engaging and compelling for me. When I travel I am exposed to different cultures than mine and new and, often, improved, ways of thinking and analyzing problems that are before me. Travel improves my perspective of my place in the world and how I can improve my appreciation for life.

I have an appointment to received my first shot of Covid 19 vaccine this Thursday. I can think of few happenings that I have been more excited to know is coming my way. We have lived in primarily a lock-down mode for a year. Every occurrence of socializing, which includes grocery stores and doctor’s visits…is a calculated risk. We are, ‘coming up from out of the wilderness, Leaning upon our beloved’…as the Song of Solomon says. We are battered and a wounded…but we are not beaten… Life continues for our family…the human family…let us let us lean on the arm for our beloved as we walk out of the woods of our Pandemic Night…

One Of A Kind — The Jazz Man

I am looking out at the most significant snow that we have experienced in a number of years in Southern Illinois. Several inches are on the ground, 71/2 inches, and some fantastic snow drifts. Along with the snow…and before that ice that has not had the opportunity to melt…we have bone chilling temperatures. It is […]

One Of A Kind — The Jazz Man

Love and Old Shirts

Another wonderful Jonathon Brooks Blog!


To Write Love On Her Arms is a charity I’ve long admired. This charity helps raise awareness for those dealing with depression, addiction, self injury and suicide. I bought one of their shirts at the Vans Warped Tour concert back in 2010 outside of St. Louis. An interesting story is that I still own the shirt and I’m actually wearing it as I type this blog post.

I’m thinking of getting another one of their shirts soon. What a great idea it is to shower people with love who feel hopeless and helpless! To write love instead of despair and destruction is quite wonderful. I’d go so far as to call it beautiful.

We can all write love in each other’s stories by being kind and considerate. We can choose our words wisely and our actions with wisdom as well. I believe lives are sometimes saved and the one who…

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The snow is falling…and I am not referring to the lyric from the well known song. Our forecast is for 6 – 12 inches of snow. Thats is a lot for Southern Illinois. It is 9 degrees above 0 with a 14 mile per hour wind which gives us a ‘feels like’ temperature of -9. Forty-two years ago this past weekend Little Egypt had a major blizzard. I had yet to begin working at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. Forty-two years sounds like a lifetime…but it is only a significant portion of mine at the age of 63. I am thinking of the unsung heroes of SIUC. The Grounds staff is, no doubt working non-stop to endeavor to get ahead of the most significant snowfall that we have experienced in several years. I have personally witnessed the herculean labor of this wonderful and often forgotten group of dedicated people who love their University! The chill factor is 9 below zero…step outside for just a minute…which is probably all that you need to expose yourself to… before the danger of frostbite sets in…and see what the outstanding Grounds Staff are undergoing to attempt to clear the roadways and sidewalks and steps and entrances to the university buildings…that we all enjoy using.

I spent my career in Building Services at the University. Most of the custodial staff works either the second or third shift. Their tremendous efforts at keeping our school’s buildings safe for our precious students and staff and faculty are constant and often not seen by the University Community. The continual mopping of snow melt and the drying of slick spots is never ending. The supreme dedication of the housekeeping staff is vital to the ongoing operations of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale and all to often is taken for granted by the University Community. When I consider the physical danger that our dedicated Grounds and Building Services staff have undergone through the past 42 years…I am overwhelmed with their unwavering dedication to our University!

I vividly recall 42 years ago as MJ and I were dating and soon to be engaged. She lived in a house trailer and her Maverick, Ford was snowed in with 18 inches of snow. I proceeded over to her dwelling to shovel her car out of the drifts that occurred due to the blizzard of 1978! I shoveled for an hour and there was at least another hour to go. I looked up from time to time to ensure that MJ was watching my labors… I weighed 169 pounds. Perhaps you think that is a lot of weight…I was very thin at 6 foot and 3 and 1/2 inches tall. The thinnest of my adult life. The first year that we were married I gained 50 pounds… I had not been eating much.

Our short life experience tend to repeat themselves. I remember my thoughts at 21 years of age and my current reflections at 63 years old. They do not vary much. I have been privileged to be married and united with MJ for the past nearly 43 years. Our 43rd anniversary is March 24th. I recall what a treasure I considered her nearly 43 years ago…and I feel the same today… I recall the snow and blizzard of 1978…and my young adulthood and my excitement at believing that I was going to secure the hand of my beloved… I remember the cold winter and what I perceive to be our long life ahead…and I look out the window of my Loft Office in my home at 108 Ash Wood Lane in Carbondale…and I am amazed at the rapid journey that has transported me from 1978…to 2021.

Eldorado had a great atmosphere for a childhood in Southern Illinois. It was full of kind people and safe environments for children. I grew up in Southern Illinois although I had been born in Chicago, Illinois. I probably would have been a different adult if I had been reared in Chicago. Not worse…just different… I was born in the land of southern influence and country thinking. Much of it is beautiful and pleasant and to be desired. Other beliefs and convictions I have brought from my time in the city and an urban environment. My feelings have been formed by my christian convictions and my career at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. I am convinced that we all have value in God’s eyes. I know that he is not a respecter her persons or positions. I know that, ‘Jesus loves the little children…all the little children of the world. Red yellow, black or white…they are precious in his sight…Jesus loves the little children of the world.’

Venturing Out — The Jazz Man

Baby it is cold outside. The roads are relatively clear while the parking lots are ice covered with little or no relief from the ice coverage accept for narrow paths to the door of the business. Nevertheless I felt compelled to venture out as I had not purchased MJ’s Valentine Day card. Her gift is […]

Venturing Out — The Jazz Man

The Secret

When I began in my life as an adult I was assured that the more money that your could make and acquire and the houses and lands that have your imprimatur on…are a physical sign of how successful that I had become. In fact, although it seems impossible now, I heard the doctrine of prosperity and silver and gold and stocks and bonds as a sure sign of God’s favor for my life. My fellow congregants were primarily poor and living on Social Security and of limited and humble means. I understood, as a lad, the impossibility of many of the elderly folks that were my blessed fellow church members of their becoming rich due to their christian walk. The chance of wealth might be attainable for a young person, as I was at the time, but to believe that the senior citizens of my little church would become rich because they kept the law of the Old Testament…was a fools errand… When ministers promise riches for a walk with Christ they are misdirecting their listeners from the humility of Jesus and his ministry. The christian walk is not about the obtaining of a McMansion.

Life is resplendent with the daily beauty of the little things. Our society implores us to be great. From an early age we are pushed to be the best and the brightest and the most successful and that success is measured primarily by how much money we have accrued. Hitler and Stalin and Mao accrued a lot of money and earthly riches…did this make them christians in good standing? Mother Theresa ministered to the lepors and the desperately poor of Calcutt, India…shouldn’t she have been wealthy for her humble christian service?

Lifes beauty is contained in it’s minutiae. We are programmed to look for the big bang and the marching band and the 4th of July Fireworks. We seek the praise of our colleagues and the bank account…of the Joneses… We hope that our position in our church will redound to a recognition of our christian maturing and our profound wisdom. We hunger for awards and recognition and newspaper articles that are written about our exploits and the smiling approval of those whom we meet as a sign of our community service.

Unsung and unrecognized and often members of the Great Unwashed are the people that have discovered the Secret. Those human beings that seek no ones praise or approval and who prefer that their good deeds are never known by anyone…have discovered the,’ peace that passes all understanding.’