Author Archive: bjaybrooks

A Sad Day

Yesterday was a tragic and sad day for our country. It was devastating for Republicans and Democrats and Independents. I say this as a person who has voted for both political parties. Some things are more important than political affiliations. A political leader is not all right or all wrong simply by being a member of one party or another. As I feel about many elements of our society that we put so much emphasis on…politics is meaningless in the great hereafter. However I do feel that there is a clear line of demarcation between good and evil and right and wrong. The storming of our Capitol which is the People’s House…was wrong! The House that is for all peoples of the United States was desecrated and everyone was put at risk of their life! Four people are dead! This was an act of insurrection and an attempt at a coup…that was fostered by the president of the United States.

Imagine…if you can…that your family was placed in harms way by your president. The demonization of members of both political parties has given license to many human beings to loot and pillage and destroy the very seat of their government that provides the freedom that they enjoy… I relish the freedoms that I have in our wonderful country. I am free to write my opinion in my blogs and fear no retaliation from my government. I have many friends who are supporters of our current president. I not only believe that they have the right to their opinions but appreciate the fact that they have the right to their freedom of speech. Freedom of speech does not extend to breaking windows and breaking in to our nation’s Capitol! Freedom of speech does not extend to an attempted coup to stop the peaceful transition of power from the current president to the president elect.

We were the envy of the world. We were the lighthouse that shown a brilliant light to nations who were struggling to form a democracy. Yesterday we were a Banana Republic and a laughing stock to the world… Once we loose our democracy…there will not be additional freedoms. Dictators are not permissive regarding their citizens having guns. An Authoritarian Leader will kill people that storm their capitol! If I have learned anything…I have discovered that there is a large number of us that really do not want to have a democracy! Democracy means that all of the 330 million citizens of the United States have voice in their government. When we lose that voice…neither the right wing or the left should expect that their voice will be the one that is heard…and respected. Democracy is hard and requires the active work of all of our citizens to make it work. For those who think that violence is necessary and a tool to be used to return their government to them….remember that Despots and Dictators and Strongmen…are mercurial…and you could be next for the ‘righteous judgment’ of the leader who as captured power…

Another World — The Jazz Man

I read the other day that some quantum physicists have a new theory that life is merely a simulation and that nothing is real. Now isn’t that a ‘Fine kettle of fish?’ The new hypothesis caused me to think of a movie that I enjoyed a few years ago called ‘Another Earth.’ In the science […]

Another World — The Jazz Man

Goodbye Brody Jack

We began with Boston Terriers in 1991. We purchased a little meek fellow and we called him Bruiser. Aaron and Jonathon were both young and MJ and I thought that it was good for our boys to grow up with a dog. That was 30 years ago and we have not been without a Boston since…until today… Brody Jack came from Carterville, Illinois and he was the runt of the litter…but he was a scrapper and he knew how to ‘hold his own.’

As MJ and Jonathon and I were watching him interact with his sisters the woman who was selling him said that he was the last of the family that she had not sold and that there was a couple coming to look at him shortly. When we inquired if we had to wait on the prospective buyers decision she said that we were there and he was ours if we wanted him. Then another couple arrived and began looking at Brody Jack…longingly…MJ picked him up and would not let him go…

Aaron arrived home from a wedding that he had attended in Florida…and he came to our bedroom door and said, ‘What have you guys done?’ We replied that we had a new member of the family. Soon thereafter Aaron and Brody became best friends and comrades. Often when I arrived home after work there was Aaron and Brody sitting on the couch…looking as if they had the world by the tail. We all knew that Aaron was Brody’s favorite human!

MJ took BJ to Dog School…better know as Obedience Training…and he excelled above all of his classmates! We found that he throughly enjoyed raisins and MJ fed them to him each evening. I noted that he seemed to relish almonds and that they seemed to bring a wide grin to his face when he was consuming them. Soon we discovered that both favorite food groups were toxic to dogs…and those pleasures were halted. However, today he was 16 years and 8 months and 3 days old. For his last meal he enjoyed some raisins…

Aaron lived in Fishers, Indiana in 2015 and we took Brody Jack on several visits to his FH, Favorite Human, and he was in top form, although he was 11 years old…he still flirted with the ladies in the dog park and scurried down the long hall to Aaron’s apartment…and he knew exactly which one it was!

Jonathon was involved with Brody every day and contributed significantly to his daily care. Brody loved Jonathon and Jonathon loved Brody. Jonathon patiently carried Brody up and down the stairs to our basement and spoke to him as you would a beloved grandfather…

MJ held Brody on her lap from about noon until 10:00 pm, with a few breaks, each day. MJ was Mommy to Brody and her careful and loving care added years to his life. Brody was a bit of an athlete in his senior years as he went to Hydrotherapy once a week for his last 14 months. The staff at Striegel Animal Hospital and Dr. Dogget are kind and compassionate.

Brody got into our hearts and we will never forget him. I think that I heard our other departed Boston Terrier, Wallace, call out to him a welcome and an invitation to run and play and jump…without any more pain…

2021 — The Jazz Man

The New Year has come to us with less fanfare that is customary and more hope that in recent history. I walked through the Campus Woods today and discovered that the Christmas ornaments have been removed…just as they should be. This is my first year in sometime that I have not constructed some New Year […]

2021 — The Jazz Man

A Brown Sugar and Butter Year Ahead!

So this is the big day and the last day of 2020. At this time in 2019 many of us were excited to be entering the Roaring 20’s! We did not know what was in store for us. Of course that is the constant condition of life, but we have good reason to believe that we are going to be able to extricate ourselves from the Grim Reaper Grip of the Pandemic. Indeed I have experienced in 63 years that some years are better than others. An open door is before us…and we will walk through it. Being an extreme lover of all things that are related to Christmas I vowed one year to think about the holiday each day and attempt to develop a feel for how long it felt like from one Christmas to the next. I was amazed at how rapidly the days and weeks and months did fly! As I have reached the Golden Years I have reflected on how short life is…and how much of it we fritter away on ephemera.

Common refrains that can be heard are; ‘I hope to travel when I retire,’ or perhaps ‘I will spend more time with my kids just as soon as I get caught up with work.’ Life is going on while I am writing this Blog Post. Life is happening all around you while you are reading the words that I wrote. We are all in an immersion experience that is not going to suddenly become ‘heavenly’ or ‘hellish’ without our active participation. Our New Year will be the 1st year of the rest of our lives!

Peace and joy and happiness are not contained in the big events of life. Certainly major happenings tend to be mile markers indicating where we have been and where we are going…but the joy of living is in the mundane and routine. Planning for a lovely vacation is exciting and inspirational…it is as significant to trust that you have the health sufficient to enjoy the pleasant work of travel… Our family has traveled on numerous occasions to visit Ron and Ira Kaye at Destin. There are a multitude of things to do in this tourist Mecca…but there is nothing that I enjoy more than watching the magic majestic allure of the ocean as it preforms its endless waves of natural beauty.

MJ and I were talking earlier about the effect you can have by being nice and kind to those you interact with. A kind word makes my day. When another human is empathetic toward me and is friendly…I feel better. I think that one of the greatest tools to make 2021 special for each of us it to treat each other like we want to be treated. Rather that being proud or boastful of how we told someone off or ‘read them the riot act’…why not apply a little brown sugar and butter to their sweet potato?

2020 In Our Rearview Mirror

Christmas Day was the coldest that I could remember. The chill factor was 0 degrees. Jonathon had been telling me for a few weeks that I was going to be surprised by one of my gifts. Laughing Santa has returned to my home after a 40 year absence. Jonathon had purchased for me a Laughing Santa, made in the 1950’s by the Gund Company…and he is an exact replica of the one that I had in my youth at Chicago, Illinois. Then I received a BaronFig Brass pen and pen holder. Finally, Aaron brings out of the closet a lovely bottle of Belvedere Vodka…and I was a happy 63 year old!

Saturday brought us our dear family, Ira Kaye and Ron, and our celebration of their 8 year anniversary. They bore gifts of the most delicious cheeses and treats and wine…and fun and laughter… We spoke of an upcoming visit to Destin, Florida in May…and our hope for better days. Laughing Santa looked on with mirthful approval!

Photo by Taryn Elliott on

Sunday brought my decision to visit the emergency room regarding the calf of my right leg …which had been swelling significantly for most of the Pandemic. It cycled between better to worse…but worse was winning. When I was placed in a bed…quickly…and the emergency room nurses began to gather as if they had not seen such a magnificent specimen of a leg before…I knew that I was in the right place. In any case after many tests MJ and I, as well as Aaron and Jonathon, were relieved to discover that it was a skin infection that could be treated with antibiotics with no internal problems. After 6 bags of intravenous antibiotics and a night in the hospital…my leg is much better. I have been waiting for Covid 19 to subside…I should not have waited so long. I frightened MJ…the boys…and for that there is no excuse. MJ asked me why I had waited so long to visit the doctor when I had sat with her for her doctors appointments in St. Louis. I said that for her I would do anything and I thought that my medical issues could wait. I had the most wonderful nurses and the one that cared for me in the emergency room was gifted in removing fear and bringing joy! I enjoyed my second Covid test in less that two weeks, and it was the one that uses two swabs and the second one goes deep into the nasal cavity…it feels like you may have felt when you go swimming and get water up your nose.

2020 has been a year of uncertainty and fear and sadness. Many people, especially older, have been putting off their medical needs due their fear of contracting the virus and possibly dying. Yet, throughout all of the dimness and darkness of the first year of our new decade…there are leaders walking in front of us who are shinning a light for us to follow the winding path out of our current morass… When I was in the process of being transferred up-stairs to the 4th floor for my nights stay in the hospital Dr. Kumar asked me why I had waited so long to come to the emergency room. I responded that I was afraid of Covid and the possibility of dying…until I considered that I could die of an infected leg at home. He laughed and said that although my leg probably would not have killed me…since they would just cut it off…it still would not be a good outcome. I retorted that I could brag that I had survived Covid and had given a leg in the process. Humor helps in stressful times!

Tommy’s Christmas Transformation

Christmas Carolers were singing ‘Good King Wenceslas’ next to the 15 foot brilliantly lit statue of Santa Claus that stood in front of the bank on the Eldorado town square. Just down the street the Orpheum Theatre’s marquee was aglow with the Jimmy Stewart Christmas movie ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’ Shoppers were scurrying in and out of the Ben Franklin Dime Store and P.N. Hirsch Department Store. Tommy was walking with his mother along the colorfully festooned streets and thinking about what fun he had experienced when Chet had asked him to join the other members of the class in decorating the Christmas Tree. Marilyn’s singing had been wonderful and his pal, Chet, along with his friends, Parker and Porter, had made him feel as if he was a appreciated member of the class…something that he had not felt before. Tommy had been born with an unusual curvature of his spine and had to wear a back brace. Due to the many corrective surgeries that he had undergone he had been held back in school for 2 years. Tommy had learned to read when he was 4 years old and he devoured books…many above his age group. During Christmastide he read a Christmas Carol and Mark Twain’s ‘A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’ Court.’

C.P. Burnet came out of the front door of the bank that was named after him and he saw Tommy and his mother listening to the carolers. ‘Tommy…my good man…would you do me a huge favor and read the Christmas Story at my church’s Pageant, tonight? Now Tommy had not been accustomed to being asked to be in the spotlight for any event that he could ever remember…and he said yes with a wide grin on his face!

Mr. Burnett walked up to the microphone at First Presbyterian Church in Eldorado. ‘I have a special treat for you this evening to conclude our Christmas Pageant. My good friend Tommy has graciously agreed to read the Christmas Story for us,’ Mr.Burnett said. Tommy slowly walked up the steps leading to the place where the pastor customarily stands for his Sunday Sermons. Tommy walked with the aid of two canes and took a significant amount of time ascending the 6 steps. Then…he began to read… ‘He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from who men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has born our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth…’ Silence hung in the holiday air of the First Presbyterian Church…then Tommy said…now for the Christmas Story…’

‘And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flock at night. And the angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in a manger.’

Tommy walked slowly down the steps and into the congregation as they all surrounded him…with tears in their eyes…and wonder and awe at the power of his delivery. After sometime Mr. Burnett came up to Tommy’s mother and asked where he was… ‘Tommy is gone…for now,’ his mother said. ‘But…Mary…where has he gone…he will need assistance to walk very far…’ Mary responded, ‘He has gone to be with his father…he knows how to care for him…’

Two Little Lost Lonely…Souls

Excitement and anticipation permeated the classroom! Mrs. Kittinger’s first grade class was bubbling over with the joys of Christmas. Today was the day to trim the Christmas Tree and they had each brought ornaments from home to make the tree their very own creation. Parker had several glass ornaments that looked very old. She told Chet and Porter that her mom had told her that they were Victorian and that she must be very careful with them and be sure that she hung each of them herself. Then she smiled and told her best friends that they could help her! Chet had tinsel to hang on the tree…and he had a lot of it. Porter had his GI Joes and Daniel Boone who looked like the actor Fess Parker, who portrayed Daniel Boone on TV. He also brought his action figures, Johnny West and Chief Cherokee and even Stony the soldier…whose legs did not bend. Porter’s plan was to create a western Christmas scene…and a World War II Christmas Scene under the live fir tree. It was Tuesday, December 22, 1962…and school was going to be dismissed early tomorrow and not be back in session until after New Year’s Day.

Soon everyone…or almost everyone was busily bustling around the Christmas Tree and all were talking at once. Chet mentioned to his friends that Marilyn and Tommy were sitting in the back two corners of the classroom and seemed sad. Parker proceeded back to Marilyn and Chet and Porter headed for Tommy. Marilyn was a pretty blond headed little girl that always seemed to want to enter into activities and fun…but did not know how to make the first step. When her classmates would speak to her she would smile and look away from them. On the first day of 1st grade…Marilyn had been so nervous that she had a accident…and from there all seemed to progress downhill. Her clothes always looked brand new and her mother sat with her at recess and lunch and brought her to the classroom door each morning and was waiting for her beloved daughter at the close of the school day. Porter had noticed that even when her mom would take her hand that Marilyn would smile and look away from her mother. Tommy sat with his mouth open for most of the day. Sometimes he drooled…and sometimes he fell asleep in class. Unlike Marilyn…Tommy seemed unkempt and had a odor about him that was somewhat unpleasant. Chet talked with Tommy everyday and Tommy loved to see Chet. He laughed and said, ‘How are you Buddy?’ Chet asked Tommy to come and help him decorate the Christmas Tree and Tommy replied that most of the kids did not like him and so he did not want to upset them this close to Christmas. Chet responded, ‘You are my best friend and there is no one that I would rather decorate a tree with or celebrate Christmas with…than you!’ Tommy laughed and jumped out of his desk chair and looked like he had been reborn!

Marilyn took Parker’s hand and slowly walked back to the holiday festivities as she smiled and looked down at the floor. Parker told Marilyn that her mom had sent some old Victorian ornaments with her to decorate the tree and that she had told her to not let anyone place them on the tree but her…but that she wanted Marilyn to help her…and Chet and Porter shook their heads in agreement. As Parker and Marilyn were hanging the ornaments…Parker told her that she had overheard her singing in Music Class and that she had a beautiful voice. Marilyn began so sing, ‘Away in a manger no crib for his bed. The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head. The Stars in the sky looked down where he lay…the little Lord Jesus…asleep in the hay.’ Then…the entire class began to sing, ‘The cattle are lowing The poor baby wakes But little Lord Jesus No crying he makes I love Thee, Lord Jesus Look Down from the sky And stay by my side ‘Til morning is nigh…’ Mr. Skelton, The Music teacher stuck his head in the first grade classroom and began to lead the class in the last verse of the song, ‘Be near me Lord Jesus , I ask thee to stay Close by me forever, and love me I pray Bless all the dear children, in thy tender care And fit us for heaven, to live with thee there.’ Marilyn looked into Parker’s eyes and smiled as a tear coursed down her cheek…

‘Bless all the dear children…’

The Longest Night — The Jazz Man

Fifty-nine degrees on the first day of winter. Very pleasant compared to what it could be…and will be in the future. The Winter Solstice marks the shortest night in the year. Contrary to what almost everyone says regarding being lovers of long days and short nights…I must disagree! I worked evenings and nights for much […]

The Longest Night — The Jazz Man

Christmas For Boris

December 20 was staring back at Boris as he gazed at the calendar. He had awakened believing that it was Christmas Day. When his mom informed him that it was almost time for church and that he had overslept…he scurried to get his shower and prepare for Zoom Church! You see, dear reader, Boris had been attending Zoom Church since last march of 2020…when the pandemic reared its ugly head in the United States. Boris and his best friend Rocky had been talking of little else for the entire month of December. He had made a study of the brightly wrapped gifts that were under their Christmas Tree. There were large ones and small ones and some that rattled like something was broken on the inside of them. Boris tried not to shake these as vigorously as the others! Rocky reported that he believed that two of the gifts that he was going to receive were of Jake and Elwood…or better known as the Blues Brothers. Rocky had found the rare action figures at Electric Larry’s in Carbondale. Now Electric Larrys was a Emporium for the nerd and the geek among us…and of course for Boris and Rocky… Boris was desiring a set of Star Trek Bobbleheads consisting of all of the Captains of the Starship Enterprise…through out television history…beginning with Captain Kirk! Rocky had his heart set on an action figure of Quentin Tarantino’s character of Mr. Brown in the movie ‘Reservoir Dogs.’

Natasha met the boys at E.L..’s. She was searching for Vintage Garments…and Larry had an abundance! She also enjoyed Antique Comics and had quite a collection of Superman editions. When they saw Natasha they noticed that she had on her knee boots and Mod Cap… Boris’s mom often referred to Natasha as a ‘Pip’ and Boris always wondered what that title meant. Natasha told Boris and Rocky that she had seen Pinkus yesterday and that he had told her that his family, of which was him and his mom, would not be exchanging gifts this year. He went on to say that his mom had lost her waitress position at S & B’s Burgers when they had closed due to the pandemic. Pinkus mom had been able to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table…and she usually spent more than she had for Pinkus on Christmas. She had been looking for work but the hospitality industry had ground to a halt due to the forced closures coming from fear of Covid spread… Pinkus and his mom were living at the Good Samaritan Homeless Shelter…and at least they were not cold or hungry like they had been in November.

Boris proclaimed that he had an idea! He and Rocky and Natasha rushed to their homes and each retrieved 3 Christmas gifts that were addressed to them from under their Christmas Trees. Then he said…let us readdress them to Pinkus and his Mom and ask them to join us for Christmas? Boris then thought that a real Christmas gift would be for he and his mom and dad to invite them to stay with them until they could get on their feet…after all they had a 12 room house and several of the rooms they seldom entered… Natasha and Rocky went to Good Samaritan House and invited Pinkus and his mom, Mary, to come to Boris house as they were going to be their guests until life improved. Mary wept tears of joy when she heard the words of love and concern…and she had not even seen the gifts…yet…

Boris dad, who was called Bullwinkle, was a small man with a big heart. When Bullwinkle heard about the plan that had been devised by Boris and Rocky and Natasha…he not only said that Mary and Pinkus were welcome…but that he would help Mary get a job with Southern Illinois University…as he still knew some people there… Pinkus danced and sang a song of joy, ‘No one will call me poor little Pinkus…anymore!’

Boris and Rocky and Natasha were all smiles Christmas morning. The look of happiness on Pinkus and Mary’s face were priceless… And Boris still received his Russian Nesting Doll of Boris Yeltsin and all of the other leaders of Russian…increasingly small and inside of Yeltsin…and Boris said…’What a Country!’ And it was a gift from Electric Larry’s Emporium…

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