Author Archive: bjaybrooks

Miramar Beach’s New Year Suprise

Billy B. and Chet and Jane and Mr. Ronald and Ms. Ira Kaye…were taking an after Christmas Holiday @ Miramar Beach, Florida. Billy B. and Chet and Jane had just left Santa at the North Pole and he was a bit depressed. He told them that it was somewhat common for him to suffer a little seasonal depression after the Big Christmas Push… 2021 had been an especially difficult Holiday Season with the Omicron Variant appearing in the midst of the Christmas Celebration. Humphrey, his primary assistant, and manager of the Toy Factory, had told Santa that he needed a visit to Miramar Beach to soak up some sun…but Santa was chilly. He had cheerfully put on his red shorts and his tee-shirt with a photo of Rudolph emblazoned on the front of it. He had his plastic Birkenstock Sandals for walking on the beach…and he had purchased some Cuban Cohiba Cigars to enjoy as he watched the emerald green waters of the Gulf. Santa usually switched from his customary Meerschaum Pipe in January…for his beloved Cuban Cigars…

Lauren Bacall, Humphrey’s wife, had accompanied the Jolly Old Elf and Humphrey to Miramar…she loved the annual Florida visits. She had purchased for Santa a couple of large novels at Sundog Books in Seaside. Lauren was Santa’s other personal assistant and she had thought that the Cigars and the new Mystery Novels would do the trick for her boss…but he was still a bit down… She went to Winn Dixie Liquor Store and purchased him some…Old Smoky Peanut Butter Whiskey… When he drank a sip or two…he began to smile from ear to ear… Santa ruminated on what method the Whiskey Distillers used to give the wonderful drink its peanut butter flavor.

As Santa walked the boardwalk out to the sugar-white sand beach at Miramar…he noticed a red Santa Cap that looked suspiciously like one of his on the head of an old man sitting in a beach chair…and apparently asleep in front of the Ocean. When he walked up to the old man and said, ‘Nice Hat,’ he noticed that the old gentleman did not move…and that he looked just like him… Santa shook the doppelganger and he was non-responsive… Suddenly there was Lauren beside him and she said, ‘I told you to not drink so much of the Peanut Butter Old Smoky…Whiskey.’

Santa awakened with a shiver…he was cold…and he looked about for the Peanut Butter Whiskey…and he wondered if it had all been a dream… He then returned to the Murder Mystery that Lauren bought for him as Sundog Books…’Death On The Beach…’

Monday @ Miramar

The Donut Hole Restaurant has a wonderful Cornbeef Hash breakfast. There is Hollandaise sauce for dipping the chunks of Cornbeef into. After a rainy afternoon and evening, Sunday, a cold front has moved in and the temperature is 56 degrees with an 18 mile per hour wind making it feel like 51. From year to year, there are many of the same staff at the DH. A lovely older lady…probably younger than me…served us this morning. You can feel free to arrive later in the morning in January than you can in May. When we were here in May we opened the seating at 6:00 A:M:…today 9:30 was more than sufficient. This afternoon I will be viewing the movie, Nightmare Alley, and I am looking forward to seeing it before I purchase the book later this month.

Many of the people that I have seen appear to be visiting like we are. I have witnessed more winter coats and gloves…and one lady with a woolen neck scarf tied securely around her neck as she power walked the beach… Being over halfway through our week in Miramar Beach…it is time to cut back on the food consumption. We have been eating 2 or 3 meals per day…and I am a 1 meal a day person with almost never eating breakfast. At home when MJ and I happen to eat lunch out…it is our meal of the day. I eat very slowly…which is learned behavior from choking so many times when wolfing down the groceries.

I have received so many kind compliments regarding the photos that I have taken during the past few days in Florida. Someone said that the sky was a strange color…while another person asked me if I was using filters to achieve some of the colorations of the pictures. Yes, it is a new program on my iPhone…and it really enriches the photographs. Of course, the natural beauty of the Ocean is indescribably lovely. I love Artistic Photography… My 2 primary hobbies of writing and photography have enriched my retirement…immeasurably.

One thing that I have learned as I have had the opportunity to travel to many parts of our world is that most people are good and of goodwill and they are hard workers that have little additional resources…more than they require to keep body and soul together. I grew up around hardscrabble and hard-working people. The few who have had the opportunities that many have never been afforded…often seem to feel entitled. Accompanying those opportunities some of them believe that they are a bit better than their lessers…and a bit smarter…and a bit more endowed with extraordinary leadership potential… When I saw the wonderful server at the Cowgirl Restaurant in Seaside on Saturday…I knew her work ethic and humility and servant’s heart…because I came up around people just like her.

So often there are the honest-hearted and there are those who want to take advantage of their big hearts. Recently I watched the movie, The Eyes of Tammy Faye Baker, and I was reminded of the tremendous scam in the name of religion that the Praise The Lord Club and the Bakers perpetrated on their unsuspecting supporters. Many precious old people sent their Social Security earnings to these Con Artists. While the Bakers became richer…their supporters became poorer. They collected money for certain items that they presented to their television congregation and then spent the money on themselves and their pet projects to enrich their lavish lifestyles.

As the preacher eats the finest cut of steak…and you are eating pork and beans to supply him with his luxury…you are not giving to God…you are donating to a Cult…

Sunday Brunch

McGuire’s Irish Pub in Destin, Florida is a great place to have Sunday Brunch. It is 73 degrees today with rain on the way… I had some delicious Eggs, Benedict, with steak pieces. Irish Coffee made the breakfast complete… I noticed that the traffic was almost non-existent on the drive to McGuires compared to last May when we visited. The comedic signage on the restrooms at one time… upset me…when I almost entered the Women’s Rest Room due to the confusion that the signs engender. Now I think that they are funny and have no problem negotiating the correct restroom. Breakfast this morning won the prize for fun…Everyone was laughing and talking at once and making plans for future holidays…and ‘Another Irish Coffee for me and my friends,’ (In the great spirit of Newman on Seinfeld). Our waitress seemed a bit taciturn…at first blush…but before we left…we were like family…

After Brunch, we went across the street to visit the Harbor and see all off the fishing boats. Then back to the Shopping Center across the street from the Condo to determine if Under Armor had any ‘Big Boy’ shirts for me. I found two…and Ron had to bring me back after I tried them on…as only one fit. I then examined every men’s shirt in the store…and finally found one polo shirt that was my size…and I happily paid for it and we came back for football watching by everyone but me…I would rather blog…

Late… the past two evenings I have been watching HBO’s program…Euphoria…and I have become engrossed in the fate of the young actors on the show. I am worried about them…as if the characters that they portray are real. It seems that they are all raising themselves and that their parents are feckless or not interested in their children’s lives. All of the kids are lonely and looking for love…from someone…

Our waitress, yesterday in Seaside, was such a genuine person and so kind…and she had a black eye…and her uniform had a hole in the top garment. I wondered if someone had hit her…or if she was being abused by someone. She seemed to absorb our friendly comments to her regarding her good service…

How many people are suffering in our midst…and we have neither eyes to see…or ears to hear? Wherever I have traveled…I have found hurting people. I was reared in a poor home for several years of my childhood. I was poor once again for a few years…upon my moving out on my own at the ripe old age of 17. My stepfather hated me…and I was happy to get away from him…and he was happy to see me leave. The road to success has many rocks and boulders in your path. When you have nothing and begin with less than nothing…it is not simple to find the Golden Path.

Florida is wonderful for thinking and planning and contemplating your future.

Saturday In Paradise

Rosemary Beach is a lovely and somewhat European-type Ocean front town. We had lunch at the Cowgirl Kitchen Restaurant and had the most delightful salad. It had fruit and candied nuts and goat cheese…with a replacement of feta cheese for me due to my allergy to goat cheese. I had one of the best Bloody Mary’s that I have ever experienced.

Have you ever had one of those days on a Holiday that you were taking…that everything went right and everyone was in perfect harmony…that was today. We visited Sundog Books in Seaside and I found two volumes to bring home with me…in my tiny suitcase. I have been purchasing books from Sundog each time that I visit Florida…and that has been over 12 years. Rosemary Beach had an easy and relaxing feel about it. People were neither in a frenetic hurry nor ill-tempered that they could not be ahead of their neighbors.

I noticed that many places that we have gone since our arrival Thursday…the majority of people that we encounter are wearing face masks. This would be somewhat different than our visit in May 2021. I purchase most of my clothes either in Florida or in Maine…as we have very few department stores in Little Egypt. There is an Outlet Shopping Center across the street from Ron and Ira Kayes Condo….and it has clothes that fit me at a reasonable price…this time… a 70% price reduction.

As I watch the Emerald Green Ocean…I ponder what we could humanly do to bring people together. Ron and I were talking about how much unhappiness and anger and strife…and depression there is in our world. More now than I have ever seen. I was watching a Series on HBO last night that was difficult to watch called Euphoria. As near as I could determine from one episode…it was about depressed and emotionally lost people…especially young people. A young lady cut her arms at one point to illustrate her determination to not be hurt by a young man who was threatening her. I started to turn the program off…and then I thought that this show was illustrating reality for many people. We are turning our heads and ignoring our precious children and our heritage for the next generation. We are placing the old paradigm of the Baby Boomer Generation on our children and grandchildren. I watched a middle-aged man taking advantage of a college-age woman. At the conclusion of the program… the young man who was threatening the young woman, who cut herself to prove her courageous resolve…was in a family photo as he angrily stomped up the steps of his family home to his bedroom…after a night of drugs and alcohol and abuse. His father was ‘the’ middle-aged man who took advantage of the college girl.

We have been obsessed with earning a living and living an upscale lifestyle…and we have lost our families and our loved ones…and our primary relationships…for more green paper…

Florida…Dreaming

We have left 15 degrees in Carbondale, Illinois for 54 degrees at Miramar Beach, Florida. I texted Aaron that it was a little chilly here…and he reminded me that it was at home…also. It is all in perspective. We visited Winn Dixie this morning and I listened with great interest as the person on the intercom announced that you could get cocktails and wine in the Hospitality Room of the Supermarket…and carry your drink throughout the store as you shopped…again location and perspective. Snowbirds is a common term in this neck of the woods. I am setting on Ron and Ira Kayes’s balcony and looking out at the brilliant Gulf of Mexico…with the sun shining on it. A few people are walking on the sugar-white sands of the beach…where cares evaporate in the emerald green water of the Ocean. January is a peaceful time to visit Miramar Beach and Destin. The slow down of the frenetic pace of the area is a welcome respite. We snowbirds move rather slowly…but we move with purpose and vision.

We traveled to Mascoutah Wednesday afternoon to attempt to beat the snow that began later that evening and through the night and that could have halted our plans to drive to the Mid America Airport early Thursday morning. Allegiant Airline provides one of the easiest ways of traveling to Destin, Florida that we have experienced in our 12 years of visiting here. Mid America Airport is a 90 minute drive from Carbondale and the trip after that takes just under one hour and one half. Driving from Carbondale to Destin takes about 12 hours. I was distracted by several persons speaking Spanish. There is a massive construction upgrade going on at Mainsail.

Sadly…we discovered that our neighbor and friend of nearly 20 years, Ken, died at home earlier this week. Ken was my favorite neighbor. He never failed to wave at us both when we left our house and when we later returned. Weather permitting…he was in his yard attending to his flowers or chipping golf balls. Each spring he received a large truckload of mulch that was subsequently dumped in his driveway. He spent a month carefully spreading the mulch around his and Barb’s abundance of beautiful flowers. He did not have the mulch delivered the past spring or two. When you met Ken…you felt good about the experience.

Winter Adventure…For Old Folks

Snow is in our forecast. At one time I laughed a lusty guffaw and plowed right through the accumulating white powder. There was a time that my buddy, Steve, and I attempted to reach our destination of cleaning the business offices off Ziegler Coal Company that was located on the far side of Johnston City…22 miles from our home. We found that we could not see the road… and so Steve stuck his head out of the passenger window and attempted to keep our vehicle out of the ditch. We did not succeed. It was a blizzard. We have a trip to Florida planned and want to avoid snow and ice…both getting to the airport and in Florida. Now for the first time in our lives, we have two four-wheel-drive vehicles, Subaru Foresters, and they are more equipped to take the rough weather than at any time in our lives…but the driver is out of the spirit of snow adventure.

Miramar Beach, Florida is a wonderful destination. We have enjoyed numerous visits with Ron and Ira Kaye over the years. They are such wonderful hosts and make us feel so welcome. I am mesmerized by the Ocean. I literally can look at it for hours on end. Each opportunity to visit with our family is precious. When I leave the lovely setting…I keep it in my heart. I love the geographical area that I live in…but Miramar Beach is so different than where MJ and I live…it is continually new to me at each visit.

I often recharge and plan anew when I am at Miramar Beach. The atmosphere is conducive to a pleasant reflection. I also plan for new adventures when I am there. Everything seems possible when you are directly in front of the Ocean… I am now working on my 12th year of retirement and our visits to Miramar Beach and time with Ira Kaye and Ron…have been integral to my retirement enjoyment.

We lost our 16-year-old Boston Terrier, Brody, a year ago today. He was a vital member of our family…and we miss him every day… I can still see him prancing down the long hallway of Aaron’s apartment building in 2015. He went with us to see his favorite human when he lived in Fishers, Indiana. He would stop directly in front of Aaron’s apartment door. When we took him outside to do his business…there was a dog park where he showed… He strutted in front of the other dogs…especially the females…and he cut quite a little figure…

The Afterglow

We are in Christmastide. ‘There are several celebrations within Christmastide, including Christmas Day (25 December), St. Stevens Day (26 December), Childermas (28 December), New Year’s Eve (31 December), The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (1 January), The Twelve Days of Christmas terminate with Epiphany Eve or Twelfth Night (the evening of 5 January). Wikipedia. We are basking in the Afterglow of Christmas. Family and friends have warmed our hearts and we have enjoyed their smiles and kindness…and subsequently, we have felt kinder ourselves. The joy of giving a gift and seeing the look of surprise on the recipient’s face and feeling their gratitude is priceless. Christmas allows us to see with special eyes and hear with special ears…and feel the meaning of, ‘Peace on earth and goodwill to men.’ Was it because of, ‘Some magic in that old silk hat they found…,’ as the song Frosty the Snowman says…or was it the magic of taking time to see each other and to listen to each other and to know each other…

Billy B. was full of the joy of Christmas. He had received all of the gifts that he had asked for and enjoyed the day with his family and his friends, Chet and Jane, and Daryl. Neva J. had been worried about Rosie all Christmas Day. She could not reach her and had even gone by her little home to knock on the door and attempt to raise her. Rosie lived alone and was a bit of a hermit. She talked to herself…a little…and answered herself…at times. She was a little round lady and she wore dresses called Moo Moos. Rosie loved Neva J. and confided in her. Rosie had been a dancer in Vaudeville and traveled the United States with the Dancing Troop that she was a member of. Her steady boyfriend for many years was a singer on the radio. They both enjoyed the exciting life of the Theatre and had many friends. Rosie told Neva J. that she had left her daughter with her sister to raise because she could not be with her on a regular basis due to her traveling with the Dance Troop. Her fiance, Bert, contracted tuberculosis and died. Her daughter disowned her. She had fallen into mental illness and destitution before Neva J. met her. Neva J. nursed her back to health and found her a little house and connected her to government assistance. She was her benefactor.

Rosie came to the door. Neva J. threw her arms around her and hugged her tight. ‘Rosie…I tried and tried to call you on Christmas to invite you to Christmas dinner,’ said Neva J. ‘June…I did not want to be with people that I do not know…but I would be happy to be with you and Billy B.,’ she responded. So, there you have it…Christmas happened again for Rosie…and Neva J. and Billy B….and it was more special than the first one… Rosie was dressed as Mrs. Claus and Billy B. came as Santa…and Neva J. was the angel…heralding the birth of the Christ Child…

Stories

A remembrance of a leader in our community upon his passing sites his ability to tell wonderful stories. We love stories. We live in a story! We are a story! When I hear the story of an ancestor or a historical figure and their challenges and accomplishments…I have to remind myself that they were as human as I am…their challenges were as great or greater than mine…and their accomplishments were as tenuous and desired as any that I have achieved and desired. Before I became a Christian…I was captivated by the Bible Story Books that I read in my Doctors office.

When I think of Dad I think of stories that I remember about him…and stories that I have been told about him. I often mention his leather motorcycle jacket his motorcycle hat and the fact that he carried a concealed handgun…that was illegal…on the street of Chicago. My father exists for me in stories. The same for Mom since her passing in 2013. I remember her care for the many country cats that she fed each day. She loved a glass of the boxed Franzia Wine…and she enjoyed ice cream called…Vienetta…which she slowly said as if to reveal the word too quickly would be more than the hearer could bear.

We have been to Europe 4 times…during the last decade…and all of the visits have become stories that we tell. I actually began blogging as a means of recording our traveling adventures and to have a record to look back on…as memory fades.

The Bible…both Old and New Testaments…are the stories of the Hebrew and Christian Faith. I have been a Christian for 53 years based on a story that mesmerized me. The Story has provided me with a path to trod and a road map of life…that has been fulfilling and given purpose to my journey.

One day each of us will die…and the next day our lives will become a story that our loved ones and friends and acquaintances tell…

Write your story…well…

Winter Has Arrived In Little Egypt

Yesterday the temperature was in the 60s…today it is in the 20s. The wind is blowing at 16 miles per hour and the chill factor is 13 degrees. Now, this is normal weather for Southern Illinois…but this fall and thus far winter…has not been normal. Traffic is slow as most folks are in by the fire. I wore the neck scarf that MJ got me for Christmas…it felt good. Winter is most enjoyable when looking at it through your window.

Discipline and responsibility are not always fun…but they are fulfilling. When I was a lad in Eldorado, Illinois I really did not compare mom and my life to others. I knew what our reality and resources were and felt satisfied that we were doing the best that we could with the tools that we had to work with. Life was simpler and often better without the constant harassment of Facebook and its comparisons to others that have more earthly goods…and who seems to be having…constant fun…without cost. The Lottery is a multi-billion dollar industry that is financed by many people who are using the butter and egg money to purchase the magical Lottery Ticket. Dreams are mystical and magnificent things…and working to fulfill your dreams is a worthy goal. Dreams that lead to poverty and sorrow…are not the substance of hope.

Photo by Samantha Garrote on Pexels.com

On October 10, 1978, I was hired as a Building Service Worker at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. Custodial work is a fundamental bedrock need in our society. Not glamorous or often sought after…but a dream come true for MJ and me. I emersed myself in my housekeeping duties. I did not consider my position a ‘Bridge Job’ to a better position. I understood that if I sought excellence in my service and kept a servant’s heart…my work would be recognized by some. I knew from my first day that I wanted to be a Professional Housekeeper…I wanted to be the best that I could be.

Often we grow discouraged that our climb on the Ladder Of Success…is not moving as rapidly as we believe that it should be. We witness others get ahead by rhetoric and deception and we wonder…if anyone is watching or noticing… There is no easy answer if we choose to compare ourselves to our neighbor…if we focus on excellence and the fundamentals of our success…we will be rewarded…in time. True success is incremental.

Happy 2022

Lentils and ham for dinner today. Home-made cheeseball to accompany the New Years Feast. It rained all day and now the thermometer is dropping precipitously. Aaron and I watched a Horror Film…that we still are trying to decipher. Jonathon and I put the Christmas decorations back into their Christmas Closet. Aaron helped MJ with dinner. If the holidays teach me anything…they teach that life is short. When I reflect on Christmas past…they seem like yesterday. Christmas is a Station in our earthly travel. A time to remember and a time to plan for the future. Time to take stock of what seems to be a random set of occurrences and circumstances…when you are experiencing them…but in reality, they make up the fabric of your life.

Colder temperatures will come as a shock to the many who have received significant tornado damage to their homes…especially in Mayfield, Kentucky. I saw a man with many rags and blankets attempting to sleep in a doorway in Carbondale. When you see the homeless…it is difficult to conceive how horrible it is to Sleep Rough…as the English refer to homelessness. We have been experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures most of December…now the full force of winter in Southern Illinois is coming…tonight.

It has been said that to continue to do the same things and to expect different results…is a form of insanity… 2022 can be a year of change for each of us. The change will be all around us and it will demand our attention and our time and our talents. If we can have a spirit of change…we will be much happier with what the New Year brings us. We can accept responsibility for our actions in the New Year. The Change that we want to occur in ourselves…is our responsibility. Another human is never going to take the interest in you that you naturally have in yourself. Your failure is usually your primary responsibility and your success is attributed to your hard work and sweat and determination.

Visualization…helps in the achievement of goals. If you can see yourself firmly in the place or position or succeeding in the goal that you have set for yourself…it will be achieved. There is an old saying that ‘Rome was not built in a day,’ and neither will our goals be achieved in a day. Success is incremental. You do not fail overnight…and you do not succeed…overnight.

Happiness comes from the continued pursuit of excellence. I wonder if many marriages fail due to each partner having unrealistic expectations of the happiness that their partner is going to bring them. Usually what you work at in endeavoring to make another happy…will come back to you… Karma