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Look for the New in 2022

jonathonbrooks

A new year is two weeks underway! Did you make any new goals for 2022? A new goal of mine is to write more fiction stories this year. I find great joy and satisfaction in completing a new short story. Another goal of mine is to read more books this year than last year. In 2021 I read 43. A third goal is to lose around 15 pounds. Let’s cheer each other on in our goals.

Resolutions are too all or nothing for me. When I think of a resolution I think of the idea of giving up something for the religious season of Lent. I’ve never tried to give up anything for the Lent season for 40 days because I’ve always known I would fail within the first week. I resolve to make no more resolutions in the month of January.

What shall the new year bring us? Certainly…

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Snow Watching

The Great Florida Holiday…has ended. We had a lovely visit with our family…Ira Kaye and Ron. They are such wonderful hosts. We have been visiting Miramar Beach for 12 years and the time has flown by. I thought that I was old…12 years ago…now I know that I am. Destin and the surrounding communities are wonderful and serene places to spend time in. Of course, the Ocean is a constant reminder of the unparalleled beauty of our Home. I never tire of observing the marking of time on earth’s clock…by the neverending waves coming to shore.

MJ and I have been to Sams to re-supply the pantries. Snow is on our horizon… It is not much colder…at the moment…than it was in Florida…but it certainly feels like it is. I am gazing at our pond and imagining that it is the Ocean.

It is a bit difficult to keep up with the changing instructions that are rapidly being issued by the CDC and our health professionals. I heard today that our face masks need to be upgraded to either the M95 or the KM 95…and that the cloth masks that we have been wearing for the past 2 years…are little more than decoration against the Omicron Variant. Our church has closed its doors for in person worship for the next 2 weeks. Worship will be by Zoom. This is cautious…and it is correct. Covid 19 is going to be a part of our New Normal…for the foreseeable future.

A significant amount of people still believe that our Pandemic is a Goverment Scam and that the Virus is little more than a common flu. They also believe that many of those who have lost their lives to Covid have been misreported as to the cause of death and that in reality their friends or loved ones passed from this world due to…heart disease…or diabetes or cancer or other debilitating diseases. The truth is that our Pandemic exacerbated the already weakened immune system of people with life threatening illnesses…and they died…and some played a bit of Russian Roulette with the greatest Plauge of any of our lifetimes…

Snow Watch is proceeding at the Brooks Ranch. We do not receive many large snows and icy winter storms…but when we do…they are not to be trifled with…

A Good And Pleasant Land

The Ocean Club has wonderful fresh seafood. MJ and I had a lovely Seafood Platter last evening…and as Ron would say…’It was to die for!’ We ordered and consumed the Bounty during the two for one special…which is something that we Snowbirds enjoy. Speaking of snow…the forecast for Carbondale, Illinois is snow this weekend. We are getting home just in time for some wintertime fun…

As I am confronted with the beauty of the Ocean I wonder if we appreciate what a lovely planet we live on. Human history is short…the history of one human life…is like a Weaver’s Shuttle. We are little more than a puff of wind that is forgotten soon after it passes. Each of us is under the mistaken illusion that we are old and have lived a long life and have seen or experienced all that life has to offer. In reality, our understanding and comprehension are that of a common Housefly that has a life span of 24 hours. Entire civilizations have been birthed and grown and died…and yet the Ocean Waves…keep coming to shore.

Now…we are one planet in the midst of billions of galaxies and trillions of planets…of which our scientists are discovering new ones each day that could support life… Other planets, Mars perhaps, could have experienced the rise and fall of civilizations…millions of years ago. We could be in the midst of a life-changing event on Earth…and not possess the frame of reference to understand what is happening to us…

The Bite-Size Mission that we humans have been given…to be kind and compassionate to each other…seems to be more than we are capable of. We still have a chance to get it right. As I ponder the vastness of the emerald green Gulf Coast waters…I wonder where we fit in…in the vastness of space and time and purpose of the miracle of life… Are we a bit like Narcissus…constantly admiring our own reflection? If we have some resources…do we feel special and blessed…while our perception is that our poor neighbor is…cursed? Do we…really…want to reach beyond the front door of our gated community…to learn of others?

Are you exhausted but can not sleep…hungry but never satisfied…a recluse and insular and an introvert…because people scare you? I am watching an elderly couple walk slowly out to the Ocean. The old man is carrying the beach chairs for both him and his wife. Their steps are a bit arthritic…but their determination is the same as when they were first married. They understand that life is to be lived and the juice of the fruit to be savored and it may drip down your chin…onto your white beard…but you know that you are a member of God’s Marvelous Creation…and you were born with a purpose…

Santas Miramar Beach…Conundrum

Santa stared at his doppelganger who was before him…with his Santa Hat on his head…and a lit cigar in the 1957 California Pottery Ashtray that was balanced on the arm of the beach chair that he was sitting in…dead… Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall…Santas 2 primary personal assistants…were apoplectic regarding the condition of their beloved boss. ‘How did this happen…he was fine and in good spirits when we left him to go to Sundog Books to purchase for him the book…Nightmare Alley’ said Lauren B. ‘He was going to read it before the three of us went to the Destin Commons AMC Theatre to view the new Nightmare Alley flick…with his 2 favorite actresses, Toni Colette and Cate Blanchette,’ replied Humphrey B. For you must understand that the only Santa that Humphrey and Lauren saw was the dead Santa…they did not see the other live one…

Santa pondered how he could have such a perfectly identical twin. When they were boys they had regularly fooled the grade school teacher at Hillcrest School. Then it dawned on him that his twin brother, Dave Kringle, had passed away 30 years ago… He was looking at the mirror image of himself…quite dead… Suddenly up walked Dave. Santa said, ‘Is that you brother…or are there now three of us?’ Dave answered, ‘Kris…your old heart just ceased to beat…and we are in the waiting room between life and death…how do you like it?’ ‘Well, I wanted to finish my Peanut Butter Old Smoky Whiskey and my Cohiba Cigar…and to read Nightmare Alley,’ replied Santa. ‘Also, I have committed to another 5-year contract as the active Santa Claus…hoping to see the children through the world through the Pandemic…before I retire, Said Kris Kringle.

‘He opened his eyes,’ said Lauren B. ‘Oh…I must have fallen asleep again…I just can not seem to stay awake…were you able to find…Nightmare Alley?’ said Santa.

Santa awakened to the sound of his own snoring. The darkened theatre was conducive to a nap. There was Toni Colette helping Bradley Cooper’s character take a bath…Santa thought…what a strange dream…and I must try to remain awake…to tell his chief elves…Aaron and Jonathon…about the movie…

Nightmare Alley @ Destin

Last evening we visited the Cinema. We have been there on several occasions through the last 12 years. A number of those sojourns were to the IMax Theatre. Yesterday was not…but it was still a big and empty movie emporium. I am accustomed to an extremely large crowd when I visit the Destin Commons…with kids and harried parents and excitement all around. I was alone in the stadium seating theatre until just before the start of the show…when 5 people came in.

Theatres have suffered financially during our 3 calendar year Pandemic. I am dismayed that many of them have been able to remain open. One of my primary retirement goals at the outset of the adventure was to attend the movies at least twice a week. This goal I kept for the first years of the adventure. Since our Pandemic I did not visit our local Theatre for over a year…and after that…2 or 3 times.

Nightmare Alley was a wonderful study in human nature and peoples subseptibillity to Con Men and Grifters. The story illustrated that there are individuals who work diligently at protecting themselves from real work as their study is how to separate their unsuspecting clients from the money that they have earned through their labor. Often what appears as miraculous or magnificent…is no more than a practiced and elaborate scam.

It is another chilly day at Miramar Beach…yet several degrees warmer than Carbondale, Illinois. I have succeded or exceeded my goal of 10 thousand steps per day…for the last 4 days. For me this is a fitness goal that I have worked on for over a year and 7 days a week. Retirement has been a pleasant experience and has thus far gone by rapidly. I was talking with Ira kaye and Ron regarding the key to my retirement contentment…having hobbie goals that I work on daily…

Cigar for the Old Man And The Sea…may be in order for today. I spied a Cigar Store yesterday evening on the way to the Theatre.

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.