The Adventures of Harrison and Human (Chapter-1)

 

I could’ve sworn someone had just spoken to me in a near whisper…

“Pssst… hey human!”

Perhaps this was a mere figment of my imagination? Oh… say… my erroneously assigning human syntax and phonics to what was… in actuality… a mere, momentary wind gust rustling a nearby lilac thicket’s leaves? Well… I had no sooner summarily dismissed this as such a phenomenon than the unseen speaker spoke again… this time with added conviction and decibels…

“Hey! Over here!”

My ears now properly attuned, they advised a 180 spin. Pivoting on my heels… lo and behold… there he was! And most assuredly, this was no ordinary, up-at-the-crack-of-dawn passerby… no jogger or nature walker was he.

Indeed, amidst the stray sunbeam lit, verdant field of clover, sat an up on his haunches, uncharacteristically unskittish rabbit… sporting a dapper, multiple gradations of brown, furry coat and tails. Uh… correction… let’s make those “tails” one, fluffy, grayish-white cottontail.

Even though I could not immediately reconcile the contradictory aural / visual sensory input, at hand… there could be no denying his presence. But a talking rabbit? NO… I would not… could not… “go there!”

Was I actually starting to sense his amusement, too? I could not be certain. What was for fur sure? Being at a distinct psychological disadvantage.

Transfixed and momentarily speechless were we… he… casually chewing on the clover leaves within his twitching whiskered mouth… I… desperately ISO any signs of the human responsible for those uttered, two, brief sentences. But, with no such person in the vicinity, I began wondering if straitjackets are custom tailored or only a one size fits all / off the rack prospect.  Just when I thought my jaw could not drop any further… said he… omg… SAID HE?

“Yes… it really IS just you and me.”

Was his accompanying chortled chorus to mock or reassure me?

I could only hunker down with my mind’s “this cannot possibly be happening” utter disbelief. My mind? What mind?

There just had to be some logical explanation! At stake, was my very WordPress screen-name, CommonSenseTom… which I realized could soon be rendered nonsensical. It was then that… not unlike a TM mantra… I began recursively reminding myself…

“Rabbits cannot talk! Rabbits cannot talk! Rabbits cannot talk!”

“Oh yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!”

… Mr. Rabbit’s reply clearly establishing that I had either, actually, vocalized my thoughts or he was a mind-reader, too. Quick as a bunny he added in a big voice inconsistent to his small, short stature… and with a New England accent, to boot…

“So sorry to get your wind up. Pleased to make your acquaintance Mr. Human. Allow me to introduce myself. Dr. Harrison Hare D-I-X. But do call me Harry… that sounds far less stuffy.”

“D-I-X? DIX as in Roman numerals? As in Harrison the 509th?”

“Hey… don’t look so shocked. A rabbit’s prolific nature is a fact of life… not some credulity contorting Urban Legend!”

Still doubting my sanity, while nonchalantly, softly humming the Jefferson Airplane’s classic rock tune, White Rabbit, I made a full 360 scan of the vicinity… this time ISO some cleverly hidden TV cameras. I was now actually entertaining the notion that I was EITHER getting punk’d OR some new network reality show had hired a dude to throw his voice rabbit-ward. Sensing that awkward silences could easily render the recorded “footage” unfit for cable, streaming, the airwaves, etc… that I could easily blow any chances for my big break into TV land fame and fortune… I decided to play along…

“Hey, Harry, has anybody ever told you your voice sounds just like John F. Kennedy’s?”

“No… but then again… I don’t normally talk with all that many humans. And speaking of talking… to whom do I have the pleasure of meeting on this balmy, late spring morn?”

“The name is Thomas BlogDonovich… no Roman numerals needed… and btw… Tom will suffice. I guess I’m glad to meet you, too.”

“Still unsure I’m really talking to you, huh?”

“Sure am… in fact your chosen word… balmy… likely better describes my mental state… uh… than this morn’s weather. I mean… a talking rabbit?”

“Not just A rabbit, friend Tom… ALL rabbits can talk!”

“So this is really happening and I’m not really losing it?”

“Tom… I assure you… this IS really happening! You must believe me, OK?

“I’m trying. I’m trying. But why… pray tell… have you chosen this particular time to break the ice? After all, we’ve been neighbors for nearly two decades.”

“The answer to your question IS you. You see, ever since late January`17 me and the Missus have found it damned near impossible to not overhear you constantly yelling back at your radio during NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered newscasts… namely… your name-calling and cussing… your calling out the deplorable words and deeds of THAT pathetic narcissistic horse’s ass.”

“Do you find that even remotely shocking?”

“No! Not at at all. It’s just that your excessively dwelling on that contemptible, corrupt creep is not healthy, my man. If you’d like, I do have my PhD in Psychology and am willing to talk you through these tough times… pro bono… you know… the same way liberal talk jockey Randi Rhodes counseled you, way back in 2004… the day after W got reelected.”

“You actually recall my long ago on air, nationwide conversation with Ms. Rhodes?”

“Sure do. And I really do want to help you.”

“But, not paying you just wouldn’t feel right.”

“Friend Tom, you haven’t been charging me… not even one penny… for the nearly 20 years my family and I have been grazing in your clover patch, either.”

“Touché… friend Harry… touché!”

Coming down from my momentary reverie about Ms. Rhodes… as well as still attempting to wrap my mind around this talking rabbit scenario did take a moment or two. And Harry did use that temporal opportunity to full advantage by chowing down another couple of mouthfuls of clover. Due to his nearly impeccable table manners he didn’t speak again until after his gulp and loud belch. Remember (ha ha) I did say, “nearly impeccable.”

“While rabbitkind is genuinely interested in your well-being, we must also keep our own best interests in mind. And, uppermost on the minds of every creature… great and small… is global environmental distress. It all boils down to this, Tom. Your survival in this hood IS our survival. Were you to ever leave us… perhaps even head for the hills ISO some hippie dippy commune… that’d mean a new property owner, here. And what would be the odds that he wouldn’t be a grass farmer who’s been brainwashed by the toxic chemicals spewing, lawn care industry?”

“And not even growing the type of grass he could harvest and hawk for profit.”

“Precisely!”

We both momentarily chuckled while slowly, horizontally swaying our heads in disbelief.

“Tom, the entire rabbit community deems your clover field a culinary sweet treat and rates your backyard a five star eatery. We would never, ever want some lawn farmer to poison it with weed killer.”

“The good news, Harry… I plan on staying put, right here, till fiscal / physical death do us part… whichever happens first. The bad news, naturally, is how our neighbors’ toxic “cocktails” of fertilizers / insecticides / herbicides / homicides respect neither my property lines nor anyone else’s. Worse yet, when they (ab)use products such as Roundup™ they may even be condemning both themselves and innocent bystanders to premature Cancerous DEATHS!

“Why oh why must so damned many humans be ISO the psychotically perfect, grass blades only lawn? And do take my word for it… such grass only biomes taste bad even before the nasty lawn chemical “salad dressing” gets poured on.”

“I know exactly what you’re talking about, too. Not too long ago, I purchased some broccoli, which tasted the way nasty lawn chemicals stink. With my first bite, I nearly puked.”

“TMI Tom… TMI!”

Just as another momentary wind gust rustles the nearby, lilac’s leaves, Harry looks at his tiny cell phone screen and exclaims…

‘To quote Alice’s white rabbit, ‘Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers! I’m late!’ I gotta hurry home.”

“Me too. And albeit way too belated, I now officially and warmly welcome you to the neighborhood.”

“Thank you. Are you now a bit more convinced that we can really converse?”

“Well… friend Harry… it’s not my talking to you that’s unbelievable, it’s your talking to me. I mean… this REALLY DID happen, right?”

“Yes… friend Tom… this REALLY DID happen.”

 

 

To be continued…

 

 

Advertisements

Twinkle Twinkle Mega Star

Fancy experiencing a high tech, virtual encounter with a musical prodigy… courtesy of Al Gorithm and Otto Play… my humanizing nicknames for YouTube’s recommendation algorithm and autoplay tech.

Well, that’s precisely what had happened, recently, while viewing keyboardist extraordinaire Keith Emerson… best known for his legendary live and recorded performances with the rock ensemble ELP… an acronym representing the surnames of keyboardist Emerson, guitarist / vocalist Greg Lake and percussionist Carl Palmer.

On that fateful Friday evening, I had wandered off while this triumvirate was rapidly heading for yet another of their masterpiece concluding crescendos. It was while meandering back through the dimly lit corridor, that I could already hear the next video featuring a key, keyboard selection from yet another ELP classic… The Endless Enigma.

Imagine my jaw dropping, “Oh Wow” mouthed speechlessness upon re-seating myself at my computer and discovering that [1] Emerson was seated nowhere near his stock in trade, spectacular keyboard array and [2] this note for note perfection was being accomplished by a heretofore, unknown to me, keyboard virtuoso, Ms. Rachel Flowers…

Seeing this confident young woman’s nimble fingers so skillfully spanning the entire keyboard was as if she’d been possessed… in the very best of ways… by the spirit of the recently passed away Emerson…who just happens to be a hero of hers (and mine, too).

Imagine my teary eyed response upon later learning that Ms. Flowers had overcome some of life’s toughest challenges.

Those difficulties get backdated to December 21, 1993, the day she had made her grand entrance into our world… 15 weeks early and weighing a scant 0.595 kgs / 1 lb 5 oz. Then, 3 months later, yet another medical complication arose… Retinopathy of Prematurity… which denied Rachel her eyesight.

Her parents Dan and Jeanie did all they could to encourage their daughter to stay positive and make the most of her life. Her mom even introduced her (then) 2-year-old girl to the joys of music… seated her at their piano to teach her how to play her very first song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Rachel picked up on the melody quite quickly. Soon, her pitch perfect ear allowed her to recreate whatever songs she fancied. A keyboard star was born… and on the rise.

By age 4 1/2… younger than a kindergartner… Rachel began her formal training at Southern California Conservatory of Music where her studies included piano, music theory, ear training, music history, Braille music code, and adaptive computer music applications. [My thanks to Wikipedia for supplying Rachel’s biographical info]

And the rest… as they say… is Her-story. She’s accomplished so much in life that the easiest ways for us to learn more about her music, life and times is to type in her name to initiate both Internet and YouTube searches. BTW, do plan on finding veritable hours worth of inspirational reading and listening enjoyment.

The Rachel Flowers Story is all about the indomitable human spirit and living life to the fullest. She is the embodiment of those qualities. For proof, one look no further than seeing her ear to ear grin and jumping for joy while seated on the piano bench at the conclusion of many of her performances. Such reactions are as integral to her piano recitals as the music itself! Her happiness is our happiness!

One shudders upon the realization that, had she been born in an earlier era, she’d have been denied her chance at beating the nearly overwhelming medical odds… that we’d have been denied being eye and ear witnesses to the musical genius of Rachel Flowers… The Personification of Joy.

I cannot imagine a better way to wrap up this post than for us to express our appreciation…

Bravo Rachel! Encore! Encore! Encore!

 

 

 

Eschewing French Press Brewing

 

An Average Joe Jury-Rigs the Perfect Cup of Joe

 

Several mornings ago… for the 3rd time in 15 years… I broke my glass and metal framework French Press. Since it had been [1] far too early in the a.m. to hit my local mall ISO either an entirely new brewer (or… preferably… the replaceable, highly specialized glass beaker) and [2] this average joe’s breakfast could never be complete sans my usual cup of joe, I had to improvise.

My light bulb over the noggin moment… hauling out one of my 0.95 Liter / 1-Quart lidded saucepans, spooning out the coffee and then guesstimating (btw, correctly) how much boiling water to pour from my kettle, I was in biz.

15 minutes later… employing my rock steady hand and eagle eye, (ever so carefully) I poured…

Imagine my surprise when, by breakfast’s end, I discovered zero coffee grounds at the bottom of my mug! Indeed, in one mere morning, my jury-rigged java maker and cautiousness had succeeded where a poorly designed device had repeatedly failed for a decade and a half!

As is true for any run experiment… the question then became, was my success repeatable? Well… after many morns of groundless coffee, I know this to be grounds for eschewing French Press brewing.

Beyond that…

1. Is settling for / sticking with the unsatisfactory status quo… year in / year out… any way to go through life?

2. Considering how for eons, coffee consumers, worldwide, have been resorting to brewing methods involving methodologies and technologies even more complicated than that of a French Press, one has to wonder why we needlessly clutter our lives with contraptions and make so much extra work for ourselves?

3. Were we to truly apply ourselves, how many other areas of our lives could we successfully simplify?

 

 

 

Ashes to Ashes… StarDust to StarDust… May 21st BlogCast

My thoughts…

Ancient stardust are we, ashore oceans and shoals
Our love eternal, soars skyward, to departed souls
They live on in our hearts, we, too, feel their pure love
Interwoven with starlight, from the heavens above

 

PianistaItaliano covers Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust

Rob Steinberg covers Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock

Ms. Mitchell’s lyrical thoughts…

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ill-Mannered Man ~ A Parable

 

Once upon a time… in the Land of Reality… there lived an ill-mannered man who was oblivious to the obvious… namely… that his overbearing, obnoxious, mean demeanor… the very boorish characteristics, which had impressed his equally boorish boss… were impressing nobody else!

Indeed… such dubious qualities were not even qualities at all. As such, his (so-called) profession’s service to society could only prove to be a disservice. Worse yet, he could not even begin to fathom how he had become his own worst enemy. Beyond a shadow of a doubt… his deplorable behavior was precisely the reason why few, if any, respectable folks ever wanted to do biz with him… why virtually nobody ever wanted to even welcome him into their lives.

He was the classic, textbook example of the peddling shoddy wares, door-to-door, high-pressure salesman. And… whenever he came a knockin’… that’s when the “fit” really hit the “shan”!

Anyone who had made the fatal error of ever opening their doors… even slightly… soon learned… the hard way… that he’d jam in his foot. Even when folks applied sufficient pressure to make him take one step backwards… long enough to moan out his, “OUCH!”… his role as a bad actor was far from over. He’d come back again and Again and AGAIN to camp out on their doorsteps for days, weeks… even months.

While the victimized folks could’ve… indeed should’ve… summoned the constable… well… since it was too easy to simply close their doors’ curtains… well… that’s as far as everything usually went. They figured this pest would eventually go away… after all… nobody could possibly be so dense… so insensitive… as to not realize that NO means NO!

Right?
Wrong!

One day… as a parade just happened to be marching down the street… with the flash of a thick wad of cash… the ill-mannered man managed to spirit away the living-on-a-shoestring, big bass drum player. At that point, both proceeded to shout inward to the tenants… in unison, repetitiously and at the top of their lungs… WE WON’T LEAVE! LET US INSIDE! He even pounded his clenched fist on the door to keep time with the banging away drummer… all of this attaining a decibel level that could’ve raised the dead.

Human nature being what it is… the ill-mannered man’s ill-conceived plot… his orchestrated, socially unacceptable taunts could only make this duo’s presence all the more unwelcome.

Soon the constant, cumulative vibrations began to severely rattle both the tenants’ nerves and their entire domicile… to the point where their heads exploded and their no longer happy home came crashing down. They could not possibly survive. And… not being able to step back in time… even the ill-mannered man met a similar fate.

However… the news wasn’t all bad. The big bass drum player wound up the sole survivor. And in a flash… he did feel remorse over his having ever become a party to such an ugly scene. In the days to come… having learned his lesson well… he even managed to track down and rejoin his marching band… to re-enter the parade of life… to once again… play joyous sounding music to the masses.

And with the ill-mannered man having been hoisted by his own petard… everybody within the Land of Reality lived happily ever after.

 

The morals to our story…

If you’re strapped for cash, don’t be tempted by the fast buck’s lure.

If you’re ill-mannered, don’t ever expect principled, civilized persons to cozy up to you.

 

 

 

 

Bully For You? Bull $#!+

 

For an unbearably long time, my homeland’s K-12 schools… and their worldwide equivalents… have been the breeding grounds / training camp sites for bullies. Considering how the inter-generational cycle of abuse tends to kick in (pun intended), what becomes of the once-upon-a-time abused when they become… oh… say… today’s public / private school staffers? Well… in that capacity / incapacity… they oft either practically wink their approval at each new crop of bully bastards… or turn a blind eye to them.

It’s almost as if some educators’ measure of “scholastic achievement” focuses upon how effectively bullies can irreparably scar their victims (both emotionally and physically). Hmmm… instead of the failing grade bullies deserve, do they award them with an A+? Is extra credit assessed if the victims need [1] hospitalization… [2] a shrink… [3] a visit from the undertaker?

Adding insult to the victim injuries… on the rare instances where a tormented student does strike back… almost invariably… school personnel punish ONLY the retaliator (to the further delight of each bully). Hell… were school staffers’ favoritism any more blatant, the playground and hall monitors would be charging admission to the bullies’ verbal and physical attacks.

Perhaps such assessments are too cynical? Too harsh?

Let’s be fair here. Let’s look at this from the teacher’s side of the desk. Many underpaid educators are so overworked and over-stressed, it’s inevitable that they’d become nose-blind to the bully stench… to the point where the victims start falling through the cracks.

And, when victims’ only remaining options boil down to fight or flight… especially if it’s the latter… that’s when further damage kicks in (again, pun intended). Once these kids start feigning illness to avoid going to school… this all but guarantees both academic and developmental stunting / stagnation.

Let’s consider what happens once abused, stunted students eventually enter… no… strike that… DON’T enter grown-up society…

Social isolation… their learned response… to varying degrees… becomes their way of life. Such deep-down emotional stains don’t fade with time, either. And most assuredly, that’s no way to go through life! Hell… that’s not life at all!

Long Sigh….

I’m certain there are hundreds of thousands of bullying victims spanning our entire globe… each one waking up each new day wondering…

“Who might I have become… how much further ahead in life might I have gone… had insensitive school personnel heard my literal cries for help… had they come to my defense instead of enabling my tormentors’ indefensible, socially unacceptable behavior?”

How can I be so certain? Well… did you notice that above blockquote’s beginning / ending punctuation?

That’s me talking. That’s the very question I’ve been asking myself for the past 50+ years!

 

 

2 March 24ths for the Virtual MemoryBook

 

Sixteen years ago, March 24th fell on a Monday… the day my nearly 90-year-old mother fell and fractured her femur… the final, full 24 hour day she lived in her home of 42 years.

Within mere minutes of my summoning an ambulance, we both could hear the approaching siren’s Doppler shift… the increase in volume. Once parked out front, the flashing red lights began casting their surreal, subdivision-wide strobe effect.

The EMTs did what they do best… rapidly evaluated and prepped their patient. As the midnight hour neared, they wheeled Mom out on a gurney, I locked up, started up my backed into the garage car, idled the engine in the lower driveway and awaited to join them on our ride to the local, nearby hospital. Even at normal highway speeds, our ETA would be five minutes, tops. At the stroke of midnight, we were on our way.

Since I knew sirens could easily, overly stress out my mother, I had requested they not use them unless the situation became a life or death matter. I was so relieved that her condition permitted them to heed my heads up.

Long sigh… within a week of successful surgery to repair her fractured leg, pneumonia had set in. Her advanced years and one year earlier heart attack all conspired to make her chances for rallying slim to none.

Mom’s ambulance ride, eventually, turned out to be a one way trip. Her Earthly Home left behind, the sequence of her rapidly changing forwarding addresses had become… Nursing Home… Funeral Home… Eternal Home.

This past Sunday, the 24th, from my own perspective, I could not help but dwell upon Mom’s final 24 hours in her home… the home I wound up inheriting. By early evening, I had wound up falling asleep on the living room sofa. But… oddly enough… with this day’s final five minutes rapidly ticking down… I had awoken… instantly cognizant of that timing’s significance. I threw open the front door and made my exit into the still of the night…standing on the dimly street lit porch… my eyes panning the entire neighborhood… my mind time tripping to that not so distant past.

At the stroke of midnight… just as I was about to turn to go back inside… I could hardly believe my own eyes. An ambulance was driving on by… traveling along the very same highway… in the same southerly direction… at the posted speed limit… no flashing reds… no siren…

And while there would’ve been no reason to be following them in my car this time… I did follow them with my eyes. And once they were no longer in sight… my gaze averted upwards… to the heavens…