Select Page

POD #12

Sue  just parked me on the deck again and said, “see you tonight.” I didn’t think to ask her what was for lunch as the sharp edge of my hunger had just been filed down by three whole wheat waffles with strawberries and sugar-free syrup, sitting in my stomach like a load of bricks.

About a quarter of a way through breakfast, Sue and realized that we weren’t alone. Over the top of my waffle mountain, I saw this–

Top of a deck post

Notice anything?

Well, there are certain carbon-based forms that Sue likes, including me I like to think, and these cute little things here–

Cute little hummingbird

And then, there are carbon-based life forms she doesn’t like, one specific example being a certain, high-level politician, who shall go unmentioned, snakes, skunks, rats and other rodents, most insects, and for some reason not clear to me, our little visitor this morning, who worked so hard to get to this one beautiful little bit of paradise.

You will see him, I’m taking the liberty of gender, not knowing otherwise, in this close up…

harmless, little visitor

…our harmless little visitor, who happened to be a tree frog, and who violates some aesthetic code that my wife holds dear.

Anyway, I think he is still there. It is difficult for me to say, as I am back on my back, where I am most comfortable.

I noticed a couple of days ago that there was a  big hub-bub in the news about Bill Gates and Warren Buffet giving away half of there fortunes to charity. And I thought, well, that’s nice; and then there was some talk about how maybe other’s should do the same, and I couldn’t help thinking…why now?

I thought…what others…just billionaires…or did that mean millionaires too…or perhaps everyone who made more than the “magic number” that used to be 500k, but then revised down to 250, then 200, and Lord knows where that will end up at. And then I thought…okay…Bill Gates is going to give away 3 billion dollars, and keep only 3 billion for himself. I wondered if he was going to give away half of his castle too, and only live in the other half…isn’t that kind kind of like that parable in the bible about the widow and her two cents.

And, again, why now? Why didn’t they have this epiphany when they had a few million dollars…or even a billion or two? And if others are supposed to do this, what if they want to wait until they have 10 billion dollars too, before they give away half of it? The fact is that Mr. Buffet and Mr. Gates pay much less in taxes than us ‘common folks’ who work for a living, and do not live off of investments and fortunes, which are taxed at much lower rates. Of course, I don’t begrudge them that. I don’t think that ‘those’ kind of taxes should be raised-it would only further harm and kill off productivity and incentive more so than it has already been harmed, squashed flat, like a squirrel at the side of road, by the modern day taxation policy. The point as to “why now” is that they are at a position where it doesn’t really matter how much they give away, because pretty much any fraction of what remains would be more than I or 99.99% of the population will ever have.

I think that what he and is wife are doing, with their philanthropy and the wiping out of malaria in third world countries is wonderful, and to be applauded. But, I had the impression that there was this undertone in the media presentation of the suggestion or pressure that it might be a good idea to encourage, foster, force, legislate that others do the same, in the name of “common good.”

Then my old friend from Omaha, Warren “The Oracle” Buffet” quips up that he’d give away 97.9%, or some similar amount, of his fortune. Obviously, he’d done some figuring, and last I checked, 2.1% of a several billion dollars is still a lot of money, especially if you’re 102 years old, or however he is, have a mortgage that’s all paid off, and live like a monk anyway.

Still, it is an admirable thing Mr. Buffet is doing, as do many other people the world over. In every community you will find parks, pools, paths, benches, YMCA’s, Children’s Homes, Hospitals, Women’s Relief Centers, Community Clinics, etc. that would not have been possible without help from people like Mr. Gates, Mr. Buffet, and all the other evil, rich people and big, bad corporations. ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’ as they say. See this article from Fortune.

The reason Gates and Buffet have been so wildly successful is because of captilalism and free markets, which work, as history tells us over and over and over again. The problem with “from each according to their ability to each according to their need” is that eventually, there will too many with need, and not enough with ability.

So, all you Harvard-trained, ruling-class, elitist politicians; and all you yellow-journalistic, media dog-blank(s) who know so much better than all us unenlightened, ‘common folk’ out here in Jesus land–leave us alone and get the hell out of our lives, or we’ll all be forced, on principle alone, to join our good friend, John Galt

Ouch, the sun’s burning my knees. Sue did a rather poor job of positioning the umbrella. I’d better give her a holler.


Beautiful blue sky

Sue parked me outside today, where I’ve been reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and I wondered how a book titled, “The Man with a Hammerhead Shark Tattoo,” would do. Occaisionly I’d look up and see a few things that I normally don’t pay to much attention too, not being habitually on my back, as I am now, in a zero-gravity chair with my left leg on a pillow.

Look closely, bottom right corner

Look closely. See anything? Probably not…so look at the zoomed image. I didn’t even have to get up. I found the zoom on my cell-phone camera. It’s been a very busy morning above shaun melarvie’s head.

Baby birds in nest, chip-chippering away

I’d like to think that maybe, just maybe, this momma-bird is the same one whose life I saved (at the end of the book) last year when it fell from its nest, in the exact same location. It’s a small world as they say.

View when I lift my head off the pillow, and flex my neck

It started sunny, then got cloudy, threatening a sprinkle, but only bluffing. Now, it’s sunny again, and I should be working on my chapter about a small, dark man, but when time stretches before you, like an empty road, it doesn’t really matter.

I called my grandaughter, Evie, yesterday:

“Hi Evie.”

“Hi grandpa.”

“What are you doing?”

“Filling out your card.”

“Oh..that’s nice. I can’t wait to get it. Are you going to bring it with you, or mail it?”

“Mail it–I’m not coming for thirty days.”
“Thirty days? You’ll be here in 12 days, Evie. That’s less then two weeks, which is only a short time away.”

“Hunh-uh. Thirty days.”

“You’re coming on the thirthieth…right?”


“Well. Today’s the 18th, so that means it’s only 12 days away.”

“Mmmm?” She murmered, not quite convinced.

That’s what it’s like inside the mind of a child. June 30th must equal a perpetual 30 days, so far in the future that it’s not at all surprising that it seems to never get closer, alway remaining a hopelessly far off 30 days.

Another example is my nephew, Gabe, a whole two months younger than Evie. Evie called him on the phone a few days ago to tell him that she was going to grandpa and grandmas, where she was going to turn six, and have a birthday, and get all sorts of presents.

Gabe, who will be visiting at the same time, quickly put two and two together, and old enough to know that six comes after five, realized that he had some major “missing-out” potential. Maintaining composure, he finished his conversation, hung up, burst into tears, “Evie’s going to be SIX,” he bawled. Only after calling his auntie (Sue) and disclosing this in a tearful hysteria, and then regurgitating a  similar torrent for my benefit did he calm down–of course, that required assurances that he could have a birthday too.

How nice it would be if adult problems could be fixed so easily.

POD #10

I’m going to post a video cast for starters. It’s about ten minutes; the first part being an account of my “out of body” experience, and the second part a POD #10 rumination.

The software is quite rudimentary. I can’t do much with it, but when I get back upstairs to my office, I’m sure I’ll be doing better. Everything now is limited to what I have on my laptop. In regard to background music; the bad news is that I have only one royalty-free clip on my laptop; the good news is that it’s Pachabel’s Canon in D, which I think most people like.

I finished my prologue today, about 5000 words–actually I finished it yesterday, but was discouraged because I thought it rather shoddy, but after working on it today, I feel better. I will post the opening two paragraphs, so that you can see the progression from the first draft. So; 2nd draft of the Prologue:

1 January, 874 AD

8th Rabi’ al-awwal, 260 AH


The young boy sat in the courtyard of the house his father’s father had built, waiting quietly for the funeral to start. It was an interior courtyard of generous size, with three sides being formed by the house itself. The monotony of the clay brick walls was broken by irregularly spaced, arched doorways and windows with colorful fabrics that looked bright and vibrant against the soft dullness of reddish clay. To the boy, the courtyard represented the world, for his only memory of ever being outside of them was last spring, when his uncle took him to the wadi north of the village to see the rushing waters of melted snow from northern mountains, and the pale bluish flowering of umbrella palms along the river’s shores. “Water is the source of life, Hujjat; see how it brings life to the papyrus that, in turn,  Glory be to Allah, brings life to us,” his uncle had said.

Twelve months ago Hujjat had discovered that if he stood at the extreme southern portion of the courtyard and stood on his tiptoes, he could see the tip of the spiraling minaret of the Great Mosque over the top of the northern wall from which he’d hear the call to prayers five times daily; metronomic intervals of time marking his young life. It seemed to him like the minaret was growing; because with each succeeding month it magically rose a few millimeters more above the wall. 

It’s two paragraphs because I divided the subject matter of the first draft, and added to it. Now, I’ll set that aside and move on to something else.

Sue wanted to see Shivering Sands creek, so I took her out there tonight, or rather, she took me, as I was in my usual, customary spot in the back seat.

X marks the spot


 I fell from this side, into the middle of the creek, then pulled myself to the embankment.

Approx. path of travel, although it may have been higher


The apogee of the arc was about 14ft.

I am truly blessed. God is kind and merciful.

POD #8

Crutches are harder than I than I remember, although the last time I used them toe-touch, partial-wt. bearing was allowed. Although I have enough upper body strength to swing from tree to tree, I’m finding that it is no substitute for grace and balance, of which I have not been blessed with an abundant amount.

I started yesterday in earnest on my writing, after a couple of days of background reading, and have a goal of 1000 to 3000 words a day. My initial goal was 1000, but after writing over 2000 today, I thought I’d raise the bar a little higher.

Here’s the ‘current’ opening paragraph of my ‘first’ draft. After I finish the section (about 5-6,000 words) I’ll post the second draft. It is interesting how much change there tends to be in the process of movement from start to finish, but, that’s life, as they say; however, Who they are, exactly, I know not:

The young boy sat quietly in the generous interior courtyard of the home of his father, and his father’s father. The monotony of the clay brick walls, broken only by arched doorways and windows, were his world, for he had only one memory of ever being outside of them last spring; when his uncle took him to the wadi north of the village to see the rushing waters of melted snow from northern mountains, and the pale bluish flowering of umbrella palms along the river’s shores.  “Water is the source of life, Hujjat; see how it brings life to the papyrus that, in turn,  glory be to Allah, brings life to us,” his uncle had said. If Hujjat stood at the extreme southern portion of the courtyard, he could see the tip of the spiraling minaret of the Great Mosque over the top of the north wall, from which he’d hear the call to prayers five times daily; metronomic intervals of time marking his young life; of course, he’d only grown into this observance twelve months ago, and with each month a few millimeters more of the minaret’s basilar aspect were revealed to him. 

Went outside this evening and wheeled myself  up and down the street and watched Sue plant three clumps of ornamental grasses. It was painful. She wore Croc flip-flops and generated, at most, maybe 30-40 lbs. of force with each spade thrust–it was like trying to dig hole in the surface of a giant superball; and then she hit a piece of flagstone. I managed to lever it up with the spade, from the wheelchair, so she could get under it with the dolly, and we got by. That was the first hole, then, believe it or not, the next two were effortless, like digging Miracle-Grow out of the ground; and that was right next to a huge tree, in a place where I have never dug an easy hole. The only explanation is that it must have been a Miracle. I think Sue might be a saint. The mortification of Sue Melarvie is working.

God’s Blessings to Al Johnson and Robert Thompson. I didn’t know Mr. Johnson personally, but I knew Mr. Thompson well. Both men have left indellible marks on the very fabric that is Door County. 


The Default Human Condition

Lot of firsts for me, on POD #5: first real bath in two weeks (at least, as real as it could get), first day on crutches, first day back out in the public. One thing that I hadn’t anticipated was the reaction I received from children, aged 3-9, or so; and that reaction was empathy, kindness, compassion, and curiosity. This is what I mean by our “default human condition,” in The Relativity Diet—when I write about the default condition being one of happiness, like a child.

In the mall, Sue and I noticed small children looking at me, seemingly enchanted by this overly large person with an overly large “owie.” One small boy was holding his mother’s hand and as he passed, his faced turned, and turned, until he stumbled and fell. He didn’t say anything, but several other children, mostly girls it seemed, told their mommy that ‘that man has a big owie.’  To the ones brave enough to ask, I told them that I had a bike accident, but that I wore a helmet, otherwise, I’d have a big owie on my head. I remember one darling little girl in a pink flowered sundress who passed me on the left, she was on the other side of her mother, so, she lagged behind and waved, with a big beautiful smile. It was important, I think, for her to know that I knew that she noticed my “owie,” and hoped I’d be feeling better.

Naturally, all the adults were very nice too, although it’s entirely likely that a few may have thought ‘I wonder what stupid thing he did to end up like that;’ given that the default human condition does tend to get corrupted by the passage of time, and humanity’s stain.

I took a break in front of Gloria Jean’s, where I could rest my foot. Periodically, I’d shift my foot and grimace a bit, just to let the passer’s-by know that I was suffering; but then Sue stopped by my table with a sugar free, vanilla, skinny, iced-late; and all discomfort was quickly forgotten.

I heard someone from behind approaching in a hurried, loud gait, with short quick steps, almost like, but too coordinated for, the festinating gait of Parkinson’s. The Doppler Effect announced her appearance on my left.

A young lady; thirties, of Mediterranean descent, pretty, in a tight khaki skirt that came to below her knees and wearing at least four-inch, spiked heels entered the anticipated visual field, before disappearing into Younker’s, the clickety-clackiting of her heels gradually softening to nothing, like a departing train. I think the curious characteristic of her gait was due to khaki-restricted, twelve-inch strides; or perhaps from an inability to balance on heel spikes beyond a stride-length of one foot; or, more likely, it was a combination of the two.

After she’d passed, Sue said, “did you see her spine?” I didn’t fully recollect, but thought she may have had a pronounced dorsal kyphosis, induced by a cell phone held to her left ear.

I held up an imaginary pair of black, faux-patent-leather, pointy shoes, with five-inch spikes in my hands and said, “how about these, ma’am, we call this model ‘The Spine-Destroyer, with the Bunion-Booster Bonus;’” and, assuming an sophisticated insouciant air, much as I would imagine a secular European, like Richard Dawkins, behaving, I added, “Perhaps she’s a from a religious order practicing mortification of the flesh.”

Sue snorted, “oh…please–the only one being mortified around here is me.”

 “The Mortification of Sue Melarvie…has a nice sound to it, like the sound of a a book or something,” I said in agreement, thinking of my bath this morning, at least a hundred urinal emptyings, and other distasteful, burdensome tasks, not fit to soil my beautiful blog with.

We ended the day at Sam’s Club, where I latched on to a lil’Rascal. I owned the store. Here’s a few pictures, including one of my back, as I made a bee-line for the samples, only to realize that, this being Sunday evening, there were none.


PTD #9

It’s late, and dark; the only light from the glowing blue of my home page. Sue’s exhausted—taking care of me is hard work. Tomorrow is the ORIF of my left trimalleolar fracture. I hear Snow Patrol in my ear buds. I heard a song by them on satellite radio a month ago—I saw their name on the screen. Not remembering the group, I assumed it was a new one—but, I guess not. Anyway, on I listen to a “station” of Snow Patrol and One Republic (another name on the screen I liked).

Beautiful Yacht

Sue took me out for a drive today, “up north.” We stopped at La Puerta’s in Sister Bay, where she parked in front of a beautiful yacht, and ran in to get me a diet coke and order of sweet potato fries. She stopped intermittently, up and down the peninsula, running errands, looking here and there, and I would lay in the back, L leg elevated on three pillows, reading “Keys of the Kingdom,” by AJ Cronin, which Dr. Hogan was kind enough to drop off the other day on a house call. I had already finished a novel by Tess Gerritson (I probably spelled that wrong, but it’s dark, and I’m lazy).

Today I was productive. I wrote my monthly newsletter. I’ll be posting to my site in another day or so. Now my goal is to parse my time between reading and still more productive writing. I fully understand that what I am experiencing is easy, for me. Of course there is the pain, and the financial hardship of missing so much work; but, it is temporary. It was so close to not being so. I realize that for many people this is not temporary, rather, it is for a lifetime. That’s what I mean about this being easy; because I have been so blessed.

As I was driving down the road, back propped against a pillow on the passenger-side door, so that I could see the water-side as we drove north; I was struck by the clouds in the blue above reflected in the blue below, and found myself feeling sheepish for what I wrote the other day about Richard Dawkins may as well being a chipmunk. In retrospect, I realize that must have sounded condescending and supercilious, with the reader perhaps having the impression that only one holding a belief in God can recognize beauty within the material world, which is not what I meant at all. Of course Mr. Dawkins can wonder at the beauty of a sunset; stand, transfixed, by a humpback whale breaching offshore; or gaze upwards at the bright white lunar highlands of a full moon. His appreciation needs be no more, nor no less than mine, or anyone else’s.

I suppose what I meant was that, given the transient fluctuation of our existence in the universe of time, what does it really matter what we observe if there is not more to it than atoms watching other atoms. That’s what I mean by “meaningful,” an existence beyond the fluctuation. And besides that, who am I to say what a chipmunk feels when confronted with the first freshly fallen acorn of fall.