...to keeping my head in the clouds

A place for me to express myself through muses and images.

A resolve to get fit...again.

I have resolved to get fit--again. I used to be very active, rollerblading, cycling, hiking, and jogging. I’ve been rollerblading (because that works those hips the most for me) three times. Today was one of those days.

I woke up at seven with the alarm, not even hitting the snooze, which is commendable since I didn’t go to bed till 2:30am. I ate my breakfast of toast with honey and coffee (black, raw sugar), all pretty standard.

With my water and keys in hand, I set off down the paved bike path that runs parallel to the muddy Maumee River. About a mile down the heat was getting to me, so I stop for a little breather against a shaded picnic table. I will admit there was a moment I had to nudge, prod, and pull myself up off the table and get rolling.

What made it nice were the smells of the early summer wild flowers. Taking in the beauty of the park helped to ignore those nasty voices that pervade our greatest efforts, telling us to stop.

But when the voice was accompanied by a circling (taunting) fly, ones determination can waver. Alas, I finished with the realization that I-have-a-long-way-to go.

Then as I went to open my car, to rip those devilish skates off...I realized I left my keys on the picnic table, a mile down the path!


Rain struck the metal roof like music meant to soothe soul.

“What are you doing?” she asked, without taking her eyes off her romance book.

Walking to the window, he says, “Nothing, just bored.” Drawing back the heavy drapes, he places his hand against the icy glass.

“How is it?”

Fat drops bounce off the windowsill before falling twelve feet to the ground below. “It’s pouring.” Like she couldn’t tell.

Squinting through the rain, he tries to see the hedge that leads to the parking lot; the lawn that surrounds the children’s park, which yesterday was full of spring blooms.

Out of the shroud comes the figure of a woman, walking with deliberate steps, oblivious to the weather. A red dress shows off her pale legs. Ringlets of dark blond hair fan out, slicing through rain drops, as she spins around. For just a moment, he glimpses her face: unabashed ecstasy.

Ambling To a Stop (a short story)

Ambling to a Stop

He walked the street, up then down, twice a day. Always the same times of day, first at dawn again at dusk. Never looking at the houses, that’s what I do when I walk down the street. I imagine what the people who live there are like.

“Do any of you know who he is?”

Mattie’s nasal voice filled the small front room, “No, but who cares, really? He’s just some old geezer.”

I couldn’t believe that. I was brought up with the idea that everyone was someone. My thoughts must have manifested on my face.

“Why bother yourself with him. He is the least interesting person on the block,” the petite brunette said. I still didn’t know her name, but she was the coach of the junior baseball league. Jac wanted to play baseball, despite my efforts to steer his attention towards music and art.

“Now the Barbette’s,” she continued. “They are in the big blue house on the south side nearest the lake; they are sinking as fast as Carl’s boat did last year.”

“I heard they were filing for bankruptcy.”

“Yes, but what is worse, I heard, that little tart is fooling around with the lawn-boy!” A peel of laughter followed.

I listened, without hearing anything. One indistinct voice blended with another. I could no more tell who was saying what. I watched out the bay window as the man, with slow measurable steps aided by a cane, ambled past on his way home.

“Listen,” Mattie took charge, drawing the attention to her. “The bake sale is my idea, combining it with the book swap was Gloria’s idea.” She was the star of the neighborhood; this was no different, putting special emphasis on the bake sale as though my book swap was something she was allowing to saddle along. “I need to know what everyone is bringing.”

Choruses of common sweet treats were listed off from every direction, except mine.

“And you, Gloria?” Everyone was looking at me.

“I can make strufoli.” I rattled off the first thing that came to mind, and strufoli was my favorite.

“What is that?” Mattie asked, her nose scrunched up.

“It’s a recipe my grandmother made, it’s good.” I reassured.

“Well, okay, we’ll see.” At that, she turned her back to me. Which was fine, I turned back to the old man who was four houses up the street.

* * * * *

Always the same, kids still stand in groups of three or four, but no one says anything to each other: they text each other, my granddaughter says. I cannot understand it. I remember that age as if it was yesterday, nineteen, just back from the war...

“Ethel, darling, I know you’ll love it. Your favorite color and three blocks from the lake,” I said the excitement was overwhelming. If she knew I had sped the whole way here...well, there was no telling.

“Lester, I can’t see a thing! If we are here, why can’t I take this infernal handkerchief off?”

“One more minute. Here, give me your hand.” It was warm and soft, she smelled like cookies and summer. With all her trust in me, I led her up the long walk to the front of the house. “Okay, close your eyes. Are they closed?”

“Yes, yes. Come on!” She hopped up and down, her little flats made squishy noises from the spongy grass as I peeled away the blindfold.

“Ahh! Oh, my! Lester is it really ours?” Hand in hand, we ran up the stairs.


“For what?”

“We must do this proper, for luck,” I said. She put her arms around my neck and I swept her into my arms; breathing in her scent again. “Um.”

We both laughed at our innocence. “Just tilt me down a little,” she said, stretching for the handle. I almost dropped her when I stumbled on the threshold. It didn’t matter, she kissed me hard on the cheek and leaped from my arms the moment we in. I realize it was youthful exuberance that fueled her exploration of each room: testing the firmness of the new davenport my mother bought from Bloomingdales; the new icebox that she showed off to all her friends when they came over; and the Victrola I purchased as a wedding gift for her. What a party we threw that night!

Sure wish I could gallop up these stairs like that again.

“Grandpa, how was your walk?”

“Oh, same old, same old, Jayme,” I wheezed.

* * * * *

That was it; I was not going to watch that man walk past my house alone, again. I planted myself near to the sidewalk, my garden gloves on, weeding the flowerbed I had purposely left alone all week. I waited for him to come down the street.

Looking up into his crystal blue eyes, I smiled and said “Hello.”

“Well, good morning,” he replied, tipping his head down slightly. But he never stopped shuffling his feet forward.

“Excuse me, would you like to join me in a cup of coffee?” I asked with a silent prayer.

He stopped. Turned towards me, and asked, “You new here?”

Perplexed I said, “Yes.”

“You know, in fifteen years no one has said as much as a hello to me.”

I felt bad for him but understood completely. Yanking off my dirty gloves, I led him up to the patio.

“I’m Gloria.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Gloria. I’m Lester. Where did you move from? If it’s okay for me to ask.”

“My husband received a job transfer here from Adrian. I think we’ve been here about six months. How long have you lived here?”

“My wife and I moved in the summer of 1935,” he said, pouring some sugar in his coffee.

“Oh, and your wife?”

“She died three year ago, now it’s just me and my granddaughter. She graduated last summer, a nurse now. It may be selfish, but I’m grateful to her...keeps me at home instead of one of those old folks places,” he said, giving me a wink.

I smiled back at him. Jac ran out the door, clutching his mitt and bat. “Me and Tommy are going to practice. Bye!” Tommy was a blur of white and red behind Jac.

“That your boy?” Lester asked.

“Yep, Jac loves his baseball.” There was a funny light in the man’s eye, like a ghost of a mischievous past.

“Well, it was mighty fine of you to invite me for coffee. I must be getting on now.”

* * * * *

“Excuse me, are you Gloria?”

“Yes?” Gloria said. The woman addressing her was of average height, auburn hair with delicate facial features. Pretty but not overdone like most of the woman in the neighborhood.

“We’ve never met, but I believe you know my grandfather.”

“Oh, yes! How is he?” I asked.

“Um, well, that would be why I came here. Did you know him well?” she asked.

“No, not really. We talked a few times, had coffee.” I said pointing to the bistro table. “Why?”

“My grandfather passed away...”

“Oh, I-I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you. He told me you were very kind to him. I wanted to tell you in person...just in case you were close to him. But, well, I also have this for you.” She pulled out a hard plastic case that protected an old baseball card. “I think he really meant it for you to hold for your son.”

I read the name on the card, “I can’t take something like this...this is...”

“Most people don’t know who my grandfather was, he preferred that. But he played for the Med Hens for fourteen years. He met him once;” she said pointing to the card, “they played for fun one day and got him to sign it. He insisted I give it to you for your boy. To me, it’s just a card and I’ve never been interested in the game or the card. I have other treasures he’s left me.”

She turned and walked through the small gate, leaving me in shock.

“Hun, who was that?” Gary asked, walking out with Jac. They were ready to go to the park to practice, Jac hefting a bag twice his size. Gary looked at the card I still clenched in both hands. “Gloria, where did you get a Babe Ruth baseball card?”

My mouth moved like a fish, words refusing to form.