YOU CAN GO BACK!

Who says you can’t go back? I, for one, plan on going back to the neighborhood of my early childhood, South Shore, this very day. I passed through the eponymous Chicago neighborhood two weeks ago on the way to the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Chicago, and plan to do the same again today. Perhaps a pause in South Shore might be in order. Anyway, here’s a photo I took while we were stopped for the light at 71st and South Shore Drive. Did a whole lot of livin’ in the early days in that vicinity, including my first train ride, on the Illinois Central, from that station.

I took my first train ride from that station on the left.
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LOOK! NO GLASSES!!!

I had my final check-up at Great Lakes Eye Care last week and was told in no uncertain terms that I do not need glasses. Not for reading, not for nuthin’. Well, except non-prescription sunglasses. We all should wear those, right? Well, it’s a brave new world thanks to my two, new multi-focal lenses. I’m lovin’ it.

Selfie at Great Lakes Eye Care. Taken without glasses. Who knew?
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SHOPPING TRIP

We needed some more vegan kimchi, and friends wanted 15 pounds of brown rice, so we headed out to Berrien Springs, Mich. Thursday afternoon for a bit of shopping at the Oriental Supermarket. We enjoyed the drives there and back, but most especially with catching up with the ever-friendly owner. And, we spotted some other goodies to add to our order and thus returned with many tasty and healthy treats from the Asian lands. Here are few pictures I took, whilst in dazzling downtown Berrien Springs:

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MONKEY SHINES

BARKHOUSE MONKEY
Flash Fiction
by Charles McKelvy

Pete Barkhouse bought himself a monkey.
As a pet mind you.
This was back in the late 1950s when you could do such a thing in the Midwest.
Large numbers of so-called squirrel monkeys were imported to the United States from Peru and Columbia to be kept as pets.
Why?
Because middle-class Americans like Pete Barkhouse deemed them adorable.
Cute, even.
And seemingly cuddly.
And because the South Americans were always looking for ways into the vast North American market, and, if the gringoes wanted their “cute, little monkeys,” why then they could have them. For a good price, of course.
So, back to Pete Barkhouse’s monkey, henceforth to be known as the Barkhouse Monkey.
Besides masturbating openly in Pete’s living room—in front of the whole, entire family—the Barkhouse Monkey enjoyed flinging his poop at visitors and running amok in the kitchen, overturning every pot and pan in his path.
Pete named the Barkhouse Monkey Georgie, and so one day we heard Pete calling: “Georgie! Here, Georgie! Georgie! Here, Georgie!” He walked up one side of our tree-lined street and down the other calling: “Georgie! Here, Georgie! Georgie! Here, Georgie!”
I went out and asked, “What’s the matter, Pete? Lost your monkey?”
Pete gave me one of his looks and said, “I let him out on the patio so he could take in the fresh air, and he flew up the first tree he could find, and then he was off and runnin’, faster than any squirrel I’ve ever seen.”
And trust me when I say folks in our tree-lined neighborhood had seen lots and lots of squirrels scampering above, in the tree tops.
“Well,” I said, “he IS a squirrel monkey after all. And one thing we got a lot of around here are squirrels. And trees made for squirrels. Maybe your little Georgie will meet a cute little squirrel and run off with her. And they’ll mate and have children and we’ll call them—I don’t know—something like Squirkeys.”
“Hah, hah! Well, don’t just stand there. Help me look for Georgie.”
I didn’t have anything better to do that day, so I helped Pete look for his little Georgie. Georgie, the Barkhouse Monkey.
We looked, and we searched, and we scanned, and we enlisted the aid of all our pals. And we persisted looking until almost dark. And it was right near the summer solstice, so it wasn’t getting dark until almost 10 o’clock in the P. of M.
And then, when the streetlights were just fixin’ to go on, Danny O’Rourke got the brilliant idea that Georgie was one smart monkey. “So,” Danny said, “he’d do what all smart monkeys would do in this situation.”
“Which is what, exactly?” Pete asked. Pete always asked precise questions because he was determined to become a mechanical engineer and design the weapons with which America would win the Cold War.
“He’s gonna look for other squirrel monkeys,” Danny declared. “And they’re two at the men’s clothing store at the plaza. So that’s where he’s headed.”
Made sense, so we grabbed our bikes and raced off to the plaza. And that’s exactly where we found Georgie, and the other two squirrel monkeys.
They were happily flinging poop at one another from either side of the glass and beating off to beat the band. We were boys of a certain age, so we thought choking your chicken was just the thing.
And the thing ended well when word of the monkey shines at the plaza reached the Consul General of Peru. There had been a regime change in Peru, and the new government was all about protecting Peruvian national honor. And they weren’t happy about losing all their monkeys to the gringoes.
So the Consul General of Peru came personally with his entourage to the plaza, and had them take the three Peruvian monkeys into custody. There was nothing the owner of the men’s clothing store, or Pete, or the dog catcher could do, because Georgie the Barkhouse Monkey and his two new monkey pals had diplomatic immunity.
Hey, it was the height of the Cold War, and the last thing we needed was to lose Peru to the commies.
And the last thing Pete said to the Barkhouse Monkey before they carted him off to the next flight to Peru was: “Well, Georgie my pal, looks like you’re gonna have to learn Spanish.”
After that, Pete stuck with fish for pets. Mostly piranhas, mind you, but that’s a story for another time.

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PRESSING ON

The Dunery Press presses on. Meaning that Natalie and I are continuing to write and send our writing to readers. We’re just not publishing conventional books, as we began doing in 1988 when we formed the press for the express purpose of publishing our own fiction. We were encouraged recently by the kind words of a loyal reader who has read our work since the early 1990s. So we’re going to keep writing, and perhaps even begin looking for more modern ways with which to reach our readers with our work. I, for example, wrote a series of novellas during the COVID craziness, and sent out chapters in serial form to a select group of readers. I may do some more of that, and I might not. Natalie is writing again and has sent some past work by email to the aforementioned loyal reader. And then there’s the whole possibility of streaming. Hmm. I, for one, am giving it some serious thought. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, please be assured that the best days of the Dunery Press are still ahead.

Speaking of type and typing, I do plan to clean up my old Remington and might just write a novel with it. And, perhaps, I could stream it. Who knows? Stay tuned.

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GREAT SEATS IN 509

The White Sox have beaten the Tigers, two Sundays in a row. Yesterday in Detroit, and last Sunday in Chicago. My good friend Joe Rochetto and I were privileged to cheer the White Sox to victory at the June 6 game. And we had great seats, in section 509, way out at the end of the first base line. I recommend 509 for those who want a great view, little or no crowding, convenient restrooms (important for old guys), and nearby concession stands with tempting assortments of ballpark treats. See you in 509 this season, maybe during the series with Tampa Bay, which starts tonight and concludes Wednesday with a day game. Joe “Ace Photographer” Rochetto took the following photo:

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SOMETHING TO CROW ABOUT

We have renewed our acquaintance with long-time reader, Lisa Quinlan. In exchange for some of our recent writing, Lisa sent her painting of a crow. Hmmm, I’ve been looking for an illustrator. Meanwhile, enjoy Lisa’s portrait of a crow.

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LIGHT TRAIL

Friday’s 18-mile bike ride was all about following a trail of light from our house on sun-dappled Dune Road to and through Warren Dunes State Park and back to our house on sun-dappled Dune Road. The misty afternoon sun was dappling everything in my path, and I felt an irresistible urge to follow it. Thus, beauty at every turn. Here are some tantalizing results of my ride around Chikaming and Lake townships in sunny, southwest Michigan:

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STILL LIFE

This could be a painting. If only I could find my brushes. Ah, there they are. Now where’s the paint?

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THE SHADOW KNOWS

Flyboy basks in the morning sun after his appointment with his groomer. We could make a rug with all the hair we’re brushing out of him.

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WALKING WITH JESUS

(Monastery of the Holy Cross, Chicago) We took a walk with Jesus this past Sunday, as part of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Also known as Corpus Christi, the solemnity often sees Catholics on parade, or in Eucharistic Procession, with the Most Holy Body of Christ. As carried in a monstrance. And, yes, this annual event is one of the coolest thing about being Catholic. You literally get to walk with Jesus. Didn’t happen last year because of all the lock-downs and what-nots, but we were able to solemnly process around the block after Mass. And, yes, yours truly, was chosen to lead the procession, bearing the crucifix from the monastery. And true confession: I did take a wrong turn at one point, but Brother Anthony rushed in and gently but firmly guided me in the right direction. And my good friend, and Bridgeport native, Joe Rochetto, was ready for paparazzi duty with his smart phone. Here are some of his award-winning photos of our walk around the block with Jesus:

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LAKE SHORE DRIVE

(Chicago, IL) My good buddy Joe Rochetto and I took a road trip to the Windy City on Sunday for Corpus Christi festivities at the Monastery of the Holy Cross and then a walk to the White Sox to watch them beat the Tigers 3-0, from the cool comfort of seats in section 509. That’s way, way out at the end of the first base line, and just above the foul pole. But what I want to focus upon photographically is Lake Shore Drive. With Joe at the wheel, I was able to snap some good ones as we headed up and down the drive. Oh, that final photo is of the Museum of Science & Industry. I took it when we were stopped for the light at 57th Street. Here are the photos for your fun and amusement:

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MORNING GLORY

Another glorious morning in what we call Beauty Land.

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BIKE BREAK

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FURTHER ADVENTURES IN GOOD MUSIC

(Chicago, Ill.) Some six years ago, or so, my teacher Jason Gresl sent me off to Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago for master classes in clarinet. And thus I was thrilled to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s John Bruce Yeh debut a work written just for him. Mr. Yeh explained that he is dedicated to works of new composers, and he proved it that day. I believe you can find his performance on his home page. Just Google John Bruce Yeh and you’ll be dazzled by the results. So imagine how dazzled we all were that Saturday in Chicago when the great John Bruce Yeh took center stage and knocked our clarinet-colored socks off.

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ADVENTURE IN GOOD MUSIC

(Kalamazoo, Mich.) A few years back, at the behest of my most excellent clarinet teacher Jason Gresl, I drove over to the Celery City to hear clarinet legend Anthony McGill in concert with Pacifica Quartet. They brilliantly performed Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintets, and by virtue of my Boy Scout training, I was prepared and thus secured a seat in the first row in the auditorium on the campus of Western Michigan University. (Yes, they have a most excellent music program.) I thus got to watch Mr. McGill work his magic on the instrument of my childhood, the beloved and always soulful clarinet. Anthony McGill nailed everything he performed with those four talented string players. Best of all, Anthony McGill “hung out” with fellow clarinetists after the concert, and happily took our questions. Mine, quite simply was this: “How did you keep your embouchure (the mouth’s grip on the mouthpiece) going through all that?” He laughed and said he almost lost his embouchure on the Brahams Quintet in B minor and had to hold on desperately to the finish. He strongly advised daily exercises to firm up one’s embouchure. Oh, I also got to tell Anthony McGill that we shared something else in common, namely that we both hailed from the South Shore neighbhorhood of Chicago. There, that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ with it.

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EYES ON THE PRIZE

Life with Charley:
A New Look at Life in 2021
by Charles McKelvy

No trouble seeing the music now. But I do have to work on my embouchure so I can hit that high C with authority.

To paraphrase the great Jimmy Cliff: I can see clearly now that every day is a bright shining day.
That’s because my eyesight took an amazing turn for the better this spring. Not that I didn’t see it coming, but I thought I had a few more years before I would have to deal with that “cataract thing.”
Yes, I had been put on cataract watch a few years back at Smoke Vision in New Buffalo, Mich. where I receive excellent eye care. I was told that when my “baby cataracts” grew to adulthood I would need to have them removed.
And then replaced with interocular lenses.
Hmmm.
I wasn’t so sure, but then Natalie up and beat me to the punch.
Meaning she had cataract surgery on both eyes in March and came away from that experience telling me, unequivocally, “You’re gonna love this.”
Oh, she was so excited and seeing so clearly, although she knew she would still have to wear glasses to provide perfect vision. “No matter,” she said after her two surgeries, “I can see better than I ever have in my life.”
That was one powerful endorsement for the work done for her at Great Lakes Surgical Center in Saint Joseph, Mich. And, as I could see, my dear wife was feeling no pain or discomfort before, during, or after her two surgeries.
Hmmm.
So when Dr. Brenda Smoke examined me on March 11 and referred me to Great Lakes Eye Care in Saint Joseph for further evaluation, I went, not with trepidation, but with the fervent desire to qualify for my own cataract surgery. And, I really hoped that I would qualify for these new-fangled multi-focal lenses that I had been hearing about when I accompanied Natalie to her various visits to Great Lakes Eye Care and Great Lakes Surgical Center.
Well, let me cut right to the chase here and say that I not only qualified for a break-through inovation that enables people to see clearly at all distances without glasses, but that I most likely would not need glasses after my two surgeries.
Music to my ears, because I’ve been wearing glasses for more than 30 years, and I’m tired of them. Ready for a change. Ready to just be glasses-free, all right?
Right.
So, with your patient indulgence, I would like to finish this off with the following entry in my pocket notebook:

May 12, 2021, Feelin’ and seein’ fine at Panera after follow-up visit
Well, here I am—along with Natalie Dearest—at Panera in Saint Joe. This is where my whole Pocket Books writing renaissance began.
That was last September while Natalie was still in physical therapy, down the road at the so-called Health Park. Due to COVID restrictions, I could not wait for her in the hall of therapy itself, so I’d head on over to Panera and get me a cup of the house dark roast and some toasted bagels and write up a storm in my handy Filofax pocket notebook.
Worked like a charm.
Sure made my muse mighty happy, and my muse is humming away right now as I savor with Natalie the good news I just got at Great Lakes Eye Care.
Yep, 20/20 in the operative right eye. That would be the one that was blessed with the insertion of a PanOptix® trifocal interocular lens at Great Lakes Surgical Center the day before, on May 11, 2021.
Leftie, being my left eye, was similarly gifted with amazing vision on April 27, and during the two-week wait for the second procedure by Dr. David Cooke, Leftie did just fine, thank you very much. (So you know, Leftie scored a solid 20/25 the day after his surgery.)
Rightie just kind of hung back with his old, cloudy natural lens, and let Leftie lead us on all kinds of ocular adventures, including driving to Chicago on May 1st to participate in a painting party at the Monastery of the Holy Cross. Father Timothy, as you may recall, was mighty impressed with my precision painting, with just one good eye. And well he should have been, because he was the priest who annointed me before my first operation.
All right, back on track here with—not one, but—two good eyes.
REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY GOOD EYES!!!!!!!!
My buddy Tim told me a few weeks ago that if my experience with multi-focal lenses was going to be anything like his, why then I would feel like I’m 20 years old.
Yeah, I’m here at Panera with Natalie and a cup of Joe and some toasted bagels and the world I’m seein’ is so sunny and bright and clear and just right. Just the way a 20-year-old would see it.
Who knew, right?
Well, I do have it on sound medical authority from no less an authority than Dr. John McDougall of the Dr. McDougall Health & Medical Center that my cataracts were diet-related. Meaning that all those milkshakes and cheeseburgers, and pizza and great big gobs of greasy American food I wolfed down most of my life came back to cloud my natural lenses.
So let that be a lesson to you young’uns:
Switch to a whole-food, plant-based diet now. Not tomorrow, but now.
Save yourselves the heartbreak of cataracts in later life.
Yes, there is a modern miracle of a solution in the interocular lenses that can replace your damaged natural lenses.
And it’s great.
I’m all for it.
But Dr. McDougall is right: It’s the food.
And, yes, I eat the way he suggests now, but, as he said the other day, cataracts are not reversible. Once they develop, they need to be dealt with.
And nobody deals with them better than Dr. David Cooke, and his associates, at Great Lakes Eye Care.
Both procedures were—time out for some drops—wait!!!
Blink, blink, blink.
Close for three minutes.
Listen to some groovy tunes on Little Steven’s Underground Garage, and take five.
All right; I’ve taken five.
Now I’m alive and seeing like the wide-eyed 20-year-old I was back in 1970 when I saw so, so many possibilities before me.
I see them still, now that I have amazing new lenses in both eyes.
No more glasses for this old boy. Just non-prescription sunglasses.
That’s it.
And that’s it from me, except to say to Dr. David Cooke and Great Lakes Eye Care and Great Lakes Surgery Center:
THANKS A MILLION!!!

P.S. A postscript, if you please, to tell you that I returned to the pool on May 25, after being beached for a full month. As the instructions said: “No swimming or hot-tub for 2 weeks.” That’s after each surgery, of course, so basically I was quarantined from April 25 to May 25. That’s a long time for an acqua-addict like yours truly, but I did find ample exercise by bicycling and walking, especially with Natalie.
And when I did return to the pool on May 25, I was pleased to discover that I remembered how to swim and that I could clearly see the bottom, sides, lane markers, the deck clock, and other swimmers. (Now, if I can just figure out how to keep my goggles from fogging up.)
It is June 1, and I am writing this on my desktop without glasses. I can practically see the pixels in each letter, my vision is so good.
I can read all the music on my music stand and thus distinguish a quarter rest from an eighth rest, and, yes, I can even see the dots on the dotted quarters. One doesn’t have to look at one’s clarinet while playing, but I can now see that I have one beautiful instrument that deserves to be played more often, especially now that I can read the notations so clearly.
All this goes without saying that I endorse cataract surgery for those who need it, and, yes, brothers, I was able to apply my own eye drops after surgery. They were amazed by that at Great Lakes Eye Care, noting that 60 percent of male patients depend on their women folk to do that for them. In fact, I told a friend who is deferring needed cataract surgery because he cannot and will not apply eye drops that, “if I can do it, so can you.”
That’s it—be seein’ ya.

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FOGGY PHOTOS

Here are some images from my “Trains” folder of trains in the mist and/or snow:

An inbound Orange Line train arrives at Halsted Street Station in Chicago.
This Metra train was headed for Chicago Union Station as it passed through Hinsdale.
A CSX freight sits on the Sawyer siding in Harbert, Michigan on a misty morning.
South Shore Freight delivers in the snow. This was taken at Shops in Michigan City, Indiana.
Our Amtrak train heads off to Chicago after dropping us off in New Buffalo, Michigan. We had just spent a delightful day in Detroit.
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TRAIL BOSS

Every trail needs a boss, and there’s no better trail boss than Flyboy.
Flyboy sniffs for danger. Finding none, he says: “A safe and sober Memorial Day to all.”
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SUITABLE FOR FRAMING

I liked the photo so much, I framed it and put it over my desk. I’d be happy to send you one.

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FERN WOODS

The ferns are flourishing in our woods.
Ferns to the left; ferns to the right.
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100 YEARS AGO

Mom was a loyal patron of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and often referred to Ricardo Muti as “the big guy.”

One hundred years ago, on May 29, 1921, there came into the world a soul named Hannah Macfarlan. Hannah, who would go on to be the mother of three and grandmother of six, wanted to live to be 100. And she was close, passing as she did on June 4, 2014. She had just turned 93 and was full of love and life until the end. Mom, so you know, had known her husband, James Scovel McKelvy, since childhood in suburban Philadelphia. They were married Sept. 2, 1949, and soon thereafter moved to Chicago where we three McKelvy children were born. So, on your 100th birthday, Mom, all we can say is: HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN HEAVEN!!!!

Mom with her three smiling children.
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EYE PIECE.10

EYE PIECE.10
by Charles McKelvy, Obl. OSB

Back in the surf, with hot new lenses.


May 25, 2021, Back in the swim at South Shore Health & Racquet Club

It is two weeks to the day since my second cataract surgery, and I’m back in the swim. I last swam on April 25, knowing that I was going to be out of the pool for a full month.
A big sacrifice for sure, but worth it, because I knew I would be twice blessed by having Dr. David Cooke insert PanOptix® trifocal interocular lenses in my eyes. A condition of surgery, of course, was that I had to stay away from pools, hot tubs, and lakes for two weeks after each eye. That totalled one entire month, and thus I marked May 25 on my calendar as my return to swimming date.
And, so, I booked pool time at South Shore for Tuesday, May 25, and, as Natalie splashed at my side, I hopped in the pool and swam a lap.
And then another.
And another.
And, oh, what a feeling.
I did have something in the bank, after all.
Who knew, right?
Well, I’m all right being back in the swim with fabulous vision.
I could see the bottom, the walls, the lane markers, Natalie swimming over there in the training lane, and my own bubbles.
Clear swimming is back, and now I’m waiting for Lake Michigan to warm up so I can launch myself there for long morning swims. And, yes, I do have a bright orange tow float to signal my presence on the big lake.

(Keep an eye out for more Eye Pieces)

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DIE GESELLSCHAFT VON KATZEN

Life with Charley:
Die Gesellschaft von Katzen
by Charles McKelvy

Jill Krementz took this photograph of her husband, Kurt Vonnegut, for THE WRITER’S IMAGE, LITERARY PORTRAITS. Alas, she didn’t include Natalie and yours truly in the book.

Now that I’m officially a seventy-something, I can paraphrase the immortal words of one of my favorite writers, Kurt Vonnegut.
Yes, the late, great Mr. Vonnegut told an appreciative audience in Dowagiac, Mich. some years ago that when one gets to a certain age, say over 70, one’s life is reduced basically to—well—“farting around.”
Sorry, but when you’re a seventy-something, you can say such things.
Anyway, now that I am 71 and counting, I can say that much of my life is just poking around. I go from one interest to another, and often end up combining them into something totally unexpected.
Case in point:
I have continued my childhood fascination with the German language and culture, and I watch lots of German cinema on the free streaming-services, Kanopy and Hoopla, that we get from our libraries. Hey, if you don’t get one of these at your library, raise one big stink: they are both excellent providers of varied and wonderfully weird world-cinema.
Anyway, I’ve been soaking up the German films of late, and then we started watching the series, A French Village, with our opera pals, Arthur Anderson and Joe Rochetto. Until the Americans show up in 1944, the villagers and German occupiers speak nothing but French and German, with subtitles, of course. Natalie’s French is coming back; I have gotten to the point where I don’t really have to look at the subtitles when the Germans are speaking. So I have been back into German big-time of late.
At the same time, I am currently in the service of a lively young cat named Flyboy. I am charged on a daily basis with taking Flyboy on cat walks down to the lake. Flyboy has been such an inspiration to my muse that he caused me to ghostwrite his first book last year, I Am Flyboy, and his sequel this year, The Further Adventures of Flyboy. Yes, we have published the first one, using the expert services of the Beacher Business Printers, and sent them out to family and friends.
Self-publishing in today’s connected world is fun, easy, and fairly inexpensive.
Go for it, I say. And what I have to say now is how I combined my recently revived interest in German with the ongoing inspiration I get from Flyboy, the totally cool tuxedo-cat who turned two in March.
So, I got this brilliant idea, see, that I would translate one of Natalie’s favorite sayings from one of her favorite French authors, Madame Germaine de Staël, into German. The good Madame famously said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “The more I know of men, the more I prefer the company of dogs.”
I thought that would be way cool for me to say to Flyboy, in German. And, of course, I would change “dogs” to “cats.”
So, off to Google and back with: Je mehr ich Männer kenne, desto mehr bevorzuge ich die Gesellschaft von Katzen.
I got it rolling off my tongue, and then it hit me: the title of my next short story would be die Gesellschaft von Katzen. I ran it by Flyboy. He said, and I quote, “Go for it!”
So, I did, and, here for your summer reading pleasure is:

die (pronounced “dee”) Gesellschaft von Katzen
by Flyboy, as told to his human

We cats formed a company and named it die Gesellschaft von Katzen.
That’s German of, course, for the company of cats. Hey, we wanted a continental ring to our fraternity of felines.
So, why not die Gesellschaft von Katzen?
Anyway, we weren’t trying to be snooty or elitist. We’re just concerned cats, all right?
Right, and so we’re incorporated as die Gesellschaft von Katzen.
And for good reason.
In a word: coyotes.
In four words: Coven of Killer Coyotes.
And said coven was bent on proving, once and for all, that canines are far fiercer than felines. Especially in our sylvan section of North America, by the big-sea waters.
The Coven of Killer Coyotes, or CKC, was picking us off, one by one.
But then this video, from like Vancouver or somewhere in North America, went viral.
That’s because it showed this parking lot at night when a member of the CKC shows up looking for another feline victim. But not that night. No way, because one of our feline comrades comes charging out from under this car and chases the cowering coyote off into the night.
How cool was that, right?
I know I was totally galvanized when I watched it with my human on our computer. Yeah, the one he operates for my benefit.
I saw that it could be cats 1, coyotes 0.
We don’t have to be coyote snacks anymore.
My human said, and I quote:“Let this be an inspiration to you, Flyboy.”
Well, he was right. So right that I put out an all-cats-alert that very night and called for a meeting out in the moon-dappled dunes.
The other cool cats in the neighborhood had seen the video as well. They were as energized as I was, and we unanimously voted to organize as the aforementioned die Gesellschaft von Katzen.
We’re clawed, and we’re fanged, and Coven of Killer Coyotes, we’re not gonna take it anymore.

So there you have it, sports fans, the kind of thing you can write when you take Kurt Vonnegut’s advice and spend your life just farting around—life with Charley.

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BITSY THE BIRDER

Natalie does a bit of birding at the Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve in Covert, Michigan. Save for the usual suspects, it was quiet that afternoon. Yes, that’s garlic mustard in her hand. She clears it whenever and wherever she can.
The usual suspects: a pair of mallards. Still, they do present a pretty pair.
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THE OL’ SWIMMIN’ HOLE

When the sun warms Lake Michigan up past the 70 degree mark, I’m back in. All summer. And, no, I don’t need no stinkin’ wet suit. Just a good swim suit and goggles and my bright, orange tow float.
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FoF.8

FURTHER ADVENTURES OF FLYBOY
by Flyboy the Magnificent (as told to Uncle Charley)
Chapter Eight: Display of Fireworks

When the White Sox saw that the Tigers had put a tough tuxedo cat on the field—to join the battle—they all laughed hysterically. HYSTERICALLY!!!!
They laughed so hard that they fell over and rolled around, with tears of mirth streaming down their cheeks.
The Tigers couldn’t figure out what their opponents were laughing about until one of the White Sox players pointed at yours truly and said: “You really let the cat out of the bag this time!” Then he rolled around laughing.
The Tigers were surprised to see me out there—all arched and ready for mortal combat. Then they started laughing hysterically and rolling around, with tears of mirth streaming down their cheeks.
The six umpires rushed in and were soon rolling around and laughing hysterically and rolling tears of joy down their cheeks.
Soon, every last fan, vendor, announcer, ticket taker, usher, and front office flunky was laughing his or head right off, and the big, fat, joyful joke of it all went out on the airwaves, social media, and wire services.
I had turned what could have been a baseball battle royal into a national—even international—phenomenon of funny bone tickling.
Who knew, right?
I mean, I am one funny—well cheap cynic comes to mind—feline. I know I’m always good for some laughs. But this?
WELL!!!
Well, the laughing and rolling around and wet cheeks went on for the longest time, and then old Uncle Charley himself came down to the rear of the Tigers dugout and beckoned me to give it a rest and watch the rest of the game with him and his buddies.
He said there was to be a display of fireworks after the game, and, oh, yes, there was. But not before the Tigers beat the White Sox, in extra innings, 5-4.
The cats always win, right?
You know I’m right, and you should know that Charley took me home to my Mondo Deluxe cat bed for a big cat nap.
A big, fat cat nap, so I can rest up for further grand cat adventures.
Probably something in the fall, in Detroit, where not only the Tigers play, but the Lions as well.
’til then, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite.

(later, alligator)

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FoF.7

FURTHER ADVENTURES OF FLYBOY
by Flyboy the Magnificent (as told to Uncle Charley)
Chapter Seven: Cat’s Out of the Bag

Flyboy’s out there somewhere.

So there I was, in the Tigers’ dugout, enjoying the game, up close and personal.
From the safe, secure vantage point of the equipment manager’s bag of baseball stuff.
Nobody was any the wiser, and I was wise to a game that was a real back-and-forth between some not-so friendly division rivals.
I say not-so friendly, because first the Tigers hit a White Sox batter in retaliation for a similar incident in a previous game.
And then the next time the Sox took the field, their pitcher deliberately hit the first Tigers batter.
Right in the butt. The big, fat part of the butt. Still—OUCH!!!!
Talk about adding insult to injury.
Well, that led to words between the batter and the pitcher, and then the former charged the mound, and the battle was joined—a real bench-clearing baseball brawl.
But guess who was the first to rush out of the Tigers’ dugout, with his back arched and claws out?
You guessed it:
Cat’s out of the bag, baby!

(to be continued)

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FoF.6

FURTHER ADVENTURES OF FLYBOY
by Flyboy the Magnificent (as told to Uncle Charley)
Chapter Six: Cat’s in the Bag

You’re probably wondering how I got into the ballpark, right?
Right!
Of course, you are. So here’s how it went, see:
While Nancy the nuthatch was haggling with the Uber driver as to which nature organization to bill for our ride from the harbor, I beat paws across the parking lot and hopped in an open bag full of baseball stuff. Said bag belonged to the equipment manager for the visiting Detroit Tigers, and she carried the bag—with me concealed well within it—through the gate and down the ramp, and into the tunnel, and eventually to the Tigers’ dugout.
I mean, who’s going to stop the equipment manager for the visiting team?
Nobody, right?
Right, and they waved her through at every turn. Complete with her big ball full of baseball gear and yours truly, Flyboy the Magnificent feline. Face it, sports fans, the powers that be aren’t going to let the Tigers have a real tiger in their dugout, because, after all, tigers are a protected species in most places. In place, that is, where tigers even exist anymore.
So what better mascot than Flyboy, the tiger-wanna-be?
None.
So, the next thing I know, the equipment manager is plopping her bag down at the end of the dugout as the Tigers file in from their locker room, and the fans are going berserk in anticipation of a grudge match between two ancient rivals, and it just can’t get any better than that, can it, sports fans?
Oh, but it does.
Much, much better.

(to be continued)

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FoF.6

FURTHER ADVENTURES OF FLYBOY
by Flyboy the Magnificent (as told to Uncle Charley)
Chapter Five: Land/Sea/Air/Land Adventure

Let me tell you:
When you enlist the supernatural services of that little bird known as Nancy the nuthatch, you’re in for one wild ride.
In my case, I had a truly thrilling land/sea/air/land adventure.
In the interests of protecting our national security interests, I am restrained from telling you more than this:
*My adventure began on our beach in Michigan—the land part.
*Then the sea part aboard a—well, that’s classified.
*Followed by a daring rescue by the U.S. Coast Guard and a flight to Chicago in one of their spiffy red helicopters.
*Concluding with an Uber ride to the old ballpark at 35th and Shields.
How does a cat call an Uber, you ask?
Well, Nancy the nuthatch handled that, along with pretty much everything else.
And now for the best part of the story—a baseball game with my very own human, and his buddies.
Throw a few more practice pitches, and then we’ll play ball.

(to be continued)

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