I'm Back

I'm sorry to have left this space in limbo for so long.  I am going to try to rectify that. As I approach retirement I hope to keep myself busy with more writing.  There is nothing like practice.  More soon.

January 12, 2012 in B is for..., Personal | Permalink | Comments (0)

B is for Brother Ben

My only brother, Ben is the middleman of my family.  I am the second and he the third of our parents five children.  We share three sisters (about whom more under 'S' perhaps).


As two outnumbered boys, you would have thought we'd have been close growing up, but early in his life, my elder sister and I used to gang up on brother Ben and make his life pretty miserable.  Moreover, because we two were good at school, he decided at a young age that it was a no win situation to try to compete with us academically.  It took him well into adulthood to figure he was really a very smart guy.  Late though he was in turning to the academic life, he has embraced it wholeheartedly, with a PHD after his name and a tenured teaching position.

He is married to a strong, artistic and attractive woman, Sarah.  Together they have one son and one daughter.  (see 'N')

The thing brother Ben and I share most together these days is music - he and I play together and have for almost 40 years.  Musically, I am happy to defer to him in most matters.  For one thing, I owe him for any contribution I made to messing up his youth.  But, more importantly, he is both more talented and dedicated than I am.  He likes being front man and works at it.  I provide support.

Of course there is a great deal more to our history than I have room or inclination to share with you, blog readers.  I think we have both grown enough to know no purpose would be served by revisiting some of the hurtful behavior we inflicted on each other in our impetuous youth.

So Ben is a good brother to me.  Although you may have gotten some taste of him from his eulogy to our father, I thought it was time I introduced him.

April 17, 2005 in B is for... | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

B is for Boat

Boats are an important part of my life.  Since I'm a sailmaker, you might have guessed that already.  They are my vocation and my avocation.  If you were ever bored enough to explore my dream blog you would, not surprisingly, discover that they are fixtures of my dream life as well.

I had my first boat at the age of six.  It was a nine foot Turnabout class catboat called Swallow after the one of the boats in Arthur Ransome's children's classic Swallows and Amazons.  From that book I learned that boat names should have seven letters and also repeated letters - for luck.  I can only fix my age from the fact that Swallow met her end abruptly under the fist of Hurricane Carol, a category 3 hurricane that struck the Maine coast at the end of the summer before my seventh birthday.

Boats are too much of a topic to cover in one post.  I may get back to Swallow and her successor, Swallow2 , (and their successors) in other posts.  At the moment, for instance, I have four boats.  This post is about one of them...

B is for Batard.  She is the boat I have owned the longest.  As you probably know, or can guess, her name is French for a child born out of wedlock, a bastard.  I did not choose her name.  She had it when I acquired her, carefully lettered on her inelegant transom.  Her antecedents are appropriately obscure - she was abandoned by her previous owners in a boatyard where I once worked, and I adopted her.  She is, frankly, an awful boat.  She's an undersized dinghy, clearly designed to be tender to a very small cruiser, and so she was perfect for me at the time, or so I thought.  But, though the concept was good, the instance was not.  She is just too small to work.  She can barely carry one adult, is dangerously unstable and hates to be rowed.  I'm sure her name was bestowed with appropriate bitterness after she unceremoniously soaked her owner, and I'm equally sure her abandonment was no accident.

In fact, I have not floated her in more than 20 years.  She has a small hole in her skeg, from being dragged up a rocky shore too often, and she is missing her tiny thwart, but those would be easy enough flaws  to fix.  Truth is I haven't really ever cared to tackle these little problems.  She was a fixture in the rafters of the garage of my previous home for years, and when we moved here 12 years ago, I dragged her along and stuck her in the basement, where she gathers dust to this day.  On those occasions when I happen to notice her, I tell myself I will fix her up someday and she'll come in handy, but realistically that will probably never happen.  Still, she is a boat, is Batard, and she is mine, and here she stays...

April 11, 2005 in B is for... | Permalink | Comments (0)

B is for Bass

As in Bass Guitar.  My instrument of choice.  My musical life is not nearly well enough connected to the rest of my life, but that's the way it has to be.  Fortunately, bass is the perfect instrument for that condition.  It is both rythmic and melodic, but it is relatively undemanding, technically, so that even someone like me who doesn't have the time (or the discipline) to practice regularly can carry the load in an R&B band such as the one I play in.   Actually, not being too proficient is an advantage, because the best bass playing is unobtrusive, though not without power. 

The time I do get to spend making music with others is satisfying all out of proportion to its fraction of my life, so I will keep doing it.  I am fortunate to play with friends who share music as an avocation and  grateful it is not my livelihood.  I spent a little time in college in a band that was actually trying to get gigs and earn money, and it was a stressful experience. 

April 5, 2005 in B is for..., Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

B is for Bad

Bad is one of the dozen or so words Toby, our 13 year old golden retriever, knows.  It was a word we never had to teach.  He knew it well by the age of one and a half when we acquired him fro the Westbrook Animal Refuge League.  (Other B-words is his vocabulary:  bath, bone, and boots)

As I understand is the way of his breed, our Toby's most ardent desire was to please his people.  We never needed corporal punishment to deter him from any behavior we didn't like - a couple of applications of the B-word was lash enough.  He would lower his head guiltily just as though he had been hit.  Then a few minutes later he would come lean up against your leg, trying desperately to re-ingratiate himself with affection.

Now, he is pretty much stone deaf.  He could no longer hear "bad dog", even if we ever felt he deserved such censure (which we wouldn't).  Of course he would still respond to the body language - the frowning glare and the wagging finger, but the word bad will never trouble him again.

I perhaps flatter myself to believe that as a boy I had a pretty much a golden retriever's aversion to be thought of as bad.  I was told the importance of being good, and I believed.  By the time I realized that there might be certain advantages to being perceived by my peers (especially those of the opposite sex) as being just a little bit bad, it was already too late for any convincing readjustment of my persona - I was pretty much stuck, at least in my own head, with being a good boy.

Not, of course, that I was incapable of bad behavior.  I certainly was guilty of plenty of that.  ML asked me the other day whether I ever thought back with regret on any relationships I had ended.  I agreed that I certainly did - that I know I was not just dishonest, but positively cruel to at least a couple of women who did not deserve it.  But, back then, I still felt comfortable thinking of myself as basically 'good' at some core that was above and beyond any temporary lapses.

Now that I, too, am getting old, I have acquired a certain deafness myself, a moral relativism.   Rather than weakness, though, I find it a strength.  Not that I believe I can't distinguish between good and bad behavior, in either myself or others.  But looking to judge people as good or bad with absolute moral authority is, to me, horribly diminishing.  Some will judge me for saying that, but I will not hear them...

April 3, 2005 in B is for... | Permalink | Comments (1)