Having driven from Detroit to Grand Rapids, I can by experience tell you: if you're on the Darwin Road, you're going straight to Hell. And the road to Hell is not paved with good intentions—only macadam. Hell is a small town in Michigan, a northern state. For about three months every year, Hell freezes over--sometimes it's so bad you can't get into Hell. This Hell hath not enlarged her borders, but is quite tiny. One day, I went to Hell and back.
And the next day to Baker Book House bookstore in Grand Rapids. I told them that their half-price-book section they could call 'Half-Baked Books'. And since they have a fiction section, the mysteries could be called 'Hard-Boiled'. The 'great woks' section on Chinese controversy would be called 'stir fry'. A section on eccentric creative individuals could be called 'Flaked Baked' (that's where I'd most feel at home--there I could stew in my own juice). The book club would engage in roasts of authors. I'd visit the magazine shelves periodically.
And then wonderful perch dinner. They asked if I wanted ocean perch or lake perch; I said I was willing to perch in either place. They asked if I wanted smoked fish; I asked if it was healthy to eat a fish that had been smoking. When they didn't get that joke, I asked, 'Have they been smoking regularly or vaping?'
I friend says I need to also visit Paradise, Michigan to ‘take the H out of your experience in Michigan!’ Another friend says, ‘You use a unique combination of wit and wisdom! Your comments about Hell reminded me of some unusual city names in Pennsylvania. Two years ago we attended an Amish play at Bird in Hand. We also visited Ephretah where our guide told us that its founder and followers practiced celibacy and the men lived in separate dormitories from the women. Ironically, the name means 'fruitful'. Not far from there is a city called Intercourse. I wonder if it was founded by dissidents from Ephratah. Do you suppose?’ Sounds right.
A person sent me a picture of Hell, Michigan’s city sign frozen over. When driving through, I looked for that sign, didn't see it. Perhaps it was hidden in summer foliage beside the road. Or, as a friend says, ‘Tucked in nicely behind the tree of forbidden fruit.’
Later, I learned that hummingbirds have a range of personalities:
a. some fly even while eating even when a perch on which to stand is right there--they're like people who eat at the kitchen counter, or grab a sandwich on the run, or work at a standing desk (like Donald Rumsfeld) or sing 'BusyBusyBusy' like Kevin Kline, full of vim and vigor in the fast lane.
b. others stop, perch, eat, tilt back their head to swallow, relax, take their fill and their time, then move on. They're bon vivant connoisseurs, succulently savoring life in the slow lane.
The first ones will die of heart attacks induced by stress.
The second ones will die of heart attacks induced by obesity.
A friend objects, saying, ‘What?! No pleasant outcome? Like living to a ripe old age and dying peacefully.’ I guess they could get Alzheimer's or some form of dementia, believe they're the reincarnated Napoleon or Cleopatra, write people letters of introduction to the Pope, live in a bubbly, drug-induced haze and slowly descend into a coma/vegetative state, after which their relatives could pull the plug on life-support machines. Would that be peaceful enough? I note the above message is the third time in a short period that I've used the word 'induced'. I don't know what induced that (now it's five times, so perhaps I'm slipping into dementia, like someone telling the same stories repeatedly). 'Oh bother', as Pooh would say.
My friend declines the dementia, saying, ‘I've observed that up close. No fun at all. It's a rough way to go! I'd prefer the heart attack!’
Another friend says, ‘I will never look at a hummingbird the same again.’
On dementia, yet another friend says, ‘I've heard another view where it was stated that at least they are reliving happy memories of their younger days. I suppose it may not be true of everyone but it gives hope to some.’ I guess there's a difference in different forms. Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People said that the insane are happy because they can do anything and live in this fantasy world. But treatment of the disturbed was quite forceful, often cruel, not so long ago. I asked the friend about dementia, ‘Is that what you mean by 'rough'?’ in Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, the old man, resting, is dreaming of lions he saw on a beach on the West African coast when he was young. And I've noticed that many older people have sharp, clear memories of childhood and youth—for instance, my grandfather mentioned small details of the night, when he was five years old, that his family came to Pentecost.
My friend says, ‘My Dad's mind would come and go. He was desperately trying to get somewhere most of the time. Like places he used to live. Or trying to convince us that some hallucination was real. It was hard on him. But more so on the caretakers. They were kind to him. Extremely so. We tried to go with him to whatever world he was inhabiting at the moment, but it was tough.’
Another friend asked which hummingbirds live longer. Ah, that is the question. Let them both take low-cholesterol foods to keep the good old blood circulating around.
Meanwhile, I’ve been working on lyrics for another song to an Irish folk song melody. Here's one I wrote previously:
There’s a Word in My Heart (lyrics: Stanley Scism; melody: ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling’--use the John Gary arrangement)
There’s a word in my heart on the wicked man’s part:
There is no fear of God in his eyes,
For he flatters himself, so he doesn’t detect
Any sin. He has ceased to be wise.
All the words he will say are deceitful all day.
Even lying in bed, he will plot,
For he hates to do good. If he’d hate sin, he would
Not commit to wrong actions and thought
Your love, O Lord, reaches Heaven, your faithfulness the sky,
Your rightness big as mountains, your justice deep and wide.
You rescue beasts and people. How priceless is your love!
Your wings will lift us upward to your home in Heaven above.
There we will drink forever from rivers of delight,
For with you is the fountain of life. In you is light.
Continue loving people who know and follow you.
May the foot and hand of wicked bands now fall in all they do.’
After all that talk about dementia, I experience this: I'm delayed by traffic, arrive at church almost 30 minutes later than planned, meet someone and talk from 6.30 to 6.45. After church, I talk with people, then when planning to go to my car discover I don't have the keys in my right front pocket. I rifle through all my pockets, knowing I could have placed it in an odd one because earlier I was moving stuff from one pocket to another while getting business cards to give to people. But no, it's not everywhere. I retrace my tracks, stopping everywhere I visited with and talked with people, look under furniture and curtains and tablecloths. I tell the reception desk and fill out information unless they find it later. I have a spare key, but it does not have with it the keys to the car's overhead bin or to my house and garage. And I don't want to make another electronic key for my car, because I already did that in order to have a spare, and it's expensive. Finally, several people looking a bit with me, I leave for the parking lot--apparently I'll have to get a spare ignition key tomorrow and a new key for the overhead bin. On the way to the parking lot, I check the driveway, grass, street. I wonder if I left the keys in the street and an enterprising thief now has my car in another state, or totally emptied. I see the keys nowhere along the way, look ahead, see the car in the parking lot, get to the driver's door, see it's unlocked! Oh, no, is everything gone? No, it's full (believe it). Then I wonder, did I leave the keys in the ignition? I sit down, reach around and there they are. And the engine running. The whole 3 1/2 hours since 6.30. I lost some gas, but that's all. Perhaps any prospective thief thought the owner was in the shadows waiting for someone to try to steal the car--a stakeout! (('d rather have a steak out.) Or the thieves are conscientious. Apparently I'm associating with the right sort of people.
For instance, at the post office, I told the lady, 'Everytime I see someone named Sandy, I start singing "Sandy" by the Carpenters.' She hadn't heard that song. I asked if she knew that 'Men in Black' postulated that the P.O. employs multi-armed aliens from other planets to distribute mail to all the many destinations. I asked, 'That's not really how you do it?' She replied in a conspiratorial whisper, 'Of course it is. But it's a secret. Shhh.'
At a house where I stayed, the host and hostess have a parrot called Popeye. He is what he is. When the phone or doorbell rings, he says, 'Hello'. He doesn't fear anyone walking by--they give him and his very sharp beak personal space--his attitude is, 'I'm not like that wimpy budgie you met in Louisiana. See me and tremble.' When I whistle, he cocks his head meditatively to one side, then to the other, and contemplates my song and probably also the eternal verities. I didn't see Olive Oyl. When the lady of the house wants him to retreat back into his cage, she approaches rapidly with a shoe in hand. He knows about the shoe, believes in her, acts on faith, and returns to his inner sanctum.