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Mmy wife tells me most every day the biggest problem I have in my quest to survive myself, is I rarely pay attention. I know she is right because every time I lose track of the reality around me I get myself into trouble.

Now I am not saying I am stupid. I teach chemistry and have worked with DNA bioinformatics. But, asking me who called on the phone ten minutes after the call was made is difficult. This lack of understanding some phone calls could be important drives my wife nuts. When she gets home she asks if anyone called. I usually say no only to figure out later her sister called to tell about some important arrangements about a holiday get-together I forgot was about to happen.

I don’t blame my wife for getting mad at me but I explain to her this is the way my mind is wired. Of course, she then reminds me about the concept of short circuits but by this time I find it better to hide. Forgetting phone calls is not the only thing I forget. I have a difficult time remembering names. This is very disconcerting to the person I am talking too especially if he or she thought they were good friends. I even forget my relative’s names. My wife saves me because every time there is a family get-together or party I stand near her when we enter and reviews who is there and what their names are.

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Mmy beauty is ageless, though lines scar my face,
I radiate and shimmer with green patterns of lace.
My arms, although gnarled, give me no pain.
I blossom at Springtime, with finery grand,
an arrangement in keeping with nature as planned.

Wwhen days turn to cold and frost chills my limbs,
my greatest performance of all then begins.
And people are spellbound gaze with much awe,
my beauty, my grace, my curtsy, my fall.

Nno debutante fair could ‘present’ with such glee,
in  my Autumn of Life, a mere single old tree!

The old Trouper by Wendy R. Chapman.
All copyights reserved.

Tthere I stood looking up at a white mountain of snow that seemed to reach the sky. The snow was packed tight with pale blue facets in the crevices and the wind whipped a fine spray from the summit like Everest.

I was absolutely awestruck by its size and beauty and I wished like hell it wasn’t in the middle of my driveway!

The day after our first major snowstorm began with me trying to open my garage door. It took about half an hour, in sub zero temperatures, of me chipping away at the ice between the bottom of the door and the pavement that had sealed it shut like cement. When the door finally opened to reveal the spectacular winter vista before me my first thought was how beautiful it all was. It was like that scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy’s world turns from black and white to color – except in reverse.

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Tthe summer is now in its last weeks. My garden is exploding out of its confines. Normally this would be a big problem because the concept of throwing food out or letting it rot on the vine is not something any Italian can live with. I am fortunate enough to be married to a beautiful and talented wife.

As to how I managed to end up with here is beyond my comprehension but I am forever grateful for the miracles she can perform with fresh garden produce in the kitchen. For the past couple of months I have been enjoying some of the most remarkable meals ever produced by my garden. One of my favorites is called, ‘chombought.’

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Iiknew every one of those people. I didn’t know their faces or their names but I knew them all. They were husbands and wives working hard to make their families comfortable. They were children whose hard work and perseverance made their parents.

They were also grandparents who were just about ready to enter a new stage of their lives doing something they had worked hard all their lives to be able to do. I still know them. I actually hated Paul Mann, the publisher of the Independent, when he called and asked me to revisit that day. I hated the concept of having to write about a time in my life when my soul was forced to change. Psychologists say many of us have changed because of that day. How the hell couldn’t you be?

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“I wonder what dirt tastes like?”
That was how I opened my first conversation with a cousin in my parent’s backyard over 50 years ago. My cousin and I had never said much to each other before that because we’d always been in the company of grown-ups but they had put us out in the backyard to play while they tried to have some kid-free time inside.

My cousin stared back at me blankly. Then he smiled, picked up a handful of dirt and shoved it in his mouth. From the instant look of horror on his face, the spitting and retching and the explosion of tears I realized that dirt was probably not something one should eat. The grown-ups all spilled out of the house to see what the problem was and I told them we were just talking.

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Ppresident Bush once stated that war with Iraq was inevitable. The debate over going to war with other nation has been raging in our Congress and our newspapers for many years now.  I wonder if President Bush understood what the word ‘inevitable’ meant?

Going to my favorite Webster’s Dictionary, that is now being held together by duct tape, I looked up the traditional definition of the word ‘inevitable’. It states that inevitable is: “incapable of being avoided or evaded and an instance that is bound to happen.” I started to think about things in my life that I considered ‘inevitable’.

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