This season, I was gratified to discover a few Millenials embracing an old-fashioned tradition, writing and mailing out Christmas letters.  My nephew Sam, an aspiring artist and musician who toiled at Walgreens by day and performed at open mikes by night before COVID interrupted his life, did a phenomenal job with his letter, closing with his “playlist” for 2020:   

Will You Miss Me When I Burn?  (Palace Brothers)

Say Valley Maker (Smog )

Out of Tune (Real Estate Band)

Jubilee Street (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)

Helplessness Blues (Fleet Foxes)

Sister (Angel Olsen)

Weyes Blood – Bad Magic (Mexican Summer)

It Seemed the Better Way (Leonard Cohen)

Shelter From The Storm (Bob Dylan)

Pretty Eyes (Silver Jews)

He sent me a YouTube link, so I spent a morning listening to his picks, trying to imagine the impact of the pandemic on the young… Living alone or with roommates in tiny apartments, going to scary essential jobs or scraping by on unemployment, alienated from friends, dating, and most social venues.  There is some overlap, certainly, but I am 52 and married, introverted, and retired.  I am my own landlord, have my own washer and dryer, and enjoy the company of two dogs and a cat.  I’m content baking cakes and reading the newspaper and assembling jigsaw puzzles. In fact, I may continue living this way after COVID has passed.  52 is quite different from 25.  Immersing myself in his playlist was like journeying to the past in a time machine.  When a particular lyric spoke to me, I jotted it down on an index card.  Strung end-to-end, with a little rearranging, these lyrics became a “found” poem: 


It is longing that you feel,

to be missed, or to be real.

The world outside is so inconceivable,

often, you barely can speak,

a ten ton catastrophe  

on a 60pound chain.

The one-eyed undertaker,

he blows a futile horn.

At least there’s nothing more

you could really lose, now is there?

You wonder what it was…

You wonder what it meant…

You know we can’t cop to

the frequency of your inner debate

so you learn to take it as it comes.

You fall together, fall apart

with the grace of a corpse   

in a riptide.

Make the best of death 

and love what’s left.

Do you still believe stars

are the headlights of angels

driving from heaven

to save us?

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Ta-da!  Turns out poetry isn’t all I can do.  It took me a few weeks to finish our 1966 VW Bus mailbox, cobbling together stuff from Amazon, Dollar General, and ACE Hardware with odds and ends I had around the house.  Just in time to mail in our ballots!  Our carrier loves it, and cars slow as they go by to get a closer look.

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I adore parodies, and The Parody Project is cranking out some real gems.  Just in time for holiday viewing, 12 Months of Trump’s Mess,
a month-by-month summary of his insane political agenda in 2017.

The Parody Project does non-Christmas parodies, too, like Confounds the Science and Fifty Ways We Can Recover.  Check them out.  There’s a “donate” button on YouTube.  You’re welcome, and Merry Christmas!

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It’s May and RV’s are cruising the highways in search of adventure, nature, and camps with pull-through spaces and on-site laundry facilities.  Some of the events described below are real; some are fictional (but entirely possible).  I’ll let you guess which are which.
This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on RV-ing called House on Wheels.


The seller handed us two huge rings of keys and a tattered briefcase.  “All the papers are here,” she said.  “I wish I could help you more, but
my husband – God rest his soul – always took care of things when we traveled.”  With that, we became the proud but clueless parents of a bouncing baby motorhome.  We figured we would learn as we go, and before we’d traveled a hundred yards, we learned that low-hanging branches can wreak havoc on a rooftop air conditioner.  At the gas station, we discovered that filling up the tank takes twenty minutes, fifty-five gallons, and a 9-1-1 call when you see the total and suffer a heart attack.  Heck, by the time we got home, we were practically experts.  So we reserved a campsite and started packing.  Though no lock was left unturned, half the keys remained a mystery.  Important-looking items like batteries, lumber, hoses, and thick electrical cords hogged every outside compartment, so I stashed the lawn chairs and Dog Chow in the mini-shower, certain the water heater’s generous
six-gallon capacity would deter anyone from actually using it.  I added the bare essentials—the coffee pot, a package of RV-safe toilet paper (engineered to begin dissolving the second you touch it), and a can of bug spray—and off we went.

Lessons continued on the road…  Thou shalt not reverse without a spotter; it is the number one cause of RV accidents.  (Reversing with a spotter is, incidentally, number two.)  Be aware that mirrors, bike racks, and roof vents stick out a foot farther than they appear to.  Avoid toll roads, where “highway robbery” takes on new meaning.  If you do not know what a switch is for, never flip it while you are in motion; some do harmless things like disable the carbon monoxide detector while others extend the patio awning and initiate lift-off.  That said, a solid roadside assistance plan is worth every penny and tow truck guys are great; they winch you out of impossibly stupid jams and never say, “Holy Moses! How did that happen?”

On site, seasoned campers are quick to take newbies under their wing.  One grizzled guru watched as we backed up and pulled forward seven-teen times into our assigned space, then introduced himself.  “Keep her on the blacktop,” he warned, “or you’ll wear a rut in your lawn.”  The following day, a plaid-clad neighbor sprinted over and yanked a bottle of lighter fluid from my hands.  “Whoa!” he hollered, “What are your leveling boards doing in your fire ring?” Aha!  No wonder we kept rolling out of bed!  “Stash your dirty laundry in the oven,” offered a third.  “It’s pet-proof and holds exactly a load.  Who in the hell bakes on a camping trip, anyway?”  I did some quick mental addition… including those three little gems, I’d collected enough pearls of wisdom to earn my RV merit badge.  Secret handshake, I thought excitedly, here I come.

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