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February 10th, 2024

That Sense Of Death Tapping You On The Shoulder

A neighbor across my street had to be taken off by the paramedics a couple nights ago. I just found out he’d had a really bad stroke and is still in the hospital, unable to move.

Him and his younger brother (both pretty old men, but 50s, maybe early 60s I’d say) live in one of the four single family detached houses across my street. The oldest brother who inherited the house was who had the stroke. He was into some sort of real estate business and possibly had other side work too. Whenever the weather was warm enough he’d be outside working on the front lawn or the side garden or the huge yard on the east side of the house with a Really Big tree and lots of scrub brush, which I saw him trying to clear out a month ago.

So he was active, if not a regular jogger or walker like me. I never once saw him smoking and he didn’t seem to be a drinker either. But I think his health wasn’t the best to begin with. He walked with some difficulty. Maybe it was the same sort of thing that had put his sister in a wheelchair.

The stroke scares me more than other possible health outcomes. For one thing I like to drive a lot and if it happens while I’m driving I could get other people killed. I’ve thought about that ever since I read the story of that school bus driver who apparently stroked out while driving the bus and crashed into a metrobus killing it’s driver and several passengers, plus himself. He’d apparently had a record of that happening before and should never have been given a school bus to drive. Luckily there were no children on the bus.

If I have the stroke, even one that doesn’t incapacitate me, I would need to give up my driver’s license, voluntarily if that isn’t the law. I won’t have that on me. But losing the ability to drive would feel like the end of my life.

I really don’t want the stroke. Unless it’s a massive one that kills me instantly. I can deal with that.


by Bruce | Link | React!

June 18th, 2021

Cycles Of Life
It’s almost over for this emergence. I don’t hear that distinctive whirring song anymore, just some random buzzing. There’s still a bunch of them out and about, but it isn’t the torrent it was only a few days ago. We won’t be seeing them for another 17 years, and I’m not all that confident I’ll be around then. I’ll be 84. Possible, but given my family history and the fact that I’ve already had one heart attack and one heart “event”, not very likely I think. So I’m finding time on my walks to pick a few up off the street, let them climb around my hand for a bit while I’m taking them over to a nearby tree…from which they’ll probably fly off again and back into the street.
I’m seeing a lot of carnage on the pavement around here. Wings, half eaten carcasses. The birds are feasting. I approached one on the sidewalk and it immediately flew off and into a tree. Fine, thinks I, you’re safer there than on the street. Then a bird jumped off another branch and pounced on the branch the cicada landed on and flew off with it. Oh well…bon appétit
Their batteries are running out. So I’m told they really can’t eat, or is it drink, sap or nectar or whatever it is they live on, once the transformation happens. All they have is the energy they emerged from the ground with, and I expect a lot of that was used up in the transformation. They’ve only got enough built-in energy to fly, sing, and reproduce. Then it’s over.
But really…that’s only how it appears to us above grounders. The next emergence actually starts before summer’s end, when the eggs hatch and the next round of nymphs falls to the ground, and digs in. We’ll start seeing a bunch of branch tips with dead leaves…that’s where the eggs were laid. I’m pretty sure by the time we notice that, the next generation will have already hit the ground and started digging. There’s an entire world below the surface we hardly ever notice. That is their world, except at the end, when they become sky creatures, if goofy ones, with a very loud song.
This was my third time around with them. After awhile you find yourself marking the ages of your life by some particular cycles of nature in your neighborhood. This plague year it was especially nice to have the Cicadas, since I never really got to see the Institute swallows return, which is how I know summer’s begun, and probably won’t get to see them take their leave, which is how I know summer is over. Somehow I reckon, when the song is over and the trees are quiet, it’ll seem like summer ended early. At this stage of my life, that’s to be expected, but that’s always how it feels. Summer is always over too soon.
by Bruce | Link | React!

March 29th, 2020

I Love My City

Took a socially safe walk around my little Baltimore neighborhood. It’s grey and damp and chilly this morning, but at least for now while we’re allowed outside I need my walks. It’s not hard to stay a safe distance from everyone. Most folks outside these days are walking their dogs.

This was new…


My first thought was somebody’s trying to upstage one of Hampden’s neighborhood easter eggs, the legendary David Bowie bust. I’ll keep a watch to see if the window dressing changes.

I love my city..

by Bruce | Link | React!

April 14th, 2018

The Curse Of Gentrification!

Dimitri’s, our little neighborhood hangout for the Thunderbird and Southern Comfort crowd has shut its doors, and the building’s owners are looking for new tenants. Gentrification happens.

Dimitri’s was pretty unapologetic about what it was. Its mascot on the overhead sign there and right on the doorways was a staggering drunk clinging to a lamppost while chugging a bottle. It was a legendary neighborhood dive bar long before I arrived. But if it was a trouble spot I never noticed it. I think I only saw the police there once or twice in the eighteen years I’ve lived here. I see them regularly by the 7-11 on The Avenue. Occasionally they’d have a barbecue in that parking lot next to the building and I’d walk by to the lovely smell of pork on the grill. But it wasn’t good for its clientele. Maybe it’s my Baptist upbringing: when I was a preschooler my bitter Baptist grandmother would take me by the hand as we walked to the grocery store, and whenever we passed by a bar she’d point at the door and say darkly, “the devil lives in there.” I laugh now, but there’s something to be said for that Baptist skepticism of drink. I’ve often told friends back in D.C. that between the crowd waiting for the methadone clinic down by The Avenue to open and the one waiting for Dimitri’s to open, the human decay on display in front of Dimitri’s seemed lots worse. 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

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