Rejoice in THIS Summer

Rejoice In THIS Summer


Last mid-March through 4:01pm, July 12, 2012, has shown us a more pleasant, beautiful, and perfectly appropriate weather, more than any stretch of weather from any span of a spring to summer I can recall.


Payoff for Irene? A miracle? A fluke?

The start of a cycle that will continue for years?

A cruel joke destined to flip and become a prolonged span of dank, dismal, dreariness?

Or luck?


My three answers to those six questions are: Could be, who knows, no one knows.


But have you noticed? Have you really noticed?


Have you noticed our Green Mountain summer has been one worth writing about? Or have you plodded along with your head down through this onslaught of stellar spring and summer sunniness, publically spewing complaints about everything, especially the weather, on the days yousay were too hot or too humid or too rainy?


You have noticed? I thought so, because I’ve heard tell from some folks who normally wouldn’t be too impressed with a sunny day here and there, that they’re having a summer to sing about, to remember – a summer to rejoice.


I can actually feel the sun jolting my spirit deeper in to the good, keeping it well above the plain-ole-content zone.


Fortunately I most always feel great (“a hundred percent” I like to say), and eating very clean helps, but I’d bet money my body is performing at elevated levels it’s never reached before, all because of this perfect stretch of weather, with it’s consistent doses of warmth, and sun, and extra infusion of vitamin D.


I’m serious. I’m tanner than ever, and contrary to what you often hear, I believe sun- done right – is good for your health, and not necessarily bad for the skin.


I read about it all in “The End of Illness” by Cancer doctor David B. Agus. He must know more than you or I, which is why I tend to believe him, not you or I, when it comes to sun and skin. Anyway, my skin, and bones, and muscles, and hair, and the entire conglomeration of inside business that I never see, my guts, all feel brand new.



Hurrah for recognizing how this summer has probably been a one in 20 year, or dare I say, once in a Lifetime summer, a summer that’s playing out more like a special event than a season. Because the more of us who realize our good weather fortune and recognize it in some way shape or form, by rejoicing for instance, which is a 10 dollar word that means loving everything, the better off we’ll all be when our natural weather related high carries over into the next pro-longed stretch of squirrely weather.


It’ll come my friends, the bad weather, count on it.


I’m just saying, when the bad stuff arrives, try not to harp on it, and sputter and stew and piss and moan and yim and yar about it; instead, remember this Spring and Summer of 2012, and tap into some of the reserves you’ve stored when there was so much sun and warmth and good air going around, that we were able to bank an unreasonably huge amount of it.

Now, I’m off to the pool, fool. 

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Oil Abounds

It’s an overly warm early spring night, and I’m writing, sitting in a freshly teak oiled, wooden, Smith and Hawken outdoor folding chair, that is pulled up to the chair’s companion table. Four feet away is my black 2011, F 150 Ford pick-up truck, that is parked grill facing to the bucket of my shiny green and yellow 4120, 42 horse John Deere compact estate tractor I use for plowing snow and pulling trees, and or whatever else might need to be pulled. Sometimes I use the J.D. to go to the mailbox, 7/10ths of a mile away. I throw the mail in the bucket. My neighbors wonder why.

Resting in a bay off my left shoulder is my 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe, which just today turned it’s 90,000th mile. Combined yearly mileage run in my truck and Tahoe is between 55,000 and 60,000.

The bay off my right shoulder shelters my pop’s 27-year-old Toro 8 horse ride-on mower. This gem handsomely boasts a patina of faded red and black paint, blended with tacky blackish brownish oil. Leigh and Leslie Keno would give it raves. To the mower’s side, resting proudly, is a single axle red Wheel Horse garden trailer, whose bed houses my hyper-powerful Husqvarna weed whacker, a model 61 Husky chainsaw, two, red, five gallon fuel jugs, one for gas, one for diesel, a two gallon jug of bar and chain oil, and one, two gallon fuel jug containing mixed fuel for the whacker and chainsaw.

Pushed tight as can be up under the rear of the garden trailer is my Husqvarna push mower. It’s powered by a Honda engine.

I might buy a dirt-bike. If I do, moving vehicles in my posse take credit for 24 tires, 21 spark plugs and lots and lots of horsepower. I love that we still call it horsepower.

My house runs on propane. A few times this spring on the same day I bet I’ll use every one of my fuel burning machines, and my heat will be on, and the dishwasher and clothes dryer will be operating.

Mr. Obama, environmentalists, all around American gal and guy, our desire to move toward new energy is admirable. My actions are not.

Change? You first.

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Leland Putvain

Leland Putvain

Leland Putvain is six feet plus one inch. He used to weigh 340, now he’s 180. Leland is bear-like, partly because of the God-given way he carries himself, but mostly because God made him hairy. I’d bet my toenails Leland can grow, ’fore noon, a full Santa beard from a clean-shaven face, just by holding his breath and thinking about it.

Leland didn’t come to much account in school, at least from what I observed back in the day. Ain’t like he went on to anything much more than washing dishes after he graduated, so I have to figure I observed right. But anyway, who cares about school? Not me, and I guess neither did Leland. What I think Leland cares about are people.

Leland left me a message Saturday from the local hospital. He was there to have a toe amputated and he suggested I call, or better yet, “stop by.” Leland and I have never been tight pals, but when passing on the sidewalk we’re more than apt to chat for a few minutes, and both more than apt to enjoy the chat. So when I got his message I thought, heck yeah, I got a little extra love to give when someone is in a pickle. I visited Leland Sunday.

Shiny clean in a hospital Johnny, beard big as New Mexico, wire- rim custodian-style glasses, curly gray-and-brown hair fluffy as cotton candy, clean fingernails, and a heavily bandaged right foot, less a big toe, Leland lying in the hospital bed was a sight to see, if only for his grinning contentedness.

While the cleaning lady scrubbed the head, Leland and I started in. “How you feeling?” “Oh, all right,” he said through a smile and beard, his voice strong,

lifting a few octaves as he added, “It’s just . . . it’s just the way things are gonna to be.”

We chatted for half an hour, and every time the chat turned to Leland’s misfortune, his missing toe, he’d surmise, in the same high-octave voice, “It’s, it’s just the way things are gonna to be.”

On his side table was a phone and phone book.

Leland is one of 10 kids, French Canadians, close-knit they are, and I’m sure calling on Leland all throughout the days he’s been in the hospital. Yet smartly, Leland has reached out to his friends, or at least folks he knows, and says, “Hey, I got nine toes, visit me, would ya?”

The sugar finally attacked his foot so that a sore began to bleed andspout pus two nights ago. When he woke the next morning it hurt badly and seemed a lot worse, so he limped onto the bus and rode to the hospi- tal. Alone. When he got there, they knifed his big toe.

“I guess your flip-flop wearing days are over, for the right foot anyway, huh Leland?”

“Yeah,” he drolly admitted. “But, ah, it’s . . . just the way things are gonna to be.”

“Wonder what they did with it? Do you know?”

“No,” he said, then he looked at the phone. “Kermit called. Tommy Fletcher stopped by, and Chip, from Gracie’s Restaurant. Martin. My dad lives across the street at the Manor now. He’s been by a couple of times.”

Without changing the gait of his speech he changed the subject. “How are things with you?”

“Me? Well Leland, I turn 50 tomorrow, November 15.”

He stared at me a few seconds “Really? My birthday is Tuesday, and I’m 50. It’s November 16.”

Most of the visit I spent leaning flat against the yellow-painted cider- block wall, which felt cool to my upper back and neck. But when Leland said he too was about to turn 50, I stood straight, my entire 183 pounds perfectly balanced and supported by my size 13s. “No kidding? You seri- ous? We’re the same age, almost exactly. Two humans, one in Canada, one in Philadelphia, born, could be an hour apart, cause I was born at 11 at night.”

“Huh, I never knew that, that you were born then,” Leland figured. Lunch arrived. “Hey, lunch Leland. Careful. You think that’s where they sent the toe?” “Nah,” he chuckled. “Yeah, they (his family) were having a party for

me Tuesday, but, well, they’ll have it for me when I get out, like later in the week.”

I said, “Yeah, doesn’t matter when you have the party, I don’t think anyway Leland.”

Leland nodded, relaxed his head back into the pillow and closed his eyes. “Yeah. It’s nice, you know, the way people have stopped by. It’s . . . it’s just the way things are going to be.”

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Fear disease Fear the press Fear success Fear neighbors Fear Obama Fear Bush Fear talent Fear time Fear loss Fear organization Fear responsibility Fear possibility Fear authority Fear religion Fear ambition Fear opposition Fear butter Fear sugar Fear fiber Fear health Fear change Fear balance Fear patience Fear headaches Fear fear Or Meditate on words my 99-year-old Aunt Laura, in a euphoric state of
dementia while dying, shared as I knelt at her bedside: “Keep all your things in order, and your manners right. Then you can
lay your head down on the bed with a clear conscious. And it’s such a pleasure to do.”
I repeated, “It’s such a pleasure to do.” She repeated, “It’s such a plea- sure to do.”
We traded the line two more times. At the very least, the line is a pleasure to speak.

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Herbie was my mom’s cat. He had to be put to sleep today. I was in the room with ma and Herbie when he passed, and I want to apologize to Herbie.
Herbie had been having trouble getting his business done for the past half year or so, especially the past week, so mom called her cat doctor, who was on vacation, so she called another cat doctor and made Herbie an appointment.
Herbie was 171⁄2 and lived four of those years with mom and dad, five more with mom alone. Herbie would smush his 25 pounds of coon catness beside dad on the recliner, and dad would pet Herbie all evening, while all three of them, mom, dad, and Herbie, watched television. When dad died, and you don’t have to care or believe me, or believe in the spirit of this, but when dad died, Herbie mourned him by not getting up into dad’s recliner for nearly a month. Herbie would sit in front of the recliner, look at it for a good spell, and go rest somewhere else. Good soul.
After dad died Herbie became mom’s main man. His giant green eyes looking after her like his life depended on her. Which of course it did.
Mom feared Herbie might not come home from the doctor’s this time, but she hoped the doctor would be able to get Herbie flushed out enough to send him home for one more run. I hoped the same. We always want a little more. “Fries with that?” Yeah, fries, and another two weeks with ole Herbie around would be just fine, thank-you.
So when ma got the call this morning saying Herbie’s kidneys had done their last work, she wasn’t surprised.
I watched the slow but dignified death of my father, saw him lying passed away in his bed. Saw my aunt lifeless in her bed at the nursing home too. I’ve been around my share of old, and very sick, and extremely hurt people, but I’ve never been witness to putting an animal down, which I feel is why I screwed up.
Ma and I were in the room when a nurse brought Herbie in, two IVs held with gauze and stuck in his little forearm. On the table Herbie cawed a bit, but it didn’t seem like he was in pain. I’d like to think his caw was more from discomfort than blatant pain.
Ma kissed Herbie and told him she loved him and that she will always love him. I petted him and listened to what the doc had to say. I put my ear down to the bulk of Herbie’s body to hear if he was purring. He wasn’t.
Cause she doesn’t stand long stretches well at 80, ma settled on a bench a couple feet from Herbie. I stood behind Herbie as the doc went about presenting a sedative into his arm. I lightly stroked Herbie’s back a bit, but when the doc plugged the shot of relaxant into the IV, I let up petting.
Herbie fell into a medicated haze, a sleep, basically. I walked over to ma and put my hand on her shoulder, tapped her a couple of times, then the doc quietly said, “this will stop his heart,” as he administered the second and final dose.
Gentle ending of a gentle giant, a 171⁄2-year-old, green eyes the size of marbles, nice as can be, at one time 25-pound cat.
Why do I want to apologize to Herbie? Because I wasn’t chatting with him as the doc gave the first sedative. For some reason I thought getting in too close to Herbie could muddle the procedure. I’ve always had good instincts, known what to do and say to folks who’re hurting. But this was different. This was someone who was going out, right then and there, and my usual dead-on instincts let me down a little bit and I succumbed to the odd certainty of the moment.
So I’m sorry Herbie that I wasn’t chatting with you as your end came. I should have been right down with you, loving you up, going about all normal saying, “Ole Herbie, he’s the feller, he’s a good boy, a handsome feller, you’re my buddy Herbs.”
Sorry about that ole Herb, cause maybe going about normal could have made the very, very end a bit more comfortable for you.
I’m not worried Herbie that you didn’t have a subtle end, I’m just think- ing it might have been a tiny bit better had I talked to you through it. Live and learn for me, for you Herbie, die and teach. I’ll be better next time.
Thanks Herbie, for everything.

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Worcester Ridge

45 years or so ago a man bought many acres of land, an entire mountainside actually. 35 years ago my folks bought a small number of the man’s acres and built a home on them. I was already out living on my own, but I stored my dirt bike at my folk’s home. On visits I’d get on my bike and zoom the side of the mountain, following log roads that the man hoped would one day lead to many beautiful house lots, carefully planned, and sparsely and expertly set, all the way up to the top of the 2300 foot high Worcester Ridge.

Months passed and the roads stretched further up the mountain. On my dirt bike rides, I’d go and go till the logging roads petered out. Then I’d shut down my bike, rest, and look out across the valley to a majestic western view of Camel’s Hump, Mt. Mansfield, Sterling Ridge, and more north, all the way to Lowell mines. The views were awesome, and I dreamt the best thing in the world would be to one day become rich so I could afford land with such a fantastic view.

Age 44, with a dying dad, not rich, but rich enough, after weeks of searching for reasons why, I called the man to ask if he “had any of them lots up on the ridge near my folks,” available to buy.

He did, and almost 9 years ago, on a very cold and brilliant sunny day, the 83 year old man and I snow shoed to lot 16, where the view from 1497 feet above see level was one I’d recognized from rests I’d taken during my long-ago dirt bike rides. 4 minutes after arriving at the heart of the lot, the older man and I shook hands on a deal for my purchasing lot 16. 9 months later I closed on the land where I now sit writing in my home.
Luck struck my way one day in the form of the town select people setting 1500 feet as the highest elevation one can build along the steep winding road to the ridge.
Thanks to the now 92 year-old man, my folks, the town select people, even myself I guess, and actually many many many humans I know and don’t know, I have a 200-acre back yard/mountain preserve, with views up the ying-yang, practically to myself.

I’ve driven my truck, a car, a 4 wheeler, and a snow machine up the mountain behind my house dozens of times. Hundreds of times I’ve hiked, ran, and mt. biked it, all the way to the 2300 foot ridge, that offers views west across Mt. Mansfield toward Lake Champlain, and east out across to the Presidential Range … if you can believe that.

You know when you’re really, really thirsty, you take a drink of fresh clean cold water, and after the final gulp you experience a few seconds when you aren’t able to speak, and your breathing slows down, and you close your eyes, and you’re totally in awe of life itself? That’s how I feel every time I summit the Worcester Ridge.

Yup, up here on the Worcester Ridge, it’s Christmas every day.

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Jeter Hooked Him Up … on the down-low

The sports press is all about reporting and re reporting how great a guy the 23 year-old who caught Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit ball is for giving Derek back his bally. And the whole time I’m thinking, yeah he’s a great guy, but what about Derek Jeter, he’s a great guy too. Why doesn’t someone ask Derek why he didn’t tell the kid to keep the ball and go cash in?

Humans are crazy for junk man. The ball, the actual one Derek got his 3000th hit with, isn’t worth anything, nothing, zilch, to Derek Jeter, or the Hall of Fame.

Set the ball on Derek’s kitchen table and what happens? It sets there. Great. Give the ball to the Lopez boy and boom, it’s a house with no mortgage. Derek gives the ball back to the Lopez boy and Babe Ruth hitting a home run for the sick kid doesn’t seem like all that great big a deal anymore.

Why the heck dose Derek need the actual ball? He’s got a brand new 35,000 square foot mansion in Tampa Fl, which he’s more than earned and should enjoy. Hell, he should enjoy a 60,000 square foot house if he wants, if you ask me. If you’ve earned your money, paid your bills, and not hurt anyone, frigged if I’m one to care what you’re spending your money on. If I had riches like a Jeter or Harrison Ford, you’re danged right I’d have a mansion. I’d have me a bedroom bigger than the house I live in now, which is 3000 square feet, just a shack.

So no, this isn’t a Derek Jeter bashing column. No no. I’m a fan. I think he’s quite something, really, a once in a lifetime athlete / person, whose name will carry as much or more heft then Gehrig, Ali, and Jordan. In fact, when folks complain athletes like Jeter are paid too much I will always stick up for the player. Cripes man, Derek Jeter will be dead and buried long before the Yankees quit selling $200.00 Jeter jerseys. The Yankees will make more money off Derek after he retires from playing then the sum of all his contracts, or my name ain’t DeWees.

Instead of a Jeter bashing article it’s an article in support of what kind of guy I perceive Jeter to be which is, great. That’s why I’m curious as to why he didn’t just turn the ball back over to the Lopez boy instead of keeping it and allowing it to collect dust in a fancy memorabilia case next to all the rest of his career chazzerai (KHA-ze-rye)/junk.

As cool a guy as Jeter is, he’s seemingly no different from the rest of us crazies who’ll put value on an object that is worthless, over putting all the value on what the worthless object represents.

So, why didn’t Derek, especially since he’s mister perspective, give the ball back to the guy? Why didn’t he say, “Hey man, thanks for offering me back the ball, but you know what, my hits stand on record, I don’t need the actual friggin ball. You keep it buddy, make a couple hunny K off it and buy yourself a home, or your ma and pa a car, or invest it.” Now that would have been something to hurrah Derek Jeter’s name about.

You heard that the Yankees hooked Lopez up with a bunch of game tickets. One of the games he’s at the Yankees are letting him watch from a VIP suite with a bunch of friends. That’s rather nice of the Yankees. But I think so much of Derek Jeter, I got half a mind Derek hooked the Lopez dude up privately, in his own way, and not just by signing balls and bats, I think Derek dropped some heavy green on the kid, under the conditions the kid tell no one. That’s sounds like something a good guy like Jeter would do – and I got half a mind he did.

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Loose Weight #2

The back doctor in Park City had prescribed yoga for what he called my (“on the fence, one wrong move and you’re done,” back. So from his office, yoga is where I headed, directly.

The doctor must have known my back was in severe spasm. He has eyes. I could barely walk, I was bent over dang near in half, and a good measure to the side. He must have known from umpteen years of studying medicine that yoga, now thought of as an almost proven cure for so many things that ail, isn’t what one should even think of doing when ones back is in severe, I mean friggin A, severe spasm. So why he didn’t qualify his prescribing yoga with a “but not till you can walk upright,” I’ll never know. What a ninny. Him, and me. Both of us. What ninnies.

Not to totally change injury subjects, but the above passage reminds me of a local doc who after throwing 8 stitches into a deep, ragged, 2 and a half inch long shin gash, boot high, let me leave the emergency room without mentioning, let alone stressing, that my shin gash was going to be ultra painful, for a long while. Instead he let me leave with a quirky “You’re fine, should be jumping around in days.”

I assume he was pandering to what I was; A typical 40 year-old fit guy who thought of himself as macho. Can’t fault him for that. Especially cause I totally bought into his pander at the time because my body was still in the shock stage and not fully feeling the pain. What the doc should have told me on my way out of his office is “On your way home pick up some Kleenex, because tonight, you’re going to ball like a colicky infant.” And that’s what I did, curled up, on the floor. I balled.

Took a week before my body even thought of having a pain free moment, and half a year without going a full day at least once recognizing some sort of discomfort from the shin.

A couple months later I happened to see the doc who stitched me and ditched me. He apologized. He was sincere. He said he’d heard around town that I had suffered significant pain, and that I’d spoken to someone during the worst period of it and mentioned to her that I felt the doctor who’d stitched me was way too casual in explaining the level of pain I’d feel during my injuries first efforts to heel. The doc admitted he should have warned me just how awfully painful a shin gash can be. He ended with, “Yours was pretty awful. Sorry.”

Here’s what you can’t do. You can’t assume a doctor will cover everything he or she should when treating you, anymore than you can assume the weatherman will forecast accurately.

Doctors have knowledge, they don’t know things. They’re dealing with relatively very little concrete information about all that we bring to them. Really, they’re out there on the edge of not knowing a gol-darn thing, and not always being 100% thorough with the task at hand. Remember that.

Back to the back. Way back in 2000, after my back injury, I had no idea doctors were fallible. That’s why I took the back doctors statement that yoga is good for bad backs as money in the bank. And it’s why I was astounded that after a 90 minute full-on session of yoga, my back felt/got worse. Yoga dang near crippled me. And all because there are so many things in life we can learn only through living.

Tell you what, I remember that yoga session, deeply. I’ll tell you about it in the next column. Remember this is #2 of a series of columns explaining why I decided to loose a fair chunk of weight. I’ll get to the point, later than sooner.

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Chloe Lost Again

“It’s going to be zero degrees, but with the wind-chill it’s going to be 20 degrees below.” It can’t be that. It can be zero degrees and wicked windy. But it can’t be zero degrees, but with the wind really 20 degrees below. It’s still … zero degrees.”


That line is some of the material I wrote for my first comedy show. It worked for most folks. It was a line that was a bit funny, while at the same time made you think a little to understand.


After that passage I’d continue; “They don’t say, ‘It’s going to be 80 degrees, but with the sun it’s going to be 120!”


That line worked very well as what I call a “capper,” a medium to low funny line that is meant to be a throwaway that “caps” a thought or topic, in such a way as to allow momentum be picked back up after a very strong think-about line.


That “capper” line made sense 10 or 12 years ago, but not anymore, because NOW they do say that. “They” being the weather folks. NOW they do say, “It’s going to be 80 degrees, but with the sun it’s going to feel like 91.” Now how the hang do they know how warm I’ll feel?


I might be a redneck who just come from Cumberland Farms where I’d just loaded up a big huge plastic jug full of Coca Cola slurpie. That’s why them poor redneck kids walk around in winter jackets during the summer – their gol darn gullets are so full of slurpie, they’re walking around friggin hypo-gol-darn thermick!


Wind-chill factor, cripes. I wish we’d all just let things be what they’re going to be.


Pretty soon teachers will be handing out tests, “Class today’s test is 25 questions, all multiple choice … but for you 5 dumb republicans in the back they’re going to seem like fill-in-the-blank.”


Divorced father of three has his kids on the weekend, takes them to the creemee stand, says, “How much are medium creemees?” “Oh they’re $1.60, but for your child support paying ass they’re going to seem like $5.25.”


Wind chill factor attitude’s making us all soft.


Alright weather man, it’s going to be 80 degrees, but with the sun it’s gonna feel like 91. But I’m a fast walker, so, now you know what you gotta do? Now you gotta factor in the friggin wind-chill. You gonna do that for me wise guy who went to a crappy college that had a pretty good meteorologist department? You gonna do that for me, huh? 80 degrees but with the sun 91 with a 5 mile an hour walkin pace? Tell me weather man, just how gol danged warm am I gonna feel today?


And if I’m a slurpie-swillin, winter-jacket-wearin-in-the-summer poor guy walking 5 miles an hour on a sunny 80 degree day, there ain’t no gol darn computer modelin in the world’s gonna tell you how warm I’m gonna feel, is there weather man? Admit it, you can’t really forecast the weather any more sure than I can tell you Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman ain’t got peckers.



So I’ll let you off the hook weatherman. If I’m standing in the sun, I know I’ll feel warmer. Standing in the wind, cooler. And gol darn it to heck I ain’t no genius weather man, but if I’m standin in the rain, I’m going to feel wetter. These things I know.


Tell me something I don’t know weather man; I don’t care what town or state I’m in, but at the super market when the LOST CAT posters are girl cats who are black with a little bit of white under their chin, why are they always named Chloe? Is it because all black girls cats with a little bit of white under their chins are named Chloe? Or is it that same cat just keeps getting lost?


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Loose Weight #1

Lots of folks have been commenting about my weight. Thanks for being curious and or concerned. I’ve lost 25 pounds and landed at 180, or a pound or two below, depending on my intake of fuel and output of energy any particular day.

The weight loss is, I consider, a major reason that I’m very much more than fine. I’m mighty fine – feel like a million bucks (pre-2008 million bucks).


How and why does a middle-aged guy decide to lose 25 pounds from his not overweight frame? Long story. Got a minute?


At 40 I was superman. Weren’t you? I routinely rang the strongman bell at the fair, with one arm, and one swing, while whistling The Knack’s, “My Sharona.” I’d tote giant rolled living room carpets on my shoulder for miles, just to say so. Women? Ha, two, three to a shot, then wonder how I still had energy left to pet the cat. For fun on my 40th birthday, I lept a tall building, 14 times, in 15 minutes.


Then in the winter of my 40th year, skiing, I caught both tips in some heavy powder. Upon yanking the tips out, I felt a wrench and tug in my lower back. Right than and there, superman lost his cape, for good – but I didn’t know it.


I skied the rest of the day on residual superman pheromones. Real smart. Then I went to a back doctor, who took an x-ray and calmly told me after viewing the x-ray,


“You have a bad back.”


I said, “Yeah, I know.”


He repeated, “You have a, bad back.”


“That’s why I’m here doc, yeah.”


“No, you have a bad back,” he insisted. Then pausing, he tapped his middle finger on the problem area of the x-ray and continued, “you always will.”


Stunned, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind, “Should I do yoga?”


The doc laid my new life on me.


“You can’t run anymore. Skiing won’t work. Any jarring sports, dirt biking, snowmobiling, (he didn’t call it snowmachining, he wasn’t from around here), can’t do those. You play basketball?”


“In college, now town-team.”


“No more basketball.”


I went in to clarify, “You don’t mean for good? I don’t have to stop for good? Right?”


“Well,” he paused and looked again to the x-ray, “you’re on the fence here, one move and it could be over.”




I had been waiting for the next sport he listed of sports I should no longer do to be sex. But the more he spoke, the more the tone in the room became ominous, the more I felt like crap, the more it sounded like he was saying I could die from this back thing. Which of course wasn’t true. But the finality of his prescription made it feel that way.


He soothed, “But yeah, yoga will be good, and you can hike, swim, fast walk.”


“Friggin fast walk?” I blurted as I was picturing myself looking awfully sissified fast walking by the strongman bell at the fair, straight into Floral Hall.


“What kind of vehicle do you drive,” he asked.


“VW Golf.”


“With your height, you’ll want to look into buying a larger vehicle, one you don’t have to bend down into. And a harder bed is best. And take your wallet out of your back pocket, stand straight, bend with your knees, stretch, but not too much, and don’t sit for long periods of time. For now, sitting is your worst enemy. Apply heat as often as you can.”


At this point I think I know what’s ahead for me. The knife. So I ask how long till the back gets better, as if surgery isn’t even on my mind. What I hear is, not necessarily what I want to hear, but also not the worst I thought I could hear.


“The severity of the pain could last a couple to a few weeks. I’ll prescribe muscle relaxants, you should get some massage.”


“So sex isn’t totally out?” Even in severe pain, and thoroughly crippled, I try to be the joker. He didn’t laugh.


“Do some yoga, and hopefully it’ll come full circle for you. I’ve seen it happen.”


“Hopefully? You’ve seen it happen?”


“Like I said, you’re on the fence. These things can get worse, stay the same, or get better. One can never tell with backs. But, if you do all the things I suggested, you’ll be giving your back the best chance to heal, and the best case is, you’ll be able to avoid surgery and continue a normal, active life.”


Holy crap. A normal life?  I came here to Park City for a film festival to screen a film I have the leading role in, and to ski, and look for Robert Redford, and be discovered, and from one trying turn on a lousy heavy powder run on a moderate slope, I’ve put myself into a situation where my life may no longer be normal?


I head straight to a yoga class.


To be continued

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