Raw Squid Isn't the Strangest Food I've Eaten

Mahi Mahi caught off the coast of Oahu, HI. 

Humans get adventurous with their meals

One of my favorite lunchtime meals is a grilled cheese sandwich made with Stone-ground wheat bread with ample sharp yellow cheese melted between the slices and paired with a hot bowl of tomato bisque soup. Mmm, tasty!

My parents were working-class people, and I grew up on mostly simple foods. Oatmeal for breakfast. A lunchmeat sandwich for lunch, and maybe a big pot of homemade spaghetti for a special Sunday meal. Sometimes on a Friday night, we might have a fish fry and enjoy a large platter of Perch, a freshwater fish caught in the lakes around our Michigan home.

My folks also enjoyed having a platter of liver and onions for dinner (it was the cheapest of meats) which I hated but did my best to choke it down. My Mom liked to boil chicken hearts and gizzards, and as a ten-year-old, I shared a few plates with her. It took me another ten years to wise up and cut the organ meats from my diet.

A Boy’s First Car

Vintage and customized cars motoring down main street.
The days when cars were king. Thanks, Phillip Solano @ Pexels

Speed, adventure, friends ... what's not to love!

Sixty years ago, my hometown, Detroit, was still the world’s envy. It was the fourth most populated city in the U.S. It was known for its contribution to The Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by enslaved people to escape to freedom.

It was the home of Motown, the record company that played a major role in developing soul and R&B music, with dozens of artists becoming world-renowned musicians and performers. 

Detroit was famous for its stunning landmarks, architecture, professional sports teams, and unique cultural heritage.

However, the city was most famous worldwide for being a hub for innovation and production in the automobile industry. It earned the title, The Motor City. It was the automobile capital of the world.

Read the full story here.

The Circle of Life is a Circle of Learning

Families learn together. © Lloyd Lemons

We are all students and teachers

Knowledge and wisdom never go out of style. It's something we continue to gather and a valuable gift we continue to share. No matter our age, the attainment of knowledge and experience continues to be an important and gratifying part of our lives.

The gratifying part is enhanced when we can share what we know with others to simplify their lives. Often, that sharing happens without us even realizing it.

My Dad was smart, not in the Ivy League sort of way, but in raw, rough-hewn intelligence. He never made it past the 10th grade, but he accomplished a lot in his short life.

We didn't have a close relationship. I think World War II took its toll on him. He had a lifelong inferiority complex because of his small stature, and his excessive use of alcohol clouded his judgment. And in hindsight, I don't think he ever understood the demands inherent in being a parent. But despite all that, he managed to accomplish impressive things in his 64 years of living.

I saw, I heard
Dad was an autodidact, a self-taught person. He built and repaired things. Once out of the military, he became a tool designer, boat builder, and woodworker. He renovated an old bungalow, became a barber, and started a service business with my mother. He designed and contributed to constructing a new building to house their company. He and my mother both worked hard to provide for their family. Then, as a retired guy, he drilled water wells for his neighbors so they could water their lawns and gardens inexpensively.

As a young person, I was disappointed by not having the kind of Dad who would play ball with me, joke with me, or spend quality time together. We may not have had a close father-and-son bond, but he was still responsible for teaching me many things that I learned vicariously.

The circle of learning
I once sat on the second-story roof of my grandmother's cottage, watching Dad and a couple of other men tear off old shingles and install a new roof. I was eight years old and wasn't allowed to help, but I was allowed to sit by quietly, watch and ask questions. I did so for two days.

My Dad built one of these in the 1950s. Digital image by Bard.

As a child, I watched how he managed the myriad details of building a cabin cruiser in our garage. A boat that took us into Lake St. Clair every weekend and was home to our family while on a two-week cruise through the Great Lakes.

When I got to be a teenager, Dad introduced me to the game of golf, using right-handed clubs. Being a southpaw, I hated it at first. It was awkward, and I rarely hit a good ball, but it likely played a big part in my becoming ambidextrous today.

My Dad wasn't one to proactively teach me things step by step or explain the process, but he allowed me to be a spectator and ask questions. And my frequent observation turned out to be an effective way for me to learn.

We all know there are countless ways to gain knowledge and just as many ways to share it. But as we get older, I think we sometimes feel like our teaching days are waning, and our ideas are looked upon as old hat. But that's not true.

We continue to learn new things throughout our lives and should continue to share what we know. We share with youngsters and oldsters, family and friends. It's how our stories and wisdom live on. Not all will listen, but we make an effort anyway.

When I talk with my grandsons, I often have the feeling that I'm boring them. They don't respond logically. I get the eye-roll, and I can see their minds working to process a hundred things at once. They grimace and try to change the subject. But something fascinating occurs. A day or two later, they come back to me questioning the very ideas we were discussing during that previous conversation. They may not have been listening, but they were hearing, and now we are sharing. Those seemingly unheeded bits of knowledge and wisdom have germinated in a place where they will flourish.

If you Google "circle of learning," you'll find charts and graphs that give all sorts of perspectives on the subject, but the bottom line is this: The circle of life is a circle of learning, and as elders, we are still very much involved in this activity. We each have a gift that we can use and share with others for the rest of our lives. Doing so imparts a life-affirming vitality. Being mindful of this helps us feel thankful, relevant, and it give us purpose. 

We have much to give and still so much to learn.

Never Give Up

A delicate yellow flower growing out from barren rocky ground.
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

A new day. The first in a new year, with new opportunities before us. I'm not one to create a list of New Year's resolutions because I think if you know how you need to improve or why you should make changes in your life, why haven't you done it already? There's no reason to wait for a special day to make important personal changes. That is called procrastination.

The concept of New Year’s resolutions has been around for 4000 years and, of course, has religious roots. However, it’s been adapted throughout time to fit the purpose of people with different needs. Each era created its own cultural tradition.

But even for those of us who resist making resolutions, something about January 1 motivates us to look forward with renewed anticipation.

I suppose I’m influenced by the swell of glee from the revelers who enjoy the circus-like atmosphere that surrounds New Year’s Eve. But more than that, it seems an appropriate time to take stock of what I’ve recently accomplished and look forward to how I can continue to grow.

The beginning of the new year serves to wake us up from our asleep-at-the-wheel mentality and remind us of the importance of our goals, dreams, and the shortness of life. It seems a good time to hit the reset button on our lives.

My 2023 was a disappointing assortment of doctors, healing, pharmaceuticals, and age discrimination, resulting in a loss of focus, productivity, and income. But it was a year filled with ample time to reflect.

And that’s what I’ve been doing. But enough reflection.

Short of writing New Year’s resolutions, I will commit to the following for 2024. I will continue eating well and exercising vigorously. I will spend more time socializing with the right people. I will continue to study, learn, and read widely and write an eclectic mix of stories for curious people of a certain age.

Marcel Proust wrote: The creation of the world did not occur at the beginning of time; it occurs every day.

I will take Proust’s thesis and run with it. This year, 2024, which has 366 days, gives me 366 opportunities to do the right thing. My resolution is to make each day my best.

I'm Still Here, I Promise!

Photo is an attractive doctor's waiting room.
I've spent countless hours in waiting rooms like this. © Lloyd Lemons

I haven't been writing lately, and I feel like I should explain why. For 16 years I have been nursing some fairly serious vision problems. It started in 2007 with a torn retina and progressed into full retina detachment, then to glaucoma. First one eye then the other. My doctors have kept me from going blind, but it's been a challenge. 

The vision in my left eye is only about 5%. The vision in my right eye is a grainy 20/20 made possible by  radical surgical procedures and corrective lenses.

Then, two months ago I was given a new brand of eye drops. I had a bad reaction. 

The new drops distorted my remaining vision and made it impossible for me to read anything. For the past three weeks, I have been using drops that will hopefully correct the situation. They seem to be working, but it's a slow process. 

My Band-Aid solution
I have enlarged my computer display to 160% and can now resume writing for short periods of time. I'm also learning to use Google accessibility features, specifically Dictation mode to write with my voice, and Select-to-Speak to listen to what I've written. It's a little awkward for a keyboard guy like myself, but hopefully, I won't be forced to use it long term.

If you were a regular reader of my Substack newsletter, I apologize for dropping out as I did. I hope to be back on track real soon.

Time to Reflect, Does Anyone Have Enough?

A wall clock, with a photo of a young man standing in front of a Cessna airplane and a small child sitting on a Model T car.
Time stands still for no one.

I'm a slow reader. I sometimes look at the length of an article before I commit to reading it. If the reading time is noted as more than 10 minutes, I might put it off till I know I have uninterrupted time that would allow me to focus clearly on the subject matter. 

Unfortunately, it may never get read. 

It gets bookmarked and sequestered into one of my various holding cells where it is likely to be buried among hundreds of other unread articles ... and forgotten. 

The world functions at a high rate of speed. It's that speed that robs us of quality in so many things. Writers seem to focus on stories that run from 500 to 1500 words because that length appears to be what most readers can consume in a single gulp. 

That being the case, what am I missing when I file an intriguing story into the bottomless pit of a bookmarking app?

We need to slow down. We're missing out on a lot that a good life has to offer. 

Ten Things I'd Say Yes To

A grey wall with an arched pass-through, a sign above it reads: Blow Your Horn.
Photo by Jake Roxen on Unsplash. Thanks Jake!

  1. Yes! I would move again. That is, I'd take up residence in a new place if I could find the right place. It's stressful, expensive, and a lot of work, and I've already moved many times. But I've lived in Jacksonville Florida for 22 years, and I'm ready for a new adventure. 
  2. Yes! I'd buy an autonomous vehicle, once the bugs are worked out. I have come to dislike driving.  
  3. Yes! I'd like to try skydiving.
  4. Yes! I want to ride my bike across the country, solo or with a ride buddy.
  5. Yes! I would take a drug that eliminates the need for sleep. Sleep is an onerous task. 
  6. Yes! I would try microdosing psychedelics as an experiment to achieve healthy outcomes. 
  7. Yes! I would find citizenship in another country if the United States Democracy fails. 
  8. Yes! I'd take a trip on an alien spacecraft if the opportunity presented itself. 
  9. Yes! I'd accept the opportunity to act in a movie. (I've been an extra.)
  10. Yes! I would agree to experimental stem cell therapy to repair my vision.