The Dark Tower by Stephen King

gunslingerI went for another drive today
I often do that to pass some time
as it was too darn hot to take a hike
too late in the day to walk outside
I had no particular place in mind
just to jump in the car and let it define
the route that we would follow today
as we passed the time along the way
with an audiobook telling the words
read by an actor trained in this verse.

Listening to a Stephen King tale
what better way my thoughts to prevail
as he winds his magic his story to tell
and I try to guess what’s coming next
and will the good guys come out on top
or is it in his dastardly plot
that evil wins this particular tale
and the hero falls as he did fail
to foresee what should have been plain to most
the good over evil is not always the case
especially when Stephen King is the host.

The Dark Tower is the name of the piece
and actually, there are seven books in all
as I am nearing the end of book six
which means one more book to fall
I have yet to hear how it will end
and as this is next to the final book
I can only hope that good comes out on top
and the Gunslinger will find out what
is at the end of his terrible quest
the one that had driven him all of his life
in such a way so full of strife.

I have a very bad feeling that
I am not going to like the story I hear
of the characters that I know so well
that Susannah and Eddie, Jake and Oy
and Roland too are all going to die
and they in turn will never see
the Dark Tower in all of its mystery
but the only way that I will know
is to listen and hear the way it will go
and yet a part of me is so sad
the ending that’s coming will be very bad.

My favorite character in these books
is not one of the human kind
the animal lover in me prevails
and I am really cheering for Oy
and hope that he will see the day
and will be there with the boy
as the Billy Bumbler who is Jake’s friend.

Of one thing I can be pretty sure
King entertains me in such a way
that I drive my car and put on the miles
just to hear the words he will play
as he strings them together his story to say
and I feel I am going through hell today
the same as all of his characters tell
as he spins the web of his stories so well
as with the Tower, I’m sure I will find
it’s not the ending that I had in mind.

I have read a lot of Stephen King’s work
and seen those that are turned into film
and marvel at the mind of the man
as he bends the words to suit his will
as the stories unfold yet another twist
where does he get such wonderful thoughts
scary and horror and good versus bad
how does he make his mind work this way
and just when I think what next he will say
he is off somewhere else and I’ve lost the day.

And just as the Gunslinger said,”We deal in bullets, we deal in lead”.





Audiobooks and working out.



Since the invention of smart phones and Bluetooth, it makes sense that the next logical step was for someone to think up a way to provide Audiobooks. What that meant was that people like me, instead of having to turn pages and make the effort to read and understand the words, am able to listen to someone else making that effort for me for which I am very grateful.

Audiobooks are now to me, a great source of pleasure and I listen at every opportunity. I even look forward to working out at the gym every other day so that I can continue with the story of the moment.  I put my I-Phone in my pocket and put on a very nice set of Bluetooth earphones and I’m ready. It is not unusual for people to give me strange looks or move to a different piece of equipment further away from me because I have suddenly burst out laughing at something I just heard.

When I bought my new Ford Escape at the start of the year, I knew it had Bluetooth capabilities but did not realize just how good it is. Now,

2014 Ford Escape Titanium

2014 Ford Escape Titanium

when I am going anywhere at all, I press a button a female voice answers me and asks what it is I want. Usually,it is one of two things at least when it is something to do with Entertainment. One command is “Bluetooth Audio” at which I get a response and before I know it, my story is on and starts at the exact spot that I previously left off. The other command is for channel 90.5 which brings up the local NPR station with the latest news. Sometimes either I or The Voice gets it wrong and I have since learned the quickest way out of that situation is just to say”Cancel”. It’s a good job that she cannot hear or understand when I vent loudly at her stupidity for not understanding me. Must be my British accent, or what’s left of it as it can’t possibly be me saying the wrong command. One of the reasons I bought the car was for the fuel economy but I am not helping things much as I have taken to driving around a lot more just so I can listen to the Audiobooks, especially if it is a really good story. I stop at Starbuck’s, (another of my bad habits and my only real vice), buy a non fat Latte and off we go. Twenty or so miles later we arrive back home.

I like to think that all of this listening helps to make me a better writer which I honestly believe it does. Listening to writers like Stephen King and Tom  Clancy and how they can unwind a story with plot after sub plot to me is  absolutely amazing. Just when I think I know where the story is going, it zips off in a totally different direction. I’m afraid that my mind does not work that way. I’m good at reporting things because all I am doing is putting into words what the brain has visualized. To be truly creative, one has to do it the other way around. Maybe I’m not devious enough. I have recently discovered a writer by the name of Janet Evanovich with her main character, Stephanie Plum, who is very amusing in the way she writes. She is the one that made me laugh out loud. I have also just completed a story by Robert Crais called “Suspect” all about a German Shepherd police dog. It was a very gripping story and the ending almost brought me to tears.

The most important people are the storytellers some of whom are very clever and not only use different intonations and inflections in their voice but also manage to imitate some very convincing dialects. How they can remember which voice and or dialect for each character is way beyond my thinking. Then there are some who absolutely spoil the story and a couple so bad that I stopped listening and never did hear the ending. I think that the really good ones do this for a living and are like the story tellers of old that recanted history to the people except they  are in modern times with modern equipment and I guess, modern stories (most of the time).

all you can books

all you can books

So far, I have resisted the temptation to listen at home but I have been sorely tempted sometimes, especially if there is no soccer to watch on the television. Of course, none of this is free. It is possible to get some of the Classics for free but most of the time, there is usually a fee for the book which sometimes can be pretty expensive. I’m always looking for deals as I search the three or four web sites that provide the service, sites like Audiobooks, Ambling Books and Allbooks. The other cost is to buy enough bandwidth to allow the streaming onto the I-Phone or whatever smart phone you may have.As usual, all of the good things in life are not free whatever else you may have heard.

If my neighbors are ever watching, they will sometimes see me pull up in my driveway, open the garage door and then sit there for ten minutes. What they don’t know is that I am usually at a good part of the story and want to hear how that part plays out before I shut it off. I can’t actually drive into the garage as all of the car alarms are going off warning me that I am too close to the trailer parked there or the wall in front of the car. When the alarms are sounding, the radio automatically mutes hence the driveway routine.

So, when I get to be one of the fittest men on the planet and live to be a ripe old age, I will tell everyone that my secret for longevity is not drinking wine, taking vitamins or eating spinach and walnuts, it’s listening to audiobooks which made the work outs so enjoyable.

Working Out

Planet Fitness at Oak Hill

Planet Fitness at Oak Hill

I go to the local gym to work out in the hopes of not only regaining all of the lost muscles that have disappeared as I have grown older but to extend by a few years, this one and only life that has been given to me.

As a bit of an athlete, I have spent my entire life in training and working out so to continue that into my old age is a natural thing to do. Neither does it take any major physical effort that gives my body discomfort as I try to listen as my body talks to me and am of the belief in more and lighter reps rather than fewer and heavier ones.

The hardest thing is to not listen to my mind as it whispers to my brain, “Take the time off, Relax a bit. You don’t need to go to the gym today, let’s go tomorrow”, and when tomorrow comes, the whispers continue. So, I thrust the whispers aside and three times a week, make my way to the gym where I work out usually at least for two hours. Sometimes, if I am feeling really good, I may stay longer.

Stephen King, American author best known for h...

Stephen King, (Wikipedia)

I have recently discovered Audio Books and now as I expend my energy in all kinds of painful positions using weights and equipment designed for younger and more athletic men, I spend the time listening on my iPhone with bluetooth headset, to Stephen King as he skilfully unwinds a mystery story to my eager ears.  Listening to his stories as read by various artists makes the time fly by so fast that it has added to the pleasure of the work out. Indeed, as I finished yesterday, I changed and made my way to the car where I sat for another twenty minutes as we came to the end of a chapter at a very suspenseful part of the story when the heroine escaped from the clutches of her captor as he was about to murder her.

Such is the power of the written word albeit in a spoken form, but I digress.

As with all gyms, I run into a lot of regulars and they range in all shapes and sizes with different degrees of body stature and fitness levels. The gym that I go to at Oak Hill has an unwritten rule of being “Non Critical”. Of course, that only applies to saying out loud what you may be thinking about others or they you as we go about our business of exercise machines, treadmills and free weights.

I try not to make it too obvious when a particularly pretty women with a great body comes in and bends and twists and generally contorts her body in a way more fitted to a bedroom than a gym. As times like those that I may add, are few and far between, makes all of my own pain and suffering worth while. Other than to keep the body toned up, these women really have no need to belong to a gym unless they do it to frustrate old men like me.

The majority of the patrons, more noticeably the women, really do need to make use of the facilities to help them get rid of unwanted fat. Some of them work really hard at it but many are content to walk the treadmill or ride the exercise bike for twenty minutes. Others scurry around with notebooks in hand, writing meticulous notes on their daily achievements as they move from machine to machine. One older gentleman who is a regular and usually works one of the exercise bikes, quite literally fell asleep as he worked out. The girl next to him noticed and called for help as she was concerned he may have passed on to that gym in the sky. The attendant woke him and everyone had a good laugh about it.

The muscle men are all in a secret competition with other as they vie to lift the heavier weights or push the most weight on any one of the machines. Some even move the pin down to the very heaviest weight after they have finished a particular work out in an effort to keep their weight limit a secret from the other jocks.

I gotta say that some of those guys are really built and can haul some really heavy weights. Most of them usually only have a few things they do and all are with free weights except the barbels as they are all slotted to slide up and down within the safety of a machine framework. From my vantage point as I work one of the machines with a much lower weight than they have, I watch them as they go through their routines some of which are absolutely amazing. Even in the peak of my youth, I was never able to lift the weights that some of these guys do.

There was one couple, a man and women, who work out together. They make a real handsome pair and were even more impressive as they went through their workout. As she waited for her turn to lift, the women either did push ups with her feet raised on a bench or sit ups holding a 20 pound weight without allowing much recovery time between her actions. Amazing.

Many older people both men and women use the gym. Like me, they are trying to regain some of the suppleness of youth and to stage off the inevitable. Some have handicaps that they skilfully work around. Others have specific areas needing lots of attention as they work out. I was chatting to a young fellow that didn’t look to be more than 18 who had broken his leg and was trying to rebuild the atrophied muscles prior to more upcoming surgery to remove the pins. I felt for him as he struggled to gain some normality to his shattered leg. Been there, done that.

Me, I usually move from machine to machine following a set pattern that I have worked out. I am very careful to avoid anything that puts too much strain on my right knee so as not to inflame the joint that currently has no cartilage on the outside and rubs bone on bone. So, a lot of my workout is directed at the stomach and upper body in an effort to grow the muscles to fit inside the saggy skin. Now where the hell did that come from?

I was at the Doctors for a Wellness check the other day and the nurse took my weight (167 pounds with clothes on) and then measured my height which hadn’t been measured since my inaugural physical for the army back in 1954. Back then, I was 5 feet 8 inches which I presumed to be my height for the rest of my life. Boy, was I wrong. I asked her to double-check as I didn’t believe her the first time but my current height is now 5 feet 4 1/2 inches. Somewhere, I have shrunk downwards by 3 1/2  inches. How the hell did that happen? No wonder I was letting in the high balls when I kept goal just before I retired from playing back in 2008. Lack of height plus a 2 inch vertical leap didn’t make for a good goalkeeper. It would also account for the fact that all of my life, I have worn a size 9 1/2 shoe until a blood clot in my right calf compelled me to go to a longer and wider shoe. I now wear a size 11 – 4E in width and I believe that the 3 1/2  inches I lost in height has now been added to my feet. Makes perfect sense as the movement in keeping with the laws of gravity would have to be downwards.

So based on the information that somewhere, my body has shrunk 3 1/2  inches and working on the assumption that the skin did not shrink along with it and that not all of it was added to my feet, that is why there is so much of the evil stuff just hanging around. Boy, wonder what it would take just to be young again.

I have noticed some improvement especially in my shoulders and even the smallest visible effect whether it be real or imagined brings hope. If it buys me five more years, I’ll settle for that…Anyone seen my sneakers?

Farewell Old Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

The year is fast coming to an end
and with it brought new friends
who helped new memories make
to add to the store of many that
the memory has filed away
to be recalled at a later day.

Thinking back through this past year
the things of most significance
are not necessarily so important that
they are impossible to forget
More that they stand out in the mind
maybe they are one of a kind
or maybe they stick because at the time
the need for the touch, the word, the smile
made it seem all worthwhile
when at our lowest we had come
and needed help from anyone.

I like to think that I am free
and independent  and mostly
that is true except
when low my feelings get
and at that time I have the need
to get out in a crowd
and even if I am still alone
I feed off the collective sight and sound
which firmly back on level ground
puts my feelings as all around
people are rushing this way and that
in a most improbable flap
as though their life was on the clock
and that every minute was being docked.

In retrospect I suppose that’s true
that we are all “on the clock”
from the moment that we are born
time is ticking down until
we reach zero and then
there is no more,

Looking back upon this year
the high points are easy to find
helping friends new paths to lay
or coaching the kids on how to play
at soccer, that wonderful game
which has brought me some small fame
and fortune too in many ways
but long gone are the days
that I ran and kicked the ball
in my feeble attempt to score.

Big Pond

Big Pond

Showing my ponds on the Pond Tour
and all of the people who came to my door
to view the ponds that I had built
and all the nice things and complements too
made all of the work much easier to do.

To spend Thanksgiving and Christmas too
with friends eating turkey and ham
and lots of good food and home-made pies
all of the very best kind
to forget about Weight Watchers for one day
even though it will make me pay
as I will have to work extra hard
to remove the pounds
that having good friends on these special days
have inadvertently pushed my way.

I managed to lose twenty-two pounds
to get back to the weight that I used to be
as a young man so many years ago
and muscles were where they were supposed to be
Fifty four years later even though the weight was achieved
the muscles have long since disappeared
and no amount of work on my part
will make me be that young man again
for I had no clue at the age of  twenty-two .

I spend a lot of my time
writing bad poetry the words to rhyme
for I find it easier for me
to write a story that is free
and flowing from the heart
with words that go together
in part to make things flow
the words to fit one to the other

Life has not been all so great
of memories of things so sad
like losing one of my furry friends
and a couple of the human kind
Mark and Pepe both passed  away
to that soccer field in the sky to play
of giving up coaching the love of my life
due to the ravages of age
when legs and mind no longer jive
and are no longer on the same page.

I added a camera to my tools
and pictures I take of everything
to put in my blog which I share with the world
writing about the things
that interest me for the bottom line
is that the reason I spend so much time
on writing stories which appeal to me
is that I am not that good that I can be
a Mark Twain or a  Stephen King
as I shall never reach the heights
that these and many more writers attain.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

I write because it pleases me
to put down words for all to see
in the hope that others too will find
pleasure in reading the words that I write
and just as long as these readers do care
then it makes it all worth while.

What people don’t know is that writing for me
is the only true way to get others to see
my point of view whatever that may be
as talking I find to be very hard
I am too choked or worse yet
get tongue-tied and then my memory forgets
and does not recall the very thought
that at the time we were talking about.

I wonder what this year will bring
as in one days time the New Year
will ring in with a bang as it always does
bringing along with it renewed hope
for peace and prosperity to one and all
and if there was ever a flaw
to thinking that with new, things will change
for change is not an immediate thing
not overnight will changes bring
peace and good fortune or whatever the score
but of one thing everyone can be sure
if they wake up in one piece on New Years Day
then they can run and laugh and play
for the alternative, not waking up
does not bear thinking about this New Year.

The very best I can do
even though I haven’t a clue
to what this New Year may bring
to all the world and me and you
is to wish all of my friends and others too
Happy New Year Everyone