Unraveling while traveling; life between the windshield and the rear-view mirror

A seagull takes flight

“pier review”

A hot and humid afternoon, windows open, a 1000′ freighter sounds its lonely horn just a mile south of the DeTour lighthouse. Two long blasts. One short. Then another long one that slowly melted into the shimmering green, gray, choppy water, bubbling like wedding champagne.  Blue sky, and q-tip white clouds overhead. 

It was the last week in August of 1985. Notable firsts; Reagan and Gorbachev met, the UnaBomber killed a target, remains of the Titanic had been discovered, and Ronald Chauvin crowned his new crib dock with a concrete seagull.  Chauvin had a skiff of white hair up top and wrinkles and creases and lines and scars criss-crossing a scrunched up leathery face.  In the center, two tired blue eyes.  The gull, charcoal grey, white feathers, yellow beak, statuesque, would fend off an angry sea for 35 years.

It perched above the Russian design, ‘dok-crovat’.  

Constructed of discarded creosote-soaked utility poles, criss-crossed with steel rope cable, reinforced with 18″ spikes, then filled with boulders, the pier would battle high winds, pounding waves, metal fatigue, and crushing ice for 3½ decades.  

Low water mark, 2013, 150′ to the docile north shore of Lake Huron
Feb. 29, 2016… -8℉. Leap Year icy shore


A high water storm, 2019, to Lynn’s right, the mouette en béton diligently observes the camera lady.  Lower right, Neal’s lucky leprechaun is charmed by her rear view, yet offers no advice.

The water level threatens Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Erie, millions of residents, properties, and thousands of communities, so loss of a single seagull is a memory of little consequence. July 4, 2020, the baby in the crib has flown the coop.

Mrs. Wilson ⬆ viewing the damage.

The carnage.

Testament to a watery grave, ice bent 18″ spikes. A nearby shipwreck, the rusting carcass of a 1935 steam powered side wheeler, rests on the bottom shore near Frying Pan island.  Two miles distant.

A stormy reminder of the bi-polarity of Mother Nature, who makes the final decision.

Many celebs posed at the foot of Minerva. A reminder that a lion can sleep, and then roar.

Undertaker, George Brown & his Indiana tribe
Bonnie & the late Roy McDonald, extreme Airsteamers from Brantford, Ontario
Rich Luhr, publisher, Eleanor O’Dea, chef, Ferrysburg, VT
Artists, Don & Kathy Drabik, Maple City, MI
Danna & Alex Dearborn, itinerant Benz travelers, Kittery Point, ME
John Mortakis, undercover SBPD (ret.), Ann Carol Nash, attorney, “The In-Laws”

Anyone willing to scuba our watery graveyard, in search of the lost seagull, may be entitled to financial compensation. 

This is her male friend, feeling left at the altar


The Reverend of the Irreverent

—–Original Message—–

Jan 5, 2020, at 1:44 PM

Dateline : Green Valley, AZ
0647 hrs MST 5Jan2020 42℉

Walking our dog, Mrs. Wilson, in the desert. Early morning, camera in hand.

Gazing through a misty grove of pecan trees toward the Santa Rita mountains, the image of a mythical figure, laying prostrate, resting, eyes closed. The nude branches appeared to provide the requisite bearded chin and a crown of thorns.

My 1st thought turned to a distant memory, one Myrtle Young; The Potato Chip Collector. She appeared on the Johnny Carson show, 1987, to exhibit her collectibles. Each chip resembled a character. Bob Hope. A camel. Pair of dirty socks. She showed Johnny her most prized chips, one of which Johnny promptly plucked and ate. A moment in comedy history.

Too, a collector had once demonstrated a piece of burnt toast, in the image of the Virgin Mary.

The mysterious Shroud of Turin, seven centuries old, remains a leading tourist attraction in Italy.

I could not resist sharing the silhouette, perhaps the adult…?…son of God.
Having no distinction as a religious zealot, i.e., sinning seems far easier.
Full confession : my best friend Pat, and I, posed as priests during Christmas trying to attract ♀♀♀ with candy.
In a farmer’s market. It worked.

I have read the truly faithful believe in a second coming of Christ.

This is not an epiphany.
What I do imagine, now would be an opportune time.

That is, if He (or She) isn’t busy ?

The politest of the seven continents, smoldering scorched earth.
The coldest, now melting.
Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Caribbean, India, drenched in putrid water.
The largest, Asia, blanketed in unbreathable air.
Africa, only modestly improved since the stone age.
Crackpots in Venezuela, N. Korea, Syria, Iran, WashDC.
Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Mali, Libya,Turkey, enveloped in yellow “Do Not Cross” tape.
Here, down on earth, mankind, i.e. billions plus, could use a helping hand.

Are we being dismissed as a failed experiment, a bumper sticker moment, caught in traffic waiting at an infinite red light ?

We’ve made a mess. Things have gone downhill since Johnny ate the potato chip. Please come back, the sooner the better.

And if you have an internet connection, enjoy the potato chip tape. Send Johnny back if you are too busy at the moment.



A Drift


5:30 AM.   Still.  Calm.

My dog, Mrs. Wilson, has to pee.  Relieved, she joins me in the study.  A mug of Keurig dark roast, Columbian, 100%, fair trade, robust, in hand, I hesitate to touch the reading lamp at that first sip.

The room, a shade of black coffee, is bathed in light…..Mini versions.  Red and green spots indicate a satellite on duty, yellow for an always warm Sony HDTV awaiting the trigger, in the corner, a vertical device, its multi-hues flashing; power, broadband, mobile, under an ATT worldly logo ready to re-ignite the tiny blue of an aged, ca. 2015, HP printer.


One foot away a dozen cords, tangled, plugged, recharging lithium ion molecules. A reminder that the best use of lithium was treating bipolarity.

Black spaghetti.

For a moment, as if the faceless subject of Edward Hopper, an original sketch, the dim light at a lonely intersection, below draped windows



I turn on the 3/way lamp.  The second stop, 70W.

Reflecting on a recent reunion, sixty leathered, weathered years in the making, drew me toward the bookshelf; Drift, a college annual, 1958 version.  Sophomore year.


30+, fraternal brothers and loved ones for dinner, in a gilded age mansion, reminiscent of the house we shared, pre-VietNam.  The private club restaurant, an Indianapolis landmark on tony N. Delaware St. long ago, was a proper venue.  Less proper, yet realistic, the ‘hood is a fast growth urban fungus; boarded windows, abandoned buildings, wandering nighthawks, dim streetlamps, pot-holed street, traffic, oppositioned by a 24 hr C-Store incandescence.  Pouring rain.  For hours.

The dinner, delicious, the companionship without peer, the crowning achievement…my wife  having a wonderful time. After a necrology briefing (one revered member, our house treasurer passed away, less than a week before), trips to the bar, and exchange of the secret grip, we embraced time travel for three hours.

Conversation brushed on old memories, most quite accurate, interspersed with aortic stents, PSA levels, titanium joints, HDL, A1C, the big C…..acceptable as we recognize the inexorable decline to the final checkout lane.  The last scan.

How and why we, octogenarians all, were chosen to survive, baffles this writer.  Many of us spent a childhood in northern Indiana’s Lake County.  The cinematic triumvirate, “west side story”, “grease”, “happy days” surely owe us royalties, so help me Maria, Travolta, and The Fonz.

TV, 3 stations, rarely viewed, turned off at midnight, the prayer to Saint Francis of Asissi, and a stoic Indian chief looking reverently skyward in the glow of cathode rays.  With no flouride in the water, most of us had early cavities, filled with mercury amalgam fillings.  Thanks to Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, and Bit -o-Honey.  We had never heard of bottled water.  Drank from any tap, delivered magically through unseen pipes.  Lead, wrapped in asbestos to conserve heat  inside.  In homes  painted with Sear’s Best, or Sherwin Williams, lead based rainbows to “cover the earth”.

Catfish caught in nearby Wolf Lake or the Calumet Sag Canal came off the hook with anomalies: two heads, vestigal tails, or crooked spines.  On warm summer days the aroma of  rendered pig fat drifted south off the Lake Michigan breeze, a wisp of frying bacon, courtesy of Lever Brothers.   Mom bought P&G’s Rinso White, and Ivory, a soap that floats.


Airborne soot from Inland, Youngstown, USSteel, omnipresent, turned every neighborhood into a chest x-ray; black, white and shades of grey. Whiting Beach closed due to a Sinclair refinery oil spill. The word ecology had yet to make an appearance in Webster’s collegiate, but we had 29¢/gal. leaded gas for the 1952 Nash Statesman.  A uniform attendant pumped, while multi-tasking, cleaning the dirty windshield, adding PSI pressure to bias-plied tires.

We ate PB&J on chemically bleached white bread.   Our mother insisted that the PB brand was named after my older brother’s nickname, Skip.  There was no warning caution : this product made in a facility where traces of wheat, peanut, soy, milk may be found.



Like our sports heroes, we ate gluten, 100%, straight, covered with 3.5% milk and called it the Breakfast of Champions.  Stan Musial returned a stare, a cardboard smile, over a worn linoleum topped table.

Other brothers arrived from mythical towns, those on wrinkled Shell station maps of Indiana; Evansville, Poseyville, Stewartsville, with names like, Dick, George, Joe Don, and Red.

Smoking…?….almost everyone did.  The RJ Reynolds sales rep passed out free Salems every week in the Campus Club.  Packs of 4.  Take all you want.  Here, have a free lighter…..filled with volatile organic compounds.  Yet, six decades later, no one in this room lights up.


We view grainy b/w photos, Kodak Instamatic or Polaroid, relishing our unique history, a blink in time, lamenting brothers passed, and best friends unable to attend.  Attempts to revisit our vocal skill, fraternal anthems, once enhanced by Schlitz, Falstaff, Blatz, were rather lame.  Even when provided with crib notes, Songbooks.  Our fresh 1959 vocal cords were much better, contending 1st place in the annual “Spring Sing”. We had tonsils.

940 W. 42nd St., Indianapolis


Bottom l-r; Lathouse, Mitchell, Generalli, Bevis, Lilves, Anthony, Elliot

Top l-r; Schuetz, Dorsey, Secor, Smego, Siurek, Stevens

Lynn and I were among the first to arrive, and the very last to leave.  Married for 28 years she knew little of her husband’s past life.  We exit the darkened parking lot, drizzling rain, wipers at the 3rd notch.  Driving at night, no longer a welcome task, as I glance past her cheerie smile, merging into the too fast traffic.

“Honey, that was so enjoyable.  I hope the boys plan to do this again next year.”


It’s 7:11 AM, EST, the civil sunrise, and Wilson is restless after her morning nap.  She delivers an anxious stare.  She wants her breakfast, our daily walk, a bowel movement, so get the leash.   Now.  

In dogspeak, ‘Chas, you’re no Stan Musial.’

Nostalgia is contemporary.

These, too, are the good old days.


Very special thanks to Walt Hap and his wife, partner, and date for 50+ years, Rita (nee Taylor) Hap

♥️ ♥️

Insightout © 2019