The 2019 Castagno Rant

I thought I would have a go at this “RANT” thing again, this the 25th or 26th one – hard to say, the early archives are incomplete,and does it really matter anyway? You would think after that many years I would run out of things to rant about, and in some respects you would be right. 

 

The early rants were filled with tales of children and the joys of parenting – followed by those perilous teenage years – I go back and read those just to remind myself how lucky I am to be here.  Times have mellowed though: grandkids, Starbucks, politics, texting, and general stupidity seemed to have taken center stage – some even accuse me of getting soft and losing my acerbic sarcasm – I invite them to come over and help me plant roses – no takers yet, strangely enough.

 

But now what? Another regurgitation of the year’s events, grandbaby drool stories, the horror of modern-day travel, drive-thru frustrations, why morons continue to text and drivewould that bring a smile to your face and have you nodding in sympathetic understanding? Ahh the comfort of tried and true rant material… 

 

Or would you rather hear how a text notified me at 35K feet that my older sister had suddenly passed – you know “passed” cause it’s so much nicer than died – maybe some details on her decades fighting opioid addiction until her body simply succumbed in a bathroom alone. Would it help to understand how it felt standing in her empty kitchen spooning her ashes from one big box to a number of smaller ones; the memories cascading like so many fine particles? No, I’m guessing not…  

 

So, by now a few of you are like… “holy shit he’s completely unhinged this year…” Well no actually but sooner or later we come to the realization that the accumulation of life experience forces a certain clarity. The sharp pinprick of this present reality if you will… The young have the pleasure of rushing headlong into that blurry and distant place those of us that have some years already inhabit, but once you’re here – if you haven’t started, it’s time to pay attention. 

 

It struck me on a night drive – Tammy and I take a drive every evening, grab a coffee, cruise around the lake, and catch-up on the day; something we’ve been doing for years – anyway, I realized I had started measuring things by how much time I might have left. Freaked me out a little I have to say – I have always kept a “list” of things I wanted to accomplish in life and ticked a few off here and there… we all have one and sure it matures with time and experience, but I had never really considered there might be an expiration date on some of it; sobering to say the least. I am pretty sure we all have these moments: the loss of a loved one or a friend, catastrophic events like 9/11 or a school shooting – all are milestone reminders… it’s the paying attention that’s important however. 

 

I am okay with the running out of time part  I am not okay with running out of experiences. It’s not as simple or cliché as living without regrets or the common refrain of “leave it all out there…” I want to make sure I love deeply enough; touch not only the hearts of my children, but their minds and spirits as well. Help strangers where I can, stand for what is right without regard for personal cost, and embody what it means to be a true friend. I want to breathe in clear cold mountain air, and feel the warm sun on my head as waves break against the shore… and I want to share all of this with as many as I can.  I used to believe life was about fulfilling some list of material accomplishments: job, money, stuff… but the longer I live the more I understand life is about the living. 

 

So, what does all that mean, you might be asking… and uhh not really a rant dude… I hear you, and don’t worry I still get irritated by the ass in the Prius that doesn’t know how to order at Starbucks – by the way have you tried the Peppermint Brownie cake pop? Oh my God! Or the fool that thinks it’s okay to pick out each individual donut in their two-dozen order at the Dunkin’ drive-thru. What about service animals that are not really service animals on planes, do I really need to go into this? Millennials with beards… not a good look young lady… How about not vaccinating all the little bio-terrorists running around, or making medicine you can’t live without unaffordable for most folks. You get the point, there is still plenty to rant about, plenty to make you shake your head and say $%@#$%@# (you know what that means right?). 

 

Admittedly, I still do most of those, but I have had some experiences this year, some realizations, and come to some conclusions that lead me to believe maybe all that really isn’t as important as I thought; and I may even be questioning the overall level of my response to these situations cause is that really how I want to use my time, my experiences… probably not. 

 

Unbelievable, simply unbelievable… dude just ordered a soy decaf peppermint mocha latte with two shots of espresso, extra whip and chocolate drizzle… I don’t care if he is driving an F250 that’s a bullshit order – get the F’ out of my drivethru moron!

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays… and oh by the way – the middle part is the important part… 

 

Joe

 

Two Vases

A good friend was telling me a story about an abandoned home where the folks had left their “parents” or maybe “grandparents” cremated remains behind… that seemed incredibly sad and lonely to me… I imagine a conversation something like this…

Two Vases

Time ceased its count long ago
And the voices have faded
As the dust deepens on this lonely perch

I feel you near me dear
Do you remember my kiss
Now it’s just the two of us

Long passed are our days in the sun
The sand soft beneath us
The kids playing in the surf

I remember the stars above
The singing of a mountain stream
Marshmallows by the fire

It seemed so long I waited
Now you sit beside me
Matching vases in the shadows

Time ceased its count long ago
And the voices have faded
As the dust deepens on this lonely perch

LiLibug

PaPa’s poems for a granddaughter…

Lilibug oh LiLibug
In puddles jumping

My heart you tug
I feel it thumping

A bed time book
PaPa will read

Breakfast we cook
Pancakes indeed

The sweetest hugs
And bye bye kisses

These are what
Your PaPa misses

CEREAL

I was partaking in a bit of nostalgia last night around midnight, you guessed it a bowl of cereal. I’m sitting in the dark of my dining room spoon in hand, the ice-cold milk splashing over my golden flakes and nut clusters – I pause a moment before plunging my spoon in for that first cold, crunchy, sweet and perfect bite.

I remember being a kid at the breakfast table a box of Frosted Flakes bigger than me just out of reach, my small plastic bowl awaiting that avalanche of sweetness. Next to it the gallon jug of whole milk stands with the screw cap – old school. I reach the box with the tip of my fingers rocking it back and forth till I can get a good grip. I finally get it tipped over and the flakes pour into my bowl some escaping onto the table – of course I scoop them into my mouth directly a crunchy appetizer. Ahh now the challenge, tipping that big jug just enough for the milk to pour into my bowl, but not too much oh no not too much. I carefully balance it, tipping, tipping careful now ahhh the liquid splashes in and off the first flakes onto the table, I continue on filling my bowl to the top of the flakes now swimming so deliciously. I glance around, no witnesses, and rapidly wipe the spill up with my napkin. Read more ›

Are we there yet?

Nancy purses her lips, deep cherry red gloss of course, as she plugs the twins Timmy and Jenny into the screen synchronizer with the new 3D multimedia interface, the new ports had hardly left any scars and the twins had healed almost immediately. The digital entertainment center with the upgraded implant adapters had been a major selling point for her and Dan when looking at a new van. Handing the seven year olds their display projectors she calls for Dan to hurry up. It takes forty-seven minutes to get to her parents and they were already eleven minutes behind schedule. If they didn’t get started she was going to miss another virtual yoga session with Nancy and Katie. She was worried Yogi Alexander was going to unplug her for good this time. She had waited months for an opening and some silly family day outing with her parents wasn’t going to cost her that spot. “Where is Dan,” she grumbles, pinging his number again! Read more ›

Misty Eyes

With misty eyes
Yesterdays parade by
Dear faces departed
Their wisdom imparted

children now grown
the nest have flown
empty rooms & halls
awaiting their calls

The mistakes of youth
The source of truth
Now ours to share
But do they care

With misty eyes
Yesterdays parade by
Dear faces departed
Their wisdom imparted

Memories of Mom…

A few years ago, I reached the age where I had accumulated more years without my Mother than with her. I lost her when I was a mere 24 not yet old enough to realize how much I was going to need her, nor how much I would end up missing her. At that young age she was still “mom”, you know the “mom” we love but still chafe under as young adults. It isn’t that I took my Mother for granted, I didn’t she taught us that lesson well enough, but I had no idea how much I would miss her and how many times I would need her counsel, her teaching, her understanding, and maybe more than anything those irreplaceable tender moments of a mother’s comfort. Read more ›

The Run

Taos New Mexico 1975, a cool night in late October… this memory comes back to me over and over again; it’s colder than I imagined it would be as I spring off Maria’s back porch and head into the beckoning darkness of the mesa behind her house. I can hear her father screaming in a drunken rage somewhere in the brightly lit kitchen, the curtains casting furtive shadows behind us. “Quickly,” I murmur hoping he hasn’t realized we have fled the house. I can see the lights of my home in the distance it seems so close but must be a few miles off. Read more ›