One Friday evening, my wife, her mother and me were sitting in a small Buena Park restaurant called Salt & Pepper when my wife made what I thought was a very strange statement.
She just blurted out, “There is a very eclectic group of people in this restaurant tonight.”
I was surprised at my wife using the word eclectic and using it in a sentence.  Maybe I was jealous because I love to solve cross word puzzles and eclectic would be a great word for a puzzle. Because I am the cross word nut, I am usually the one to come up with strange and fascinating words.  Maybe I was surprised because I had no idea what eclectic meant.  I had heard the word but I did not have a clue to its meaning.
I commented to my wife that I was surprised with her use of the word and then I asked her what it meant.
“Odd,” she said.  “It means odd.  There are a lot of odd people here tonight.”
“That’s a great word,” I replied.
She was right.  There are always odd people at the Salt & Pepper restaurant and the oddest group there was probably our group.  At least I am very sure that other diners looked at us and giggled under their breaths.
One of the reasons I like Salt & Pepper is the other people that  go there to dine.  The food is good and the service is excellent but I like the people.  They are the people that I like to refer to as “salt of the earth” people.  They are the normal type of people that make and made this country great.  They put on no airs.  They do not pretend to be anything but what they are.
I feel like I am one of them.
I feel comfortable.
I don’t feel odd.
However, I guess I could feel eclectic because once we arrived home I had to Google eclectic. The results indicated that eclectic is close to odd but I wouldn’t provide my wife with a win in a Noah Webster contest.
Noah Webster defines eclectic when it used as adjective and when it is used as a noun as follows:
·      Adjective:  Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.
·      Noun:  A person who derives ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.
So an eclectic person is one who uses a wide range of sources to form his opinions or beliefs. An eclectic person is not an odd person unless one considers it odd to form ideas from different sources.
Therefore, it was not an eclectic crowd at the restaurant.  I refuse to call it an odd crowd because as I stated earlier, I was part of the crowd and I adamantly refuse to admit that I am odd.
The problem for me was to figure out where my wife heard eclectic and why she wanted to impress me with her new found knowledge by using it in sentence and also would I bet wise for me to inform her that she was just a wee bit wrong in her usage of the word?
I suspect that she heard the word on MSNBC because that is what she watches on the mind bending tube that we call television.  She is deeply into politics.  She wakes up and watches MSNBC.  She watches MSNBC in bed at night. 
I am not into politics.  I think all politicians are crazy but I do have my political beliefs and I am very happy with them.  It is not necessary for me to boor you with my beliefs.  I am very happy to let you believe and vote as you see fit. I will believe and vote as I see fit.
However, my wife tries to get me involved in a political “discussion” on various occasions.  Once in a while I will fall for the bait and then regret it.  The “discussion” usually leads to several hours of silence between the two of us.
I am not about to accept some of the premises tossed around on MSNBC and she is not about to accept any idea that I may have so why should we go down that road?  I am happy to let her believe as she wants.  For some reason, the opposite does not hold true.
I have come to the belief that when someone is so adamant in their beliefs that they cannot let another person have any different belief, that person is beginning to go over the Kooky bridge.  I sometimes wonder if my wife in her world of politics isn’t somewhere in the middle of that bridge.
So assuming that she learned eclectic and the miss use of eclectic on MSNBC I have chosen to let sleeping kooks lie and keep my non political mouth shut.  I am happier that way.


I've Been Thinking

I’ve been thinking

I’ve been thinking. I try to do that every now and then. This think is about clichés. I have noticed that a lot of people, including myself, talk in clichés. When I make a statement it is not uncommon to be answered with a cliché or to answer with a cliché.

One of my favorite clichés is “Opportunity doesn’t knock twice”. When I hear those words I always wonder, why not? If it came the first time, surely it could drop in the 2nd time. What happens if I’m in the shower and I don’t answer the door when opportunity knocks? It wouldn’t be fair if opportunity only knocked once. If that were really the case then no one would ever take a shower and then what a stinking world we would have.

I know it’s just a cliché and cliché’s are just a bunch of words tossed into a pot, stirred around and then extracted by a word witch or just to be fair a word warlock. But people really do believe them.

What would have happen if they stirred the pot and extracted, Opportunity doesn’t knock twice”? Would that change the meaning? What if the pot had popped out “opportunity only knocks once”? Would that change the meaning?

Or maybe they forgot to tend the pot and the words just kept popping out. Then the cliché might be “Opportunity knocks twice, three times or if you are not careful opportunity will come knocking every night like a love stricken teenage boy mooning over your giggling teenage daughter”.

You hear the knock and you scream, “Get the hell away from my daughter!” and it turns out to be that pesky old opportunity. Then the cliché could be “opportunity keeps knocking until you chase it away with a shot gun.”

No, I guess that really wouldn’t work. Clichés need to be short and to the point. Something like, “black dogs don’t talk”. You could fit that one into any conversation you want to.

Let’s say someone wants to borrow some money. All you have to say is, “They tell me that black dogs don’t talk.” You’re home free. Who in their right mind would challenge you and claim that, “black dogs do talk”? The statement is correct. Black dogs don’t talk. They might ask, “What does ‘black dogs talking’ have to do with borrowing a buck or two?” But most people won’t do that. People are afraid to challenge clichés. They do not want to admit that they don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about.

I once said to a young friend of mine, “It’s tough to make ends meet”.

He thought for a minute and responded, “I guess when you do you can barbecue them.”

I thought for my minute and said, “No, I’m going to boil them.”

He changed the subject and I wasn’t sure if he was pulling my leg (there’s another one of them critters) or whether I was pulling his leg and I really didn’t want to ask because, as you know “black dogs don’t talk.”

gs batty/7-26-11



is life really
a horse
a wheelbarrow
the rain
a child
maybe even
a chicken
looking at the sky
i wonder


Home-The Lamp Lighter and Chrysteel Acres

Chrysteel Acres is a housing development created to house families of the steel workers that built Geneva Steel.  Geneva Steel was a steel mill owned and operated by U.S. Steel corporation out of Pittsburgh, Pa.  The mill was located along the shores of Utah Lake in Utah County, the heart of Utah.  The mill was dismantled in the late 1900's.  My father was a Steel worker and I grew up in Chrysteel Acres.  This short story is a night extracted from my life in the house in Crysteel Acres.

Soft music drifts through the frost covered windows of the brick homes in Chrysteel Acres.
The shadows of Mt. Timpanogos sweep across the valley covering the house and the music. The image of the Indian maiden, Pocahontas, defines the peaks of Mt Timpanogos and is believed to protect the valley and the brick houses below and those that live there.

Most houses in the acres are perfect squares. They are walls of brick laid on cement foundations that jut from the earth and form basements beneath the hardwood flooring. Directly in the center of the front of the brick houses are cement porches with three steps leading up to their front doors. The steps have no rails or personalities. On either side of the steps are large square windows formed with one pane of glass.

Even though the homes are the same, they are not the same. They have their own personalities. Their windows are their eyes, the doors are their noses and the steps are their mouths. Each house takes on the personalities  of the people I grew up with.

The red brick house on the corner emits soft music from a cello being practiced by a nine year old prodigy son of the dentist. He is accompanied by the teenage daughter of the ski lift owner that lives in the purple brick house in the middle of the block.

The music drifting from the home at 448 East 1010 South is coming from an RCA record player. The player is playing "The Old Lamp Lighter" by Sammy Kaye. The woman of the house rocks in her rocking chair as she knits another Afghan blanket to be given to another friend or relative.

She hums along to the music and sometimes even sings the words. She has a pretty voice but is self conscious if anyone dares to comment about it.

She is a heavy set woman with a beautiful smile. Her short cut hair has just began to show a hint of gray. As she works the needles with her hands and fingers, her lips seemed give her fingers silent directions as the player sings the words of the "The Old Lamp Lighter".

"He made the night a little brighter
wherever he would go
the old lamplighter
of long, long ago

His snowy hair was so much whiter
beneath the candle glow
the old lamplighter
of long, long ago"

The man of the house smiles as he watches his wife from the corner of his eye. He is of slender build with thick hair that was jet black when he was younger but now his hair is more gray than black. He combs it straight back but the only time you can see his hair is when he is in the house. He considers it bad manners to wear a hat in the house. When he is outside he always wears his welder's cap or a floppy Stetson style cowboy hat.

While the woman knits, if the man isn't in his basement workshop cutting and polishing stones, he sits in his easy chair and reads Zane Gray western novels. Sometimes he will drink a beer and sometimes a cup of coffee. Every so often he will get up and go to the garage and take a swallow of whiskey out of the bottle he keeps hidden there. The music follows him to the garage. I wonder if the music isn't somehow referring to the man I call dad.

"You'd hear the patter of his feet
as he came toddling down the street
His smile would cheer a lonely heart you see
If there were sweethearts in the park

He'd pass a lamp and leave it dark
Remembering the days that used to be
For he recalled when things were new
He loved someone who loved him too
Who walks with him alone in memories"

The couple have four children ranging from twelve to seventeen. Sometimes they grumble about the old music but they are not allowed to complain. The time after dinner is family time. The children do home work or read a book. The girls practice their crocheting or work on their needle crafts. The boys finish their homework and then read Zane Gray novels or other cowboy books that are on the coffee table.

The youngest boy looks through the frosted windows and watches the shadows created by the street light combined with the lights from the houses and sometimes the lights of a cars passing by. The shadows seem to him as if they are ghosts dancing across the snow covered yards. Once in a while a person walks by and the ghost shadows seemed to chase the walker and the boy would want to shout warnings but his mind would always catch him. The music would go on and the Lamplighter would walk with the shadows.

"He made the night a little brighter
wherever he would go
the old lamplighter
of long, long ago

His snowy hair was so much whiter
beneath the candle glow
the old lamplighter
of long, long ago"

The woman knits and hums. The man reads and dozes. The children slipped off to bed. The girls disappear to their bedroom up stairs to giggle and talk, the boys to their bedroom in the basement and continue their books. The basement is filled with the sound of the father's rock tumblers rolling and polishing his stones to a satiny sheen…swish…plunk…swish.

Their bedroom carries the aroma of fresh laundry hanging on the ropes strung from rafters in the basement laundry area.  Always present is the foul odor of fuel oil that feeds the oil burning furnace. The pelt of a Utah Cougar watches them from their bedroom wall. They go to sleep listening to the sounds of the music falling from above.

"Now if you look up in the sky
You'll understand the reason why
The little stars at night are all aglow
He turns them on when night is near

He turns them off when dawn is here
The little man we left so long ago
He made the night a little brighter
Wherever he would go
The old lamplighter of long, long ago"

                                                                                                                        gs batty/June 2011



Who are the homeless?  Why do I care?  Should I care?  Can I help?  Should I help?  Do they want help or just money?  Is giving them money good?...or bad?

Questions?...Questions?...Questions?...always questions. 

What are the answers?  Where are the answers?  Are there any answers?

Do they have the answers, any answers?

I know I don't have the answers, only the questions.

I pulled in the parking place by the rear door of my business.  A tall shaggy haired, unshaven man was sitting by my door as if he were waiting for me, but I knew he wasn't.  I had seen him around the business park for the last couple of years.  I had even given him a few odd jobs.

He used the door knob to help pull his tall, thin frame into a standing position.
I asked him a stupid question.  "Are you homeless?"  It was a stupid question because we both knew he was homeless.  It was a stupid question because it embarrassed him

I have found out that the question, "Are you homeless?", creates a defensive and fearful attitude.

His answer was defensive.  "I work for the businesses around here."

His brown eyes darted as if he was looking for a place to run.

"Can I ask you some questions?" I stuttered.

He grabbed his bicycle with three plastic bags filled with his belongings tied in various places, a guitar case hanging on the handle bars and a flat tire. He started to walk a way but decided to stop and tell me about an invention of his.  He knew his invention would make him rich but he couldn't tell anyone about it because they would steal it from him.

When he started talking and saw that I was listening, he didn't want to stop. 

He was going to be rich and give all the money to his children.  He had a son that was a great baseball player.  His son could pitch left or right handed with a hundred mile an hour fast ball.  If his son wanted to play basketball he would be better than Kobe but he chose not to play basketball.  He chose to sing. His son had someone who was going to produce his songs.  They just needed to agree on the money side of the deal.

I listened and tried to ask some questions, but my feeble attempts to find out about the man with the bicycle only was landed on deaf ears.  He had an audience and wasn't about to give up the stage.  He went on and on about his son and his invention.

When I tried to find out anything about his invention, he only talked about the people that had tried to steal it.

I finally had to excuse myself and open my business.

Did I learn anything?

Only that this man lived in world of day dreams.  Maybe the world of the homeless is really a "Walter Mitty" world.

Are they caught in a vortex of dreams, spinning in an endless eddy of despair?


I did learn something.  I learned that I need to find a better of way asking my questions.

Next..."Three men in the rain...and the pizza"



may peace and love
find a warm place on your doorstep.
                                                    gs batty

He was standing next to a freeway off-ramp.  It was a harsh day for Southern California.  Temperatures in the forties, rain, and a brisk breeze were his surroundings for the afternoon.

Peace and love hadn't found a warm place on his door step.

He didn't have a door step. 

He only had a place on a freeway off-ramp.  I had a warm and dry place  in my new pick up truck.  I  had worked hard for my new truck.   It was something I had always dreamed about.

He had cold rain dripping off of his nose, and a sign begging for money...
               ...HOMELES - HUNGARY- PLESE HELP - GOD BLESS...

The sign wasn't printed nice and neat like you see the words here.  The letters were crooked, some smaller than other, some misspelled.  They were printed with a black marker on an old piece of soggy cardboard.

Get a job, I thought.  Go out and work for a dollar like I have to.

But the rain, his shivering, his look of despair, touched something in me.  I looked into my center console and it was full a change.  I took a handful and rolled down my window.  When he saw my window lowering he hurried over and extended his hand and I filled it up with loose change. I have no idea how much it was.

His eyes had a thankful look and he smiled and said, "God bless you.  You're the first one today."

It was 3:30 in the afternoon.  What is it that I hear people say all the time?  Oh yea, "they make good money, 2 or 3 hundred a day.  They're doing okay."

The light changed and I drove away.  I thought about going back and giving more but of course I was to busy.  However, I have had lots of second thoughts on the homeless.

Can they work?
Will they Work?
Is it better to look Away?
Are they Criminals?

Do you give a dollar or two, or turn do you you head?

This is the beginning of my series on:

Who are they?  Is it possible to help? first attempts on personal interviews and comparing the used clothing store with Bloomingdale's.

Coming....what does it feel like to stand on a corner (any corner) and beg?

Do you have any thoughts?...experiences?...leave a comment....

About Me

My photo
So Cal, United States
I am an apprentice writer of short stories and I also attempt a little poetry.