6 to 11

You might have a 9 to 5, but do you have a 6 to 11?

Good question. I read it on a blog I like called the Moo Blog. The post is called “It’s Time To Find Your 6 to 11.” It’s about people who have monetized their hobbies; an idea that seems appealing but I can’t imagine it for myself, unless I can find people who will pay me to watch reruns of Law & Order and Seinfeld.

I’ve written in other posts about hobbies, their importance, and even some hobby ideas for us men-of-a-certain-age. I actually started a list and so far have over 140 ideas. Some of them could make you some money, in fact there are people who do. Most are just for fun and enrichment—something to keep you from just settling into a recliner, watching reruns.

But when I read that question: “Do you have a 6 to 11”, I didn’t think immediately of hobbies or second jobs. I thought of how do I spend those few hours of the day when I’m awake and not at work. The last hour of that time frame is pretty set. I love to read, so 10p to 11p is pretty much my reading time.

I’ll admit it. I spend too much time watching TV, but not as much these days. There’s not a lot of programming I care to see right now. The only sports on air is baseball, and while I love going to a game, I can bear to watch it on TV. I haven’t caught Olympic fever which is good because we have DISH network and they are fighting with our local NBC affiliate, so we’re not getting prime time Olympic coverage at our house. Oh, I did find an obscure sports channel that shows some events. So I’ve seen one ping pong match and a couple of badminton matches (if that’s what you call them).

It’s in the evenings that I catch up on blogs I enjoy, I skim through Facebook and Instagram to see if any new pictures of our Grand-Girls have been posted, and I check the online versions of my favorite news sources: NPR, The Atlantic and others, which I won’t list for fear some might label me too hastily.

I enjoy spending evening-time researching potential new purchases; or as my Amazing-Missus might say, “over researching to the point of obsessive and beyond.” But, can you be too careful. For example, if you’re going to buy a cooler that’s so expensive it will require a second mortgage on the home, you need to watch every video on YouTube to see if a YETI® is really worth it. Let me save you some time on this one: Yes, yes it is. It might not work much better than an Igloo® or Coleman®, but they throw in a couple of really cool stickers at no extra charge. Put one on the back window of your pickup and tell the world, “Yes, I’m one of those dudes that will pay way too much for an ice chest.”

See here’s how it works (in my mind), if I spend an inordinate amount of my 6 to 11 in heavy scrutiny over a purchase, it’s okay if it’s expensive, because I’ve done my due diligence and I know I’m getting great value. I have a shirt from a company called Reyn Spooner. Their shirts are relatively high, but worth it. I’ve had one for probably 30 years. And, yes, in my world of fashion it is still boss. (Back in the 60s when I came of age along with Reyn Spooner, “boss” meant cool.) So from time to time, when Spooner is having a sale, I’ll use a couple of good evenings selecting which amazing pattern I will add to the wardrobe—something that says, “Yes, I’m in my 60s, but I still feel like I’m living in the 60s.”

So, here I am sitting in front of a too expensive travel trailer, with my feet propped up on a too expensive cooler, in a too expensive shirt, listening to some old guys singing their wish that all the girls could be California girls. That’s how I’m rockin this 6 to 11.



I’m writing this from a lovely campground where we spent the night and woke to a cool, refreshing rain. It’s a lot of pressure though, these words have to be good. You couldn’t script a scene more conducive to inspired writing.

Because my own inspired words are flowing meagerly, let me start with a few from one of the most inspiring writers of contemporary time—Wendell Berry. BTW: happy birthday, yesterday, Wendell.

“Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.”
— Wendell Berry

I’m not going to lie. As retirement draws near, I’m feeling a bit of “the ancient fear of the Unknown”. It’s not that I’m a workaholic or job-junkie. It’s not that I believe the role I play in the marketplace can’t be played by others. It’s not that I have some Trumpian savior-complex. It’s simple really: I’m addicted to a paycheck.

Is it science or speculation behind the statement that the two biggest fears people have are speaking before an audience and dying? Although I’m an extreme introvert, I’m not really shy and public speaking doesn’t bother me much. And when it comes to dying; I hold to the position of Woody Allen: “I’m not afraid of dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

For me Fear has pretty much been centered in those things like the Unknown, and lack of trust.

Take amusment park rides for example. While I have ridden a few of the mildly daring rides at amusment parks. I would never ride one at, say, the state fair. It’s not that I doubt the physics, or the compentency of the guy who engineered the ride. But, have you taken a close look at the guys who put those rides together after taking them apart two weeks ago at the carnival up the road? I’m not saying they don’t know their nuts from their cotter pins; but… I know this, I wouldn’t want to ride a ride that I had put together. (Note to self: Don’t try to put this ride called “Life” together by yourself. You have to ride it in to the sunset once it’s built.)

I try to own my fears, phobias, trepidations, and angst. I do know from whence cometh my hope; although you might not be able to tell it sometimes. I only hope that I can truly trust that HOPE.

Thining of Wendell Berry’s words again, imaging them as a conversation:
Here are the big woods.
   But the familiar ground is so; familiar.
But isn’t it exciting, aren’t you curious about the new place?
   But the nagging dread is real. There’s a reason it’s called the ancient fear of the Unknown.
It is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.

It's Not All Black & White

There is something that stirs within me this time of year. I think it has to do with feeling like summer is slipping away and the start of school is just around the corner. I haven’t started back to school in years, but still this haunting feeling returns.

Soon now, good times at the pool will be replaced with learning locker combos, class schedules and how to conjugate a verb. No more sleeping in or staying up late. Not that it’s all bad. There are some things to look forward to, like Friday nights, when the air begins to turn crisp and the atmosphere crackles with the excitement of a high school football game. Yes, I’m a band nerd, but at least I was in the drumline—the rowdy rebels and evil necessity of every band director.

I better be careful or I will reminisce myself into a longing to go back to school.

Recently, My Amazing-Missus took the grand-girls shopping for their back to school supplies. I got to playing around with the boxes of crayons and created one that was all black and white crayons. I showed it to our oldest grand-girl and she looked at me like I had jerked a rainbow from the sky and strangled a unicorn with it. Then she said, “That can’t be real. That would be horrible!”

She’s right.

Attention boys and girls. Today’s lesson is about the importance of having colors in your crayon box.

Here’s the thing about politics and religion and dogma and institutions and fundamentalists: They will steal all the colors out of your box if you’re not careful. Everything will be reduced to this or that, right or wrong (their version of it of course), black or white. When it happens, our worldview narrows, we become narrow-minded and single-minded and mean and bitter. We think everyone is out to get us. We believe every conspiracy theory that comes along.

Worse yet, we miss out on the wonder, the beauty, the possibilities. I asked Karlee, our oldest if she knew who Roy G. Biv is. “Of course.” Of course she knew. We could all learn something if we would pay more attention to Roy G. Biv.

I am sick and tired of politics. I’m tired and sick of the religious right telling me who I should hate and why. I’m tired of people saying, make up your mind. It’s either black or white. 

No it’s not. Meet Roy G. Biv, or as Karlee knows him, the colors of the rainbow: Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo and Violet.

Make a note of that, it will be on the test. And put some color back in your crayon box.

Take These

BEST I CAN REMEMBER, I was about 40 when my body began to repay me for the abuses I had wreaked upon it. Thankfully there are medications. But damn the side-effects.

I saw a lovely ad on TV, a happy looking, senior couple, pulling their new Airstream to a pastoral setting alongside a stream. Apparently the old guy was suffering from an arthritic hitch in his get-along and his doctor prescrbed a medication. It was an inspirational scene until the narrator began the fast talking litany of potential side-effects. I don’t remember them exactly but I think they included: loss of hearing and hair, foaming at the mouth, irritability, frequent going, abnormal urges, dizziness, your favorite NBA player betraying you to put on the enemies uniform, and death.

This morning, I was thinking about the state of things and listening to the promises of our political aspirants. So I turned to First Samuel Eight in The Message version of the scriptures (or as one political aspirant might say: "One Samuel".

When Samuel got to be an old man, he set his sons up as judges in Israel… But his sons didn’t take after him; they were out for what they could get for themselves, taking bribes, corrupting justice.

Fed up, all the elders of Israel got together and confronted Samuel at Ramah. They presented their case: “Look, you’re an old man, and your sons aren’t following in your footsteps. Here’s what we want you to do: Appoint a king to rule us, just like everybody else.”

When Samuel heard their demand—“Give us a king to rule us!”—he was crushed. How awful! Samuel prayed to God.

God answered Samuel, “Go ahead and do what they’re asking. They are not rejecting you. They’ve rejected me as their King. From the day I brought them out of Egypt until this very day they’ve been behaving like this, leaving me for other gods. And now they’re doing it to you. So let them have their own way. But warn them of what they’re in for. Tell them the way kings operate, just what they’re likely to get from a king.”

So Samuel told them, delivered God’s warning to the people who were asking him to give them a king. God said (the side-effects may include), “This is the way the kind of king you’re talking about operates. He’ll take your sons and make soldiers of them—chariotry, cavalry, infantry, regimented in battalions and squadrons. He’ll put some to forced labor on his farms, plowing and harvesting, and others to making either weapons of war or chariots in which he can ride in luxury. He’ll put your daughters to work as beauticians and waitresses and cooks. He’ll conscript your best fields, vineyards, and orchards and hand them over to his special friends. He’ll tax your harvests and vintage to support his extensive bureaucracy. Your prize workers and best animals he’ll take for his own use. He’ll lay a tax on your flocks and you’ll end up no better than slaves. The day will come when you will cry in desperation because of this king you so much want for yourselves. But don’t expect God to answer.”

But the people wouldn’t listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We will have a king to rule us! Then we’ll be just like all the other nations. Our king will rule us and lead us and fight our battles.”

Samuel took in what they said and rehearsed it with God. God told Samuel, “Do what they say. Make them a king.”

And some lifted their red hats in the air, the ones that read “Make Israel Great Again”, and beat their chests. Others yelled, “We want a Queen this time around”. And others looked at the ground and thought, “Oh dear God, is the cure sometimes worse than the illness?” (This paragraph is not actually in the scripture.)