Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kenan Arts and Camps grounds..

SO.. I write this while camped just off the Kenan Center's rear parking lot pretty much in the middle of Lockport NY. This 25 acre 'campus' is a shining example of someone's bequest hitting the mark it was intended to.
Old mister Kenan, who was born in 1896 left his mansion and these grounds to advance the arts and education of the people of Lockport and surrounding areas.
The complex houses an arena, the mansion- which serves as an art gallery, and a small theater of 153 seats. THere is a fledgling little theater.
Betty and I are here for "One Hundred American Craftsman", where Betty and 112 other craftspeople exhibit and sell their wares. There is no 'buy and sell' and no junk, these are serious crafts as art people. And,
It is a relatively quite place to camp. We've done far worse.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Nameless in New York

I should have listened to my mother.
Recently I applied for an enhanced driver’s license at the NYS Motor Vehicles Department in the county office building in Little Valley. They would not process my application because I didn’t have my original birth certificate or a stamped, certified copy of that document.
I never saw my original birth certificate, but in 1967, I obtained a certified copy from the Bureau of Vital Records in downtown Buffalo. That copy dissolved years ago.
I applied for a new certified copy. A woman at Vital Records said I couldn’t get a copy of my birth certificate because my name was spelled differently on the original, from the name I have been using for as long as I remember.
“Terence” was on my original birth certificate; “Terrance” is on everything else. I don’t know when I began spelling it that way, but I’d had no problems for the first five decades of my life and expected none now.
I recall a time in the early 1970’s my mother saw my driver’s license. She remarked that I spelled my first name wrong and I should fix it or I would be in trouble. It was a characteristic mother-type warning, not unlike the advice concerning clean underwear when you leave the house.
As a typical know-it-all, just out of my teens, I tossed her concern off with a condescending tone. I said, “Oh Ma, what could go wrong?”
At that time, I had been using the name ‘Terrance’, for twenty years. For two letters, I was not about to change a thing.
The Vital Records woman in Buffalo informed me that things were different from 1967. Terrorism and Osama Ben Laden were mentioned. I needed legally, to change my name in my home county. Back at the Little Valley courthouse, I learned I’d have to pay $210 to have a number stamped on a court order to officially change make the change. I also needed photo ID, proof of home address and a CERTIFIED COPY OF MY BIRTH CERTIFICATE.
I explained I was changing my name so I could obtain said certified copy. After much discussion and several calls from the county to the City of Buffalo, Catt County decided it could take my $210 dollars. Vital Records decided that while they couldn’t give me a copy of my original birth certificate, they could fax one to a civil servant in Little Valley.
I was to go home and await the court’s decision.
The approval came in the mail and I was instructed to go back to the Catt County office building to pick up an official copy of the order, which I could take to Olean to be published in the Olean Times Herald.
I can only guess the purpose was to see how many people would object to my name change from Terence to Terrance. After all, it is an important question for all the residents of Cattaraugus County.
A few days later, a publication affidavit arrived in the mail and it was back to Little Valley. I was becoming good friends with the security guys. We exchanged pleasantries and personal information about our respective families.
There were more trips, Little Valley, downtown Buffalo. As I write this, I am back up to where I stood in 1967. I have a certified copy of my Birth Certificate with the original wrong spelling on it. I’ve skipped the enhanced license and now am trying for a passport.
The paper work is in Albany. It will be “reviewed”; I could have my birth certificate within four to six months.
My mother passed away years ago. I like to think she is somewhere, observing and enjoying my misspelled-name-trials-and-tribulations. I sense more than hear an ephemeral chuckle and a fleeting “I told you so.”
That’s Ok, it’s well deserved, I should have listened..

Friday, May 15, 2009

Solitude: NOT

Emmy and I travel often in our truck-camper; we do a lot of ‘boon-docking’. Loosely defined, this is free camping with no electric, water, or sewer hookups.
We have stayed places from the sublime to the ridiculous. Sublime places include the little-developed North Rim of the Grand Canyon. With not another human or vehicle in site and possibly the most spectacular scenery in the world, we camped a few feet from the canyon’s edge. We picked a comfortable rock on which to sit and toasted a stunning sunset. Early next morning, I sat on the same rock before dawn, savoring the sunrise with my coffee.
We’ve spent lopsided nights here and there. A rainstorm-turned blizzard drove us off a mountaintop not too far from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Facing the prospect of an extended, snowed-in stay, we carefully picked our way down the winding dirt/rut road to reach a snow free altitude. Around 2 AM, we found a wide spot in the road but the camper slanted at a stiff angle. Emmy could not hang onto the high side of the mattress so we both occupied my side of the bed in the morning.
Recently we were traveling near the George Washington National Forest. On the way, we stayed in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Warrenton, VA. The store closed at 11PM and the little town seemed to close up. It was as quite a spot as could be.
The next day, Thursday, we found a National Forest campground near the Virginia/West Virginia state line. It seemed our kind of place; it had water and a sanitary dump but nothing else, no phone, no electric, and at ten dollars a night, it was cheap by today’s standards. The only other campers were occupying one large campsite with four tents. The tents housed thirteen teenagers. We took a spot on the far side of the campground.
I thought the kids looked to have escaped from the homicidal-maniac-teen group home. Emmy thought they looked like your standard teenagers. As it turned out, I had pessimistically pre-judged as usual. They played a noisy game of hide-and-seek; it took place throughout the campground in the afternoon. Thursday night, they were quiet after ten PM or so, proving to be a well behaved group of homicidal teenagers.
Friday was a different matter. A family with four children, ages three to nine settled in near our camper. After dinnertime, people began to arrive at a trailhead, across the road from the campground. They had tents and small campers and were setting up illegally in the day-use parking area. Unknown to us, it was a party spot. The later it got, the louder the assemblage became, and not in a good way. Around midnight a group of young men began arguing, which escalated into a fight. There were screaming threats of violence and lots of foul language.
When our own kids were young, we tent camped a lot. Taxpayer funded campgrounds, similar to the one we were in, provided us with a cheap and safe form of recreation for our young family. Sadly, as funding for National and State Parks slows to a drizzle, the personnel who used to be around to enforce campground rules and keep a semblance of order have also disappeared.
In our camper, with solid walls that dampen noise and provide some security, the “party” across the street was very loud and intimidating. I felt sorry for the family next to us with only nylon tent fabric between them and all the raging turmoil not far away. The raucous noise must have kept the soundest sleepers wide-awake.
It is a shame to look back and realize that a Wal-Mart parking lot was a better place to stay than a National Forest Campground.
Comments; or

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Conversing face to face, my talent for debate is at best sub-par. My mind doesn’t function like the well-oiled ratcheting and clicking of gears portrayed in scientific journals and cartoons. My brain works more like ketchup. Sometimes nothing will come out at all, and then there will be a big spurt and a mess. I often end arguments in retreat, tossing over my shoulder, “YEA... WELL..., YOUR MOTHER WEARS ARMY BOOTS.”
Emmy has heard so much about her mother’s footwear over the years, we seldom get into a debate anymore. We do however email each other a lot. I like communicating via email because of my ketchup-like mind and my proclivity for putting my foot in my mouth. With email, you can choose your words carefully and then click “send.”
We both have separate “offices” in our house. I use the word ‘office’ loosely; they are two small spaces where we stay away from each other. My office is a large closet on the second floor, her office is a portion of the basement we call the “dungeon.” She has a desktop computer down there and I have a laptop upstairs.
Before I retired, I worked long days; Emmy had the house to herself and our conversations were limited to a short time in the evening. My presence now, at home all day every day, is something she often laments. With a sigh, she will suggest I leave, “You should visit that Clyde guy you used to work with.”
I never worked with anyone named ‘Clyde’; it’s a shot in the dark, she’s hoping she’ll come up with the name of someone I used to know and I’ll miss that person enough to leave the house.
I don’t know why she wants to get rid of me. Most days we only see each other in passing before we actually dine together in the evening. We can’t help but be involved with each other’s businesses so we email information and personal communications to one another two floors apart. My official title in her business as Chief Lackey means I take care of a portion of her paperwork. I also do heavy lifting and logistics for traveling and camping.
As I write this, we are ‘on the road’ in our nine-and-a-half foot truck camper, selling Emmy’s jewelry. We are traveling to Arts and Craft shows in the Carolinas and Virginia.
Six weeks in a camper is a long time for two people to spend together. Our floor space is two feet by seven and a half feet. Like a public meeting, it works well when we adhere to the one-person-standing at a time rule. There just isn’t room for both of us to be making breakfast or getting dressed at the same time.
Convicts have more room. If we traveled with a live chicken, the authorities would arrest us for the inhumane treatment of animals.
Close proximity doesn’t help us communicate any better either. We complete applications and registrations, and receive approvals and ‘booth assignments’ online. Our office space is a shared 23-inch by 32-inch dinette table, beads on one side, computer on the other.
We switch sides on occasion, she uses my computer, but I don’t touch the beads. I already know far more about seed beads and jewelry than any man should know. I can barely see the tiny things.
Sometimes while traveling, we check each other’s email. Emmy was checking both of ours’ and said she had just received the latest information on spaces at an upcoming Arts and Crafts show. I was reading a novel and absently told her to send it to me. I realized I was telling her to email the communication from my computer to my computer. Something’s wrong with that.
We might have to start talking to each other.

Monday, May 4, 2009


In my slightly dyslexic mind, the first time I heard the word Kinesiology, I heard Sneezeology. The letters and the syllables are similar, just mixed up a bit. The science of Sneezeology would include stuff you’ve heard already, like the amazing velocity and distance a sneeze can travel. More in-depth studies could tell us the difference in turbulence between the center and outside perimeter of a sneeze. Maybe that age-old question could be put to rest; how many are injured each year, sneezing while their eyes are open?
My wife went to a chiropractor who used Kinesiology as a diagnostic tool. The chiropractor had Emmy hold her arm horizontal to the ground. He pushed down on top of that arm. The arm held firm. When the Chiropractor touched a ‘pressure point’ in the middle of her forehead, the outstretched arm was easily pushed down. Two of my friends had similar experiences at the Chiropractors’ office as well. I respect these people so I figured there must be something to Kinesiology and the “pressure point” theory.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Chiropractic profession. I’ve had debilitating back pain relieved quickly, several times over the years by a Chiropractor. If they could make me feel so much better in such a short time, I figured I should lend an open mind to their ‘diagnostic tool’, Kinesiology.
I had a chance to see a demonstration of that science first hand the other day. I went to a talk given by a Chiropractor, a lecture on understanding cholesterol. She also supplied scientific information regarding Fish Oils, CoQ10, Niacin, and Statin drugs.
It was interesting and informative. We learned much about nutrition and related health matters.
Our speaker explained the relevance Chiropractic adjustment had on internal organs. For instance, if your spine is misaligned, it will affect nerves going to your organs, in turn causing them to malfunction. That makes sense to me.
As a rule, Chiropractors take a more holistic approach to medicine than say, a General Practitioner. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the information the young doctor gave. From Triglycerides to Red Rice Yeast, she seemed to have a vast knowledge about her subject matter.
She performed the ‘pressure point’ technique on several people. It appeared valid. I could believe it, after all Emmy and my friends had experienced the same reaction. The pressure point stimulation seemed somehow to make their arm muscles go slack.
If the demonstration ended there, I would have walked out; satisfied that Kinesiology was a superior discipline to my own, made up science of Sneezeology.
Alas, before I could leave I stepped in a big pile of Applied Kinesiology. The Chiropractor performed another demonstration. A woman held a bottle of water against her chest with one hand, while the doctor pushed down on her other, outstretched arm. The arm wouldn’t go down because, the doctor said, the woman’s body knew the water was good for her. Then the Chiropractor told the woman to hold a sub par bottle of vitamin supplements to her chest, the outstretched arm pushed down easily. Apparently, her body knew the pills were no good. To me it smacked of voodoo.
I asked the Chiropractor to try me. Maybe I could figure out a sensible cause and effect for the water verses pill connection. I failed both the pressure point test and the ‘bad pill’ experiment. My arm did not relax and drop in either test. The doctor said I was fighting the response. I say she pushes harder when she wants someone’s arm to fall.
There are multitudes of things I don’t know, so perhaps the jury is still out; but for now, I’ll stick with Sneezeology.