The Bar Chronicles: #17, A ‘PSA’, The Asian ‘Jumping Worm’

Bar Night 2

A warm stretch of May days, summer like, goosed the ‘bar chroniclers’ to find our way to Caverly’s Irish Pub. We seem to be stuck on Caverly’s, but how can you beat $20 for 5 beers? Add the intimate bar with its colorful array of taps, friendly patrons, the worn hardwoods and oversized chalkboard beer menu, and Caverly’s is as comfortable as any watering hole we’ve patronized on ‘bar nights’.

Bar TAps

The sidewalk tables were taken by heavily pierced bikers, with their black leather chaps and vests and a potpourri of busy tattoos covering any exposed skin. In contrast, wedding bands and silver fillings was the extent of our body metal, no pierced ears or tattoos, at least none visible. Our belts, the only leather we showed, were functional, holding back the 34s, 36s, maybe a 38. A couple of beers tonight would bloat us enough to test those straps and push the limits of the numbers.

We posted inside, at our favorite table, a wobbly one with a napkin shim. Following the customary toast to good health and good fortune, the gabfest began. The clinking of glasses was like the gates swinging open at a horse race, we were off and running with an evening of books, biology and beer.

Normally, while our ‘beer clutch’ is not a book review club, we occasionally refer to them to support our discussions or show off our intellect. Tonight, we hit the trifecta with ‘The Great Halifax Explosion’, ‘Beneath the Metropolis’ and ‘The Winner’, another Baldacci thriller. But the best read & reference was a newsletter about the invasive, Asian ‘jumping worm’.

‘Disturb a jumping worm and it’s like a nightcrawler on steroids: It violently writhes on the forest floor, recalling a snake in a bad horror movie. Try to catch it, a piece of its tail will detach in your hand — still wriggling as you hold it.’ *

Creepiness aside, this invasive invader goes against all positive thoughts we have about earthworms as great aerators of our garden soil, and good bait for adventures at ‘the ol’ fishing hole’. These summertime squirmers are underground giants, up to eight inches long, that render the ground void of nutrients for any type of plant growth with their piranha like foraging.

I’ll be watching our gardens, as you should yours, for telltale signs of these monsters. If our ferns flop, the sedum sag or hydrangeas halt, I’ll call the ‘authorities’ to report the invasion, a government bureaucrat who knows about snakes and worms, and they do.

When our refills were finished, we cautiously walked to the car with an eye to the ground for anything that jumps. Some fascinating conversation tonight, but, worms aside, the real takeaway was, once again, the friendship and comradery among a few senior neighbors…with the help of a cold beer, or two.

Steve
May 2018
S’amusing @ Srbottch.Com

*https://blog.nature.org/science/2016/10/31/jumping-worm-the-creepy-damaging-invasive-you-dont-know/

The Bar Chronicles: #16, ‘Beer By The Numbers’

Bar Night 2

Bar Night #16, and our first of 2018. When ‘old’ friends get together after a long hiatus, a seat at the table with a frothy beer in hand is a good way to reacquaint and kick start our ‘bar nights’.

Once again, Caverly’s Irish Pub is our choice of watering holes, and why not? It has a good variety of beer at fair prices and a proper atmosphere, including a ‘house dog’. Navigating the parking lot potholes was the only impediment to the pub’s front door.  Not uncommon following an overbearing winter in western New York.

House Dog

Our usual table was full tonight and the bar was noisy, with patrons in a festive mood for a chilly mid week night. We convened in the back room, a wise move for four sets of Senior ears. Here, we could spin tales, and more importantly , hear them, away from the constant humdrum and boisterous dart games in the forward quarters.

We settled in, clinked our glasses…’here, here’… and commenced with our wit and wisdom. After the usual potpourri of small talk, we somehow melded into a ‘deep’ conversation of airplanes, rockets and mathematics, dropping names of icons; Robert Goddard, Wernher von Braun and Fibonacci**. No, not Liberace, Fibonacci.

The mathematician among us took the lead and enthusiastically, neigh, excitedly guided the conversation into sequences, ratios and solutions, a Fibonacci fanatic. The pilot at the table, a technocrat of sorts, listened attentively with approving smiles and nods. He got it. The one tool & die maker nodded, as well, but with eyes closed, as though resting. And the salesperson, while feigning understanding, did what all good sales pros do, found some way to ask a topical question to keep the conversation going. The answer was irrelevant, but the continuity was critical.

0-1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21-34-and so on…

Do you see the number pattern, the ‘sequence’?  The next day, I dug into the Internet to learn more about Fibonacci and his Sequence.  I absorbed enough to hone some math skills and learn a trick, or two, to share at our next ‘bar night’.  Curious?  Research it yourself, Google ‘Fibonacci’.  .

“The Fibonacci Sequence is a set of numbers that starts with a one or zero, followed by a one, and proceeds based on the rule that each number (called a Fibonacci number) is equal to the sum of the two preceding numbers.” (definition from ‘WhatIs.com)

The wonderful part of ‘bar night’ is that we never know the direction of our conversation, but it always seems to lead us home with a belly full of gratification and a little beer from an evening well spent with friends. And, importantly, we learn from each other.

As for the beers, when we were young men we certainly would have climbed a few rungs on Fibonacci’s Sequence, but tonight, as mature gentlemen, we stopped at step 2, or one apiece.

Group Photo

Fibonacci, himself, would have been underwhelmed.

Steve
5/4/2018
srbottch.com

**Fibonacci was considered to be the most talented Western mathematician of the Middle Ages’ (Wikipedia)

To Moish, a S’amusing follower and math professor.  Wish you had been here. I’m sure you would have enjoyed the conversation.

The Bar Chronicles: #15, “Was It Something We Said”?

Bar Night 2

As we slip-slide our way into winter, the fluctuations are remarkable.  The thermometer toggles between mild and frigid, then back to mild, then frigid, while the only constant is the early darkness.  

By evening, the streetlights guide us to ‘The Back Nine’, a sports bar in Pittsford, NY.  The fare is a bit high but the atmosphere is classy, and we fit the bill with our khakis, pullover sweaters and ‘Curious George’ sweatshirt (2 of 3 isn’t bad).  We opted for the quiet air of the backroom where our own conversation was audible… and our fashions were not a distraction.

Unbeknownst to us, as we clinked our glasses and huddled in conversation, The Back Nine would be closing within days of this evening’s beer fest, if one beer qualifies as a ‘fest’. It’s a disappointment, we enjoyed our two visits here, on ‘Bar Night’, and looked forward to returning, upscaling our outings a bit.

There are many reasons why an establishment shutters its doors, but a watering hole in a classy town, closing?  A bit of a surprise and made me think, ‘was it something we said’?

The closing certainly wasn’t due to rowdiness, we’re a docile group and any swaying or tippiness was a result of our age and equilibrium, not too many drinks.  Was it our overheard conversations that intimidated patrons and discouraged them from returning?  The mention of the world’s ant population outweighing humans, or insects dying at alarming rates or mollusks having eyes, may have been inappropriate for a crowd looking for something less cerebral on their ‘bar night’?

Soaring property assessments and declining school performances maybe was too staid for the ears of the common bar fly. Did we discuss the genius of Churchill and Aristotle too loudly for a drinking crowd?

The problem for bars that accept small bands of Seniors is that we don’t drink much, we talk too loud and our topics are extrapolated from editorial pages of the NYT or WSJ, instead of the Sporting News or NASCAR weekly. We may be haughty and tend to bloviate.  We are polite to a fault but can be pompous…and we wear curious clothing. We are Seniors, you know.

It’s about time for another gathering. We’ll go back to our favorite ‘dive’, where every spot is loud and the patrons don’t care what we say, the crappy music is too loud to hear anything, and a dog walks among us. The cheap beer will guarantee the doors will always swing wide…

…a Curious George sweatshirt will be a welcome attraction!

“Education is the best provision for old age” Aristotle

Steve
Srbottch.com
Jan 2018

The Bar Chronicles: #13, The Gift

Bar Night 2

This evening’s soirée found us at a classy sports bar, The Back Nine in Pittsford, NY. The word ‘soirée’ seemed appropriate for this place, a cut above the ‘corner bars’ where we’ve been accustomed to resting our elbows.

Why this upscale establishment? I was the recipient of a surprise gift card to The Back Nine by a couple of very savvy young friends who suggested that it might be a good place to go with my ‘senior’ friends (they’re so polite) on bar night. I appreciated their generosity, was impressed with their recommendation and ‘awed’ that my readership is so young.

We ordered Guinness and Rohrbach Scotch Ale, hoisted ourselves onto the ‘bar height’ chairs, raised our glasses with a wish to good health, then started the dialogue.

“I’m throwing them out. Haven’t played in years and I need the space”, one of us began. And I thought, oh my, I’m having a tough time making that same decision. Old golf clubs and other stuff that I just can’t seem to push to the curb.

Old fishing tackle and salt corroded reels that caught whoppers and could tell the same. Old yearbooks with classmates I can’t remember and a picture that I swear isn’t me. And old books, the ‘trophies’ of my intellect, all a reflection of who I am. But all just stuff, old stuff.

Then, it hit me, on our 13th ‘bar night’ we’ve run out of stimulating topics and resorted to ‘end of life’ issues: paring down, getting rid of, throwing away.

“You know that farmers can fix anything”, interrupted the former farm boy at our table. I was thankful for the change of topic, the thought of unloading my personal inventory was getting depressing. But farming?

He continued, “Everyone should be a farmer for a while”! I considered his philosophy and doubted I would survive among all that equipment and stuff you walk in, but I now know who to call to fix my disassembled front door bell, another of my failed ‘DIY’ projects.

With our conversation beginning to drone and eyelids getting heavy, we managed to ‘unhoist’ ourselves from the tall chairs, snapped a photo and headed home. A red fox darted across the road, then stopped to look back. I thought to myself, that critter would look manly stuffed and displayed on my shelf…could a farmer do that for me?

3 Geezers

Steve
Srbottch.Com

To all who are starting to get rid of stuff, saving someone else the trouble.

Special thanks to Alice & David.

.

I’m a Senior Citizen and Proud of It!

“Dammit, my car is stolen!”

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I recently celebrated another birthday, putting me a year deeper into my status as a Senior Citizen. It’s wonderful. Now, if I have time, I can set my own hours and take life at a leisurely pace.

That’s the challenge, isn’t it, finding time. Things get in the way: part-time jobs, volunteering, honey-do’s. Where’s the time to kick back and relax, just be a Senior?

This Senior status allows me certain behaviors that I completely avoided, heretofore, and with good reason. I can let my eyes squint and mouth droop open when I’m idling at a red light.  There’s no need to tuck in my shirt or shave everyday. There are just some days when I say, “to hell with how I look”.  If my plaid shirt and plaid pants clash, it doesn’t matter, I’m not dressing for success at this point, I’m dressing to cover up and be decent.

Senior Citizenship comes with perks like discounts at restaurants and movie theatres.  I unabashedly ask for them because preserving money is important, which explains why I cut my own hair. That alone is $30 a month right to my bottom line, and with the little hair I have left and its color, no one notices an uneven border.

I’m allowed to say ‘huh’ and ‘what’ as often as I please. And if I wear a tie, it might be thin while the styles are wide. Or, it might be a bolo, the western ‘string’ tie. I get up to speed on medical issues and the latest in joint replacements just by having coffee with a few contemporaries.

Corny jokes get laughs, primarily from other Seniors, and I can tell the same joke a few days later because… well, just because.

On the bright side, my Senior status allows me to give advice to young people, and I do, even if it’s unsolicited. Some listen. I remember my dad gave advice and most of it turned out to be good advice*, when I listened.

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Friendships become more important among Seniors. We support each other, laugh at each other’s foolishness and share our woes. Our spouse truly is our best friend; sharing life draws us closer. Oh, the dog is a good friend, too, but not really our best friend, in spite of the long standing marketing to the contrary.

Yup, Senior Citizenship is a rewarding phase of my life. By the way, I found my car, I always do. I was in the wrong aisle. Honestly, it gets ‘stolen’ and recovered half-dozen times a year.

“Now, where the hell are my keys?”

* see story, “My Father’s Pearls: A String of Old-fashioned Wisdom and Advice” 12/15/16

Steve
srbottch.com

To all my Senior friends around town, at the gym, in the neighborhood, there’s a little bit of this in all of us…

The Bar Chronicles: #10, One Last Look…

Bar Night 2

It’s early April and we’re having London like weather in western New York; damp, rainy and temperatures that chill me from the inside-out. In full disclosure, I’ve never been to London, but I’ve seen movies.  Mounds of dirty snow, like black coal, still linger in plaza parking lots, fighting a losing battle against the slow creep of Spring’s warming temperatures.

Tonight, after a three-month winter hiatus, our small cadre is gathered at a neighboring bar for an evening of brotherhood and beer, heavy on the former and light on the latter. We motored a few miles to ‘the north side’ to revisit a bar whose motto is, ‘the place to be’.

If a few ‘old’ friends want to sit, talk and hear each other, then, yes, this is ‘the place to be’; a long bar, a couple of overhead televisions tuned to sporting events, dart boards and a dimly lit back room with a pool table. Picture it.

We opted for the back room and a wobbly table where we could spin yarns and talk about our senior worlds, away from disinterested regulars who huddled, round-shouldered, at the bar, closer to the taps for quick refills or benign conversation with the barmaid,

Our muster starts with a toast to our health and well-being. A clink of the glass mugs sends a reassuring message to each of us that we’re in good company and we care about each other. Then, the chatter begins.

There was a palpable happiness in the air. And why not, friends are reunited and we have a chance to talk about stuff that has no interest to others. It has taken us years to get here, and we’re in our element, as one would say. .

One of us has a new car, a Tesla, the hybrid vehicle that performs every task a driver could want, except the final one, a last look, just to make sure. Sensors are processing information constantly to give the perfect driving experience. The driver of this car is a former fighter pilot whose skill set will easily transfer to the high-tech sophistication of  a Tesla.

Technology is wonderful whether it’s in a car or gadget,and it’s often on display in our bar rendezvous. We show pictures of grand kids, check news updates, get stock information and find the fastest way home from the bar, if necessary, all from compact computers, our phones. However, when we walk to the car after an evening of social niceties, our focus is still on our conversation and fellowship. Our phones are pocketed while we continue to pay attention to each other and to where we are in life and the wonderful evening of companionship just concluded.

More importantly, though, we pay careful attention to where the hell we’re walking. Seniors don’t fall well!

Hence, we take one last look…

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
Mark Twain on friendship

Steve
srbottch.com

Dedicated to our neighborhood ‘gang’…

The Bar Chronicles, #9: Christmas Memories

“You got to remember, it was right after the depression and a coal miner’s family didn’t have much at all”

Christmas, a time for goodwill, reverence and seasonal brews. This month’s parley took us to Carly’s Bar, on Winton Rd North, a true tavern bordering neighborhoods and businesses where we enjoyed idle talk, brotherhood and beer.

Carly’s touts itself, on their green and yellow neon sign hanging over the entrance, as ‘the place to be’. Beer choices were primarily standard fare, no speciality brews, and my favorite, Guinness, was served only in cans. Acceptable, but I do enjoy watching Guinness pour from a tap, its distinctive thick frothy head landing atop a dark chestnut-brown body. I can almost taste it now.

We had the back room to ourselves, not fancy but quiet. A giant bag of Skinny Pop popcorn in the middle of a round table satisfied our snack craving and the crumbs we left on the floor were enough to fill the tiny belly of the house mouse.

With our usual toast, we wished each other good will and kicked off the evening with general talk of health, family and mundane ‘man talk’.

But it’s the holiday season and our second and last round of ale found us recalling early Christmas memories. The stories were personal, told with a smile and enthusiasm that brought us back to a special time and place, albeit briefly.

Tales of a terrible Christmas tree, boxes of nails and hardware in a Christmas stocking, and a fruit ‘bucket’ for the family had us laughing and humble at the same time.

While it was well-intentioned, the thin white artificial tree my dad brought home was not festive, at all. But we adjusted to it out of respect to him. It lasted for two years before finding the curb. I vowed never to have an artificial tree but now have two of them. They’re almost real but haven’t quite developed the evergreen scent, yet.

The box of nails one of us found in ‘his’ stocking on an early Christmas morning ‘sneak peek’ was such a disappointment. “Nails and hardware, for me? Why?” Dismay quickly turned to delight with the realization it was an adult’s stocking. His dad would love it.

Life in the coal mining towns was difficult. The Great Depression sapped people’s energy and resources. And while Christmas was a time for giving and receiving, a simple ‘bucket’ of fruit to be shared by all often sufficed to lift the spirits of families. When the fruit was gone, the bucket lived on with practical uses.

The holiday season is a wonderful time to celebrate with friends and family. I wish our group and readers who follow The Bar Chronicles a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.

Steve

Srbottch.Com