A day in the life and some life in the day

To say I’m a creature of habit is world-class understatement. If I had to explain it by analogy, I’d say I can make a monastery chockful of Benedictine monks look like escapees from a Fantasy Faire.

You don’t believe me? Well, here’s my daily schedule. Read it and tell me what you think.

Typically, lights out for me is between 0100 and 0130. Reveille, if left to my own devices, is around 0900 – 0930 (exceptions dependent on J-Dawg’s whims or bladder pressure).

After rising, but not shining, I take out pups, feed them and the kitty, jump-start my still-somnolent psyche with beaucoup java, and eat breakfast (which is either of two varieties: 1. Yogurt with fruit, maple syrup and Grape Nuts, or 2. Grilled cheese on rye). While feasting, I’m usually on my iPad, checking my multitude of FaceBook friends, to see their last night’s dinner, the score of their kid’s Pee Wee baseball game, the X-Rays from their root canal, and other equally thrilling and relevant stuff.

Then I do my email check-ins with my pals, maybe look up some esoteric reference or two, and when that’s done, I put down the iPad, pick up the dogs’ leashes, and take the li’l critters for a long walk on Dewey with my 10,000 favorite black flies. That chore over, and having bathed in Sting Stop, I fire up Honest Abe and head to my office (better known to John and Jane Q Public as Nori’s cafe), where I hope to get an hour or so of writing done before the KKK comes in.

Don’t worry: The KKK is not the good ole time traditional hood-and-cross-burning bunch. Nope, it’s my KKK — the Klods Kaffe Klatch. Our roster varies, but the usual weekday roster includes Dutch Dehond, The Silver Fox, Doc Mchugh, and more rarely Johnny Guitar Murphy. Everyone’s welcome, so sometimes we’re joined by some one-time guy or gal.

The Klatch over, I work on my column some more, catch up on any correspondence or bill-paying that needs to be done, and then boogie my bad self to the Enterprise office to chat with my pals there. First of course, is She Who Must Be Obeyed, Queen Liz. If you’re one of the three or four people north of Keene Valley who don’t know who’s The Queen, she’s also known as Liz Scammel Murray. As Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Queen, Liz takes her role so seriously, she now refers to herself by her royal title, in the third person.

What many people don’t know is our Carnival kings and queens retain their title year-round, and as a result show up at all sorts of civic events throughout the year. Liz is no exception, as she and King Rick’s most recent outing, to my knowledge, was visiting sick children at our Medical Center. QL takes her role so seriously, I’ve heard the Carnival committee has already chosen three strong men to be waiting in the wings during Coronation ’25, to rassle away her crown and cape, if need be.

After Liz and I shmooze a bit, I’ll say hey to Carol Swirsky, the woman whose ceaseless hectoring guilted me into becoming a Wordle junkie. Joining us in Wordle chat might be Susan Moore, and then the talk might drift to a recipe or two before I drift into the newsroom. There I catch up on the latest haps with E the E; Ace Reporter Aaron “Scoop” Marbone; Cub Reporter Syd the Kid; and finally Torrid Torinda.

That concludes my town rituals, after which it’s home for another dog walk and pet feeding; a possible Dope walk; din-dins; reading time and night-nights.

It’s a routine as unvaried as the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace — minus the horses, band, and spiffy uniforms, the sole change being on Sunday, when I go to Cavu, maybe with Bro Clark and The Demon of Demars Boulevard, Pat Bentley (always at 11:00).

After reading about my day, most peeps would think, Oh, how dull it is. But it really isn’t, and I’ll tell you why.

Breakin’ and shakin’ it up

Here’s the thing: What I wrote is the standard fare of my day, but it’s not the only fare. See, I always have entertainments throughout the day that break my routine and change it all up. For example, I’m always learning a new magic trick. The pro magicians always say the difference between a pro and an amateur is the amateur does a whole lot of different tricks for the same audience, but a pro does a few tricks for a different audience. It’s true, of course, and it applies to not only magicians, but to musicians, comedians, all performers, and probably all artists as well. But the simple fact remains if I want to do magic for my friends (or even my enemies), I have to be learning new stuff all the time, since magic — unlike music, for example — relies almost exclusively on a surprise ending. Ain’t at all like someone on St. Patty’s Day tearing up after the fifth time they heard Danny Boy … that hour.

So a new trick is always in process in my day.

Something else: I like puzzles. Not the ones like crosswords or the picture kind, or any of them that have only one result. The ones I like may have varied endings, and can be carried in my pocket. One example is The 15. You probably had one as a kid. It’s a plastic or metal square that has 14 numbered tiles in it that can be moved from place to place. It also has only one empty space. The challenge is to get the numbers in sequence, from 1-14, from left to right, right to left, top to bottom, and so on. I’ve had one since childhood, still carry it around from time to time to entertain myself during a lull. I’ve also never succeeded with it.

My latest is something called IQ Mini. It’s a board with 25 holes, in a small case. There are six puzzle pieces and three blockers. The challenge is to fit the puzzle pieces, which are all different shapes, in the holes. It sounds easier than it is. And best of all, the blockers can be moved, the the number of possible arrangements is vast, yet no matter where the blockers are, all the other pieces can be put in. Not by me, maybe, but by someone.

I found IQ Mini in Goody-Goody’s, thanks to the guidance of Mike, who with Jazen, can guide anyone to any appropriate amusement. Sadly, because Goody-Goody’s is a toy store, too many adults think it’s only for kids. Well, if you think that, think again. Saying toys are only for kids is about as narrow-minded as thinking the same about carnivals, parades, ice cream, costumes, or all sorts of stuff. Don’t believe me, just go in sometime, tell them you’re looking for something fun, and after they ask you a few questions, they’ll find it for you. And if they can’t find it for you, the problem isn’t them or the toy — it’s y-o-u.

As for IQ Mini: In case you wonder, I haven’t succeeded with that one either. I don’t know if I will, and best of all, I don’t care. See, with my amusements, I have fun with the process itself. As for actually finishing it? Nice if I can, but no biggie if I can’t, cuz I’m always entertained in the meantime.

And I think that’s the essence of all arts — that the process is ultimately more important than the result.

Take me and my columns. (Please!)

Obviously, I have to finish one every week, and for the past 27 years I have. But “finishing” is a relative term. I may get it done and it’ll be in the paper, but is it really finished? Of course not: I could go over it endlessly and always find some thing that needed to be improved. But even then, I’d never find all the things that needed improvement, because my writing skills are limited, and some master writer would be able to improve it even more. So all I can do is the best I can, finish it and send it in, and then work on the next one, hoping maybe I’ll have learned something about writing, whether I’m aware of it or not.

So to me, deadlines are a blessing. I have a limited amount of time to think up, write, and rewrite the column, before I have to send it in, as is, for better or worse, till Page 5 do us part. And thus I don’t have time to keep agonizing over the final draft, sweating this semi-colon or that word choice till my stomach acid flows like the AuSable in springtime.

And beyond that, I don’t have a chance to change things for the worse. When it comes to my final drafts, my bro’s sage advice rules. It is: The enemy of good is better.

So any draft I think is good is, by definition, good enough.

And that’s sure good enough for me.


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