Für Elise

My Washer/Dryer

Elise, my washer and dryer in one
You’ve changed my world from laundry drudgery
To a life of efficiency and fun
From grumbling woe and grim skullduggery,
To joy, light, and sparkling clean clothes. It takes
A long while for your cycles to finish,
No problem for me. I have forests to rake,
Dog shit to gather, and more than one dish
Waits for me in the sink. There’s my coffee
Pot, my smoothie blender, a spoon or two.
Carpets to vacuum, tables quite dusty.
I won’t sit around here waiting on you.
So you can do your work while I do mine,
and I think we will just get along fine. 

The dog charm. 🙂 Upside down but whatev’

A Plethora of Morasses

Morass (today’s RDP prompt) is an SAT word from high school, not like it has no use in real life — I might have even used it myself in real life though at times I wonder if my life is real, but that’s another subject all together.

Morass was the kind of word teenage boys (aka my brother) liked to make jokes with. You can probably figure that out. Personally, I think it’s a good word, but obviously, it’s fallen into the gooey morass of words that just aren’t used that much, and maybe its joke potential is why. I certainly don’t know.

SAT words are interesting. My freshman college students liked to use them in their essays. This presented a trilemma (yeah, I just made that up) for me. First, they were not natural coming from most of my students. Second, they were often used wrong. Third, I KNEW the students were using them to impress me (“because English teachers like these words and godnose what else they like!”) not to communicate ideas. The great enemy was the Thesaurus, normally a gentle reptile, in the hands of unwary 18 year olds with dubious motives, the beast would turn positively sinister. At times I found myself drowning in a morass of plethoras, wishing someone would abolish the SAT.

Sometimes in conferences with a student I’d talk about this; usually not. By the time I’d taught a decade, I knew the likelihood of a student arguing with me over this with flaming arrows like, “But my AP (Advanced Placement) English teacher told me to use them.” I just listened, wondering how the kid got into AP English and trying to be helpful. Fuck it. It was more important that they try than that they got things right. That is a paradox of the classroom, ladies and gents.

It’s not that I didn’t want my students to expand their vocabulary, but as a tool of expression, not for the cheap glory of a high score on a multiple choice exam or to impress someone. The best way for them to build their vocabulary was through reading, but as the years progressed, that became less and less important in their lives. True, it was great when they used something wrong or spelled something wrong, and I got a good laugh (and they didn’t lose points). Contrary to the beliefs of many students, most English teachers are not sadists, but a good malapropism is a good malapropism.

We have Richard Sheridan to thank for THAT word and his hilarious character from The Rivals which I have read but have never seen. Mrs. Malaprop. I dunno’ what’s up with that,but 18th century comedy doesn’t get a lot of play anymore. In looking for examples this morning, I entered the Waybac Machine of the Internet and found this beautiful page from, I dunno, 1999?

I’m about to dive into more books for the contest, and who knows what I’ll find? There’s ONE more thing, though, in the morass of things teachers have to teach, I wish they would teach students that the dictionary and the thesaurus are and are NOT their friends and the language is NOT a precise science. All those jokes about morass were actually funny.

Lamont and Dude Discuss Tar

“What are you doing here?”

“You forgot. I can fly.”

“Lamont, seriously. What are you going to do while I’m working all day in a shipping container?”

“What do I ever do? Observe the passing parade. That kind of thing.”

“Wouldn’t you be happier back at the beach?”

“I can go back any time. We albatross can fly miles and miles with little or no effort, and pretty fast, too.”

“But the tar pit…”

“Been there. Done that.”


“You just go on about your work. I’m going to go talk to the fellows outside. Nothing like trash to bring in the gulls, am I right?”

“You usually are. Awright. Just stay OUT of the water. You KNOW what happens.”

“Are you going to be dressing up later in your Smilodon suit? I always wanted to see that.”

“I don’t know. Depends.”

“On what?”

“If there’s a school group coming. I don’t know yet and I’m late. You…. OH never mind.”

“I made you angry. Oh, Dude, I just have this feeling that I need to stick close to you.”

“I know.”

“No good deed, etc.”

“I know. Just stay out of the tar.”

“I’m a lot more acquadynamic than I was as mastodon, you know.”

“Yeah, well, be that as it may, don’t test it. I’m not going in there to save you.”

“Been there, done that too, right Dude?”

“Shut up. I have work to do.”

Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with several years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Dude — and Lamont (RIP?) Investigate Avian Health

“Hale and hearty.”


“That albatross of yours. No one has ever brought in an albatross before. How in the world?”

“It’s a long story. I found him orphaned on the beach. He more or less adopted me.”

“Doesn’t sound much like an albatross to me. They’re pretty fierce and independent beasties. You never saw his parents?”

“Not that I know of.”

“Well he’s in good shape. He’ll fledge soon. Look at those wings!”

“I know. I just hope he…” Something kept Dude from finishing his sentence. His plans to open his house as an Air BNB had been stopped in their tracks by this bird. One thing an albatross does very well is poop. Who would want to stay in a place where — no matter how hard the owner worked — was covered in albatross poop?


“Oh my. That’s an understatement. And I almost lost my job! I had to stay home and…”

“Chew up sardines for him?”

“Exactly. Now he’s more on his own.”

“Well, if I were a parentless baby albatross, I would want you for my parent, that’s for sure.”

“Does he need shots or anything?”

“He’s an albatross.”

“Right. Thanks doc. C’mon Lamont.”

It was a joke, or meant to be. Dude had no idea he’d hit on the truth. The bird flapped it’s almost useful wings and got up on Dude’s shoulder and they headed to the car.

“Took you long enough.”


“Long enough. I thought you’d recognize me right away.”

“I’m really losing it,” thought Dude. “First the whole Covid debacle and the lock down. Then Lamont kicking it courtesy of a dune buggy. And now I think an albatross is talking to me?”

“I am.”


“Humans forgot all the communication methods since they invented that short form, language. Nothing but vague gestures in the direction of communication. I see that now — again. I am so glad I’m a bird this time.”

“I’m losing my mind,” thought Dude. “I’ve wandered into the yellow miasma of madness.”

“You’re fine, Dude, I mean for you. Sorry I’ve been such a bother and thanks for all the fish. I know you wanted to rent out my room.”

“It would’ve brought in a little something, Lamont.”

“Are you strapped for cash, Dude?”

“No, I’m OK, but inflation and, well, you know.”

“Actually, I don’t know. I’m a bird and I only hatched a few weeks ago.”

“Right. How did you find me?”

“I have no idea. How do we keep finding each other? Big mystery, but I’ll tell you one thing. I’m glad I’m not human this time. This is going to be great. Did you know an albatross can fly thousands of miles? That’s going to be great. I was trying to remember the last time I was a bird. How about you?”

“I don’t know if I ever was a bird.”

“It’s a lot like being a velociraptor but with wings, not that my wings work yet, but thanks to your care I wasn’t run over by one of the life guard’s jeeps on the beach. I have a chance of taking to the air! Wheeeeee!”

“You were a cute chick.”

“That’s hilarious. It explains your attraction, though.”

Dude could swear the bird laughed.

Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything. If you want to know more of the story, just search Lamont and Dude 🤣

Dude Makes a Friend

One Saturday morning, after he’d surfed a couple of perfect sets, Dude sat on the beach looking off into infinity collecting his thoughts before he headed to LA for work. As he sat there, minding his own business, fantasizing informally about mermaids and whether he should turn his house into an Air BNB, or sell it and move to LA and be closer to work, he felt a gentle poke on his lower back. He turned to see an albatross chick. “What?” was his first thought, then he remembered the bright red birthmark on his back. “Ah. I’m not mom, little guy. I don’t have anything. Where are your parents?”

The albatross cocked his head and lifted its tiny wings. It knew it should maybe fly away but it couldn’t. Dude sat beside it for a while and realized there was no mom and no dad for the little guy, not like Albatross parents were very interested in their chicks. They weren’t, but they did feed them. Dude stood up and took a few steps toward a pile of seaweed. The chick followed. “Looks like I have a family,” he sighed, wondering how to make a home for an albatross. “You guys are pretty independent,” he said to the bird. “Maybe you don’t really need me.” This albatross seemed unusually needy.

“Listen, little guy, I don’t think I can chew up some rotten fish and puke it into your mouth to keep you going. You need your parents.” But he went into the house and smashed up some sardines and fed them to the bird as well as he could given the bird’s instincts and Dude’s abilities.

After that, every morning, when he went out to surf, the albatross would be waiting. On his next trip to Costco, Dude stocked up on sardines. After all, his chick was growing.

Lamont (RIP) and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have (had) the unusual ability to remember many of their earlier incarnations which gives (gave) them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.

RIP Lamont. Dude Surfs

The sun had barely broken the horizon, but Dude was already out there, waiting, ready. Since Lamont’s death he’d done a LOT more surfing. The museum at the Tar Pits had also opened since Covid had shut things down. Dude was getting out at dawn for a few rides before he had to drive to LA to sort bones and don his Smilodon costume for the kids.

Why Lamont had wanted to go down to Puerto Peñasco when they could have gone anywhere — and, for that matter, they lived on the beach! — was still a mystery to Dude. In a MOTORHOME for the love of God? A rented motorhome, “See America.”

“We’ve SEEN America, wouldn’t you say, Dude?” laughed Lamont as they took the keys from the rental agent. “In four dimensions.”

The next morning, as he was walking on Playa Bonita, pondering life, the universe and everything, Lamont was flattened by a dune buggy. The driver never stopped. Lamont’s last words? “Watch out, Dude. The Reaper’s driving a dune buggy. Well, see you later.” That was it. His life left his body, the vapor of the soul sped toward its next life.

Dude missed Lamont. After all, they’d been through a lot of lifetimes together, a fact that was a consolation but also, in its way, a curse. Who knew if Lamont would be back or when or, worse, as WHAT? Dude thought about that almost every day as he sorted bones. As he was all too aware, it was kill-or-be-killed out there in reality and one day’s dinner was the next day’s diner.

He looked to the west and saw a perfect swell heading his way.

Lamont (RIP) and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have (had) the uncanny ability to remember many of their previous incarnations which gives them an unusual perspective on life, the universe and everything.

Lamont and Dude Discuss Anubis

“Lamont, did you see they found fossils proving there were once whales with legs?”

“Never happened.”

“Why not?”

“Dude, they have like five bones. You’re convinced with only five bones and a handful of teeth?”

“I think it’s more than that. They said he was ‘the God of death’.”

“I read that, too. I’ll give you the God of Death. It’s a microbe.”

“I think we can find the God of Death on all points of the God of Death spectrum, Lamont. You’re in a bad mood.”

“Not really. I’ve just lost my balance and fallen off my lofty perch of exalted philosophical equanimity.”

“I hate when that happens.”

“Yeah, no one likes it.”

“You want to go catch some waves?”

“Are you serious? The God of Death is out there using surfers as hors d’oeuvres.”

“Not here.”

“They will, believe me, when they’ve chomped down on all the other beaches.”

“Lamont, I’m worried about you. You want to head inland and maybe head north? Go fishing in some crystalline stream?”

“Fish for salmon? No, I don’t think so. The God of Death might trundle by and fight me for his food. It’s HIS food after all. You might think being a bear is easy, but it isn’t. Just because a bear is big and fierce and a top predator, doesn’t mean a bear always gets what he wants.”

“Do you have to bring up THAT memory? I was just there, a beautiful day, spawning with the rest of them — my first spawn! — and suddenly I’m in a bear’s jaws like a pretzel at a poker game.”

“Good analogy. Life is a poker game.”

“Lamont, is there ANYTHING I can do to cheer you up?”

Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their previous incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.

Lamont and Dude Ponder Disappointment

“How was it being back at work, Dude?”

“Amazing how everyone and everything goes right back to where it was in that tide pool of prehistory.”

“That’s pretty poetic for a Smilodon.”

“No Smilodon, Lamont. Some programs are still suspended. It’s just me, a bunch of bones, a lot of dried tar, some solvent, some brushes and a container.”

“You sound a little down, Dude, for a guy who’s again gainfully employed.”

“Basically, Lamont, it’s like spending a day in a hot trailer washing dishes. Seems like last year…”

“You want to go catch some waves? Will that cheer you up?”

“Maybe. What I was about to say was that last year kind of showed things for what they really are. I mean we all work all the time for that SOMEDAY, like the someday we assemble another mastodon, or we find a baby Smilodon, or this or that, but then we do and then we’re back in the container washing more bones.”

“Human life is like the ocean, Dude. How many times have you told ME that? But the tide comes in, the tide goes out, we wait for a good set, we surf it or we wipe out, we come in, we go out, we wait. If things go sideways we have to be rescued and pay for THAT or we die. That’s it. You’ve said that a million times. Life is anticipation. We humans LOVE anticipation.

“I don’t know, Lamont. I like the swimming out and waiting, too.”

“Would you just SWIM out and hang out beyond the swells and never catch a wave and be totally happy?”

“I have.”

“Yeah, but you think — I think, we all think, — ‘Maybe the next one!’ What I think is that during the Viral Times we had to suspend anticipation except for the one BIG anticipation which was the return to so-called ‘normal’ which was never anything more than a life of constant anticipation.”

“You think people who are finally able to see their family again feel this way about THAT?”

“No, of course not, but even there the honeymoon is going to end at some point. Daily life is where we live, Dude. Anticipation keeps it from being a burden on the spirit. It’s why humans love shopping so much. Even just that little, ‘I wonder what’s on sale at Walmart today’ and the turning the corner at the end of an aisle gives humans a little lift.”

“C’mon, Lamont, do YOU like washing dishes?”

“It’s OK. Has to be done.”

“Lamont, maybe you think too much.”

“Well, Dude, you may be right, but I think a lot of people are going to feel just like you as they return to whatever it was they missed. I wonder if people will look at their striving and wonder ‘Why?’ I hope people write about it.”

“You could.”


Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to recall many of their previous incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.

Lamont and Dude Discuss Communication

“Lamont, remember how we met?”

“How could I ever forget that?”

“Stop laughing.”

“I’m sorry Dude, but it was pretty funny — or you were pretty funny — sitting up on that dune watching the ocean. I don’t even know if you surfed back in those days.”

“Of course I surfed.”

“Why are you asking, anyway?”

“I got an email this morning. From that woman.”

“The one who was supposed to be sending you a message in a bottle?”

“Yeah. Get this. ‘Dearest’.”

“Not a bad start.”

“No. A little much, but…”

“And THEN???”

“‘I am afraid to tell you this, because I know it will hurt your feelings, but I know you’re a resilient, stoical kind of guy, with a big heart and an understanding nature…”

“That’s a set up. You don’t need to read more, Dude. I’ve had my share of letters like that.”

“I don’t think so, Lamont. Just wait.”

“‘…but this letter in a bottle thing is absolutely absurd. It’s like you didn’t even want me to write to you. I know you maybe thought it was the height of romance, but seriously?’ There, Lamont. Is that what you were expecting?”

“No, not a lecture about the idiocy of letters in bottles. I thought she was going to dump you.”

“Oh, well, that happens later.”

“The letter in a bottle idea was YOURS???”

“I was young. I was foolish. I was in love.”

“Love is complicated and dangerous, Dude. You know that by now, right?”

“I was reading about the angler fish. God, I hope neither of us ever were or ever will be angler fish males. It’s sinister. Worse than black widows and mantids.”

One of those washed up on a beach not far from here a few days ago.”


“The question is why. They are pretty amazing creatures though, Dude. What a crazy design. It could only work in zero-gravity or a floating world. Sadly, I don’t remember any of my piscine iterations or even if I have had any. Do you?”

“How can you forget? Sometimes, Lamont, I don’t think you’re fully functional.”

“Oh, my bad. Sorry Dude, but you were one tasty salmon.”

Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years back. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.