I took this shot down by the creek today. The roots have been stripped bare by the hot summer rain and the leaves are turning to Fall. I've seen this before as I float into my third winter in Tennessee and I feel oddly displaced by it.

I don't have anyone here to hang with as the holidays approach. It's not the first time in my life by far, and I always survived. That's really what holiday bullshit comes down to, survival. We party at the end of the year simply because we survived.

I'm 74, and I've had a hell of a life. For most of it I was successful enough to live it fully. I made a lot of mistakes, but somehow a degree of integrity helped me land better each time, and here I am now.

I really hate taking life and I messed up again. I discovered a mouse in my house yesterday so I picked up a couple of sticky traps thinking I could safely remove him. Nope, found him this morning hopelessly stuck to the trap so I had no recourse but to drown him so he wouldn't suffer. Damn.

I left the water running 15 minutes then pulled the bag up by the handles. The water ran out the bottom but the sticky pad stayed inside, while I took it to the garbage. Piper? Absolutely no help whatsoever...

There is a lot of knowledge, tempered by experience, stored in my old bald head and it amazes me that I still remember so much. I have had one hell of a great life! There was always shit going down somewhere, lots of regret, it bounced both ways and I always landed on my feet.

My slide along the edgier side of life slowed down when I became Riley's dad and after almost 34 years, I think I have finally landed.

Every experience, good or bad, is stored in the core of your brain and every instant of your life runs through this filter. When the filter is your friend, guiding you to be the best person you can be while still enjoying yourself, you have landed well.

Otherwise you end up like, you know, that person.

I have finally found a goat cheese approaching my friend Marianne's, back in Idaho. She loved her goats and I sense the same passion here at Belle Chevra in Elkmont, AL.

It was a great little one hour drive this morning down to country I've never seen before to buy goat cheese. These guys are world-renowned, award winning and don't sell locally except here in their little cheese shop and they make all of their stuff in the creamery behind the store.

So how is it? Hell ya!

An 0930 screen video capture of weather brewing here in the South. That's the front tip of Hurricane Laura lower left, my place upper right.

Meanwhile, all is well on my porch...

My little truck is running great! I took it up to Spring Hill today for a Discount Tire rotation and it was the first time I've flexed her muscles since the rear-end job, and I was stunned! There was alway an engine rattle that rolled around in her straight pipe as I approached cruising speed, and having just completed a 5k+ mile cross country jaunt, I knew it well.

It is now gone. Replacing a loosy-goosy, near death rear-end with one that appears to be solid, changed everything. The new axle is of unknown heritage, has fresh fluid and it's applying way more torque back to the engine. The vehicle gods are on my side. Thank you.

I'm heading to a secret location on an unspecified day, next month. I would love to discuss it here but surprise is at the core of the trip and maybe she reads my blog.

And that's it.

I have absolutely no plans for the rest of my life. There are hankerings, like a week at an all-inclusive Cancun resort, or a Club Med, do those still exist?

I also have catback which is the situation where you have your cat back in the house happy and also being taken care of while you're gone. (Steph, or the Vet@$25day)

The truck is running great! A new old rear-end, fresh oil-lube with a tranny fluid refill, clutch slave cylinder replaced and my EGR delete job is solid.

My passport is ready with no restrictions and I could go anywhere in the world. Instead I'm hunkered down in a little house on a dead-end street in a little town in southern Tennessee writing this shit instead of code.

So, what can I say but, stay tuned...

Those that know me well, and there are only a few of you, know that I always carry around a pale blue ceramic cup as my primary drinking utensil. I've had that cup for many years, bought it off Amazon and it was all hyped up as the best long lasting ceramic coffee mug you could buy. They were right.

I've just added a new guy into my hand: sexy and black, shorter and squatter, same pedigree, and I'm going with my red straw. Meet my new cup!

That's all condensation btw, the cup is smooth.

Walked down to the creek to reflect on life.

The Scale is missing some obvious categories which I will try to address as Saturday unfolds.

Health

I have to say that my health is amazing for a 74 year old guy. I still take no meds, period. No pills, no liquids, no nuthin. I eat healthy, only consume meat when I'm desperate for protein, yet currently concerned about my 162 weight which is ten pounds over my ideal. Need to walk more.

I have Parkinsons but it's not getting me down, I just deal with it. My stomach muscles are sore, which is weird since I'm not working out. From the web: Stress and anxiety can cause stomach soreness or muscle pain that feels remarkably like the soreness you'd experience from overworking your stomach muscles through exercise. Your nervous system connects your brain and your gut in ways that scientists don't yet fully understand, and stress or anxiety can slow down your digestive system, especially in particularly sensitive people.

Health score: 8

Motivation

This is a tough one for me to quantify. What should be my motivation as an old guy, another trip, another job? I know most folks my age would just simply say stay alive, but I need more than that.

Motivation score: 7

Social

How do you share yourself with the world? I started dumping my soul to blogs that few people read in June 2011 and haven't stopped yet. I have a few close friends and family that I text with, I have a neighbor who likes to come over and drink, and Steph and I get together on occasion. So, not much going on.

Social score: 3

Mental Clarity

It's important to see everything around you clearly and honestly. I have the ability to do that, and more. Sometimes I see people beyond what they present to the world, which is my secret skill that is no longer secret now.

Mental Clarity score: 8

Empathy

I consider this one of the most powerful human traits. Do I have empathy towards others in need, most definitely. Do I respect, and avoid taking, the life of all other animals? Strongly. Do I think insects have a right to exist? Hell no.

Empathy score: 8

Integrity

This is what you define it to be. For me it's honesty, character and doing what you say you're going to do. It took many decades of drama to learn what it meant and a couple of decades to get it right. I ain't perfect yet, but I'm getting better every day.

Integrity score: 8

My current overall Scale average, rounded down, is 7.

I need to expand on that secret skill. It usually happens after talking with a person for a bit, they move sideways, always facing to my right and offer me a profile of their face and then bam! It's like an acid trip where I've slipped into another dimension outside my body. Their face lights up and I see their true self, like all the veils have dropped away and the hidden persona emerges.

A few examples:

Steph and I had Piper at the vet ten years ago. As we were leaving and chatting with her she turned and I saw a face emerge that was contrary to her demeanor. She wanted nothing more to do with us and wanted us out the door. Got it.

One time I was standing in our Driggs kitchen having a drink with Karen, my bus driving partner in Teton Valley. She was chatting with Steph and she turned right and there she was: my wonderful, proud, dyke friend. Glowing brightly with her new dyke haircut she emanated gay pride, and I was proud.

Then there was the time I took my regular old senior to her lunch at the center. She was ninety, the embodiment of sweet old lady and everybody loved her. As she was going up the ramp with her walker I told her I would be a little late picking her up and it happened. What emerged from that kind old face was the face of a witch, the kind you see in movies, as she demanded to know why I would be late.

Sometimes I wonder if it's a skill, or a curse, but it is out of body and it's real.