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About skinnydragon

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    Cool Member

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    Ontario/NY border (both sides)
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    fine arts, fine food, fine wine

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  1. I had to come back for this post. Before the change over  I had you listed as one of my friends and I as one of yours. I remember the fun with your 'island eaglet' and 'playing sailing-tag with a fog bank' (when is a dot a boat?) pictures. Our disagreement over Pollacks 'Convergence' or your comment that I might have problem with regards to your 'poached pear' and my recipe suggestion. Last but not least your picture entitled 'prompt?' and my belief in the here after.

    This why this is addressed to you and not about you. I don't do the death thing very well as you may have noticed as this is my first comment or reply since your last posting to us. Every thing said by so many here, I echo and  wish for you until we meet again.

    Today is your thirty first birthday anniversary and where ever you may be I hope my words reach you. You will always be in my thoughts and prayers.


    Fair winds and following seas



    This song when I hear it will forever be a reminder to me of you.


    Peter Paul & Mary - Puff The Magic Dragon (with Lyrics) - YouTube





  2. Today is your birthday... :hug: I miss you, Skinny. :heart: 

    1. Timothy M.

      Timothy M.

      sigh, we all do... :( 

  3. :kiss: :hug::kiss:

    1. Emi GS

      Emi GS

      Happen to know anything about him Ben!!!? 

  4. I miss you, Skinny. :hug: Today's a rainy day, perfect for reading a good story- 18 Weeks.

    1. AC Benus

      AC Benus

      ...always a good day to read Skinny... 

  5. First, I’m sorry if I caused any trouble on GA. That was never my intention. No one wants to read about another person’s illness, so I’ll make this brief. Last Tuesday morning I went to our emergency room due to strong abdominal pains. After a scan, the ER doctor told me I have stage 4 pancreatic cancer; it had already spread to my abdomen wall and into my liver. I’m a realist, and there is only one prognosis – which is obvious. It’s just a matter of how long. The rest of the week was spent in a larger hospital on a ‘medical campus.’ During that time, I was mostly doped up and out of it. Only when I got home did my friends find and old laptop and connect it to our internet. I check into the ‘cancer hospital’ of that medical campus on Wednesday morning for a final test and hopefully a realistic appraisal of how much time I have left. It’s the only question that means anything, yet is the one they don’t want to answer. I guess it interferes with their sales pitch or something. I always thought cancer was something I didn’t have to worry about until I was older, especially this one. But it seems when you’re younger it is more common for it to be discovered in late stages because your body is strong enough to hide any symptoms. I can only write when I’m in pain. Then I take my knockout drop and fade away. This blog entry was written in Word, over five cycles so I could post it now. Thanks for all the good wishes sent my way, and thank-you to AC, who takes friendships seriously. OK, that's all I can write right now.
  6. Robbie is giddy. He can't contain himself. Oh, yes. He'll be out, in general, very soon. My interest on that day will be Daniel. He holds the key to so much in Robbie's future, when he is an 'out' gay boy. More than Nicola, who might even surprise us. But Daniel holds the keys to the kingdom. Nice chapter, Dodger!
  7. Well, can Voin do it? Can he shatter the color ceiling for Patti? I really don't know if he can. But he has a well-read column, so that's a plus. I can't predict the outcome -- after all, this is 1945 -- but I feel he's going to go a little further than the 'old college try.' AC, your description of the dinner was lovely, especially bringing in the sacrifices everyone made for the war effort. Maybe if the entire populace had to sacrifice even half as much as they did during WW2, there wouldn't be the cavalier entry into so many wars. Wars that only profit the industrial-military complex. I can't wait to see what Voin tries. Will he enlist Betty's help?
  8. Last paragraphs of chapter 6: For all practical purposes, that’s how Tuesday ends. I eat my cheeseburger to add to my memories, I drive Don home for his punishment, I return to my house for dinner with Mom and spend the rest of the night coming up with what I hope will be irresistible selling points for David. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Sandwiched in there somewhere, I told Mom about my weekend Florida vacation. When I wake up tomorrow, I’ll be eighteen! My body is trying to wake up. No, actually, my body is trying to stay asleep. It’s the one spooned behind me who is trying to wake me up. What? “Good morning, love. Happy birthday.” “Hmm. I’m having a weird dream. In it, my grounded boyfriend is in my bed. I think it’s early, but my eyes refuse to open and chase the dream away.” Don squeezes me a little more firmly. “It’s only six.” “OK. Now can you explain how you’re here? I thought you were grounded.” “What can I say? My mom always liked you best.” That makes me giggle. “Likes me enough to drive you out here at this absurd hour?” “No, that was Tom.” “Are you shitting me?” “He says he owed you one. Anyway, Barbie came with him, so the Lord only knows what they’ll get into on the way back to Daleville.” “You know, I really wish I had let myself see what a great guy he was sooner; it feels like I’ve lost years of friendship.” “You’re a strange duck.” “Why?” “Because you’re in bed with your naked boyfriend and we’re discussing Tom.” That’s when I give my eyes permission to open. Rotating in his arms, the kiss is not far behind. The kiss deepens, and then making love is not far behind. Afterwards, I purr as I find a way to stay nestled into his body. “Thanks for the birthday present, boyfriend. I have to admit, it’s a great way to begin my eighteenth year.” My confession of gratitude causes a brief flinch. My eyes fly open, only to see a wide smile quickly cover his face. But he can’t fool me. He’s still obsessing over the impending end of our relationship. I wish he could accept it as a fact and concentrate on the next stage of his life, like I have. It’s not healthy to live in the unattainable past! We shower, and I’m happy to see he has brought actual clothes for school today, although we have enough stashed at each other’s houses to probably get us through a week, without the least bit of inconvenience. In the kitchen, Mom wishes me a happy birthday by holding my face in her hands and planting a kiss right on my lips. “You are the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. Never forget it, Charles Stevens!” Don can’t resist. “Your name is Charles? I’ve been calling you by the wrong name all these years?” “Well, maybe I’ll stop using my nickname at Yale. ‘Charles’ sounds so much more sophisticated than ‘Chuck.’ I can’t write scholarly physics papers for worldwide distribution as Chuck, can I? I mean, we don’t talk about Al Einstein, Ricky Fermi or Petey Higgs, do we?” “Is this the name-change you were talking about at the beach?” SHIT. Can’t you keep your mouth shut for even a little, Don? Now Mom is suddenly all curious. “Name change?! What name change?” “He wants me to change my name to ‘Don,’ so everyone will be confused.” Of course, she doesn’t buy this for one minute. But at least, from the look on his face, Don realizes his goof. We have breakfast under the wary eyes of my mother. Don sacrifices himself, allowing the conversation to drift into the confrontation with Mrs. Miller and the little plan of the newspaper staff, the GSA and the student senate. We discuss his grounding and the uncomfortable hour he and Sarah spent in Mr. Field’s office. As we get ready to leave for school, Mom asks me if I’ll be home for supper. “As far as I know. There isn’t much going on today.” “OK, I’ll give you your present then.” Implicit in that statement is the fact we’ll discuss my name-change. During our fifteen minute drive to school, Don repeatedly apologizes about dropping the name-change bomb. Finally, he asks, “What exactly did you mean, you’re going to change your name?” “Look, love. I’d rather not talk about it until after I meet with my lawyer tomorrow. There’s no sense getting concerned over it if nothing’s going to happen, right? I promise you’ll be the first to know.” We arrive at school, and I see Sarah approaching. I decide to give him a smooch and head off to my first period class before she gets within earshot. I’m still unbelievably pissed-off by her putting my boyfriend in harm’s way. The morning is uneventful. Lunch period arrives and I turn from the cafeteria line with my tray of food only to see Sarah sitting with Don. For a moment, I think seriously of opting for Tom and Barbie, but I can’t do that to my boyfriend, especially after his romantic presence this morning. Sarah’s probably got all that factored in anyway, so I decide to grant her a little victory. “Hi, Don; Sarah. How did it go this morning? Getting the edition all ready to print?” Naturally, it’s Sarah who answers. “Happy birthday, Chuck! You ran away before I could wish you one this morning. About the newspaper, we’re virtually finished. We’ll print tomorrow and distribute Friday, so everyone will have it to read for the weekend. With the paper in all the students’ homes, it’ll help with Tuesday’s board election. I hear Mrs. Stozer and Mr. Goerss are going to be flooding the mailboxes over the weekend with election fliers containing photos of their opposition in handcuffs.” “Sarah, speaking of that, have you found out who the young guy was – the one with the sign?” “He’s probably just some relative.” “Sarah. Take him seriously. He’s not from Daleville. You have to find out who he is and what kind of threat he might pose. Don’t ever take these people lightly!” “OK. Will you stop being mad at me if I do?” “Probably.” I give her a little smile. Over the rest of the lunch I get filled in on lots of little details, like how the Syracuse TV station was notified and her interview with the reporter. There was also the worrying little item that Martha Miller has not been seen since the confrontation! The afternoon passes in all its final-exam-review glory until seventh period finally arrives. I go to my library office, but since no one had asked to see me, I am free to take pictures. After some candids of students studying, one couple lip-locked behind the back shelves, and the librarian’s wide variety of facial expressions, all scowling, I begin to energize my pattern-eye, looking for interesting combinations of geometry, light and shadow. After several shots, I return to my base and notice the intriguing angle the “New Arrivals” bookcase, which I usually hide behind, makes with the regular shelves. The Canon is in front of my eye while I try to frame the shot properly. Just when it’s perfect, I squeeze the shutter, and as I hear the click, it’s Sarah’s face that fills the viewfinder. WTF? “Sarah?” “Are you taking pictures of me, or did I ruin your shot?” “No shot is ever ruined, Sarah. It’s just sometimes not what you were expecting to get.” “So, not expecting to get me, huh?” She has a way of making me smile – sometimes. “Barry Coulton.” “The sign guy?” “Yep.” “That name sounds vaguely familiar. Not Barry, but Coulton.” “How about, Josiah Coulton?” “Yeah. That’s it! But I don’t know why.” “Here’s a hint. He’s been dead for three and a half years.” “I would have been a freshman.” “OK, I’ll refresh your memory. He was one of the two students who beat your friend David with baseball bats.” “And died in prison.” “Committed suicide in prison, the same night the other student did the same thing in a different prison.” “Really? A different prison? I never knew that. That sounds so unlikely.” “All this was after the teacher who was with them died in prison. That one was a murder.” “What are you trying to get at, Sarah?” “I’m trying to say, I apologize. You were right. We have to take this seriously. I contacted that TV reporter and she promised to do some research into Barry Coulton.” “Thanks, Sarah.” “Still mad at me?” “I guess not.” “Oh, I almost forgot! Martha Miller. She hasn’t mysteriously disappeared; she decided it would be wise to go to a ‘safe house’ while the custody battle over Shawn – which will hardly be a battle – continues to its inevitable conclusion.” “Wow. But that makes me feel so much better. Does Don know?” “Yes. If you don’t mind, I’ll walk you to your car. I have to tell Don about the newspaper meeting tomorrow.” We do walk together and Don approaches with an arched eyebrow. “You guys kiss and make up?” I smile, shake my head and get into the Mustang as Sarah talks about the last few details they should finish tonight before the final meeting tomorrow morning. Surprisingly, today a few ‘clients’ show up for Don at Kory’s. It mostly involves graduation-day plans and a few Prom hiccups. And yes, Don and I are going to the Prom. I should probably get fitted again because all these cheeseburger memories I’m packing away might have changed my size a bit. Later, at home, I realize I need to come clean with my mother. “I didn’t really want to talk about this until after I see my lawyer tomorrow. There could be consequences I’m not aware of and it’ll just get dropped. I haven’t told Don for the same reason.” “But Don seems to know.” “Not really. I foolishly let it slip while we were at the beach Saturday. But I didn’t tell him what I was planning to do.” “Do you want to wait and tell me tomorrow?” “No. I’ll tell you now. I’m not trying to sneak anything by you – honestly. I planned to ask for your input as soon as I found out if it even was feasible.” And so I spend the next twenty minutes filling Mom in on the background, my ultimate concept for the center and my name-change plans. All the while, I watch her carefully, trying to discover if her body language betrays any hostility to my desires. I can’t detect any. In fact, I think I see the opposite. When I’m finished, she holds my face, as she did this morning, and kisses me. “I’m very proud of you. I hope the lawyer sees no problem, because I think it’s a warm and wonderful idea.” “The name-change, or the concept for the center?” “Both! You’re everything a mother could hope for.” That stamp of approval puts me into a peaceful mood for the rest of the evening, as I refine how I want to talk to the attorney. Thursday becomes my second senior skip-day. This time, I text Don, so he isn’t surprised. I also convince Mom to call my absence in as an appointment, so the school doesn’t come down on me. I don’t need a scolding from Mr. Field. On my way to Syracuse, I realize that the legitimacy of my absence precludes it from being a senior skip-day. I also realize that means I have a few more legitimate, illegitimate ‘skip-days’ remaining. Soon, I’m parking in the lot of an impressive building with a large medallion-shaped sign, announcing this as the ‘Law Offices of Matthew, Batter, Gould and Edwards.’ A very friendly lady greets me at the reception desk. “May I help you, sir?” As soon as I realize she’s talking to me – sir? – I respond. “Charles Stevens. I have an appointment with Mr. Gould.” She checks her screen. “Ah, yes. Please have a seat and someone will be right with you.” I barely have enough time to get comfortable when the elevator door opens and another smiling lady approaches me. “Charles?” “Yes.” I stand and return her smile. “Come with me.” Together we disappear into the elevator for a ride up to the fourth floor. She walks to an etched glass door, taps, and then opens it. “Mr. Stevens is here to see you, sir.” Soon I am face to face with Mr. Gould again. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen him. I definitely remember not being a ‘Mr.’ then. He immediately rises and strides over to me, hand extended. “Charles! My, what a fine young man you’ve become.” After a warm handshake, he ushers me to a leather chair. He takes an identical one beside me. “First, I noticed from your file that you turned eighteen yesterday. Happy birthday! Welcome to the world of adulthood, except for legally drinking, of course.” He chuckles. “So, before we get into why you’re here, please bring me up-to-date on your life these last few years.” I do, and he pays close attention. “Valedictorian! – I’m impressed. I see you haven’t changed your mind about attending Yale. After we’re finished today, I’d like to discuss your brother Carl a bit. I’m happy you had the courage to meet with him. His new career so near Yale can turn into extra support for you, as I’m sure you’ve figured out. Now, to what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?” “I need to understand my trust fund more clearly. Does being eighteen affect anything? How has it all worked up to now, and are there changes we should make for the future?” “I must say, Charles, I’ve never had an eighteen year-old ask such an impressive question. In fact, most thirty year-olds wouldn’t. Well, let me work this out the best I can. If at any time you become confused, stop me. This trust was formed long before I was at the firm. It seems obvious that your father was from a wealthy family. It’s also obvious he wanted the best for you. Being married with family and on a career track in the army made it important that whatever he established be independent and untraceable back to him. In fact, whoever set this up was quite a bit above the normal broker we might be expected to encounter in Syracuse. My guess is it was the McCane family’s broker, probably from New York. “What makes you think that?” “Well first, he was very clever in his choice of funds. The last thing your father wanted was for you or your mother to have complex tax consequences. So the first thing he did was assure all taxes would be prepared by us.” “You mean my mother doesn’t do her own taxes?” “Never. Either will you. I’ll contact you each year at tax time to retrieve any tax forms sent to you. For example, if you get a job. But the trust is heavily invested into safe and secure investments. The bulk of these are New York State Bonds and Funds of those MUNI bonds. The return doesn’t appear as large as other investments, but the totally tax-free environment, both Federal and State, in an ‘untouched’ trust for eighteen years, has yielded much more than most other investment might have, primarily because it never dropped in value, due the vagaries of the stock market. So, it was a steadily rising graph whose slope kept increasing. Look, this is its value I showed you two years ago, and this is the figure today.” He’s pointing at two numbers I can’t get my head around. How could a ‘safe’ investment increase so much in but two years? “That increase alone could fund half my total Yale costs!” “Exactly. It’s why I told you the cost of your education would have little significant effect on the value of the trust. On top of it, every thousand dollars you remove is worth exactly that, a thousand dollars. There’s no tax due. It’s both Federal and State tax-free!” “What if I move to a different state?” “Then we’d need to do some work. We wouldn’t just willy-nilly switch to that state’s Muni bonds. Some states aren’t really so solvent. We might need to change the structure of the investment objectives of the trust. But it’s nothing you need to worry about for years. You’ll still be a resident of New York while attending college.” “OK, thanks for that explanation. So now I see how the trust got to where it is today. What kind of access do I have to it, now that I’m eighteen? Don’t worry, I have no intention of buying a Lamborghini or anything. I simply need to know what my boundaries are, so I can plan my life better.” “Another good question, Charles! Naturally, the founders of the trust placed tiered access. Your trust, by the way, is totally separate from your mother’s. In fact, about the only thing you’ve accessed is the few thousand dollars for your car and I see you just booked an airline ticket to Florida.” “Oh, let me explain that.” He interrupted. “No, Charles, you do NOT explain that. This is your money. It’s none of my business what you use it for. If you wish to ask for advice, fine. But you do not ever have to explain to me or anyone.” “OK, thank you for clarifying that. It’ll be difficult at first, but I’ll eventually catch on. By the way, I will tell you why I bought that ticket a little later, because it has to do with something I’m working on. First though, tell me about the tiered access. Does that mean at different ages I gain control of more of the money?” “Yes, that’s exactly what it means. First, any educational costs are exempt from the tier limits. Tuition, books and board at Yale are all available to you, every penny. Up until yesterday, one-percent of any interest or dividend income was available to you. It’s how you got the car. Incidentally, you barely touched what was available. But as of yesterday, you can now access all the trust income, each year. As of your twenty-fifth birthday, the entire trust comes under your control. Knowing what I do about you, I’m sure you will be a careful steward of this wealth. I have no doubt.” “Thank you, Mr. Gould. It’s all quite sobering. Now I think I can afford my idea. Let me explain.” I fill him in about my plans for the center. I also provide the background, including what Carl told me about Danny and, of course, Shawn. I realize I’m actually in the position to fund it all, but it isn’t what I want to do. I explain that to him as well. “That’s quite remarkable, Charles. I’m impressed, and I’m old enough to not be impressed by much. So you and David do about eighty percent of the funding, with the rest coming from fund-raisers to keep the center in the eyes and mind of the community.” “That’s it, in a nutshell.” “How do you plan to administer this center?” “Well, I think I might need legal help.” I give Mr. Gould a shy smile which causes him to explode in a laugh. “Yes, I think you will. Let’s make an appointment for early next week. You report to me about your success with David and I’ll explain all the legal ins and outs of this center.” “Oh, one last thing.” I notice him smiling at me, waiting for another shock. “Can I change my name? Will that cause any trouble with anything we’ve talked about?” “No trouble, but what do you mean, change your name?” I take out my phone and show him the picture. Mr. Gould does not jump to any conclusions. His stare bounces between the picture and me. “This isn’t you, is it, Charles?” “No.” “It’s your brother, the one who died.” “Yes. Carl gave it to me. It was taken shortly before Danny was killed.” “This is uncanny, Charles.” That’s when I explain the rest and complete depth of my plans. Mr. Gould simply shakes his head. “Of course, Charles; we can accomplish all of this!”
  9. Two lovely Cinquains, Parker. The first is sort of prophetic of something about to happen. Of course, we know exactly what it is, and I delighted in your description of "quieting the bones." That leaves us with exactly the right feel. The second, with its astro-nomical/-logical vision, lifts our sight upward to the prince who rules over the coming season. Also very well written and visually stimulating. I enjoyed these very much.
  10. Thank YOU, jess! I was a little startled to see a review of '18 Weeks' in my notifications. Your comments remind me how I too like to re-read a story I've enjoyed after letting it "sit" for a bit. Suddenly I notice all kinds of little hints the author has dropped and usually end up kicking myself for ever being surprised the first time through when something happened. Glad you're still enjoying David and the gang!
  11. Ah! Finally caught up. Voin is facing a tough little challenge. The fact his complaints from 1945 are still echoed today tells us something right there. It's ironic that the Dixiecrats of Voin's era were so incensed when Truman integrated the armed forces, that they formed their own wing of the Democratic party and were a force to be reckoned with. More ironic, that they left that party when President Johnson passed the civil rights act. And where did they go? They took over the Republican party, which no longer represents the conservative vales of Robert Taft or Barry Goldwater. It is now the KKK without the hoods. OK -- sorry -- end rant. Study history kids! You learn a lot. Back to your lovely chapter. It'll be interesting to see how Voin's desires, fueled by Duffy's ever-so-clever concrete examples, ultimately intertwine and blossom this holiday season. You are weaving a lovely tapestry, AC. Thank-you so much!
  12. Ah, chapter two -- just as riveting as the first was! Voin seems to be a real person, totally involved in his subjects. And Duffy has woven a real story of near but not-yet acceptance. These times must have had a great impact on those who lived them. My mother passed down to me stories her mother related. She worked for the Navy during WW2, inspecting devices. (I was never told what these devices were, even though everything was long past being 'secret,' but not to those involved -- a far cry from today!) However, the unfairness of the treatment of black people was drummed into my head -- again and again. And so, I can read this with a smile of recognition. Very well done, AC!
  13. Duffy and Betty sound like the perfect pair to begin to weave the latest Christmas story around, AC. Everything in here feels so 'right' for the times after WW2. I can't wait to see how this develops, and I won't!! I see you've posted two more chapters while I was distracted elsewhere. Great start.
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