Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hammock Days

I've been ill for about two weeks, but am now on the mend. My wife maintained that I had swine flu as retribution for my refusal to have the shot for it. In any event, whatever it was flattened me but good.

One positive thing about falling ill during the Southern Spring is that the days are perfect for recuperation in a hammock. Just the perfect place to be in the very short time between when it is too cool to lie out and when the mosquitoes make it impossible.

Any hammock will do but an old one is best. The rope has a certain smell that is redolent of good memories. Memories of carefree summers spent by a lake, lolling over the green grass. Until father called for yard work assistance, anyway. The good hammocks come with a canvas covered pillow which is more or less weatherproof. It has a great scent also, reminding the recliner of small wooden sailboats with canvas sails. Or, if you were like me, of the canvas flotation cushions your dad would put on the seats of the rowboat he would use to take you fishing.

You do not need much gear to have a fully acceptable hammock experience. Birds chirping. Sun slanting across the tree branches overhead. A good travelogue or food book is perfect. My companion for hammocking this past week has been Feasts of a Militant Gastronome, by Robert Courtine. Courtine's rendition of his greatest meals is perfect to keep the hammockite interested long enough to fade blissfully into the dozing state. If one were not ill, a nice beer such as a lemon flavored shandy would be a useful accessory...

Perhaps a couple of bottles. And a very small plate of summer sausage and sliced cheese. If one were not ill, that is.

There is nothing bad about a hammock, even taking into account the enhanced difficulty a person over fifty has in entering and exiting one. But as David Niven noted in his marvelous book The Moon's A Balloon, there is an old proverb that says when the soft breezes blow and the sun is warmest on your back, the breezes are planting the seeds of weeds into your garden. In my case, the seeds of weeds took the form of a nine pound Papillion dog, shown here in his normal state of repose...

Imagine my state of bliss. In my old hammock, Courtine lying open on my stomach, dozing away in the glory of an American Southern spring afternoon. Birds chirping, no doubt. Even without shandy and sausage, an agreeable scene. Apparently rather agreeable, even inviting, to the casually wandering Papillion nearby. Now, Papillions are wonderful companions. They crave company and brim with self confidence. They are very nimble. They think they can jump anywhere and hit the target. I think this is true if our Papillion Grammy is any indication. He, who, without even the decency of a small yip, launched himself into the suspended net which was already filled to overflow with well padded, sleeping Epic.

I am here to tell you that it is not easy to maintain the somewhat delicate balance required to stay in a hammock when a flying toy breed skids to a landing on your stomach. The arms and legs tend to flail. The head snaps up to unsightly angles. Books fly. Shandy [if any were present] spills. Sausage and cheese [ditto] flies about. I am pleased to report that, even in my diminished state, I managed to remain in the hammock. With dog intact. I suspect that I could have had some form of a career as a circus act.

Despite being ill, I cherish my chance at a hammock afternoon. And the Epic gift of appreciation it brought to me. For a place to have a hammock. For the pretty sky and sunlight and trees. For a goofy little dog. But I will say this. If anyone sees me at the beach this summer [an unlikely event, I promise], those aren't four small paw tattoos on my stomach. They are just bruises.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Master

My Dad used to say that there are people that win trophies and then there are champions. Dare I say that Mr. Mickleson's victory today at The Masters golf tournament is the triumph of a good husband? And a true champion? A lovely putt at the eighteenth green and a rush into the arms of his ailing wife who was able to leave bed for only the first time this week. A tear running down his cheek as they held each other. That says it all.

Here's to you Mr. M. Here's to you. A champion, indeed.

I Must Confess

As reported in the New York Times Friday morning, the Twitter-fueled controversy in France regarding alleged infidelities of both Mr. and Mrs. Sarkozy has been raging on. It is time to come clean. It is true. Carla and I have been running around for years. It is not her fault. She really could not help herself once she started reading The Epic. And, well, met me of course.

As for Mr. S, all I can offer is a Parisian shrug of the shoulders and a bland c'est la vie. How could she stay with you after meeting a 51 year old, slightly out of shape, itinerant storyteller? You never had a chance. Despite your powerful job, your really great clothes and the fact that your hair is a lot better than mine. Even your ability to get a dinner reservation absolutely anywhere didn't help you. After all, and as you well knew, one of her recent albums was titled...

Now that this rumor has been, um, put to bed, the Twitters and the press can take a day off to gather their collective strength before once again beginning the relentless search for truth and real news. Mr. S, soldier on as best you can. She is still married to you. In name anyhow.
Photo Credit: New York Times 4/9/10.

Personal Security Note: Before this post gets picked up by some British tabloid as "confirmation" of what they have been running about Mr. and Mrs. S, and before Mr. S turns the guns of the French Secret Service on me, let me say that all of the above is satire, as will be apparent to return readers. I do admire her though. Perhaps not as much as the fellow goggling at her legs in the photo from the NYT, above, whose place has probably already been ransacked by the FSS.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Eternal Mysteries Explained

Eternal Mystery One: The cord tangle. I have a typical number of things with cords attached to them. Most of these things are devices that I take with me when I travel and I typically carry them in my briefcase. I am careful with my devices and their cords. No matter how careful I am, however, every single time I take one device or the other out of my briefcase its cord is hopelessly tangled into a snarl with any other cord in the case. It never fails. Resulting in a good portion of time wasted untangling them. Can you tell I am not an engineer? It always mystified me that inanimate objects could wrap themselves up in each other with no outside force being applied to them.

Eternal Mystery Two: The cord drawer. A variation of EM1 is the drawer I have at home in the kitchen into which every miscellaneous thing is tossed. Extension cords. Picture hanging wire. Screw drivers. Those slider pad things one is supposed to put under the feet of furniture when it is shoved about the floors. If one ever remembered that one owned the slider things before shoving the furniture around, that is. You know the drawer. Everyone has one. Every time I open that drawer, there are more cords in there and they are also in a total snarl. Another curious example of the tangelocity of inanimate rope-like objects.

I thought about these mysteries at random intervals for most of my adult life. Then, epiphany. I found myself (shockingly) in an airliner, rocketing along at thirty thousand feet. Holding (shockingly) a rocks glass with vodka in it. The proverbial scales fell from my eyes. All became clear. The answer to both EM1 and EM2 struck me like a bolt. The reason that seemingly inanimate cords behave the way they do with no help from me.

They are mating.

When the Nobel committee toddles around asking about the 2011 banquet, send them this way.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Never A Day Late

There is a place in your town. And mine. A place where a direct connection is made between people in need and people who can help. A place where hunger is confronted straight on and, for a time at least, defeated.

Minimal bureaucracy. Maximum effect. Just sleeves rolled up, helping out. One hand reaching out for another. Making a difference.

When you look into it, you will be shocked at how many little kids there are without a home. And without a decent meal. Not to mention parents. The elderly. Sons and daughters. Wives and husbands. Here in what is still the horn of plenty.

That place in your town is called a food bank. This is a day on which several good folks decided to make a difference. The fine bloggers at Pigtown Design and Easy and Elegant Life have taken it upon themselves to make a call for others out here in the blogosphere to stand against hunger. And to make a difference in the most direct and immediate way possible.

Please take a moment today to bring some food to your local Food Bank. Or if you like, click over to http://feedingamerica.org/ and hit the donation button. They will make sure your donation gets put to immediate, direct and good use. As my son would say..."It's just the right thing, Dad."

Thanks to Chris at Easy and Elegant Life and Meg at Pigtown Design for taking this initiative. And thanks in advance to all of you Epics for helping out. Now is the time. Take a hand.

Please help out in this worthy effort which is even more critical this year. I was inspired again this year by the sight of my son giving a fellow a long-saved pocket full of money. Just because the man asked for help.