(collection of past Homepage greetings and stories)
December 17, 2000   -to-   April, 10 2001

December 17, 2000

Howdy Holidays to you, my friends!

I just returned from my LA concert just in time to see beautiful, light snow-flurries in Seattle yesterday. The snow didnít stick but for three hours there were those dreamy, cotton-like puffs, swirling around the town and neighborhoods. It caused me to recall a winter I spend in Whitefish, Montana, where I ran one of the chair lifts on Big Mountain and smoked a fair amount of pot. Wheee! Of course, that was long ago and Iíve learned my lesson. (I NEVER run chair lifts anymore!)

That was the most beautiful winter of my life, walking everywhere in gigantic Sorrel Pac boots and showing up at my destination with a frozen beard and moustache. As I recall, I gained about 15 pounds that winter, something about sitting in a little phone-booth sized lift-shack and eating milk duds for lunch, I think. Plus, weíd go directly to The Place for beer and peanuts after work and the pounds just began to layer up.

Two days a week I would work the bottom of the lift, making sure people got their asses square onto the chair and did not have to ride all the way to the top of the mountain hanging by one boot (though that DID happen to a couple of the smart-asses, somehow).  It was such a fun job, standing out there in the deep snow while folks stood in line joking and laughing and having the time of their lives. The colors of their hats and sweaters and skis were so brilliant and happy against the clusters of falling snowflakes and the great, bowing, ice-covered trees. It was the first job I ever had where every single person I saw WANTED to be there. They were there to play and have a good time. It made my job really fun because everyone was glad I was there to do it.

Some days I would work at the intermediate station, half-way up the mountain and others, Iíd work all the way at the top of the mountain, where you could see Flathead Lake in the distance and all the way up into the Canadian Rockies. It was an awesome place for a boy from the Texas plains to be. Every single day I would feel like I surely must be dreaming. How could you live your entire life among dirt and weeds and dry, dusty plains and then suddenly find yourself in snowy mountains, where trees guarded the roads and shaded the neighborhoods, where everyone you saw was laughing and playing, telling stories or making some up?

When my friend Andy Robertson worked the intermediate station, Iíd make sure and get there early and ride up the lift a few minutes before him on my way to my station at the top of the mountain. Iíd jump off the lift at his station, open the door to the shack, which really was about the size of two phone booths, and shovel that thing full of snow, where it would just about reach his armpits. Then Iíd be all bent-over, cackling and snickering and would fall limp and laughing into another skyward chair and giggle hysterically until I got my first phone call from him when he showed up and managed to shovel enough snow out of his shack to actually get inside and use the phone.  "Hey, asshole! Did you leave the door to my shack open yesterday? Because the damn thing is full to my ears of packed snow!"  "Why no, Andy. I believe I shut that door quite firmly. So you say thereís some snow that got inside? Is it chilly in there?" Then Iíd burst out laughing and give myself away as the Mad Snow Shoveler.

He got me back though. All of us attendants would spend endless, bored hours in those shacks and we would end up drawing on the walls and writing poems. There was a couple decades of art on the walls before I ever went to work there. I tried to live up to the high quality that had gone before me and I drew a large map of Texas on the wall. The next time I worked that station Andy and my friend Paul had altered my map slightly. Texas had been subdivided into several other countries, the largest of which was Poland. I got a great kick out of their wit, though I did find it necessary to surreptitiously slip both guyís gloves out of their pockets one day at lunch and fill them with snow, making sure the middle finger pointed skyward as the gloves rode up and down the mountain on their own lift-chair. I even labeled them Andy and Paul so that the entire world could appreciate their sentiment.

Well, I guess Iíve rambled on enough. Those snowflakes just reminded me of some good olí times in Montana and I thought Iíd write Ďem down for you.  Iím still working on my book. In fact, the minute I finish this, Iím getting back to it. Itís taking me a few months longer than I thought but I think it will be worth the delay. Thanks for checking in on me, I hope your holidays are loving and peaceful.

Yer olí fren, Michael

Jan 19, 2001

Howdy my fine wintertime friends,

Iím writing you from deep within a pocket of fog here in Seattle. At least, I think Iím still in Seattle, I wonít know for sure until the fog clears if the rest of the city is still with me. It reminds me of days in the seventies when Iíd eat half-a-pan of brownies and would have to wait days for the fog to clear so I could remember my housematesí names and how to get to the front door.

Sunday I drove up to the Skagit River where hundreds of Bald Eagles pause in their migration to feed on salmon. Iíve rarely seen so many eagles in such close approximation to each other. I saw five in one tree, their wing spans were five and six feet and even from a distance you could feel their power and fierceness. They seemed to be fighting and shrieking over who was going to get to eat that particular juicy salmon.

Christine and Kala and Bungee and I were watching from across the river, passing my binoculars back and forth and arguing about whether eagles like popcorn or M&Ms best. Iíd brought both, thinking that eagles are bold and magnificent creatures and deserve to have options.

When a park ranger approached us and asked what the hell we thought we were doing feeding endangered birds of prey candy and popcorn I shoved the bags into Christineís lap and pretended to be deaf.  I pointed to my ears and in a very gutteral, poorly enunciated effort, grunted the words, "Urrs! Itís urrs!" and pointed at Christine.

Then I grabbed the rangerís gun and fired off a couple of rounds into his tires to prove that I was incapable of logical action, surely he would not hold me liable for that popcorn if he could see that I lacked good reasoning. I was careful not to blink at the series of loud gun-blasts for fear that would be hard evidence that I was not profoundly deaf.

Whee! What was so magnificent about my shooting spree besides my eventual apprehension and arrest was that about a hundred and fifty eagles soared into the sky at the sound of the explosions and were the most majestic sight youíve ever seen, wings gracefully flapping as they sailed up over the trees and toward WhiteHorse Mountain.

Christine was kind to me despite my betrayal and visited me in the Rockport jail and brought me the rest of the popcorn and M&Ms to share with my cellmates.  It hardly felt like jail, it was more like a birthday party or something. Nearly everyone in the cell was there for disturbing eagles and you would not believe some of the upstanding people from the community who think nothing of tossing a frisbee at a mighty eagle or trying to catch one in a butterfly net. There was a preacher there who had been arrested for dressing up as a salmon and flopping in the water at the foot of the tree with the most eagles. He claimed that he was not going to actually capture any eagles but I felt his defense was weak in light of the fact that he was carrying a large, zip-lock freezer bag and a turkey cookbook.

Well, this has gotten way sillier than Iíd intended, fog can do that to a fellow. I had no intention of writing this this morning. Iím taking a break from working on some new songs and on my book and was just moved to get something new on my website. I was deeply troubled when I received an email this morning from a fellow who told me how much he was enjoying reading the chapters of my upcoming book on my website. What!? Did I ever say anything that suggested that these silly ramblings are the actual chapters of my book? I hope not, because it just ainít so. Iím not saying there is nothing silly in my book, thereís lots of humor but it is not quite as goofy as most of what you read on my website. The more I write, the more Iím enjoying remembering times and events and people in my life and the things that we went through. And now that Iím actually getting much better at writing, Iíve been going back and re-writing many of the early chapters because I think I can do a better job now.

I just sent out a letter to the couple of hundred folks who have pre-ordered my book so that theyíd know what Iím up to. Iíve decided not to do a springtime retreat this year, for the first time in seven years, so that I can put more energy and time into my book. Itís worth it to me and I feel that the chapters are getting to be better and better and I want to make it them rich and meaningful and enjoyable as possible.

At first, I thought I was writing a book for the folks who know my music and that allowed me a certain leeway in the way I referred to things and described events, certain information is a given if you know me already. But then I started getting interest from some publishers and decided that maybe I wanted this book to appeal to people everywhere, whether theyíd ever heard of me or my music or not. As a result, my writing has gotten better and more challenging. I love the process and seeing each chapter get better and better over time.

I guess Iíll end this bit of rambling now and get back to staring at the fog. I hope youíre doing well and I appreciate that you check in on me from time to time. Thanks for caring.

Yer olí fren, 
Michael Tomlinson

Feb 14, 2001

Howdy my friends, On this day before I fly to Denver for a concert, I really should shut this damn computer down and have my guitar in my lap, practicing old songs so I don't get to the middle of them onstage and forget the lyrics. Well, why mess with something that has become my trademark? See, I just don't sit around my house playing fifteen year-old songs. I still love them and when I'm in concert I get as lost in those songs as I ever did. I'm always interested in the new songs I'm creating so every time I pick up my guitar it's to see if any interesting new chord progressions or lyrics have shown up while I was watching Seinfeld reruns and walking my dawg.  Speaking of walking my dawg. I usually stop by my friend Christine's house and take her dawg Kala, too. Kala is half-German Shepard and half-golden retriever. My dawg Bungee, is a Maltese, a ball of white fluff and often mistaken for a fuzzy house shoe with little legs. I'm a believer in dawgs getting some good, hearty exercise and so it's a challenge to find just the right pace with a seventy-pound dawg and a seven pound one on leashes. I walk at a fairly brisk pace and take them over several tall hills and down long paths by Lake Washington and pretty much make an afternoon of it. I'm sure we're a real sight - Bungee is strung out behind me with her fifteen foot leash stretched out fully, and Kala is way in front of me on her twenty-five foot leash. Crossing busy streets can be a circus. I just take off running and hope for the best. Bungee, as small as she is, could actually lead me all day long if she had a mind to. She's got incredible stamina for a little dawg and walks fast when she thinks there's a reason to, but she believes she has the psychological advantage if she stays far behind me. She feels that she has more freedom that way. She reminds me of myself when I was a teenager and would try to avoid being in situations where my dad could look too closely at me and determine that I needed a haircut. Bungee is not worried at all about haircuts, she just wants to be certain that she can sniff every post, rock, clump of grass or mound of dirt that we pass, and she feels that she can accomplish this if I don't see her. (I believe - as advanced as her thinking is - that she lacks an understanding of what it means to me to feel dead-weight on the end of the leash) I understand that she has a great little sniffer on her and that when she smells the urine of other dawgs, she is seeing rainbows of rich and colorful life experience in her mind's eye. A universe of flavors and colors unfold and she is in total ecstasy, smelling the fragrant tales of dawg fights and new litters, cat-chases and poor diets. It's a wonderful world of history that she inhales off a month-old sidewalk stain that I can barely even see. I, on the other hand, have tried many times and cannot enjoy sniffing things that are that close to the ground. I prefer to get good exercise when I'm out walking. I find that taking three steps and pausing for two minutes, over and over again, does very little for my cardiovascular system other than stress it out with mounting irritation. At the same time that Bungee is putting on the brakes behind me, determined that she will anchor me with her solid seven pounds, Kala has spotted a cat and is jerking on the leash ahead of me with the force of a bull. Something has to give and unfortunately, according to the laws of physics, it must always be the seven pound pooch. It is for that reason that many people think that Bungee is a flying dawg. Actually, she does not fly in the literal sense of the word, she just sails. Please don't think I'm cruel, I have a very snug fitting little harness on her so that I may flick my wrist and the little fluffy k-9 will loft gently into the air, doing breezy somersaults into my arms. It's gotten to be one of our favorite tricks. In fact, I've made a few bucks doing it on Sundays in the park.

Well, enough about dawg walking. I guess it's a very telling thing that as I get older, instead of tales about backstage shenanigans, drunken car chases and tourbus orgies, I have settled into the occasional story about shoveling snow or walking a dawg. Please don't think that I've lost the will to be outrageous and unruly. I just reserve it for special occasions when there is a handy place to nap nearby. I've been having a great time writing my book. It's really such an enjoyable thing to revisit friends and times in my life and to write about them and explore them again in my mind. I sometimes sit laughing so hard over a certain episode that I can't even write. And then, of course, I get stuck sometimes, trying to find a way to make something that I recall as being fantastic, actually read that way on the page. Most of the time I feel that I'm able to do it and that has made it even more pleasurable. I appreciate that you check in on me now and then. I just noticed that I've had over 16,000 visitors to my site in the last year. I really do hope it's not the same person each time. But I'm glad you stop by now and then to see what's up. I'll be listing a few new concerts soon so stop back by and see what's happening. Thanks for visiting and for listening to my music.

Yer ol' fren, Michael

February 23, 2001

Howdy my friends,

I just returned from my Denver concert, which was one of my all-time favorites. Swallow Hill has a fantastic theater with wonderful sound and the great crowd just made it a magical evening for me. I even read three pages from one of the chapters of my upcoming book and luckily, people laughed when they were supposed to. Even harder than I thought they would.

When I awoke last Friday in the middle of the night, snow was falling in large clumps and I got two distinct feelings as I looked out my window upon it.  One, I was terribly worried that my flight might be cancelled and worried about what I was going to do about my Denver concert. Two, I was disappointed because I was going to have to leave Seattle just when it was at itís most beautiful. It only very rarely snows here. Maybe once every few years is there any accumulated snow on the ground. I look forward to those times, being one of the lucky people who doesnít have to commute in it, I think more of shoveling my neighbors walks, tossing a few snowballs at old sweet old ladies, and meeting friends at a local pub to sip brews and watch the snow come down. I was really disappointed to have to miss that.

I stayed in Denver for a few days with my old friend Barbi Ellen Springer and her husband and son. They have these two dogs that are unlike any Iíve ever seen and I fell in love with them. Dodger looks like a cross between a black lab and a greyhound, completely black but with the slender, long nose of an Afgan or greyhound. I bought Dodger a new toy because he was chasing something around the house that was absolutely pitiful. Everybody kept saying "Get your reindeer, Dodger! Get your reindeer!" And he would come back with a little piece of fuzz about the size of the tongue of my boot and pretty much that same shape. It tugged at my heart to see a noble beast like Dodger chasing some little square of cloth that used to be a stuffed reindeer so I bought him a large gorilla to chase. It pleased him to no end and it just a few minutes, Dodger had that ape completely sopping wet from licking it.

Dodger is the only tv-watching dog I have ever seen in my life. My dawg Bungee can be directly in front of the tv and she seems to see nothing. But if an animal of any kind comes on the tv, Dodger runs across the room barking, starts licking the screen and howling. Itís one of the funniest things Iíve ever seen. He will sit back with the family, watching tv and his expressions are astounding. He leaves us all in stitches the way he changes expressions with various events on the screen. We would all sit there watching him as he watched a program and went from slack-jawed awe to big smiles to intense interest. He is way more fun to watch than the actual programs.

Their other dog is Squattie. Squattie is a Brittish mutt who is the most endearing dog I have ever layed eyes on. The poor girl is fifteen years old and had a stroke after she came to the US. Sheís got a tumor of some kind on one side, sheís nearly blind and almost deaf and she is still the coolest dog Iíve ever seen. A total sweetheart. One of Barbiís friends calls her a Picasso dog because she is so abstract. Another calls her Tilt-a-whirl. She is all crooked and cock-eyed and just full of life. They could have sworn about a dozen times that she was going to die but Squattie just ainít through living yet. I babied her the whole time I was there and hated to leave her. But of course, Iíve got my own little seven pound dawg to dote on back here at home.

Getting out of Denver was not an easy thing - and not because I didnít try. It was a lovely sunny day until the time of my flight and then the sky dropped and fog was so heavy that you couldnít see a full block. We all sat there for six hours before they finally decided to tell us that it was a cancelled flight. Whee! Thatís my kind of news. Once before, years ago, I had to spend the entire night on the floor at the Denver airport. My friend Carson was with me and we picked out a nice comfy spot on the tile floor and took turns snoring all night.

This time, I didnít have to sleep on the floor. I got one of the very last hotel rooms available in town and got to sleep about five hours before I had to go back and try to fly home. I actually got on a plane and was marveling at my good fortune when they began to call names out and ask those people to come to the front of the plane. Mysteriously, they all disappeared, never to return. Finally, after another half hour, they called my name. I was reluctant to acknowledge them and considered changing places with a large Chinese woman, swearing that I did not know this Mieeeke Tomleekson person. But I gave in, grabbed my bags and walked off the plane. Because our plane was too heavy to fly in icy weather, they had to lighten the load by forty or so people and I was the last.

Once again I went to the counter and began to beg for some way to get home to Seattle because, well, because airports are not pleasant places to live in and I was burning out on it already. (Even though they swear you can live a long, healthy life on Burger King breakfasts and frozen yogurt). Iím not sure what it is but I just donít feel relaxed and well-rested in a concourse chair.

I finally got home last night and it was such a sweet thing to smell Seattle rain. It didnít even matter that I came home to find several large branches crashed on my porch and yard from the heavy snowstorm. I immediately walked out back and filled the pan I keep for feral cats with fresh food. Iím sure theyíd felt abandoned by me for being gone so long so I filled it to the brim and topped it off with fresh canned tuna. I think they may expect me to hire someone to come by the next time I travel.

Well, today was pretty well wasted for no other reason than that I was tired from traveling and unmotivated to move. However, tomorrow Iíll be back working on my book and enjoying the weather that already feels like spring around here. Thanks for checking in on me. If you were one of the folks at my Denver show, thanks so much for coming. It really was a great night for me.

Yer olí fren, Michae

March 20, 2001

Howdy my friends,

I should have updated this site the day after the Seattle earthquake and it would have saved me many hours typing to assure everybody that me and my little dawg were unscathed. Well, maybe unscathed is the wrong word. No buildings fell upon us, we didnít slip into any giant chasms in the earth. But we were both upset about the damn quake happening during lunchtime. My grape-jelly enchilada was just devastated and Bungeeís martini was completely ruined by all the shaking. Lunchtime is important to us and we were not happy about the disruption.

Let me first say, Iím upset that a man cainít do a few push ups and side-straddle hops without the fools on CNN telling the nation itís an earthquake.  Iím not saying no earthquake happened, itís possible that it did, but Iím fairly certain that the main ruckus was just me workiní out. I really should back off a little on the push-ups, not only are they starting to affect the weather, my damn arms are the size of a tree trunk. Which looks wonderful in a danskin but man, try to play guitar with shoulders like mine! I almost canít do it anymore. Iíll keep trying but if this trend continues, Iím going to have to discontinue being a concert performer and start singing karaoke or something. (I do a wonderful Neil Sedaka and a very credible Robert Plant)

Well, I just read what I wrote above and if I were anybody but me, Iíd be really worried for me. Please though, I write these silly things to keep my life from being too dull. Iíve reached the time in life where one of the most interesting things Iíve done lately is to drive out to Snoqualmie and help my friend Rick clean out his garage. Now, I must give myself some credit here, this just ainít any old messy garage. This is a garage that has stuff deposited into it three times a day, pile upon pile of goods and equipment, odd and ends that will never be used or even seen.

Rick and Ruth are keepers. By that, I donít mean that I think of people as Keepers and Those-you-get-rid-of, No, I mean, they keep every single thing that comes into their sphere of influence. Iíve seen Rick actually spot something blowing down the street and run out the front door and down the block to get it. It might be an old sweatshirt that is too small for him but heíll hold it up to the light and say, "Hmmm, Alden will be able to wear this by the time heís thirteen or so." Being horrified that he is adding yet one more thing to the pile, Iíll say "But Rick, Aldy is only three, man! Are you going to keep that for ten years?"

"Why yes, my son is worth it" He said with tearful eyes, as if that makes any sense at all. I ripped it wildly out of his hands and ran to the dumpster with it. I love Aldy too, but Iíll get him another damn shirt when heís thirteen.

"Rick, until we get the garage cleaned out, you may not acquire one more item." That was my rule if I was to help him.

Itís not that Iím cruel and discompassionate, I can understand a person wanting to conserve earthís resources and save every item they run across thatís not tied-down. But Iíve participated in three of Rickís moves of the past few years and they are hellish, depressing chores and I am determined to help him change his ways so that a skinny person at least, (not me!) might manage to slip sideways through his garage if say, a rabid dog was chasing him. That would not be possible in the current condition of the garage. That dog would be licking his chops and settling in for a nap about now.

The first time I ever helped Rick move was with my girlfriend at the time, MaryBeth, and my friend, Schteevie. Rick had invited us over for canapes and we were stunned to find that he was serving the store-bought kind so that we could hurry and eat and get right down to the task of moving him. We all looked around in horror at the thought, nothing was packed, I mean nothing. He handed us each an entire box of black, plastic garbage bags and said, "Start packiní, amigos." At first, it was fun, throwing a loaf of bread, some shoes, guitar strings and a rug in the same bag. But labeling each one got to be hard to do, youíd stand there for twenty minutes trying to rummage through what youíd just packed in order to write it on the outside. Eventually, we gave up on trying to pack things in a sensible way and just began to throw anything that would fit inside the bag. My personal favorite contained three bananas, two encyclopedias (A-b & R-T), a bicycle seat, important medicine, old underwear and the house keys. (He was three years finding them damn keys.)

It was a miracle that we managed it, but we actually got Rick completely moved from one house to another in four hours. Thatís packed, loaded, delivered and unloaded, in one evening. He had enough stuff to start a store. Any kind of store.

So last Saturday, I was dismayed to see much of the stuff weíd packed that night some six years ago, still taking up space in his garage. These are things that every two years, I hold up to Rick and say "Rick, I know for a fact, that you will never use this. Can we throw it away?"

"No way. If I get to running again, Iíll be able to wear those and Iíll be glad I saved them." The subject we are talking about is a bag of twenty-two pairs of summer shorts, which neither he nor I will ever be able to get more than an arm into.

After several hours of throwing items up in the air and only making the garage worse, I suggested that we stop for a beer and Rick readily agreed. I was covered in sweat and dust, he was a bit tidier since all heíd done for the last four hours was stop every three minutes and say "Wow! I didnít know I still had this! Iíd forgotten all about her. Listen what she wrote me!" Whereupon, Iíd pretend to listen closely while I ran the power vac and sucked up as many items as I could get away with.

The one thing we accomplished that day was that we built a magnificent work bench, a counter stretching boldly across the back of the garage, not so that Rick would have a place to work or to use his tools, which are legion and located in spider-webbed mounds all over the back of the garage, but so that he would have a place to stack more stuff as it comes in daily. Still, as we sipped our beers and looked at our handywork, admiring our carpentry skills and choosing to ignore the many pieces of expensive lumber weíd mis-cut and left lying useless on the floor, we felt manly and good inside. Sawdust and beer will do that to fellas and we had plenty of both.

At the end of the long day, we honestly couldnít say the garage looked any better at all, but that new wooden workbench was a monument to our pride as men. I imagined that the fellers who built them dang pyramids must have once felt much as we did at that moment. Then Ruth called us in for pizza and we had to reluctantly leave our shrine and run in the house before the kids ate all the best slices.

As always, I never know what silly things Iím going to write about here. I just wanted to take a little time away from my life and writing my book to say howdy to you,to thank you for checking in on me and to let you know that I survived the quake with my teeth intact. Thanks for listening and for caring if I made it or not. By the way, Iíll be listing a few new concerts over the next few months. I have some possible shows in Seattle, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe and Denver and Colorado Springs and Orlando. Iíll let you know about them if youíre on my mail list.

Yer olí fren, Michael

April 10, 2001

Howdy my friends, I was just thinking about you while I was mowing my yard and couldnít help but notice that not a single one of you showed up to rake the grass. Well, I guess if I really think about it, I havenít put all that much time into your yard, either.  What I have been doing is working on putting together a concert in Seattle. On May 6 Iíll be playing at the Nippon Kan Theater and you can click here to find out more. (Also, Oct 13, in Denver) It was an interesting weekend I just had. I became one of those people who I have so often cussed on the freeways. No, I wasnít putting on lipstick and reading the paper while I drove, Nor was I naked and hopping around in the back seat with the cruise control on. I was simply driving down the road and looked in my rear-view mirror and just about had a heart-attack when I noticed that there was a plume of white smoke billowing out of my tail pipe that was so thick you couldnít see the city behind me. If Iíd been running from the law after a bank robbery (something I almost never do) Iíd have gotten away scot-free. It looked like the prettiest fluffy-white cloud in the sky had dropped down to follow me and my little dawg wherever we went. Then it grew and grew into a damn cumulonimbus and I thought for sure, lightning and thunder and torrential rain would follow. Naturally, I cried like a little baby when I realized that what that cloud really stood for was the emptying out of my bank account. The cloud had come to tell me something very spiritual and powerful. It said, "Well. THAT was a wonderful engine while it lasted. Git out yer wallet fella, and give it to Mr. Mechanic. Git ready to eat rice and steamed vegetables for the next several months. White rice in fact, itís cheaper. And forget organic vegetables, you canít afford them. Ask your grocer for the stuff in back that has been sprayed in pesticides and run over with a fork lift. It looks bad but itís a pretty good deal for the money, sumbitch." That cloud had a real mouth on it.

What?  ME Worry?

I felt let down that my old Trooper had betrayed me. I only have 107,000 miles on it and I was getting ready for my first oil change, I swear. I was going to change it promptly at 130,000 miles. Iíve learned my lesson though and will take much better care of my next vehicle. Hereís what Iíve gleaned from the experience; Change our oil every weekend! If you canít, then at least every two. Finally, if things keep coming up and you just donít get around to it for oh, eleven years like me, well then, at least stick a potato in the tail pipe to keep innocent people from having to drive through a thundercloud. The last thing a fine family needs is to trail behind a fog-machine like that. (Though I did notice that the precious little kids seemed to love sucking it in and blowing it out their eyes.)

That smoke was so profuse, so thick and overwhelming, that I couldnít bring myself to drive it to the mechanicís shop. I had to call a tow truck and have it towed for just about the price youíd pay for a pretty nice suit. (Well, maybe Iím exaggerating, I still buy my suits at the Army-Navy store) Still, Iíve always hated to watch a vehicle being towed away from me. I just feel nekkid and helpless at the sight.

Speaking of car trouble, (werenít we?) I once sat in a long drive-up line at the bank on a Friday afternoon. It was in Dallas and about 113 degrees. The line was so long and everybody was sweaty and miserable and had just gotten paid and wanted to get some cool cash in their hands. I kept watching the needle on my gas gauge. It was not looking good for me. When it went an inch and a-half below the big E, I was giddy with anxiety and foreboding. Sure enough, just as it was my turn to ease up to the teller and flirt with her while she cashed my check, my car chugged three times and farted out a puff of exhaust and then died right there at the head of the long line.

I canít even begin to tell you the things that went through my mind, the excuses I thought of to holler out at all the cars honking at me. "Iím having a baby! Please! Go to another line!" Though I was rather portly back then, I didnít think that one would pass muster - even with Texans. I thought of two or three more excuses that might save me from having to tell anyone Iíd run out of gas in the bank line. "Oh shit! I thought this was the snow cone line. Can yall back up and let me out of here?" or "Yall are gonna think Iím crazy but I swear, I just canít do business with this teller. Did you see her eyebrows? If yall will just go around me, Iíll sit here and try to regroup."

As it turned out, the guy behind me, and the two guys behind him, decided to drive gently but firmly forward and nudge me up into position and then out of the damn way! I nearly burned out my emergency brake trying to slow down long enough to cash my check when I went by. I made it, though. And fortunately, we were on a hill. In Dallas, that means thereís an almost indiscernible slant to the road. I coasted down two blocks and wheeled right into a gas station and ordered up a buckís worth of regular and a road map.  In retrospect, I guess that wasnít a story about car trouble at all. Please forgive me.

Well, I must go work on some new songs and get back to writing that book Iíve promised you. I really am writing nearly every day and donít believe anybody that says I ainít. Unlike my habit with oil changes, Iím not dragging my feet with this book. Iím having a mighty good time with it. Itís not quite as silly as these little monologue ramblings I do, though youíll find plenty of laughs in it. I should be finished this summer. Thanks for checking in on me, I appreciate that you listen to my music and share it with friends now and then.

Yer olí fren, Michael Tomlinson

Can't nobody ramble like MT
Past Ramblings VI