Quiet moment at home with Burnsie

I lost a karaoke friend last week. A man who always listened to others sing, who applauded others’ effort, who loved a wide-range of music, and who, himself, was shy and awkward standing in front of others and therefore generally sat at his table and sang his Tony Bennett or Spanish songs. By his gentle ways, Bobby made karaoke non-competitive and simply about a love of singing and music. They found him dead in his bathtub with the shower running.

I met him through karaoke where I go in Albuquerque to sing on Thursday nights. A few years younger than I, he was retired from a 30-year career with IBM and enjoying his retirement. As a young Latino in New Mexico he sang in a band, but like me, got away from singing as a career-minded adult. Bobby was generally first in the Thursday night karaoke rotation because he was ‘first’ at Sunset Grille & Bar, his favorite hangout.

Bobby’s surprise death reminds me of the fragility of goodness and what a sweet gift of aging it is to reach that place of self-awareness where those coming into and out of our lives can be welcome teachers. The quiet, non-assertive ones are the best instructors. Like Bobby, they teach by what they ARE, not by what they say.

Bobby and I shared a mutual love of sports cars and hats, so I knew Bobby was already ensconced inside when I saw his little red roadster Mercedes SLK 230  Kompressor in the parking lot and I’d anticipate the “hat” he’d be wearing. Sometimes a newsboy cap, sometimes a baseball cap, occasionally a panama gentleman’s hat or beret — always a hat he wore indoors and out, often different, always a part of this man and his sense of himself.

Blogger in new and 'different' western hatI remember complimenting his hat one night and mentioning The Men’s Hat Shop in downtown old Albuquerque as a fun favorite store to browse. “Oh, I love that store!” was his reply. Two senior men, by way of a hat fetish, instantly in touch with the ‘Boy’ still inside them.

I miss you, Bobby. We were two old singers laying it out. I’ll sing one of your favorites, Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”, for you on Thursday nights. Thanks for coming into my life, if only briefly, in our ‘Sunset’ chapter. Your non-competitiveness and strong sense of yourself were a joy to me. You showed me gold in you and where to mine some in my own soul.

Here’s to you, Bobby! You’re done singing in the shower at home. Belt it out where you are now, drowning out those harps. Sing it because you own it!

I hope somewhere along those streets of gold you find the ultimate hat shop where you are grinning from ear to ear trying on fun-crazy hats.

Joseph Harvill, Scottiephile


Contemplative moment at home with Burnsie

The Rio Grande River irrigation water came to my old place last week. The agricultural growing season cycles once again in the Rio Grande Valley south of Albuquerque. As if on cue this Easter, an itinerant hen hatched out fuzzy chicks down at my donkey shed.

Easter chicks at blogger's barn 2015My Las Golondrinas, old New Mexico hasienda, sitting along the historic Camino Real, is bisected north/south by an ancient irrigation ditch, or acequia, that feeds area farmlands by rotated, controlled flooding.

No one is happier to see the water return to our ditch each spring than my Burnsie. You see, Burns is that rare Scottish Terrier who is a water dog. He doesn’t just enjoy splashing water, he exults in it.

So last week end when the water was up and I grabbed my shovel to head for my grass field to prep for flooding, Burnsie was all wiggles at the gate! He knows when I first crank open the turn wheel at the turn-out valve there is vigorous water surging at the opening, which he greets with lunging and barking celebration.

Burnsie splashing waterBut the best part of all to Mr. Burns is the wild action at the 12 inch “bubbler” opening some 15 yards away where the water arches up and sprays out under gravitational force. He runs side to side, barking and snapping at the spray, then takes off running full steam ahead, splashing wildly down the path of the flowing irrigation water as it makes its way into my field. Then, when he’s thoroughly soaked and dripping wet and his mood revved up to serious RPMs, his crowning act is rolling repeatedly in loose earth so his winter ‘Highlander’ coat is clotted with choice New Mexico high desert sand and soil from his eyebrows to the end of his tail.

This rite of Spring at Las Golondrinas is Easter Celebration to my Burnsie, annual resurrection of a simple kind, an uncomplicated Scottie-style celebration of Life itself.

I watch his grubby, earthy soul dance and I’m ashamed how much I demand of life before I can “be happy”, ashamed how little it actually takes to authentically celebrate Life.

For sheer exuberance, unadulterated joy of what is basic and simple, of what is real and sacred, Burnsie’s ‘Easter Celebration’ is good as it gets.

Joseph Harvill, Scottiephile