Friday, December 31, 2010

A new year is waiting, so roll the dice

This is an illustration purported to be Achilles and Ajax playing a game with dice. The vessel bearing the image dates to 540 BCE and (obviously) is of Greek origins. Since Achilles was slain by Paris during the sack of Troy and Ajax committed suicide in the aftermath of the Trojan War, apparently both men could have avoided dying by staying at home and being content with simply rolling the "die" in a friendly game of chance for a talent or two of silver or gold.

Another game & another number

I was fifteen the first time I won money gambling with adult males of the species. It was in a card game in a pool hall during the summer in the small, rural Minnesota town where I grew up. The game was pinochle. I was playing with three farmers who had been rained out from working in their fields. I had been asked if I knew how to play because all the other adults present were involved in their own games of cards or pool -- or, were too engaged with drinking beer and discussing philosophy, religion and the great issues of the day. Well, that might be exaggerating their discussions just a bit.

I lied, sort of, anyway. I said sure, I knew how to play pinochle. In fact, I had never played in my life, but I had watched the men play for a few weeks and was reasonably certain I could get by if just a bit of luck accompanied me into the game. My partner and I won that game in just two hands, which was literally unheard of with the rules under which we were playing. Long before summer ended, virtually every man who entered the pool hall to play cards wanted me as his partner for pinochle and buckeuchre (Buck Euchre), and my nickname was "Lucky" among the farmers.

Just for the record, I no slouch at pool, either, or at tossing dice for drinks. Rules were rules, which meant young men my age could not drink beer, only pop. But, the rules (at least, the local customs) did not prevent young men from shaking the cup of dice to see who would pay for a round of drinks at the card table.

I worked on a farm that summer, as many "town boys" did, and it was a rainy summer. The days in the pool hall frequently were more profitable than the days on the farm. The same proved to be true the next summer, when I worked in a supermarket, and the next summer, when I worked in a lumber yard.

A few years later, I concentrated more on Poker (in which I have had no luck at all -- neither good nor bad) and continued "handling the bones," with a considerable amount of time spent shooting Craps. This, as you might imagine, mostly took place in the Marine Corps and included one absolutely fabulous night at a back room Craps game in Reno.

A crapshooter's mantra sometimes is "seven come eleven." If you hit either of those numbers on the first roll of the dice, you are an automatic winner. Simply because of that, I adopted seven and eleven as my lucky numbers. I usually won at Craps, often by rolling those numbers, so it seemed very natural to stick with them in all matters.

Do you see where this is going? Fanciful mind that I sometimes display, I am convinced 2011 will be a lucky year for me. In the meanwhile, all I have to do is figure out what the 20 signifies and to look around for a seven. Just teasing .... sort of ....

All-in-all, 2010 was a good year for me and to me. It was fascinating in many ways, offering new experiences. It was profitable in some ways and, possibly, the beginning of a stroll along a new, long-lasting pathway. The past twelve months have taught me a few lessons, and I believe I see the world a bit more clearly now than I have in recent times, although I still have no clue what my role is in it -- or, if I even have an actual role in it. Whatever ....

Three ideas are floating through my mind as a new year looms on the horizon:

Buy a house in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul and hang out for a year or two writing and writing. This = safety & security.

Move to Florida, buy a boat and hang out for a year or two diving and diving. This = adventure & long-shot gambling.

Travel by ship (a freighter that accepts a few passengers) from America to Europe and decide what to do next upon arrival. There is a run from Duluth, Minnesota, through the Great Lakes, up the St. Lawrence River, across the Atlantic Ocean, through the North Sea and into the Baltic Sea to Gdansk, Poland. This = learning & potential self-discovery.

So, then. How do those three thoughts rate in terms of rolling the dice? And, while I am thinking of it, how do you spell hiatus?

"Beautiful Loser"
The opening lines of the song lyrics
by Bob Seger

He wants to dream like a young man
With the wisdom of an old man
He wants his home and security
He wants to live like a sailor at sea

Beautiful loser
Where you gonna fall?
When you realize
You just can't have it all


14 comments:

Wind said...

When I look at your profile :
Bachelor of Arts with a double major in English (= literature) and history. Master of Arts in literature... I can not write in English anymore....ha ha
Hey, my friend...today, doesn't matter!
I wish you from my soul to be Happy and Healthy....and see you in 2011!
Best thoughts from Romania!

Fram Actual said...

May the New Year be whatever you want it to be, Wind.

Thank you, for your visit to me on this final day of 2010, and to you I also send wishes for happiness and good health -- as well as for a sharp eye and a steady hand when taking up your camera.

Wind said...

Beautiful loser?
Aha....
We can't have it all, for sure...but I think that our dreams are enough to move on for a moment!
For me, for sure!
I live in a dream!
Have a great weekend in your dreamland!
Regards!

Fram Actual said...

Well, from far, far across the sea comes a lone voice to greet me. Thank you, Wind.

Bob Seger is not the best singer in the world, but he writes songs which display great insight into the lives of ordinary men, I think, and I know I personally can identify with many of the emotions, dreams and experiences he writes/sings about -- including "having it all."

It is a philosophical concept, I guess, and means different things to different people, but life essentially is a race against the clock, and never a race any one of us will win.

As for you, good, I am pleased you are living a dream. May it last a long, long time and give you enthusiasm and happiness every day.

Anita said...

Happy New Year Fram:)

Fram Actual said...

Well, the flowers must be emerging already from beneath the snow in Norway. Thank you.

Happy New Year, Anita, and may 2011 bring you prosperity and happiness.

Anita said...

Thank you Fram.This made me happy.
Kisses and warm hugs from cold and snowy Norway:)

Peggy said...

Happy New Year Fram - All the best in the coming year. I also am feeling like 2011 will be a good year - lets hope!

I would choose the ship and travel over a house in the city or diving in Florida. Sounds like an adventure taking a freighter through the Great Lakes and through to Europe! This sounds to me to be truly the adventure.

Hello from Toronto

Fram Actual said...

Good .... thank you, Anita.

Fram Actual said...

Yes, and Happy New Year to you, Peggy. My wishes are for your year to be everything you hope it to be, and more.

I am not certain which I will choose among the three, or, maybe, some other entirely different element will enter the picture at the last moment. That has happened before, and only time will tell. Basically, I am trying to decide between working and playing.

I will visit your page later on Sunday. I have a head cold, and my brain is barely functioning right now.

Peggy said...

Sorry to hear you are "under the weather" as they say. Too bad you weren't around the corner, I'd bring you a bowl of the soup that is simmering on the stove.

I have been enjoying catching up with your blogs. As you know, I have been other wise preoccupied and have fallen behind in my visits to your site. I really enjoy my time here - you have interesting music, photos and posts which get me thinking.

Get lots of rest and get well. You can wander the blogsphere and visit my blog any time.


Peggy

Fram Actual said...

Thank you, for the kind words and the good wishes, Peggy.

I am "old-fashioned" about colds: Green tea, hot lemonade and chicken soup. Unfortunately, the only one I have on hand is the tea. Other errands call me tomorrow, so I will fill in the blanks then.

Thanks, again ....

Jack said...

Hey!

Take care, man, I hope you are better now, Mag is fine, but I started to sneeze today!

Oh, oh, the winter time...

Fram Actual said...

Well, nice to hear from you, Jack. It has been so long since your last visit that I was beginning to think you had fled the snowy country for some Mediterranean sunshine.

Tell Mag I am glad she is feeling better and that I am slowing getting better myself.

As for you, try to avoid snowball fights for a while so you do not get wet and chilled, and maybe you will be able to beat back a winter cold before it catches a strong grip on you.

Take care, buddy ....

Something special ....