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  • December 8, 2022

    A Lizard Named Larry


    Last week we discovered a little lizard on the second floor of our new home in Huntington Beach, and it sent the household into full-action mode.

    Henry, our aging and almost deaf Yorkie, is driven by his nature to hunt down and kill lizards, rodents, and any other small pests that might threaten his fiefdom. He was in full alert over this intruder in his home. Carmela’s reaction was a bit different. The lizard sighting launched her on a quest to save it from both her beloved puppy and any other dangers it might face wandering around upstairs at our house.

    To Carmela, lizards are just another creature that she is determined to protect, BUT they belong outside, not in an upstairs bedroom. So, she got down on her hands and knees to try to lure the little lizard out, while Henry kept trying to crowd in so he could kill and eat the little guy – not necessarily in that order.

    My assignment was to sequester Henry in another room, while Carmela attempted to rescue the little reptile. First, she got a transparent plastic container with the plan to flip the container over the lizard and then slip a thick piece of paper under the little guy. Then we would flip the container over again with the paper trapping the lizard inside.

    But it didn’t quite work that way. She had the container all ready to go, but when I prodded the little guy to get him to move toward the trap, he charged Carmela, who was laying on the floor with her face toward the lizard; she screamed in horror, threw the container in the air and jumped back.

    “Well,” she tells me, “he was running at me so fast, I just panicked.” We try it again, only to have the same result.

    On to Plan B. We take a smaller plastic container, slice a little trap door on the side, that we can bend up, lure the lizard in with a treat of corn chips and tomato leaves (the leaves apparently to make him feel like this was not a trap) and wait for hunger and curiosity to do its magic. But magic never occurred and Plan B was also a failure. Actually, it was such a failure that the lizard ran out of the office, down the hallway and into the master bathroom.


    On to Plan C. By this time, Carmela has named the lizard – Lawrence, or Larry for short – and gotten a flashlight to lure Larry into a cardboard box that she had strategically placed with the flashlight shining into it. After about 20 minutes of her lying on the floor perfectly still, the lizard slowly inched his way from behind the pedestal sink into the box. With stealth-like moves and careful planning, we managed to fold up the sides and trap Larry inside. And because Larry had a name by this time, we had a sacred obligation to ensure his safety and happiness. So we took him outside, found a nice grassy area that had enough plants around to give him coverage, had Henry say good-bye to his new brother, and opened the box.

    But Larry the Lizard did not scurry away. It’s a though he understood that Carmela is a soft-hearted woman, who meant him no harm. He sauntered out of the box, looked around, took a deep breath and considered whether he liked the new environment or not.

    Finally, he decided it would do, and then scurried away to see where he fit into this new world.

    It’s not just lizards in the house that Carmela protects. It’s also lizards in their natural environment.


    There was a time not that long ago, when Carmela came across two crows, trying to eat a lizard in the middle of the street. The lizard was fighting back, but the crows were pecking at it, trying to pick it up and fly away.

    Now, the way I see it crows have to eat too, and they may have hungry mouths to feed back at the nest. But that’s not how Carmela sees it. She sees it as two big mean crows picking on a little guy. This from a woman who loves veal, salmon, pork, tilapia and numerous other formerly living creatures. I am too wise (or maybe too cowardly) to bring up such inconvenient truths when Carmela is on a rescue mission.

    She shooed the crows away and tried to get the lizard to run back into the weeds. By then though, the lizard was in full fighting-for-his-life mode, and that’s when he up and bit Carmela on the toe of her sneakers. Her toe was fine, but she was a little put out that the creature she was saving was so ungrateful for her help.

    She finally stomped her feet and got him to retreat to the relative safety of the weeds. Mission accomplished.

    Of course, there are advantages to being married to a soft-hearted woman. The only reason I still exist on the planet is that she also has a soft spot for me in her heart, no matter how much I may annoy her.

    I know, and she knows I know, that if I ever fall down and some crows think wow, this will feed all our friends and families for weeks, she is not going to let that happen.

    I know it, she knows it, and now the crows know it too.

    – George Lee Cunningham

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  • October 16, 2022

    Dear Reader

    Dear Reader

    It has been a while since my last post – a time filled with some health problems, some work projects, and a difficult 80-mile move of residence from one city to another.

    Carmela and I are now proud residents of Huntington Beach, California. During this period, I have thought about what to do with this website – whether to shut it down entirely, or refocus it in a slightly new direction. Next month, I turn 82 years old. Some of the things that used to be important to me are not as important as they once were. But many things are more important than ever.

    If you go on Facebook or Twitter or watch any of the mainstream news media – from Fox News to MSNBC –  the picture you get is wildly distorted. When I talk to real people, my impression is that despite our political or social differences, most of us want the same stuff: To carry on our lives, to love one another, and to live in a secure and safe environment.

    So, we need to talk.

    – George Lee Cunningham

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  • October 15, 2022

    My Tough and Explosive Wife


    Let me begin by saying, I love my wife. I do.

    But I am also aware that when Carmela is unduly provoked – as I have done more than once – the results can be immediate and profound. Carmela doesn’t suffer fools. As a person who sometimes acts foolishly, I understand completely.

    So when Carmela showed up with a T-shirt that said “FRONT TOWARD ENEMY,” I thought maybe that might be a little aggressive. Especially, when she was looking straight at me.

    FRONT TOWARD ENEMY  is exactly that same military warning that is printed on Claymore mines, first introduced to combat troops in Vietnam, when I was a soldier. When you set off a Claymore it sprays soft lead pellets out in an arc with a kill and maim radius of 100 yards. Although we had them available, we never used them once during my tour of duty.


    So why would my loving wife, the girl of my dreams, be wearing a Claymore mine T-shirt? I was almost afraid to ask, since she was looking straight at me.

    Carmela is half Sicilian and half Calabresi. Sicily is that island off the toe of the boot of the Italian peninsula. Calabria – at it’s narrowest point is about three miles across the Strait of Messina that separates the island from the mainland. Although both Sicilians and Calabresi are tough folks, they have different dialects, different cuisine, and distinctive ideas about the world.

    Despite that heritage, Carmela can be a real softie. She picks up earthworms that have strayed onto the sidewalk after a heavy rain and puts them back in the grass, she loves all animals, including birds, bees, insects, spiders, and even me.

    So why the “FRONT TOWARD ENEMY” shirt?

    Here is her explanation:

    For Carmela, “FRONT TOWARD ENEMY” means recognize evil and stupidity and confront it. Sometimes it’s a person or an idea or a practice and sometimes it’s the person you see in the mirror, who needs to examine her own motivation and actions that fall short of the person she wishes to be.

    That explanation works for me. That’s the woman I married.

    And it’s the woman I love.

    – George Lee Cunningham

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  • June 1, 2022



    It sometimes seems as though all your plans goes off the track at once. First one thing goes wrong, than another, and before you know it you’re standing on the rocky shoulder of an offramp, just east of Tucson, sick as a dog and wondering if you somehow pissed off the Gods.

    We had been on our way to Florida, pulling out of the driveway shortly after sunrise, ready for a quick 700-mile dash to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico – Carmela with Henry the Wonder Dog on her lap and me at the wheel.

    We were on our way to Florida to visit family. We had planned a quick two-night stop in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, to see my pal Jonathan Beaty and his wife Linda. Seven hundred one miles, but that was OK because I was feeling strong as I pulled out of the driveway and headed east.

    Except, of course, for that slight, early-morning sore throat, that I was hoping would get better as we cleared California and pushed east across Arizona. But it didn’t get better. In face, it got worse as we drove.

    So I did what all manly men do. I ignored it and pushed on. I’m not a sissy. A little sore throat was not going to slow me down. Mind over matter. Blah Blah Blah.

    So we got to Truth or Consequences shortly before sunset, checked in, ate and fell exhausted into bed. I planned to meet with my pal – no women, just us – for breakfast early the next morning. Then we’d all get together later – ladies too – for an early dinner.

    Jonathan and I disagree about many things, but he is an extremely intelligent man and his opinions are never cookie-cutter crap that was hand-fed to him by a teacher, a preacher, or society in general. I have never had an extended talk with Jonathan that I didn’t come away a better perspective on life and the nature of all of us sharing the same planet.

    Our talk over breakfast extended until well past noon, sitting in his truck, looking out over Elephant Butte state park and lake and sharing stories and opinions. It was a good talk, both enlightening and enjoyable. But by the time it came to say good-bye, I was feeling so ill, so tired, and so drained that all I could think about was lying down in bed until I either felt better or died – whichever came first.

    I begged off getting together that evening, and returned to the room, where Carmela and Henry were waiting. I was hoping to feel better the next morning, when we planned to make the long drive to Fort Stockton in Texas. But when the time came, I was feeling worse than I had the day before.

    If you’ve never been to Fort Stockton, it’s a nice town, but not the place you want to get stuck, especially if you’re sick and trying to get better for the drive across country. Don’t get me wrong. I like Texans and I like West Texas, but it’s a long way from everywhere, not where you want to get stuck, especially if you’re feeling like chipped beef on toast (SOS to you former jarheads)

    So we decide to head back home – seven hundred one miles back – although we didn’t think we’d be able to make the entire journey without overnighting somewhere along the way. But then the hours passed, and so did the miles, and we were really cranking westbound along Interstate 10, thinking if I could just hold out, maybe we could make it all the way home.

    And then it  happened – in the fast lane, just east of Tucson at 80 mph plus – our left-rear tire gave up the ghost with an explosive poof and our mad rush became a wobbly disaster. We made it slowly across four lanes of heavy traffic and down a half-mile-long, off-ramp to no where.

    And there I was. Sick, stranded, and wanting more than anything to just crawl off to the far shoulder into the litter and weeds piled against the chain link fence, and lay there until the Gods decided what to do with my stinking and rotting corpse.

    But that wasn’t really an option since Carmela was there and she wasn’t feeling sick, and she would never allow her husband to feel so sorry for himself that he would even think such a thought, so I bucked up.

    I had no choice.

    We were parked on an rocky incline, I had never changed a tire on the truck, the spare was tucked and locked up under the bed of the truck, I had no idea of where the jack was stowed or the lug wrench, so as Carmela called the Auto Club, I went through the manual that came with the truck, and discovered the jack and lug wrench was stowed against the rear wall behind the seat inside the cab.

    In the end, the Auto Club sent roadside assistance to us within just a little more than half-an-hour. The story didn’t end there. Getting the spare unlocked and lowered was a job in itself that required both the keys to the truck and a crank that fit through a special portal at the read of the vehicle.

    Even with the lovely man from the auto club – a 59-year-old former resident of San Diego who sold his home, bought a similar brand new home in Tucson for a couple of thousand grand less – it was a tough job. The ground was all hard and jagged stones, the truck was parked on a steep slant, and the temperature was in the mid-90s – cool for Tucson, but a little warm for sissies like us.

    But he got it done. Then there was a decision to make. Spend the night in Tucson and try to get the blown tire replaced the next morning or head for home. For Carmela and me the decision was clear. We would go for it. If the spare or some other tire failed on the way home, we would cross that bridge when we came to it.

    So with sunset just an hour or so away and 424 miles still to go, we started driving. I drove first, then in Phoenix, Carmela took the wheel. The sun was down, but the western sky was aglow for a couple of hours afterwards as we sped east along the interstate.

    I was still sick, but it was almost a magical time – Carmela and me racing across the desert, passing trucks and slow-pokes on our long dash home. We traded off again in Quartzsite, Arizona with a last minute fill-up of cheap Arizona gas, then headed west with me at the wheel.

    We arrived home, exhausted, at one-minute before midnight. I immediately collapsed on the couch, Carmela unloaded some essentials from the car, then fell asleep as well.

    As sick as I was, and as tired as I felt, it was a lovely and loving experience as well as an adventure.

    We didn’t get a new tire until almost a week later, but it didn’t matter. We were home, we were safe, and I was once again feeling strong.

    Carmela is my hero, and I hope that I will always be hers.

    – George Lee Cunningham

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  • May 15, 2022



    As a person who has strayed off the path a few times in life, I have a soft spot for other folks who have done the same, whether they ended up in jail or not.

    Maybe it’s because people who have never screwed up just don’t seem to be trying hard enough. And they’re certainly not nearly as interesting as the people who did.

    People screw up because they get greedy, because they get careless, and sometimes just because they get curious. They break the rules, stray outside the confines of respectable behavior, and explore their dark sides. They may wander into the ethical weeds on their own adventures and often end up paying an emotional and social price for it.

    The people who screw up tend to irritate the hard-working, decent folk who don’t, and I understand that. The good folks, who obey all the rules, who manage to resist temptation, who stop at all the red lights, show up for work on time, do a good job, and collect a fat pension at the end may be the backbone of society, but to me they just aren’t as interesting as those who wander off course.

    Of course, there is a third category, which is larger than one might think. These are the so-called respectable, hard-working folks, who have secret lives.

    They’re ones who go home and beat their wives, terrorize their children, and drink themselves into a stupor. The ones who slap their friends and associates on the back, then berate the hired help. Or maybe their more sinister counterparts – the ones who exploit children, take advantage of the weaker members of society, and never lose a moment of sleep over it.

    These folks are always assholes, and sometimes downright evil. That’s all they are, that’s all they are ever going to be. And when they finally die, one-by-one, the world becomes, one-by-one, a slightly nicer place.

    Most of us, whether we like it or not, are a combination of all three types. And when we grow old – if we grow old – and we begin to tally up our score, we get a clearer picture of what it all meant.

    What was important, what was not, and how we did. When you tally it all up, it’s either pass or fail.

    Will the world be a little bit better without you in it or a little worse? Only you know the answer.

    – George Lee Cunningham

    If you would like to subscribe to our work, you may contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know and you will get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.