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Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,  ” It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”  I am very rich with “old” friends, and my oldest (in more ways than one)  is visiting with me now.  Being a friend of Jean Gralley – author, illustrator, musician, raconteur, and ultimate frustration-instigator (traits are in no particular order) – has given me more than enough times to be stupid.  She has been blessed with my friendship as well, and has proven her “stupidity affluence” over and over again.  But I love her.  Being stupid together has a few perks, not the least of which is knowing that we will never be ex-friends, and we are destined to be true forever friends – laotongs (老同).  Plus we have become quite affluent over the past 46 years, because apparently we can afford to be together – whatever the price.

I decided to be nice to Jean, because the rest of this blog post belongs to her:  The one and only Jean Gralley. Her chief claim to fame (other than being a published Children’s Book Author/Illustrator/Animator) is that she has me for a friend. (Do visit her site, linked above.  If you click on “Paper,” and then on “Books,” you will be shown a page that will introduce you to her ever-growing portfolio.) So here goes  (I might respond to her comments – depending on what she says. . .)  So here goes:

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Hello to Paula’s Gentle Readers. It’s nice to virtually “meet” you. Paula allowing me to say a few words on her blog seems generous, doesn’t it? Actually, I demanded rebuttal time. After reading yesterday’s entry (with its mild but unfavorable personal characterizations) I had to set the record straight on a couple counts. She knew I would. I was baited. Chomp.

First contention is that I’m still a rabid fan of Richard Wagner. It’s sad, but Paula mistakes the present me for the 15-year-old me all the time. I admit, at the age when I should have been dancing naked in a psychedelic purple haze with a flower in my teeth, I was, instead, a sober student of German opera. I had gravitas to burn, man. It wasn’t healthy. I got over it later in art school where the people who dance with flowers in their teeth found and rescued me. Paula missed the memo. Or just refuses to stop shaking that bone; I understand that habit can befall some people of advanced age.

The second thing is the claim that I am older and wiser but she is prettier. It’s true; she is prettier. But she is younger for only another 2 weeks. I hope you all wish her a happy birthday on April 15. That day I’ll be figuratively standing at the pearly gates of Geezerhood, welcoming her in with a gentle “Hey, it’s about time!” Even for the few weeks I’ve stood alone on the other side of that line, I was lonely for her company there.

That’s been true all through my life. No matter the age, I’ve found there’s a story-swapping, laughter-filled, sometimes brilliant, sometimes infuriating pook-shaped place only Pook can fill.

Happy birthday to us, Paula. How amazing to have known each other these many years. Here’s to many more birthdays together… lo, unto the dawning of old age.

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Dear Gentle Readers, when it comes to friendships such as Jean’s and mine – there could never be enough. . .

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