14 February 2022

Ellis Millsaps -- Go Dog Go: Go Around Again

  Garbo died of natural causes in Mansfield on a sad hot date in August. I think she was eleven years old.

 Maybe it was because of the sorrow of Garbo's demise– seven year old Jack would not come out of his room for the burial under the magnolia ( one of two dogs and a half dozen cats interred there. a phenomenon that led  a decade later to the adjoining Wiffle Ball field to be named Pet Sematary Park)-- but Cynthia ruled that I couldn't get another dog, That was a few months before she came home with Chance, a mongrel shepherd- bird dog mix.

Chance was a good dog. I think that all dogs are good dogs when raised with kindness. He had a good sense of humor.  Looking at you intently, drooling while you were eating pizza he’d say, “All I am saying is give Chance a piece.” He never got tired of that one.

 In Mansfield a walk to Blackwell Grocery( the old downtown Blackwell’s) was a seven times a week or more occurrence. Garboo I could tell to wait outside, but not so with Chance who would come inside to do his own shopping the next time someone opened the door. Consequently it was necessary to tie his leash to a lamp post outside.

 One day Chance disappeared for a while. It wasn't like him to wander off but the kids and I drove down every street in town unsuccessfully looking for him. It was later in the day that I remembered he’d walked with me to Blackwell's that morning. He was still tied to the lamp post when we found him looking not distressed but happy to see us.

Chance had a problem with recurring ear infections. On account of this he had to take a daily cortisone tablet which handled the ear infection the but caused him to get fat.

 After he got fat he had trouble with the slick vinyl floor in the kitchen. He could make it okay if he proceeded carefully, but once he reached the doorway to the dining room he would panic and try to make a run for it thereby finding himself splayed out on his belly.

After this happened a few times he solved the problem by turning around and walking backward over the door sill. This he  repeated several times a day for the rest of his life, Sometimes we'd make the forklift backup beep while he did so.

 Grace and I bought Ginsburg when she (Grace) was about sixteen. He was the largest puppy in the litter, a black lab whose father was the champion working dog in the state, a  drug sniffer. He threw up in the car on the way home, not the last time in his puppyhood he would get car sick. He had a history of stomach issues. He once swallowed the target ball from our bocce game (a ball about twice the size of a golf ball) which had to be surgically removed. 

Ginsberg could not be tied to the lamp post outside Blackwell's because he was temperamental  didn't care for strangers. I had to tie him to a tree on the other side of the railroad tracks.

 One day he was tied loosely there and as I was crossing the tracks to get him he was looking at me with his tail wagging in anticipation. At the same time a drunk guy was approaching him from the side. I realized too late that he intended to pet the handsome happy dog. Ginsberg saw him out of the corner of his vision and attacked, one of his paws scratching the drunk's upper arm.

 For this he had to spend a week in doggy jail. I still feel guilty about it. I visited him every day bringing treats and conversation. The animal control lady said Ginsberg behaved like a ” perfect gentleman.”

 One day I was just visited by Jack and John Thigpen who brought  three dogs with them, each of them bird dog size: Jack's dog, another of which Jack has joint custody with a former girlfriend and John T’s dog.

 John and I  were seated in armchairs while Jack lay on the sofa, Ginsberg’s spot, with all  three dogs. Ginsberg came in and surveyed the situation then went in the kitchen and barked, whereupon the three visiting dogs went to join him defending against the imaginary intruder.

Ginsberg left them there and walked back in the dining room and hopped up on the couch with Jack.

 Well played sir.

- Ellis Millsaps

04 February 2022

My Continuing Journey Towards Becoming an Amateur Philosopher



Bobby Jones, the greatest golfer to ever live, was a professional lawyer & an amateur linksman. While his passion was golf, he realized that he had to maintain that amateur status in order for him to fully be what he was on the golf course. 

Now, for the record — I’m not claiming to be any great philosopher or anything. No sir, far from it. As the title suggests, I am most assuredly a work-in-progress in so many ways. |

I embraced Stoicism at an early age well before I had any understanding of what this discipline exactly was. 

You likely know how cruel kids can be, especially when you’re maybe just a little bit different. 

From about the time I was in about 2nd or 3rd grade I realized that most folks were one or more of the following: 

- self-loathers
- cruel
- stupid
- fearful

But also: 

- wonderful
- loving
- amazing
- friends
…and many more. Or, the old line about how there's more than enough good & evil in each & everyone of us. 

However, in middle school (and high school for that matter), a lot of kids matched the top four of the aforementioned list as many can attest. 

For whatever reason, I was able to know & accept this at an early age. 

Maybe I was lucky; maybe I was cursed. Regardless, it was just simply what it was. Moreover, that’s just how it was & I got that. 

Later, I realized, sadly, a lot of folks never get & understand this. 

Nobody ever (or should’ve ever) said life was fair


It was in 1999 when I first read A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe. 

It blew my mind. 

The inner dialogue of literally every main character was so very much similar to mine.

It was such an experience that I ended up reading that book once every year for several years in a row. 

The overarching theme? 

Yep, you guessed it — Stoicism. 

Everybody’s least &simultaneously most favorite expression fully captures that sentiment:

“It is what it is.” 

Switching Gears

A big thing here recently is this generational casting of shade. 

Whether it’s the Baby Boomers, The Millennials or Gen Z. 

I truly think all of this is unnecessary, I really do. 

Painting w/ such broad brush strokes is almost always the wrong way to go. 

There are stand-up, top-notch Silent Generation, Baby Boomer, Gen X, as well as Gen Y & Z types.

It’s true. I know some of each. 

Now, the numbers may very well skew a certain way. Obviously Gen X is epic (and will likely save our country - if it can be saved) but there are a large number of the Baby Boomers & Gen Y folks who seem to simply suck ass apparently. 

But what of the Gen Z crew, though? Hard, sometimes, to get a bead on them. They could go either way, right? At least a lot of them are foregoing social media. 

But why do we do this? It’s all so unnecessary. I truly think all of this generational divide & strife is by design. Divide & Conquer — the Bad Guys’ playbook. 


To me, Stoicism is simply the realization that we are NOT in control. 

It could be worse. We could be animals where most of the time we would wake up every day realizing that we could very well be chased down & eaten by a predator. Where it was all simply about survival. 

(((obligatory self-awareness realization))) 

You WILL die someday; or, as the Old Folks would say — “We all gotta pay that debt.” 

Death is always just around the corner, lurking, lying in wait. 

God-awful & terrible things happen to the best people in this world while some of the worst seem to very much lead charmed lives.

That’s a hard thing to square. 

It’s always been that way & it always will, for this is just the earthly realm, and that’s simply the way it is. 

- MBM 

01 February 2022

Ellis Millsaps: Dawgs Redux

 Maybe the Dawgs will repeat. I certainly hope so. They seem to be competitively positioned for  next year. Marshall could give you a more informed opinion on that. My limited expertise is on baseball, which has been berry berry good to me. (I didn't realize until after I was finished with part one of this dog tale that during that same twelve month period as the World Series and the national championship Georgia Tech won the ACC basketball tournament.)

 But as I said last time, this ain't about them dogs. It's about Garbo, Chance and Ginsburg. We left off where Garbo had puppies. I sold those puppies for enough to buy an expensive baseball glove and some very fine wining and dining.

One of the eleven was remarkable in his retrieving skills. Garbo would always retrieve a stick thrown into a lake. George Washington couldn't throw a stick far enough that she wouldn't swim out and bring it back, but one of her puppies would dive in the deep end of our neighbors’ swimming pool to retrieve a rock from the bottom while Garbo looked on with an amazed “that's my boy” pride.

She was my constant and faithful companion for years. When I’d ride my bike from 26th Street to Little Five Points to see a girl (this before Cynthia and the puppies) she’d run along beside me, I in the street and she on the sidewalk. We’d take a break at the halfway point in Piedmont Park where she'd take a swim in the lake to cool off, then on up Virginia Ave., right on Highland, then left on North Ave, I'd guess about a five mile excursion. 

Later, when Cynthia and I lived on St Charles Avenue in Virginia Highlands, she'd walk with us to Atkins Park Delicatessen. When we arrived we’d tell her to sit and stay. She'd sit outside the door while we dined, greeting new customers until we came back out. They should have paid her.

 Garbo was in our overloaded Dodge Dart on our way to a new life in northern Idaho when it broke down, fortunately near Dalton, Georgia where my nephew Les and his wife lived. We left Garbo and most of our possessions with Les and proceeded  by bus to Coeur d'Alene. Garbo had one black puppy in Dalton that stayed with Les and Ellie after we retrieved her three months later. She then lived with us for three years in Athens where my son Jack was born, and when she saw we weren't going to get rid of him like we did the puppies she devoted  the rest of her life to being his guardian and protector.


Here we see that while the one- year- old is focused on the camera, Garbo is doing her Secret Service sweep of the venue. 

I see I may have doddered on past my and perhaps other people's attention span, so we'll have to wait for a third installment to hear about the rest of them dogs. 

- Ellis Millsaps