Monday, December 22, 2008

A Trip to Xmas Town

There is a kind of melancholy to the sight of a late afternoon vista of broken trees, brush and snow, lots of snow piled on everything. Like that good Russian doctor I heave a heavy sigh and turn away from the window. My toes get cold just looking at it. And yet, I still find myself strapping on the old snowshoes and stomping out to maybe check the suet feeders, or the water in the hen house. I hate the idea of those birds having no water on a day like today. It's so cold the crystal in the air have hit and mixed to form froth and tinkly lights against the flat white of snow. Maybe the tinkly lights are a bit more than my frontal lobe can take. That's why I have no problem with a grey overcast day. That's a simple color palette I can handle. But when the clouds part and the western sun peeks through, shining across the jet black asphalt, the ivory banks, then tumbling down to the stream at the culvert. You keep the colors simple and you have so many options.

Imagine, if you will, a spot of burnt umber, about an inch across. You can lift your head, incline your eyes and see that spot, right over there. It is something you might not have noticed, but the angle of the sun made all the other branches and leaves go a different color. It reminds one of a large fig or something, just balancing on the twig. But then you see it, the bright orange beak. It's a female cardinal. She turns and looks at you even though you think the room you're in is sufficiently dark to hide you, the bird looks at you. Stop breathing, don't move, just stare back.

You blink.

She's gone.

Now imagine that everything you see is a part of a 360 degree mural, roof and floor. It is of a scene from within or just below a huge thunderhead cloud, dark and flashing. Below you is about 4 thousand feet of open air, mostly, and then part of Northumberland fine dairy district, notably the fields apparently beneath your feet. It's hard, isn't it? Not to try to grab a piece of that cloud to avoid falling down to the fields? Just don't move until you understand something about your world. First, it's all around you, not just surrounding you across the landscape, but ALL around you. Secondly, it's massive, without apparent end. Are you breathing out? Are you breathing in? Then you're alive and you are in the proximity of a fine thunderstorm.

Those fields, that grass, those cattle, need this rain. It sustains them. But you are there, above the fields, between them and the storm. You look up, go ahead, don't be afraid, it's far away. You look up, and the clouds are stamped into valleys like the creases in a geniuses brain. You feel like a bacteria inside a Titan's head, and that's why you can't quite take it all in. If it breaks open and feeds and waters those fields, the cattle will thrive, the men tending them will thrive. The soil will be invigorated by the manure. All will be great. Except you will be in between the storm and the cattle, not a happy place to be, maybe.

Do you resent the rain, the lightning, the winds? You wish they'd go somewhere else? yeah, maybe a little, but most likely you were too excited about the coming storm and the tinkly feeling along your spine just before the flash hits. It's a risk you are willing to take. You move along, or it moves around you. Still the earth below, still the storm above.

You must by now be getting apprehensive about the whole thing, about what's keeping you up, when will the rain hit, what are you wearing? The tension is electric. But if you squint your eyes, if you look at it just right you can see that everything you see is formed of tiny, teeny, points of some color or brightness, like an old fashioned television set. But it's more like the way a clump of pampas grass sways, each seed carried along by the plume at the top of the stalk, but each seed looking toward a separate destiny. Each beam of light came from a different place to be bounced, just so, into your eye. Why, in a way the whole damn scene is a cluster of lights in the back of your eye, the impression transmitted to your frontal lobe or eastern seaboard, whatever controls vision. The whole spherical ALL is pointed directly at You, each point or beam of light represents the tip of a thousand light year spear of changing, sparkling, tinkly, light.

You're famous! Or at least the center of attention.

And in your darkening room, with the branches filling up with trembling cardinals and juncos, the tree losing it's tint and going over to the shades, the feeling has not changed. It's still the beginning of the Light, the Lengthening of Days. It may feel cold from time to time, but the days are getting longer and things will someday stir in the soil. It has to make you happy to hear the sound of the rumbling Wheel, toiling over the cold, white fields.

I watch Her, She watches me.
Eye see Her, She seizes me.
That's the Way
the Wagon rolls.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


There's an old Chinese blessing that goes, "Grandfather dies, Father dies, Son dies." This is a blessing that provides that all men should live to be a grandfather, that no father should die before his son. It means a lot to me, especially since Dad died. See Mom with her arms around her Man. He's a happy man, he knows he has a wonderful wife who loves him and will always be there for him. Then there's Cher, my sister and she's behind Mom, smiling and hanging on.

Cher is with Mom tonight and she has been for a few days. Mom's dying. Cher is sitting nearby, sewing a dress and watching TV. When Mom wakes up sometimes she asks for ice and Cher gives her some crushed ice. Mom says a few words and goes back to sleep. Her lungs are like old lace and the ice tires her out.

Dad died from, in good measure, drug addiction. He smoked tobacco most of his life and it ate up his lungs until in the end he couldn't get out of his wheel chair. Mom smoked right alongside of Dad, like she always did things: right alongside Dad. Now she's waiting to see him again. He's out there, I bet, but he was an atheist and I bet he's holding back, a little ashamed that he was SO sure there was nothing after death. Who knows, maybe he took that "til death do us part." thing as gospel. But he was wrong and Mom expects him to be there. So, if you're reading this, Dad, you better get your butt in gear and sit tight until Mom makes her move.

Somewhere there are those who were before us and they wait for our return. A world without Mom will be a world without real smiles, a world with muted music and fewer rainbows. But it all fades, doesn't it? This is not our destiny, this is more like a game of hide and go seek. Now the sun is setting and our Mother calls us in to the warm house. We can always play again, She says, and they go through that door to the light beyond. It is warm and all their friends are there, all their relatives. Everybody's glad to see them. Dad reaches out for Mom and guides her to her seat. He's in his white shirt, white Stetson and bolo tie. He's wearing his boots and his belt with the big silver buckle. Mom looks around at all her family and can't stop smiling. Dad can't keep his hands off her. It's better than their wedding party because they know that their love will last forever. It already has.

I am not yet ready to cross the threshold, but I can look through the windows. As they serve the meal and pour the beers and wines Dad reaches over and taps her on her shoulder. Mom looks at him with bright eyes. He leans in and kisses her and whispers something that nobody else can hear. The music starts and he escorts her to the floor. It's a slow dance and they have forever.

The door closes quietly and I turn into the night and walk my slow way home. The snow sparkles behind me.
This is a picture very similar to what I looked like when Dr. Radcliffe had the various appliances in my mouth so he could perform his happy little root canal. Note this is a simulation, not the real thing. As I explained, I left the camera in the car.
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My First Root Canal

Okay, I didn't take my camera into the dentists office, so later on I arranged a little post-production work. Again, I was working alone and it was a couple hours after the dental work and my face was still numb, but all in all I think I did alright. Now squint your eyes a bit and imagine this nice clean doctor's office in Lake George. There's a big white chair with various things attached to it and a bright light hanging over it. I'm sitting down with my mouth open, a bit scared but not peeing my pants scared. Just nervous, after all, this was my first time getting a root canal. I wasn't even fully informed what the heck a root canal was exactly until a week ago on my first visit to the dentist in Saratoga who was going to be working on my new molar/bridge complex, later. Apparently he didn't like to do the actual root canal so he was sending me to a specialist. So here I am in the chair, the light shining down on me and my mouth open. (see picture above)

I don't mind dentists all that much. They by and large have hurt me much less than other people, like managers, supervisors, friends-of-friends and ex-wives. What I do mind, however, is sitting in a big white chair with a bright white light shining down on me and a pile of strange metal appliances in the tray in front of me thinking about having this drill burrowing down into my root canal, taking out nerves and such and leaving a nice hole for a metal post to be inserted so they can build me a new molar top to which they can attach a new bridge. See, when you say it that way you can see why my eyes are wide and slightly bulging. This line of thought invariably ends with the Novocaine wearing off about halfway through the nerves in my tooth. Then I scream and arch my back, hurting more vertebrae and driving the drill bit into my jaw. The doctor stands on my chest to wrench it out, and as he does there is a snap and the drill bit breaks in half. This requires hours of post root canal surgery to remove the drill bit. During the surgery the anesthetic wears off and I wake up to the exciting feeling of my face spread open to the world and several doctors trying to close it up before I waken fully.

I've read about such things. Waiting for the emails to come down I read the Lancet condensed version and there are times when things go wrong with drugs and the people who inject them.

Dr. Radcliffe is a tall, white haired gentleman with a quiet, grandfatherly demeanor. I tell him about my dreams and fears and most especially that I generally take a shitload of drugs for back pain and so Novocaine sometimes doesn't cut the mustard. He should use a lot and move fast. He is smiling and looking at x-rays and murmering in what I take to be a studious, positive manner. Then he turns with a hypo in his hand and smiles down at me.
"Oh, don't worry. We haven't lost a patient yet." Then he shoves a new appliance in my mouth, a spreader that attaches to another device that seems to be a tiny shower curtain. It circles my mouth, preventing me from seeing down my own throat or something. Part of the structure seems to clip onto my crumbled molar so that it's like a funnel with my tooth at the bottom and plastic shower curtain all around. Did you get that? Now the good doctor begins sticking my jaw with needles from the inside out. I taste something... odd, slightly unpleasant, like lighter fluid. Now it's gone. Apparently the good doctor has shot my lower left jaw with enough Novocaine to drop a bull elephant. I have trouble focussing my left eye. Actually I generally have trouble focussing my left eye, it's the combination of Cymbalta and Lyrica that dry my mouth and eyes and leaves me a bit blurry.

Now I'm hearing the drill(s). Unlike some people I do not mind the sound of a high pitched drill in my mouth. That means the work has started and someday it will be done and I can go home. Dr. Radcliffe seems to be scraping and drilling, grinding and scraping for several minutes. Still numb. In fact I can imagine that saying the word "numb" would take a lot of effort. Probably come out as "nuff-buh". Have you ever seen those African ladies who put the big things in their mouth to make their lips stretch out like a dinner plate? Well, Dr. Radcliffe seems to have acquired one (not the African ladies, the mouth thingy) and he was trying it out on me. The shower curtain thing is stuck over my lower lip which is stuck on my front teeth. I'm guessing this from impressions of pressure on my mouth parts. They're all numb so it's a guess that I'm biting my lip, hard. (Later I find this is not exactly the case, so don't worry about it)

Dr. Radcliffe pulls back, does a final rinse and suction and then takes out the spring steel appliances. He jams a piece of cardboard with a wire attached to it into my mouth and then he grabs my finger and places it in my mouth, holding down the cardboard. The assistant lays a lead apron over my chest and abdomen and they both leave the room. There's a faint "beep" and they come back in, but not to let me go. They both stare at a computer screen on the wall . Dr. R doesn't sound all that happy when he turns around. "Well, looks like we're not quite done after all." and he starts popping those spring steel expanders and little shower curtains into the mouth. He drills some more, grinds a bit, scrapes a bit more. I'm starting to fantasize about the nerves coming back to life. I can sort of feel the scraper somewhere in there. I don't want to panic, but I can feel the panic. My toes are curling and spasming in my boots. Then he's done and it's over. No pain.

He fills the hole with something. I can tell it's a plastic plaster something that quickly becomes hard enough to withstand a curious tongue and most likely soft food. He probably buried a GPS locator as part of the Homeland Security End of Term Project. Even now Google Earth has a label over me: "Voted For Obama" or something. It's all done in a blur and then I'm out at the counter making sure about my co-pay. On the way home a buy a Fosters green label and when I can feel the side of my tongue, some hours later, I pop the top and slurp it down. Keep the nice cold beer over on the right side, please, and no drooling.
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Circular Logic

It's raining somewhere but around here it's snow. What a strange form of water snow is, I just love the way it tries to find a different path for every flake. For days you smell it coming, like the rains in an Arizona desert. I feel it deep in my bones and I'm walking like a sidekick or comic relief. "Hyar I come, Missus, hyar I come, hee hee hee."

There are so many cardinals outside in the bushes and chestnut that it looks like a Technicolor version of The Birds. There's a half dozen males, so bright and black and red like a Russian workers poster. Two dainty females argue over the wooden feeder, ignoring the other empty feeders. The goldfinches don't seem to care about anything but what is in the sock. Looking at the bright red males suddenly diving down into the lowlands I find myself thinking of kids diving off a low cliff into a pond.

Outside the colors are stuck in a small range of shades: tan, white, red, black,green-grey, and gray. The whole world could be described in those few colors. Even the birds, even the birds have abandoned color...except the jays. Bright blue and bold, diving after the seeds on the ground and tossing piles off from the feeders to the snowy ground below. The red squirrel is burning so many calories running around after sunflowers.
 In the middle of it I see Biddie, the silly Rhode Island Red who just has to believe that anything near my house must be better. But if she keeps it up I have to go out and take her home before her feathers freeze. I put up strips of plastic hanging from the top of the hen house door, the chicken door. It's like they have over the doors to freezers and beverage center refrigerators. I just have to teach the girls they can part the strips and walk into the house. Funny, they'll climb into a potting shed or peck a piece of glass but walk through some strips of plastic? That takes some working up to accomplish. They stall at the ramp to the door and start mumbling and groaning. Soon one takes a peck at one of the strips. They she dives in through the opening. Several others follow, but some hang back, waiting, no doubt, for some kind of signal from the first hen that all is okay.

If snow were time,
If time were snow,
Then we'd watch it pile up
Outside our windows
Building up on the arms of the chairs
And making it difficult to walk up stairs,
Time from the past just piling like dust
and we go on piling it up
For we must.
If you stop you get buried
If you run you get wet
If you die on the way there
You might get there yet.
All those years you might have wasted
Are like glaciers in the heights
Growing larger yet by inches
In the water known as ice.

It's a little like being placed in the middle of your parents' bed and then undressed and covered with a knitted shawl your grandmother wore. You would like to watch it all happen but the shawl, for all it's delicacy, is warm and soft and it seems right to sleep.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Night of the Living Hens

This is a true story, based on facts, more or less, as I remember them. The only witnesses aren't going to correct me because they all have something to hide. I went looking for some tools in the garage, which is where I usually start looking for things. In spite of the fact that the garage is filled to the rafters with tools of all kinds I couldn't find the precise tools I wanted, but as I poked around I noticed a couple of old windows had fallen over in the attached potting shed from where they were blocking the door to the garden. The door and the surrounding door frame were mostly not finished and anything smaller than a pony could get through, but we aren't zoned for ponies and it's never been an issue.

So I had stacked some old windows, glass doors and boxes against the hole and then leaned another door against the whole thing. In spite of all my efforts the wind constantly blew through and knocked things around. Unless, of course, tiny ponies had wandered in during their migration to the south, but that is, I think we can all agree, unlikely. I straightened things out and was turning to go when I heard a faint "cluck". I looked around for the source and discovered Biddie in the corner, trapped by a pile of wire shelving. She was very contrite and concerned but I reassured her and got her out of the mess and tossed her out of the near-pony sized hole in my door barricade. She wasn't happy about this and paced around, swearing the way chickens do. I'm used to this. I get this a lot while gathering eggs so I just went on straightening pots and piles of pots. Suddenly, where the fiberglass roof meets the plywood floor a hen head popped up through what had at first seems to be a patch of rain darkened plywood. Seems it was more than dark, it was decayed. I yelled at her about coming into the shed but she was determined. She squeezed herself through the hole, widening it as she went. Then she hopped to the top of a stack of window frames, swearing and shaking her fist at me. She insisted that "free range" meant she could go any damn where she wanted on the property. Well, that was not the agreement and "free range" simply means they aren't charged for rent. I explained this to her as I escorted her through the hole I had tossed her before. I heard a noise behind me and there was another hen head popping through the hole in the floor. The hens liked to go under the shed to escape the summer sun and to dirt bathe in the unfrozen sand in the winter. I quickly popped a pot into the hole, driving the hen backwards. She began to say the most outrageous things about my parents and relationships while she struggled to get past the pot!

In the end I won and she was expelled, but immediately went to another rain rotted spot in the floor and forced herself through the tattered wood. I used a large pot this time but it went through all the way, making a hole big enough for a couple of chickens or one tiny pony. I found a big basket with tools in it and shoved it over the hole. Then I poked around with my fingers and found several other places where the floor had rotted out. I'm not a very good carpenter. When I made this shed I had a pretty good idea but somehow when it was done the fiberglass panels were not exactly overhanging the floor. They more or less pointed at the floor and when it rained the floor got wet. I had thought the plywood was pressure treated but after nearly 15 years I suppose it was too much even for pressure treated. Well, by now I had a bad case of "Bop-a-Hen" going with heads popping up all over the place. It took me several minutes of shoving baskets and bits of plywood before I felt the floor was fairly secure.

Another task for me to take up in the spring: rebuild the potting shed to be hen and rain proof. As I turned I noticed that the window on the east wall was only mostly done and there was a 4" gap along one side. It's one of those "measure twice, cut once" things I've read about. I'm more of a "slap it together and see what doesn't fall down" kind of builder. I took up a long thin piece of wood and looked around for a hammer and a nail. I'm not sure why I kept hammers and nails in a potting shed but there they were. So I tapped the nail into a random spot on the stick and started to nail it against the slot. Abruptly and rather like Night of the Living Hens Biddie leaped up and attached herself to the frame of the window while she tried to stick her head through the slot next to the window. I beat her back with the stick and was able to hammer it down to block the opening. Now all the hens were hammering with their wings against the blocked doorway and from under the floor. It was a feathered, clucking nightmare with me in the middle.

The blockages seem to be holding and I haven't spotted a hen in the potting shed or the garage lately, except... this morning I noticed a feather on the floor between the garage and the potting shed. It might have blown in, I suppose. It might be left over from my battle with the hens. It might have fallen out of my hat, which sports several nice feathers in the sweat band. But the hens are curiously quiet these days and they pace around the hen yard looking uninterested. So I think they're up to something. There seems to be more sand around the potting shed and the hens are looking dustier than normal. They also put a sign up over the big hen house that says "Stalag 13" and another one outside the potting shed that says "Free range means freedom!". I never should have shown them "Chicken Run" last summer.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Painful Reality

Yup, today is one of those days. Wet, cold and damp. Did I mention cold? Not very, actually but cold enough to make a thin film of ice on pavement. I almost lost it taking Margaret to the bus stop.
Going around the curve on Gailor Road I noted the fresh tire tracks heading for the rail and the evidence that somebody had recently done some work on the rails. This was as I was fish tailing around the corner. I seem to be able to steer fairly well in cases like this so you'd think it wouldn't make me as tense as I was. Trouble with getting tense is the muscles tighten up, your bones rub and your nerves get somewhat inflamed. Which is a fancy way of saying it hurts to get tense.

What I have at the top of my hip bone is a dense area of burning, stabbing pain that likes to occasionally feint going down the leg, but it never goes past the knee. Still it stabs and pokes and otherwise refuses to let me think of anything much but the specific region of pain. Right THERE!

I used to know this kid named Bob Mehan. We were maybe 12 or so, maybe younger, but Bobby was bigger than me, as was everybody else in the class. Trouble was Bobby was the biggest and I was the smallest so it was apparently his right to punish me for my size. He did this by greeting me every day with a pinch of the earlobe. He'd squeeze my earlobe until I writhed on the sidewalk begging him to let go. My father told me to hit him and he'd never bother me again. Dad was wrong. Bobby didn't get mad or anything, you don't get mad at a gnat buzzing by. He just squeezed harder and twisted. Now come back with me to today. Maybe Bobby died in Viet Nam, or a car crash, or maybe his soul is still hovering around me but now he's doing the same service to my lower back, just above the hip. He grabs that nerve and pinches and twists and I grit my teeth and beg him to stop.

I'm not whining, Dad. I'm just trying to explain to people who say things like "Oh, my back hurts too when it gets cold." because what I get is a bigger thing than "hurting". It's more like having a quarter of my body go over to the enemy and turning to assault the loyalists. Like a bayonet, maybe? A sucker punch that remains for several seconds?

Bottom line is it really sometimes sucks that the handful of pain meds I take don't do enough to allow me to function on a day to day basis. I still have to clean the kitchen and make sure the house is set up for having guests for a few days. I have to shop for food and put it away. That means Jess's vegetarian fare and healthy snacks for Jackie, whose heart condition has put her on a strict diet. I look forward to doing all this while gritting my teeth and watching the clocks to see how close I can get to the six hour mark and a new batch of pain meds. If you start taking them too close together you just get addicted and they stop working. That's how I got the thrill of withdrawal from codeine. Boy that was a lot of fun. But I'm not whining, Dad, I'm just telling it like it is.

It is very painful to be vertical on a cold damp day in upstate New York.

I still don't have a kitten to play with either. That bothers me. What kind of a house is catless? Why is there no cat food in the cabinet or catnip in the jar? A cat would curl in my lap and purr and the soft purr would slowly melt away the tension and reduce the spasms. The pills would kick in and I would be able to gently put the cat down on the bed and go finish my chores. That's the great thing about cats, they can cure you of melancholy or pain in just a few soft purrs. I know where the animal shelter is but it's a half hour of driving on slick pavement just to get a new companion. Is it worth it? What if their selection isn't the right selection? Well, Willie, you never know til you know. I should choke down some pills a few hours early and go rescue a cat. Yup, that's just what I ought to do.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm starting to get it!

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Now if I can figure out how to do this sort of code cut and paste thing with my original stuff. This was just a test.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Jess is certainly the greatest daughter I could have imagined. Well, maybe she doesn't have super powers nor can she operate on spinal columns, but she is a great little artist and a sweetheart besides. I'm very proud of her but as I look at my sweety-pie Margaret I recognize that the nut doesn't fall far from the tree. Still I will take credit for thrusting art books into her hands when she was an infant and I did advise her on the evils of men early on, giving her that cynical "show me" attitude which has spared her the worst of the creepy boys. Hopefully somebody will show up someday with a good attitude and good library. The books are important, in much the same way in the sixties I always checked out new friends' record collections. Jess's generation rips their "record" collection onto their MP3 players or hard drives and expect for the people (like Jess) who appreciate vinyl there aren't many ways to look into a person's soul except their books. Maybe their DVD's but that too is becoming tiny and digital.

Well, now the world has changed and Jess may be traveling in search of employment but we have to give Barack a few months to get things going here. Meanwhile she can spend Euros as easily as dollars and one must work to eat. It seems silly that someone as bright and as talented as Jess might have to cross an ocean for opportunnity but that is how much of America got filled up. Yes, we used to have opportunities but even a new President can't help a country as screwed up as George has left this one, not in a short time frame. He's gonna need at least two terms to filter out the legal crap Wall Street has nested itself within. Imagine the ticker tape parades with convoluted ticker tape faling from above to trickle down on us all. Yeah, maybe a few years in Europe will give Jess enough experience to come back home with more open doors to the world of design. Assuming America ever pulls out of the muck in time we should be able to see our girl fully employed, making the world a better place to live in. Now if she would just design a kitchen Margaret and I could agree on.

She's a babe, she's single but she doesn't take crap from bozo men-boys so don't apply unless you have an impressive porfolio of thoughts and dreams. It would help if you were employed, too. We have these student loans yet to deal with...
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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Baby Mok

I wasn't sure when to write about Mok. She was my best friend for some time and her passing was a huge dark cloud over our summer. When she came to us there was a great deal of emotion around it all. Margaret's sister was dying in the hospital and her cats were left alone in the apartment for weeks with just the occasional visitor to feed and water them. Eventually Bernice died and we had to deal with the cats. Two came home with Margaret after lots of clawing, hissing and running around. They were pretty wild. "Flufinella" and "Satanspawn" lived in a kennel for awhile in our back room as we tried to get them to relax around us. Fluffinella showed promise although she tended to lay on top of Satanspawn and dominate her. Then Fluffinella started pissing on the couch and crapping in the hallway. She showed no interest in the sandbox, which explained a lot about Bernice's apartment. Finally I decided to find a no-kill shelter for the two cats: one that couldn't be touched and one that couldn't be trained. Funny thing about a bad economy, shelters fill up with unwanted cats and we couldn't unload them. Meanwhile Fluffinella betrayed her cute name by clawing my arms as I tried to remove her from the kennel. Satanspawn just vanished into the nether reaches of the house. I decided Fluffy needed a new home, like any shelter that would take her, so she went away and my arms healed.

Eventually we got Satanspawn to reappear and take food. Jess decided that her name needed a change. She selected "Mok" from some association we never got clear. Mok began to pace around the house, slinking away from the people and hissing if approached. I tried wet food, dry food, catnip and so forth and eventually you could almost touch her as she ate. We lived in the same house like room mates with different schedules.

I've always felt cats could be approached on their terms and I began discussing life and the related concerns, like weather, food, and noises in the house. It was very similar to having a fight with my wife when she refused to talk to me but would allow me to hang around. Except wives don't get off on catnip. Mok and I started a relationship based mostly on herb and food. Margaret found that Mok would chase things like feathers on a string but she wouldn't release them, preferring to try to eat them. I don't know how long it took to have a good relationship with Mok, but we tried bribery mostly. I changed the timbre of my voice and eventually I could pet her if I was slow and gentle. She grew to like the attention. She learned I could be trained and she would tell me when the food dish was empty, or the wet food was dry or the water dish had dust in it. She had some siamese in her and her talking was very active. I could tell when she needed catnip as she would announce, "Meee yowah-owah yowser mowser meeyow meeyow...." and it was catnip time. She'd walk into the house, look down the hall for Margaret and ask "Hello Mahrgret?" very plainly. I'd tell her it wasn't time for the bus yet and Mok would walk into the bedroom, mumbling to herself.

We fixed a blanket at the end of the bed for Mok to sleep on and she seemed to enjoy bedtime best, almost as good as catnip. We found a cat bed at a local discount store and set it at the end of the bed. Mok was so happy that she had her own bed! She'd come and take naps in it during the day. Eventually she'd start out the night by pacing around the house telling us it was getting late. She'd stand at the doorway to the computer room and lecture Margaret about sitting too long. Then she'd find me and let me know how late it was getting. If I was smart enough to listen we'd go collect Margaret and go to bed. Mok would start out just within reach of our hands, getting stroked and whispered to, then climb into her bed and sleep. I found a tiny teddy bear in the basement among Jess's stuff and introduced it to Mok, telling her every child needs a teddy bear. She would touch noses with the bear upon climbing into bed and then curl up next to it. She was very proud of that bear, that she had gotten a personal toy just for Mok. We found a squishy turtle and a string she liked and they became bedroom toys. Mok began sleeping between Margaret and me, stealing warmth and snuggling happily with her best friends.

During the day Mok was interested in hunting outside by the bird feeders, or down in the lowlands, leaving mouse parts in the path for me to relocate. She was good at it, I saw her haul off a good sized rat! She'd practice hunting with Margaret, using feathers on strings as targets. Margaret was better at it than me, giving a good flick just at the right time. Mok spent many hours chasing that feather. Outside in the winter Mok would hide near the feeders, black on white but patient. In the summer she'd hide under a leaf. Eventually neighbor cats would start invading her turf, drawn by the many catnip plants in the garden plots. Fights would break out and as Mok was tough but small she'd often end up hiding on the roof or stuck in the chestnut tree. She started hunting across the street to avoid fights. I warned her about the cars but like all cats she thought she was fast enough to get by.

One weekend Jess was up for a visit and Mok did not come in after dark. We all called her but couldn't get her to come in. Mok could be stubborn, but she always came in before bedtime so she could snuggle with us in bed before snuggling with her teddy bear. The next morning I went out early to call her again. I found her stretched out on a bit of wading pond in the front yard. Someone had brought her home. Later I discovered it was our nighbor, Cathy who had found her body in the street, dead from a blow to the side of the head, a victim of her blackness and the cars which went by too fast to stop in time.

We buried Mok by Furlinghetti and Starr, not far from Fred's grave and we marked it with a stone. She was buried with some food for her journey, a big bag of catnip and of course her little teddy bear. We tucked her in her personal bed and covered her with one of my soft shirts so she won't be cold down there. I knew that sometimes I could be lonely when Margaret was at work but Mok would come and play and talk to me. Now it's just the loneliness keeping me company.

In this time of wars and elections we can miss the important things in life, like sitting in a comfortable chair stroking a furry friend, listening to the warm purr and chatting about life. Mok was one of the best friends I've had in life and I will miss her terribly.
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Friday, October 31, 2008


I'm beginning to understand the bears, and not just their fondness for berries and honey. I mean the drive to find a warm, soft bed and just sleep it off, the whole summer thing. We had them haul away a ten yard dumpster this week, filled with broken windows, stained rugs and boxes filled with packing peanuts. We kept hauling things out of the garage, the basement and yard until I was sure there was nothing left. Then I'd spot an old window with a cracked pane leaning against the "potting shed". We left behind the larger pieces of iron and aluminum for the kid across the street. He has an old truck he uses to haul scrap away to sell to the guy in town. He'll end up rich someday with a fleet of old trucks, all running on LP gas or something.

I wonder if a hangnail can be fatal? I'm stuck typing with three fingers since my left pointer got that steel pin awhile back and now one of the three has a wicked hangnail, forcing me into a two finger mode. That takes longer and makes me work more. This is supposed to be more fun and have less pain, but then at least I'm not bleeding. I've been trying to take pics in the early morning to catch some nice lighting, what with all the poplars having a few boughs left of those golden leaves I like so much. The oaks are playing around with some subtle shades of bronze. The camera doesn't seem to catch the more subtle tones but sometimes it works. I also got some shots around the altar, showing off the new ent-tree.

Two to three hours after taking my morning meds I find that the combination of several cups of coffee and several pills makes me very drowsy, but I will try to upload one picture before I take a wee nap.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gloomy Tuesday

Tuesday is originally the day sacred to Tyr, the god of the sky and today is dominated by the sky, with its big grey presence and its never ending dreary rain! Everything is soggy and I find myself checking the thermostat to see if it's too cold to do some clay work. I don't need to check it, if I have a question about the air then it's not a good time to try artwork. Back awhile I would have had my camera out, trying to capture the subtle shades of grey in a cloud or the textures of a rain dampened lawn. I don't do that very much now but I tend to think that what I've done stands on its own, needing no sequel or follow-up. Besides I'm not sure that the screen captures the details an eye can take in. Maybe that's ego, maybe it's being lazy but I'd rather try to stay warm and find some distraction. Food is good.

I started simmering a bit of game hen about 4 PM and it's pretty much ready to work over now. With a bit of celery and tater and maybe something in the allium family... ya never know how far this could go. A lot depends on my spinal issues, if there's a lot of details and staying in one spot I might just pass, so the fibromyalgia doesn't get pissy. Amazing that perception of reality could shift so. I started out thinking I was fine and even after the various accidents I felt pretty good, occasionally twinges of pain but nothing too bad, until that winter and then the cold taught me that my body was not my slave and that I could be very unhappy inside my skin. Nonsense.

That I would have to stop pounding hot iron, or oak stakes, or axing some tree or carrying a bucket of clay from the local stream just never occurred to me. I figured I'd skate along fairly unchanged. Boy, that was just what it was: naive. Your consciousness is framed by your body, by what's in your gut and what's in your groin and what's going on inside your head. So when your spine is making all kinds of body parts hurt you had better believe that YOU are going to change and in a deep way. I always thought I existed and more or less created my universe through perception, but consider that with chronic pain you have to ask, "Who would wish this on themselves?".

It's not that it defines you, but, for instance tonight, when the therapies and nerve blocks and cutting and so on don't do crap because it's cold and rainy and you hurt, what are you to make of your hold on reality? Why would any consciousness want to roil in this kind of surface? It staggers the imagination. On the other hand, if the Universe were relatively young, maybe this slapping around is thought to be "fun" by the slapper. Nah, I think it's just the way things work out. My parts move better in warm weather but my brain works fine regardless, so here I live and look forward to my snowshoes.

I'll drag this old hulk around like Captain Ahab, who killed Moby Dick and dragged his stinking carcass across the ocean to the nearest harbor to brag about the hunt and the end of the great white whale. Nobody will know the final part of my story either, because like Ahab the final words are written after the means to transmit them are cut off. You could type all day on an excellent blog, only to have it wiped out with a bit of lightning on a nearby tree. That's why we save when we can and send when we must.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Approaching All-Saints Day and Night

Well, as I was saying a moment ago to my pal: there's a season for everything, and if the roots are not severed the garden will prosper in the spring. I hold on to hope like that, that the next idiot in the White House is more like Chance than Crazy-Ass Mc-Cain. Doesn't anybody read the Bible for its rich library of knowledge of human nature? The guys on TV local late at night cable station 2.3 may be nuts, but they got a thing going on "It's a little bit strange lately.." Every since they brought back moon dust people have started getting just all messed up and plain stupid.

It's so bad I'm tempted to throw the stalks and read the hexagrams in the long form just to try to find some order in the chaos. Like to like, they say, and you can read into things how you like, but I like the way the Book of Changes says it.

I have to wonder what it is that we are approaching, dark in the night, when we approach adulthood. I have to wonder why I went through all those years of just hanging on if I'm the only one who remembers it all? I suppose my adventures on the road, homeless, penniless and without any obvious worthwhile skills, don't merit much attention, being as how little I did that changed the world. But still, hearing these dire predictions and wondering what will happen to those poor people who invested in the stock market puts one at odds with ones own emotions . I don't own stock, not even indirectly as far as I know. So the DOW means little to me. I'm sorry it's failing, but unlike a fawn, a DOW is a construct and they can be de-constructed easily enough.

The thing is that even the sympathy you feel for the millionaires is tempered by the lack of zeros in our own little nest egg. Certainly, as my retirement rests with the Nation, if it fails, so do I. That would be awkward but at that point your pensions is the least of your worries especially if your potatoes didn't do so hot that summer, or your beans or onions. Doesn't take much to screw around with your balances internally and externally. There you are: suddenly "different", like maybe poorly dressed begging for quarters for hot coffee. It has happened to Kings and none of us are kings, but we sometimes act like we think we are. Imagine a whole layer of society which never had to beg for food in its collective consciousness. Never had to beg for pity, empathy or water. Those people could never "get it" about being that hungry, that pared down to a fine point.

Whether it's the people who dropped the napalm or the people who remember the night the napalm was dropped, there is a lack of understanding. No sane person puts itself in risk, yet begging for food admits a weakness so profound that there is no doubt that one is helpless before any display of force or indifference. One of the strangest ironies in this current War is that the technologies which went into producing these Smart Bombs could be used in such a way as to profoundly enhance the lives of the people who suffer under their usage. I expect that the many thousands or millions who were only partly affected by our shock and awe tactics, would make every attempt to acquire those support technologies and use them to make the rest of us suffer. They might even figure out a way to make it pay. They might even become our sub-contractors in future wars and wait for a good time to do something nasty to us. I don't know, but I hear people do get off on "an eye for an eye". It sounds like voodoo to me though.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Falling into winter

Today I start walking in water. Yup, it's an exercise. The water is in a pool and a treadmill is in the water and the idea is that since I need to lose weight and my spine is compressing as a result if I walk in water I weigh about 1/4 normal. This allows me to burn some calories, tighten my gut and butt and feel more positive about things. It's pretty cool: the new medical center is only about 3 miles away and they do acupuncture and various other kinds of things, most of which the insurance covers. My fibromyalgia must feel threatened by all this because my hands and arms have been aching rather a lot and combined with my back pain I'm not a happy camper. I am getting used to hurting all the time, now I have to get so used to it that I just ignore it. At the moment it still pisses me off that I feel like an old man at 58.

The arm pain is fairly new. It's like somebody has hold of my forearm and is squeezing it down really tight. The hands feel like I've been blacksmithing all day, which is ridiculous. Hell, there's moss growing on my anvil and a tiny poplar tree in the Hardee hole. NO, there's no excuse for it. Could be bursitis or something, too, but I hate to think I'm developing yet another "itis" that represents by pain. It does help a bit to breathe, prana breathing is good for that. It is hard to walk around and do things like wash dishes while doing that deep, careful breathing, especially when listening to CNN makes me yell obscene remarks every few minutes. I should learn more self control.

On the political side the empire continues its tumble down into fascism. If President Palin decides to require school prayer and asserts that we, as a nation, must prepare for the End Times I suppose that will be the final death knell of this country. I wish I could believe that the elections will be fair and honest this time, but the last two certainly formed a pattern and it is a well known truth that once absolute power is given to a deranged individual they are loathe to give it up. I wonder how Cheney will insert his ugly head into the new administration. Maybe Secretary of Finance, he'd like that.

Finally, I'd like to introduce you all to Brewster. He's an odd bird with many cute mannerisms, like fluffing up like a fighting cock and jumping the hens. So far no crowing, so he may live, but if he bothers the hens or makes them set on their eggs all day we may have to have a talk. I already have two offers to take him. He does have pretty green feathers in his tail. I don't know, you decide if he's worth the feed. I have to go out into the never-ending rain and open the hen houses. I really need to clean the floor of the little house, it's got a strong ammonia odor, but the damn rain won't stop! I hate raking and shoveling wet chicken poop. Well maybe tomorrow we'll see the sun. Meanwhile, enjoy Brewster's first official portrait.

Friday, September 19, 2008


One of the pieces I fired recently was a birdhouse shaped like a smurf house. The roof was sculpted like a thatched cottage and the door was very organic and had a little lip of a thing above the opening. I guesstimated the size of the door with my thumb and then built a base designed to fit over most pointy posts. Finally I put a hole in the base so you could secure it.

I've had it stuck on a post out in the back garden on the path to the studio. I was seeing how the mounting worked and getting an idea of how it would be to have that house there. This afternoon I noticed that as I passed the birdhouse on my way back to my kitchen a chickadee flew to the birdhouse door. It landed on the sill, looked around and inside and then popped in. It turned around and popped its head out. Seemed to be pretty satisfied with the place. So, I'm feeling positive about that particular design and that particular house. I think I have to get beefier on the stake holding it up. If we got a wet winter it might drop the house. I also have to waterproof it with beeswax.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A quote from Dick Cheney

I got this from a site just now. It's a quote from our VP about the powers of the President that needs to get tossed around the internet. It's from the Iran-Contra hearings, so younger voters may not recall the name Oliver North but the SOB is still working in the White House. This quote explains why the assholes in the White House keep telling us that the President is above the law and he can pass on that "get out of jail free" card to anybody he so chooses. Here's the quote:
"To the extent that the Constitution and laws are read narrowly, as Jefferson wished, the Chief Executive will on occasion feel duty bound to assert monarchical notions of prerogative that will permit him to exceed the law."

Now tell me again how this country is a democracy when the President, the chief representative of the Constitutional authority granted by the People, can freely break every law on the books, international treaties, state's laws and Federal?? Who the hell told Cheney that our country is a free for all? Somebody who has a faster trigger finger needs to go hunting with that man. Because he ain't letting go of unlimited power without a fight, you know that!

"Duty bound to exceed the law..." Then why do we bother with laws and the Constitution if one man can overthrow all restraints and restrictions and kill, rape, torture, whatever he feels covers the situation? Hell if the Pres can do all that why was getting a blow job worthy of impeachment? Even if we pretend they tried to impeach Clinton for lying about the blow job under oath, the Vice President himself says that every now and then the President is duty bound to exceed the law. Which effectively says that there is NO LAW IN AMERICA save the whims of the President.

I say fuck them all, fuck them all to Hell! 100,000+ dead innocent people, tens of thousands injured, maimed, raped, and driven from their homes because President Bush and his other head are duty bound to exceed the law. I always was taught they were duty bound to obey and protect the law. Stupid me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ah Well

As we approach the equinox, the time when Persephone or Her Great Grandmother, Inanna, descends to the Underworld, we take time to look around and smell the air. Those leaves dropping onto dry grasses and melting into soil are gasping out their last breath of fresh air, scented with their wetness and decay. That sweet invigorating feel as you limp up to the hen houses is a way of wrapping you up in the Great Circle. It reminds you like a slap in the face that things are moving along, with you and regardless of your intent. My foot slips on a brown bit of an apple and my hip reminds me I forgot my cane. The birds are getting the message, their fights are brief and closer to the seed. Before, in mid summer, they would chase each other up and down the slope, into and out of the chestnut and the big apple. Now they fight while trying to hang on to the feeder and stuffing their beaks between squawks like Harpo at a high society bash.

Most feeders emulate Nature or natural settings. Piles of seeds from grass heads landing in a hollow make sense, as does a stash of seed in a hole in a tree, like the vertical tube-type ones hanging from a shepherd's crook. But the new suet feeder is different. It is a little roof with a wire screen across the underside and suet inside the little attic. Birds clutch the screen upside down and eat the suet from underneath. But under what circumstances would a little bird be hanging upside down eating a pile of fat? Maybe in the distant past when they were velociraptors they would attach to the bellies of huge saurapods, eating the hanging fat. That's a disturbing thought when you look at big flocks of little bird fighting over seeds and suet. Good thing they developed those beaks instead of those big mouths full of serrated blades. Woof, can you imagine looking up an old elm and seeing about 75 of these guys with mouths agape like a tiny white shark? Then, with a whoosh they mistake you for a steak and you run like hell for the potting shed, but your hip feels on fire and you can't fight them off because you forgot to bring your cane. You die there under the young maple, your blood staining the hostas and English ivy.

That's just such a morbid, yet natural thought stream. Animals do eat other animals through some process or another, especially big omnivores. If cows were the size of houses I bet somebody would be running around underneath one, sampling the flank steaks. But the last gasp of a giant cow, the brief yet sturdy fart that covers the earth in silent but deadly fog, drifts away and disperses, leaving behind dinner for eighty. Aas the earth heats up, the plants get bigger and last longer into the winter season. The big plants invite big plant eaters which invite big omnis and carnies. Last time it was elephants and giraffes, this time, with us meddling around with the DNA, maybe chickens with big breasts. Our grandchildren may go out hunting in teams to bring down the Great Rhode Island Red. Some may not come home, some may come home wounded. But the ones who finally bring her down and get to fry up the gizzards themselves, they are the proud ones, new adults in a primitive time where those without cable no nothing of the outside world. Those with cable know what is considered appropriate by the people who own the cable, and the people.

One time, a long time ago, I was in the Phoenix zoo, walking around to the pens and looking at the various exotic critters. Dad had been one of the surveyors who laid the zoo out, so I felt some emotion of ownership looking around. I stopped at a big corral with emus and ostriches, turkeys and peacocks. Dad had owned some peacocks before, they shrieked at the rising sun. Really aggressive and mean birds, actually. About this time an emu came up, looking at me intently. I looked back. It seemed to annoy him. Or her. Then, abruptly, it pecked at my right eye and nailed my glasses. I jumped back but it leaned into the next one, aimed at my left eye. Bang! On the glasses. I backed away and walked down where the peacocks were hanging around under a sage bush. They shrieked at me.

Eventually I was thrown out for trying to fish coins out of a wishing well with a stick and some gum. I was mostly trying to see if you could do such a thing. There were many movies and cartoons where somebody did it. I couldn't make the coins stick to the wet gum, and it tried to drop off several times. See, I had been snotted at by an anteater, had my lunch stolen by a baby elephant and a giraffe and I figured the place owed me something. I was cast out of the garden and a gaggle of angry grey geese were posted at the gate to keep me out. The last time I was there the geese were gone.

My garden has an open door policy, except for woodchucks. And maybe foxes. Foxes and raccoons and possums and white tail deer. All the birds are welcome, and snakes. Actually geese are not so welcome. In the fruit trees, under the apples, yeah sure, but not in the garden. they eat all the beans in no time and probably talk all the time they did it. I can imagine one of them suddenly gasping and clutching at her throat, a string bean caught in sideways. She's flapping her wings and making snorking sounds but none of the other geese notice, they're too busy honking and eating. I have to do a Heimlich maneuver on the poor critter. The bean has to be gently turned by massaging her neck and then suddenly you catch her under the wishbone and give a quick squeeze in. She honks loudly and the bean pops out. The goose stands on shaky feet, breathing in long ragged breaths. Then she turns her long grey neck, gazes at me with those black beady eyes and tries to peck out my right eye. I slap her silly, which is easy with a goose, and she joins her flock, eating and gaggling. Then I'm back here, now, and there are no geese in my garden. I breathe a sigh of relief. No geese, only chickens and they are easy to distract. If you catch one staring at your eye, just look suddenly to one side. Works every time.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

New daze a-coming

Do we blog to give news to those we never write? If so, Mom better learn to get online, because I always call her and I never write.

I'm reading "The Brain that Changes Itself", a very interesting idea which is being confirmed regularly by researchers. Seems our environment, including our thoughts, can modify the structure of our brains. It should have been obvious, they've been writing about this since the 1700's but it's been set aside primarily because the arrogance of the medical profession knows no bounds. They decided that the brain is a machine, later a computer, and we all know that machines don't change themselves. (But then neither do babies, although they do change). Trouble is the brain is a fluid, a thick fluid in motion and that implies change, even serious change. So if they remove part of your brain due to injury you will retrain parts of the brain to do what used to be done in the missing part. In theory you can learn to see with your skin and there are experiments proving this idea. Yup, blind people getting around with missing or damaged eyes by seeing with their skin.

Now, if the sense and brain function are mutable and can be changed by thoughts over time, then it should be obvious where I'm going with this. My son has been sitting in his chair or sleeping in his bed, with no training, no help and surrounded by doctors who have given up. He's a vegetable to them and they say so out loud. He hears and reacts internally by no healing. Way to go, docs, talk about self-fulfilling prophecy. Now, I have heard about a system called patterning wherein brain damaged people are held up in an all-fours stance and people move their arms and legs to emulate a baby crawling. Seems this deep memory is first in, last out. So the brain then builds on this (again) and begins to reprogram neurons, build new ones and eventually the body knows how to crawl on it's own. Like the first time we crawled they build on this skill set to learn other things lost by the injury. It works and is controversial because most doctors work within their own skill set and dislike acquiring new ones. The brain is a machine, they say and cannnot be rebuilt. Lucky for them they are wrong.

To do this therapy you need several strong workers and Jon's doctors have few. You need a doctor who understands and cares about the situation and Jon has none. You need time and space. Jon has those but it's not enough. With minimal help and no therapies Jon's destination is early death, most likely from pneumonia. They predict it and they cause it, very convenient.

Why would you place a brain injury facility in a factory town hours away from a medical research facility? Because the building was cheap. Why would you fund it so low they could not hire trained help? Because you are a politician running on a small government platform. Why would a family place their son there? Because it was the only place in the United States willing to take him. Why would you not show up every day to do the work yourself? Because your back is broken in several places and the pain is too much to bear. Your self confidence is slipping away as you see your son decline. What can save your sanity? Faith.

I have seen quiet miracles and they all involved energies traditionally associated with the feminine divinity. It fits my paradigm. What is it about this faith that keeps you sane? Well, for one thing there is the Great Circle which affirms that all life is part of Life and although it can be changed into a new form it can never be destroyed. So Jon is immortal, even though he might cease to be my son. In fact, over time he could become my father or mother! So we cannot change some things by force of desire, we need certain physical things to be in place, and in Jon's case they are not now, nor will they be in place before his death. It would require people to care
about others and looking around I don't see that happening soon. America cares about moving lots of wealth into the hands of a few wealthy people. We identify with these "figures of earth" and believe in them the same way the Romans believed in the divinity of their emperors. We think of them as the localized manifestations of our nation. If they are rich, America is rich. If they are strong, then we are strong. It's a pathetic way to look at life, not an evil one. It's a way born from ignorance and it leads to a funny, awkward arrogance.

How can we be so confused and arrogant? We are trained to be submissive, arrogant and ignorant, like an illiterate butler or scullery maid. We know what we know and we know what we are told. It's enough for most of us to browse at the malls and be milked at the polls. It might be kinder to leave the masses in the meadow and look to our own lives. We need electricity to run the computers so we can shop, listen to music, learn international news and write our blogs. We need email to understand that we are not alone in our thoughts and we have friends we never knew. But we also learn that we are stranded on an island of reason in an ocean of ignorance. We learn that millions think that welfare recipients are lazy and devious. We learn that millions are homeless because our noble aristocracy have sucked up so much money there's none left for the poor. We learn that our born-again administration has murdered hundreds of thousands of women and children to get access to foreign oil. We learn that the effort was not only a fraud, but it failed, so gas prices will remain high, but the people who caused this price hike are the people who started the wars and the people who have oil tankers named after them. We learn that like a dog with ticks it takes outside help for us to rid ourselves of these greedy, evil people. We also learn that our masters have told the world that we have done this to ourselves, we elected these leaders and told them to do what they do best, cheat and steal and murder. If we live in a democracy then we are co-defendants. But of course we live in an autocracy, not a democracy and that is where the system breaks down.

History teaches me that every republic breaks down into a fascist state, followed by dictatorship, followed by collapse and regrouping. In a fascist state the elections are rigged to support the ruling party, thus we never see a viable "3rd party candidate". That's about where we are now. But with rigged elections it's just about who is in power within the party. Eventually one is "elected" who doesn't want just 8 years and decides to rule on. Instead of a rotating dictatorship we get the old fashioned dictatorship. We are very close to this stage now. But as we are bankrupted we can find backers. China can buy large parts of the United States with the blessings of those in charge of the country. They get the interest or a commission and China gets Freddie Mac. Saves China a heck of a lot of money in the long run and China is famous for thinking about the long run. So now China owns most of America. Thousands of mortgages, homes, businesses are about to be owned by China, India and Britain. Maybe Japan. America is broken up in de-facto regions controlled by who owns the money. Corporate rule becomes the norm. Where will the poor go? To work camps and factories, working for the middle class Chinese. "Made in America" will at first be like the old "made in Japan" label: crude, cheap and easy. We make great Adirondack chairs but the Thai people can do anything with wood. We make gadgets and widgets and beef steaks and the Japanese like the beef, so we are partly there.

If you talk about the collapse of the American empire you get many reactions from the Americans. They claim we can't collapse because the world "needs us". How exactly are we needed by the world? We consume vast amounts of goods. Suppose consumerism is shown to be a major cause of global climate change? Then our "attribute" because a severe deficit! What else can we do? We innovate and the Japanese fine tune, is one claim. Well, that's absurd in the face of it, but even if we did it is a skill set easily transported and taught. Witness that a French designer has developed cars and machines which run on compressed air and can run for 150 miles between charges. We can get our cars to develop less than 30 MPG and still pollute and run on gas. We can't seem to think beyond what we know already. It might just be that our culture is anti-intellect. Could that be? Well, fascists don't like innovation. They like Norse legends, big spectacles, parades of tanks and a single party system. So America no longer is set up for innovation. We're set up for economic and cultural collapse. But that's a good thing. The closer we get to total collapse the closer we get to removing the shackles which connect us to a failed political system. If we were a country of communes, co-ops, credit unions and small schools we could be a country of organic farmers, wind power farms, bicycles and trolleys. We would have no huge army to support, no Federal government, just regional supervisors and coordinators. If we saw the advantage in small homes and lawn-less communities we would not try to export our way of life. We could not select a "world leader" to lead us to a great destiny. We'd be able to put food on the tables and insure that sick people got well. We would have enough people to work with the tens of thousands of brain injured combat vets and get them walking and working again. We could save people like my son. But all of this will happen after Jon dies.

Politics as usual means the death of a nation so deep in debt it cannot feed its hungry, house its homeless and heal its sick. But nothing dies, it merely is reborn as something else says the Great Mother. So we can expect great things from what is left of this nation, and our grandchildren will find work somewhere in the world and have children of their own. They may not call themselves "Americans" but what's in a name? My son is called "vegetative" but his mind works like a mans and his thoughts are not of photosynthesis but of bathing in warm springs, kissing soft lips and driving to Alaska in his old VW Van. Hopefully in his dreams he installs seat belts and wears them, but maybe in his dreams there is no black ice, no out of control trucks.

I've seen Jon smile, so I now know he can think of happiness. I've seen him cry, so I know he misses me when I am not there. It's not a lot to hang your hat on, but it allows me my faith in the way things are, the Great Circle which carries us all around again and again, in one form and out of another. Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth and see the life all around you.

Every father says goodbye to his child in time. Goodbye does not mean forever, it's a form of "Good Night".

Monday, August 11, 2008

Surfacing Thoughts

On Surfaces

There's so much to be said about surfaces, but the essence of what I want to say is that we are all too often confused by surfaces or too obligated to surfaces. It's one thing to use a surface to walk, but if you tried to pluck a picture from a magazine people would think you very ignorant. Yet we try to pluck truth from spoken words every day, and we trust that what we see is what we got. One of our religions, for instance, says that surfaces imply truths which are false, i.e.,the top of a table is solid matter. We have faith through this religion that the table itself is mostly vacuum and electrical activity, tiny wavelengths buzzing along at incredible speeds. We trust this is true yet we still put our beer on the table top, never expecting the atoms of the beer and glass to slip past the atoms of the table top and drop to the floor, or even continue onwards to the center of the earth. That would be just silly. The contradiction might make you crazy, but we adopt an unspoken rule that surfaces are real, they mean what they say. We are always getting blindsided by rules like this, as our beer crashes to the floor.

Let me try an example of surfaces not being what they are. Down in the Other America there's a spot on the map where people live who raise Guinea pigs. They have a ritual celebration where they dress up the rodents in doll clothes, party hardy and then kill and eat them. After cooking them. Funny thing is, reporters, writers and tourists from the Real America travel to that spot to watch, write about and eat the pigs. How do surfaces lie here, you ask? Well, looking at Barbie Pig and Elvis Pig you'd not realize you were looking at lunch unless you looked past the surfaces and see the red meat and organs in there, and maybe beyond that the protein, fats and liquids you need to survive.

Yet, if you did that sort of thing every day to every thing, you'd have to be put down like they did that nice boy, Jeffery Dahmer. It's just that surfaces lie, and they also tell a truth, but sometimes because they tell many truths we get confused and pick just a few to believe in, and dismiss the rest. For instance, the soldiers protecting Germany in the 1940's were called monsters by the people they were taking over, yet when the Nazi's killed a young boy to the best of my knowledge they did not then eat the child. I don't think they generally ate many of their captives either, unlike Jeff. They did cook millions of their captives, and that was monstrous. Yet their Leader did rebuild the economy, on a war footing perhaps, but still vibrant and up and running. He simply was stark staring mad, and he surrounded himself with similar people, or people who had no ethical, moral stances which would preclude making a great deal of money in the mean time. The people who simply went to work at their old same jobs and fed their families as best they could, these Germans are treated with an ambivalent observation. We might say they were only following orders, or that they never really believed it could happen in their own back yards, by people who were freely elected under a democratic system of government. Couldn't happen here.

In late summer I walk on slowly dying plants, gasping out their last oxygen breath as I trample on by, pulling my little mauve wagon. I never knew about the plant, nor the bug, nor the skeeter. So life is taken, although we never saw, and life is moved around as Mok jumps on and eats a grasshopper. At what point did one become the other? Yet I see it happen and am not put out by the contradiction. As long as there is some steady bit of surface I can stand on I find it hard to worry about the far edges of my reality. This all changes when I pass a mirror.

If in the mirror I see an aging man with a tired look in his eyes, I am myself more tired. So I fool myself. I fool myself at first into thinking that other guy is me, but look! He's left handed, and I am right handed. Oh, he's about the right age I suppose, but I take better care of myself clearly. I suppose I should say something, but maybe I'll just wave or extend my hand. And then the illusion of a solid piece of glass, a solid which is actually mostly vacuum, intrudes on the illusion of my own mortal coil and I recoil, having hit my index finger, the one with the steel screw in the ex-joint. I come to understand some physics here and some neurobiology as well. The vacuum I thought was empty was actually filled with what was invisible to me, perhaps some energy without mass or particle. Some relationship, a mathematics or geometry, but it repels me and I jump back. My universe changes and I see myself again: eyes wide, mouth slightly open and some pain between the brows from hitting the mirror with my bad finger. It's me, I guess, and I am who I am, yet I know that for an instant I was myself observing my image in the mirror and the person being reflected, for the “I” was not reflected, just the “me”.

I walk down my street in the county of and state of, in this country of, and I look around. It looks almost the same, yet that's just on the surface. Overnight, and even now, it changes and I am fooled not a whit by the surface. I take a step, I feel with my foot, I take another. One at a time I trust in this old earth to support me and keep me afloat about this swirling sea of energy and particles in motion.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


So, anyway, things move along. Not so much with Jon as they are no longer doing much of anything with Jon. Why bother working on a man with no thoughts? Well, suppose the man is thinking like a good thing but just can't get his body to move. Of course they test him. They walk in and say "Well, William, can you move your arms for me? NO? Can you tell me the date? NO? He must be brain dead." and they walk out. So nothing much going on with Jon. If I could be there every freaking day and I did all the work, I am quite confident that we'd have Jon controlling a computer and letting us know what he wants out of what's left of his life. Suppose he wants to read War and Peace? Somebody has to help him. The problem with this plan is it requires me to have a healthy intact body, and I don't. Point of fact the back is getting worse, rather a lot. Now just climbing into the car starts the pain in my legs, much less driving for two hours. So after they burn my sciatic nerves in half I should be able to go down and see him, but with gas at $4.19 I won't be able to afford to do this very often. Sometimes life sucks.

On the home front, though, things are looking up. I have a gallery going to show my sculptures for two months in August and September. I get to design the show, all my ideas and set up, which is nicer than some galleries where they do the work of set up and you have to hope they know how your stuff looks best. Clearly the Dance Museum did not know how to show sculpture. They put my work down too low, with poor lighting and then broke a finger off Dancer because they had it in the wrong location! Crap. But then I have a mask image in an online gallery about pain and art, two subjects I know a lot about. Anyway with multiple sculptures and vessels, masks etc on display during track season and Skidmore College starting up I expect some notice.

Then we have the kiln... A Skutt 1027, fully computer controlled is sitting in the garage waiting for a spot in the basement. We bought it online and it is pristine! Should be great for oxidation firing. (electric as opposed to gas or wood) and that means the colors will be true from the mason stains. Reduction firing in a wood or gas kiln turns mason stains dark, not pretty. Plus the iron in the oxide stain turns black rather than red. This will make firing tiles exceptionally easy. Larger sculptures can be fired by taking the kiln apart, which is easy enough. Place the piece on the base and then assemble the kiln around it. No lowering it into a narrow kiln opening risking breaking off parts. So with the electric working and the gas burners getting mounted on the frame of the noborigama kiln I should be able to fire anything I need. Means my work will be ready to show at a moment's notice.

The garden is looking very nice even after the attacks of the killer woodchuck. So far I have caught a chipmunk and a skunk in my traps but the woodchuck still gets in and is nibbling the leaves of the Brussels sprouts. I put the big trap out last night but so far nothing. The skunk was quite pretty by the way. It's back was almost solid white with a narrow white stripe down it's nose. So far we have growing in the garden: Brussels sprouts, pole beans, sunflowers, yellow pear tomatoes, Brandywine tomatoes, Oxheart tomatoes, Genovese tomatoes, Rutgers tomatoes, Fourth of July tomatoes, red potatoes, snow peas, bush peas, lima beans, Anaheim peppers, spinach, romaine lettuce, purple basil, green basil, amaranth, asparagus, onions, leeks, blueberries, raspberries, black caps, black berries, rhubarb, hops, feverfew, coneflower, irises, squashes etc etc. I won't try to detail the flowers in the various beds in the yard because there must be over a hundred types. We're very happy with the tiller for keeping the walkways cleared of tall weeds. I let plantain and gill grow here and there because they are low and you can't kill them anyway. Plus the plantain is good for lung disorders.

It's raining, dreary and cool. I have four altars designed for the show in August and I need to build about 6 pedestals maybe 24" square and 3' high. I don't think I'm going to try the Jon series of masks because it would distract from the altars, besides the gallery owner likes the idea of altars, being pagan herself. I have a neolithic altar, bronze age altar, late bronze age and shamanic altars. They all look good and if I could get the light right they'd be great, but that requires a larger room and dim lights.

Anyway I can't sit much longer so I will stop and get back to setting up the small hen house for the new chicks and going through my sculptures looking for appropriate work to display. I'll upload a picture when I get a good one.

Monday, June 23, 2008

new browser and cat screams

I'm trying out Flock to see if my web experience can be enhanced. Hmmmm. Well there is a fox living in a hollow log down the slope. She seems to have only one baby and that one likes to sneak out into the sun while mom is eating sunflower seeds under the bird feeder. Mom notices and barks at him and then she splits to the front yard and he dives back into the brush. It's happened a couple of times and would be charming except we have 12 Rhode Island Red chicks in a brooder in the garage. Sooner or later they'll have enough feathers to get their own yard and then the foxes become more problematic. Like tonight, when the cat screamed bloody murder outside in the dark. We can't find her right now and it might be the cat next door fighting our cat or it could be the fox, or the big raccoon. Might be a coyote. One never knows. Well, maybe before bedtime she'll show up. Gee I hope so. I just got back into loving a cat after losing three in one summer. I didn't want to, but she's so sweet and lovable. And maybe dead. That would not be fun. Okay, I'll let you know.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Merv Griffin

The last time Jess was up she brought a friend, a kid named Ritchie. Nice kid, very quiet and so forth. Anyway I brought him up to the studio to see some more of my work. We walked about while I explained things,
"This is a portrait of my second wife, The Witch of the East. This is another Persephone..." until we came to one of my latest pieces, the Griffin. I've been adding color to it and looking at it, getting it right.
"His name is Mervin." I said.
"Merv Griffin. Huh." The kid responded. I've shown this to a few folk and he was the only one to "get it" and when you think that Merv Griffin is not a household name anymore... I think. Anyway I was impressed. So he's complete now, I think. He's got a name. Meet Merv Griffin.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Back Yard

This is a picture of my back yard, taken a few days ago. The lupines haven't quite opened up but they have today. Lilacs are spotted around the yard, white ones, red ones and of course the lilac ones. Some day they will be big old things and the yard will smell of their flowers. Up towards the top you can see the gate to the veggie garden but you can't quite make out the line of tomato cages along the path to the gate. I put in Oxhearts separated by amaranths and basil. This way I can walk out to the garden to collect lettuce, onions, spinach and then walk back and pick big orange tomatoes and maybe some basil to make a nice pesto. Oh I do like to eat my yard.
If you look at the crook with the bird feeder hanging from it you can see the suet on the other side complete with woodpecker digging away. The path through the wooden arch goes to the studio and past the berries and grapes. The herb garden in the stone circle started out more herby but now has a mix of flowers and herbs. Ornamental onions, lavender, oregano and sage all have bluish-purple flowers so it works well. Violets are mixed in everywhere. The flowers and leaves can go into a salad and they have a nice relaxing chemistry. Oh yeah, and by the right of the gate you can make out the white plastic tub I made into a compost bin for things like squash to grow out of. It's very nice out there. Many a guest has remarked on the quiet and calm in the back yard. Some have come back several times just to walk around. I wonder if the pheasants and foxes actually intend to come and get stuck in the garden? Maybe it's in some animal version of AAA tour books.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Pheasant Afternoon

Well, here's a pheasant that wandered into the garden. We watched him walking around the same corner of the garden for about an hour and then we decided to show him where the gate was. It took a few minutes for him to work up the courage, especially as Mok the cat kept walking over for a look-see, but finally he walked out through the gate and took off running. Mok gave a little chase followed by Margaret but the pheasant made it across the street without being hit by a car or caught by a ninja cat. This is just another reason I love living where I do. We got foxes, deer, racoons, possums, coyotes and all kinds of beautiful birds. Life in upstate New York.
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Monday, March 31, 2008

The times they are a-changing

When Jon first got hurt I thought I was in some sort of deep dark well. I knew there was light somewhere, some answers about brain injury and coma but I didn't know where to look. Now if you do a Google search for traumatic brain injury you find all kinds of articles and stories and web pages. It's a lot easier to find things out. I think a lot of it is due to the people coming back from the War with various degrees of brain injuries. With a sudden upswing of people needing to know more about what to do the MSM is sniffing up a good story. After all, it's insidious. You never know what symptoms might pop up. On the support group I read about a man dealing with his wife's tendency to bite him when he tries to help her. There's always the sudden personality changes that happen with TBI, like the church going kid who suddenly starts shoplifting and swearing. Now multiply these problems by tens of thousands and you get an idea of what is happening in American families all over the country.

We're getting ready to start making more soaps and taking them down to Lake Katrine to try to sell to Jon's nurses. I figure I need to get my back to a place where I can drive down again with minimal pain. Hell, just sitting here typing is hurting me pretty bad, but I want to try to lay out the basic story here and then take the posts and compile them into a book on the family, assuming my big sister will finally honor her promise about sending me those diaries. Otherwise I have to just write about Jon and frankly there isn't a lot to say after the big seizures he had. He hasn't moved much at all since then, except for those occasional rare episodes that get me all excited again but never happen for the doctors. It reminds me of a paranormal problem I read about years ago: what if ghosts never can appear in front of somebody who does not already believe in them? What if your locked in loved one only moves when it's just you and he? Well, then you sound like an idiot when you try to explain the look on his face or how this movement was more obvious and deliberate. Yeah right.

Well as I said in the previous posting I'm trying Scribefire for Seamonkey and it seems to work pretty good. Oddly enough, though, "Scribefire" is not in the dictionary. Now let's try to add a picture and see how well that works. This is mom's puppy "Mighty Mouse".

Trying something new

This should be exciting if it works. I'm just checking in briefly with the news that I added an add-on to Seamonkey and the crocuses are up in the front yard. This add-on is called Scribefire and I am hoping it will make posting to my blog that much easier. Let's just see.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nearly Spring

Alongside the path between the frozen garden and the frozen studio door, a maple leaf-shaped tunnel bores into about eight inches of snow. At the bottom, seen best by aligning your eye with the direction of the leaf-shaped hole, you see a small maple leaf, plunging toward the ground like a paraglider in free fall. It's a distant brown, a far cry from the bright red it was a few weeks ago, maybe more than a few weeks ago. This skeleton of life has but one job yet to do before disintegrating into compost and giving up all the parts, all the elements, all the love. So she sails down through a slowly melting patch of snow and ice, frozen water, little interrupted raindrops yet on their way to the ground, kinda like those slow-motion scenes on TV and the computer as the camera pans 360 and the drops are frozen in mid air. Now, if you saw everything in infra red how odd wouldn't everything be? Same frozen bundles of water, same slow motion paraglider, same soil beneath awaiting, but now it's all in red and black and shades between. In the summer there will be yellows and whites, but for now the world is in darker tones. The sun in the sky is a white dot surrounded by a orange haze and trees still cast shadows. The face of the man in the black jacket is yellow with a white gob in the lower middle, and plumes of slowly fading yellow coming out of the mass. The man would appear to be a specter, glowing in the shadows of winter. And you know some poor slob of a life form gets that as it's main visual input. Maybe rattlesnakes get their attitude from that viewpoint.
The maple leaf has no reason to know that the water alongside it is at 32 degrees or that water at this temperature expands slightly and with great concentration since it has no water to speak of to worry about. So it just catches what light streams down the hole behind it and aims for the earth, an easy target. The drops of water may be distracted by their frozen condition, but the important thing is that they are on their way to the earth, to sink into her skin, explore the dark unknown and return to the air as the breath of a maple tree.
For Her part, what does the Earth think of all this? She must be itching to get going with all that growing stuff She does so well. Still, if each season was an eye blink to the Great Mother, then a year might be a few seconds. Maybe She pays more attention than that. Maybe each day is like a heartbeat, a second of Her time. So sixty seconds, a minute is about two months. A season would be a minute and a half, a year is six minutes more or less. She sees us for eighty years or so which translates into 480 minutes or eight hours. One day of sunlight and then we pass into the dark night. Well, you can certainly see how the Great Mother might have Her favorites from time to time, but by and large we must look pretty much the same to Her by now. For our part we should pay attention to the brilliant metaphor offered by an Earth-centered paradigm.
Our day upon the Earth is starting when we are barely more than a drop of squirming chemicals and tissues. We can't feed or protect ourselves, we can't communicate our needs and we wipe ourselves out fussing so much that we sleep most of the time. Our potential does not appear for quite some time, about noon I guess. But in the Dawn of our day when all is dim and quiet, we are helpless. Only Love preserves our life, and Love is one of Her great epiphanies. When we are capable of doing something noteworthy to our Mother most of the time we do something in the way of changing something into something else and or moving something from one place to another. We dig holes and stack rocks, sometimes lining them up. We kill far more than we can eat and we do it when we aren't even hungry. We do this under a hot noon day sun, working up a sweat, moving air and water around. We plant things, we let them grow, then we kill them and
eat them. We are just like all the other living things that move across their Mother under the Sun. She shines down upon us, She supports us with Her form, She feeds us from Her flesh and Her blood. There's more than enough of Her to go around if we just respect Her and not screw things up.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Immanent Flight

I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday and we got to the point where books were mentioned. I'm reading Joseph Campbell's “Oriental Mythology” at the moment. They started to explain some of the issues they had with this “God” thing, this Deity-Creator. A lot of people have issues with that, insofar as there are so many options. With globolisation we have access to many cultures in details which weren't possible before. I bet a lot of people didn't know that the Muslim faith has several dialects. For that matter I suppose most Americans don't know that about all religions. There's a kind of thought process which deals with proof like a poll, with a histogram of the details providing a Truth or strong evidence anyway. So if you find that lots of people have issues with God and the strongest common denominator being “if God is all knowing and all powerful, then why does He make mistakes? If they aren't mistakes, then He allowed them to happen and then why does he punish us for them?” Examples are given, like the Serpent in the Garden, Cain killing Able and so forth. It seems to involve “free will”, is part of the usual explanation. None of seems to stick, though and I think the difficulty lies in the fact so so few of us are taught in logic. We think we know how to think logically, but it's more like appropriately. If it were logical we'd know why we did it, besides perhaps that it often works. Like praying for a miracle. According to the Bible, Koran and other scriptures, it seems to work, sometimes. Trouble is, except for emails which are hard to confirm, it's not happening in the same way anymore. Like getting a busy signal all the time. Eventually you wonder if it's the phone, or the line, or are a lot of people calling the same number? But the fact is, you thought it was a telephone and you thought it worked a certain way, maybe because you were told it did, or you think you were told so at some point. It's all very disheartening.

The main issue people have with the concept of a deity is not the deity part at all. It's the kind of deity. Specifically what happens is they get stuck in a matrix of their culture regarding such topics. Europeans and Americans invariably have to think about a Creator, male, one each, elsewhere in space and time. This kind of thinking is what causes wars. If you have a Big Daddy kind of God you get lots of conflicts, especially if you try to reconcile the idea with the history of the faiths out of the Mideast, at least the recent ones. How to be all-knowing and yet caught by surprise? You can't, morons! Your major premise is bogus. As children we were told that the Bible is history and of course it can't be, unless history has loopholes, wormholes and some kind of secret language we just don't understand. Maybe God is up there in a limited, self-contradictory manner, but would you want to "worship" such a limited deity? One who makes mistakes, says one thing and does another? Not me. If I am going to contemplate a Creator I want one whose substance became the Universe, whose intellect can include both the human animal and the bacteria human. I want one who does not say one thing, like "do not kill" and then turns around and sends armies out to do just that. Technically I think you could go through the Bible, include the "Lost Books", and carve out the crap and propaganda and end up with a nice little religion. It wouldn't say one tribe is the chosen one destined to rule over all of humankind, but it would explain some social rules, some faith rules and a few guiding principles which would enable people to get along. I might yet do that. Get rid of all the "begets and begets" so people don't think sex is everything and spitting out the faithful is a good thing. More like taking care of the planet is a good thing, then you can have healthy children. This idea of a transcendent Creator is very basic and is mentioned in the Bible but then abandoned by people like George Bush, who thinks he is like Joshua, anointed to go to war and kill all the sinners as well as take their land, rape their women and sell the children. I would also have to eliminate the "stone them to death" kind of punishments. If the Creator wants to erase a mistake They will have to do it themselves. My Commandment specifically states: "You shall not kill. Period" No give backs, no exceptions. You need to edit the Bible out of it's historical stores which do nothing but claim the Jews are God's chosen. Not because Jews are evil people, they just follow the rules they wrote themselves a few hundred years ago. But these were rules written by screwed up people a lot like the American President. He thinks Congress can write laws and he can ignore them. Heck, his mother made rules around the house and he ignored them so why not now?

In point of fact it isn't the priests who screw up religions, it's the lawyers. They parse things so thin. Like in American English the term "kill" can be parsed to include eating animals, plants, having a healthy intestine, walking on living things.... all of which cause you to kill something and conceivably all prohibited. But the original word was something more like "murder" which means killing your own kind deliberately, and not during war or as the result of a judgment. But that makes a long rambling Commandment. Moses was looking for something easy to understand because he thought his followers were stupid or something. You should recall that Moses wasn't Jewish, he was Egyptian and had little love lost for the Jews. He also wasn't very smart, since by making a short, easy commandment he also made it easy to confuse the masses. Witness the Second World War. We killed millions and all the murderers were Christian. We vaporized Japanese babies to protect a way of life whose God prohibits killing babies, mostly because the Japanese babies were "godless pagans". If God wanted us to not drop the A-bombs He would have made them bounce instead of explode. Clearly we had a partial suspension of the Commandments to take care of the Japs and Nazis. Clearly a politician was in charge, not a priest.

The main difficulty with war is that we accept the idea that occasionally we can suspend the rules and still be Faithful, still Chosen and destined for Heaven. Of course we can't, because a rule suspended negates the rule. If it's okay to sometimes kill then there is no commandment to not kill, or we'd hear about it from above. We never do, so it's okay to kill, even murder, even torture. You can go on down the list of ten and suspend them all all some point and still be a good Baptist, if you are an American. The problem being a pagan is that we have only the one rule to live by: If it harms none, do what you will. It's hard to parse that. If I want to have sex with a married woman I can't justify killing her husband, or raping her just to satisfy my lust. Obviously rape hurts lots of people in lots of ways. Yet our God-fearing Marines have been raping kids for years now and getting off without a lot of flack. They go home and take communion and settle back with a beer. Well, truth be told, they probably also take a handful of meds since no sane person can rape and kill without suffering. Look in George's eyes and tell me he is not suffering somehow. If he believes in the Bible he knows he is going to Hell. If he doesn't then he knows he is a liar and hypocrite. So he's boned no matter what, unless he quits and joins a monastery and prays all the time. Frankly I'm thinking sepeku is the only path to salvation for him, I mean after all, he's killed close to a million people! By now I think the White House is so polluted with bad vibes and lost souls that we should close it down and lock it up and build a new Capital somewhere in Oklahoma or Missouri. Use no white marble, make the buildings solar powered and have lots of orchards and gardens, places to meditate on the meaning of life.

In two days I fly to the West Coast to help Mom recover from pneumonia. We need to find a person to stay with her during the day so she'll be sure to take her pills and get up from time to time to walk about. For two weeks I'll be staying in the Bubble. I'll take lots of pictures, take Mom up to the redwoods and the ocean. For two weeks she'll get home cooked meals and away from the Television Channel. I wish I could convince her to fly home with me so we could take care of her, but I can't lie and tell her that it isn't cold here. It's 10 degrees this morning and only 70 in the house, but she could wear mittens and booties. She'd miss her sunshine and the flowers and by the time spring came she's be bundled like an Inuit in the living room, sitting on a radiator. Well, this should be interesting, especially if my Lyrica script isn't filled before I leave. I ran out too soon and now the old nerve pain is starting to attract attention. Timing is everything, says Musashi. Now it's time for coffee and a meditation on the rising sun.