Monday, January 17, 2022

It's Just That I've Been Losing For So Long

 I've been emotional lately. . . which means music.  Lots and lots of menstrual me music.  I'll post some of it here in time, but I've cranked up Radio Selavy and have been posting music over there.  I may make some live videos, too, to go along.  So. . . if you want to hear what I feel. . . click HERE.  I'll try to figure out how to put the link on the side of the blog so it is always available.  

The  problem I suffer is that I've never figured out how to stop loving someone.  I can be hurt, mad, disappointed. . . but I can never forget that thing with which I fell in love.  Fatalistic Romantic, I guess.  It is bad for me most of the time, but sometimes it spur me to creativity.  In the main, though, I believe most people don't love in the manner I do.  Not so deeply, so tragically.  I mean. . . when I'd go out with my friends, they would look around the bar for women.  So would I, but I was always trying to find someone I could fall in love with.  My friends were looking for someone they could like.  I never left the bar with a woman.  They often did.  

But that isn't fair.  I know my friends are in love.  I just don't think it consumes them.  I feel akin to Frederick Henry in "A Farewell to Arms."  

But this may simply be me in Covid World Isolation talking.  I've thought more about love, old loves, these past two years than is healthy.  Were I out in the world living rather than sitting at home remembering. . . . 

So. . . Radio Selavy.  

Yesterday was a sit tight day, rainy in the morning and blustery most of the day, so I decided to make a fish stew.  I don't need recipes as much as I used to, and I improvised a bit on this one.  I used a little too much celery, though, and while it was cooking, I detected a bitter aftertaste, so I added some water to the bottle of wine I initially used and added some Balsamic vinegar.  It turned out to be more of a fish soup than a stew, but it still hit the spot on a gray day.  I took it over to my mother's for lunch.  There was enough for each of us to have leftover.  It left me feeling like a Portuguese fisherman.  

It is a southern winter day here, cool and damp.  I keep the thermostat set high to counter the air currents in my old leaky wooden house.  I would like to go into the throng today, but here in my county you have about a 6% chance of catching Omicron.  That's just too high for me, too much of a risk.  

I should chuck this post and begin again, but I am afraid it would turn out much the same.  This happens when I think of love.  I become too self-conscious, too self aware. I want far too much to write a magical incantation with just the right words arranged in perfect order to raise some love from the dead, but my mind clouds, my mouth fills with marbles, and the writing is just shit.  I am better with something to look forward to.  

I'm better when I'm young.  

Oh. . . shit. . . let's end on some silly news.  I bought a hat.  I've not seen it except in pictures.  I look like shit in hats, and I'll probably never ever wear this one.  But, you know, I've been saying I wanted a hat, and since there is no "hat store" in my town. . . . 

Goorin Brothers Dean the Butcher Hat.  Laugh if you will. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Not What Really Concerns Me

Woke to the sound of the awning outside my bedroom flapping and bouncing in the dark.  Wind.  Lots of wind.  I rolled over and squinted at the LED clock numerals.  Blur.  I squinted more and harder.  Almost seven.  I got up and stumbled to the kitchen to commend the coffee maker to grind and brew.  I opened the kitchen door.  No rain, just wind.  Cool, not cold.  But the rain came as the coffee maker chugged.  

I'm glad I got out yesterday.  I decided to ride my bike.  I strapped a camera on and eventually got out the door.  It was a fine day, a lovely day.  I peddled old routes, taking my time, past the hospital and the old gym, down antique row.  I stopped at a boxing gym to look inside.  A woman greeted me.  How much, I asked.  Jesus.  This is the second boxing gym I have stopped by.  Apparently, only the rich box now. 

Onward.  Up the hill past the spot where my little Vespa and I were crushed, past the bar across the street, up the hill.  I stopped at my buddy's camera repair store.  He was with customers but greeted me right away.  

"Where have you been?  When are we going to do a Polaroid workshop?"

The last time I was there, he had gotten a Polaroid 8x10 film processor but he did not have everything he needed.  I gave him enough equipment to make the thing work.  He had a bunch of the very expensive 8X10 impossible film, and of course, he has lovely 8x10 cameras and lenses.  I had told him I would come back and help him get started.

I didn't.  I got Covid instead.  

He set up an 8x10 camera in the courtyard.  He wanted to try one now.  While he talked with customers, I tried to remember how everything worked.  It has been a couple years since I've worked with this equipment and film.  I was having trouble.  The film holder he had was in awful shape.  I got the film loaded but I couldn't get the transparency part with the developing chemicals to go into the other slot.  Unnoticed, I broke the pod and dripped the blue developing paste all over his shop's floor.  I mean. . . it was a mess.  I was embarrassed.  Big shot, eh?  Gonna show the camera guy your chops, are ya?  

I got paper towels and cleaned while he sold cameras, estimated repairs, etc.  

I went to the courtyard to make sure the camera was ready.  It was a beauty, a five thousand dollar wooden field camera.  The camera was much nicer than mine, but I couldn't get it to focus.  I was really starting to falter now.  Eventually, I realized that the bak focus on the camera needed to move.  Good.  I wouldn't need him to show me how to work the camera.  I got the loaded film holder, took a meter reading I hoped was correct, set the shutter and shot.  

I never got the transparency loaded, though.  I told him I needed to watch a video to see what I was doing wrong.  He set me up with a tablet.  I couldn't work the damn thing and shut it off by accident.  My head was spinning now.  I turned it back on, but it wanted a password.  I had to interrupt him to come enter it.  I watched the video.  I was doing everything right.  It was his shitty holder that was the problem.  Just then, I heard a sizzle and a pop.  I looked to the processor.  Smoke was pouring from every seam and opening.  I unplugged it and took it into the courtyard so as not to fill his shop with the foul odor of melting wires adn metal parts.  The capacitor had blown, he said.  Everything I touched had gone to shit.  I'd been there far too long.  I had not intended on spending the day there.  Now, embarrassed, I told him I would come back with my equipment and we would try again.  He seemed to be fine, but I was feeling very nonplussed.  

When I got back to the street, the day was still fine.  I'd taken no pictures.  Well. . . not the first time in my life.  It was getting late.  I decided to ride home.  I took an urban bike trail I'd never been on before.  I crossed a bridge over a canal.  There were people fishing from it.  I rode on, then thought, "WTF?"  I turned around and rode back.  I approached a couple and asked if I could use them in my picture.  "Sure," they said.  The girl was pretty.  I wanted to photograph her, but I took several of him anyway.  

When I finished, I said, "If you want, I can send you copies."  

"Yea. . um. . . o.k.," they said 

"Email or text?"

I was talking to the girl.  The boy jumped in. "Here.  I'll give you my email address."  

I laughed and handed him my phone.  He wasn't about to have his girl give me her number.  

That was the entirety of my photo taking for the day,  Nothing good.  Nothing profound.  Nothing.  

Not much of a photographer, I.  

When I got home, I felt tired, worn out. . . something.  I lay down to take a brief nap.  When I woke up, it was heading toward dusk.  I called my mother and said I wouldn't be over.  I really didn't want to cook.  I wanted a big bowl of ramen.  I tried to order online, but the restaurant wasn't taking orders.  That is the message I kept getting.  What then?  I decided I didn't want to go out to get food, so I made a meal of eggs and rice with sautéed peppers and onions.  I mixed in peas.  

I sat down on the couch and watched the rest of "Shopgirl" while I ate.  My nose and lips swelled.  My eyes teared.  I'm a mess.  

My art and travel buddy just texted me a piece of writing about the author Jim Harrison.  

"Or he will pause, as he does quite frequently, to worry about eating too much, drinking too much, that he is getting fat, is no longer desired by women, that he is getting old before his time. . . . To connect with the body, the source of pleasure, is to connect with death."

Not what I needed right now, but perhaps it is what I deserve.  

Drizzle and gray.  Drizzle and gray.  

Saturday, January 15, 2022

An Exciting Life

 I need to get out of the house and on the road today.  It is the only way to see the strangeness of the physical world.  This jet was in a park across the road from the springs I visited.  I saw it as I was leaving. A memorial park, neatly kept, picnic tables, some plaques.  I'm sure the place was never frequented.  I stopped and took photos.  I haven't developed the film yet nor downloaded anything from my digital cameras.  I took this with my phone, then jacked it up a bit, just as I did with the photo I posted a few days ago of the river and tree at the spring.  I loved that one so and sent it around to some friends.  One who has recently moved from the state into a colder northland said she loved it and wanted to buy a print to hang on her wall.  I wondered how a phone pic would print.  Yesterday I downloaded it to my computer and gave it a go.  16"x16".  I hadn't much hope, but to my great and tremendous surprise, it looks wonderful.  How can that be?  I don't understand it.  I took the photograph with my cell phone and used phone apps for tweaking it in postproduction.  I thought it would be too low resolution to print that big.  

Now I'm thinking. . . do I really need cameras?  The drummer from the old band was an MFA photographer from the University of San Francisco.  He told me recently that he only uses his phone for photos now.  I said I was surprised since he couldn't really make decent prints, but au contraire, he said.  He had made huge prints from them.  

I didn't believe him.  Rather, I thought he must be using some software that I wasn't aware of.  

I believe him now.  

Phone pics have their own look, much different from those of digital cameras.  And to be honest, the apps you can get for free online to cook them are simply tremendous, much more creative than the expensive ones for the computer.  Why these apps only work on phones. . . I don't know.  But fuck it.  I'm taking more phone photographs.  It is liberating.  It is fun.  

This Mormon Priest life is getting old, but I'm halfway through January.  It wasn't until very late in the day yesterday that I realized it was Friday.  You know it when you go out.  You can feel it.  People move differently.  Something.  It is palpable.  It is distinct.  I felt it when I went to Whole Foods late in the afternoon.  I wanted it to be Friday for me, too.  I felt a jolt of energy.  I thought about calling my mother and telling her I was not coming over.  I wanted to party.  

When I got home and put the groceries away, however. . . I had nothing to do.  There was no party.  I got in the car and drove to my mother's.  

Back home, I began to prepare dinner.  I was making a version of the ginger Cod with broccoli and rice.  As I was preparing it, the tenant stopped by to ask me something.  We chatted as the food sat on the counter.  Then, sun setting, she left and I got to making dinner.  I turned on the television, but something was wrong.  I couldn't change channels.  I unplugged everything from the wall.  There would be no news tonight.  O.K.  Cooking dinner without a glass of wine.  WTF?  When everything was plated, I plugged the cable equipment back in, and when it had rebooted, I put on a travel thing on YouTube.  Dinner was delicious.  I drank kombucha.  

I wanted to party, and I had prepared for this at Whole Foods.  

After cleaning the kitchen, I pulled out the dulce de leche I had gotten.  I decided to smoke some pot.  I dialed up the 2005 movie "Shopgirl."  Claire Danes.  I always thought she should have gotten an Academy Award for her performance, but the movie was panned.  The critics were terribly wrong.  It is a wonderful movie.  Jason Schwartzman is terrific.  

It was late and I was buzzed.  I'd seen this movie a few times.  Halfway through, I turned it off.  I'd go to sleep with marijuana dreams.  

Yup.  That's my life. Pretty fucking exciting.  

Friday, January 14, 2022

A Thousand Jumbled Words

''Why, boys, when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. . . And by God I was rich.''

That's the theory, anyway.  It's the desperate commitment that does it.  Otherwise, you are simply a dilettante.  And you know how it goes for dilettantes in the jungle.  

''Never fight fair with a stranger, boy. You'll never get out of the jungle that way. ''

That's Uncle Ben from "Death of a Salesman."  I think he's responsible for a couple generations of billionaire swine.  Watch "Tarzan the Ape Man," though (link).  I swear to you, it is a great movie, not what you think.  I've recommended it to you many, many years ago.  You might not remember, of course.  But thematically, the film is rich.  And there is no music soundtrack added other than "native" chanting.  Oh, I tell you. . . "the jungle's dark, but full of diamonds."  It must be true.  

"Oh Tarzan. . . Oh Tarzan. . . ."  That's what the gay men used to cry to me from the pier when I swam in the Atlantic Ocean in Key West oh so long ago, long hair and a trim, muscular figure.  I can still see them waving.  

It was a different kind of jungle.  

But that is not what I have meant to say at all.  

I've been drawn to memories by a voice from the past.  I was wounded by the beauty of a young woman oh so very long ago, and I've carried the scar with me hence.  I've recently heard from her and it all came flooding back.  Oh. . . I swoon.  Turns out, she has read the blog all these many years "from time to time." From time to time?!?!?!  No, in thunder!  How can it be?  Could it make any sense?  I see this as one long, winding, interconnected story with constant references to what I've said before, i.e. Tarzan.  

She was big in the publishing world, so perhaps she had better things to read.  Whatever.  

I am trying not to be like a boy checking his emails every hour to see if she has written.  We know little of one another now, but the intervening years seem of small consequence.  I feel a bit like Jay Gatsby.  
‘I wouldn’t ask too much of her,’ I ventured. ‘You can’t repeat the past.’ 
‘Can’t repeat the past?’ he cried incredulously. ‘Why of course you can!’ 
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.

She was The Golden Girl.  But we know how that ends up.  Reality always intervenes.  

Halfway through Dry January, no booze, no sugar, little meat. . . I look no different.  I doubt I have lost a pound.  And living like a Mormon priest doesn't really agree with me.  I think my imagination shrivels.  I want to go have a big breakfast at the French Bakery this morning, two poached eggs, ham, and provolone smothered in a warm, creamy hollandaise sauce on a fresh croissant.  A side of crispy potatoes.  

Rather. . . a yogurt, a little home workout, and a long walk.  

I don't think Robert Frost was much of a drinker.  Early in life, I believe I remember, he had a bout, but he reformed his ways unlike Wallace Stevens who probably drank too much.  In Key West, Stevens got drunk and quarreled with Frost.  Another time, he said some derogative things about Hemingway in front of Hemingway's sister.  That cost him a broken jaw.  

My mind is a jumble.  I'll leave it at this today.  Perhaps later I will take a camera out.  You know what they say--a picture is worth a thousand jumbled words.  

Thursday, January 13, 2022

More Tales of Adventure and Daring

Fuck yea!  I did this one with my phone.  To my mind, anyway, it looks like a Russel Chatham painting.  It's not straight out of the phone, of course, but that was the capture.  I'm going to try printing it large and see how it looks.  All fingers crossed. 

Oh. . . I DID leave the house again yesterday.  Took my big Liberator and a bunch of film holders to a State Park with the idea of making some epic photographs.  When I got there, the entry fee was six dollars.  The lady taking the money looked at me, smiled and winked.  

"I'm only going to charge YOU four."  

Yea, I thought.  I DO need to get out more.  

I carried that heavy motherfucker all through the jungles and the swamps.  I took photos, but I don't think I got anything epic at all.  I just felt I needed to trip the shutter after all the effort.  And it was a lot of effort. 

But it attracted attention.  I talked to many people.  I am such a shut in that this was much like the time I went to the museum with my friend.  I was a real Chatty Kathy, the Park Docent, if you will.  I answered the curious onlookers' questions about the camera.  I informed them about the coming and goings of the park fauna.  

"Can the manatees go in the ocean?" 

"Yes they can and do.  They come into the springs in the cold weather for warmth, but lately, many of the manatees have begun to stay year 'round.  They have become like the monarch butterflies who live here now without migrating."

"Really?  There are monarch butterflies here all year?"

"Yes, they have become something of a sub species.  I have a butterfly and hummingbird garden, and it is always full."

"Ah. . . hummingbirds."

"Yes, I have some that come quite often."

"But this doesn't run to the ocean, does it?"

"It sure does.  It is one of two major rivers in the world that runs 'backwards," that is, away from the equator.  This river empties in Jacksonville."  

"Wow.  One of two?  What is the other one?"

"The Nile." 

I met a couple who were visiting from Michigan.  They asked me about the springs.  I used to dive in the springs decades ago, before the place was a State Park.  What is now the park was privately owned and we had to drive down dirts roads with brush and trees scratching the sides of the car.  When we go to the boil, it was a steep climb down (and later back up) some crumbly, rocky banks some thirty feet high.  I was feeling some real expertise.  I explained all this to them.  

"My buddy and I--we were just kids--dove into the cave without lines.  We had some ratty old underwater flashlights.  The bottom of the river there is about thirty feet deep.  There is a hole in the river bed you drop into.  It slants back and down into the cave.  You come out at about ninety feet into a giant cavern.  Then you drop down to the the place the water flows out at about 150 feet.  When we got there, the current knocked us ass over tea kettle.  Our masks were ripped from our faces.  We knew, of course, how to get them back on and clear them, but then we were shining our lights into each other's faces in a not so controlled panic.  We motioned to one another that we should surface.  But we went straight up and into a chimney that didn't go to the surface.  It just dead ended.  There were many, many of these.  At that point, I figured we'd run out of air in about two minutes 'cause you could hear us exhaling bubbles like crazy.  This happened again and again.  We got very, very lucky, though.  Eventually, we dropped back to the bottom of the boil and then followed the slope back up.  Out of sheer good fortune, it led us to the right chimney and we got out alive.  When we got out onto the bank, we barely spoke."

Their eyes were wide open at that one.  We talked a bit longer about this and that.  She had just taken early retirement from a hospital.  She was a nurse.  We spoke of Covid.  She had a theory, her own, she said, that dark skinned people were more susceptible.  I said yea, I have dark skin and I got it even though I was vaccinated.  

"No," she said, "I mean ethnically darker people."

Whoa!  Yup.  She was from Michigan alright.  

I had only one small yogurt and a can of water all day, and carrying the camera and gear and doubling as a tour guide had worn me down.  I looked at the time.  Late afternoon.  I made my weary way back to the car and headed toward home.  But there was one more stop I wanted to make, another springs that is not as well known.  I'd never been there before.  And that is where I took the picture at the top in the late afternoon sun.  Lighting is everything.  I am lazy and always miss the best light of the day.  

I'll try to develop the film from yesterday today.  I have little hope, but it was good to get out.  

While I was out, I got a call.  My phone doesn't ring unless I have saved the number, but they had left a message.  It was from some company and they referred to my doctor and asked me to return their call.  My legs went soft.  WTF?  I called back immediately, but I was told to leave a message.  My hands were shaking.  Surely this was about my blood work.  I called again.  And again.  I never got an answer.  

Oh, well, I thought.  You knew you would die one day.  I just don't want to die right now.  I've got plans.  I've got ideas.  

I haven't heard back from them yet.  

I read this morning that men who live alone, especially after a breakup, are at much greater health risk than others, even more than women who live alone.  Sure, I thought.  Perfect.  What chance do I have?  

I guess I could have asked the lady at the park entrance out.  Ha!

I have an idea of visiting all of the state parks here.  Some twenty of them have cabins that one can rent.  There's an idea for travel.  I looked at the ones at the state park I visited yesterday.  Rustic things.  And I imagine one could go a bit spooky in the head being there alone in the night.  But what the hell.  I'll keep stretching out my voyages until I can't return home.  Poco y poco.  

Depending on how my lab test turns out.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Tales of Adventure and Daring

 The day stretches before me like a long highway.  No, wait. . . it hangs like a ripe fruit waiting to be picked.  Whatever.  Maybe it is like the intersection of several highways. . . or an orchard full of ripe fruit, and my dilemma is which highway to take, which fruit to pick.  

See how things are?  I needlessly turn something nice into a stressful decision making process rather than simply enjoying it.  I must simply choose to enjoy it.  

Nice words, anyway.  

Though I slept fitfully, I rose late so it seems alright.  I have no great need to exercise today, and I thought last night that today was a good day to go somewhere with cameras.  I still think that. . . but the day slips away, first slowly, then suddenly, one day so much like another. . . . 

I posted yesterday's photo thinking it looked something like Gauguin at the end of his life.  Big mistake.  I should have remained in the Bat Cave.  I thought to leave it up for a day and then delete it, but by the end of the day, the photo had been downloaded a hundred times.  The paparazzi have wanted to nail Bruce Wayne.  Batman unmasked.  


I might have chosen a more flattering photograph but that would not have been as illustrative.  

My advice is to wear a mask.  Reality can never match the imagination. 

Last night, I watched a documentary made eight years ago about the history of climbers and climbing in Yosemite Valley (link).  It was quite fun for me as I "knew" many of the dirtbag climbers.  I have to put that in quotes.  I only met them, really, though they would remember me when I saw them again.  I "knew" some of the best climbers in the world.  And truly. . . and I say this without modesty. . . some of them fell in love with me.  The women.  I looked like a climber and I did climb, but not at a high level.  I was "famous "in my own hometown for a half page picture of me on the front page of the local section of the paper climbing a rock walled building.  Living here in the flatlands, my buddies and I were climbing anything at the time.  We put up climbing holds on the overpass of a highway the state was building.  That was nice for a good while until the authorities came out and chopped them off.  When a group of climbers came to town and built a climbing gym, they gave me a free membership.  Oh, boy. . . I was really something.  Right up until kids started coming to the gym.  They were like little monkeys.  It wasn't long before I fell behind what those little maniacs were doing.  That's when I started touting "real rock" over plastic holds.  

"Out there, kids. . ." as I waved my hands to the distant beyond, "on real rock, there are no colors to tell you where your next hold is.  You are searching for something, anything, to grab.  If thing go wrong. . . ."  I would let the sentence trail off into ominous silence.  

Once, while playing pool with the famous "Brothers Whitaker," Jim and Lou who were renowned mountaineers and the first Americans to climb Mount Everest, Jim said to me, "You like working out in the gym, don't you?"  He was about seven inches taller than I and had a demeaning grin on his face as he pulled himself to height to tower over me.  What the hell, I thought?  What the hell?

"Listen, man. . . I live in the flatlands.  I don't have a company at the foot of a famous mountain to go into every day.  I have to stay in shape.  I do what I can."

"Alright.  O.K." he said relaxing.  He was just putting me in my place.  It didn't matter to me so much, though, as the women's World Kayaking Champion was in the bar and was all about me.  Maybe that is what pissed old Jim off, I thought.  It was o.k. with me.  Jim had to climb the tallest mountain in the world to become a man, I thought.  I was going to do it the other way.  

Out west, in climbing towns, I was sometimes misidentified as one of the Huber twins, two of the most famous climbers of the era (link).  I enjoyed that, of course.  

Jim Bridwell--probably the most notorious and legendary climbers of his era (and beyond)--and I got along.  I was making documentary videos at the time, and over beers we talked about the possibility of cooking up one about his life.  He was excited by the idea, but, as has most often been the case in my life, I didn't follow up.  

I could tell more self-aggrandizing tales, of course, a lot more.  I was singled out by organizers as a cheater at the World Climbing Championship while having breakfast at the base of the wall at the the Cliff Lodge in Snowbird, Utah, a competition I was only there to observe (link).  Oh, man. . . my head swelled real good for my buddies then.  Mr. Fucking Big.  

I did climb, just not at any significant level.  I did some of the Fifty Classic Climbs in America with my Yosemite buddy, but only because he made me.  As I have said before, there was a real difference between us.  He liked the challenge of the adventure.  I just wanted to have done it.  He did it because he enjoyed it.  I did it so I could hang around with people who did it.  I did it because my father had pumped me up with tales of adventure and daring.  

I did it for the girls. 

As my dead ex-pal Brando used to say, "If it weren't for women, I wouldn't even take a shower or brush my teeth.  I'd probably be crawling around naked in the woods hunting for nuts and berries."  For an adventure travel guide, he sure had no skills.  I think that's why we got along.  It was always about the show, always about the telling.  

"There I was at thirty thousand feet.  Rats had eaten my parachute." 

I know I have wearied you with this self aggrandizing drivel.  Though I could go on and on, I'll pause for now.  But watching that documentary last night got me going.  

In truth, though, people like that scare the shit out of me.  I am a tender romantic.  They are crazy loons.  

Where will I go today?  What will I do?  It would be nice to decide here in a minute.  But I should be more like the cats looking in at me now through the bottom panes of the kitchen door.  I shouldn't worry about what to do.  I should just enjoy the day.  

But then. . . you know. . . there would be no story to tell.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Living with Cliches

Among other things that were done to me yesterday, I was weighed.  I was right.  A week of plant based diet and abstinence had not affected my weight.  I mean, that's good in one sense, but disappointing in another.  The thing I am hoping for is that it is not ominous.  

But enough of that.  Seurat was 31 when he died.  Van Gough, 37.  Old Gauguin outlived them all and died at 57.  All of them were ill throughout their adult lives.  Van Gough's teeth were terrible, and he had ten of them pulled when he was still in his twenties.  He caught gonorrhea and had to suffer the torturous cure in the days before antibiotics.  He and Gauguin each suffered with the long term effects of syphilis.  

Almost everyone was an alcoholic.  

As you might have guessed, I spent last evening watching art documentaries, in particular, the end of impressionism.  I watched that instead of the news as I ate my leftover dinner, and when each was done, I decided to take an evening stroll.  It was a chilly southern night, not cold, but made colder because of the dampness.  By the lake, the wind was blowing the air clean through me.  But after having just watched the impressionists, everything looked different.  In my neighborhood, most yards are lighted from the ground up at night, soft lighting revealing the underside of leaves and branches.  Sure, I see this every evening, but last night I noticed the effect, the strangeness and glowing aura it produced.  A slim moon shone in the western sky.  I noticed the night shadows and the swirl the wind made of the trees.  Every living thing looked like a late Monet.  

How's that for the power of suggestion?  And the power of art, the goal of which (at least the sort I like) is to show us the world beyond cliches or to rework cliches in ways that seem new.  My neighborhood is a cliche.  People enjoy their cliched lives, and I am not immune.  I chose to live here, among the cliches, because it is comfortable.  There are cliches that I enjoy and some I love.  The thing is, I live with the realization that they are cliches.  The fact is not invisible to me.  And though some are even sacred, I am not opposed to them being parodied.  Parody, they say, is a high form of flattery, and perhaps there is an envy in it.  As radical as the impressionists were, they, too, became cliches.  Don't go trying to get famous painting Monet's water lillies.  You might, but only in a Norman Rockwell way.  Let's qualify "only," however, for Rockwell lived a lucrative, cliched life.  

The question, as always, though, is would you be willing to suffer ingloriously for your vision and your art?  

I'd rather be Seurat who came from a very wealthy family.  His suffering was of the gentler kind.  

This morning, I opened my email to a notice from Legacy dot com that it was the anniversary of my beloved Emily's death.  Remember her, my teenage love?  

WTF?  Why would they send out such notices?  I read further.  They would take my money to plant a tree in her name.  The Emily Oak, I guess.  

I still don't know of what she died.  

But as Bukowski opined, shit and death are all around us.  And then, monetized and famous, he moved into a cliched neighborhood and bought a cliched automobile and enjoyed his new existence.  He was one of the lucky ones.  

Life can be cruel, life can be sweet. . . . I don't know.  The lyrics just popped into my head when I wrote the last line.  I may be no genius, but I know which one I'd choose given the option.  I know that much, at least.  

O.K.  I need to get moving now.  The maids will be here soon (delivered with a wry smile).  

Monday, January 10, 2022

I'll Bet I Haven't Lost Any Weight, Either

 I am unhappy this morning.  I am without coffee.  I have a blood test today and have had to fast for fourteen hours.  What a life.  No alcohol.  No sugar.  No coffee. 

No enlightenment.  

But I did make a wonderful dinner for my mother and myself last night, a chicken and bean stew.  It called for something I've never cooked with before--adobo sauce with chipotle peppers.  Those of you who are familiar with it must be aghast, but I, hillbilly that I am, have never even had this on my radar.  

It won't be the last time I use it in recipes.  

Yesterday got away from me, however, and I didn't get to the grocery store until very late.  Hurrying to chop an onion, I cut my thumb with a very sharp knife.  As I tried to stench the flow of blood, clean the wound, and dress it, I realized what a drag it is sometimes to live alone.  

After dinner, I watched "Don't Look Up."  It felt mandatory.  Everyone will have to sooner or later, it seems.  It was quirky, a liberal poke at the idiocy the right wing of this country has become.  A spoof, however, won't fix shit.  It is just desert for believers.  Still. . . when Jennifer Lawrence is onscreen, no matter how much you want to, you just can't look away.  She looks like a cross between CG and anime.  Unreal. 

And that's it.  That's all I got.  No stories.  No alcohol.  No sugar.  No coffee.  

No enlightenment.  

Sunday, January 9, 2022

A Day's Journey

First off, before anything else. . . I made a mistake in yesterday's post.  In "Waiting for Godot," two people wander and wait.  Vladimir and Estragon have one another.  I should have referenced one of Beckett's other plays, "The Goad."  But then. . . not so many people are familiar with that.  

O.K.  Now that that is cleared up. . . I DID leave the house yesterday.  Yup.  It took me awhile.  I was dragging my feet, probably trying to find an excuse for staying in town.  Eventually, however, I loaded up the car with many kinds of cameras and film and headed into the horizon.  It was already ten.  But the interstate was moving well and quickly, and I made my journey to the coast in record time.  Traffic in the fast lane was moving along nicely at around a consistent ninety miles per hour.  I was at the beach by quarter 'til eleven.  

And that included a drive down a main artery into town.  I chose this as I was not looking to be a tourist on the beach but was traveling with a photographic eye.  I planned to stop and take pictures any time I saw anything of interest.  But all the stopping and going. . . I had to pee.  I spied what looked like a closed or abandoned building right on the highway.  "There," I thought and pulled over.  But there were no bushes, no dumpsters, so I pulled my car close to the building so I could stand between and pull out my Johnson to take a whiz.  "C'mon, c'mon," I said, my old man's prostate protracting the whole thing, and the more tense I got about it, the longer it took.  I was sure a cop would mosey by at any moment.  

Business done and Johnson back in the garage, I was off.  I had come to "The World's Most Famous Beach."  It had to be true.  There were huge public displays claiming it everywhere.  But the town has seen better days.  It dropped its claim to Spring Break fame many years ago, and now the town is trying to cancel its famous Biker Week.  It has been cleaning up the sleaze along the waterfront, but the town itself is still full of bikers and methheads.  

I found a place to park on the street in front of the Boardwalk, grabbed my digital Canon camera with the big zoom lens, and headed off.  To my chagrin, however, all the old amusement places had been destroyed.  Not just closed and shuttered, but demolished.  There was nothing to see.  I walked out to the old fishing pier past all the fishermen, stood awhile looking out to sea, and snapped a few photographs, but I didn't have it in me to ask any of them to pose with the fish they had caught that morning.  Indeed, the crowd was already looking at me and my big camera with that contemporary suspicion that borders on aggression and violence.  

I meandered back to my car.  

I headed south on A1A, stopping any time I saw a "remnant of the past."  Those remnants, however, are barely interesting.  The old motels had often changed their signs out sometime in the mid-eighties, so they did not have that "vintage" feel.  The motel themselves advertised cheap room rates.  Pulling into the parking lots and getting out with my camera was a real effort.  Run down room doors were often open, people sitting outside on the thin strip of cement walkway in old plastic chairs, coolers or boxes of whatever littering the sidewalk beside them.  These were not people I wanted to talk to.  They weren't here for a frolic at the seashore.  Nope.  These were people with a little cash and nowhere else to go, a community of criminal drug addicts, if you will.  I've done this before.  Once, I was surrounded by a group of fellows emptying out of who knows where like ants from a disturbed mound wanting to know why I was taking pictures.  I did some fast talking that time.  Good thing I have an active imagination.  So, now that I am not in "fighting shape," I chose to park on a side street and mosey up along the road.  Still, I got some non-welcoming looks.  

In the end, none of it was really very interesting.

I did this all the way to another beach town.  I drove through the mainland downtown.  I crossed the causeway and drove through the beachside downtown.  The sun was shining and people were out.  Parking was out of the question.  Streets were packed, lots were full.  I could have parked a mile away and walked, but the profit just didn't seem to be there.  So. . . being that it was lunchtime, I headed off to one of my favorite French bakeries to get a turkey and provolone sub. . . to go. 

Back in my car, I drove back to A1A and travelled south for a bit, then turned down a side street and parked before one of the little wooden beach crossovers where I planned to eat and watch the sea.  And just as I got settled, a fellow walked up.  

"Do you surf?" he asked.  

"I did when I was a kid," I said.  

That was it.  The fellow who was my own age, just rattled off question after question.  New to town, looking for surf spots, surfed all over the world. . . . As I ate, I got his life's history.  I obliged him.  I know people.  This fellow needed to talk.  As his story ventured from his being good enough to play Division 1 college basketball to the injured ankles that kept him from it which led him to surfing, to his days living in Indonesia and detailed descriptions of the good and great surf spots, the period and height of wave break in each place, the money he made working for the oil companies to the divorce that stripped him of everything. . . I got it all.  He was living on Social Security now, he said.  He had just rented a 200 square foot apartment somewhere near.  He loved Jesus.  He had learned how to be poor.  

Fortunately, Q decided to FaceTime me while this was going on.  I turned the camera around to show him his old home state, then back to me, handsome fellow, wind tossing my hair.  

I was able to escape shortly after.  

Speaking of Q. . . I got up to a text this morning from him: "Check your front porch."

Ominous words, indeed.  What could it mean.  

It was a package from Amazon, of course.  He had sent me a book, "Atlas Obscura" (link) (link).  I haven't had a chance to peruse it, yet, but it looks like one of those Cabinet of Curiosities collections of weird shit all over the globe.  Good.  Nothing heavy, just imaginative fun.  

But back to my tale (which isn't much of one at all but is the only one I have).  After lunch, I decided I'd had enough of the beach and that I wanted to stop at a spook town on my way home.  The Spook Town is famous as a home for  Spiritualists and Mediums, ghost citings, seances, and fortune telling.  You can even have your aura read.  Established in the mid-19th century, it has long been renowned for its powerful vortex.  


I hadn't been there for decades.  The small sixty acre town was overrun on a Saturday afternoon.  The main attraction, the historic old hotel, was unphotographable because of people and cars.  I tooled around town looking for something interesting, but the town seems to be falling apart from neglect.  Handmade signs advertising readings dot many of the small front lawns.  There was nothing to see there, so I moved along.  

I took backroads I had never been down before looking for something--anything--to make a picture of, but by and large, the day was a bust.  

No, not the day.  The day was a good one.  But the photographer just didn't get the job done.  

It was late afternoon by the time I tooled back into my own hometown, so without stopping at my place, I headed straight over to my mother's and chatted for a good long time before I brought my weary self back home.  A bottle of kombucha and a cheroot on the rotten deck with my hungry cat as the sun began to set. The tenant strolled by coming back from her walk, and we chatted for awhile.  I had had more conversation in the past several hours than I had had in weeks combined.  If I hadn't come home with a hundred good pictures, at least something was had.  

This was the end to a day that really demanded a deep pouring of scotch.  However, Dry January being what it is. . . I made my non-alcoholic way to the kitchen to prep dinner.  I decided on something new.  Briefly: in a deep Chinese bowl, jasmine rice, one chopped avocado, three diced cloves of garlic, kimchi, two eggs, red pepper.  Mix and chow.  

Holy smokes!  That's a good meal!

In closing, I will admit it was hard getting out of town.  I was nervous about everything from the car breaking down to needing restrooms.  Silly shit I never in my life would have concerned myself before.  It was prep.  I am ready for some overnight trips around the Sunshine State now.  Slow trips across backroads, slow motion travel.  Perhaps I will become interesting again.  


Saturday, January 8, 2022

The Godot of It All

 "Life is weird it's own self."  

Who said that?  I don't think anyone did, actually, but it seems as if.  It seems like a cross between Barry Gifford and Larry McMurtry.  An amalgam, if you will. 

Given that (?), it sure seems hard to wiggle your way into heaven.  

Trials and tribulations.  

I've been drinking bad coffee the past few days.  My mother bought me four pounds of Starbucks coffee from Costco for Christmas.  I loaded up the coffee jar with one of the packages at the beginning of the week.  I was thinking I had Omicron because my tastebuds were way off.  The coffee tasted like butt.  I suffered through it, though, thinking it was me, but I realized that it was only the coffee that tasted bad.  I took the top off the coffee jar, stuck my nose in, and inhaled deeply.  Oh, brother. . . it didn't smell like coffee!  Maybe my smell had gone with my ability to taste.  

Last night, I bought some new coffee and loaded up the coffee pot.  It smelled like coffee.  I couldn't wait for a cup this morning.  When I got out of bed, first thing, I started the big Cuisinart that grinds and brews then went for my morning ablutions.  When I came back to get my first cup, the coffee pot was only half full.  WTF?  I have a bad plug, and apparently the pot's prongs had come loose halfway through the brewing process.  I tried plugging it back in, but the coffee pot didn't like it.  It just flashed its lights and beeped and beeped and beeped.  

I'm drinking a half pot of very strong coffee.  The good news is that my taste buds are fine.  

I ran the dishwasher last night just before bed.  When I went to get a clean coffee cup from it this morning, however, I saw that it's lights were blinking, too.  The door was a bit ajar.  The dishwashing cycle was incomplete.  

My morning has not started the way I had hoped.  I so want to enjoy the simplest of pleasures, but. . . . 

Still, it beats the start to yesterday when, stepping out to feed the waiting cat, one of the rotten deck boards broke underfoot.  I was mere millimeters from breaking my ankle as I fell, foot trapped between the two adjacent planks.  Were it not for my innate athleticism. . . .  I was able to twist my body and bend my knee just right as I fell.  Only scrapes and bruises.  

I am going to have to get a crowbar and begin ripping it up next week.  What I do after that, I don't know.  

As reported, I've been in a funk.  I try to do things to keep my mind occupied, but I am moving adagio, and the days slip away from me.  I didn't exercise and take my walk until very late in the day.  Which day?  I didn't know.  But coming back by way of the Boulevard, I realized it was Friday.  Friday?  People were already out having fun.  I wanted some fun, too, I thought, so when I got home at four, I called my mother and told her I would not be over.  

"It's sushi Friday," I exclaimed.  

I took a shower and was seated at a sidewalk cafe table for one by five.  It was fine.  I wanted to believe it was better than takeout, but in truth, only the scenery was different.  I was still eating in silence, alone.  There were distractions.  Oh, god, there were lovely distractions, but they only made me feel like a guy eating at a sidewalk table by himself.

I had plenty of time to ruminate.  

The weather is lovely, the light spectacular.  I should go somewhere.  I really should.  Just a day out, photography and all.  I tell myself I will, but I find a hundred reasons to hold me back.  Still. . . I may go.  I just might.  

I feel like a character in "Godot."  

Friday, January 7, 2022

Just 'Til You Hit Backbone

 My life is full of empty wandering right now.  It beats sitting inside all the time, of course.  I take long walks during the day.  I've taken to walking in the dark after dinner.  I'm trying not to walk in the same places all the time.  This photo is from a nearby nature trail in a neighborhood only a couple miles away.  I'd never walked down this path before.  It really wasn't as dramatic as this photograph, but my senses were more engaged as instructed.  A sign said "Natural Habitat Area: Be Aware of Natural Wildlife."  Of course, I was looking for unnatural wildlife, too.  Anything.  There are many coyotes in this area now.  I have yet to encounter while on foot "in the wild."  I'm sure it will get the old heart pumping a bit.  

As did the big splashes near the shore where I was sitting a couple nights ago.  The lake was dead calm, so it wasn't waves lapping the shore.  These were big splashes.  What could it be, I wondered, sitting there just feet away from the water in the dark?  Alligator?  Otter?  Bad knees, hips and back, I wondered how quickly I would be able to move.  I think an alligator could get me for sure.  

My senses were engaged.  

I am trying to distract my mind from the anxiety producing negative thoughts that want to overwhelm me of late.  It works a bit.  Exercise, shopping for essentials, walking, visiting my mother, shopping for groceries, preparing meals, walking again, reading, and finally a little television before bed.  An idle mind is the devil's workshop, they say.  

Senses engaged, mind distracted, but concentration lacking.  

Sometimes I still tremble.  

I must do something about the deck.  I think I have decided to call someone to get an estimate.  It doesn't seem I am capable of fixing it right now.  And it must be fixed.  I fell through a board this morning while feeding the cat and almost broke my ankle.  Maybe it would be good for me, though, to at least tear it up and cut it into pieces for disposal.  I might feel a little productive.  I should probably do that.  

I should probably do any number of things.  In the main, I am trying to allow myself to do what my mind and body are telling me at any moment.  Asserting my right as a retiree, I am.  

Even calling someone and meeting with them about the deck seems like too much, though.  

I didn't answer the mental health questionnaire at the doctor's office honestly.  I could see no good outcome from doing that.  

C.C. tell me to join a church.  He says, "You don't have to believe.  Just go."

Fellowship, I guess.  

Oy!  I am not writing to distraction here.  I'm ruminating, and that is not what I intended or needed to do.  

The sky is clear and blue.  It will be my bromide.  By afternoon, all will be cloudy and gloom.  I must make hay while the sun still shines as the old saying goes.  

Hey, wait. . . before you go. . . I DO have one tale to tell.  Not really a tale, just an incident, you know. . . to relate.  I took my car to the carwash.  The woman who directs the cars into the lanes has worked there forever.  Many, many years ago, I posted a photo of her on this site.  She is a bit rough, but she is always super friendly.  So. . . she was directing me to pull my car up into a covered area where the fellows vacuum the interior.  

"Pull up," she yelled, waving her hand.  

"All the way?" I questioned.  

"Just until you hit backbone!" she laughed.  

I thought the word "backbone" hilarious.  

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Jan. 6

It's January 6, now an important day in history.  I won't write about it much here.  The media is doing it's 360.  You just have to read both liberal and conservative media to get that.  I'm not much interested.  I mean in reading all of it.  We all know what happened.  How you interpret it and how you feel about it is based on many factors, some of which I would speculate are genetic.  Some of it may have to do with nutrition, but I can't really speculate on that at present.  All I know is hatred fills the air, even in people who would not commit a violent act.  The extreme right and the illiberal left and the social media catalyst have made life difficult.   People who have little else still have an opinion.  Even bums are more aggressive.  New York City just admitted that it can't prosecute all crime.  Some laws will have to be ignored by the justice system.  Perhaps there are too many laws.  This is admittedly an underestimate, but since its implementation, Congress has passed more than 30,000 statutes.  That's just federal.  I can't find anything that estimates the number that have been passed by states.  The Bible only had ten, and still those are broken every day.  Commandments.  Whatever.  Let's not quibble.  

There are 1.3 million lawyers in the United States.  There are 697,000 police officers.  More lawyers than police.  That should tell you something.  

I always enjoyed my Dick and Jane readers when I was a kid.  They made an indelible impression.  There was a gentle hierarchy in simple, powerful colors.  Everyone had a role to play.  Even as a kid, I knew who were the smartest people in town.  Old Gus the Fireman might have some sage advice about life from time to time, but he wasn't the one making the big decisions.  Still, even the Milkman was treated as an equal.  

Here is a list of the readers by grade.  You'll probably have to enlarge this to be able to read it, and that may be difficult on your phone.  What you find, I think, is an enviable progression.  

By the 1960s, though, the series came under attack.  

"In the late 1950s and early 1960s, critics of the Dick and Jane readers began to point out its stereotypes; class, gender, and racial bias; and errors in content and illustrations. Critics objected to the Dick and Jane storylines and stereotyped roles, arguing that "many students could not relate to family with two children, a dog named Spot, and a cat named Puff."

I learned to read, but apparently many children didn't.  We had reading groups in which children of differing abilities were clustered.  This, too, was deemed harmful, so the whole thing was revamped.  From what I have read, Dr. Seuss took much credit for the undoing of Dick and Jane.  

I never enjoyed Seuss.  

All I know is that the Turtles were mixed in with the Bluebirds and the Squirrels and then the trash talking began.  Now every dumb fuck with an opinion thinks he's as smart as Fauci. Postmodernism taught us that everything was of equal value and it has become a tool of both the right and the left.  Postmodernism has created some very strange bedfellows.  

There have been many changes to school curricula since I was a student.  Home Ec, Civics, and Americanism vs. Communism have been dropped.  I was the first boy in my school to sign up for Home Economics, but I wasn't the last.  Now, maybe, I wish I had taken shop class, but the opportunity to be in a class with all girls was too overwhelming.  I did, however, learn some life skills in Home Ec, and some social ones, too.  I am a good cook and like to make my home attractive.  More importantly, however, I became an instant "feminist."  I learned to take women seriously in ways I wasn't taught in other classes.  I never had an argument against gender equality going forward.  

Civics.  What can you say?  It taught the rights and responsibilities of living in a democratic society.  One learned how government worked, what the separate branch powers were, how laws were made, etc.  It was replaced, I think, by a cartoon version on PBS, "Schoolhouse Rock."  Somehow, however, I don't think it had the same impact.  

Americanism vs. Communism was another thing.  It was a course mandated in my own home state.  Period.  It has been described as a course in coercion and fear.  Seems like Texas would have mandated it, too.  But the course curriculum was so weirdly distorted that not even kids took it seriously.  Americanism.  Quite a concept.  I think it was one of the things that led me to demonstrate and rebel.  

Schools were smaller then and maybe not quite as frightful.  In my job as factory foreman, I had to visit public schools from time to time.  It was terrifying.  All one has to do to see what went wrong with education is to step into one of these public mega prisons.  Sit in a classroom.  See what goes on.  They are structured to fail.  After visiting one, go to a small private school.  You'll see immediately why the privileged stay that way.  

Jesus.  I need to circle back here.  I've wandered.  

And that is how we got January 6th.  

How's that?  I blame ultraconservative ideologies for the repressions of the past.  I blame ultraliberal ideologies for the problems of today.  

Really, you wonder?  Yup. If not for Hillary Clinton, we would never have had Donald Trump, and we know for a fact that he should have been in the Turtles reading group.  But therein lies the serpent in those small private schools.  

It is probably unreasonable to expect this many people to live together in peace and harmony.  No, not probably.  

Trust me.  I was a Bluebird who grew up with Turtles.  

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

I Don't Wish to Become a Tutor

 Is it only January 5th?  It seems like it's been Dry January for weeks now.  If my belly is any indication, though. . . it has not been long.  

I had my annual physical yesterday.  I didn't want it, but the doc got me addicted to a prescription for blood pressure a few years ago and now I can't get it from her without the annual.  Of course, I got some news that was distressing.  A trip to the doctor is like a death sentence.  You know the execution coming, but you're not sure when.  You only know it is imminent.  

But no one wants to read or speak of these things.  They are private matters that we must keep to ourselves with a stoic silence.  

The doc asked me how I liked retirement.  I replied, "Not so much."  She wondered why, and so I told her--girl left, job gone, Covid, isolation--you know, the top stress producers known to science.  She was sorry to hear that, and she tried off the top of her head to give me some suggestions.  She thought, for instance, that maybe I could spend my time helping disadvantaged kids with reading and writing.  I just shook my head and grimaced.  "It's not the work I miss," I said.  

When I got home from the appointment, I guess I was gripped by a panic attack.  I crawled into bed and shivered.  I needed to shut down my brain, but it wouldn't, of course.  I should have asked her for a prescription for Xanax.  What I really wanted was the impossible.  And I wanted just to lie in the lap of my own true love.  

Sometime later, I got up and tried to get on with things, but I had a feeling of detachment that was unshakable.  A paralysis had set in.  "Move, motherfucker," I told myself.  And so I did.  Slowly.  I went to the grocery store.  I bought some cod, some fruits and vegetables.  Etc.  

I came home and sat.  I thought about how difficult it is to be so alone at times.  But it is a dilemma.  Other people are an irritant, too.  All one wants at times is to be smothered in quiet caring and comfort.  

I made dinner.  While the rice and broccoli were cooking, I fed the cat and sat on the deck and smoked a small cheroot.  Half of it.  Then I got up and powdered the cod in corn starch and oat flour and set it in a pan of hot coconut oil.  I ate in front of the t.v. watching the news.  

CNN and MSNBC has led me to believe a lot of things their expert commentators have predicted.  The Fifth District would file charges against Trump by November before Cyrus Vance's term was up.  Weisselberg would turn state's evidence and others in the Trump organization would sing.  Charges would be filed against Matt Gaetz.  Etc.

Now they pin all hopes on the January 6 committee.  

Oh, boy. . . we got 'em now!!!!!

They would have you believe that people are baffled about CDC guidelines on Covid.  Really?  Maybe so.  I think, however, you'd have to be a fucking idiot.  It seems pretty easy.  If you are infected, stay away from others.  Wear a mask.  Get vaccinated.  Are people's hair on fire over whether isolation is 5 or 7 days?  

Apparently.  Many people still think that Covid is a political thing, that Antifa were responsible for the Capitol break-in, and that space aliens are living among us.  Psychologists are speculating that this is a result of people's feelings of a lack of self-worth.  Social media has taught us all that our lives are shit compared to those we see online.  The DaVinci Code brings real meaning to their lives.  


I should only ever watch the BBC.  

But I needed the distraction last night.  I need it today.  I'll need it tomorrow.  I can feel my anxiety levels begin to rise as I come to the end of this post.  I really need something to focus on, something to distract me for awhile.  But when I think of taking on some lone task, my hands begin to tremble.  I want to watch someone else do it.  

There is a general gloom outside today.  The sky is gray, the air coolish and damp.  I will try to find some light somewhere, something that will lift me.  In the meantime. . . please don't offer me any advice.  I do not wish to become a tutor.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

You Can Skip This One, Too

I'll never get to be a social media giant with photos like these.  It is difficult, however, when you have carried your cameras as you traverse the few square miles around your house over and over again.  All there is are shapes, shadow, and light.  

Is are?  Seems awkward.  Shapes, shadow, and light are all that is.  Still seems odd.  All I see?  Works, but doesn't say the same thing.  Still, it might be more accurate.  

Rewriting on the fly. 

I turned on the news last night.  Bad juju.  I am better off not hearing those voices.  CNN and MSNBC are worried about Covid and insurrections.  I already know that, but they like to opine about it all night long.  They say republicans don't think there was an insurrection.  They also believe that there are times when violence against the government is justified.  This is curious to me.  Violence against non-elected governments, maybe, but what they are saying is that violence against the people you didn't vote for might be justified.  That is a horse of a different color.  I could better support the notion that violence against rich corporations that splash cash to sway elections is sometimes necessary.  The amount of money it takes to run a simple campaign lets Big Bucks choose the candidates.  But violence against the government is violence against voting.  I am beginning to see that people do not love democracy and that they never have.  People love having those in power who reflect their ideals.  Otherwise, fuck the government.  I get it.  I was a hippie.  I lived under the regimes of Nixon/Ford, Regan, two Bushes, and Trump.  But that doesn't even begin to explain the oppression down to the county and city levels.  Backward ass sheriffs and judges, etc.  

But really. . . don't go fucking up my pension!!!!  

I felt better when I cut the news.  

This morning, though, I read that conservatives are tweeting that AOC is sexually frustrated to which she replies that they are creepy knuckle draggers who just want to date her.  I think "date" is euphemistic.  Tell me that we are not a nation of intellectuals.  Maybe they want to see her naked selfies, but those are the things you should only tell your friends.  And she knows she has the power of a pretty girl, but again. . . keep that info on the down low.  

I felt punky yesterday and didn't do a thing but get my car washed.  I brought it home, however, and parked in my usual space under a camphor tree.  The tree is dropping its berries and my car was a mess again within hours.  I have other places I can park.  I am just stupid.  

This is a worthless hunk of nothing today.  I don't mind the picture, though.  I took it with the Babylon 13 film.  Sweet stuff.  

I have an appointment in a bit and need to get ready, so that is all I got.  For now. . . . 

Monday, January 3, 2022

Random Thoughts and Misdemeanors

If I were a paid writer, if there were any profit in this at all, I'd have time to follow up on yesterday's post.  It was well-liked.  But I would have to do some research into the next part.  Were I paid, I'd spend the day working at it.  But I'm doing this for free.  Spending a beautiful January day looking through my books and across the internet wasn't completely appealing, so. . . you get what you get, random thoughts and misdemeanors.  

What I DID do yesterday was begin to change my life a bit.  I've been in a rut for far too long, and not the period of sexual activity in deers and sheep and goats and their kind.  No, mine has been the pattern of behavior that is dull and unproductive.  I sit, I eat, I drink, I sulk. . . I become corpulent.  To wit: I'm doing a dry January.  I'm switching to a plant based diet.  I'm getting out of the house day and night.  If I don't, I'm afraid of what will happen.  Terribly frightened.  For you see. . . I've not been happy.  

Now I know that REAL travel will be out of the question for me for awhile.  According to the Times, Covid cases have increased 948 % in the last two weeks in my own home state.  I know some healthcare workers who have gotten Omicron even though they were vaccinated, and as they report, it has not been fun.  Milder cases, they say, but milder than what?  Milder than death.  They say the effects of the virus seem to hang on.  They are worn out and can't seem to recover fully.  Unlike many of you, I'm taking precautions.  Spending money on travel while taking precautions just isn't my idea of real fun.  I want to be able to go into places and talk with the locals.  I want to sit and eat and drink in neighborhood cafes.  Otherwise, travel is like being a fish in a bowl looking out at the landscape.  

That doesn't mean I am staying home, however.  I am getting out, just not into crowds.  I've been eschewing the gym for the past couple weeks and exercising outdoors.  It is refreshing.  I've taken to eating lighter, grilling vegetables and tofu and the like.  Last night, after speaking of fried fish, I cut up and powdered some halibut that I cooked in oil until it was crunchy.  It went over broccoli and rice and was covered in a mix of soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and water.  Jesus it was good.  

After dinner, rather than having that first scotch, I've been taking a walk.  Last night, I went to the neighborhood dock.  I haven't walked down there for a year.  It was dark.  No one was out.  I could hear something splashing around in the shallows near the shore.  I sat for awhile contemplating nothing really, then made the return walk home.  

Maybe I'll get a boat, something small and easy.  I'm going to begin hiking local winter trails.  Yesterday, I pumped up the tires on my bike and took a slow tour.  In the course of it, I ended up at a warehouse that used to be a fish market.  I've seen the doors open from the street.  Lots of plants, but no sign.  I rode up.  It was a surprising wonderland of a find, a huge space full of indoor plants and terrariums and small home items.  It was like something you'd stumble into on a trip to Berkeley or some other hip small town in Cali.  I was more than happy.  

Old habits are hard to break.  There is nothing that competes with habit, as the song goes (and I know it's neither deep and tragic), but I've always maintained you can replace routine with ritual.  And now, that is what all the hip cyber companies like Zoom are saying, too, though they use the already cliched phrasing like "mindfulness."  This, say all the current psychologists, is the way to change behavior.  

I'll stick with ritual.  

Who knows if I can stay dry for a month, but I've done it before, and I wasn't even a corpulent tub of guts then.  I've looked in the mirror.  I've seen the photos.  I have real motivation.  

You can join me if you like.  You're only a couple days behind.  

Perhaps it was yesterday's post that got me psyched for change.  I could go looking for the old Florida, places that have not been completely overrun by invaders, places that have yet to be Disneyfied.  I might even get a new fishing pole!  

I may stay with my Florida theme for awhile.  I DID do some research yesterday.  I came across a link to the Sheriff's Star, a publication put out by the Association of Sheriffs in my state.  It is archived back to the 1950s, and I'll tell you I got lost in reading through them.  Oh, man, "Cool Hand Luke" was not an exaggeration.  Each county had a sheriff, and sheriffs had a tremendous amount of power--and the whole state was as crooked as a dog's hind leg.  But not much has changed, really, except that everyone has gotten more photogenic.  Yea. . . those sheriffs were pretty hard to look at, and all the school principals and sports coaches around the state were mini copies of them.  Looking back, there is no wonder at all why a generation rebelled.  

But that's a story for another time.  That and the history of how the state was developed.  I've read some fascinating books on the topic, and though I don't plan to go back and pour through them to get all the details, I have an impressionistic memory of it all, and that is surely what you will get.  

Now, it is time to get moving and get outdoors.  Sitting and thinking gives way to moping and moping leads to all sort of destructive behaviors.  

Just a small boat, maybe.  Just something to take into the lakes and down the rivers and into the intercostal waters.  Wouldn't that be something.  

Sunday, January 2, 2022

New Year's Day

Sometimes people want to know what Florida looked like before Disney.  There were cities, of course, like Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami, Miami being most populous with 275,000 citizens.  Between 1950 and 1960, Florida's population doubled.  In 1960, there were still only five million people in the entire state.  

Outside the cities, though, Florida looked much like this.  It was largely wilderness landscape, and going into it was what you did.  Florida is mostly water.  When you fly over the state, you can see that.  From mid-state southward, there are just islands of land surrounded by water.  Some people hunted, but almost everybody fished.  People fished lakes and streams and rivers and canals.  People fished from bridges and beaches.  People fished from boats.  Home freezers were full of fish.  Community events most often included fish fries.  Fried fish was delicious.  Until I was an adult, I didn't know you could eat it any other way.  My father bought crab traps, large metal contraptions with four doors that fell open when the trap hit the ocean bottom.  You tied a piece of chicken in the center of it and waited awhile.  When you pulled it up, you had crabs.  We had a cast net for catching bait, a large webbing with weights woven into its perimeter.  Throwing it required a certain amount of skill.  When we went out with my uncle and aunt, we would use seine nets in the grassy shallows of the intercostal waterways to trap shrimp.  When we weren't fishing, my mother and aunt would walk the beaches looking for shells of which there was no end.  They had buckets and buckets full of shark's teeth of every size.  

Some places were a challenge to get to.  Sanibel Island, for example, now an expensive tourist destination,  had to be reached by ferry.  There was nothing on the island, and if you missed the last ferry of the day, you would spend a miserable night in your car plagued by swarms of "no-see-ums" whose bites burned like embers.  Getting to the keys was a long, slow drive across a hundred miles of narrow bridges.  Nothing was upscale, just crackers and rednecks who were trying to "get away."  

There were popular beaches, of course.  St. Petersburg, Daytona Beach, and Ft. Lauderdale were holiday getaways.  Staying at one of the hotels there on a family vacation was as exciting as it got for a working class kid.  

Outside of any town, everything was just pine flats and scrub and swamp.  Sometimes muck fires would close highways for days at a time as would forest fires due to lightning.  "Out there" were bears and gators and panthers and deer and very large boars.  Neighborhoods still had snakes and scorpions and centipedes and large patches of sand spurs, poison ivy, and poison oak.  We were always told to "put your shoes on," but we rarely did.  We would walk miles and miles in bare feet that were toughened from playing football in the street.  We never wore shirts except in school.  Scabs on knees and elbows were ubiquitous.  

Every yard had fruit trees.  Nights were filled with fireflies.

I thought of all this sitting with my mother yesterday after a lunch of black eyed peas with ham, collard greens, and cornbread.  Everything was still on New Year's Day.  You could hear the breeze in the trees.  You could hear the distant chirping of birds.  You could "hear" the silence.  

"Remember this?  This is what it sounded like when we first moved here."

Almost everything is gone now.  The waterways are choked with weeds from sewage, fertilizers, and other nutrient pollution.  There is hardly any open space between inescapable developments, Walmarts and Targets and little open shopping plazas full of chain restaurants clogging busy highways that once housed pop up stands selling fruit and vegetables and bait and boiled peanuts.  The fireflies are gone, killed off by insecticides.  It is rare to see a fruit tree.  Housing projects have been built over celery farms and orange groves.  The roar of motors and the screaming of sirens fill the evening air.  You can no longer see the stars.  Kids can't play in busy streets.  Even the drinking water from deep aquifers has been poisoned.  

There is nothing old here any more.  Everything is new or newer.  Over a thousand people move here every day.  As my buddy told me at lunch last week, one of his law school professors once said, "You can never stop developers.  They are like the Viet Cong.  They just keep attacking."

It is Trump's home state now.  Such a thing is apropos.  

Saturday, January 1, 2022


Mother Doesn't Own Coupe Glasses

It feels as if it has been 2022 for a long time now.  I was not awake for the inglorious ending of 2021--but I almost was.  Like many of my pals, I had no interest in staying up, but for some reason, I just didn't get sleepy.  I texted friends and set off to bed around eleven, I guess.  Picked up my guitar and realized that I have retained no talent for it whatsoever.  Sat on the bed, thinking. . . and then decided to go the route of Puff and hit the sack.  I slept o.k. but my eyes popped open before six.  I lay in the darkness of my bedroom half awake watching the shuttered windows for the first indication of morning light, but sometimes thinking is too much.  I tried to remember memorable New Year's Eves.  There were three that came to mind, though I know I've spent many of them in foreign countries.  Just now, I remember one in Mexico City walking around a primitive carnival illuminated by strings of dim lights hung from wires around a square.  We drank and played games of chance and games of bravado.  I may have spent one with E. on the empty beaches of Cozumel in a Palapa mere meters from the water's edge before anyone had built anything else there.  We nearly perished from hunger and boredom like voluntary Robinson Crusoes, not another footprint in the sand.  

Of course, there was New Year's Eve at the changing of the centuries, but I've written about that enough.  

My New Year's celebration was with my mother around four o'clock when we popped a bottle of champagne and invited the 96 year old neighbor to join us.  She is pretty deaf, so conversation was mostly me asking simple questions so she could narrate responses as long as she cared to.  She truly loves to come drink champagne with me.  I am the party boy of my mother's aging neighborhood.  My mother's neighbor thinks me quite something. 

I left them there to finish the bottle (which I know they didn't) and came home to make some dinner.  Having eaten only a few mixed nuts all day, the champagne was starting to give me a headache.  I decided to roast the same vegetables as the night before, this time using the outdoor grill.  I decided to put the vegetables and tofu over a mixed grain pasta as I was a bit hungrier than the night before.  Oo-la-la.  I'm really digging this meatless diet for now.  

Clean up was, of course, almost non-existent.  And then, in the evening darkness, I had the usual whiskey and cheroot with the sound of crickets and firecrackers colliding in the warm sub-tropical air.  I sat thinking for quite awhile.  What else was there to do?

The day had not gone well.  Betty White had died just short of 100 years.  I was informed of the fact by "my gay buddy" in Dubais.  I hate saying "my gay buddy," but in this case it is to make a point.  I realized for the first time that Betty White was a gay icon.  How could I have missed the fact?  There are a billion billion things that swirl around us to which we are oblivious.  I thought that in the pre-dawn meditation as well.  

My screw remover tool turned out to be a dud.  It may work for stripped screws on a car taillight or on some other soft surface, but it doesn't do shit to old six inch galvanized screws in old wood.  I am back to the drawing board on deck repair.  Trying to be a twenty-something self-reliant man at my age is frustrating.  I should just pay somebody to fix the deck and spend my time making pictures of nothing.  It seems that is what I've been training for a long while now.  

The morning fog has already lifted.  2022 is looking clear and bright.  I'm always attracted to the shiny object.  Maybe it reminds me of blond hair and radiant skin and summer beaches and snow cones.  Not really, but I wanted to write that for some reason.  No. . . I'm no crow.  I'll leave a new penny lying on the ground.

For the past many years, I've made a trip to a small coastal town and a wildlife refuge just beyond.  You've seen the pictures before.  I'll not go today, though.  I'm having black eyed peas and cornbread with my mother.  Maybe I'll go tomorrow, though I know it will only break my heart.  Perhaps some new thing would be better.  

As always, whatever I decide, you'll be the first to know.