Friday, October 22, 2021

Incompetence and Malice


I wanted to tell you about the day I had yesterday.  I really did.  I was out.  I met C.C. for lunch.  We went to the museum.  But that narrative has all been waylaid by the a.c. guys.  I will have to start there first and work my way back.  Maybe.  We'll see how much gas I have.  

I slept without a.c. last night.  It was fairly o.k.  Temps went down into the lower 70s.  It was just the humidity that was a little rough.  I had to sleep without it because when I got home yesterday afternoon, the a.c. was running.  It was freezing inside the house, but the thermostat said it was 78.  I tried to turn off the a.c. but the thermostat was having none of it.  O.K.  

The repairman had been  just here.  He did the semi-annual servicing.  It was going to be close, but it looked like he would be finished in time for me to meet C.C.  But there was trouble.  I heard him talking to himself, so I knew.  He said the capacitor was bad.  It was under warrantee, so he was going to replace it.  How long will that take, I asked.  Not long, he said.  Fifteen minutes.  I texted C.C.  But fifteen minutes turned into half an hour.  I texted C.C.  Later that day. . . he had to replace another part, too.  It was late now, so I met C.C. at the restaurant rather than at the museum.  

Skip ahead.  When I got home and found I had trouble, I called the engineering firm who put in my new electrical box, does my plumbing, and who put in the a.c. I have a service agreement with them, so they should have come out right away, but I was a push over and let them schedule me for this morning.  

At the appointed time, the repairman showed.  I told him of my woes.  I did not turn off the breaker in the electrical box, I said, because it also controlled the lights in the kitchen and the power to the internet box, so I just killed the big, separate breaker to the a.c. unit.  That way, the fan was able to run.  Right away, he threw up his hands and said, "I'm not an electrician.  We need to get an electrician out to look at this."

"Why?  There is no problem with the breaker.  The thermostat isn't controlling the unit."

"I don't know what's gone wrong.  I'm not an electrician."

"But you guys put in the electrical box a couple years ago.  You put in the a.c. two years ago.  You've serviced the a.c. every six months since.  It was your electricians who put this together."

"Like I said, I'm not an electrician."

O.K.  This is the part where I lost my sense of absurdists humor.  I live in a hot place.  I need a.c. 

"Well," I said in a vocal tone that assumes one's an idiot, "what do you imagined happened?  Do you think the wires just kinda moved and reconnected themselves in some unfashionable way?  I've not had any problems until yesterday when the fellow futzed with the a.c. unit.  Now I have a problem.  The thermostat doesn't control the unit.  The breaker has nothing to do with this."

I know the fellow went to Air Conditioner VoTech school.  He knows how an a.c. unit works.  But man. . . they don't teach critical thinking skills there.  No matter what he knew about air conditioners.  I was talking to a moron.  Worse, I was talking to a moron who thought he wasn't.  

Finally, I convinced him to try the thermostat.  And guess what?  That's right.  It wasn't working.  I am sitting in a stuffy house now while he goes across town to get a new one.  

Within a few moments of his leaving, I got a call from the engineering group.  They wanted to schedule an electrician.  I explained what was going on.  

"I don't want to pay for an electrician to come out and look at what your company has done. What he told you was incorrect.  The breaker isn't tripping on its own.  I tripped the breaker.  It works fine.  It never trips on its own."

"Oh. . ." said the lady on the phone.  "If we send out an electrician, you will be charged.  Do you want to wait until he puts in the thermostat and then give us a call."

"Let's say that," I said.  That way I could tell the moron I was scheduling if he said anything.  "Yea," I'd say, "I talked to the office.  We are trying to figure out a time." 

So I wait on pins and needles.  He may be malicious as well as being a moron.  Things could get complicated.  

Since I was delayed yesterday, as I said, I met C.C. at the restaurant.  I was about an hour late.  He was sitting at the bar when I walked in.  It is a nice bar with nice light, and the bartender was pleasant.  It was a Spanish place, so we ordered many tapas plates and Sangria.  C.C. has done a lot of traveling since I last saw him and had many stories to tell.  Me. . . I had only tales of misery and decline.  Still, we had a good time eating and drinking and chatting with the barmaid.  When we had finished eating, she came back to see if we wanted another drink.  

"Do you still want to go to the museum," C.C. asked, "or do you want another drink?"

"I don't care.  What do you want?"

He ordered a cocktail.  

It was three o'clock when we finished at the bar.  

"Do you want to go to the museum?" I asked just to be asking.

"Sure," he said.  I was surprised, but o.k.  Away we went.  

The main hall was full of Renaissance and Baroque religious paintings from the Bob Jones University collection.  Do you remember Bob Jones?  Fundamentalist Evangelism?  Well, he must have made some money, because the art collection was pretty cool. 

And C.C. knows his Baroque art.  I like to think I know things about art, but I was fourth fiddle on this one.  

Within a very short time, however, we were told to exit the gallery.  What?  

"The museum closes at four." 

What the fuck is that?  We were not there more than forty minutes.  We hadn't gotten all the way through the main hall.  

Whatever. 

The moron is back, and I can feel the malice.  I don't know how this will turn out. 

* * * 

He installed the new thermostat.  Everything is working. . . I hope.  He told me that I was lucky that they had one of these thermostats.  He said it is impossible to get things right now.  They are unable to get parts to repair a.c. units.  They are unable to get new complete units.  Supply chain woes, etc.  He revealed himself as a conspiracy theorist, though.  The news lies to us, so we don't really know what is going on, etc.  So. . . he took one look at me and thought, "fucking lefty" I'm sure.  I believe he brought a certain arrogant animus to the whole affair from the get go.  He keeps trying to school me.  "Air conditioning is a luxury," he says.  "Patience is a virtue."  Trying to be friendly, I asked him where he grew up.  He didn't answer.  Secretive.  Trust no one.  

I am waiting on the paperwork.  Then I will be free.  Free to what?  Beats me.  I could go back and see the rest of the show at the museum.  Or. . . I don't know.  I've forgotten what there is to do.  

O.K.  I need to finish up with the a.c. guy.  That's my report of incompetence and malice for the day.  

Mine, of course.  I mean mine.  

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Full Moons, Giant Bellies, and Threat of Pantie Sniffers




I have hundreds of images to choose from for posting now that I have sat hour upon hour cooking up photos from the way back, but whatever.  This is a snap I took last night at approximately 9:00 p.m. from my yard with my old iPhone.  Other than the digital artifacts you get when shooting in low light the iPhone does a pretty good job with night photography.  

The old full moon.  Glad I didn't miss it.  

I sent the image around to my friends with the message, "No sleep tonight!"  To some, I added, "Not without whiskey, dope, and Xanax."  

I feel the effects of all this morning.  

I had to get up first thing, though.  The a.c. guy is here for the six month maintenance.  I used to have to be at work before eight a.m. a long time ago.  It is something one gets used to, but I am not used to it now.  Seriously, he is here and I am in my "pajamas," eyes puffy, throat hoarse, hair tussled.  Two years of isolation and I am a mess.  Horribly.  

I went to an REI store yesterday to see if they had some clothing I need.  A very pretty girl let me into the dressing room.  I looked in the mirror fully dressed and thought, "Yea. . . she smiled at you for real."  Then I stripped down.  What the fuck is wrong with dressing room mirrors, anyway.  I looked like a cartoon of an old white man with Falstafian proportions.  "Look away!  Look away!" I almost said aloud.  "It is H-I-D-E-O-U-S!"

I didn't buy anything I tried on.  I had a very hard time meeting the pretty girl's smile as I exited.  

Last night, my art dealer sent me this. 


It happens, I guess. Even money might not save you.  

Today I will go shopping for hats.  

And so. . . yesterday I "hit" the gym.  It wasn't actually a "hit."  It was more the apocryphal "toe in the water."  But it was a start.  And for the rest of the day, I felt like shit.  I don't know if it is the remains of Covid, the flu shot, or a combination of the two, but the only way I know is to muscle through it.  Me and old Bill--we're on the come back trail.  

But maybe I have developed allergies.  I think it might be allergies.  

I keep thinking the I will eat only every other day.  Surely I would lose weight then and be much healthier besides.  It would be a mental struggle at first, but one would get used to it, I think.  Much easier for me would be to eat only between five and ten o'clock p.m. each day.  I could do that without much trouble, but I know I would pack in just as many calories in that timeframe.  

Maybe it would be better if I just got a better sense of humor about myself.  Of course.  

"When the moon's in the sky like a big pizza pie. . ." you eat and drink yourself half to death.  

Today I am meeting c.c. at the museum, and then we will go to lunch.  There I will eat and drink like I am going to fast tomorrow.  It will be great fun.  

I'll report back on the exhibits we see.  The museum must have changed administration because for the first time in thirty years or more, they are rockin' it.  

O.K.  I have to make sure the technician is not stealing panties from the renter's apartment.  You know how those fellows can be.  Until then. . . . 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Huntress Moon



This photo has become quite popular on some forums.  It's an old 8x10 Impossible Instant Film image that shows how impossible the film really was.  The faulty part of the image happened because there was not enough developer in the chemical pod to cover the entire photo.  Selavy.  But the implications are huge, no?  

I should colorize it.  

The Professional Cleaning Crew was here yesterday.  I went out while they were here and ran some errands then went to my mother's to sit and chat.  When I got home, everything was spic-n-span.  I don't know how they do it.  I really don't.  Nothing ever sparkles or shines when I have finished cleaning.  I don't know how I feel about them coming on a Tuesday, though.  I guess it is O.K.  I mean, I don't really have weekends any more.  When I was working and they came on Fridays, oh. . . what a treat.  But I don't come home from work on Fridays any more, so I guess it will be fine.  

Still. . . it felt like Friday.  

Tonight is the Hunters Moon.  Or is it possessive--Hunter's?  Well, to use an old baseball saying, I don't have perfect pitch when it comes to such things.  Speaking of which, did you see the Astros and Red Sox? I didn't.  I can't watch sports any longer.  I can't take the commercials.  Sometimes, however, I will start recording the game and then start watching about an hour later.  Usually, after skipping the commercials, I will catch up before the end of the game.  I might do that with the World Series.  

But there is nothing I can do with YouTube.  I am going to have to abandon it.  They stop playing content ever few minutes to run asinine commercials.  Surely some other platform will take over publicly displayed content so we can leave YouTube to people who want to pay to watch their "original" programming.  Vimeo, maybe.  Let me know.  

I realize that many of you come here mainly for my media recommendations.  O.K.  Joke.  But I watched something I thought was a series about which I was going to be very excited last night.  Much to my surprised dismay, however, it turned out to be a movie.  It would have made for a great miniseries, but I would still recommend it (link).  

Covid kicked my ass.  I think I'm fine now, but yesterday I got a flu shot and felt achey right away.  Could be in my head.  I'm kind of like that.  But I haven't been to the gym for almost a month, and I think I might give it a little go today.  Just dip my toes in the water, so to speak.  I look like Gumby's fat brother right now.  It could be permanent.  I don't know, but I have to at least make an effort.  All I want is to regain my girlish figure. 

And look, in spite of my playing idiot, I know about perfect pitch.  And in case you were being snotty about my joke, it is "despite" not "in spite of."  Gotcha.  

Maybe.  Maybe not.  I'm just having fun.  And in spite of/despite what I said about YouTube, here is the song that plays at the end of the movie.  I think it is a darn good one. 


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Domesticat

Depending on the species, the average lifespan of a squirrel is three to five years in the wild.  In captivity--ten.  The same is approximately true for rabbits.  I assume that it will be the same for any animal--shorter lifespans in the wild, longer lifespans in captivity.  

We are captive humans.  We would probably live to be about thirty-five in the wild.  And that's if a lion didn't get us while we were young.  

Yes, we are domesticated.  And for all the bad chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis, average lifespans are growing.  

That movie I took my young friend to see about Gauguin a few posts back, "Wolf at the Door," was themed after this fable (link).  It is part of our romantic legacy.  I imagined I lived my life by that when I was young.  Now I am old, due in large part to the fact that I really didn't.  Oh, I chanced my life quite often, but dying never seems as scary when you are young.  It is only as I have gotten older that the final act has terrified me so.  For most of us, I believe, the biggest disappointment in life is going to be living too long.  

But don't worry.  I still have some things I want to do.  

I waited around all day for the plumber.  He didn't show up until 4:30.  I gave him the line I said I would about how easy installation was going to be according to the ads.  He said that may be true, but removing the old stuff was going to be the difficult part.  Then he made me sign an estimate on how much this would cost.  "Holy shit!" I exclaimed feeling my testicles suck into my abdomen.  To kill the pain, I poured a cocktail and sat outside the kitchen on the deck with the door open so I could hear him groan and complain.  

Kaboom!  Pow!

Yes, he had to hammer several pieces apart.  He came out to show me.  

"Look at this.  Metal on metal.  Why wouldn't they use metal on plastic?"

I panicked for a moment.  I didn't know the correct answer.  To cover my uncertainty, I squinted my eyes, nodded my head, and took a slow sip.  

"See, after awhile, metal corrodes and you can't get them apart," he continued.  "They become a solid block."  

"Motherfucker," I said.  "They just aren't thinking about the future, I guess."  

"I need your help for a minute," he said.  "I need you to hold a wrench.  My arms aren't long enough." 

"Sure, but I'm going to have to get you to sign this estimate on what it is going to cost you," I laughed.  He just gave a weak grin.  

Finally, he had everything apart.  I poured another drink and continued to sit on the deck.  I scrolled through my phone deleting photos and voice messages until my phone was almost dead.  People walking by would wave and say hi.  Some stopped to talk for a moment or two.  The day turned to night.  I was hungry having eaten only some cheese and apple and crackers all day.  With wine.  And having had a couple cocktails while he worked, I was getting shaky.  

He finished up at 7:30, but he didn't seem in a hurry to leave.  He sat down at the table and became chatty.  I'm a nice guy, so we ended telling tales of growing up in this town before it was this town.  When he was finally gone, there was nothing left to do but procure some Popeye's chicken.  I think I have gotten addicted since getting Covid.  This is the third time in a few weeks.  It is so bad, though, that it is good.  Really good.  

The new faucet looks better than the old one.  True.  I am in no way disappointed.  It is a fine faucet and it works well.  Still, I'm waiting for something to go wrong.  

The maids come today.  They will do something to break the new hardware, I am sure.  The old Wrecking Crew.  I think this company gets their helpers straight from the jungles of Africa and South America.  Don't get on me.  That is where the husband and the wife are from, respectively.  They have connections.  I don't think the women cleaning my house are familiar with snappy modern things.  And I know they are brutish.  

The problems of the privileged, eh?  It is so hard to find good help these days. 

Tongue in cheek, motherfuckers.  Don't cancel me.  I'm old and injured and need help.  I'm a captive squirrel.  

Even the feral cat is getting cosy.  She stayed on the deck with me through the entire plumbing adventure.  She kept walking to the open door and looking in.  She walked up to me coming as close as one foot.  These are new behaviors on her part.  Perhaps she is willing to give up some liberty for comfort, eh?  

At evening's end, I watched a documentary about a group of crazies sailing a 120 foot boat from New Zealand to Patagonia by way of the Antarctic (link).  The boat was not built for this kind of sailing.  They bought everything on the cheap and had to continually make repairs at sea to survive.  There was a time when I would have been, like. . . YEA!!!!  But last night, I didn't think I wanted to go.  I did feel ashamed, however, that I didn't install my own sink and disposal.  

And that is how I ended my night.  With that and one hit off the old pipe.  And as has been the norm for awhile, my dreams were by turns sensual and sweet, then weird and disturbing like a David Lynch movie. I am, I must say, quite fascinated.  

So. . . hat is it for today from this Domesticat. We'll have to wait and see what the new day brings.  


Monday, October 18, 2021

Good News

Ready for some good news?  Me, too.  I can try.  I woke up this morning to the sound of the furnace.  Outside, it was 61 degrees.  We haven't had a temperature like that here in a very long time.  It won't last, but the coming weather is going to feel more normal for this time of year.  Dogs be frisky.  

I got up yesterday morning to the messiest house I've ever lived in.  Every horizontal surface was covered with something that needed to be elsewhere.  By afternoon, however, the house was spic and span.  I put on my big boy pants and got to work.  It felt really good once it was done.  I was energized, so I put on my gym shorts and gently exercised for about forty minutes.  Then I went out and hooked up the hose with insecticide and sprayed the yard and perimeters of the house and apartment.  Sorry kids, but it had to be done.  Afterwards, I showered, of course, and went to the grocery store. When I got home mid-afternoon, I felt fine.  Better than fine.  I felt that I was finally on the road to recovery.  

And I hadn't even had a drink. 

I went to my mother's for dinner.  We sat out with a cocktail first and neighbors stopped by.  And stayed.  And stayed, in serial succession.  One would see the group and show up as another was leaving.  It was all small talk and chit-chat, of course, and I was losing my mind.  I was hungry and wanted dinner, but dinner wasn't coming very soon.  

"You sure attract a crowd," my mother said.  "You've made me popular."

She doesn't know how such things wear me out.  But fine. It makes my mother happy.  And so, the last person leaving, I headed into the house to start preparing dinner, but it was my mother's dinner and she took over.  It was fine and good, and I stayed and chatted much later than normal.  She whined when I said I was going.  

I think there is never enough you can do for your old mom, do you?  

But I wanted to get home to see if Amazon had delivered the promised faucet.  It hadn't arrived before I left, but there it was parked on the front door stoop.  Now you may not know this about me, but I am fairly negative about things turning out well.  I was sure I would hate something about the faucet.  Surely nothing would go well.  But nope. . . I was surprised.  It is not bad at all.  Of course, I know it is my worry that holds things together and that if I stop worrying, everything indeed falls apart.  

The plumber comes this afternoon.  I suspect something will go wrong, that I will have bought the wrong disposal or faucet or that there will be a bigger problem.  Of course.  But. . . if. . . and I mean "if". . . perhaps this afternoon those troubles will be over.  

Of course, once the faucet is on, I will dislike it.  You'll hear all about that tomorrow.  Or perhaps it will be the disposal.  I will feel it is underpowered, maybe, that I should have gotten something stronger.  

The maids come tomorrow.  As it has been all along, Wednesday is my hope.  

Next, I'm going to get the tenant to help me tackle the garage now that the weather is nice.  She has junk taking up over half of the space.  She is not my girlfriend any more, hasn't been in almost a decade.  Still, unbeknownst to her, she has cost me things I miss most in life.  

But that is a tale best left untold.  

I have a wealth of pictures now.  I've spent entire days sitting at the computer and cooking things I've never touched before.  Street stuff.  Big city stuff. . . and some country, too.  They are not all great, of course, but as my hillbilly relatives like to proclaim, they are "good enough."  

That should be the hillbilly anthem.  "Good Enough." 

That is about as exciting as my life gets right now.  Prices are rising and shortages abound, but I am going nowhere and buying nothing.  I feel I can be happy with beans and lentils and rice and vegetables.  And for all the near death trouble one has brought me, I am dangerously close to buying another Vespa.  If things will just keep rotting and breaking, I could live on very little money.  I don't even want to buy cameras any more.  I haven't bought clothes in a couple years other than some t-shirts and stretchy shorts.  I do need a new pair of Tevas, but not much else.  

Biden's in trouble, of course.  He was championing the underdogs and giving them money as fast as he could while Rome burned.  It's not that his heart was in the wrong place.  He just couldn't keep his eye on the ball.  He spoke of injustices to people whose houses were on fire.  He reminds me of the Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the curtain.  

"You're a very bad man," Dorothy exhorts.  

Chastised, he responds, "No, my dear.  I'm a very good man.  I'm just a very bad wizard."

Now I will stretch and take a long walk in the beautiful autumnal air, the light and the colors more than the eyes can bear.  I am ready for a little less gloom and a little more relief.  Hell, I may even be hoping for something akin to happy.  

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Torn and Frayed


If you are looking for an uplifting or happy post, you'll need to go elsewhere.  If you are anything like me, though, other people's misery makes you feel less alone in the uncaring universe and so is not depressing to you at all.  Now interesting. . . that's another matter.  There needs be something interesting in a screed about misery.  Will I accomplish that, at least?

I doubt it, but if you have read this far, you are probably going to take your chances.  I've been interesting before, I swear.  It could happen again.  I mean it.  It could.  

So the drip, drip, drip continues, and I believe it has gotten worse.  The sound of the drops hitting the water collected in the bucket is about ten times louder, too.  It is similar to the Chinese torture thing without the drop hitting the forehead.  It is fraying my nerves.  "Why don't you just turn off the water?" you ask.  I do.  And as soon as I do, I need to use the bathroom or wash my hands or get a drink of water.  Turning off the water is like a trigger.  I am beginning to understand triggers, you see.  My nerves are shot.  

In the morning, I checked on my delivery of the two faucets I ordered on Amazon.  One was supposed to be here yesterday and the other today.  But no.  Amazon decided to bundle the two together.  They would be here Monday.  I couldn't trust that.  The plumber gets here Monday anytime after noon.  If the faucets didn't get here on time. . . . 

So I cancelled the order and reordered separately.  One faucet is scheduled to be here today.  The other, still tomorrow.  I'm hoping I can stand the faucet that comes today and be done with it.  

But I won't, I know.  So add this anxiety to the drip, drip, drip.  I swear, I'm ready to jump.  

I spent the rest of the morning looking for faucets that could be delivered in a day.  And I found one I thought I might like.  And it was gold.  It was for a single hole faucet, but here's the thing. . . they make plates--called escutcheons--that will cover three hole sinks.  Perfect (I guess).  But what do you do about the fourth hole?  Well. . . they make soap dispensers for that one.  Well holy shit, then, I thought, I'm ordering that one.  But wait, honkey, not so fast.  Amazon doesn't have the escutcheon in stock, and you can't find it in gold from any of the big box stores.  

So. . . I'm fucked. 

Did I tell you about the kitchen floorboards warping from the water?

I had planned on stretching/yoga yesterday and a little meditation to quiet my anarchical mind.  I needed to align my nervous system.  It has gone into excruciating rebellion.  Sort of like American workers.  But I couldn't convince myself that the time was right.  I went outside and watered my palms and ligustrums and azaleas.  And when that was done, I made a mimosa and went to the big computer.  Where I stayed except to make more mimosas.  All afternoon.  Working on old S.F. images.  Until I was nearly blind.  Seventy-five images in all.  And when I was done, I went back and looked through them all. 

With great disappointment.  I think my treatment of most of them was poor.  I decided I will have to go back to the raw files and start over.  

My mother called.  Her arm was hurting badly, she said.  She must have done something to it.  She did not feel like eating dinner.  That was fine with me.  I did not feel like leaving the house.  I was tired, achey, depressed.  

"But you're still coming over, aren't you?"

"Sure mom.  I just need to take a shower."

We sat outside, me with a premixed margarita, she with a beer.  Neither of us was talkative, neither having fun.  I ordered takeout sushi and waited another fifteen minutes before I left.  I didn't have any sake, but I was too tired or lazy or just kerflumpt to go to a liquor store.  I was going to take a bottle of wine from my mother's, but I forgot.  Well. . . I had a beer, I thought.  

Nope.  The kobachi and rice and edamame were good, but I drank a sparkling water.  

This morning I discovered that I had a bottle of sake here all along.  

That's the way my shit has gone lately.  

This morning the coffee seems weak.  Did I put too much water in the coffee maker?  

Drip, drip, drip.  

Lost and needing Xanax, I poured a big scotch and settled into the couch to watch t.v.  Everybody is talking about "Squid Games" on Netflix, so I figure it is a piece of shit show.  But I hadn't anything else good cued up, so I turned it on.  

I was right.  WTF is wrong with people?  

Having hardly moved a muscle all day, I went to bed exhausted.  I took half a zanny and didn't get up all night long.  But I dreamed.  I don't let my dreams disturb me any more.  I just try to enjoy them, even the bad ones.  But last night, for the first time in memory, my ex-wife appeared.  It did not go well.  Understandably, I guess.  

Today I will do some things I don't want to do to make myself feel better.  It will take me half the day to clear out the clutter I have accumulated on every horizontal surface in my house.  But there is a plumber on Monday and maids on Tuesday.  It has to be done.  

I'm thinking "Wednesday."  Perhaps I will feel better then.  

The photos are from Cafe Mason, S.F., 2012.  Q and I had breakfast.  It seemed a magical place then. The food was excellent, the waitresses French and extremely desirable.  

Oh. . . but I learned something from a Times article today about "gaze" (link).  A Black lesbian is "reinventing" the nude.  It is o.k., however, for her gaze is "multifaceted."  Apparently, all gazes are not equal.  I guess I have some work to do.  

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Drip, Drip, Drip


I'm O.K.  I'm just not.  Nothing seems headed in the right direction, but it will turn around.  I called the plumbing company.  It is not a plumbing company.  It is an engineering firm.  They have done all my recent work--changed out the electrical boxes, put in and serviced my a.c. units, and fixed the underground leak at the apartment.  They are a good company and are scheduled to come on Monday.  So I went looking for faucets.  Can't find one.  I am looking for a unicorn.  I went to the big places, Loews and Home Depot.  You find only the most functional units there.  I went to a high end bathroom and kitchen place in my own hometown.  I've been before.  They are real shits.  I knew I would be ignored and then treated like a peasant when I walked in.  I wasn't wrong.  But even they did not have anything in stock.  so I ordered on Amazon.  Taking no chances, I ordered two different faucets.  One would arrive today, said the website, the other tomorrow.  This morning, however, the website says they will arrive on Monday.  WTF?!  Monday won't do.  Now I am in a quandary.  There is another, very expensive faucet, a one hole rather than a four hole thing, that the site says will be here tomorrow.  But I have a four hole sink!  They sell an optional cover plate.  Well. . . the company does, but Amazon does not.  It seems I'm fucked all around.  I may have to reschedule the plumber.  Monday was good because my maids come on Tuesday.  I would have to reschedule until Wednesday.  Meanwhile, the water drip, drip, drips into the five gallon bucket.  I shut off the water to the house to stop it.  Inconvenient.  

What a world. 

I did buy a replacement disposal, the same model as the one I have now.  It says "easy installation."  So do the faucets.  That is what I am going to tell the plumber.  

"Boy, this is easy installation, huh?  You should be done lickety split.  Easy."

I keep telling myself I should just try to do it.  What could go wrong?  The internet says it is easy.  The packaging says it is easy.  You only need a couple screw drivers and a hammer. . . maybe something else.  Cut off the water and the power.  Undo a few screws or bolts or whatever.  Pull it out and put in the new one.   

What kind of man am I, anyway?

I'm a reader and a dreamer.  

But. . . what about Big Balls in Cowtown?  

Fuck that, I think.  I don't feel well. Who wants a pair of big balls slapping up against their ass anyway.  It is an old man joke at best.  

"What's it like making love to an old guy?"

It will be O.K.  I just feel disaster-ridden.  

I watched a documentary about prison fighters in Thailand last night.  Thailand has a program where multiple murderers can fight their way out of prison.  If they are good enough, they can get a pardon.  Thai prisons don't look like much fun.  The documentary followed one fellow who stabbed a stranger in the neck one night.  He stabbed a kid who had just graduated high school.  He was with his girlfriend and went to a pub.  Some gangsters liked her and they had words.  When the couple left, the gang got on their motorbikes and followed them.  The fellow in prison was drunk.  He didn't know the kid.  He got off his bike and stabbed him.  The kid died.  The murderer was good at Muy Thai fighting.  He won a series of fights and was pardoned.  When he got out, he went back to live with his parents and his five year old son in their small home. He got up before dawn and worked the cooked chicken cart every day with his parents.  That was to be his future if he stayed out of trouble.  

See?  Other people are lucky.  Me?  I have plumbing problems.  My trouble never ends.  Every time the world turns, why does it land on me?

Maybe I should take a mental health day?  Hah!  

I took my mother to the doctor yesterday.  She is healed and needs not go back, but she will continue therapy.  She was happy I took her.  I went back in the late afternoon.  She wanted to make me dinner.  Pork chops, green beans, Jasmine rice, a garden salad.  It was the best meal I've had in weeks.  

Drip, drip, drip. . . .  


Friday, October 15, 2021

Disasters Compounded


I'm sick of whining, tired of complaining. . . but what else is there to do?  People enjoy my bragging even less.  Oh, a good story is what's called for, but I've been nowhere, done nothing.  I forgot to tell you about the fall I took leaving the restaurant one night in front of an onlooking crowd just before I got Covid.  That would be the sort of thing that would put a smile on your face.  Who doesn't love a pratfall?  But the time for that has passed.  It no longer has the necessary verve, or, perhaps, I don't.  

Rather, I have only woe.  A couple nights ago, I turned on the garbage disposal.  There was a piece of broken glass inside, and it made a terrible noise, but I thought, what the hell, ice is supposed to be good for disposals.  A little piece of glass can't be that bad.  

The next morning, I woke to a wet kitchen floor.  I thought it was the dishwasher that had leaked.  Yesterday, however, there was more water.  I checked under the sink.  Water.  Shit.  I pulled everything out from under the sink and dried the floor and the cabinet.  But there was a drip.  It was coming from the disposal.  WTF?  I got a bucket to put under it.  I moved everything around so that I would use the other half of the divided sink, the side without the disposal.  Still, the water kept dripping.  

I emptied the bucket before I went to bed.  This morning it was almost full.  Five gallons in eight hours.  No water is running.  How can the disposal be leaking water?  

It is all a mystery to me.  I spent yesterday afternoon trying to find a replacement sink.  I have a lovely and very expensive Kohler Revival swan neck faucet.  It has a lifetime guarantee.  I tried ordering parts for it this year, but they have changed the hook up so that the parts were not the right ones.  At that time, I could have bought the new version for just under $700.  I balked, of course.  I thought it was a lifetime warranty?  The lady from Kohler said no, they didn't make that any more.  

So yesterday, I thought I would have to bite the bullet.  What bullet?  They no longer make the faucet at all.  Gone in mere months.  So. . . find a replacement.  My faucet is polished brass.  All the cabinet hardware matches as is the decorator's rule.  Try to find a polished brass faucet now.  There are hardly any around.  I am going to have to make a BIG compromise in buying a new faucet.  Mine is a four hole sink--hot and cold water handles, faucet neck, and sprayer.  They don't make so many of those any longer.  

I will order a compromise today.  I am very unhappy.  

I looked up garbage disposals, too.  Mine is a popular one--the InSinkErator.  They used to be around $80.  They are around $200 now.  

I guess I am going to take what I can get.  When I tried to replace my washing machine in Covid times, there were hardly any around.  Shortages, they said.  Everything was shut down.  Nobody's making parts.  

Same with lumber.  Mills closed.  Lumber prices are four times what they were.  I need to replace my deck.  

I am feeling the curse.  I've spent far too much money on the house since I retired.  Far, far too much.  

Oh. . . and now the planks of my kitchen floor are warped from being wet.  One day it will need replacing.  

I should sell my house, rent a large studio somewhere, and just live in it.  

My mother has a doctor's appointment today with the orthopedist.  She made it ridiculously early.  She can take herself now, but I feel the need to go.  I will have to get ready soon.  

But I am not feeling well at all.  Covid will not leave me alone.  I am achey and tired much of the day.  I have something akin to an allergy going on--scratchy throat, mucus, a cough and a runny nose and much itchiness.  And the other usual ailments--aching back, bad hips, etc.  I'm suffering from Covid brain, I know.  Nothing brings me pleasure.  I've read about the anxiety and depression that often lingers after Covid, but it never made sense to me.  I don't think I ever believed it.  

How do people go on?  

So there you go.  There is today's gripe.  There is the whining and complaining.  Disasters compounded.  There was another factory group birthday party last night, but I had to miss it.  It is difficult enough to simply sit upright.  I will go to my mother's now and take her to the doctor.  If it is as usual, we will be sitting for a very long time. . . waiting.  

I'm sure to be hurting by the time I return home.  Don't get this stuff.  It hurts.  It really, really hurts.   

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Living and Dying (in Three Quarter Time)


I worked on photos from San Francisco and environs for the past few days.  I have many photos I want to show.  But this is the one for today--just "my" cat.  She is not "my" cat, of course.  You see her clipped ear clearly here.  She is feral as she can be.  She doesn't trust anyone after having been captured, cut, clipped, and released.  I don't know how people think they can do this and not damage an animals psyche.  This cat is scarred way beyond her ear.  

But she likes for me to feed her and she comes closer than ever now that I'm home.  Still, there are days when she doesn't show up at all, and I have to wonder what she does.  But our bond is tenuous at best.  

Like most relationships, I guess.  That is what I thought of last night in my sleep.  You see people come together madly in love, then, with time and circumstance, the passion fades and is replaced by a tired but sometimes decent acceptance.  Seeing it makes me sad.  Living it has made me sadder.  

To wit, I went grocery shopping yesterday.  I went to Fresh Market because I wanted luxury things, the sort of treats you can't get at Publix, the local Supermarket behemoth.  I won't tell you what I got out of shame, but I'm not sorry to have those things.  

When I went to the checkout line, I heard a voice call my name.  It was a blonde woman standing in an adjacent line. I couldn't make out who it was, however, as she was wearing a mask.  She pulled it down and said her name.  Holy shit.  I hadn't seen her in many, many years.  

I have known her since she was in high school.  My girlfriend at the time was teaching at an expensive private school and had been hired to escort her and her boyfriend, her boyfriend's sister, and her friends for a weekend at the beach condo.  I went over on Saturday to visit, and oh, my, I was knocked out.  

The younger girls were cute and flirtatious when I went into the pool with them and my girlfriend.  They'd swim over and stand up and ask, "Do you think I'm fat?"  They were skinny little rails, and I just laughed. But they kept going, shimmying about, popping up in front of me with those little girl flirty eyes.  

"This is my pooch," one of them said to the other mere feet away, "and this is my cooch," she said looking me in the eye, grabbing herself and laughing.  Jesus, I'd never seen such a thing.  I tried not to look guilty of anything to my girlfriend who sat staring.

The older girl didn't hang out with us.  She spent her time with her boyfriend.  But after swimming, we went up to the condo and I chatted with her before I left.  She was sixteen and as sophisticated as anyone I had ever met.  She spoke in the low, assured tones of the privileged.  She was definitely not seeking approval.  

I was smitten.  

We became friends.  Don't ask me how.  I don't know.  It was, of course, through my girlfriend, but I got to know her parents, her brother and sister.  I would go to her house, and she would come to mine.  I can't imagine this now, can't imagine how it happened, but one night, I asked her if she wanted to go to a movie.  Don't ask me.  It even surprises me.  We went to see "Wolf at the Door" (link).  It was a movie about Gaugin (played by Donald Sutherland), and of course, there were lots of nude women in it.  Most significant, however, was his affair with his landlords young daughter (significantly shown in this theatrical trailer--link).  

Jesus Christ!!!!  I had no idea.  Oh dear God, I thought, I'm in trouble now.  If people had been using the word "grooming" then. . . . 

After the movie, we went to get something to eat.  "Well," I asked tentatively, "what did you think of the film?"  

"Oh. . . it was alright."  

Maybe not the response I might have hoped for, but it didn't seem she was going to call the cops.  

And we still stayed friends, her stopping by often just to chat.  In her senior year she was voted Homecoming Queen by all the privileged boys and girls.  I would have been displeased, but she also played on the boys soccer team as the school did not have a girl's.  I went often to see her play.  

When she graduated, she went away to college and would often write me letters telling me about her experiences and what she thought of them.  I still have the letters somewhere, of course.  And each holiday break, I would see her on the Boulevard where we would embrace and go somewhere to chat.  The year my girlfriend and I split up, she said I looked down.  "You know, she was a shit, anyway.  You are better off without her."  And then, for the briefest of moments, we kissed.  

That Golden Moment.  

She eventually left the college she was attending to come back to town where she attended the local university.  She had started dating a boy whose father had become fabulously wealthy, a good looking boy who had everything he wanted.  She had become a sophisticated hippie, smoking dope and looking expensively bohemian.  For Christmas, she gave me a colorful little bracelet she had woven.  I wore it for years until it fell apart.  No worries.  She made me a new one.  

She and the boy broke up, and she was devastated.  For awhile, she taught at the private school where she had gone.  In a very short time, her ex-boyfriend's father went to prison.  Apparently, his business was a Ponzi scheme.  The family was suddenly broke.  The ex got married and went to Texas where he became a renowned painter among the very rich.  Her father, who owned a large chain of car repair shops along the lines of Midas, went broke, and then his health failed, and in short order, he died.  Her mother, who had a tutoring business of some repute, hired her to run the company, and she made it very successful, mostly through the writing of federal grants that paid them to tutor underprivileged kids.  

I found this quite ironic.  

I didn't see her much for a number of years, but one day I ran into her at an Office Depot.  She was with a big, overweight guy who she introduced as her boyfriend.  It was unbelievable to me.  He just wasn't handsome in any way.  It was a boy she had gone to high school with, and eventually they got married and had two kids.  I learned all this from her mother who I would run into from time to time.  

What her mother told me, though, was that she had married Jim whose family owned the biggest transportation company in town.  But wait.  What?  I had known Jimbo from the old steroid gym.  He was a couple years older than I and a nut, a testifying Christian on 'roids.  She couldn't have married him.  Could she have?  I'd seen her with one unattractive guy.  Maybe she did it for the money.  Who knows what happens in people's contorted lives.  

It wasn't until years later that I found out that she had married a fellow her own age, perhaps the guy I had been introduced to at the store.  

But as I say, at the grocery store, I didn't know who she was until she took her mask off and said her name.  I don't think I would have recognized her if she hadn't.  She didn't look much like the girl I knew.  Of course, I was surprised she could recognize me at all.  

We walked out into the parking lot together and talked like old friends.  She was as easy and friendly as she had ever been.  She told me of her children, the usual shit, and then I said, "You know, when I heard you married Jim, I thought you had married Jimbo, then I realized he must be junior."

"No, no," she laughed, "that was his uncle.  He committed suicide a few years ago."

"What?  Really?"

"Yea, he was really messed up.  He had an empty soul."  

"But he was a super Christian,"

"Yes," she said, "he had an empty soul."

Good girl, I thought.  She was alright.  She was still good.  

I didn't feel like cooking last night, so I called my mother and asked if it would be o.k. if I just ordered a pizza.  Oh, sure.  She was all for that.  I was hungry having hardly eaten anything all day, so I got there early and we sat outside and ate.  I told her I still wasn't feeling well, that I would have a few good hours and then just feel sick again.  I said I was tired and depressed and couldn't think of anything I wanted to do.  I'd thought about it, I said.  I thought, o.k., you need to get out of the house.  Where do you want to go?  But I couldn't think of anything I wanted to do.  I used to like to go places, I said, so that people could see me.  I knew that if I went out there was a good chance of catching some girl's eye.  Now. . . what would I do?  Get a cup of coffee and be ignored?  No, I said, it isn't fun being ignored. . . or worse.  That is what was so good about seeing my friend at the grocery store again.  It is just fun to have a pretty girl who is glad to see you.  

But I wasn't feeling good and sitting with my mother got to be boring, so I came home to pour a whiskey and sit on the couch.  I read for awhile, then watched t.v.  Before bed, I cleaned up the kitchen, prepared he coffee maker, and ran the dishwasher.  As I was leaving the kitchen, the dishwasher seemed to be making a very strange sound, but I was tired and decided to ignore it.  I took some pills and went to bed.  

In the middle of the night I woke up with a crazy itching in my throat and ear.  I had to get up, drink water, blow my nose--something bad was surely happening.  I was getting sick once again.  

I never truly got back to sleep, so I got up before six.  When I went to the kitchen to turn on the coffee pot, the floor was covered in water.  Fuck!  The dishwasher!

When the neighbor's cat came to see me, I opened the door to speak to him.  My head sounded full of cement.  I don't feel well.  WTF?

And so begins another inglorious day of retirement.  A chance encounter reminded me of better times, but I probably won't run into her again for years.  She is wealthy once again and lives in a different part of town.  

Me?  I guess I'm reflecting on the lyrics of a song that came on my playlist yesterday.  Am I living or dying?  It may not be an either/or, but you know. . . it seems a bit more than merely philosophical.  


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Negative, Not Well


While I am Covid negative, I think I am not Covid free.  I was ready to re-enter the world yesterday.  I did another round of light exercise and took another walk.  I showered and readied myself for the final visit of Mr. Tree to settle up the bill.  The day was a pretty one, bright light, gentle temps.  I had even trimmed my fingernails which had been ignored and were beginning to tap against the computer keys.  I'd gone to the bank and cashed some checks, so I had a thick wad of fifties and hundreds riding on my hip.  I tell you, I was ready for life.  

Mr. Tree showed up.  As expected but not quite anticipated, his price was a knockout punch to the heart.  I could feel myself sicken.  I haggled a bit.  The wad I had counted on was not enough.  I ended up writing him a check.  When he was gone, my knees felt weak.  I hadn't eaten.  Surely that was it.  I vowed that I would not use Mr. Tree next year as I alternated between weakness and rage.  

But now that was over and done, and there was nothing left to do.  I would put that behind me and tell myself "lesson learned."  Again.  It seems I learn these lessons over and over.  But the yard looked nice.  I had a compliment from a neighbor just that morning.  It was not like I got nothing for my money.  So that was it.  Forget about it and move on. 

For the first time in weeks, I went grocery shopping.  It felt strange to be around people again.  I felt a bit gun-shy.  I should have super-immunities now, or so I've read, but I imagined I could feel the germs swirling about the miasma surrounding me.  People are dirty, germie creatures.  They just are. 

I grabbed the "fixin's" for the evening's dinner--salad, chicken, Brussel's sprouts, and potatoes.  I picked up some milk and a bottle of wine.  

At the checkout, I felt robbed again.  WTF?  There was a hole in my pocket.  I could feel the trouble with the world.  It is the feeling that you lack control, that everything is beyond you.  The price of things rise without your say.  Suddenly, it is not your system, not your world.  Everything is wrong.  

You feel insecure.  And that is it, I think, the trouble with things.  People want security.  They want to feel invested.  They want to feel they belong.  Give people security and they buy into the system.  It is their system.  They will defend it because they are invested.  But many people do not feel secure right now, left or right, cis, trans, Black, White--all that is left to people is activism.  

How can you feel secure when you know you're going to end up once again with Trump?  

The universe is against us.  

Back home, mid-afternoon, I tried to read, but my head was heavy, my limbs full of sand.  I lay down for a nap, but I don't think I slept.  Though my eyes were closed, I was fitful.  The day seemed long, and I felt short, and in a short while, I was up again.  It was still too early for dinner, so I sat down at the computer and worked through more of my interminable files.  

But I was jumpy.  The pictures brought me no pleasure.  I got up, grabbed a handful of nuts, and poured a drink.  I sat outside on the deck and watched the day pass by until it was time to go to mother's.  

It was traffic time.  The trip over set my nerves on edge.  I was getting achey.  I didn't want dinner.  I wanted to take a pill that would put me out for the rest of the night.  But when I pulled into the driveway, my mother was there, waiting.  

The old routine.  We sat and chatted about nothing, about relatives and the troubles with the world, and then it was time to fix dinner.  

Chopping and cooking, I began to feel a collapse coming on.  As the sprouts steamed and the potatoes boiled, I sat down.  My mother put her hand on my back and said I felt warm.  I could feel a fever and a cold sweat on my forehead.  

By the time we had eaten, I felt that Covid had returned.  All I wanted was to get home and pop some Tylenol, to sit on the couch in front of the television until it was time to go to an early bed.  I could see the concern and disappointment in my mother's eyes.  I just wasn't up to the task.  

At home, I poured a big whiskey so that I wouldn't have to get up.  I turned on the television.  I needed something easy to watch.  I scrolled through HBO series.  "100 Foot Wave."  What?  It was a series about big wave surfing.  Oh, yes, that was just the thing.  Perfect.  I sat for three episodes during which I imagined myself surfing again.  I could do it, I thought.  It was just a matter of determination.  You can't give in, I told myself.  You can't lie down.  I imagined myself with the pretty wife of the subject of the series, a chill hippie girl who made me eat hippie food and do yoga and meditate, someone who would feed my body and my soul.  Yes, it was all possible.  I just couldn't quit.  

Before ten, I was ready for bed.  My mother had given me some Benadryl because I had begun to sneeze and cough.  The cough had become worse and worried me.  I popped a Benadryl and some Tylenol besides.  The bedroom was quiet but for the hum of the air purifiers.  If I'd had the energy, I'd have put on some music for the night once again.  I felt the day, somehow, had turned against me.  I wasn't well yet, not by a long shot.  My body ached.  I lay down and waited for the drugs to take effect.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Covid Free


I tested negative for Covid yesterday.  Now the long slow road to recovery.  Two weeks is a long time to stay in bed, to sit around the house alone.  It has made me stranger by measures, I'm sure.  But now the long march back to "normal."  I will get a booster vaccine, too.  I just read that this will make me a rock star of immunity.  I'll keep my fingers crossed.  

Tonight I'll go to my mother's and fix her a good meal.  She will be delighted.  

As with most things, however, the return to normal comes at a cost.  When Mr. Tree called yesterday, I told him about the test results.  He still wanted to bring dinner to me, he said.  Great.  His girl cooks like a wizard.  By eight o'clock, it was clear he wasn't bringing anything.  I ended up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  

He will come today to collect the money.  I will be very sad about how much he charges me, I know.  

Today's headline is that Superman is Queer.  So reports CNN, anyway,  Their lead, not mine.  A much smaller tagline reports that the IRS wants banks to send more information to them about your bank accounts.  

Obviously, Trump will be re-elected.  

Holy shit!  This just in!: "But he was 100 years old and in great shape.  Of course he was gay!"

I sent that to all my gay friends.  Good responses there.  

I just wish Superman would show up in a pair of those slippers, but you know, femme is out.  CNN is in.  

Monday, October 11, 2021

The Day Indigenous People Discovered Columbus


I thought I might do some light exercising yesterday.  I thought about it.  Somehow, though, that held little appeal.  And so. . . I didn't.  The morning was beautiful, and I thought to walk.  Rather, I sat.  Then I ate.  Then morning was over and Mr. Tree called to tell me he was bringing lunch.  So I poured a mimosa and took lunch outside.  When I went back in, I sat down at the computer and began looking, once again, through old files.  I hit upon some folders with images from California circa 2012.  

And that is where I stayed the rest of the live long day.  

My God, images that might never have seen the light of day.  Why had I never worked on them before?  The day wore on.  Just one more.  But then the next one.  It takes me awhile to work up a picture, but after working all afternoon and into the night, I had about a dozen or so.  

There are more sitting in those folders.  I'll not spend an entire day again, but one or two at a time I think.  They were all taken with the big old Canon Mark 5D Mark III.  What a camera.  It is an all-time favorite.  Just super.  

But I can't believe I used it in the streets.  With the zoom lens on it, it is HUGE.  

Having sat all day, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to sleep, so I nibbled the very tiniest of nibbles off a gummy.  Why?  Why?  Sometime during the night, I woke in wonder.  WTF?  Oh. . . yea.  My dreams were by turn funny and paranoid.  

I didn't get out of bed for ten hours.  

My buddy is still sick with Covid.  I feel OK as long as I don't move.  He is still testing positive.  I will get tested once again today.  I don't want to go around my mother until I am clean.  This shit is really hanging on.  

I've not finished my coffee yet and the morning is half gone.  Two weeks of sitting and sleeping and eating little has taken a toll.  I have little motivation to do anything which is really dangerous for I can do pretty much nothing from now on.  I must push myself today.  If only this f'ing virus would fade in the rear view mirror.  

Today is Columbus Day/Indigenous People Day.  Playboy magazine has put a gay man on its cover dressed in a bunny costume.  Biden's popularity is fading and people are already predicting a second Trump Presidency.  

I need to get better.  I can't just sit around and miss the end of The American Dynasty.  Not yet.  There are stories to be told.  

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Good Fight, Bad Post


Are you anything like I am, kids?  Do you like a good contest?  No, no, I'm not talking about this woman's perfect ping-pong form, I'm talking about fightin'.  The Gypsy King!  Well, I was Covid tired last night and couldn't stay up to watch the fight, but I saw it first thing this morning. . . and so can you. 

It's shot from the stands, but it is interesting to watch the fight without commentary.  

I'm not in fighting shape yet.  I'm barely in walking shape, but I did a little exercise and took a walk yesterday and didn't feel worse afterwards.  My buddy is still sick.  I think I've turned a corner.  It has been two weeks since we were at the party, but he took another test and is still positive for the virus.  I guess I need to get tested before I go to see my mother.  Three of us sick for two weeks, all of us with two vaccinations.  This Delta variety is bad shit.  Really bad.  

I guess the reason I was pulling for Tyson Fury is the whole dad bod thing.  I look like the Doughboy right now, so it was nice to see someone who doesn't look like an athlete win something.  Fury's body should be the new Hot Physique.  

I've nothing much else to say.  Mr. Tree has brought me two more delicious meals made by his "personal assistant."  She is from Venezuela, he told me, and I meant to say, she is a top cook.  I may see if I can get on a meal plan with her.  

The morning is beautiful, and I want to get out into it.  We have fortunate weather right now.  I've missed much of it, but I think I can take a little fresh air time today.  

Just watch the fight.  It and the photo are the only good things in today's post.  

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Toxicology

The tree guys came early yesterday, and they stayed until it was late.  But they did little tree work.  They were on the ground pulling vines and trimming hedges and cutting back growth on the fence.  Shit work.  I thought they would be gone in half a day, but the fuckers worked slowly to not at all when the owner wasn't around.  And he wasn't around much.  He brought me lunch, a Malaysian/Indian dish of spicy beef, potatoes and rice, and a mixture of vegetables.  And by God, it was good.  

But then he was gone, and the boys lay around.  Lunch for them, too.  One can't complain.  

I was at first anxious, but as the day drew on, I became depressed.  Physically, I began to suffer.  I had planned to exercise.  I'd planned to move.  But I was trapped, and sitting was my poison.  Hour after hour, the day dribbled by.  

I sat at the computer and scanned some 4x5 color negatives I had developed the day before.  Each one was ruined by light leaks.  I'd spent an entire afternoon developing film, but everything was ruined.  Nothing turned out.  My body ached with defeat.  

My computer was a mess of files.  As I've scanned in pictures these past months, I've stored them on the desktop.  Now that desktop is overwhelmed.  I decided to clean it up.  My constant problem, however, is that I have little idea what is on my multitude of hard drives.  I mark them, but the labelling is vague and usually only partially accurate.  I have many 4TB drives that are half full.  And now that Apple has once again changed the external cabling, I have drawers full of adapters that must be mixed and matched to hard drives to get them to connect to the very inconvenient plugs in the BACK of the computer.  Fuck Apple.  

I spent a frustrating amount of time finding the right adapters and getting the hard drives read.  I settled on two semi-new drives, though neither of them have the contemporary connection for my new iMac.  But. . . drained and in need of drugs or drink or something, I finally had the drives a humming.  

Mere feet away, drug addicts pulled the vines I should have done myself.  

For those of you not familiar, Lightroom is a cataloging device.  It is a processing program for images, too, but it only stores the information about where the files are located.  If you move them on your hard drive rather than in Lightroom, Lightroom can no longer find them.  I've done it many times.  And one day, when I want to pull up the things I have imported, they are no longer there and I am in the Land of the Lost. 

So I tried to move files from my desktop to the hard drives.  I tried for a very long time, but for some reason, I couldn't remember how.  So I Googled it and tried again,  Maybe it is Covid brain, but I couldn't do it.  I tried for an hour until I said fuck it.  I closed Lightroom and just moved them from the desktop to the hard drives.  I did, but I did my usual shit job of organizing and labelling.  When I open a drive, I have folders within folders within folder, many labelled only with dates.  I have no idea what is in the folder.  The first folders might be labelled something like "Spring '17."  When I open that, there might be five to twenty folders labelled with download dates.  I'll open one, and there may be ten images I took inside my house.  The next one might be a hundred images I took one day at a farmer's market or some sort of festival.  Etc. Once I've looked through all the subfolders, I'll go back out and choose another file.  "Old Mac" it might be labelled.  Inside, another bunch of subfolders with obscure labels.  "Desktop" one might say.  I open it to just lots of random shit, flotsam and jetsam, often interesting, but time consuming.  

I chose a drive and transferred my desktop images to it.  And waited.  Then I copied them to another drive for backup.  But now Lightroom couldn't find them, so I deleted the files from Lightroom and re-imported from the new drives.  

Meanwhile, outside, the chainsaw motors roared.  

When I had cleaned my desktop and some other portions of my computer, I casually looked through some old files.  Holy shit!  Millions of images I've never touched.  There were some good ones.  Occasionally I'd open one and work on it.  What surprises.  Another, then another.  

Outside there was thunder, but the chainsaws and the chipper kept working.  The world was getting darker.  I was wasted from sitting all day.  It felt as if I were experiencing another Covid relapse.  

And then they were gone.  

I felt sick, that sort of sundowner disease that comes to the invalid.  More so, however, I knew that the day was going to cost me a heartbreaking amount of money.  I felt I'd been scammed.  

I needed food, but I was a mess.  I hadn't showered.  My shirt was stained.  I decided to get Popeye's chicken once again as I only had to do a drive through.  

On my way home, Mr. Tree called.  He was on his way to my house.  He was bringing me chicken soup.  

While I waited, I ate some of the Popeyes.  A few minutes later, he showed up.  Again, homemade.  I poured the broth over the noodles and chicken and vegetables and spices.  Oh, man, it was really good.  

I watched three YouTube clips about the three volumes of William Eggleston's new publication, "Outland."  Then I watched another by Alec Soth talking about the books of Eggleston.  I noticed some things about his photography I had never noticed before.  

I went back to the computer and worked on a few more images.  But working on images IS work, and it is long and often tedious.  It is exciting to see the images transform, but it is a slow motion transformation with much backtracking and re-doing, and I had really had enough of computers for the day.  My eyes were blurry from staring at screens for so long.  

It was early, but I was achey and tired and knew I needed bed.  A handful of pills I wish I didn't need, and off to Slumberland.  

This morning, those images from yesterday still thrill me, images that have not seen the light of day for twenty-plus years.  I am rich.  

Today I must try one again to get on the road to Wellville.  Light exercise.  A little walk.  Better food.  A redirecting of mood.  It has been long enough now that I should no longer be contagious.  Fifteen days.  I've had a lot of being alone.  

Tonight is the Fury/Wilder Heavyweight Title Fight.  It is the third fight in a trilogy.  Pay per View is around $70.  I've bought fights before.  I would buy this one, but I don't think I can comfortably stay up late enough.  They won't fight until eleven or so, and I don't care at all to watch the prelims.  Fury is the heavy favorite, but I can't figure out why.  I predict a Wilder win by decision.  I would rather see the fat Gypsy King win.  He is colorful, a real gypsy raised in a caravan.  Wilder says he cheated in the second fight, that he somehow drugged him.  Of course he did.  He probably had a Gypsy Curse cast on him, too. It appeals to me.  But I think Wilder will dash my hopes of a fat Gypsy King Champion of the World.  

I used to box in gyms.  I know a little about the Sweet Science.  My father was a Pacific Fleet Champion in WWII, or so he said, and he trained fighters for my uncle who was a boxing promoter (and Recap Tire King) in Dayton, Ohio.  My father taught me to box and told me not to.  When you fight, you have a strategy.  You try to hit the other guy and keep him from hitting you.  I was pretty good at that, but when I got hit, I didn't like it very much.  In the gym, we fought with big gloves with thick padding, so it didn't really hurt you that much when you got hit.  Sometimes, though, we'd strap on twelve ounce gloves.  These hurt a lot more.  If you get hit in the right place, it is funny how your knees will buckle.  I would fall down early on, but I learned to fight the instinct to fall and to stay on my feet.  It is no good to keep getting knocked down in front of the fellows.  But you'd go home with some puffiness and a headache often enough.  

Tonight, these guys will be wearing ten ounce gloves, probably.  Their hands will be taped so that the bones can't move.  They will be like stones.  The ten ounce glove is really protection against breaking their knuckles when they punch.  Getting hit with one of those. .  well, I can't even imagine.  They are 6'7" and 6'9", 245 and 275 pounds.  The punches they will take tonight would break a big man's facial bones, break his nose and jaw, would split the skin of his face open like a plum.  And surely, it would scatter his brain.  These boxers soak their faces in brine to toughen the skin.  They chew special gum to strengthen their jaws.  They've been hit thousands of times.  Their knees will hardly buckle.  But if one of them takes a punch to the temple or to the forehead, an electrical impulse will shoot through their brain, and for some seconds, it will get no oxygen, and the fighter will go down involuntarily.  In many fights, that never happens, but that is what the paying customers want to see.  Everybody hopes for a knockout.  Everybody wants blood.  

They will each be paid millions of dollars tonight to do this.  People will be watching from all around the globe.  And in drunken bars, men will fight one another for free.  Punches will be thrown.  If it doesn't get broken up (which it probably won't) someone will get hurt.  Shirts will be torn, noses broken, teeth loosened, eyes bloodied.  Nobody will get paid a dime.  

That is Toxic Masculinity.  Women complain about it.  But I've had my nose broken, my jaw cracked, and my teeth chipped.  I think somebody owes me something, too.  It isn't any fun.  

I'd rather take pictures.  Look at that!  I find it thrilling.  

Friday, October 8, 2021

A Lot


Southern Gothic, pt. 2.  I can't decide which one I like more.  

Yesterday afternoon, my tree guy stopped by.  I haven't seen him in almost a year.  He is from Malaysia and said he had to go home.  His mother died in January, the day before his birthday.  He stayed, then went to Singapore, then he flew his son over and they went to Japan.  Things had been so stressful, however, he had to go to Thailand to chill.  Ended up in Phuket.  When he got back, he went to Cuba and got stuck there for awhile.  Now he is working again. He said, "I'm going to get my guys to come by tomorrow and just do some maintenance on your trees."  

WTF?  He's just stopping by?

"Uh," I moaned, rubbing my index finger against my thumb, "how much?"

"Don't worry.  Whatever you can afford." 

"Uh-huh."  

He'll be here today.  He said he was bringing me lunch.  I'll certainly have sticker shock in the end, but they do great work.  My palms will look like Palm Beach again.  They will cut the big shrubs away from the house, trim the ligustrums, take suckers off the big camphors, and pull vines.  

I think his secretary is making lunch. 

When the garbage men came by yesterday, they honked the horn and wished me a good weekend.  The yardmen like me, too.  

All that should be enough.  

I've spent a couple nights watching the worst Woody Allen movies ever made.  I had not seen them before.  How I knew not to watch them before, I don't know.  But they were miserably bad, even for a fan,  "Melinda/Melinda" and "Scoop."  Even Scarlett Johansson could not save "Scoop."  They were horrible movies.  

The good news is that I am feeling better by increments.  I spoke with the other fellow who got this, and we agree that if we had not been vaccinated, we would have ended us in the hospital.  

In hospital.  Why do the British drop the article when they say this?  You don't go to the hospital.  You go to hospital.  

Sorry. Anyway, he is still a little sicker than I.  His wife, he said, is a couple days ahead of him.  All of us vaccinated.  All sick for more than a week.  Now. . . the long recovery.  

The tree guys just pulled up.  It makes me jumpy.  I have gotten used to the long boredom of not dealing with people.  I can feel fingers in my pocketbook already.  Last year when he came, I had Mr. Fixit.  That is when the bathroom came apart.  Months of Mr. Fixit, tens of thousands of dollars.  Trauma.  I am reliving the trauma now.  

Was it only a year?  Was it already a year?  Are the Holidays almost upon us?  Soon it will be two years.  I can feel my spirit flagging.  Long, lonesome Covid retirement.  

But save that for later.  I will go to see my mother soon.  Redux.  

Another knock on the door.  

"It doesn't look like much, but there is a lot on the ground.  O.K.?  There isn't much tree work, you know, but there is a lot on the ground.  We are going to take care of it."

Ohhhhh. . . fuck.  

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Endorphins


I don't "do" social media, so I am not the guy to comment on it.  I'm not a Luddite.  I have some faux accounts I use for photography, but I don't use them to keep up with family or friends.  It has never appealed to me.  It is as simple as that.  So take anything I have to say about it with a couple grains of salt.  

Social media is bad for kids they say.  Duh.  Don't they get enough of that face to face in school?  Schools are social torture chambers of competing hierarchies.  Every teen movie ever made is about school losers, geeks and freaks, against those controlling the narrative.  Getting away from school was the reprieve.  

Social media is just more of that.  At least that is what I've come to find.  

I've joined a couple photography groups on Facebook.  That is how I learned (almost) to make those dry plate ambrotypes.  I also correspond with some photographers on Facebook as well.  Once in awhile, I'll post a photo to a group, but by and large, I am not an active part of "the crowd" and am pretty much ignored.  On the dry plate page, for instance, I somehow pissed off the page moderator.  Not somehow.  As you know, I have been having trouble getting my plates into focus.  The fellow who made my Liberator camera said that it was the plate holder.  This all happened publicly on the site.  The moderator doesn't like the fellow who made my camera and he started sending me private messages about it all.  I didn't want to get into a shit show and just didn't respond.  When I post to the site now, he doesn't react.  Nor do the wags who people the site.  It is fine with me as long as I keep getting the technical info that I want and need.  I can be a spook on the channel, so to speak.  

Two days ago, however, I posted a photo that I shot with negative black and white film to a couple related groups--large format and Graflex camera sites--and for whatever reason, they blew up.  The "likes" just kept pouring in--ding, ding, ding!  Wow!  I was a popular kid.  I felt full of endorphins, of course.  

This continued for two days.  Then the fellow who runs the site on which I am a pariah posted something on the other sites related to something I had commented on on his site.  

Nobody responded. 

Ding!  My pleasure button was twanged again.  

I maintain an Instagram site.  Maintain is about the right word because I don't know how these things work.  But. . . yesterday I read an article on how to use hashtags.  I had no idea about this, but I decided to put some on a photo and post it. 

Ding! Ding! Ding!  The "likes" rained.  

Goddamned if I don't think I was getting a chubby.  

I'll never reach those social media heights again, I'm afraid.  I just don't want to.  It is a game like the experiment with the rats pushing the button to get either food or cocaine.  Eventually they starve to death. 

My art dealer has sold a good number of my photographs this year.  I say "good number."  It is a good number for me.  But. . . I want more.  It is like crack.  Give me more.  

If I were Modigliani, of course, it wouldn't be crack, it would be mere bread and a roof.  I am not Modigliani.  Nor am I Bonnard.  I am not earning my living that way.  But the old artists, I think, were playing the same game.  Whose cock would you have to suck this week to get into the most esteemed galleries?  

No, I have gotten enough of that in my life.  There are people who thrive on social acceptance.  They need the clicks whether it is online or in social groups face to face.  It plays its role everywhere, of course.  Even at the factory.  

In trying to please the market, there is certainly a kind of death.  "Art"?  "Soul"?  No, nothing like that.  

Or maybe something.  

What I do know is that being "liked" is its own hell.  There is only one direction from there.  

But as I qualified in the beginning of this little rant, I am not the person to speak to this.  I really don't know much about social media.  

Quarantine has given me some time to play with photos again.  I mean, there was nothing else to do, so I developed some film and scanned it and fooled around in post.  And Voila!  Today's photo.  I took this with my Hasselblad and developed the color film at home.  This still amazes me.  In just about twelve minutes, start to finish, my color film is developed.  And it looks great.  CineStill has made a very good product.  I just haven't any interest in making digital images right now.  Just film.  Big film, too.  Medium and large format.  I developed a roll of 35mm black and white this week, too, and those smaller frames just look puny.  No, I like those big, punchy negatives I get from the larger cameras.  And that is what I'm going to shoot.  

Now to get some cajones.  Oh, it would be better not to have them, I think, to be a female photographer.  I would have more access to things I want to photograph, I believe.  But I have thought about it, and I can't shoot in drag.  It's just not me.  So. . . I need to ride a couple of pumpkins to make my photos, for indeed, it is scary.  Or at least it is for me.  People are so problematic these days.  Nobody seems to be cheering for the old (white, cis-gendered) man with a camera.  I get yelled at just walking down the street with one.  

Speaking tangentially of which. . . I watched the Dave Chappell special on Netflix.  It wasn't funny.  It wasn't even interesting.  It was painful.  It was titled "Closer," but it should have been called "Whiner."  Watch it if you want. . . but don't blame me.  

Still a few more days of lockdown.  That's o.k.  I'm still not feeling great.  Age has probably been a factor. But I cooked my first meal last night.  Made a salad and some spaghetti.  I even opened a bottle of wine.  I didn't lose my sense of taste or smell, but I think they are quite off.  I couldn't drink the wine and the spaghetti just tasted blah.  I'm still not cafe ready.  

One more note.  I have an iTunes station with my name on it.  It is my music and the music the Apple algorithms think I will enjoy.  The station was spectacular yesterday.  A song came on that stunned me.  It was beautiful.  I ran to the computer to see who it was.  Then I sent it around to friends.  I'll admit, no one wrote back in glee.  I looked up the artist to see if all her work was that good.  Nope.  What a terrible shame.  But the one song, I think. . . oo-la-la.