Sunday, October 30, 2016

On Timing

Doc Holliday:  What did you ever want?
Wyatt Earp:   Just to live a normal life.
Doc Holliday: There's no normal life, Wyatt, it's just life. Get on with it.
Wyatt Earp: Don't know how.
Doc Holliday: Sure you do. Say goodbye to me. Go grab that spirited actress and make her your own. Take that beauty from it, don't look back.  Live every second. Live right on to the end. Live Wyatt. Live for me.   Wyatt, if you were ever my friend -  if ya ever had even the slightest of feelin' for me,
leave now. Leave now... Please.

Timing is everything they say.

In ballistics certainly so. In the outcome of a day even more so.  I missed out on a flight  in a smallish plane some years ago, because I was suddenly sick to my stomach. All aboard died.  My stomach bug was not the flu but a not yet known and unplanned pregnancy.

How many of us, unknowingly, missed a vehicular accident, a violent crime or a whack from mother nature, simply because we forgot our phone and ran back into the house, decided to linger over that nice little .380 in the case, or simply had too much, or too little caffeine.

Timing can be good.  It can also be lousy. Missed trains, missed job opportunities.  Missed dreams.  I've heard from more than one guy friend that he was bummed the "girl of his dreams" had found someone. Yet, he never asked her out, couldn't express the feelings until it was too late, sometimes remaining silent for months or even years, growing only older of bone and pride.


When we were kids, we ran around with time simply carried in our pocket, as dense and round as a coin, many coins, that jingle as we ran. We are told by some grownups that we soon will have to grow up and leave childish dreams behind, but we don't listen, because we have nothing in our experience to gauge their caution by, to give the portent of a structured future any range and meaning.  Besides we are too busy, just doing things that kids do, even if that was just sitting and waiting for hours for a fish to bite a tiny hook.

Then, seemingly overnight, we fell into that grown up, carefully measured and timed world, picking up our watch in the process. The dreams of childhood passed behind as we jumped on board a fast moving train, losing our innocence before we even fully realized we possessed it.
As adults we are governed by time, watches, and cell phones and alarm clocks and schedules.  Mechanical clocks and biological ones. We rush headlong into actions without considerations, as if the sheer and simple arranged succession of days was not fast enough, constituted without capacity enough, so that weeks and months and years of living had to be condensed down into one moment, and it is today, now.  We as a society, and as individuals, do not seem to be able to closely watch and wait for that which is worth waiting for.  We feverishly work for things we do not need and we vote without thought for those that promise us prosperity without effort.

Everything is based on now. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. What do you mean you haven't got a date, got a spouse, a house, a baby, and we need to talk to you about those 25 pounds.  Everything is on a time schedule and it's not necessarily ours. Meals are microwaved, we speed date, express wash, Kwik-e-Mart, and you know what? We find that in rushing towards what we're supposed to want, we missed the things that can truly change our lives.

Reset your clock.

Just once, turn off your computer turn off your cell phone, turn off Twitter, and Facebook and clear your calender for a few hours.

Pick up that old firearm that may have been your Dad's, or your Grandfathers and head out into the country.  If you don't hunt, then pick up a camera, a drawing pad and a pencil.  But take some tool that will open up the wilderness to you and go.
Go out into that rapid and fading back country that is retreating as the tide is, walk out into that land that was ours, is ours, field and forest, bayou and orchard, grain and dust, harbor and thicket. Go on out and decide what is important and what is not, among all the flotsam and jetsam in your life, where it is going and how much control you're going to give to others over it.

Go out into that land that still carries the tracks of those that crossed this nation to build, to grow; men, and women and children, bringing with them their tools and trades, goods and gear, by steamer, by wagon wheel by train, by big slow rivers that sometimes revealed no current and sometimes ran backwards, running not to hide, but to dream, all the way to the ocean. It was a land on which a man ate only by the sweat of his brow, the ability to plow a straight furrow or chop down a limb without removing one of his own.  It was a land of milk and honey, steelhead and gold, which offered itself up on rare occasion from the earth as compensation for torn lives and broken bones, payment which neither man nor his government proffered for the weak or the foolish.

Find a spot out in this expanse of history and sit and take it in.

There is so much that might have been, could have been, wrong place, wrong time, so boundless in capacity is man's imagination to burn and scatter away the refuse of probability, leaving only yearning and dreams. No time or space or distance can keep you from that what matters, even if to the world, your dreams of your life is and what kind of world you wish to live in, are little more than transparent scratchings on depthless glass.
I do not regret the days I sat by my brothers bedside as the chemicals went into his body that might or might not kill the cancer that was consuming him with fire that bears no warmth. There was the steady whoosh from machinery in the room, the movement of unsleeping blood, the intake of air. There were so many places I needed to be, so many things I needed to do, but in those hours, those days, being with him was the only thing on my calander.  The room was simple, but its corners and edges held the quiet, complex lives of two very secret people, who long ago escaped from a place that held only pain, there in that season between thunder and any thought of rain, finding their own shelter as we bonded not just as children, but for life.  There in those last days, we had no season, the hospital room alternating day and night in a vacuum in which light was only a hope.

In retrospect, I would not remembere those other things I should have been doing during that time, but I can recall like it was yesterday the sound of his voice there in that room, the feel of his hand holding mine as we said a prayer for more time.

As you sit out there in that countryside, think of these words. Stop and look and breathe. Pick up a discarded piece of wood. Think of what you have, what means the world to you, and what and who you will fight for, as an individual, as part of a family and as a citizen.
Then carve your name on that little piece of wood, carve the name of the one you fight for, or simply carve "Freedom", the letters bearing one clear unfettered voice that sounds out, through the delicate attenuation of your actions, through the ringing bells of your worth, through the tone that is the weight of silent guns - I WAS here, I AM here, there IS still time.

Then go back home to your home and your memories.  A heart shaped locket with a young woman and a man in an airman's uniform, months before war separated them for years. A shirt that could fit a thousand others but which only one wore so long that you will forever know its wearer by the simple feel of the fabric underneath your fingertips, the echo of sandalwood that clings to blue cotton. Go back to your present; a photo on the wall of those who still live to tell you their stories, to hold firm your past, memories that are borne on the air that you still breathe, invisible, yet essential as air itself. Go back to your future. A flag on a wall, one for which your loved ones gave up much of their life for, or even, life itself.

Go back and claim what is there, while there is still time.
 - Brigid

Saturday, October 29, 2016

I know that blogging has been light, but the next book, my first fiction novel, is getting closer to publication and there's a lot "behind scenes" going on with publication and marketing plans as this one is going to be in bookstores around the planet, not just on Amazon.  

Hopefully, we will return to our usual programming in December.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

On a Dog's Love

You know how they say your dog loves you unconditionally. Trust me, there are times where your Dog is as annoyed with you as you are with the rest of the world.  :-)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fight Song

The pianist in this group, Jon Schmidt (The Piano Guys) had his 21 year-old daughter, one of five children, go missing in the Columbia River Gorge last week. I know the trail, it is both beautiful and treacherous and she was hiking alone on a day hike, without camping equipment. Unfortunately, her roommate thought she was camping with family, and she wasn't report missing for several days after storms moved through the area. The search and recovery efforts were called off today with no trace of her but one last cell phone ping in the area on the 16th, her car abandoned at the start of the trail. Just saying a prayer for the family as I listen to this wonderful piece.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

On Landings

Partner in Grime got 98% of the paving down for the steps he put in   I like that they are pitched half of what the old ones were, given I'm missing a meniscus in one knee which hurts like tax season, on any given day.

I don't envy him the dirt dug out and the dirt that has to be "redistributed" but he got his favorite casserole and a loaf of homemade bread with beer for dinner so it wasn't all so bad.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

On Perspective

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
- Edmund Burke

This stone sits on a small shelf behind a desk, there in the shadows.  Only a couple of individuals have recognized what it was. What most of us see depends on what we really look at.

Those that see it don't look at it closely. But it speaks of so much that our present generation has forgotten.

Perspective. Recognition. Redemption.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

On Longing

From Abby, who is over two years in her forever home after being dumped by her family at a high kill shelter, heartworm positive.  She is so happy now and with that, some words from Abby on longing.
Wishful longing  (I wish I had some bacon)
Anticipation (I know if I'm quiet and good, I'll get some bacon)
Happiness  (There's bacon on the counter, and it's for me!)
Wanting  (It's been so long since I've had bacon)
Reality  (The bacon is ignoring me and  is going somewhere other than my bowl.)
Let Down  (The bacon is gone!)
 Disbelief (I didn't even get a real  goodbye).
Sadness  (I miss bacon)
Loneliness  (Everyone in the world has bacon but me!)
Hope.  (Someday, there will be the perfect piece of bacon, and I will find it, if I just sit patiently by the counter).
OK, just a little piece, Abby.
You just had to be patient.  God had a plan, you just had to wait until He was finished making it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Night Watches

“At least once every human should have to run for his life, to teach him that milk does not come from supermarkets, that safety does not come from policemen, that 'news' is not something that happens to other people. He might learn how his ancestors lived and that he himself is no different--in the crunch his life depends on his agility, alertness, and personal resourcefulness.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

A late Spring snowstorm hist the Midwest and a city will grind to a halt. An autumn windstorm of vast power catches the west, catching many off guard. I pay attention to weather, the forecasts, the chances for a really bad day. I've learned first hand how nature is more than happy to cut off your breath with a choking whisper of disregard.
Few do. Hollywood actors return from the political fundraisers to their houses build on hillsides that do, and will for eternity, burn to the dirt line every few years. People move to the mountains, build houses the size of New Hampshire, including green lawns that have to be watered in the high desert and then wonder why there's a water shortage and they have to dig a new well so often.

As that commercial from my childhood went "it's not NICE to fool mother nature".

You never know from whence your own moment will come. A couple of winters ago in my own area, a woman talking on her cell phone on ice slicked roads drives into a small pond and drowns mere feet from the bank, somewhere else, someone killed by a falling branch, heavy with ice as they took the dog out. There will not be a Spring storm where someone doesn't try and cross a rain washed road only to be washed away and drowned. The unwary, the naive, don't last long in the world we live in now.
As a child I lived right on the edge of mountains, which I could see out my window, where I could hear all that was around me in the still, dark nights. In those days before the big box marts moved in and a highway came on through, you could live the sound of nature right outside the window at night. I'd listen for the screech of the owl, the tiny fairy feet of a chipmunk on the deck, the lumbering gait of a raccoon, looking for something good to eat, the tiny tracks in the pristine snow. So young, so idealistic, I'd yet to understand that nature often wears a benign disguise to hide the evidence of how both man and beast craft their own survival.

Later, as I was learning to hunt, I'd see the predators, a bobcat shadowing me, or the deer that I was stalking. There in the edge of my vision, deer rifle slung over the shoulder, I'd be watching him watching me. He turns, so thin as he moves sideways that his form seem no larger than a branch, a shadow of tooth and claw, and then he's gone.
A crack of thunder splits the night, a warning to take shelter.  As I hurry back to camp I know that somewhere tonight, blood, hot and dense, bringing both pleasure and pain, will soak into the ground, starting the cycle of life again. From the woods a cry of an animal lingered long on the air, leaving on the breeze the thin echo of regret.  Today you weren't worthy prey, tomorrow who knows

It's not just in the woods, when my mind has turned towards being prey. There's been times where I've turned the key in the ignition of a little Cessna, took a long hard look at the sky, and shut down the engine, tied it back down and headed in. But there were also times I flirted with the cold and the dark with the abandon that one gets when their youthful flesh is untouched.

We all take paths that seem exciting at the time, as we travel the wilderness of a heart, of a landscape. Everything is as it seems to be, you're not mindful of the dangers, the lies that flow from a warm front during a time of cold.  Yet sometimes, the sky clears, you look carefully at where you're at, and where you're headed and realize the wisest thing to do is to walk away, clean and with as little blood as possible.
Fear is a gift of nature, so that the field will be more fairly played. I still spend just as much time outdoors as I did as a young woman. The walks are often alone, but on my hip is a weapon always, especially when out West when the four legged predators are a little bigger than they normally grow in the Midwest.

On the table by the bat phone is a stone I took from a field.  It was not party to anything I was looking at that night, it simply was there, marking the spot where I stood like an unblinking eye. When I picked it up, the rock was still warm, not enough to pull my fingers away, but enough that it possessed a luminescence heat, not the sort that would burn, but a slow steady warmth that the dying fire may scorn, rain would dilute, but only time could truly deplete. I picked it up and held it in my hand, feeling it cool. Not everything of strength and density is cold. Watching a drip of water fall to the ground I thought, even a stone can weep.

Years later I would look at the phone that whispered to me with the deliberate murmur of its waiting. I know it's going to ring, somehow I always seemed to know. It dud, late in the evening, nearly dark. Somewhere on cold air, buzzards soar in strong wind, the stiff breeze giving them the illusion of regression. The truck's warmed up, it's time to take my things and go.
As I headed down the road that night, a yawn escapes from me. My breath was frosty against the window as I turn past the cemetery, where angelic forms in shadowed marble muse, their eyes raised up above as if to ask why.

I could not answer that question, I could only drive the truck to where I've been called, scars hidden underneath a dark blue jacket, the letters that spell out my calling, splayed like snow across the back. I watched my path closely, eyes straight out on the road, checking for downed limbs or water underneath the clearing sky.

I looked out at the shadowed form of fence and trees, broken branches drooping, the landscape empty and uncaring, even as it flows as liquid past, from right to left. What is left was a silent blur, posts and caution signs, shattered with rain, dissolving into ground, each in their ordered place so soon to be disregarded. I opened the window for the sound of nature, and heard it in all its glory, a song simple in melody and tone. It's repentance, and retribution, ecstasy and bereavement; a tune spun on the night air, a disembodied wind singing a lament for those who trod where they should not.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Accessories for your Pet you May or May NOT Need.

There are so many toys and accessories for your animals, it's hard to find one that's really unique  So I  have taken the time to do a little shopping for you.

First up, the cat bonnet.  A modest cat keeps those ears covered and you know you're going to have SO much fun putting this on your clawed best friend.
You don't have to drink alone anymore.  Catnip wine!  Now the cat and you can curl up and watch the latest Lifetime movie while relaxing with some vino.

Poop Freeze.  Who cares about our carbon footprint, use some propellant to freeze your dog's poop.  Add a trebuchet and an annoying neighbor and you have a whole evening of entertainment.
Never touch your pets again, the automatic pet petter.  I'm betting Fluffy has that thing eviscerated within 10 minutes.

The leopard print bra dog toy.  Sure it's embarrassing when Fido drags out one or your unmentionables in front of company. Just distract your pet with this.  Your guests will be uncomfortable but you don't.

Can't wait to sleep with your eye open from now on - the cat Tierra, their look says it all.
The horse head squirrel feeder.  So your neighbor gets a restraining order - think of the fun you'll have.
 The mullet wig.  Your dog missed the 80's, now he or she doesn't have to!
 The dog treat Pez dispenser.  Holds six treats.
 Nothing says good nap like a bed shaped like a hamburger.
 The humping USB device.  Impress your friends AND your boss.
The Kim Jong Un cat scratching post (only $7300 on the internets) handmade by genuine political activists
The Nasty Dry Crap mat.  Barkey had one of those, and it just makes me smile. 
 The Super Mario Brothers cat play center.
 Give your cat a new reason to feel renewed disdain for you.  The cat pirate costume.
 Every cat has aspirations on being a tiny pilot.  Please be responsible and spay or neuter so no "mile high club" action results in a surprise litter.
So, the mailman says he's not afraid of dogs.  Just put on this lion wig and see what he says NOW.
Every dog needs a pair of plaid pajamas.  Mom has one like that.  She calls it "warm", Dad calls it "Scottish Birth Control".
You can't take too many selfies.  Use this handy app to get your pet's attention.  Or be a cheapskate like me and tape a treat to the phone.
 Every dog park needs at least ONE stegosaurus.
Have a horse, add a unicorn horn.
Tired of people you don't know coming up to pet your dog without asking first?  Just put on the werewolf dog muzzle and there will be no more of THAT.