Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How do you describe yourself?

Recently I was asked that question.

I was going to speak to complete strangers and the master of ceremonies or whatever they call the person who organizes these things, ask me to give her some information about myself (since she also knew nothing about me) so she could introduce me to the room.
I thought about resumes or job descriptions, but then went a little deeper.

The obvious would be clear. Tall or short; white, black, brown, red, blue…; long hair or short hair or any hair at all; well dressed or casual; bearded or shaven; male or female or some mix of the two. Standing behind a podium the room could judge for themselves who I was by my physical appearance.

Then I thought what else defines a person?

Previous and current occupations; educational institutions attended and perhaps graduated; clubs and organizations in which time and money was donated; or special award or accolades could help define personal goals to a stranger.

Then the questions got harder. Religion or faith or feelings about a supreme being; family relating to an austere history with recognizable linage; marriage and all of it luggage of spouses and children and their educational, sporting, and occupational accomplishments; or even total worth in personal possessions as a value standard.

So trying to paraphrase all that into something that a speaker could read off a card without putting the audience asleep I tried to sum up “who” I thought I was.

That opened a whole new list of questions. I play or attempt to enjoy myself in strumming strings (Am I a musician? Am I a composer?); I place words together on a Blog (Am I a writer? Am I an author?); I ride a bike (Am I an athlete? Am I a health nut? Am I green?); and I sketch on paper (Am I an artist? Am I a connoisseur?).

So to keep it simple, I broke down my being into one sentence. It could be easily written on a tombstone.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What’s Up With That?

I keep seeing all these reports on books written about people reveling their abusive childhood.

OK, I can do that.

So here it is.

Yes, I survived the 50s (also the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s….), but those are other books.

So all these folks who are saying how difficult their childhood was, think about this….

I grew up with the threat of a foreign country shooting missiles at me that would blow up the entire planet. So as a small kid I learned to get into the hallway of my school and lean up against the tile wall and squat down with my head in my hands.

What was that going to do against a nuclear attack?

The classrooms of the undiversified schools had rules. And the kids obeyed the rules. Women taught us by writing white chalk on blackboards. Report cards; sent home to be signed by our parents were returned to our teachers. We pledged allegiance to the flag every morning with our hands on our hearts and for recess, went out on the blacktop to play four square and tether-ball with our classmates, always looking up for that big bomb to come crashing down on us.

Bad haircuts, goofy high water pants and striped t-shirts did not increase our self-image. Our hero’s were cowboys and the big wars left over soldiers who always won after much stress and conflict and no violence.

Shoot, I didn’t have an eight inch black and white television in my room until I was ten. I could stay in my room and watch a president die to get out of class.

And the music was, less appealing than the flash, bam, and thank you mama of today. The scratchy tiny radio produced country western barn dance local yokel tunes and poor big band covers presented by goofy announcers filling the time, later to be called DJs. The first transistor radio was only AM and the size of a beer can.

Telephones had these long curly cords attached to a plastic dial that turned and it was attached to the wall. Even other people could talk on the line at the same time.

No one traveled by plane, only on two lane rough roads at speeds of 30 miles per hours.

AND NO REST STOPS! You just learn to “go” on the side of the road.

You see, life was tough on all of us, so don’t rush out and purchase these paperbacks of celebrities talking about their hard times.

Instead, buy my book.

It’s full of all kinds of exciting secrets that corrupted the youth of America and created the powerful politician, military leader, educational instructor, technology wizard, and some other folks who I forget.

And yes, the 50s were rough, but I survived.

For a price I’ll tell you all about it. What do you say?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ruffled Feathers

Recently, a comment came in from a friend which will remain nameless....oh, let's call him Captain America....on a blog post I had made. The section and comments follows:
"This is a very silly statement:
"Doesn’t anyone see the common sense method of smaller government? Don’t pay for it. I pay my taxes and the salaries of all my friends from my meager funds. We all do. And if we didn’t, government would come to a halt. No more laws, no more rules, no more hand-outs, no more building projects, no more space investigation, no more (dare I say it) wars."

Let me know when you want to debate. As a start, remember how glad you were to have trash pickup. Isn't it nice to have paved roads to ride your mini-mobile machine upon. Have you gotten to a place in your life where it is OK to let the needy suffer?

Just askin' ol pal...

And yes, I make a Very Good Living from your taxes. And I work Very Hard for that Very Good Living. "

When I asked Captain America if I had ruffled some feathers, he responded:
"Some things can be privatised, easily. Tour taxes pay for trash. I pay for trash to a company... get good service too.

roads? a little more complicated... you need to pay for the street roads you ride on and the sidewalks you walk on... Should you also have to pay for the interstate? You don't bike on it... But your food comes on it, and the silver bullets too... I pay three tolls every day to ride on the roads too/from work... I wonder how many toll stops would it take to reduce efficiency?

Everything can not be privatised.

You get Social Security (woo-hoo). I don't know what you get, but likely around 20K. Wait! you say, "I paid that money in - it's mine". Yes you did... Add up ALL your FICA payments... On average you break even before three years. Count interest, within five... Then somebody else is paying for you.

Ruffled feathers? Nah. Not over the substance. I just do not like slogans taken for truth without proofs. As Menchen said:
For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong

So I get ruffled when folks say, for example, taxes are too high -- when taxes, as a percentage of income, have not been this low since 1950. One needs to get the facts before one distorts them."

So I responded:

"The problem with privatizing everything is there are no consistencies One company does shoddy work, another offers fast service but charges more, while another get half the job done and leaves. Regulations help (not solve) to level the playing field.

Yes, your kids will pay for my retirement, but probably not for too long. Like the benies you get, some of these entitlements will end because people just won't want to pay for them.

Raise taxes. Sure. Somebody has to pay for this stuff. When it hits home and the people feel it in their pocketbook, that is when the reactions take place. But the government has good accountants who can make pie charts and bar graphs and shuffle figures around and around so that in the morning the lights will come on and all will be right in the world.

Then again people don't figure how everything they do is nickled and dimed away with a tax associated to it. Like fees, if you can't get your money one way, go a different route. I predict as inflation grows the saving trend created by this fiscal crisis will end. Then you can only buy two guitars a year or only take a vacation in the Hamptons during off seasons.

Getting the fact? Doing research? Like accounting, the facts...that is the REAL reality is what each of us see, hear, feel, and are personality effected everyday. With the daily blast of information (some true, some crap) one can only make reality decisions to accomplish personal goals. Make yourself happy. The rest will go on around you.

Cynical? Perhaps. It's just a way of life. I have no intention to run for public office or join groups of like-minded souls who want to change the world. I appreciate there are not tanks in the street, or gangs of hooligans roaming in my back yard and that if called, I can get help from the myriad of organizations (some I pay for directly, others I pay for through grants and loads) who are set up to assist me for better or worse.

You'll like the next series too. And if ruffled feathers are consequences to my actions, then that is good. We listen or read from others to get a different point-of-view. Some crazies will rant, but every now and then a sliver of thought emerges.

and then it fades away."

Then Captain America responded:

"An excellent and well thought out response. Post it!!!"

So I did.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I'm Going Home Alone Tonight

I say I’m not that lonely, but now I live alone

A raven beauty asked me, if she could use my phone

Engulfed in her foreboding eyes, her unforgiving smile

Another round of drinks I say, I‘m staying for a while.

I’m glad with the encounter, a companion for a night

She acts as if it’s meant to be, and so the feelings right

I act like I am thirty; she knows that I’m not

We sit together drinking, no questions, time forgot

She drinks away my money, a round of machine gun shots

Long stares into each others face, if this is all you got

I reach back into memory, to order up a round

Not wanting to believe this time, was something I had found

Last call comes way to early, toast beers to say goodbye

Stories bring tears in rainfalls, but it’s way too late to cry

The touch of a hand so warm and soft, but no ones left at home

A kiss goodbye, what could have been, but now we wander on

Our faces stare as if we knew, there could have been a way

To start again, a different time, but just another day

The darkness creeps around the look as it begins to fade

The time was brief, but the time was right, there’s nothing else to say

I’m going home alone tonight, the writings on the wall

She didn’t really matter. it was just another call

To a time when time was what it was, but quickly slipped away

The sun comes up and wakes the dream, another lonely day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Forth Quarter

Since the games are over, yet the winter is still here, I think about what those guys must do in the forth quarter.

If the game is in your favor, you hang on to try to end it with a win. If your team is behind, this is the last chance to make your move to change the outcome.

Teams shuffle players in and out and coaches call instructions and orders to the leadership. The others follow his continuing shouts and points and tweaks, calculating their particular reaction to each second.
Sometimes the voices describing the action describe plays, then remember replays, and add up all the statistics of the most productive.

What about the right tackle?

That big lumbering lineman who is in so many plays, giving his all, huffing and puffing between each down. Beat up and torn down, he wears the same uniform, follows the assignments, but when he goes to the sideline he blends into the crowd.

No close ups, no interviews, no product endorsements. A team player that is necessary to hold the line while the stars shine.

And at the end of the game, the whistle blows.

Making or Breaking the Rules

We, as a civilized group, live by certain rules. The golden rule is a good one. Other rules to keep us in civility are the ten commandants, but like all rules, some will be broken.

The rules we form for ourselves to live are usually taught to us as children. Parents shape our evaluation of good and bad by showing us faith, social interaction, and consequences. As we grow older, being tempted by peer pressure or coveting or lusting, each of us must decide whether to listen to the values or give in.

Wishes, desires, commandments are turned into Laws by statesmen listing every nuance of the rule in great detail.

We hire these statesmen (and stateswomen) from a list of strangers who are friendly to us, listen to what we request, then promise to represent our wishes in the game called government.

Their real job is to ask for more money to spend. How many jobs offer the benefit to increase your own salary?

Each law, code and amendment these government officers construct and agree on are the rules the majority of civilization follows to maintain order on this little blue marble.

Games have rules. I was never very good at games. Perhaps I didn’t understand the rules. (I even bought a book on the rules of different games, but never read it).

Card games are one of acceptable social interactions taught to us as children. To calm a group of screaming rug rats, pull out the card table and let them play a game.

I spent hours playing “War” or “Go Fish” on the floor with groups but it was a simple diversion to pass the time. Once the games involved partners, like “Bridge”, where the rules of the game were critical to winning, I lost interest. “Poker” and other games of chance involving money became more competitive showing the darker side of the human soul, and while somewhat revealing, scared me away.

I was never a good partner in a game because I would change the rules. For an example, in “Bridge” I would raise the bid higher than what the cards in my hand indicated. When the cards were shown, it made the game more difficult, yet more exciting. That was more important than winning.

Most sports, which are supposed to be games, bore me yet are more challenging television watching than other game shows. Through repetition, I’ve learned some of the major rules of sports, but enjoy the decision making more than the colors and athletic feats under the constant chatter of talking heads.

Over all I abide by the rules. I pay my taxes, pay my bills, stop at red lights, lock myself in at night to stay away from the ones who wander in the darkness, and even vote every couple of years for a new list of strangers who will gather together with other strangers, each bringing their own experiences, beliefs, and goals to make new rules.

And like lemmings, we will follow the rules; obey the laws not because they are so wonderful and life enriching, but because it is too much of a hassle not to.

H923.18 Section 132.5-Code124.2:1-1 amendment

Friday, February 11, 2011

She’s Got Balls

Some people wonder at the power of those who will go beyond the normal boundaries we give ourselves.
Imagine if you will, coming home one night and finding the entire kitchen thrown out into the backyard.
Imagine if you will, all the doors in the house dismantled and removed.
Imagine if you will, leaving for a weekend and coming home to the entire house painted white.
Imagine if you will, two beds stacked on top of each other, inches from the ceiling.
Imagine if you will, a room built within a room.
Imagine if you will, a woman seeing a young man in uniform in a grocery store, walking up and hugging him while crying, without a statement or a reason, then walking away.
Imagine if you will.
Imagine if you will, living three decades with this woman.

What’s Your Cup of Tea?

I don’t follow politics regularly, but recently I’ve had more time to listen to announcers of “the news” discuss political movements, like the “Tea-Party”.

I’ve watched “it” form and blossom, presented by the media, as a “people’s movement”. I’m old enough to remember the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-War Movement, the Get-Rid-of-Nixon-Watergate Movement; so I watch with some interest in this new “party”.

Last night there was a program on reviewing the massive resistance movement in my area during the late 50’s. Since I was only in the 4th grade, I don’t remember much about it. Looking at the black and white scenes I remember the people dressing like that, talking like that and even some of the names of the talking heads. I’m impressed with the patience and polite manner these children handled those explosive times.

I don’t remember my parents talking about integration or segregation, but I’m sure they were opposed to change. My father hob-knobbed with people in power, those who were trying to stop, what seemed to me, to be a normal situation; kids getting an education.

I lived the normal suburban milk toast dream and the only association I had with people of color was minimal. Waiter, maids, and yard maintenance people were all that I saw. “They” were always polite but aloof, and disappeared quickly from my world. By the time I got to high school, there were a few “Negros” in my classes, but they kept together, which is the way in high school, when like-minded folks form their own clubs, teams, associations, fraternities, or cliques.

The first “real” communication with a boy, who lived on the other side of Broad Street, was in a band. He went to my high school, but I didn’t know him or hang around where he did or buy my clothes at the same stores or eat at the same slop joint or go to the same movie theaters or (god forbid) date the same girls. What drew us together was music.

He provided our simple minds with the feeling, the guts of music. We had all played the notes, but he brought the soul to the sound. For a short period of time, we soaked up his influence while making our parents horrified.

After high school, he didn’t go to college like the rest of us. He was drafted and died in Vietnam.

Which brings the “anti-war” movement. This one did affect me. I wasn’t aware of how long this build up had gone on. I was aware that I was of an age to join the fray. This was not the Second World War, or the Korean conflict, this was Vietnam and the government needed young men to slog through rice patties and get shot at; none of that sounded exciting to me.

My little conservative burg that was still celebrating losing a war one hundred years earlier, didn’t discuss the actions overseas or it’s affect on their families. The boys who were too poor or dumb to get into college were drafted. Some volunteered to do the right patriotic duty, but it was mostly to get a paying job.

Having an art background and enjoying meeting girls, I would sit in basements making posters with other hippies. We would talk about ideals while under a cloak of music and smoke. A few would walk down to the state capitol and back. A few would gather in the park to sing songs and talk the talk, but we were behind the times and never became an organized force.

We didn’t march on Washington, we didn’t get tear-gassed, and we didn’t go to jail. What we did do was stay in school using a student deferment to keep our easy lifestyle going.

I was lucky, but the political awareness began while the war continued. Elected officials were being revealed for doing unspeakable acts. This behavior had probably always existed, but with nightly television repeating the same story over and over, a wave of protest started in the middle class.

It was felt the people had spoken and no one was listening. I sent money to organizations and wore buttons to show my affiliations, but still worked for a conservative media presenter. My friends could not believe I would stay in such a place, but I didn’t buy their views. It was a job.

One of my workmates enlisted me to join him and others in taking trips to Washington to lobby for good American values. We would wander the maze of opulence stating our case for a few moments time to people who, in our naive opinion, could make a difference. We prided ourselves on the effort, but saw no affects of our mission.

It’s all about the numbers. And money!

If you have enough of both, “they” will listen.

So I watch the “Tea-Party” state their cases with some disenchantment. I applaud their effort, am confused by their disjointed messages, and hope that a third party might shake things up and get this country out of its rut.

Every night people talk about the government spending too much money and should be focused on creating jobs. How can the government create jobs?? The only way governments can create jobs is hire more government. Look around. How many people you know work for some sort of governmental organization. And once all these folks are hired, what do you do with the rest of the country?

Doesn’t anyone see the common sense method of smaller government? Don’t pay for it. I pay my taxes and the salaries of all my friends from my meager funds. We all do. And if we didn’t, government would come to a halt. No more laws, no more rules, no more hand-outs, no more building projects, no more space investigation, no more (dare I say it) wars.

Yes, that’s right boys and girls; we don’t go to war with the people of another country. They are just like us. We go to war for beliefs, alliances, following banners that proclaim our side is right and better than their side.

Oh My Gosh, how did I get here? I guess, since the sun is up now, I should get off the soapbox and do my taxes.

Checking Out

Knowing in another hour, the lads will be there; rather than listening to the house moan, I’ve checked out.

A different location, different food, different people, different walls, different beds all changes the norm. That is what vacations do. Getting out into an unfamiliar territory increases awareness. Getting out of the familiar helps you appreciate the familiar.

The Holiday Inn
A close-to-home hotel, fairly clean and quiet, was to become my new home for a few days. Once in the room, I began to breathe again. A few bullets, television, turn down the bed and take assessment of my new surroundings. It is surprising that so much can be done in a single room. A desk, comfortable sofa, a bed (that in a suite is in another room) and a bath becomes home. Enough heat to walk around in my skivvies, hot water, and the refrigerator is full of bullets. Not being a weekend or a convention hotel, the walls are quiet. I don’t think about who may have slept (or whatever) in this bed the night before. It’s a hotel, so I don’t go there.

Evil Sleep
Being exhausted and fairly intoxicated, the bed was welcoming as midnight passed. Dreams seemed different and the ideas flooded my mind until before dawn, I had to get up and write them down. Perhaps this is the most creative time.

Eating with Strangers
Before I ventured out, I decided to take advantage of the morning breakfast. Off the lobby into an open area with a few tables neatly arranged, a few fellow wanderers enjoyed the morning news on flat screen TV’s telling a revolution story with precooked nourishment. Another cup of coffee, a buttered bagel and a green cheaply printed coupon given to the lone unhappy employee presented my breakfast. Some of the other passengers had left and the ones who remained openly prayed. Tonight this room will be a loud crowded bar, but I will only enjoy a free meal to fuel my adventure.

Going into the City
It uses to be the big adventure, going downtown. Taking the bus ride with other neighbors down the broad byway to the hub of the city. This was where people gathered to regulate commerce, trade money, create laws, and otherwise maintain order for its citizens.
I do not live in the core of the city, but am still within its boundaries. I enjoy the services provided by my taxes.
So I take the journey to a very different place than when I was young. The same concrete and stone and brick form the shapes, but the fa├žade is different. Nothing really new appears although the inner being tries to find a way to be as exciting as the 40’s.
Waiting for the transportation, I stand a mere few feet from autos moving men and women to their various destinations, unaware I am observing them eating, talking on the cells, picking their nose; amusing me with the reality of a Friday morning.
Public transportation has always been my mode of travel, so I am aware of the normal passengers. Not as much chatter as some rides and a short wait until the bus listed to travel my intended route shows up.
Stepping out onto the empty downtown, I think of the girl in the library who I should write to, but she is another’s girlfriend. Old department stores transformed into a hotel or a skating ring or a performance art center, line up one-by-one with unimpressive boredom. Huge buildings filled with government workers who at the sound of the bell will scurry off to another place, leaving the downtown vacant to another time.
Looking like the “Midnight Cowboy” in the big city, I appreciate all the architecture and shapes of tall buildings, none holding a constant style, but a miss mass of construction thrown together.
Stopping into all the pawnshops to check for a possible treasure, I find a few but still the price is high. I could probably talk them down but it has to churn in the mind. The elderly owners do not remember selling me my first 4-string guitar.
Some of the music shops are not open yet. I forget music people stay up late and get up late. Looking through the glass did not reveal any treasures, so I walk on.
Without a schedule or deadline or particular path to follow, I wander up the boulevard noting the changes that have happened over the years. The missing glass in the circular tunnel of a red stone building that was a shrine, now a poor person’s job placement location shows little progress in the future of the area. Old baking factories have broken windows, the huge Coke bottle is gone, and the train office building that had the cafeteria with sliced roast beef is vacant. Cell phones, tax assistance, wigs, nails and gated empty buildings fill the area.
Searching back on side streets, a treasure is found with the location of a flag manufacturer. The owner agrees to assist me in the future in my banner accession. He confirms being the source for the “city” flag, which will become curtains.
Crossing the traveled four-lane highway avoiding white SUVs and a cute blond on a pink bike, I wander into the school bookstore. Scanning art supplies, which I have too much now, and books, which I have tried to thin down, I move into the clothing area. The night before I searched online for a new summer hat and did not see anything exciting, but I looked anyway. A tour presented me with an obstruction so I wandered around it and continued to touch the material and try and find a subtle appearance of the school where I graduated without being a cheer leading uniform. I found two hats and a foam can cozy while enjoying a conversation with an attractive red head. Even the young lady who took my money was pleasant and funny and the whole experience was enjoyable.
The ride back was packed and riding on a new bus was not as comfortable as the previous trip.
An extra stop at a shop that manufactures marble countertops, but offers kitchen design. A few request and a list of numbers and I’m back to my room.
A brief rest is needed before the next venture into the unknown.
Traffic moves beyond the window with a funeral procession, military troop carriers, police and fire vehicles with lights flashing responding to a metal over flesh conflict.

Art Appreciation
Across the parking lot is a strip mall turned into a variety of nondescript flat windows. One is a “art center” that I had heard was a local gallery for un-famous designers, painters, sculptures, potters, and a fine example of appreciation of the human endeavor. Some that I viewed were impressive, some were too familiar in style and subject, and some did not impress; but one artist surprised me. The name of the watercolorists was of an artist I had worked with for two decades. He had died several years ago, but here was his work, living on past his existence. An inspirational experiences yet a brain overload.

Back to reality
Tomorrow I will return home. The lumber stacked in the yard shows the lads had been working today. Without looking under the house, I slowly crepe inside with hope of little disaster. So far, so good was my thought as I checked the overall views of the floor, walls and ceilings. The latest contract was slid under the door but the latest payment has not arrived yet. The best part was the water had not frozen or leaked. Tomorrow I will see if it is still hot, but tonight it is crispy tacos, hot shower and rest.

Tomorrow never knows.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


That mysterious feeling hoping the unknown will work out. When the situation is out of your hands, there must be faith that the outcome will be favorable. Trusting people who you would not normally associate with to do the right thing. Through a handshake or a written contract or a phone message, you give the responsibility of all your worldly goods to a stranger. Logically you convince yourself this is the proper method to overcome what you cannot accomplish. The young behind dark glasses moving in a lettered mobile machine declare the confidence to tackle the devil and within a few days succeed the impossible. They bring the ultimate weapons and experience you could only guess at. To the ones you would worry about parking your car, you give them the keys to the palace. Before the sun arrives, you fret about the walls caving in, the water exploding, the pipes splitting, the ceiling falling in, or worse. Stressful anxiety paces the floor over the eggshells.

So to avoid the conversation underground by the mole men, you become a butterfly away from home.

Got to have faith.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Sanctuary is a place where we feel alone.

Sanctuary is a place where we feel comfort.

Sanctuary is that place we go back to feeling protected.

Our lights blind the darkness, our electronic moats forbid those who would plunder our worldly goods so long strived and collected; we cuddle into the familiar of our sanctuary.

If it is a shack or a slice of cardboard under a bridge or a swat of sand on the beach of some unfamiliar shore, it becomes a haven, a place to return and feel safe.

The sense of invasion creates a threat upon human sanctity, the utmost stress, and an attack on life’s basic need for shelter.

So I wait another day until they come.

Perhaps run away when they arrive in their white suits, avoiding the noise and clatter, but knowing they are attacking my sanctuary.

With little control I can only wait in fear of the unknown.

For this is all I have left.

This is all have.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Look Through Any Window

When I moved into this house many years ago, my next-door neighbor was an elderly woman who lived alone.

She seemed pleasant enough to me at the time. She would slowly walk into her back yard and tend her small garden with a large straw hat and a crooked back. Now an then she would wave, but we rarely spoke.

Now I was a good neighbor to this established neighborhood, trimming my grass and pruning my shrubs on a regular basis. I took out my trash and hung my laundry within the proper decorum of the norm and though somewhat younger than my neighbors, I blended in by my aloofness.

When the girl who would be my future wife moved in, she complained about the old woman next door staring in the windows.

I hadn’t noticed before, but the woman would stand at her window on the side of the house. Perhaps she was absorbing the sunshine or just enjoying the greenery or just staring into space, which did not bother me, but it certainly bothered my wife.

The relationship between the two women became increasingly uncomfortable, with the windows being covered by curtains and then opaque glass. The privacy issue was almost humorous to me until a fence had to be constructed hiding us from the rest of the world.


Today, I am that old woman.

I find myself pacing around the small abode I call home when times are cold or rainy or no motivation can be produced. The outlet for entertainment apart from electronic bombardment is to look out the window.

Learning to appreciate the ever-familiar images dancing in the wind or rain or the clouds sweeping the surroundings in shadows, the crackle of the leaves in fall and the splash of colors of spring orchestrated by the chatter of a constant parade of visitors resting in the shelter and comfort of the solitude has brought me a new understanding of what that old woman was really experiencing.

I’m aware my actions may be viewed with curiosity, but I feel no animosity.

The same is true to analysis using self-experienced perceptions not taking the effort to understand or appreciate, then perhaps to relish the behaviors of someone's lifestyle.

Look through any window, what do you see?

Painting Underground

I found this an interesting story for several reasons. I believe under every city are remnants of a bygone time, the stepping-stones of the civilization who lives above. Like life, layers of forgotten struggles that culminate into the present, yet still bubbling underground like a volcano. 

In this story, adventures, explorers, historians and the curious travel under the streets of Paris, France to exam the remains of limestone quarries left as ruins of history beyond view. 

The report caught my ear due to a scary aspect of climbing into the darkness of miles of tunnels with no direction. I’m an not even close to that sort of chance taker or a spelunker (though I like the sound of that world. Have you been spelunked today?) But I appreciate the risk takers who will venture where the sane minded will never go.

What stopped my tracks was the discovery of paintings on the walls of these age old man built caves.

I understand a blank space is a canvas of an artist, but here underground where a lighted helmet is the only source of rational reflection; some one or ones are painting in the darkness. 

Painting, being an art to express feelings or record of surroundings are usually view to be appreciated, yet here below ground where no one may ever appreciate, artist are creating works of art. 

Much like writing a book that no one will ever read or composing music for the deaf; this act of expression will go unnoticed perhaps forever (sans for this radio report). 

I understand the overwhelming power to create, but my mind wanders to the prehistoric cave paintings. Our species evolves through expression and the arts cultivate this freedom.

Time to clean the brushes.

A Taste of Reality

As a response or an understanding or a return to forever, there is a taste of reality.


We eat to sustain our being but the act of consumption is more than self-survival.
The act of selecting, preparing, devouring, storing and cleaning plant and animal is beyond simple nourishment. Food is a massive part of our social interaction.
When gathering for parties, we bring food to share. When meeting a friend, we dine together. When meeting a stranger, the safest location is a restaurant, bistro, deli, or even diner.
Sometimes we eat to cover neuroses or just out of boredom. Sometimes we eat because everyone else is or because it is time to eat.
Watching someone bite, chew and swallow is not more attractive than the activity to purge the remains from our bodies, so it must be the conversation that draws us together for meals. The fact is the best cut of meat or the freshest produce does not taste any better when eaten alone.
Media blast us with new methods to cook or fry or slice or present food. Marketing is constantly delivering new variations in brightly color packages. Reviews of local eateries entice us to visit and enjoy the dining experience while paying more for the service.
Yet the basics of grain, meat, vegetable, fruit, and water remain the same. Only the successful process of preparation and social interaction make the activity enjoyable.
Now hunger does play a factor. When the body has been deprived of nourishment, almost any food will taste better. A starving person will eat snails, entrails, or puppy dog tails without question of palate consideration.
Health professional organizations have always offered dietary recommendations. The children learn in school about the food groups, but in the cafeteria the trays are filled with what the young have been taught to eat, not what is good for them.
The evolution of fast food, with the ease of cheap payment for sugar coated, sodium filled, fat saturated faux food has appeared in my lifetime. Going to a sit down restaurant was a big deal; a family occasion to gather and be served from choices cooked by professional and served by people in high dress on china plates with linen napkins. The substance would pass but the experience remained.
Certain combination of food can spark a memory of a special moment, an event with friends, or a gathering of friends sharing a meal, but even the most detailed recipe following with stringent measurements can not equal the memory.

So the question of personal taste preferences comes to mind.
After shopping and cooking and eating and cleaning for a while now, I have settled on a list of produce, vegetables and grains that seem to be adequate in taste, price while maintaining a feeling of good health. Desserts, chips, soft drinks, meat, prepared frozen foods are not on my list so the aisles can be passed without remorse. Without a nearby farmer’s market, the daily visit provides the freshest produce, with only enough to be used and not stored.

Without monetary restrictions, many fine items I could purchase for self-gratification somehow do not excel in my personal requirements of easy preparation and quick clean up.
Like fresh coffee, ground from the freshest beans, brewed in mountain stream water until the perfected strength is acquired; sweetened and mellowed to taste and cherished in it’s warm comfort, the amount of effort outweighs the desired results. In the end it is the recognized habit of drinking hot, dirty water to give us a kick-start the morning that I continue to follow, but a mellow instant fulfills the conventional tradition.
And when the coffee runs out, tea will suffice or even tap water can be easily substituted without any withdrawal symptoms.

Some say it is a acquired taste, like selecting a fine wine, but it is an individual decision to cut an apple and be fulfilled or drive to a cinder block building for overpriced “food” in wrappers served by uneducated people in paper hats.
Now the decision comes for the big football weekend. Since it will be cold and rainy here, I think I will prepare a large pot of something for the next week…. But what? Potatoes, carrots, onions are all good choices, beans are always possible, and perhaps some sort of killed and sliced animal. The recent five days of chili did not bore me (for I can happily eat the same thing day after day) but perhaps something else.

If nothing else, preparation does pass the time in this sweet, short life.

I’ll mull it over with a cabernet sauvignon and Gouda cheese.