Monday, May 28, 2012

I Remember You. Do You Remember Me?

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Had an interesting conversation about finding “lost acquaintances” and thought I’d delve into that subject.
Since the Internet arrived, we have been able to search for people by easily typing in a name. Sometime we find the person we were looking for and sometimes they remain allusive.
Upon contact, to reestablish whatever brought us together we send emails back and forth trying to find that exclusive feeling that drew us together then, but maybe not now.
After a period of time and life experiences, we are strangers. The feelings and emotions and shared thoughts may be forgotten or can be renewed.
And after so many years apart, do we remember the times together the same way?
Remember the night we parked in a vacant plot of land only to get a security guy to shin a flashlight in the car to make us move on?
Remember the day-glo basement where we first heard Eric Clapton and that secret room behind the hanging blanket with a line of white?
Remember the walking across miles of crusty grass carrying those heavy bags and listening to those terrible stories about each other’s wives while they drank out of their flask?
Remember the trip to the beach to watch the sun go away and bring it back by scaring the tourist and destroying the castle?
Remember the apartment full of fleas and bloody sheets?
Remember being stopped by a cop on a back road in South Carolina and thinking you were going to die?
Remember the little girl who stole your heart but you didn’t know it was missing?
Remember the graduation night in your robes and not knowing the words to your school theme song?
Remember being in a bad place and not knowing how to survive, but you did?
Remember when the day went by too quickly without any cares or worries?
Remember when you trashed your aspirations and settled for the inevitable?
Remember when she brought her suitcase to your apartment prepared to travel to Carolina to start a family?
Of course you don’t, because you were not there. Then again you were in similar situations.
That would be an interesting conversation, but we don’t go there. Instead we discuss what entertainment we cherish or what the offspring are doing or if we really want to get into it, what political propaganda we follow and how strongly we feel about religion or environment or some other cause. We relegate our lives by the material goods we have been able to purchase and the stacks of worthless awards we have acquired over the years.
Yet still, I remember you, do you remember me?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Didn’t Leave The House Today

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Don’t know why.
I thought today was to be a full rainy day, but it didn’t happen, at least here.
Maybe it was the poker game last night that went on for too long.
Maybe it was the two-dozen beers I consumed over the period of the evening.
Maybe it was the gray day, but I stayed inside, except to go out to check the empty mailbox.
Normally I make a point to get dressed and wander outside after checking email and having a cup of coffee, but not today.
I had the cup of coffee and checked the email but couldn’t get motivated to take the next step.
A surprise call from the hardware store should have woken me up, but it didn’t.
A lunch of broccoli sprouts with a cheese sauce during the noon news should have got me motivated, but it didn’t.
Maybe the poker game lasted too long last night and though I didn’t lose a lot of clothing, it was an eventful evening.
Maybe I just wore myself out?
So today was a scratch off day.
Nothing accomplished, except for a nap in the middle of the day that really didn’t help the situation and a to-do note on the blackboard to pick up some butter at the store.
Perhaps this is what old age is meant to be?
Being trapped in your own home with no motivation or physical means to move on.
Did read something on the Internet today, while wasting so much time, about life is only sustained when you have something to look forward to.
So I go back to bed tonight knowing I have all my toys and money in the bank and am safe and well fed with the comforts of years of struggle with no complaints or regrets and wondering what the dreams will present.
Tomorrow, if it arrives, will present a new series of challenges and opportunities to decide upon.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Writing Your Own Obituary

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What a morbid thought. Well not really because your obituary is the last definition of who you are (or were at that point).
Now originally the obit in the newspaper was to announce to the local community who had died. Of course the immediate family already knew but an announcement was made in a public media for the other working associates and friends to know.
At first it was a public announcement and then the newspapers decided to make money on this solemn statement. The line of words in a short column charged the cost, so the advertising representative would ask for more and more information about the deceased.
When you think about the number of years and all the people and things and accomplishments and careers and organizations and…. The list goes on and on.
Looking at obituaries today, there is the last employer, the list of the family, and the organizations or military experience. The end talks about the embalmer or funeral home or where the remains (oops, your corpse will reside) for people to come and view and discuss their time with you while you are laying in a box all dolled up and on your best behavior and sign a book which means they knew you or wanted to express their regrets of your passing or at least be recorded to have been on the planet while you were.
OK, enough of that (you can see why I don’t like funerals, so if any of you die, don’t count on me coming around) and we move on to the original subject.
Writing your own obituary.
Sure in the busy day-to-day world of text and messages and constant chatter, one only quickly reacts to questions and then sends them to the user before deleting the comment. And only you know what the context of the thought was or the reaction received.
These are the mysteries for the leftovers.  Those who will read your name in the obits and will be flooded with thoughts of times and conversations and perhaps deeper emotional connections with you may be missing the point.
So reward these guys with what you really think. It’s your last chance.
Only you know what was important in this passage from generation to generation. What happened before you arrived is history and what comes next is an unknown, you all you can do are to state how you adapted to your experiences here.
Sure, there is all that dry stuff of where you went to school and worked somewhere for whatever money they paid you to survive. You may have gone into military service and survived or this would be useless to try and read now. You may have joined renowned organizations and received awards and accolades over the years but so did a lot of other people. You may have had a fancy car and big house and dressed in the latest fashions, but that is not what you want to say in your obit. Add a picture if you are that shallow.
What really mattered to you while you were here? That is the question. What activities or experiences or people changed your life from someone else? Remember this is your last chance. Do you want someone else writing down who you were?
Wouldn’t it be better to remind the leftovers that you enjoyed watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan or the first kiss or almost having to get married from an oops or wrecking the first car or taking care of your mother even though it broke up your marriage or that time when you hurt your back and thought you would die or looking into an old girlfriends eyes and wondering what happened or feeling the joy of watching little creatures scurry around in a peaceful environment provided through years of struggle or the identification bracelet of another worn in respect of honoring the name or listening to a poor recording of self inflicted sounds that were the soundtrack of the time and still bring a smile or the smell of oil bring remembrance of living in the mountains or the first wave or luffing the sail to make the ride longer or long walks and talks without restrictions or being in situations you should not be in but you survived or the day you decided you would be retired from work or the night of laying on the floor looking at the ceiling and knowing you were underwater or …. The list goes on and on.
So how do you wrap all this up together and put it in a list of “this is WHO I was”?
I don’t have the answer to that. You have to decide if you want to do.
Personal reflection: When my wife died, I thought about the obit thing. I remembered when my father died and all the fuss over trying to write the obituary with all the relatives taking control and the crazy mother not believing what had happened. Dad had a proper and formal and correct process to be laid in the ground, but I didn’t want that for her.
So I used social media to announce it. So many didn’t know her and others were never contacted. I could only say so much because I didn’t know but so much. I could have written more but I understand the need for privacy and that was respected. I could have gone into details of accomplishments but from what I knew they were too varied to even try to describe.
Now is the time, as some of us get to that age where the future is shorter than the past, not in a depressing reflection on failures but a celebration of what was. Think of the people and places and events that made you - YOU.
Authors note: No I’m not planning on going out anytime soon, but it is inevitable, so I just post these comments for our entertainment and perhaps a self exploration.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Movies


Movies were the other school my generation learned from. While schools had boring teachers spouting traditional dull talk from old dusty books, movies had action and sound and told stories that were easy to follow and if you didn't understand the first time, you could sit through the end and watch it again for the price of one ticket.
Movies were shown in these impressive churches with massive features and flashing lights on the marquee to announce the feature of the day and it's viewing time. 
 The interiors were gigantic rooms with chandlers lighting a stage covered in velvet curtains. The walls are mosaic tiles with cubbyholes for the most special to view. Rows of padded folding sets line the first floor with a balcony for the cheaper seats for the teenagers.
 And after paying your fare for the ticket to enter this dark world, you were supplied with all the candy and popcorn and sweet drinks a kid could consume.
Being a small kid in those days, this house of wonder was safe to occupy for an entire day in the care of the whoever wandered around in the dark. These places became my weekend babysitters.
 
 For the price of a few pennies, one could watch the a series of movies and news reels and occasional live performances of organ players or local disc jockeys. To the ones my age, this was the place to hang out on weekends getting thrilled, horrified, educated, and mostly entertained while staying away from our parents.
 The newsreels that informed my parents of what was happening in the war outside of radio broadcast was updated to the Korean War and natural disasters presented in larger than life black and white flickering images. Booming voices through an array of speakers told us the American dream in the most agreeable political manner. These were the same impressions that our young minds were being fed while pledging alliance to the flag and christian prayers at ball games.
 Television was also taking over our mush minds at the time, so the movies quickly adapted making heroes of the western gun totting handsome guys who rode horses around the same rock, only fired one shot knocking the gun out of the bad guy's hand and riding off into the sunset.
 Apart from the ritual of good over bad, the dark house brought us monsters. Strange being from unknown places we could not pronounce. There was never any gore but there was enough fright to make us squirm in our seats and hide our faces and squeal at Lon Chaney or Boris Karloff slowly pacing across the screen with the villagers never catching up to them with their torches ready to do great harm. We routed for the monsters. They were just cowboys without white hats.
 Then there were the usual box office favorites that were family fare. The first time I saw the Wizard of Oz was at a massive movie house and it was the first showing in color. The yellow brick road was....well, yellow. And movies, which make movies different from television, was on this wide screen reaching from wall to wall with the main action in the center to keep focus. And the sound was better than that small speaker on your television box.
 Of course not all stories were bizarre. Most of the early movies, at least the ones I saw, were telling religious stories. Our minds were being soaked with religious images and retelling Bible tales over and over again. Every famous movie star became a religious character at some time, but the stories emphasized the battles with hundreds of extras running across the sand and long filibusters of the importance of following the rightest Bible messages. To reinforce the Anglo-American ethic was the norm.

 Also the American way replayed the United States of America, who we pledged alliance to every school day, as the soul champion and winner of the last big war. With larger than life white movie stars, "we" stormed the beaches and wiped out the enemy firing unending rounds of ammunition and with unceasing courage that my uncles never described. This was the only film I saw with my father. It had every movie star who was a movie star at the time in it. The credits lasted almost as long as the movie. what did I learn? That "my" country was the biggest and bravest bad ass even thought the Nazis had the coolest uniforms since the Romans. This was the cold war era and we had to have confidence in something.
 
Comics and cartoon filled the screen between features while the projector guy changed the reels, with fanciful characters made from strange animals that could talk in funny accents and never seemed to get injured. These creatures carried over to television and even formed a fan club and seemed remarkably simple and easy to follow, until "Fantasia" animated the classical music I had been learning from the local symphony. Flowers, and dancing hippos and even the devil himself made an appearance ending in another religious context.

Travel logs and movies of foreign lands were popular also, given a glimpse into other cultures and reenforcing the stereotypes we were taught. No one disputed that Chinese rode rickshaws, Indians (eastern) made snakes come out of baskets and (western) lost to the cowboys, the French were always singing and drinking, the English were our ancestors, and the Arabs rode on flying carpets.
Then movies became more expansive and artistic realism started to take over. "Lawrence of Arabia" was the first w-i-d-e film I remember with slow panning shots of the desert and camels in long parades through the sand. Even thought the history of the war in the middle east was not discussed in the classroom and even though the movie was extremely long and even though the editing was mixed, we sat through the whole thing. What else was there to do on a Sunday afternoon?

Then movies stated to connect to my physic.  One of the first movies I went back to see again and again was "West Side Story". The story was Romeo and Juliet but the colors were intense, the dancing and action fast pace, and the music overwhelming (even though Natalie Wood did not sing her part, I didn't mind). About this time in life, boys my age were being herded into teams and clubs and other social gatherings, but I wanted to be part of a gang. I started rolling up my long sleeve shirts, wearing chain bracelets, and trying to be "cool". 
At about the same time, during one of those matinee monster movie marathons, some one decided to slip in this artsy film between "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Black Lagoon".  Since movie ratings hadn't been invented yet, it was presented as an "Art" film. Badly spoken broken English soundtrack and confusing plot, but a pubescent teen full of testosterone did not mind. Though nothing was reveled through the gelled lens, it was implied and that is all I needed.

 By now films were really becoming artsy. The more controversial the reviews were the more I wanted to partake of the experience. Popcorn and goobers were not the draw anymore. Thrashing, writhing  bodies of young men and younger women to a soundtrack of rock and roll music made every film relevant.
 After every presentation, my friends and I would gather at the local coffee house and discuss the meaning of these experiments in film. Some would notice the camera angles while others viewed the significance of the film in it's message in political events. No matter the conclusion of the evaluations, we all agreed we liked seeing semi-nude people running around on screen.
 So when a film like "Candy" came out, with it's all-star list, except for the lead, taken from a book that was hidden away in the library stacks or purchased in one of those blue movie outlets, with a wonderful rock sound track by the Byrds and Steppenwolf, art films had become the norm.


Then it all changed.

 I seemed to migrate more to rock documentaries and musical adaptations but after a few they too became over done. "Woodstock" probably made the most impact and money at the box office and today has the most merchandising. The first rock movies, like "Hard Days Night" and "Tommy" were supported with large programs that were purchased in the theater and followed by record sales.
 Of course there was still comedy. A great escape for a couple of hours, especially if viewed through mind altering substances. Even "Star Wars" and "2001" became comedic under the influence.
 Movies started breaking down barriers. Like the travelogs, movies started presenting sites and sounds of places and people we would never see except in a dark room. And seeing Tina Turner shake her thing larger than life, it was probably good for a boy my age to be sited in a dark room.
Music that would have been overlooked in the vinyl store broke new ground through the movies.
 Other issues of the day began to emerge. Movies started to get more aggressive and forceful in their messages. "Midnight Cowboy" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf" and the first lesbian kiss in "The Killing of Sister George" graced the silver screen with more thought provoking images than most theaters could tolerate, so the rating standards were created.
 By now, cowboys were replaced by space men and the small screen of television could not compare with the expansive effects of the movies. Our heroes of the series on TV had become sequels on the movie screen. Like the old Tom Mix movies, you watched a "Star Trek" or "Star Wars" movie knowing another one was in the works.

After a while, the price of movies rose to a point where I could see no point in attending a theater show. VHS or DVDs were on there way and the movie, yet smaller on the television, could be watched anytime and rewound and watched again. Still some movies became a special outing for romantic purposes and will be remembered that way.
 Someone recently asked me what was the last movie I saw. I paused and thought about the last movie seen inside a movie house. Sitting in the dark with a tub of greasy popcorn between your knees watching the light flicker on a gigantic screen getting the full emulsion of being drawn into a fantasy experience. Since I not seen a movie in a theater or on the small screen in some time I had to think. What would draw me into a room full of strangers to sit in an airplane seat and gawk for an hour at motion and sound sometimes overwhelming? Some actors I appreciate as I do some directors but when I see a movie release now-a-days, I check the trailer out on YouTube and decide I would not spend the money for I can anticipate the plot.

"Finding Neverland" I replied. The last movie I've seen.

Hibernation

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Recently a friend (or so I call him that) asked if I had gone back into hibernation.

Hibernation is a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in animals, characterized by lower body temperature, slower breathing, and/or lower metabolic rate. Hibernating animals conserve energy, especially during winter when food supplies are limited, tapping energy reserves, body fat, at a slow rate. Although traditionally reserved for "deep" hibernators such as rodents, the term has been redefined based on specialized metabolic reductions and many experts believe that the processes of daily torpor and hibernation form a continuum. Hibernation during summer months is known as aestivation. Some reptile species are said to brumate, or undergo brumation, but the connection to this phenomenon with hibernation is not clear.
Although often associated with cold temperatures, the root purpose of hibernation is to conserve food during a period when sufficient food is scarce. It is the animal's slowed metabolic rate, which leads to a reduction in body temperature and not the other way around. Hibernation may last several days, weeks, or months depending on the species, ambient temperature, time of year, individual animal's body condition, and fur on the animal's body.

I found that an interesting question on a more interesting concept. I may have gone into hibernation several years ago as a survival reaction only to cope with the inevitable.

Today, I think of the time I spend more as meditation.

Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit
Meditation is generally an inwardly oriented, personal practice, which individuals do by themselves. Prayer beads or other ritual objects are commonly used during meditation. Meditation may involve invoking or cultivating a feeling or internal state, such as compassion, or attending to a specific focal point. The term can refer to the state itself, as well as to practices or techniques employed to cultivate the state.
There are dozens of specific styles of meditation practice; the word meditation may carry different meanings in different contexts. Meditation has been practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions and beliefs.
Since the 1960s, meditation has been the focus of increasing scientific research of uneven rigor and quality. In over 1,000 published research studies, various methods of meditation have been linked to changes in metabolism, blood pressure, brain activation, and other bodily processes. Meditation has been used in clinical settings as a method of stress and pain reduction.

But I’m not seeking the truth or wisdom or any religious awakening. I think I found all I’m going to find for that stuff. And certainly it is not all about self. Perhaps it is a reaction to depression?

Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behavior, feelings and physical well being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless. They may lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable; experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions; and may contemplate or attempt suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, or aches, pains or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment may be present.
Depressed mood is not necessarily a psychiatric disorder. It is a normal reaction to certain life events, a symptom of some medical conditions, and a side effect of some medical treatments. Depressed mood is also a primary or associated feature of certain psychiatric syndromes such as clinical depression.

Psychiatric syndromes! I certainly have those. Then again it may be a reaction to a change in life and looking to the unknown future?

Anticipation is the concept of an agent making decisions based on predictions, expectations, or beliefs about the future. It is widely considered that anticipation is a vital component of complex natural cognitive systems. As a branch of AI, anticipatory system is a specialization still echoing the debates from the 1980s about the necessity for AI for an internal model.

And as I look into the future what do I see? They, whoever they are, say to plan ahead for retirement, but you never do because you are to busy working and living. So once you get there, what do you find?

An expectation, which is a belief that is centered on the future, may or may not be realistic. A less advantageous result gives rise to the emotion of disappointment. If something happens that is not at all expected it is a surprise. An expectation about the behavior or performance of another person, expressed to that person, might have the nature of a strong request, or an order.

Now I do get along with others and play nice in groups but for the most part I find massive boredom in today’s society. Electronic stimulation replaces personal emotions, but perhaps, like in comments on social media, we are looking for approval.

Flattery (also called adulation or blandishment) is the act of giving excessive compliments, generally for the purpose of ingratiating oneself with the subject.
Historically, flattery has been used as a standard form of discourse when addressing a king or queen. .
Flattery is also used in pick-up lines used to attempt to initiate romantic courtship.
Most associations with flattery, however, are negative. Negative descriptions of flattery range at least as far back in history as The Bible. In the Divine Comedy, Dante depicts flatterers wading in human excrement, stating that their words were the equivalent of excrement, in the 8th Circle of Hell.
An insincere flatterer is a stock character in many literary works. Examples include Wormtongue from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Goneril and Regan from King Lear, and Iago from Othello.
Historians and philosophers have paid attention to flattery as a problem in ethics and politics. Plutarch wrote an essay on "How to Tell a Flatterer from a Friend." Julius Caesar was notorious for his flattery. In his Praise of Folly, Erasmus commended flattery because it "raises downcast spirits, comforts the sad, rouses the apathetic, stirs up the stolid, cheers the sick, restrains the headstrong, brings lovers together and keeps them united."
"To flatter" is also used to refer to artwork or clothing that makes the subject or wearer appear more attractive.

Now, like everyone else who walks this ground, realize we must interact with others in a civil manner. We require adulation and scorn rejection because our little bodies hold this mind stuffed with all these emotions that can make up physically ill or adorn us with ecstasy.

So perhaps, living alone is just a wall from the entire outside world? A rejection of all the proper attitudes or polite statements disguised as feelings.

 Insulation refers broadly to any object in a building used as insulation for any purpose. While the majority of insulation in buildings is for thermal purposes, the term also applies to acoustic insulation, fire insulation, and impact insulation (e.g. for vibrations caused by industrial applications). Often an insulation material will be chosen for its ability to perform several of these functions at once.

More so it is the self-realization of what wakes you up in the morning and puts you to sleep at night. The rest of the time is heaven or hell, as each of us creates it.
Isolation provides no excuses for outside interpretation or conflicting emotions to change the daily routine selected by ones self.

Disambiguation is a broad concept or type of thing that is capable of being described in an article, and a substantial portion of the links asserted to be ambiguous are instances or examples of that concept or type, located as an article describing the broad concept, and not a disambiguation page. Where the primary topic of a term is a general topic that can be divided into subtopics, such as chronologically or geographically, the unqualified should contain an article about the general topic rather than a disambiguation page. A disambiguation should not be created just because it is difficult to write an article on a topic that is broad, vague, abstract, or highly conceptual.

So the question was asked, “Are you happy?”  And the reply came, “I’m content.”

Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources.
Various research groups endeavor to apply the scientific method to answer questions about what "happiness" is, and how we might attain it.
Philosophers and religious thinkers often define happiness in terms of living a good life, or flourishing, rather than simply as an emotion. 

So why doesn't that contractor call me back about fixing my fricking bathroom floor. Now that would make me happy!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Home Sweet Home

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Might be wondering about writing about “HOME” on Mother’s Day? Well my mom, like all the other moms I knew growing up was a homemakers. That is the occupation moms take up after they propagate. Don’t know why? They didn’t make the house, but that is what they put down on tax forms for occupation. Homemaker.
Now a housekeeper is a person, usually hired to come by and tidy up, but a homemaker is a person who puts all those little touches that make a house a home.
I don’t remember my mom being much of a homemaker, but most of the stuff was already in place as I remember. Besides I spent most of my time in my room.
I do remember mom taking me downtown to try on pants, which I hated, and make me wait in the department store haberdashery as she tried on hats without bringing any of them home. I remember mom being the parent responsible for taking me to the hospital after being bitten by a dog or falling out of a tree at camp or face first smash on the street off my bike and then telling my cousin how much I cried at being stitched up. I remember mom living in the kitchen listening to the radio and drinking coffee wearing an apron washing dishes and fiddling around. That seemed to be her spot at home.
Now mom, while living as a homemaker, was the probably the most influential woman in my life, but I don’t remember any life changing conversations, but she was there when I needed money to borrow and never paid her back. I never got that special “only my mom can cook this” recipe since she didn’t have one. She was the go-between from the autocratic father and in her lack of responsibility manner never punished me. She would play the game of “Hide the M&Ms” and I would always find them. She introduced me to the ocean and waited for me to learn how to swim. She was there when I would come home late at night without asking questions. Mom would even warn girls I would bring over to the house and sit in a room with a 3-watt blue light and have indecent liberties with that I should be avoided at all cost. Thanks mom for the support.
Once my brother and I had grown of sufficient size as not to be tended, she made a moderate attempt to be famous again by learning how to play golf. Now golf requires you belong to a country club where the rich people play. So she could mingle with the famous people of this burg and she got good at it and won a lot of silver and got her picture in the newspaper.
Then again she paid me back after dad died.
So let me get back to the to the subject: Home.
Now a house is nothing but a shelter from rain and cold and wind and the summer’s heat, but a home is a place you hold dear in your heart. A home is a place that has special memories, but I looked at all the buildings that have been my “homes” and wonder?
I lived in a home with the parents and a brother, but the family, that is the key to making a home, was dysfunctional and the building was never warm. The house I call home now I’ve lived in for over three decades, yet it still feels distant.
Another family was living here when I went to see it with a realtor. An old woman and two small children stepped out onto the front porch when I arrived and wandered through their home. I’m sure there were memories and a history here but when I moved in all the furniture was gone, all the kitchen cabinets were empty and the rooms were quickly filled with all “my stuff”. The only reminder that anyone had lived here previously was an empty glass beer mug left on the living room floor.
The belongings I had decided to keep from my previous “home” shared with my first wife were arranged and for a couple of years was a “Mansland” while I continued to work all day, maintain some sanity while trying to deal with my mother’s antics and crossing some forbidden grounds.
The other person who shared this abode with me rearranged my life and my surroundings, several times, yet the four walls never had that “Home Sweet Home” feeling. It was a place to come home to at night, a place to eat and sleep, a place to hang my hat, but was never comfortable. There is plenty of space for me now but I find myself wandering around in it. From room to room I venture not finding what I’m seeking until I go outside.
After years and years of being an indoor person, I find my “home” is outside. Perhaps I’ve been trained or the many years I’ve spent in the shed, I have found a new appreciation for sunshine, trees, fresh air, wind, and wild life.
I also appreciate that the rain does not fall on my head any more or that I don’t have to wear two sweatshirts in the winter, but my day doesn’t start until I move into the forest in the backyard.
Having not begotten any homo sapiens, well maybe, this home has held many children though they had four feet or fins. She was a mother to them, feeding them, clothing them, and taking care of their every need. She named each one and cuddled them as every other mother would. And she buried them.
So after providing the substance of life, I sit back in my home and enjoy the activities presented at no cost.  
I must be a mother too?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pets

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Starting the day way too early in the dark with the usual routine decided to take an early ride after coffee. It was cool and still spitting rain the leftovers from last night but not too bad as I strapped on the only pony available since the other is at the vets and noticed the quiet. The birds had just started their wake-up calls as I started the normal journey. Rows of dark houses and still cars lined were my silent sentries. No motion. No noise. This is the time when the creatures can feel free to find yesterdays leftovers and start their day. So the pace is a little slower than normal like I’m tiptoeing around.
After 10 miles and drying off I’m still a little weary so I lay down before the only show that I schedule around comes on. It must have been a short nap because I woke exactly as the program started. So for the next hour I lay in bed and listened. Today’s theme was about pets.
Unusual stories as always including parents replacing you with a dog or making videos for cats or trying to take your frustration out on an armadillo were enjoyed.
So after a trip to the grocery for burnt chicken wings for lunch and enough beer to watch a NASCAR race (what is with that, I don’t even drive?) and waiting for the sunshine to break through, I think about the pets in my life.
I don’t remember pets being a big deal in my childhood. Our family had a big boxer dog when we moved to Richmond. I think he was my father’s dog and my brother said he came with us from Keswick. All I remember about “Ike” was my dad picking ticks off him in the summer sitting on a wooden stool and dropping them into a cup of alcohol or him sitting in the middle of the busy intersections in front of my house with cars weaving around him. Ike was big enough to scare the mailman or intimidate my bully so I think he slept out on the back porch before it was enclosed. As I recalled he wandered off since we didn’t have a fence or at least that was my explanation at the time.
I think I asked for pets at some time, even though I don’t remember any of my friends having any. I got a plastic bowl with some turtles from Murphy’s but they turned green and died. Got a hamster from a friend who the next day had babies, then ate them and then died. I asked about another dog but only got a stuffed one for Christmas, so I forgot about having animals in my life.
Then I met girls.
There must be some training for girls along with keeping a guy waiting, having to go home too early and learning how to smell so great that guy’s drool, that they must have a cat. Don’t know what the strategy is, but girls have to have cats.  And guys have to have girls, ergo, they learn to accept “Fluffy” and “Cricket” and “Kiwi” and “Mister Bangle”.
So when I realized living with a girl meant living with a critter, I accepted it, fleas and all.
And I have had them all.
No, not girls…. Pets!
Some pets like fish or lizards are not real cuddly and some pets like a wild squirrels living in the bathroom do not really fit the description of a “pet” but there they are. Free range rabbits and ferrets and a half a dozen felines have filled this house with fur, bugs, litter, smells, deconstruction and all the necessary toys that come along with these fur balls. Scheduled trips to the store for supplies and repairs to shred or worse materials become the normal compromise for living with a girl.
Some of them were surrogate children, some were apologies, and many just heard the grub was good here and moved in. One after another did not outlive our family until the heart attack.
The puppy I never received as a child was requested to my rescue animal source and a sweet blond husky/retriever mix was presented to my front door. After the first couple of critters and the obsession for taking care of animals I agreed to my own realization of where I stood on the food chain, I could always rationalize releasing more control to the furry critters, but this one had a realistic medical excuse.  
The doctors said,” Exercise” and I thought that would never happen without an irresistible reason, so a puppy became part of our family and she required daily walks.
Now most of my days were spent away at work so I only had an hour or two to deal with the daily changes to my home environment to cope before sleep. Some seemed to adjust to me while others didn’t. One even thought I was her mother and would suckle on my arm until I bled. This was my adjustment to the critter crewe only to provide happiness which was my goal. I gave control or better said, family time to another to spend her time with the creatures who made her happy.
And I accepted this was the way it was and adjusted to it until Buffy. She was named after the vampire slayer that was the favorite on the tube at the time and was the puppy I never had. Though I lost control of her early on being only a passing fancy, she brought a special feeling in her eyes. Dogs are small horses and horses ride your spirit.
So this pup grew up with the wonderment of other critters always polite and thankful for a pet or a pillow or a hug. Even the walks brought out conversations with others like new-formed friends and the nightly visits to Murray were soft ventures into relaxation and joy of seeing two friends meet every night.
But all things come to an end. The kittens were easy to pass onto neighbor’s daughters and Codey enjoyed his freedom, but Buffy was a different matter.
For weeks I confined myself in the matters of the day and avoided what was about to come.
I guess these were my children I had not reared but adopted through the years and had learned the names given and provided the food and shelter to make their lives as pleasant as possible, yet there is a special feeling for a dog.
I now understand the picture of my father and Ike sitting on the porch together. A bond no man can have with another person or animal except this special friend.
I’m still bonded to provide for the yard critters that come visit me everyday and seem to enjoy the treats but they do not enter the house.
That is where pets become family.