Monday, August 07, 2017

MAKE MINE SUNNY SIDE UP

"The mind wants to live forever, or to learn a very good reason why not. The mind wants the world to return its love, or its awareness; the mind wants to know all the world, and all eternity, even God. The mind's sidekick, however, will settle for two eggs over easy. The dear, stupid body is as easily satisfied as a spaniel. And, incredibly, the simple spaniel can lure the brawling mind to its dish. It is everlastingly funny that the proud, metaphysically ambitious, clamoring mind will hush if you give it an egg."
Annie Dillard, writing about an Eclipse

Watercolor by Joseph Zbukvic

Friday, August 04, 2017

A SAD LITTLE LIZARD TOLD ME ON HIS MOTHERS SIDE HE WAS A BRONTOSAURIS


Something has been digging little dime sized holes in my garden. They don’t go straight down. They go kinda sideways. Like a little thumb sized armadillos. They leave a little pile of dirt that is dug out, and this little dime sized hole. I thought “What could it be?”
Then Friday I came home from work. I was startled by an animal making a sudden get-a-way in my garden. A Lizard!
A BIG lizard!
He must have been a foot long and he had been digging. There was a hole about the size of a silver dollar and a huge pile of dirt there. So that’s what it is. Its these little lizards I been seeing, and the great-granddaddy. But why? Why are they digging these holes? For food? For shelter? Hmmm….

So I went inside and got ready for Susan to come over so we could go out to eat. An hour and a half later there’s a knock at the door. Susan!
I open the door, and there is Susan at the other end of the porch. She is freaking out.
“MY GOD STEVE THERE IS SOMETHING ON YOUR PORCH! ITS HUGE AND BROWNANDGREYANDGREEN WITH BIGTEETHANDGILLS WITH A LONGTAIL AND CLAWS”

She’s wild eyed, Susan is, so I smiled and said ‘I know! It’s a lizard! He and a bunch of others live in my garden. Come see!” So Susan eases over real cautious like and I show here the little holes, and then the big one. “I think there are five or six big ones living down there. It goes down about 5 feet into a huge anteroom” I tell her. She’s calmed down a little now, and bends over a little to look down the hole.
That’s when I yelled “AGGGHHHH!” and pinched her on her leg, and she jumped about 15 feet into the air and screamed “AGGGHHHH” and now we are both looking at each other wild eyed and screaming AGGGGHHH and that’s when she clobbered me. “Its not funny” Susan said and we laughed and laughed and laughed.

So we went inside, talked a bit, and decided on Mexican Inn. Its right across the freeway. When we stepped outside I looked again at the big hole. But the big hole was gone! It was all covered up! Why would that lizard dig a hole and cover it up? About then Susan said “Look! There he is!” and I looked down and this great-granddaddy of a lizard was looking up at me, just calm as could be, from right there at my feet.
“Hello Mr. Lizard “ I said.
He bobbed his head as if to say hello.
So I knelt down real slow like, and I swear that lizard was looking at me like a big ol’ Cocker Spaniel, and he swished his tail.
“Do you know how to shake, boy?” I said, and stuck my finger his direction. He cocked his head the other direction lifted a little lizard foot and shook my finger. “Pleased to make your acquaintance”
‘Susan said “Oh my God Steve, you just shook hands with that lizard.”
I said “You know, it aint natural for a lizard to do that. He must be like Mr. Jingles, the circus mouse from ‘The Green Mile’ ”.
But then the neighbor’s cat jumped down from the balcony and POOF, Mr. Lizard scurried away.
So I looked it up today, what Mr. Lizard was doing in my garden with all the holes.
 He’s laying eggs!
You know what that means?
That great granddaddy of a lizard is a girl!
From now on its Ms. Lizard!

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

ANOTHER SEMESTER OF THIS SHIT

Somehow I wound up in an Honors algebra class in the 9th grade. I wasn’t smoking pot for another year, but I discovered Rhonda, and how much fun getting my hands in her pockets was, and I also discovered that I was brilliant enough to pass Algebra without doing any homework. This set the tone for the rest of my academic career with the discovery that a class could be passed without actually, you know, knowing the material. I may have PASSED Algebra, but by no stretch of the imagination could I actually DO Algebra.

The chickens came home to roost the next year in Geometry, where I was surprised to find that knowing some Algebra would have been good. That’s how I flunked my first class ever. Oh, the pot probably didn’t help.

The next year I was in Chemistry, and without any Algebra or Geometry skills, I was toast there too, and ended up in a remedial math class as a Senior, because the State required its students to have passed at least one HS math class.

It was Speech Class and the Debate Club that saved my HS experience. Watergate had been going on, and Nixon resigned at the start of my senior year, and I was into it enough to think I might want to be a lawyer. I thought I did until about April, when I was called to the Deans office because I hadnt attended any classes except for Speech and Government in months. I had to sit outside his office and wait while he got ready to bust my balls, and it was while I sat staring at pictures of past Principals lined up on the wall that I had an epiphany.
I was a horrible student.
I didn’t want to be a lawyer, if being a lawyer meant another 8 years of school. I didnt want to be a lawyer if it meant even one more semester of this shit. So I decided then and there to be a chef. Because, well I like to eat.
The last day of school when you clean out your locker and turn in your books? I had to go to the office and find out my locker number and the combination.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

TRADITIONS

My mother asked me if I remembered
The time we got drunk and cheered for the Cowboys.

“It was our first playoff without Staubach” said I 
“I cooked a roast, there was beer in the fridge” said she. 
But there hadn’t been enough beer for a game that close. 
I went to the corner store at halftime.


By the time the fourth quarter started we were down 
Fourteen points with two beers each left.
 How could I forget the way that she howled 
The way that I screamed and danced 
When Pearson put us ahead with forty three seconds left?


We didn’t make a tradition of it, 
The way we made a tradition of playing 
“BugBite” when I was a boy 
The way we sat together at church, 
Me holding the hymnal 
While she sang In The Garden 
Saturday night and Chicken Spaghetti 
Roast beef with homemade giant bread 
Shopping for school clothes 
Meeting the new girlfriend 
The way she called me Stephen when I was in trouble- 
“Wait till your father gets home”- 
And Stevie when I was not. 
We didn’t make a tradition of getting drunk,
 Mom and I, 
(I wish that we had) 
And I‘d never heard her howl like that. 
There was no way of knowing 
Mom would die a few years later. 

The summer had been hot, 
Now the January days were crisp and blue, 
We had no way of knowing that Danny White
Would take us to 3 NFC championships in a row 
And lose them all.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

S'POSED TO KNOW BETTER

When I was about 9 years old I would sneak up to dads room. I’d open the top drawer of his bureau, move aside the three stacks of handkerchief's, and pull out his .22 caliber revolver with the 9” barrel. I’d feel the heft of it in my hand, aim it at the window, feel the resistance on the trigger. 

One day while doing all that I accidentally discharged the gun. Right onto the wall behind the bureau. 
WHOOOPS! 
It didn’t leave a real big hole in the wall, less than the size of a dime. It took a week or two for dad to notice it. 
Dad had taught me about guns. It wasn’t the first time I’d fired it. It was the first time I fired it unsupervised though. I knew better than to do what I’d done. But lifes lessons with me are usually hard learned. Dad didn’t whip me. He didn’t even move the gun. But he took the bullets out. From time to time Dad would get a far away look on his face and tell me how sometimes he would wake up in a cold sweat thinking about me and that gun.
I think about that gun every now and then, especially when I’m tempted to do something that I know better than to do. 

It was weird last night. I was shifting from one dream to another. In a moment of lucidity I thought about that gun.
And I did something I’d never done before. 
Quite on purpose, I dreamed of the house in Detroit with the bureau and the gun. I walked up the stairs. There was the weird purple wallpaper. Take a right at the top of the stairs, and into the master bath, with the tile, glass and mirrors. Then into mom and dads room, with the big wall of windows looking into the backyard, and the fireplace at the end of the room. Turn right, and there is the bureau. 
I’m nine years old again, and have to look on tippy-toes into the top drawer. 
I move the handkerchief’s. 
There it is. Dad’s old revolver. 
I pull it out and wonder what would happen if I put it to my head and pull the trigger. 
Its just a dream, right? 
Or would the whole world change- now-then-everything in between- with me not in it? 
I looked at the gun. Felt its heft. Aimed it at the window, felt the resistance on the trigger. 
I put it back in the drawer. 
Better not risk it. 
Better not risk changing the whole world. 
Besides, I’m supposed to know better, even if knowing better hasn’t always stopped me.

Monday, July 24, 2017

WE'RE GOING TO TAKE CARE OF EVERYONE


There was a great golden maned lion that killed an elephant and brought it home for dinner. He dragged it into his den, proudly`.
The wife took one look at it and said “You cant keep that lyin’ there”
And he said “But honey, its not a lion, its an elephant”

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND


Years ago a girlfriend and I drove from Niagara Falls to Texas. Driving through Pennsylvania was gorgeous. Living down here in the south, we tend to think of the northeast as just one big city. But its not that way at all, is it? The big city is the exception, even in New York, is it not? Head north from the city, and see the Hudson. Head west and behold, the Finger Lakes!
So yes, driving through Pennsylvania farmlands, over rivers and streams, both large and small, and past vineyards on the eastern slopes of mountainsides that enjoy the morning sun was very nice. So too were the green fields with perfectly placed golden bales of hay, as though arranged by a great painter. But first…
But first we had to get out of Buffalo.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

BLACK SABBATH





I saw a story today that reminded me of the 9th grade, when I discovered Black Sabbath.
I was in my room, listening to Ironman and mom cracked open the door and peeked in.
"What is that you are listening to?" she asked.
"Black Sabbath mom"
She looked concerned, but only said "Oh my".
I said "Some people say they are satanic, but I dont think so. What do you think mom?"
She scrunched up her face. "I think they might be" she said.
"No mom, I mean do you LIKE them?"
"No, not too much Stevie" and she closed the door.


And here is the story, as gathered at Alive On All Channels:

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir
by Sherman Alexie~


“And then after your mom was done singing in the choir,” Pernell said, “I saw your mom rolling in the aisle and speaking in tongues.”
“No way,” I said. “She was probably just speaking Spokane.”
My mother was one of the few tribal members who were still fluent in the old way of speaking Spokane.
“It wasn’t Indian talk,” Pernell said. “It was her Jesus voice.”

There were quite a few Spokane Indians who fell in love with Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. I think it’s rather easy for a universally damaged people like Native Americans to believe wholeheartedly in miracles, in the supernatural. But I’d never thought of my mother as a Spokane who’d go that far.
“I’m not lying,” Pernell said.
“I believe you, Jack,” I said, though I hoped he was mistaken.
When I got home from school, I immediately asked my mother if she’d been speaking in tongues.
“Yes,” she said.
“Weird,” I said, and walked downstairs to my room.

I figured my mother was pretending to speak in tongues. She was just acting, I thought. It’s like a one-woman show, I guessed. My mother had always been so dramatic. And what’s more dramatic than an Indian woman rolling down the aisle of a little reservation church?

I tried to put it out of my mind, to allow my mother to freely practice her religion as much as she allowed me to fully practice my nonreligion. But, a few weeks later, I crawled out of my Sunday-morning slumber and walked the mile to her church.

And there she was, along with the white couple who led the church and a few dozen Spokane Indians, throwing books, magazines, and music albums onto a bonfire.
My mother and her fellow indigenous Charismatics were chanting something about the Devil—about the evil of the secular world—about all the sin-soaked novels and porn magazines and rock music.
I was grossed out.
On opposite sides of the bonfire, my mother and I made eye contact. But I think she was so deeply entranced—so hypnotized and self-hypnotized—that she didn’t recognize me.
I hurried home to make sure my small personal library of books and records was intact and unburned. And, yes, all was safe.

Later that night, at the dinner table, I told my mother to leave my stuff alone or I’d burn down her church.
“You’re a sinner,” she said, and pointed her fork at me.
“And so are you,” I said, and pointed my fork right back at her.




Friday, June 16, 2017

A RECOVERING RAGERS CREED



1. I will practice self-restraint as a top priority today.

2. When angry, I will act the opposite of how I feel.

3. If I feel like my anger is about to erupt I will QUIETLY leave the situation.

4. I will find truth in all criticisms directed towards me today, especially from my partner.

5. I will say “You are right” in a sincere meaningful way when criticized.

6. I will give an example of how the person who criticized me is right.

7. I will repeat this to myself “I am better off being wrong, because when I’m right, I’m a real jerk”

8. I will avoid trying to explain myself.

9. I will listen to my partner when they tell me about their day. I’ll make eye contact, and turn off the TV.

10. I will avoid giving unsolicited advice to anyone, especially my partner and children.

11. I will avoid blaming people for things today, especially if it was their fault.

12. I will avoid trying to make people “understand”.

13. I will look for opportunity to praise everyone today, even the cat.

14. I will humbly commit to removing my angry behaviors today as my contribution towards a more peaceful world.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

THE CARDIFF GIANT



Back in 1850, a guy named George Hull had a 10 foot giant carved of gypsum in Iowa, and shipped to his farm in Cardiff New York. He buried the carving in his yard, and a year later hired two well diggers to “discover” the petrified man. He was called “The Cardiff Giant”, and Hull charged 25 cents a person to see the giant under a tent he had erected. He made, in today's money, roughly 400,000 dollars.
PT Barnum came to see the giant and tried to buy it. Hull refused to sell. Barnum had a giant of his own made, declared Hull’s giant “Fake”and advertised his as “The True Cardiff Giant”.
Hull sold his giant to a guy named Hannum. Hannum accused Barnam of having a fake giant, saying “There is a sucker born every minute” (wrongly attributed over time to Barnum himself) and sued Barnum for calling his giant a fake.
A wise  judge asked Hannum to have his giant "swear under oath" he was indeed the real one. Hannum confessed his giant was a fake.
The court ruled both giants were obviously fakes, and that Barnum could not be sued for calling a fake giant a fake.
A big giant fake, just like our president.