Other People’s Kids

The Ryan, Oklahoma High School class of 2018 throws their mortarboards in the air after graduating Saturday night.
The Ryan, Oklahoma High School class of 2018 throws their mortarboards in the air after graduating Saturday night.
I've known Teddy since she was a little girl, pictured here with Abby in December 2004.
I’ve known Teddy since she was a little girl, pictured here with Abby in December 2004.

Every year, I work between 10 and 20 graduations, either from high school, the tech center (where I teach), the college, and the occasional ceremony to which I am personally connected, like last night’s commencement at Ryan High School, where my wife Abby’s grand niece Teddy Lauren Brown graduated. I’ve known Teddy for most of her life, and watched her grow up to be, among other things, very much a natural in front of the camera. Readers might remember from my teaching site that I shot her senior pictures in October (link).

Our day started with Teddy’s mom, Abby’s niece Amber, buying us lunch at a new restaurant in Waurika, Oklahoma called Doc’s Place. Amber was excited that they offered a vegan option, practically unheard of in a town so small. They made me a black bean burger, which had a good flavor, but which was more like soup on a bun than a burger. I laud them for their efforts to offer healthier choices, and encourage them to perfect the recipe.

After I shot this, Teddy walked by, touched me on the shoulder, and whispered, "Thank you." What a great kid,
After I shot this, Teddy walked by, touched me on the shoulder, and whispered, “Thank you.” What a great kid,
Abby and I pose with the bear at Doc's. The restaurant is so named because it was once Dr. Stout's office when Abby was growing up. The fur was very much like the fur of our Wolfhound Hawken.
Abby and I pose with the bear at Doc’s. The restaurant is so named because it was once Dr. Stout’s office when Abby was growing up. The fur was very much like the fur of our Wolfhound Hawken.

We drove on to Ryan, Abby’s home town, where we helped Abby’s sister make finger food for Teddy’s reception, then changed clothes for the ceremony.

So. Graduations. As I said, I see a lot of them, and they have a sameness to them that gets old quick. As with most events involving people’s children, everyone there is only there to see, and to some degree show off, their own kin kids.

20 years ago, the trend in graduations was grunge: kids tried to dress as far down as they could under the cap and gown… flip-flops, hole-filled jeans, vulgar t-shirts… but recently the trend is to try to out-dress-up all the other kids, a trend that does side-by-side with the other expensive school trends, like paying a fortune for senior pictures, seniors teas, senior proms. Holy crap senior proms have gotten expensive, and we all know these are pearls cast before swine. No kid needs an $1800 prom dress.

It was a nice time, and everyone seemed happy, but I could do without the pomp and circumstance.

Teddy poses with her brothers Gage and Sam, my wife Abby at the reception Saturday night.
Teddy poses with her brothers Gage and Sam, my wife Abby at the reception Saturday night.
2+

Death Nozzle

This is the little bastard that got me started last night. In my eyes, all poison ivy should be terminated with extreme prejudice.
This is the little bastard that got me started last night. In my eyes, all poison ivy should be terminated with extreme prejudice.

I happen to think “nozzle” is an inherently funny word. I also considered “Nozzle of Death” as the title of this episode.

“I am become death, the destroyer of weeds.” ~Richard, misquoting Robert Oppenheimer, who was misquoting the Bhagavad-Gita, which itself was quoting the banned version of The Apocrypha, which itself was written by me using a time machine.

Anyway.

This is part of the enormous stand of poison ivy on the west end of the patch, which I photographed right after spraying it with a powerful, and possibly illegal, herbicide.
This is part of the enormous stand of poison ivy on the west end of the patch, which I photographed right after spraying it with a powerful, and possibly illegal, herbicide.

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound and I have taken our last woods walk of the season. Earlier this week, we spotted pubescent poison ivy on the trail… a lot of it. There’s always been a fair amount in our woods, but the patch near one of the cedars has experienced explosive growth this spring.

Last night’s misadventure started when I was weeding the garden and saw, much to my dismay, a poison ivy plant.

There was good news from the patch last night: blossoms on some of my tomato plants.
There was good news from the patch last night: blossoms on some of my tomato plants.

I grabbed the sprayer (initially typed “spayer,” which works too), which is loaded with an herbicide of unknown origin, but which was described by an unnamed family member as maybe “requiring a license to handle.” In addition to the one in the garden, I decided to take a stand against the stand of poison ivy at the back of the pasture. This isn’t as straightforward as one might imagine, since there’s always a risk of getting into it while trying to spray it.

But I felt this was a critical move. I can picture myself out there, like an idiot, trying to tiptoe around some poison ivy plants, then falling into the whole giant patch of it. Like an idiot. I’m very allergic to the oil, urushiol, in poison ivy, and have made a point over the years to learn to spot it, and the harmless plants that cohabitate with it: box elder, bois d’arc, Virginia creeper, and blackberry.

To the untrained and uninitiated, Virginia creeper can look a lot like poison ivy, and if you see one, you can expect the other.
To the untrained and uninitiated, Virginia creeper can look a lot like poison ivy, and if you see one, you can expect the other.

“A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent.” ~Oppenheimer

Despite the hazards like ticks, biting insects, poison ivy, and the occasional tornado, we live in a beautiful place.
Despite the hazards like ticks, biting insects, poison ivy, and the occasional tornado, we live in a beautiful place.
1+

What a Weird Winter Will Wield

Though two freezes have managed to pretty much kill my peach blossoms, there is a chance we could get cherries.
Though two freezes have managed to pretty much kill my peach blossoms, there is a chance we could get cherries.

This afternoon, our friend LeAnn Skeen let us know that public school students in Lawton, Oklahoma, “were let out school early because of the tornado  watch.”

It was right around this time that I heard a message at the Softball Hall of Fame, where I was covering the state tournament: after the 2:30 games finish, go home, and we’ll all trek up here Friday and finish.

I am amazed at this. Not at the idea of caution, even the abundance of it. Sure, you should take cover should the rare tornado warning be issued. But not half a day in advance. That’s more like an abundance of panic.

What can we assumed when we see two feathers from two different birds tangled up like this?
What can we assumed when we see two feathers from two different birds tangled up like this?

That’s just the prattle for today.

My main vector or vexation is being “eaten alive” as Abby put it, by tiny animals intent on defending their inch of dirt after spending all of a bitter-dry-wet-hot-colder-still winter trying to hide and live. The organisms responsible are at the very least the dreaded no-see-ums (which I haven’t seen), biting flies, and other non-zoonotic biters and stingers, but also, at least in my own case, one nymphal Lone Star tick. The weird winter, with its plunges into single digits, followed by a tease of a warm period, then another plunge into realms that require the purchase of fuel to keep our dog from freezing in his dog palace, may be the cause of the insects and arachnids being hungrier and more virile than ever before.

So my milieu consists mostly of scratching some party of me, sometimes until it bleeds, with a grimace on my face matched only by the absurdity of my orgasm face, followed by an alternating therapy of steroid cream and antihistamine cream.

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound and I have taken our last deep woods walk for the season. In six months or so, when the ticks and poison ivy are down, we will start that again. Yesterday we came across several stands of poison ivy on the trail.

Then, just when you though it couldn’t get worse, it got worse, I kneeled down in the garden to vanquish a stubborn stand of Bermuda, something hungry got me seven times on just the knee. It didn’t seem to pause for even a moment that my knee was soaked in 40% DEET (Deep Woods Repel©). I’d post a picture, but this qualifies as PTGDNP (Photo Too Gross Do Not Post).

Today I spent in Oklahoma City shooting golf and softball. I sunscreened, so at least I won’t put sunburn on top of itch burn.

The time has come to start thinning Abby's turnips, radishes, and lettuces. I pulled this one up tonight. It's a variety called French Breakfast, which make me wonder if that name has merit, and these long, thin radishes are part of a French breakfast.The time has come to start thinning Abby's turnips, radishes, and lettuces. I pulled this one up tonight. It's a variety called French Breakfast, which make me wonder if that name has merit, and these long, thin radishes are part of a French breakfast.
The time has come to start thinning Abby’s turnips, radishes, and lettuces. I pulled this one up tonight. It’s a variety called French Breakfast, which make me wonder if that name has merit, and these long, thin radishes are part of a French breakfast.

 

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2+

The Human Condition and Creativity

“Honey, can I put cheese on Max the Chihuahua?” I asked.

“You never let me put cheese on Summer the Chihuahua.”

“Yeah, well, right place, right time.”

I came across this image while cleaning up a backup hard drive. You can see me at the front of the room, teaching, meaning I'd handed my camera to someone else. Fun facts: the woman on the far right is Jill, whose mom babysat my stepdaughter decades ago; the woman next to her is Jennifer, who was pregnant at the time, and who I saw not long ago with one-year-old Jack.
I came across this image while cleaning up a backup hard drive. You can see me at the front of the room, teaching, meaning I’d handed my camera to someone else. Fun facts: the woman on the far right is Jill, whose mom babysat my stepdaughter decades ago; the woman next to her is Jennifer, who was pregnant at the time, and who I saw not long ago with one-year-old Jack.
Is this creative, or derivative? Can it be both at the same time?
Is this creative, or derivative? Can it be both at the same time?

I have rejoined the Tumblrstream and the Twitterstream, where it is always raining lawnmowers and assholes. While I scour the web for interesting content, I always try to generate my own.

We’ve all been there: a dull ache, a misplaced purpose, unending repetition at work or at home or both. Sometimes it’s worse: anger, dissatisfaction, depression. It’s a real thing, and it can poison our whole lives. When we fall into this pit, the poison ruins things that would otherwise be good in our lives: spouses, children and grandchildren, pets, hobbies, sleep, appetite, nature.

I’m not there now, so no inquiry is merited, but I do know a few people who are in the rough. I wish I had some good advice for them, but we all know that the way out is through, and I can’t go through for them. Be of good cheer? Fake it ’til you make it? Councilor? Therapist? Walk the dog? Write? Blog? Cry?

Chess and music are two activities I consider very creative.
Chess and music are two activities I consider very creative.

My friend and next door neighbor Jenn Nipps talks about creativity all the time, and how well it serves her, though seldom in equal portions.

It’s a delicate balance: talking about creativity instead of creating something is a lot like talking about cameras instead of taking pictures.

As I wrote this I ran across a couple of Open Mic Nyte buddies who are opening a new live music venue, Sessions Live Music and Alehouse, which is great: it is my view that more creativity begets more creativity.

Your humbler, mumbler host takes a moment to pose and keep an eye on things at Sessions Live Music and Alehouse.
Your humbler, mumbler host takes a moment to pose and keep an eye on things at Sessions Live Music and Alehouse.
3+

Summer Sweaters and Spring Frosts

Is this my garden, or a Tupperware farm?
Is this my garden, or a Tupperware farm?
A bell pepper plant takes shelter under a plastic container in my garden today.
A bell pepper plant takes shelter under a plastic container in my garden today.

Readers remember that I got my garden in the ground last weekend after what we hoped would be the last freeze of the season. But Oklahoma weather is a fickle mistress, and the next two nights are forecast to include a freeze. As I result, I gathered all the containers I was able to muster to cover the plants in the garden. That should protect them, though it was a pain to get it all together.

Also in response to the cold, Abby is crocheting a sweater for Summer, our tiny newly-adopted Chihuahua. While Abby is doing this, Summer is wearing Sierra‘s sweaters, which are about 30% too large for her, and which keep coming off.

Abby measures Summer for a new sweater. We are both amazed at how well this abandoned little dog has fit into our lives.
Abby measures Summer for a new sweater. We are both amazed at how well this abandoned little dog has fit into our lives.
1+

Fires, Freezes, Big Dogs and Tiny Dogs

The barbed wire that has been tangled atop a fence post at the gate to the south pasture since I have been living here gives form to last night's vanishing light.
The barbed wire that has been tangled atop a fence post at the gate to the south pasture since I have been living here gives form to last night’s vanishing light.
Summer Time Lane sits in Abby's lap last night. At the vet, she officially weighed 6 pounds 14 ounces.
Summer Time Lane sits in Abby’s lap last night. At the vet, she officially weighed 6 pounds 14 ounces.

Yesterday I took Summer the Chihuahua to have her microchip installed, then to my office so my coworkers could fall in love with her, which they did.

Last night was one of the most beautiful spring nights I can remember. It was cool and breezy, and the sky had an immense clarity to it.

I worked outside, first with my electric chain saw, then with the weed whacker, then with a shovel as I attempted to dig out the last roots of the dead Rose-of-Sharon bushes. Elm saplings have already colonized those spots, so I think I will let them grow.

Tiny leaves sprout from our Shumard oak tree last night. The light was magnificent, so I called upon my 35mm f/1.8 to make this image.
Tiny leaves sprout from our Shumard oak tree last night. The light was magnificent, so I called upon my 35mm f/1.8 to make this image.
Max gawks at me from the living room floor. He seems perfectly happy to have a new Chihuahua in the house.
Max gawks at me from the living room floor. He seems perfectly happy to have a new Chihuahua in the house.

Finally in for the night, I got a glass of wine and sat on the porch while Summer continued to get comfortable. Some dogs take a little while to settle in, but Summer seems to have found herself a new home like she was born to be with us.

She played in the yard as I watched. Max joined us a time or two. After I was in for a bit, I saw Summer in Abby’s lap, but neither of us let her in, meaning she figured out how to use the dog door.

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound and I still walk at least a mile a day. Last night I introduced him to Summer, and both animals were agreeable. By my calculations, Hawken weighs almost exactly 25 times what Summer weighs.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound and I still walk at least a mile a day. Last night I introduced him to Summer, and both animals were agreeable. By my calculations, Hawken weighs almost exactly 25 times what Summer weighs.
One of my more strenuous projects last night was digging up the remaining roots of the last of the Rose-of-Sharon bushes that once lined our driveway. The roots go deep and are very tangled, so there is a lot of digging and prying.
One of my more strenuous projects last night was digging up the remaining roots of the last of the Rose-of-Sharon bushes that once lined our driveway. The roots go deep and are very tangled, so there is a lot of digging and prying.
When they needed a new level of danger, they added "historic" to their lexicon. I wonder what would be above that?
When they needed a new level of danger, they added “historic” to their lexicon. I wonder what would be above that?

The forecast for Oklahoma is dire. I thought the weather service’s highest level of fire danger was “Extreme,” but it looks like they are taking it to the next level for tomorrow, “Historic.”

I also see we are expecting a light freeze Saturday night, so I need to take steps to protect the garden. Usually a heavy watering does the trick, but I as we get closer to the day and the forecast includes a freeze warning, I’ll probably cover them with something.

Few of my outdoor evenings are complete without photographing something, so I grabbed my Nikon D7100 and the amazing 35mm f/1.8, and walked around at last light, making pictures.

One of my tomato plants shines at last light.
One of my tomato plants shines at last light.
2+

Muhtato, Muhtahto

Sentence: “Mutatatos don’t have enough muhtassium, so my wife needs more muhnanuhs.”

“You must like your wife. You talk about her a lot.” You don’t like your spouse?

This is my favorite place in the world: breakfast with my wife.
This is my favorite place in the world: breakfast with my wife.

Once when I had my teeth cleaned, and the hygienist (first type through autocorrected to “eugenist”) nagged me for drinking too much coffee.

“Hot” isn’t a flavor.

I have friends who vanish from social media for weeks or months at a time, and I miss them when they do.

A wise man speaks because he has something to say. A fool speaks because he has to say something.

I was thinking about beets, and why they are called “sugar beets.” Are there salt beets? When I was a kid, I thought because there was a “sugar diabeetus,” there must also have been a “salt diabeetus.”

Valentimes Day. Chicken pops. Angels and dark angels. The Long Ranger. Stripped throat.

Are the razor-sharp Oklahoma grass burrs the work of dark forces? Answer: yes.

Happy People Pass My Way, the first song by Mandy, a Barry Manilow tribute/cover band.

Christians wil forgive you for anything but not being a Christian.

Anyone who asks “Am I too needy?” is too needy.

1+

Introducing: Summer Time Lane

Summer Time Lane, our new adopted 18-month-old Chihuahua, immediately took to Abby's lap, where she sleeps as I write this.
Summer Time Lane, our new adopted 18-month-old Chihuahua, immediately took to Abby’s lap, where she sleeps as I write this.
Abby holds Summer during the adoption process. Summer has a curious underbite, but otherwise seems to be a perfectly healthy little dog. She weighs about six pounds.
Abby holds Summer during the adoption process. Summer has a curious underbite, but otherwise seems to be a perfectly healthy little dog. She weighs about six pounds.

After a routine doctor visit and breakfast, Abby suggested we go by the Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) to see if they had any female Chihuahuas to adopt. I liked the idea: Abby and I both felt a little empty nest syndrome after Sierra died in March.

We found one, a beautiful, tiny 18-month-old who had been “brought back” after she supposedly bit a grandchild. We played with her for a few minutes and decided we belonged together. We also decided not to use the name she was given, and pondered for a short time before deciding to call her Summer Time Lane, in keeping with our dog naming scheme: Sierra Kayenta Avenue, Maximum Speed Boulevard, and Hawken Rifle Trail.

In the short time she’s been in the house, she seems to be taking to us, and us to her, just fine.

Nose to nose: Max, our 14-year-old Chihuahua, and Summer, the new 18-month old, get acquainted. We adopted Max from the same shelter in 2006 when he was about Summer's age.
Nose to nose: Max, our 14-year-old Chihuahua, and Summer, the new 18-month old, get acquainted. We adopted Max from the same shelter in 2006 when he was about Summer’s age.
3+

The Cold, Cold Ground

This is one of the 32 tomato plants I got in the ground today. They're so cute at this age, but some day he will be a mighty oak.
This is one of the 32 tomato plants I got in the ground today. They’re so cute at this age, but some day he will be a mighty oak.

I shifted into high gear today, starting with making Abby a breakfast of grits and eggs, feeding myself, coloring my beard, posting about Fuji discontinuing black-and-white film, walking Hawken more than a mile, all before noon, then…

I got the garden planted. It includes…

  • 32 tomato plants
  • 35 bell pepper plants
  • A raised bed of summer squash
  • Three rows of cucumber
  • Three rows of cantaloupe
  • A leafy greens patch for Abby
  • A turnip patch for Abby
  • A radish patch for Abby
  • Marigolds around the entire perimeter of the garden
I had to replace the gasket in my watering wand, but once that was done, I got everything watered-in nicely.
I had to replace the gasket in my watering wand, but once that was done, I got everything watered-in nicely.

It was the coldest planting I’ve ever done; it froze last night, probably the last freeze of the year, so it worked out just right.

I got the tomato and pepper plants from Byng High School’s horticulture sale, which is both a bargain and a chance to support the school where we live.

I’m pretty handy at growing tomatoes and peppers, and cucumbers practically grow themselves, but the wild card will be the cantaloupe. In the past, many of my vines have died, and the remaining vines produced delicious but very small fruit. I have scoured the web for advice, but gardening sites tend to be very generic about loose soil and abundant sun and the right amount of watering, but if you are in Oklahoma like I am and have these same issues with cantaloupe, please comment with something specific if you are able … “add walnut pulp,” or “pinch off the first leaves,” or “give up.”

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound looked on with some degree of impatience, sometimes barking at me with his “I want to play” bark.

Putting the garden in the ground isn’t my favorite thing to do because it hurts my lower back, but tending the garden is among my all-time favorite things and I haven’t had a garden in three years, so I am happy to get dirty today.

Hawken's gardening advice was mostly, "I want to play."
Hawken’s gardening advice was mostly, “I want to play.”
2+

Leaving Las Facebook

Wil C. Fry (not necessarily his real name or face) and our late goats (not necessarily their real type of animal) are pictured together at an undisclosed location at a time in the past.
Wil C. Fry (not necessarily his real name or face) and our late goats (not necessarily their real type of animal) are pictured together at an undisclosed location at a time in the past.

Notable webizen Wil C. Fry recently posted that he is severely curtailing his Facebook use. I laud the idea of leaving something that doesn’t work, like the job with the abusive boss or the boyfriend with the cocaine addiction. But Facebook, well…

I have decided over recent months that Facebook works fine for me, and the reason is that I make Facebook my b!tch. I don’t patrol Facebook for gratification, and I don’t pick it up when I’m bored. I renew daily my commitment to read good writing, write in various platforms (this site, my teaching site, and on paper), and converse with the people around me.

Throwback to 1995...
My Open Mic Nyte friend Timothy asserts that the next generation will have little interest in apps or the web, and will want to do everything on paper.

Facebook serves me. It bends over or kneels down at my beck and call. It exists for me.

A couple of touchstones for leaving the “blue god” are a recent data sharing scandal, and the recent revelation that you can view some very deeply-buried Facebook data about your preferences that is mined for delivering advertising to you. I went in to that field and turned off everything I could.

Here are some “best practices” tips for using Facebook, most of which the blue addict won’t be able to do…

  • Don’t click on clickbate, no matter how interesting the “headline.” Number three will instantly transport you to Michelle Rodriguez’ wet, quivering nipple! Always a lie, people.
  • “Hide Ad” is your best friend.
  • “Hide Post” is your best friend.
  • Go to Settings > Ads and turn off everything that you don’t want Facebook to see, have or use.
  • If someone posts a meme, or even an opinion, that you find offensive or reprehensively ignorant, it won’t help to argue with them. If you really don’t want to see their stuff any more, just “unfollow” them, and they will leave your feed, but they can still see your stuff, at least until they unfollow you for the same reason.
  • Stop using Facebook as a platform for social change. It’s the wrong place for that. You won’t change the Jesus memers there, so just let them do their thing, and let Facebook show them your thing.
  • If you clicked on an article called, “Thinking of starting a blog in 2018? Don’t,” don’t believe it for a second. That article is about marketing, not personal expression. If you want to curate an online journal, photoblog, thought experiment or coffee fan site, go for it.

One serious mistake many – even most – social medianites do is the same thing they did 25 years ago with AOL: forget about the internet. To them, Facebook is their only connection to the web. Example: “Hey, everybody. Who shoots weddings in the Memphis area?” If you do this, here’s a magic trick: type that sentence into a search engine.

Also, fearfuls, when I give you a URL, which looks like http://www.youareanidiot.org/ , please, please don’t type or copy that into a search engine. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.

This is the best news I've had for a while (not that I don't have good news all the time): Byng High School horticulture had their big sale this weekend, and I got these grillion tomato and bell pepper plants. I hope to get them into the ground tomorrow.
This is the best news I’ve had for a while (not that I don’t have good news all the time): Byng High School horticulture had their big sale this weekend, and I got these grillion tomato and bell pepper plants. I hope to get them into the ground tomorrow.

I had someone on the phone once and we were trying to figure out a web problem when I asked him to take a screen shot. I heard fumbling and clunking, then the sound of a camera  shutter, then the clatter of finding a card reader, then… yes, he was taking a picture of his screen with a camera. Dude, Alt + PrtScn. I learned the Mac OS shortcut, Shift-Command (⌘)-3, to take a screen shot, while I was taking my first one out of its box.

This whole mess of skillessness is exemplified and amplified by the “Age of Apps,” in which our devices will allow us to use the internet with virtually zero effort with a few taps or strokes in the built-in web browsers or every phone, tablet, desktop or laptop on the planet, but instead we access that very same information by downloading, installing, and sometimes even buying, an “app,” which an ever-thinning slice of the public knowledge pie even seems to remember is short for “application,” which itself is computerspeak for a computer program.

The most troubling aspect of all about this kind of willful ignorance is that people who are happy to be phone-gawking gastropods are also likely to be led by the nose into social and political slavery.

It would surprise me if 10% of the people who see this link on social media click it, and 10% of those who who clicked read this far into it. (If you did {Wil C. Fry for one} read this deep, include “I am 10% of 10%” with your comment to prove it.

So, back to Facebook. Don’t get hung up on Facebook having or selling your “personal” information unless it’s really personal. Facebook is very welcome to know that I like coffee. They are very NOT welcome to know what we do in the bedroom, or what prescription medications I take. And they don’t, because I don’t tell them, mostly by not surfing or searching Facebook for things like that.

Okay, maybe you have tape on your webcam. In that case, the internet might not be the place for you.

Finally, I am experiencing a personal renaissance in writing my thoughts and ideas by hand on paper, and that never gets old. I highly recommend it.

I shot this as I left the house this morning. Yes, that's sleet.
I shot this as I left the house this morning. Yes, that’s sleet.
4+

I’ve Been Cavitroned!

Max the Chihuahua and I smile for a photo requested by Abby yesterday. Today I am five pounds lighter, thanks to the Cavitron removing a spitload of stains from my teeth.
Max the Chihuahua and I smile for a photo requested by Abby yesterday. Today I am five pounds lighter, thanks to the Cavitron removing a spitload of stains from my teeth.

Never one to take my dental health lightly, I had my semi-annual prophylaxis this morning. At the helm today was Lindsey Edwards, wife of Dr. Tre Edwards, the son and partner of our long-time dentist Dr. Bennie Edwards. I like Linsday, despite the fact that she and her hygienist ilk use a machine called a Cavitron, an ultrasonic scaling device that literally blasts the stains off your teeth. It’s kinda painful, and my mouth fills with spit grit, and my face, shirt and safety glasses – yes, safety glasses – get covered in a fine grit of blasting material and, I assume, tooth scale.

Despite the discomfort, the Cavitron seems to get my teeth very clean, and there is little she has to with the steel tools like in the old days.

Also, “Cavitron” seems very nuclear and futuristic, so I approve.

3+

Yes, but Why “People”?

I am pondering over coffee this morning.
I am pondering over coffee this morning.

For some time this month I have been coming back to a vexing question: why “people”? Why do we spend so much time and energy being angry, being disappointed, criticizing, vilifying, and trying with all our might to change and control people? Is it that we are programmed as a hive, and feel we must make the hive into our perfect image of how it should be? Is it that we really do need each other? Or is it something less elegant, that people are all around us, and cruelty to them is easy and convenient, like the ants under a child’s magnifying glass?

“More animals were harmed by the stocking of the snack bar than in the making of this movie.” ~Reality

Years ago, a love interest, who was demonstrably in the top 99 percentile of attractiveness, told me she was depressed, and added, “That word doesn’t begin to describe what’s going on inside me.” The fact that I thought it was ridiculous for someone so beautiful to be depressed illustrates that in some ways, I don’t know how human behavior works.

Even Jeremiah Johnson ostensibly wanted to get away from all people, yet, despite his paucity and isolation, is unable to avoid conflict with them or attachment to them.

Then there’s war. Many wars start with claims about needing resources like land or minerals, but are really almost always about hating other peoples, be they of a different faith or a different face. We didn’t spent ten trillion and change to defend ourselves from the Russian winter; we did it to defend ourselves from Russians. And it’s too easy to chime in with, “there’s evil in the world,” because that itself is an admission that we have no idea what to do about evil except destroy it. That hasn’t worked so far; there is just as much evil in the world now than ever.

Fast forward to the present: so many of us want to destroy those who seem to oppose us. What would it be like if we tried to understand and educate them? I know, I know. What the world needs now is love sweet love, blah blah. Also this: does hating some group or faith or behavior ever change it? Does hating cancer cure it? Does hating an ex wife fill her with regret?

Okay, since we’re confessing things, hear this: My wife and I loved the action thriller Olympus Has Fallen. But when DT moved into the White House, we won’t even watch it any more because its whole meaning has been flipped. I never thought I would root for terrorists.

I’d like to take the lead by not gossiping, not complaining, not being a cog in the people-hating machine (which I originally typed as Pretty Hate Machine, NIN fans). My favorite quote about this comes from Eleanor Roosevelt…

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

I know this rant is all over the place. I want to be a great mind. Show me how.

I honestly don't care about your morals. They are too subjective. I intend to create my own morals on my own high ground.
I honestly don’t care about your morals. They are too subjective. I intend to create my own morals on my own high ground.
3+

What Would a Celebrity Do?

This sea of redbud blossoms is about to ebb into green leaves.
This sea of redbud blossoms is about to ebb into green leaves.
Dandelions begin to populate our pasture.
Dandelions begin to populate our pasture.

Abby and I spotted a pair of roadrunners in the pasture the other day. That’s pretty cool. We didn’t get a change to photograph them. They were not being chased by a coyote, and it should be noted that since we got Hawken the Irish Wolfhound, we haven’t seen or heard even one coyote. We used to see, and especially hear, coyotes all the time.

I have make excellent strides in the garden, but my plans are so ambitious that it may be another week before I get seeds in the ground.

This is a wild plum tree, visible on the trail in the woods to the north, where I walk Hawken.
This is a wild plum tree, visible on the trail in the woods to the north, where I walk Hawken.

The redbud, our excellent flowering tree in the front yard, which we got from the City of Ada for free after they had a giveaway following an ice storm (even though we don’t live in Ada), has made the very first green leaves from it’s excellent pink/fuschia buds, meaning that soon it will be just a tree, albeit a nice one. It is the State Tree of Oklahoma.

The peach blossoms are the same way – almost leafing out. Soon, hopefully, we will see tiny peaches.

I have a couple of varieties of peach trees, with different blossoms and different blooming times. These are among the last blossoms of the spring. Hopefully, peaches are on the way.
I have a couple of varieties of peach trees, with different blossoms and different blooming times. These are among the last blossoms of the spring. Hopefully, peaches are on the way.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound keeps watch on me today while wearing his paisley bandana.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound keeps watch on me today while wearing his paisley bandana.

Abby and I watched two Jennifer Aniston movies recently: Cake, her most serious, and Office Christmas Party, her least serious. It got me wondering about celebrity, and if celebrities are, or even can be, happy people. I’m pretty certain I’ve never seen a celebrity on the trail at Canyonlands or at a shop in Santa Fe, and it’s hard to imagine someone like Aniston or Michael Jackson or George Lucas or the Coen brothers out in the garden like I was today, clumsily pounding fenceposts into the corners of the patch and tilling an additional spot for Abby’s squash plants. I wonder of they all have Mexican gardeners and private reservations at Aspen, and I wonder what that must be like. What’s it like to be a barely-relatable public icon, gushed and fawned over but an unwashed, worshipful fan base?

Abby and I bought this in Santa Fe a couple of years ago and I just got around to hanging it last week.
Abby and I bought this in Santa Fe a couple of years ago and I just got around to hanging it last week.
2+

Ow! My Till Muscles!

“I haven’t been this worn out or this filthy since last fall!” I told my wife.

Normally in the spring, I pick the weakest shoes in my closet, the ones I don't love, and make them my summer gardening and working outside shoes. This pair, it happens, are Keen closed-tip sandals, and I am discovering early that this layout lets in a lot of dirt.
Normally in the spring, I pick the weakest shoes in my closet, the ones I don’t love, and make them my summer gardening and working outside shoes. This pair, it happens, are Keen closed-tip sandals, and I am discovering early that this layout lets in a lot of dirt.
This is the tiller with the odd shutdown issues. Whem it runs, though, it gets the job done.
This is the tiller with the odd shutdown issues. Whem it runs, though, it gets the job done.

It’s a known truth that some muscle groups remain unused until you use them; tennis muscles, swimming muscles, and, as in the last couple of days, tilling muscles.

However, tonight was my second night of tilling an area larger that my last garden. Abby and I are both eager to get even more fresh food out of the patch than in recent years. I am especially interested in more room for melons, particularly cantaloupes.

Figure this out for me...
If anyone can solve this little mystery for me, chime in: my 2-stroke, small engine tiller starts without much fuss, runs well for a while, then suddenly, with no indication at all, shuts down, and cannot be restarted until the engine has cooled to room temperature.

So my tilling muscles are worked to the limit – I can barely make a fist or hold a cup of water. I know I’ll be okay in the morning, though.

Yesterday evening and this evening, I managed to triple-till a right-size area of land near my peach trees, with Hawken the Irish Wolfhound keeping a close eye on me.
Yesterday evening and this evening, I managed to triple-till a right-size area of land near my peach trees, with Hawken the Irish Wolfhound keeping a close eye on me.
Fruits and vegetables like these all summer are the payoff for the very hard work and devotion of spring gardening.
Fruits and vegetables like these all summer are the payoff for the very hard work and devotion of spring gardening.
4+

Cautionary Tales

Something that never fails to make me smile are my peach trees, which are now in full bloom.
Something that never fails to make me smile are my peach trees, which are now in full bloom.

Fellow photographers might recall that in the early 2000s, a photographer, Bjørn Rørslett, curated an excellent web site (link)  that I visited all the time. His specialty was infrared and ultraviolet photography, and also created a definitive set of reviews of Nikkor lenses.

Although it was too small to see the white spot on this nymphal Lone Star tick with the naked eye, my 100mm macro lens shows it clearly. This arachnid, which Abby pulled out of my armpit Saturday morning, is barely the size of the tip of a pencil. I probably acquired it walking the Wolfhound in the woods Friday.
Although it was too small to see the white spot on this nymphal Lone Star tick with the naked eye, my 100mm macro lens shows it clearly. This arachnid, which Abby pulled out of my armpit Saturday morning, is barely the size of the tip of a pencil. I probably acquired it walking the Wolfhound in the woods Friday.

Then, about 10 years ago, it all ground to halt with the following message posted on his front page:

The sheep tick recently caused me nearly six months of agonising pain, paralysis of arms and legs, and months of hospital treatment hooked up to an IV line feeding me with strong antibiotics. The infamous Lyme’s (sic) disease struck towards the end of of my field testing of the D700 in August, 2008, and thwarted my intentions of completing this review. So much for making careful plans – the life of a nature photographer always carries with it random unpredictable events.

We are all just one drunk driver, just one blood clot, just one lightning strike, just one convenience store robbery, just one animal or insect or arachnid bite from pain, meaninglessness, obscurity or death.

I thought of all this over the weekend after Abby pulled a nymphal Lone Star tick from my armpit. I developed a rash at the site, and as a precaution, I went to my doctor, who prescribed doxycycline, which I have taken before and tolerate well. I feel this is an important course of action… there is no telling what might happen if I were to neglect such a malady.

So sure, the hounds of suffering are hunting, but that doesn’t mean you have to feed them. Wear that seat belt. Tell your doctor about your chest pain. Play with your kids and pets. Eat a little less. Walk a little more. And above all, take a breath. It might be your last.

Despite the house being a little too quiet without Sierra the Chihuahua, who died Friday, we still have pets to love and love us, as in this image of Abby playing with Hawken the Irish Wolfhound last night.
Despite the house being a little too quiet without Sierra the Chihuahua, who died Friday, we still have pets to love and love us, as in this image of Abby playing with Hawken the Irish Wolfhound last night.
2+

Sierra Has Died

Sierra looks pretty pitiful this morning before we took her to the vet.
Sierra looks pretty pitiful this morning before we took her to the vet.
Abby holds Sierra the Chihuahua in her arms on the way to Arlington Animal Clinic.
Abby holds Sierra the Chihuahua in her arms on the way to Arlington Animal Clinic.

Sierra the Chihuahua passed away today. She was 13.

A radiograph at the vet showed Sierra had the usual older Chihuahua heart murmur, and the physical indicated she had an infection.

She grew sicker as the day went by, with defined swelling in her neck.

I buried her by the Walnut tree.

In many ways, Sierra was Abby’s best friend, and Abby forms attachments to animals more that anyone I know. It’s difficult when we lose them (I have buried two goats and Abby’s previous Chihuahua, Gabby), but I have to say that it’s as worthwhile an endeavor as any. They give us so much love and genuine affection and ask only that we praise them, keep them warm, and feed them.

Sierra was feeling pretty sick yesterday, and today she died.
Sierra was feeling pretty sick yesterday, and today she died.
1+

Thinning Out

I am a pretty good weight right now, about 160 pounds soaking wet. At my height, 73 inches, and age, 54, that’s great. I’m down from 180 about six years ago, and have every reason to expect the trend to continue.

Sure, Richard, you’ve been a vegetarian since 1989. You’ve got the discipline angle nailed down. What about me? For starters, I don’t recommend diets, any diets. Paleo, low carb, Weight Watchers, Big Bob’s Bacon for Health, grape-a-day, whatever. The only diet that ends up working is one you can stay on for the rest of your life.

So, instead of going to lunch with the office crowd and saying, “I’m only allowed to line my coronary arteries with brisket. That slice of bread will make me fat,” follow the Richard plan from now on and be happy…

  • Have apples instead of chips.
  • Mustard instead of mayonnaise, and light Italian instead of creamy Italian or Ranch.
  • Walk the dog after lunch or dinner, or both. (Sidebar: there is no downside to walking the dog, and it will improve your relationship with him/her.)
  • Stop eating when you’re full.
  • Turn down office junk like Girl Scout cookies, doughnuts, and birthday/retirement cake. Too irresistible? Bring fruit or nuts for everyone.
  • Eat when you’re hungry instead of overeating when you’re famished.
  • Give up the childish excuse, “I don’t care, I like… (insert unhealthy food.)” It also makes you look immoral: “I don’t care. I like… driving drunk/tittie porn/beating my children.”
  • Make an effort to dress thinly. It really does matter. I know someone who gave up years ago and now dresses, and looks, like a pumpkin every day.
  • Sugar drinks and their deceptive cousins, artificially sweetened drinks, are a powerful enemy against health, from the packet of sugar you dump into a glass of tea to commercial brands like CocaCola and Pepsi. They all have one thing in common: they create an endorphin rush in the body greater that any real nutrient. Water, unsweet tea, and coffee dude.

Why should any of this matter? Sure, we can feast on jerky and Spam, take statins, have a heat attack anyway as a “wake up call,” and struggle for the rest of our lives to stay off that scooter, and survive. But I’m talking less about quality of life in this instance and more about esteem.

Name anyone who admires your receding hair line and bulging waistline. Name someone who thinks you’re a hero for your ability to eat stuffed crust pizza.

Now think about the people you admire. They dress well, they speak well, they make eye contact, they never gossip. And they stay in shape.

Here are a couple of good hints for looking thinner in photos: stand up straight, cross your legs slightly, hide a little behind your thin, athletic friends, and, above all, be thin.
Here are a couple of good hints for looking thinner in photos: stand up straight, cross your legs slightly, hide a little behind your thin, athletic friends, and, above all, be thin.

 

0

The Media and Mass Shootings

This is as funny as it is vulgar, and I approve of it on every level.
This is as funny as it is vulgar, and I approve of it on every level.

Having watched and rewatched The JFK Assassination As It Happened from NBC News Archives on YouTube, and before that on DVD and VHS videocassette, I have become a bit of a de facto expert on what I consider the birth of modern mass media. Prior to this event, news spread primarily by newspapers, radio, and the nightly news report on television. This event, more than any other, started the fire that has grown into today’s inferno of media on virtually the exact timetable of my own life; I was five months old the day Kennedy died.

The most appalling thing about this photo isn't the truck fire. It's the "Cash Advance" in the background. It's a microcosm of American idiocy.
The most appalling thing about this photo isn’t the truck fire. It’s the “Cash Advance” in the background. It’s a microcosm of American idiocy.

The principal consequence of this: the media in all its forms can’t wait to cum all over itself, and you, with tragedy.

Consider this: when was the last time you saw a “Breaking News” chyron on your television announcing good news? Breaking: Child saved by car seat. Breaking: Woman’s breast cancer in remission. Breaking: School funding up 10%.

My guess is the last time this happened was the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The question then becomes: so what if they’re selling tragedy? I don’t have to buy it! But we all do. Remember the school shooting in Florida? The fires in southern California? The Japanese tsunami? The Indonesia tsunami? Columbine? Of course you do. Instead of sitting through a City Council meeting to help ensure that unsafe intersection gets repaired, we are thumb-typing curse words about the most recent bad guy in our notifications inbox.

But who is the real bad guy? You? Not really. Sure, you’re hooked on their junk, but they’re dealers, and dealers are hard to resist, particularly when they are peddling sex, which this essentially is. And I know how angry we all feel when that asshole who got kicked out of school comes back and shoots the place up. It’s hard to blame him, too; he’s 19, and has been spoon-fed the media’s obsession with the big dick of disaster his whole life.

So what about god? Where was god? Remember all those memes and posts that say that school shooting happened because god was kicked out?

  1. You must imagine that human kind is powerful enough to keep the most powerful being in the Universe from coming to school.
  2. God has never been evicted from the schools. What you really mean is: I want the government (public schools) to force all children to practice my religion. God actually has nothing to do with it.

In this analysis, it’s clear that society and the media are in a feedback loop. The public is fed the media stream and is appalled, then inured, and asks for more. The media amps it up a notch and feeds it back. The dick gets shoved deeper in.

Nothing blunts the harsh anger at life like the love of a dog or a summer day.
Nothing blunts the harsh anger at life like the love of a dog or a summer day.
0

Funny in 1979

"Take off something you didn't wear to bed last night."
“Take off something you didn’t wear to bed last night.”

In high school I was on the The Talon yearbook staff, first as a writer, then, in my senior year, as a photographer.

It was a different era in most ways. I talked about the photography aspect of it on the teaching blog (link), but in this instance, I refer to the social aspect. I also wrote a decent account of getting sick and blarfing on the trip to Taylor Publishing here (link).

In December of 1979, our yearbook advisor hosted a Christmas party at his home. There were several party games that involved isolating the “marks” in the bedroom, then bringing them into living room.

One game that comes to mind involved putting a brown paper bag on the mark’s head, then leading him/her into the living room. He/she was then told, “Remove something you didn’t wear to bed last night.” Subjects would then remove shoes, socks, jewelry, belts, etc., before being told that they didn’t wear the brown paper bag to bed.

It’s an interesting instance of cognitive dissonance; why didn’t everyone immediately remove the paper bag? But no one did.

Another game that night was “Kiss the Magic Ring.” A form of soft hazing, the marks were blindfolded and brought in one by one. They knelt and kissed a ring on the advisor’s hand. Then, before they were unblindfolded, he switched the ring to his foot. When the blindfold was removed, it looked to them like they had just kissed his foot.

When I told this story to someone recently, she was aghast. You could never, she assured, get away with this kind of thing today.

With this experience contrasted with today’s modality, I wonder what things will be like in another 40 years.

"You have kissed the magic ring!" This is my first girlfriend, Tina, who was on the 1979-1980 Talon staff with me.
“You have kissed the magic ring!” This is my first girlfriend, Tina, who was on the 1979-1980 Talon staff with me.
1+

Mass Shootings in the World We Have Made

I think it's a mistake to divorce guns and gun violence from their inherent sexuality.
I think it’s a mistake to divorce guns and gun violence from their inherent sexuality.

As mass shootings in the United States accumulate, the media and social media pile on with the shallow, temporary solutions. We hear everything from “when are we going to outlaw these weapons of death?” to “guns don’t kill people any more than spoons make people fat.”

They all miss the point. In many respects, America is a terrible place. It is so shallow and so self-absorbed and so arrogant. How can you elect a turd like Donald Trump without being a nation of morons?

  • The love of money. Nothing matters more to Americans than money. Nothing. Not children, not the environment, not art, not science. Money.
  • The love of pornography. Most of the pornography used by Americans is vulgar, demeaning and and violent toward women. It’s not erotic.
  • The NRA. My wife is an NRA member as was her father before her, but their rhetoric brings her shame.

    To hear some gun nuts talk about guns "saving lives" misses an entire category of reality: you can't save lives by taking them. In this image are five rifle cartridges, non of which cure cancer, give depressed teenagers hope, or offer blood transfusions to battlefield casualties.
    To hear some gun nuts talk about guns “saving lives” misses an entire category of reality: you can’t save lives by taking them. In this image are five rifle cartridges, non of which cure cancer, give depressed teenagers hope, or offer blood transfusions to battlefield casualties.
  • The love of food. Fat bodies equal empty souls. You wouldn’t eat yourself into a diabetic coma 21 times a week if you had a purpose or a soul.
  • The naive idolization of powerful figures like firefighters and soldiers. Here’s a fact you might not like: some soldiers aren’t heroes; they’re bloodthirsty douchebags who can’t wait to kill brown foreigners or political enemies. Think I’m wrong? Timothy McVeigh.
  • Wars. “America… we’re gonna free the shit out of you.”
  • Hollywood. One example: our society spent $9 billion to watch nine movies with the word “Wars” in the title of all of them. The deaths in these movies were mostly bloodless and faceless, and were viewed mostly by children.
  • Video games. Their violence doesn’t desensitize us to death. It sanitizes and whitewashes death. When was the last time you saw a soldier in Afghanistan respawn five seconds after he was killed?
  • Gun ownership is out of context. Read: gun worship. “Guns save lives” is a bitter non-sequitur. Seat belts save lives. If guns make people safer, why can’t civilians carry them in the White House? The Capital? Public schools? City Hall? I was armed the last time you saw me (when it was legal to do so.) Was I violent? Did I empty my 9mm into that rude waitress? That bully in junior high? The dickhead kid who cut me off in traffic? Have any of our guns ever killed anyone? Anything? Also, there is no rhetoric as ridiculous as the argument that guns are a “god-given right.” Show me the Bible verse.
  • Every soul. As much as everyone loves to hate mass shooters, every one of them was once an innocent child who deserved a chance to be happy. Every one of them a baby, a toddler, a four-year-old. Consider how much more could be accomplished by loving them when they are four instead of hating them when they are 19.

“You ask, ‘why?’ I say, ‘Why bother?'” ~Natural Born Killers

As a classic liberal, the narrative you might expect from me is the “no one needs an assault rifle” trope, but that doesn’t address the real problems: emptiness, neediness, shallowness, unoriginality, ignorance, ugliness.

…and bigotry, which you can’t have without self-loathing. No bigot loves life. There are no happy bigots.

I hate to say this about my home, but we are a nation of fundamentalist idiots who believe in violence; violent entertainment, violent sexuality, violent hearts and minds.

The next time you thumb-type “we should lock him up and throw away the key” needs to be the last time.

We truly do believe absurdities and commit atrocities.

Imagine 15 minutes of non-stop laughter in the board room at the corporation that makes this product. "I know. We'll tell them there were no fat cave men!"
Imagine 15 minutes of non-stop laughter in the board room at the corporation that makes this product. “I know. We’ll tell them there were no fat cave men!”
2+

Nights in White Satin and Grey Flannel

A couple of notes about living in the country.

  1. I photographed a girl named Lauryn Hawkins today. I told her I have an Irish Wolfhound with a similar name, Hawken, and she said, “I know, I’ve seen you walking him.”
  2. When I was filling out payroll at the Tech Center for their pay switch to Express Temp, the clerk said, “You used to photograph me when I played basketball as a kid.” It’s a very common sentence in my lexicon.

Abby wanted satin sheets, so we ordered some. She likes them a lot, but I think it’s like sleeping in snot. We also couldn’t find an electric blanket in stock locally, as it’s the wrong time of the year, so she ordered one from Target. It’s grey microfiber, and it’s like a giant flannel shirt for the bed.

A perfect synergy: a warm, inviting grey flannel atop a thick layer of snot.
A perfect synergy: a warm, inviting grey flannel atop a thick layer of snot.
1+

Personal Photo Space

New for the 21st century is this odd intrusion of personal space: all the time now when I show someone a picture on my phone, they don’t hesitate for a second to reach out and “pinch to zoom” the image on my phone to see it the way they want. I’m kind of amazed by this. When did our phones become a public library of photo browsing?

Really, pinchy? If I put my hand on your shoulder to get your attention, I'm a sexual-harrasing bastard, but you can grab my $800 iPhone 7 any time you like?
Really, pinchy? If I put my hand on your shoulder to get your attention, I’m a sexual-harrasing bastard, but you can grab my $800 iPhone 7 any time you like?

This is part of a bigger idea that web sites need to be as intrusive and distracting as possible, and that ads, particularly for stuff we don’t need, like boner drugs*, should block all content within seconds of us starting to read it.

You monsters are people. I just want to live in a cabin in the woods.

*Oh, yeah, I forgot that some of you have wives who are so ugly you literally can’t get it up in their presence without help.
0

A Soft, Melty Winter Wonderland

Ice clings to some old tool heads in our back yard yesterday.
Ice clings to some old tool heads in our back yard yesterday.

Abby asked me to order the movie Wonder recently, and it arrived Wednesday. With much of my work cancelled due to a slight accumulation of ice, Abby and I settled in to watch it. It was surprisingly engaging and involving until … boop!

My peach trees hold a fair amount of ice. It wasn't enough to break any branches, so I imagine our electric service was interrupted by an icy branch blowing over a power line.
My peach trees hold a fair amount of ice. It wasn’t enough to break any branches, so I imagine our electric service was interrupted by an icy branch blowing over a power line.

Apparently the ice storm was icier than forecast, because the power went out after a huge gust of wind made the woods crackle. I guess it was just our turn, because we in Byng were the only major outage in the state. We considered our options, but as we discussed going to town for dinner or going to my office to stay warm, we got a text message saying the estimated time for restoration was in a little less than an hour.

When the power came back on, we finished the movie, which we both liked.

Then yesterday, Abby got inspired to make pasta, so with another day of sports cancellations leaving my evening free, we had pasta, naps and Netflix.

By late afternoon the ice was just about melted, so I took Hawken the Irish Wolfhound for a squishy walk.

A soft layer of ice covers some derelict chicken wire on the roof of our derelict chicken coop yesterday.
A soft layer of ice covers some derelict chicken wire on the roof of our derelict chicken coop yesterday.
0

Snorfles in the House of Schmeer

A reading glasses lens shows a collection of schmeer from the cool mist humidifier.
A reading glasses lens shows a collection of schmeer from the cool mist humidifier.

Many know that we are currently in the midst of a sea of human communicable disease, particularly rhinoviruses and influenza. For most of the winter, I was lucky, but in the last ten days, it’s been my turn to have mocus, the snorfels, fnorks, the crud, whatever. I am glad I wasn’t handed influenza, which I had in 2002, and which was difficult as you’ve heard. I have a head cold that is presently migrating into my chest. I am hammering away with large, maybe even dangerously large, doses of over-the-counter cold remedies, plus plenty of super-nasty whiskey-containing teas to break up the mucous sheet in my head. A good sneeze is a welcome change to the mostly useless coughing.

Anyway, an observation. Years ago, Abby and I noticed in the winter that our glasses (in my case, readers) would blotch up. Back then I postulated it was because of the Glade air fresheners in the house, but since we no longer use those and still get blotchy glasses, it’s got to be the cold-air humidifier in the hall causing the schmeer.

As an aside, when I was growing up, we had a household humidifier in the hall, about the size and shape of a modern college dorm refrigerator. It had a slot in the front panel for filling it with water, and four control buttons to set degree of humidity. I thought it was the coolest thing because I could pretend it was a control panel on the star ship Enterprise.

I would love to hear an explanation as to why this substance forms on our glasses, but not our kitchenware or cameras.
I would love to hear an explanation as to why this substance forms on our glasses, but not our kitchenware or cameras.
0

The Luxurious Blue Notebook, Part 2

Cry on my shoulder.

This above all: to thine own self be true.

I just want something I can never have.

Fantasies are opiate of the imaginative.

What image best describes self-involved bleak despair?
What image best describes self-involved bleak despair?

Far away.

Then, it was over.

The secret of life, therefore, is this: when faced with the truth, accept it.

Right now I’ve got fear, pain, and boredom. These are good ones, because they can get so real, so sharp, so clear. ~Journal, July 1985

This mortal pain.

I have no choice.

Every feeling you have is really about yourself.

“You’re good company.” ~M

If you can’t stand the headaches, get out of your head.

Who are you? Actually, I already know, so the question becomes: do you know who you are? Is that an imperative?

I strive for order. I yearn for chaos.

I am not the body you see before you, nor am I the soul inside me. I am all the things I’ve said and done, and all the things I failed to say and do.

Revenge can only make us weak.

And why did you leave at all?

Don’t confuse comfort with happiness.

Don’t resist change. It’s the only thing you’ll always have.

And the pain never dims.

“Nuclear war would have a ‘purifying’ effect on the world.” ~Negative Guy

I deserve to be happy.

Confess that I’m weak. The pain of confession. The starvation of weakness.

Do you ever miss me?

Rainbow of darkness.

Your drama is so incomplete, so infantile. Even if it was complete, it’s still drama.

If you believe the second coming of Christ is imminent, why are you saving for your kids’ college?

I leaned my head on the hard wood, closed my eyes and let the music penetrate my most subtle defenses.

The people are a mess, but the dog is straight up.
The people are a mess, but the dog is straight up.

“This is the price you pay for being a superior person.” ~V to my sister

How would I have loved her? I ask as a surrogate for ever loving again.

Time does fly.

I led her by the hand through her apology.

My hello is goodbye.

“Military whiskey of the house.” ~Dream fragment

I shiver to think how I was violated.

“Shadows wash the room.” ~S&G lyric

Stunted sexuality = repressed creativity.

Have the strength to be happy.

Without a basic understanding of beauty, one can never be happy.

I am expected, but not awaited.

I’d rather be disillusioned than live with my illusions.

“Overall, humanity is a community of suffering.” ~The Modehrus

All I see is your face, and I’ll see your face again.

I can write anything I want as long as I unwrite it.
I can write anything I want as long as I unwrite it.

I’m not afraid.

I’m living at the edge of the world.

The music of love doesn’t play in my ears.

We rise to the levels of strength and bravery that our lives demand.

Part of me waits.

Your life is completely different than mine by virtue of seeing your face in the mirror instead of mine.

Instead of I should, I will.

In the midst of rain, I see ghosts.

All’s fear in love and war.

If you don’t understand freedom, you don’t need it.

Love hasn’t served me especially well, but thought always has.

If only you could have known me when this was my room.
If only you could have known me when this was my room.

Walking across a big, dark room in a house you don’t know, are you scared? Sure you are. My life is walking across that room.

How strong am I?

What you are thinking is what you are becoming.

Order is chaos in a tuxedo.

Time can only take you down the road so far, and then there’s a fork.

It’s such a bitter lie.

I you don’t try to drag me down to your level, I promise not to try to drag you up to mine.

This is my confession.

My mind is made up with hospital corners.

Poetry doesn’t come to me. I come to it.

The beauty of enough is that it’s never enough.

I have blurred visions. Blurred by what? The telephone line. Honesty. Your presence. The realness. History. The smell of winter. Ghosts. The sky on fire. Silence.

There’s nothing “brutal” about honesty.

I’ll be remembered by everyone who matters.

I find it too much … me.

Some things you never get over, and love takes even longer than that.

Swimming in an ocean of hurt.

If who you are is pain, then feeling it with all your heart.

My life is a poem about longing.

The once bright arc between us is, tonight, a silence.

Ignorance is abyss.

Addiction is not disease. Addiction is weakness choice. My addiction, my weakness, my impotence.

I am admired, but not desired.

I don’t need anyone when I’m lonely. They don’t help, anyway.

So much pain. So little time.

I’m nobody you want to know.
I’m a nobody you want to know.

The ring of truth is always there to be heard.

I am revealed.

What kind of ego do I have?
What kind of ego do I have?
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The Rabbit Hole

Eastern cottontail says, "If you thought Richard wasn't going to have a rabbit picture handy, you need to re-read the chapter."
Eastern cottontail says, “If you thought Richard wasn’t going to have a rabbit picture handy, you need to re-read the chapter.”

Last semester a photography student of mine told me that she visited this site and took a trip “down the rabbit hole,” meaning she got involved and lost in the content. It was very flattering to me to have someone say that. I try to be as entertaining as I can and as poignant as I can. The internet can be unforgiving, particularly when you tell a truth some people don’t want to hear. I appreciate any approbation offered.

Here’s a little history. In 1978, I started a journal for English class in tenth grade. I wrote in full-sized spiral notebooks for 20 years. After that I switched to smaller hardback volumes. In 2007, I started a blogger.com page. Within a year I migrated to my own web site, and have administered it using WordPress since then. That gradually replaced writing in longhand.

Interestingly, I bought a number of hardback blank journals in the early 2000s that remain unused. I have toyed with the notion of giving them away, but we live in a world of such plenteous paper and so little demand that I expect anyone who would take them wouldn’t use them.

That leaves keeping them for either a special project or some kind of handwritten journal reboot, neither of which is likely in the internet age; I am much more comfortable at the keyboard these days than I am with a pen or a pencil.

An Open Mic Nyte buddy of mine, Timothy, calls them his notebooks “codex” books, which is an elegant name for the same thing. Another OMN friend, next door neighbor Jenn, keeps journal notes all the time. Ideas?

There are two empty 8.5x11-inch notebooks and 11 8x5-inch books in this stack. I want to do something with them. Their potential tasks me.
There are two empty 8.5×11-inch notebooks and 11 8×5-inch books in this stack. I want to do something with them. Their potential tasks me.
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Bean Meaning

Why am I showing you this bag of beans that look like little cows? Read on!
Why am I showing you this bag of beans that look like little cows? Read on!

I am home again today, taking another sick day. I am doing this for two reasons. 1. So I don’t spread my illness those around me, particularly my coworkers. 2. In recent years, I have found that despite being able to work when I am sick, I get well faster when I stay home.

Thought for Today...

There is a saying in journalism: “I have ink in my blood.” This parallels school slogans like, “I bleed black and gold.”

I, however, feel like I am more of a photographer than a journalist, so my slogan might be, “I have developer in my veins.” I know. Kinda gross.

Today’s biggest surprises were found at Wal Mart, where I went for cold medication and basic supplies. Normally we don’t think of big box stores as places that can make us smile.

Our Anasazi beans sit on a colander after I washed them in preparation for the crock pot. Aren't they beautiful?
Our Anasazi beans sit on a colander after I washed them in preparation for the crock pot. Aren’t they beautiful?

The first was a huge bin full of stuffed ladybugs; I brought one home for Abby, who I know loves ladybugs.

The second was on the bean aisle. I know, a surprising bean? The beans I saw were Anasazi beans from Adobe Milling Company of Dove Creek, Colorado. On our travels, Abby and I have passed through the sleepy town of Dove Creek maybe a dozen times over the years, usually on our route home from Moab, Utah. I also love the idea of eating a product grown in high country sunshine.

Name Those Beans...
The bean bag says Anasazi means “ancient ones,” but in the Navajo language it actually means “ancient enemy.”

Seeing the bag of beans with the same logo I remember from the bean mill in Dove Creek definitely made me smile. I bought them and brought them home to Abby, who also smiled, and suggested we have them for dinner.

Abby smiles as she poses with her pre-Valentine's Day ladybug. Abby and I both love ladybugs.
Abby smiles as she poses with her pre-Valentine’s Day ladybug. Abby and I both love ladybugs.
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