Are We Still Here?

After 15 years of marriage, there is still no place we would rather be than at each other's side.
After 15 years of marriage, there is still no place we would rather be than at each other’s side.

Friday, April 3, 2020.

No, this is not a suicide note or an autobituary.

In the current scenario of risk around us, it is entirely possible that we could be at risk of illness and death.

I thought of this in February when I had the flu. What will become of my intellectual and creative content, the embodiment of everything I ever photographed and written, if I die?

And how would anyone reading my website, for example, know if I had shuffled off this mortal coil?

I thought about how to keep my family and friends updated about how we are without going through the eternal train wreck of social media, and finally settled on a widget at the top of our home page, on the right. I will update it as I am able, and if one month, three months, six months goes by without an update, we can all assume the worst.

Visit this page (link) to see the widget, or, if you are viewing it on a smartphone, click on the link and scroll to the bottom of the page to see “How Are We?”

An Entertainment Crisis?

"I'll tell him how the cow ate the cabbage!"
“I’ll tell him how the cow ate the cabbage!”

I keep hearing about various organizations and companies make stuff like photographs of the cosmos or music files free while we are all hunkered down in our obedience caves. Wow. Did we really need a jump start on being spoon-fed entertainment through the internet? My wife and I already have thousands of songs, movies, apps, games, books, ebooks, old junk to sort, laundry to do, gardens to dig…

Yes, we have ton and a half things we can do while cloistered. But the one we’ve been enjoying the most … er, well, um, second most … is talking to each other.

“I’m bored.” Wow. Maybe you need to read Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder and find out what boredom might be like. You work 14 hours a day winnowing grain and maybe Pa will play his fiddle for you. If he doesn’t have smallpox.

Among the jilliondy seven things to do around the house in your time of sequestration is that long, long list of chores you've been ignoring. Last weekend, I washed the propane grill and the truck. It felt pretty good to work in the sunshine.
Among the jilliondy seven things to do around the house in your time of sequestration is that long, long list of chores you’ve been ignoring. Last weekend, I washed the propane grill and the truck. It felt pretty good to work in the sunshine.

Coughing My Fool Head Off

This is the curio cabinet turned into the camera cabinet.
This is the curio cabinet turned into the camera cabinet.

I am presently coughing my fool head off, but don’t worry. I don’t have the covids or the amtrax. I do, however, have a face full of dust after completing a task I’ve been avoiding for a couple of years: moving Abby’s mom’s curio cabinet into my dressing room and making it into a camera cabinet.

I actually accomplished this while Abby was napping, a variant on the saying, “It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission,” though when she woke up, we were all happy with it.

This started with me seeing a dusty camera, dusting it off, then seeing I couldn’t set it down again without dusting the spot where it sat. There was a lot of dust, then a decision, then action.

I sometimes wish all our actions could come about so organically.

The only remaining task is to find a new piece of glass for the front door, which was broken while moving it here with a bunch of other stuff.

The cameras on display in it are items Abby bought for me at various thrift and antique stores over the years.

These cameras mostly work, though many of them require film that hasn't been made in 50 years.
These cameras mostly work, though many of them require film that hasn’t been made in 50 years.

Consider Pen and Paper

As someone who’s had his name in print thousands of times over the years, and as someone who has always made an effort to curate something of a creative legacy, I believe it might be more important than ever to try to express our thoughts with pen and paper.

I know I’ve said this before, but it’s worth hitting again: when we write something on the page, it activates and liberates parts of our brains that are somewhat dormant when we watch television or surf the internet. Plus, writing on paper isn’t as vulnerable as other expressions like social media; your journal can’t be stolen by hackers, and no one can delete your account.

I’ve got lots of empty paper journals, and I should make more effort to put more ink in them. I’d like to see you do the same, and one fine, sunny day when society has recovered from 2020’s mess, you and I could meet at the coffee house and share.

I've been putting pen to paper since 1978, and I've always, always been glad I did. When I see blank journal books like these, I see one thing: potential.
I’ve been putting pen to paper since 1978, and I’ve always, always been glad I did. When I see blank journal books like these, I see one thing: potential.

Potatoes for Abby

I shared this image on social media this week. I am kneeling next to "Frog Rock," an anonymous art installation on Lightning Ridge near our home.
I shared this image on social media this week. I am kneeling next to “Frog Rock,” an anonymous art installation on Lightning Ridge near our home.

In the midst of this pandemic , I heard from panic-stricken social medianites that potatoes were sold out everywhere. This did not encourage me to panic-buy potatoes, but it did remind me how much Abby and I love these nutritious tubers. So I went to the store to find them plentiful and cheap, and bought a reasonable amount, our usual amount in fact (five pounds of red ones, five pounds of white ones, and four sweet potatoes), for some upcoming meals.

Potatoes are more nutritious than most people think, since most of the ways people consume them have been deeply corrupted by gluttony.
Potatoes are more nutritious than most people think, since most of the ways people consume them have been deeply corrupted by gluttony.
Food for Thought
I want to know how, in just a couple of generations, we go from a society in which some people didn’t see fresh eggs or fresh fruit in a year (The Great Depression, both World Wars) to a generation that rides electric scooters in big box stores to buy 500 rolls of toilet paper. How do we go from a single 13-inch black-and-white in the living room to 20 high-definition devices in every corner of our homes? Who have we become, and what will we look like when we emerge from this crisis?

Cooking for my wife is wonderful, since she often has no appetite, worrying me that she might be malnourished, and when I can get her to eat, especially when I can get her excited about eating, I feel I am taking good care of her, which is more critical than ever right now.

Few things add more nutrition to a meal than broccoli.
Few things add more nutrition to a meal than broccoli.

Abby and I live in relative isolation most of the time. Our house sits back about 100 yards from the road, which is situated in a somewhat sparsely populated small town. I still work, and that puts me in contact with the public. As a result, I have never hated hand sanitizer more, and I am practically washing my hands off. But I am well, we are well.

Our baked potato lunch is ready.
Our baked potato lunch is ready.

Then, Springtime

I was feeling pretty grim for much of the day, weirdly motivated by caution and advice to keep my distance from my fellow humans, worried more about the social and economic consequences of our situation.

Hills of fresh-cut grass and weeds sit in the yard near the old walnut tree.
Hills of fresh-cut grass and weeds sit in the yard near the old walnut tree.

When I got home, Abby sneezed, reminding me that we both were aware that the weeds in the yard have grown pretty tall all the sudden.

I fired up my push mower, then my riding mower, then finally the power washer, and they all worked fine.

I mowed and mowed, and even had a chance to power wash a spot on the front of the house.

The smell of cut grass and weeds and dandelions and wild onions was the opposite from the rest of my day, opposite from the smell of disinfectant and surgical masks.

I felt happy.

The redbud tree in our front yard catches last light tonight. I made this image deliberately chaotic, soft, and dreamlike to reflect my feelings about the evening.
The redbud tree in our front yard catches last light tonight. I made this image deliberately chaotic, soft, and dreamlike to reflect my feelings about the evening.

The Self in a Time of Crisis

“No longer were there individual destinies; only a collective destiny, made of plague and emotions shared by all.” ~Albert Camus, The Plague

I miss my indulgences. I want to get back to my self pity. I want to walk the wolfhound and think sweetly about my napping wife, or hear a song on my phone that brings me back to high school, or summons nostalgia about a first date or a breakup.

I want to smell the flowers in spring and think of hope.

I wonder when we will start to feel like we are walking out of this instead of walking into more of it. When can I get back to expressing myself instead of expressing myself under stress or in a crisis?

The old truck way back at the back of the property has always been a sign of my long winter walks with my wolfhound. But now, is it a portend? Is this us in ten years?
The old truck way back at the back of the property has always been a sign of my long winter walks with my wolfhound. But now, is it a portend? Is this us in ten years?

The Rabid Badger in the Room

Nobody wants to talk about or even say this: some generations of human beings have to accept that some of us have to get sick and die to ensure the survival of the human race. The survival strategies of every species are never meant to ensure the survival of every individual.

The concept is called “herd immunity.” Vaccines are one way to create herd immunity, and if we can develop a vaccine for this disease, we can create herd immunity with less suffering and loss of life. But if we can’t, we set ourselves up for a return of this pathogen.

Think about the chicken pox parties in the 1990s. Parents would get their together with sick kids to deliberately infect them, since chicken pox is relatively mild during childhood, but potentially life-threatening to an adult.

As an individual, I don’t want to get sick, and I don’t want to get anyone I know, especially my wife (who is not in good health), sick, but I also know that I might not have a choice. Sure, I can wash my hands and stay away from sick people. But the survival strategy of pathogens is simpler and more insidious: hide. By the time a pathogen like this actually makes someone sick, the virus has spread and spread.

The essential difficulty of the current coronavirus situation is that human beings are not immune to this pathogen. So the hard truth of the matter is that some of have gotten sick and died, and more of us will. Eventually, hopefully, there will be enough movement of this disease in and out of the population that a generation will have some immunity.

By the time this is all over, we may all be frightened animals, scurrying around in the dark.
By the time this is all over, we may all be frightened animals, scurrying around in the dark.

Now More Than Ever

This rain soaked dandelion pod was the most elegant thing I photographed all day.
This rain soaked dandelion pod was the most elegant thing I photographed all day.

What can you do to stay healthy in this crisis?

Well, first, get healthy.

Why is everyone so scared of getting sick from a pandemic virus, but those same people make no effort to actually be healthy? They don’t eat right, they don’t exercise, they don’t control their blood pressure, they don’t take care of themselves. If you really need to be worried about something, worry about getting your Type II diabetes and your rampant obesity under control.

For me, the elephant in the room isn’t people’s bad choices affecting them, but their bad choices affecting people like Abby, whose immune system gives her no choice.

Today I walked my wolfhound twice, then I spent some of the afternoon dragging branches to my brush pile, which I might burn later tonight. It is hard work, but I feel very certain that hard work makes us stronger, and better able to stay healthy anytime.

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound would walk ten times a day if I took him.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound would walk ten times a day if I took him.

What Are You Writing?

This is a couple of pages from my journal in November 1979. Of note is that you don't see any dates on these pages, meaning this was all written in one day. When I was young, I thought writing a lot meant I was a good writer, but the truth is that most of this is unreadable dreck.
This is a couple of pages from my journal in November 1979. Of note is that you don’t see any dates on these pages, meaning this was all written in one day. When I was young, I thought writing a lot meant I was a good writer, but the truth is that most of this is unreadable dreck.

When I was young, I thought I wanted to write novels and short stories for a living. I imagined, as young people sometimes do, that it would be easy and that everything I wrote was solid gold. In reality, I penned a quippy, smart-assy journal that often ignored or missed the mark, and when I look at it now, it seems like a giant waste of my potential.

Flash forward to today, and my writing has matured, though I’m not sure it is where I want it to be. I just finished a short story, Agua Fria (link), but it feels incomplete. My short stories tend to be shorter than most because I am not writing to an audience like my wife or some of my fiction-loving friends who like to disappear into long, involved stories, but to myself, and to say what I want to say in the most economical fashion.

I am also actively engaged in writing more things on paper, which to me seems to evoke a more primal sense of what I’m trying to say.

Maybe my takeaway could be that it’s okay for me to write what I want to write, how I want to write it.

One of my favorite pen-to-paper projects at the moment is this book which is a handwritten record of our travels over the years. It presents itself so differently than the source material, our travel blog.
One of my favorite pen-to-paper projects at the moment is this book which is a handwritten record of our travels over the years. It presents itself so differently than the source material, our travel blog.

Legacy Strategies

Last night I found this Zenith Trans-Oceanic shortwave radio in the garage, and discovered that it still works. The most amazing thing about this is that I could "find" something like this in my own garage with no memory of seeing it before. I listened to some news on it about the pandemic.
Last night I found this Zenith Trans-Oceanic shortwave radio in the garage, and discovered that it still works. The most amazing thing about this is that I could “find” something like this in my own garage with no memory of seeing it before. I listened to some news on it about the pandemic.

Holy moly what a dry title. Note to self: think up better blog post titles. “Man’s ear found in dishwasher!” “Elephant rescues puppy from storm drain!” “Dolphins finally let us in on the joke!”

Anyway.

In the midst of a global crisis, things get strange. Stranger, I mean. Most of us know how to wash our hands, and many of us know why to do that. But a far smaller slice of that people pie have any idea what a virus is, and a vanishingly fewer number know how they work.

Mac Crosby came to see me again yesterday. We kept our distance, which is difficult for tactile people like us.
Mac Crosby came to see me again yesterday. We kept our distance, which is difficult for tactile people like us.

We worry needlessly. Worry doesn’t help outcomes, and unlike caution, worry stresses us and affects outcomes negatively. At one point, I let my mind wander far enough that I asked myself if I should open the gates before I died so the dogs wouldn’t be trapped and starve. Wow, Richard. Calm down.

An article I skimmed today talked of psychologists hearing about worry and anxiety about the current pandemic more than anything else.  Suddenly, your dumb little problems are pushed out by bigger, smellier fish to fry.

But, I rant. My friend Mac came by again yesterday to ask me some questions about journalism ethics and possibilities. She later wrote about it (link), since she’s trying to write every day while we are all “social distancing” in hopes of slowing the spread of the disease.

Today is the first day of spring, and no human can stop that. Where will we be in six months or a year? What will be our legacy of the great pandemic of 2020? Will I still be around to write it? To photograph it? Will it be one of dignity?  Of wisdom?

These aren't covids. They are Bradford pear pedals. Spring is here.
These aren’t covids. They are Bradford pear pedals. Spring is here.

I See You, and I Like It!

Our friend Mac has been “sequestering” herself in the midst of the “outbreak.”

Wait. Let me step back. I hate the current use of the word “quarantine.” Everyone is using it, and it’s usually not correct. Quarantine is methodical and academic. Keeping to yourself to avoid catch a cold or the flu is better called “sequestering” or even “cloistering,” which has elegant spiritual implications. But as usual, I split hairs.

Mac never hesitates to pose if I ask her, like in this image from Open Mic Nyte last August.
Mac never hesitates to pose if I ask her, like in this image from Open Mic Nyte last August.

Oh, to split another hair, “outbreak” and “epidemic” aren’t really the right words for our situation. Technically, it’s a “pandemic,” but I’m going with “panic.”

I am also sick to death of the name of the current situation, so I’m not even really using it. You can look it up.

Anyway.

Our friend Mac has been “staying in” as much as possible this week.

It’s true that our situation is historic, and it is key to record and remember it. Make analogies. Who remembers where they were when 9/11 happened? When John F. Kennedy was assassinated? When Pearl Harbor was attacked? Not many remain who remember that, but just imagine the insane level of fear and uncertainty of going to war with a world power, not knowing if Japan might do to you what it had been doing to China in the 1930s.

Can I not stay on topic? Mac, our young friend who came to visit, photograph and interview Abby and me recently, has been blogging about her efforts to cloister herself (link), and I like what I see. I hope she decides she loves blogging long after this crisis is over, and I promise her I will read every word.

Opportunity of a Lifetime

It doesn't matter if you stock up on canned soup. It makes no difference if you buy more hand sanitizer. No one will know if you have enough ammo in your gun safe. The sun will still shine, still set, still look beautiful in the springtime.
It doesn’t matter if you stock up on canned soup. It makes no difference if you buy more hand sanitizer. No one will know if you have enough ammo in your gun safe. The sun will still shine, still set, still look beautiful in the springtime.

There is a strong current of pessimism around us right now as a disease is endangering humanity, and we the people are not handling it very well. Social media has become a consistent source of bad news for me, so I think I will slow way down on checking it.

All I Have to Say...
My comment on social media this morning: Imagine that the current epidemic matures into a global catastrophe like the 1918-19 pandemic? Do you really want your legacy to be, “I bought a lot of toilet paper”? Not me. I want everyone to remember my work, and mostly how well and much I loved my wife Abby.

I will add that even if we got sick and died tomorrow, I am not ashamed of my life, and I feel like I have done a lot with it, that it was a gift, whether I have one more day or 50 more years.

So, why is this an opportunity?

I know I talk about walking our dogs a lot, but now is a perfect time to up that game. Maybe I could walk the dogs three times a day.

How about writing? Now might be the ideal time to set aside the quips and squabbles of social media, and sit down and write something on paper or, as here, a blog, maybe something with more substance and thought than just memes and links?

How about photography?  I know it sounds odd to hear a photographer talk about making more pictures as a hobby, but the possibilities abound. Is there an imaging project you’ve been putting off? Something creative you keep putting on the back burner?

Any of these things and a zillion more are better than fretting about something that might not happen, or worse, being part of the panic about it.

We’re all facing the same fate, sooner or later, so maybe now, in the shadow of the scare of a lifetime, is our opportunity to be who we really want to be, create what we want to create, love who we want to love, and, finally, find happiness.

What would it be like if we could all be as carefree as a little dog sleeping on Daddy's pillow?
What would it be like if we could all be as carefree as a little dog sleeping on Daddy’s pillow?

Calm in the Storm

Mom and Dad had orange trees in their back yard in Florida. My sister Nicole and I bought them and planted them as Christmas presents. There were always lots of big, ripe fruit at Christmas, so I guess that’s when they naturally ripened. Mom and Dad did little to them other than picking the fruit.

I thought of this as I found two new-to-me orange varieties at Walmart this week, the Cara Cara with it’s pink meat, and blood oranges, which are dark reddish-purple inside.

Blood oranges are quite striking, and quite delicious. Part of my consumption of fresh fruit right now is that it's ripe, and part of it is that it is something real, and smart, to do in a health crisis.
Blood oranges are quite striking, and quite delicious. Part of my consumption of fresh fruit right now is that it’s ripe, and part of it is that it is something real, and smart, to do in a health crisis.
I got out these magnifiers at my office this week, and made a joke about looking for "covids" with them. I am whistling past the graveyard.
I got out these magnifiers at my office this week, and made a joke about looking for “covids” with them. I am whistling past the graveyard.

At Walmart, I was witness to part of a current panic in the world, people buying hoarding items as they fall prey to fears they will suffer or be deprived in the Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. As a group, humans tend to gravitate toward their fears, believe absurdities, and follow unqualified leaders who often lead them off cliffs. It’s not new. It is the way humans are made: selfish, scared.

If I knew how to calm and comfort them I would, but maybe it’s enough for me to remain confident and rational. I know it’s easy to fear disease; I was seriously ill with influenza last month, and COVID-19 is a more serious illness.

It rained all night last night, and even stormed a little this morning. I wonder how spring, in general, will affect the current pandemic.

Many sports were canceled, including, much to my chagrin, the state basketball tournament. Covering those games is definitely hard work, but some of the funnest I do all year. Games leading up to it were definitely epic, and the teams, fans, coaches, and I were very excited about the games to come this week.

The Vanoss Lady Wolves won the Class 2A area championship last week, and had a great shot at a state championship. I feel for them that they probably won't get the chance to play for it.
The Vanoss Lady Wolves won the Class 2A area championship last week, and had a great shot at a state championship. I feel for them that they probably won’t get the chance to play for it.

The ultimate question, of course, is will we – you, me, the dogs, my wife, my coworkers, my waitress, my nurse, my friends, my town – get sick and die from this disease? The answer seems to be probably not. All we can do is wash our hands, sneeze into our elbows, and stay calm.

My peach, plum and cherry trees have all started to flower. It is comforting to see something real in our current world of fear.
My peach, plum and cherry trees have all started to flower. It is comforting to see something real in our current world of fear.

The Coronavirus Disease and You

Readers are probably aware that as I write this, the world is struggling to contain a very serious epidemic, the so-called COVID19, or 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak.

What you might also be witnessing is that people all over the globe are panicking, and hoarding. Reports from all corners of civilization include shelves being completely empty of items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

This is a super-macro image of bubbles in a bottle of Germ-X hand sanitizer I shot a few years ago. Fittingly, it looks a little bit like an electron micrograph of the current novel coronavirus.
This is a super-macro image of bubbles in a bottle of Germ-X hand sanitizer I shot a few years ago. Fittingly, it looks a little bit like an electron micrograph of the current novel coronavirus.

Does it really have to be like this? Does humanity really need to stoop so low that, once again, we only think of ourselves? Does your family really need 20 gallons of milk, 15 bottles of rubbing alcohol, or 50 boxes of tissues?

The overarching message of hoarding is, of course, “I matter, and no one else does.”

Maybe grade schools and nursing homes need extra soap and paper towels, but oops, panic-stricken first-worlders bought it all. Maybe, just maybe, people in crowded cities actually need hand sanitizer, and can’t get it because it’s all been sold to tools like you.

Are you sitting on 60 boxes of face masks for no reason? Go right now to the homeless shelter and donate all that you don’t actually need.

Better and Best

Our dogs need us and we need them. Hawken and I both missed our daily walks.
Our dogs need us and we need them. Hawken and I both missed our daily walks.

This is just a quick aside to let my friends know that I am on the road to recovery from influenza.

I returned to work yesterday after missing six work days, unprecedented for me. I can still feel some weakness and malaise, but I am back in motion.

The most legitimate sign that I am on the mend: I walked Hawken the Irish Wolfhound yesterday afternoon. Our dogs are our best friends.

What Sickness This?

As I convalesce from influenza Type A, I am in an oddly overly-emotional state. A rerun of the recent Super Bowl commercial about an old man using Google to remember his late wife just melted me down.

No matter how puny I feel, a dog nose always cheers me up.
No matter how puny I feel, a dog nose always cheers me up.

So as I pester my wife with my nagging cough, I also had some time to ponder a thing or two.

I confessed to a friend recently that at one point in time, I almost – almost – threw away my journal from tenth grade.

“When I read my journal from when I was 15,” I told her, “I realize that I was the most dramatic, the most self-involved, most obsessive teenager on the planet. If I hadn’t been, I couldn’t have filled two Mead150-page spiral notebooks with ink.”

Before you get all, “Richard, little has changed,” let me say that yes, little has changed. But the thing about your flaws is that you can enjoy them if you just make them your own.

Duct tape this together with another YouTube video I recently watched by Gareth Emery called Long Way Home.

The movie is about the Great American Road Trip, something my wife and I have perfected over the years. Sadly, though, when I was young, I had lots of chances at enjoying this very thing, and I ruined it with drama, selfishness, and … ugh… lack of self-awareness. Can’t you just shut up and have a good time, Richard? Must I always bring the Drama Llama?

For the record, this is the worst flu I’ve ever had. It is dragging on and on; I am weak, shaky, achy breaky, coughy, too hot, too cold, too hot, too cold. So far I have missed four days of work, the most I’ve ever missed due to my own illness. My appetite vanished, so much so that a couple of days ago Abby had to bring me an Ensure® nutrition drink. Today, I was feeling so malnourished that I actually resorted to eating a bowl of chicken soup, which we had in the pantry, and which I felt had what I needed in a crisis. I was right, as I felt a little better even as I was eating it.

I was banished from the Q continuum after Mordor caught me and Lord Baltimoret visiting the Merovingian.
I was banished from the Q continuum after Mordor caught me and Lord Baltimoret visiting the Merovingian.

Reverse Blogging

Is this a Sharpie ad or a stab at expressing something about color?
Is this a Sharpie ad or a stab at expressing something about color?

One of the best things I’ve been doing in the last few months is what I might casually describe as “reverse blogging.”

Last summer, our photographer friend Robert brought a $1 hardback blank journal for us when he visited, saying that we should make it into a “visit journal.” Yes, that sounded great, but after he left, it occured to me that he only visits once every six months or so, and the book would probably be orphaned.

With plenty of pages for all kinds of topics, I started writing about photography: favorite lenses, favorite films in the film era, favorite places to make pictures… ah. Travel. What if I also made this book a place to record all our travels? Yes, I know that you know I blog about every trip we take (link), but without a doubt, having something like a photographic print or a book full of notes is a very different experience than a website.

I’ve also been adding pullout boxes about everything from which cameras I took to the Grand Canyon to how many hours does it take to drive to Amarillo. It’s taking shape very nicely.

I feel happy every time I pick up a tangible record or result of my creative efforts.

There are few things I love more than committing a real thought with pen and paper.
There are few things I love more than committing a real thought with pen and paper.

An Honor

Jamie made this picture for me with my phone. I have certainly made a lot of images of people receiving plaques and trophies over the years, so it was an odd feeling to be receiving one.
Jamie made this picture for me with my phone. I have certainly made a lot of images of people receiving plaques and trophies over the years, so it was an odd feeling to be receiving one.

Sunday I was, to my surprise, awarded the Ada Arts Council’s 2019 Outstanding Adan in the Arts during the annual Cozy Up with the Arts event at Wintersmith Lodge.

I love the idea of supporting the arts, and I certainly feel like I want to be an artist, but often I get into ruts that make me feel more like a mechanic, grinding out news content day after day without putting enough feeling into it. It’s an easy rut to fall into, and journalism really is hard work.

An award like this can provide inspiration to be more artistic, more involved, more creative.

I was nominated by my editor, and overwhelmingly supported by one of my longest time and best friends Jamie, who is on the Ada Arts Council, and she said that when they made the nomination, it was unchallenged and eagerly approved.

I hate to sound like an actor at the Oscars with my, “I’d like to thank everyone,” but that’s exactly what I did when I was given the award. One thing I said that is absolutely true: I could never have done the work that I do without the community, who welcome me and appreciate what I do.

Out standing in my field
Out standing in my field

“What’s She Like?”

Someone recently asked me about my wife Abby. “What’s she like?” she asked.

I don’t know the real motive for asking a question like this, but I do know what she’s like.

She has bright, complex, intelligent eyes. She is confident. She is thoughtful about everything, and compassionate about everything.

Abby smiles for my camera recently. I never get tired of her face, the sound of her voice, her ideas, her smell.
Abby smiles for my camera recently. I never get tired of her face, the sound of her voice, her ideas, her smell.

Abby and I have never gone a day without saying “I love you.” We’ve never spent more than a day mad at each other. When I leave for work, she always tells me to be careful, and she always tells me I look nice. When we watch movies she cheers out loud for the good guys. When we watch sports, she cheers out loud for the home team. Sometimes she gets carried away and cheers for anything that’s happening in the game.

She is tactile and affectionate in just the right proportion as I am, which is very. She never turns down my hand or my kiss.

Abby loves animals of all kinds, and is abundantly kind to them. She cries when they suffer or die.

Abby loves sentimental anything.

Abby and I are in our 16th year of marriage as I write this. By any measure, that is a long time to be married. It has been the times of our lives.

Finally Full

I express myself in a number of ways. Many are visual, but some are linguistic. An excellent example of this is that I have written my thoughts in some kind of journal or notebook since September 1978. There have been milestones: a first anniversary, a 40th anniversary, and a change in 1998 from big spiral notebooks to smaller hardcover volumes. At times I have made efforts to write more, including a period in 1983 when I completely filled a 200-page spiral notebook in just six weeks, essentially saying nothing. Other times I have slacked off, sometimes to my great disappointment. I wish, for example, I had written more, and more honestly, in my freshman year in college.

My most recent milestone is the completion of another journal book, number 54. Since much of my written presence is in the form of blogging, my teaching site, and our travel site, my efforts to put ink on paper fell to the side. I recently decided to change that, so, despite taking 13 years, book 54 is history.

Journal number 55 is purple!

I also wonder what will happen to these piles of ink and pulp after I’m gone. Should I donate it to a library? Would anyone ever read it? Does that even matter?

From inane teen self-pity of tenth grade to the inane middle-age self-pity of adulthood, the 54 volumes of my journals have it all.
From inane teen self-pity of tenth grade to the inane middle-age self-pity of adulthood, the 54 volumes of my journals have it all.

Dance of Star Stuff

There has never been a time in human history when we had all the right answers. As we learn more about the world around us, the more we are obligated to dispense with superstitious nonsense of those who came before us, and the more we are obligated to pass on all we know to those who will come after us. In this sense, humanity, like our individual lives, is a process, not a destination.

Life is full of truths we conceal from ourselves through the intricate dance of self-deception. The most difficult of these truths is the terrifying, intimate truth that no one, from the most powerful king to the lowliest untouchable, is any more than a temporary anomaly in the infinite cosmos, and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to change that.

"The truth never harmed anyone." ~Marcus Aurelius
“The truth never harmed anyone.” ~Marcus Aurelius

Part of why humans prop themselves and their emotional lives up on these deceptions is that they are largely incapable of imagining a Universe that is significantly larger than themselves. That notion can be both terrifying and wonderful. For this reason, humans have repeatedly conjured religious tales that put them and their race at the center of the Universe. This is perfectly natural, as both a primitive explanation of the machinery of the world to the urge for psychological self-preservation. Thus the silly assertions of having a “personal relationship” with a savior or deity.

For most of history, this was the way things worked. Often it was barbaric and cruel. With the Renaissance, then the industrial revolution, then the information revolution, these primitive ideas gradually gave way to rational discovery. Every one of these discoveries represented a change, however, and we can all understand fear of change, because we have all felt it. In some ways it is a brilliant instinct in the fight for survival, as it keeps us from moving out of our caves and onto cliffs, thus saving our primitive lives.

But here we are. Change is all around us, and so much of it is change from primitive beliefs to modern truths. The earth revolves around the sun. Diseases are caused by microorganisms. Men can fly.

It’s  2020. It’s time to cast off the shackles of this primitive brain and face some truths. The earth was not created in seven days. Humans are not the center of the Universe. No all-powerful being is interested in a personal relationship with you. You are star stuff. Nothing more.

Our Duty to the Truth

Is it time to think?
Is it time to think?

“I was watching the tv news this week. People just don’t care about facts any more.” ~Friend at a baseball game last year

“I’d rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.” ~Richard Feynman

“We must teach children how to think, not what to think.” ~Margaret Mead

“As true as a pile of mirrors.” ~M7

“As children, we sometimes pretend to be blind, often without closing our eyes. As adults, we pretend we can see, often without opening our eyes.” ~One of my journals

I hold as one of my highest convictions the idea that nothing is more important than the truth. I hope my readers feel the same way. Truth is more important than comfort or bliss or reassurance because those things are meaningless if they are not true.

One way to get me to “unfriend” you on social media, and to think less of you in real life, is to assert something that is demonstrably untrue.

If you want to challenge me, do it with facts. Don’t trot out some newsyouwant.com story that says exactly what you want to hear. Don’t try to argue your point with “when I was growing up, I was told…” When I was growing up, I was told about Santa Claus.

At one point a couple of years ago, I posted to a social media site that I wasn’t going to put up with anyone who posted things that were demonstrably untrue. A long-ago friend posted, “Goodbye,” and unfriended me within seconds. It was quite an epiphany of sycophancy: If there is any chance at all we’ll disagree, he will unfriend you. And the real reason for this unfriendage almost certainly hinges on the idea that said friend was in the opposite camp of political thought that I was, and planned to lie. I didn’t, after all, promise to unfriend anyone with whom I disagreed. I promised to unfriend anyone who lied.

Also, blaming the media for telling your the truth is like blaming the doctor who tells you you have diabetes. Even worse is to claim that the media is lying just because you disagree with its conclusion.

But, if all you care about is yourself and your money, lying about the nature of reality is really the only way you can live with yourself.

In the end, though, I wonder: why would you want to? Why would you want to lie, even if it worked, even if no one knew? Why would you want to continue to get richer and richer after your needs have been met and you are financially secure (how many yachts can you water ski behind?)? Why would you want to drive away all opposing views? Why do you want to believe your politician is perfect?

As flimsy as the answers to questions like this can be, nothing tops the religious and their knee-jerk reaction to the truth. They run from the truth like a rabbit runs from a forest fire. They literally object to the expression of anyone else’s truth. They will literally put their fingers in their ears.

Is this all about human psychology? It’s certainly possible that my friends believe in these things out of fear, not from reason. But deeper than that, darker than that. Imagine a society of adults who think clearly understand, finally, grudgingly, that the planets circle the sun, that medicine cures diseases, that DNA makes us who we are. But most of us aren’t those people. Most of us are children. Most of us are animals. And it is the animal within us who hoards, who grovels, who collectively kills, who follows. In the end, that’s all you can really say about Saddam Hussein, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot. These people weren’t monsters and they weren’t evil. They were the apex predator, the most vicious animal, the buck with the biggest rack. They weren’t discovering penicillin. They weren’t measuring the elements in the universe. They were killing, and burying the dead.

Confused about how you should behave? Simply image how it would be if someone behaved that way to you?
Confused about how you should behave? Simply image how it would be if someone behaved that way to you?

2020: The Year of Perfect Vision

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound is certainly fond of wading into the pond and getting a big sloppy drink of water, winter and summer.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound is certainly fond of wading into the pond and getting a big sloppy drink of water, winter and summer.

I don’ t know if any of you ponder New Year’s Day, but I don’t. The year 2020 is only significant because we sort of started counting 2020-ish years ago. The winter solstice was December 21, and the spring equinox isn’t until March, so those two clearly more significant celestial benchmarks have been largely ignored.

So, 2020. Meh. I’m not 2020, Abby’s not 2020, the dogs aren’t 2020.

From the "Special Projects" bin...
I asked a friend, who I think should be writing, to start the new year by writing just one sentence. She texted, “She didn’t believe me, at least not at first.”

When I was young, 2020 sounded like science fiction. “By 2020, we’ll have bases on the moon and Mars.” NASA says right now they expect to be on the moon in five years, and on the way to Mars after that. But who are we going to beat to the moon? Who thinks it’s a good idea to spend 5% of the GPD on NASA? Look up this entry in five years and see if we’re on the moon.

Abby and I watched the Tournament of Roses Parade on The Hallmark Channel this morning. It’s comforting to see how archaic and underproduced the coverage is, and how much this event is just like it was when I was a kid.

Abby and I toasted the new year with sparkling apple cider. "So raise your glass to sorrow, And drink to all the pain, Tie a silver ribbon around, The pieces that remain..." ~Butterflies by Natalie Imbruglia
Abby and I toasted the new year with sparkling apple cider. “So raise your glass to sorrow,
And drink to all the pain,
Tie a silver ribbon around,
The pieces that remain…” ~Butterflies by Natalie Imbruglia

 

Some Monday Fun

Hawken and I walked three miles over some fairly uneven terrain yesterday. He knows the way well now, and I follow him as much as he follows me.

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound is as smart and affectionate as any creature I've ever known. He relishes our long walks as much as I do.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound is as smart and affectionate as any creature I’ve ever known. He relishes our long walks as much as I do.
During my shooting session, I was ambushed by corn, oysters, and beef stew. My tactics prevailed.
During my shooting session, I was ambushed by corn, oysters, and beef stew. My tactics prevailed.

Later I got out a pistol and a rifle and put about a hundred rounds of .22lr downrange. It was fun and relaxing. I feel like I shot well.

Winter sunshine. Dogs. Hobbies.

I shot my Smith and Wesson M&P/15-22 rifle and my Ruger SR-22 pistol. I also brought my Radio Shack HTX-202, an amateur radio handheld that ranks among the hobby's best.
I shot my Smith and Wesson M&P/15-22 rifle and my Ruger SR-22 pistol. I also brought my Radio Shack HTX-202, an amateur radio handheld that ranks among the hobby’s best.

The Other Other 1%

We are the 1% who creates instead of hates.

We are the 1% who knows that tyrants and bullies never last, and recognizes them.

We are the 1% who knows when to put our arms around you and when to leave you alone, and we know that real affection is never harassment.

We are the 1% who don’t follow trends or fads, because we know that life is far richer pageant than we can even imagine.

We are the 1% who knows why a plant-based diet is the right thing to do.

We are the 1% who can shake hands with the 1% on the other end, because we know it might be building a bridge instead of a fence.

We are the 1% who believe science, because science is not an opinion.

We are the 1% who is not afraid.

Betelgeuse, circled, is a bright red giant star in the Orion constellation. I see it most nights all winter long. Recently, scientists have observed it dimming significantly. Imagine how beautiful and fascinating it would be if it went supernova in our lifetimes, and was visible day and night.
Betelgeuse, circled, is a bright red giant star in the Orion constellation. I see it most nights all winter long. Recently, scientists have observed it dimming significantly. Imagine how beautiful and fascinating it would be if it went supernova in our lifetimes, and was visible day and night.

Disappearing Act

I formulated this lunch in my head as I drove to the store, and it came together perfectly
I formulated this lunch in my head as I drove to the store, and it came together perfectly.
Abby smiles for my new/used 85mm f/1.4 last week. She looks like sunshine itself to me.
Abby smiles for my new/used 85mm f/1.4 last week. She looks like sunshine itself to me.

Readers know that with the arrival of late autumn, I am able to take Hawken the Irish Wolfhound on much longer walks, deep into the woods to the west.

Today I made a quick trip to town, heated up some leftover baked ziti for Abby, made baked sweet potatoes with sautéed green onions and mushrooms and a veggie burger patty for me, then took Hawken on our longest walk of the season.

These walks are so good for us. We never see anyone else back there. We seldom even see traces of anyone else. We disappear. It’s quiet and clean. We both get sun and leg time. We never get bored. Good times.

Hawken sniffs at a tuft as we walk on a two-track road far back behind our property. We walked for nearly an hour.
Hawken sniffs at a tuft as we walk on a two-track road far back behind our property. We walked for nearly an hour.

Dream Aggregator

I recently started sharing dreams on social media, but as you know, sites like Facebook aren’t searchable and, except when you download and save your data, are a bad place to store your thoughts, so I decided to aggregate my dream notes here…

08-24-20 Dream: While driving across a bridge over the Mississippi in New Orleans, we find it to be a drawbridge. It keeps lifting us up until the vertical, when we become airborne. We land at the entrance to a lead-lined hiking ice train to the South Pole. We hike, getting thirstier and thirstier due to seawater slush that feels cold but is too salty. Even our dogs can’t drink. At the end of the trail, we see a dude ranch, where we are fed corn on the cob. The ranchers explain we have just hiked the world’s longest train. Abby’s speech becomes slurred when she develops corn saturation.

08-10-20 dream: At a dentist’s office, I am assigned to protect a little girl from assassins. I see a red dot on a far wall, and get the girl to cover just as the rounds fall. Under hypnosis, I am able to coax the name of her attacker from her. I get on a very huge nuclear powered train and ride it to Asher, Oklahoma to cover a softball game, but when I get off, I walk in my house shoes through several back yards trying to photograph a huge thunderstorm and lightning event to the south. I shoot an amazing 15-second sequence of lightning using my phone, but when I play it back, it is a hysterical sequence showing the British man behind me reacting to the lightning, since I had the wrong camera selected.

07-04-20, Ashlynd Elizabeth Huffman, dream: You are I are commander and executive of a self-propelled howitzer platoon in Iraq; you are a major and I am a captain. We are ordered to move one of our guns to another part of town, which looks suspiciously like Lawton, Oklahoma, where I grew up, to suppress some insurgents. Before we can ever board the vehicle, we get ambushed, and fight them back into a high school cafeteria, where I shoot several of them in the shoulder. We climb and observation tower and I see that you have a stainless steel bolt action rifle chambered in .338 Lapua. You shoot at a TG&Y sign a mile in the distance, and when it hits, it’s incredibly loud. As we make our way back to the vehicle, an insurgent, a giant 6’5″ angry-looking Iraqi, stops me and says, “I dare you to give me an order.” I lower my weapon and argue with him, but when you see this, you come over and start yelling at him, scaring him off.

Make notes. I'm not going to say this again.
Make notes. I’m not going to say this again.

Dream 06-18-20: the space shuttle is trapped in a low earth orbit approximately five feet above Interstate 95 in downtown Miami. Controllers are afraid to deorbit the vehicle due to crew safety. Instead, they will use to escape vehicle, a grimy, steampunk ship no one likes, in seven months due to orbital alignment. I pull up behind the shuttle on the highway just in time to see a man in a “Finding Nimo” fish costume swinging on a trapeze above the ship. He gets close enough to smash the deorbit control panel, causing the shuttle to settle gently to the roadway. The crew gets out, grateful they didn’t have to use the escape pod.

Dream 06-09-20: a Sith Lord is occupying a cloud city above Earth, similar to the station Tom Cruise has in Oblivion. As I climb the long stairs to the top, I find him using the reanimated corpse of Rosa Parks to turn small animals to the dark side of the force, simultaneously removing all the Rosa Parks Taco Stands from Google Maps. I search frantically for Max the Chihuahua, but when I find Summer the Chihuahua, I remember that Max has been dead for over a year. Summer is wearing one of my fleece jackets. I pick her up, and intuitively know that she can’t be turned to the dark side.

Dream 05-03-20: at a busy hotel, I am involved in several murder schemes that involve killing people by getting them to drink too much water. As I leave, there are spiders everywhere. I walk to my car naked. The attendant hands me a bundle of clothes that won’t fit me, and the keys to a Boeing 747, which I am supposed to ferry to my home airport. As I walk out to the jet, still naked, I am required to climb a huge dead tree to retrieve a stuffed bear at the top.

Dream 04-24-20: Mac Crosby and I were looking at some old Vivitar Series 1 lenses. The lens hoods were brown instead of black. When we were done, she gave me a ride back to my offices in a roll of 4L experimental plastic. On the way, we photographed some bank employees, but they dispersed after the first frame, which was over exposed.

Along came a spider.
Along came a spider.

Persistent, horrifying nightmares about spiders: it started with a fountain that mines glowing purple liquid from the ground. Then we were surrounded by huge spiders with long black legs and round white abdomens. They were all stealing cherries. Are there really cherry-stealing spiders, or has the Rona finally broken me?

Dream 04-05-20: we live in an apartment in the press box at ECUs Norris Field. I awake to find the I have just missed the women’s football game, but the Atlanta Braves are about the start their game. John Martin offers to let me use his jet pack, and I show off by leaping high enough to bump my head on the ceiling of an office building. As we run across town with steaks for dinner, Jeff Cali brags about his new radar detector, and tells us to go back to the store for cream of broccoli soup.

Dream 03-22-20: At the L.A. Times, I find a closet in the back of photo storage with a huge collection of old, obscure or one-of-a kind Nikkor Lenses, lenses that must have been custom made for The Times. I decide I want to take a bunch of them to the beach and shoot surfers with them. Suddenly Ashlynd Elizabeth Huffman bursts in, saying it is her first day at The Times and she’s trying to get to her car to drive to cover a huge fire in the mountains to the east. We get lost in a maze of stairs and exits. Finally, we get outside where we can see plumes of smokes rising to the east. We race to my car, but find that we have to wait in line 15 minutes for them to get my car out of the parking garage.

Dream 03-17-03: I am taking pictures in an ice castle that is also and executive headquarters. I occasionally go outside, where people are soaking themselves down because the ice castle is in the desert. We feel and earthquake and begin to panic, fearing the end is near, but we are placed on a conveyor belt with happy music playing. We all lie down, knowing we are being taken to see Santa.

Dream 03-23-20: At the L.A. Times, I find a closet in the back of photo storage with a huge collection of old, obscure or one-of-a kind Nikkor Lenses, lenses that must have been custom made for The Times. I decide I want to take a bunch of them to the beach and shoot surfers with them. Suddenly Ashlynd Elizabeth Huffman bursts in, saying it is her first day at The Times and she’s trying to get to her car to drive to cover a huge fire in the mountains to the east. We get lost in a maze of stairs and exits. Finally, we get outside where we can see plumes of smokes rising to the east. We race to my car, but find that we have to wait in line 15 minutes for them to get my car out of the parking garage.

Dream 01-20-20: I am in college. An inspector comes to my dorm room demanding to see my phone. He removes the sim card and I realize he will see all my secrets. After analyzing it, he says, “That’s it!” I ask him, “I’m being fired for what’s on my phone?” He tells me, “No, but you are losing your roommate.” As my the inspector and my roommate collect their things, I tell the roommate I still want to be friends, which he doesn’t. I am then on the beach with a buddy, reenacting scenes from Saving Private Ryan using a Kleenex box. When it’s time to come in, I see that my newlywed wife Kim has painted the floors in all the rooms. Finally, I get to the living room, which still has carpet and is an inch deep in dirt. Kim sits down next to me and I see a long row of teeth growing in a line down her leg. “See,” she says, “My wisdom teeth are finally falling out.”

Dream 01-15-20: Abby and I are lying in bed in a gazebo in the middle of the back yard, trying to stay as quiet as possible because the Gestapo are just outside. As I doze off, I realize we are actually in our real bed, dreaming about the gazebo. A movie is about to start, and we excitedly run into the theater. The best seats are on the front row, called “vomit row” because of all the old blankets and vomit. Instead of a movie, we are inside a NASA simulation. Space shuttles that look like pontoon boats land in the water around us. One contains a telescope, which has a bird in it that won’t come out. When it pokes its head out, it becomes a squirrel. It softly bites my finger in the same way our Chihuahua Summer does.

In the dream, Ashlynd and I are at "OPA December," which they created because I won so many awards there wasn't time to give them to me at OPA in June. The awards include several Nikon cameras and accessories. Then we are in Philadelphia, and here's what I can't figure out... I got up in the middle of the night and wrote a note about the dream, which now doesn't make sense.
In the dream, Ashlynd and I are at “OPA December,” which they created because I won so many awards there wasn’t time to give them to me at OPA in June. The awards include several Nikon cameras and accessories. Then we are in Philadelphia, and here’s what I can’t figure out… I got up in the middle of the night and wrote a note about the dream, which now doesn’t make sense.
Dream 01-13-20: I have an old Dodge Polara in my garden for growing things inside all winter. When I go to harvest, I find bananas so ripe they have turned to banana-shaped oranges, and turnips that are so big they have partially grown into the steel of the car.

Dream 12-24-19: While walking through an ally In downtown Ada, I am accosted by thugs. I put my hand on my sidearm and they retreat. I enter our old newspaper office, which is now a pawn shop. I tell the owner I am going to get some old photo junk I left behind. It is mostly Kodak boxes and loupes. We see a skunk at the bottom of the stairs, and I retreat, but a black cat grabs it around the waist. I shoot at them with my sidearm, but flee, and as the police arrive, I realize I am naked.

"Apology accepted, Captain Rainbow."
“Apology accepted, Captain Rainbow.”

Dream 12-22-19: Major industrial accident in Ada, maybe at a factory where they make sponges and pegs. Ashlynd Elizabeth Huffman works for us and we crash the gates at the factory to get the scoop. We swim in shallow water throughout the factory, where we run into pockets of people who support what we are doing. We avoid the executives and and PR people. We leave the factory to discover I forgot where I left my car. As we walk back to the office, a well-dressed woman in a Ferrari tries to bribe us with dozens of coupons for new smartphones. By the time we get back to the office, there is an awards banquet for our coverage. I see an old girlfriend (Melissa) who calls me Charlotte. “Richard,” I tell her. “My name is Richard.”

Dream 12-21-19: I put some barbecue on to cook, especially lots of bacon, intending to let it cook outdoors all day. I go to the movies with my friend David, who offers me absinthe. He then suggests we try a drinking game in which we add Percocet to each drink. I go home to find the next door neighbor’s teenage daughter handcuffed to the roof of their house. I climb up and we become friends. She says her dad left her there because her spirit was interfering with the instrument landing system at the airport. I touch her neck, which she likes and says is “intimate.” I climb down to check the barbecue, which has set the girl’s father’s monk robe on fire. I mow for a while to check if the ILS is back in service.

Dream 12-19-19: During a thunderstorm, my lawn mower needs to urinate. I take him to the bedroom, where I put the commode on the bed and urinate on the lawn mower’s behalf. Lightning strikes near the house and I am slightly shocked. When I move the mower again, there is a large puddle of urine under it, so I put it in the sink and fill the sink with hot water. I discover a previously unknown area of the sink where desserts are stored, and think, “something sweet sounds good.”

Dream 12-07-19: Randy Mitchell and I are walking in Wintersmith Park on our way to play racketball when we see an object in the soil by the sidewalk. We think it is the partially buried remains of a human body. The police arrive in force, including two helicopters, only to discover that the body is a whole chicken from WalMart.

Dream 12-05-19: Hawken the Irish Wolfhound and I take down an elk, often handsomely backlit and in slow motion. We are able to harvest nearly 200 pounds of fresh broccoli from it. As we do, an old friend of Abby Barron‘s arrives in an MG with fettuccine.

In the same dream, I am at Ashlynd’s graduation. When I see her in her robes, we fall into each other’s arms and can’t stop crying.

Her life must be so empty.
Her life must be so empty.

Dream 12-02-19: Everything is labeled 5412A. I am in the Star Wars universe, but it is mostly water. I am Richard, but in the role of Luke Skywalker. I gradually forget my real identity. I swim next door to my best friends hut, and she and I talk about it, suspecting something is up, but what? Several people we know are wading, and step into deep holes and disappear back to my old reality. My friend and I attempt to climb the Jedi Temple, but there are no handholds, so we try to find leftover furniture in the water. Some are desk chairs, some are huge industrial cranes covered in mud, and some are the arms of giant monsters. I hear music and realize I am writing a new Pink Floyd song called “The River.” The video for the song is me driving around town, but when I try to turn corners, I trip over pipes. I hear the lyric, “The River is making decisions for the night.”

Dream 12-02-19: Byng Schools is building a new, giant supergym in our pasture. As I watch the work, I see two aircraft dangle long tubes to collect atmospheric samples. The tubes crash into the cell tower in the yard. There is little damage, but the school decides to cut the size of the gym in half, which upsets everyone because there is no longer room to set up tables to sell candy.

Dream 11-25-19: Ashlynd Elizabeth Huffman helps me move into the dorms at ECU, but I move into the ones in the bad neighborhood, and my stuff gets stolen in the first week. We set up a sting operation involving the mascots to catch the perpetrators. Meanwhile, out of frustration, I take a school teaching job in Sheridan, Illinois. I commute daily in an old RV. The commute is so long that one day, I awake to find I am arriving at the school after sleep-driving through the night. I have forgotten all my clothes, so the principal lets me look through the lost and found, only to find there are only dresses for 13 year old girls and chicken suits. Back at ECU, we watch a complicated documentary about how luring criminals with mascots is illegal.

Dream 09-04-19: In order to receive a parking pass for ECU, you had to read the last page of a scented, all-pink novel by Hampton Allsockey.

Dream 06-29-19: Abby and I are in New Orleans during a flood. We repeatedly try to cross the Mississippi in her truck, but “turn around, don’t drown.” We see some police officers we know from Ada and talk to them, only to discover the latest trend among cops is to carry at least four huge hunting knives on their belts, beautiful, ornate knives with gold and silver engraving, some of which are at least ten inches long. I pull out a one-inch black pen knife and feel inadequate. I am then mowing New Orleans with Abby’s truck. The transaxle overheats and stops, but as I watch, the temperature gauge rapidly drops into the normal range.

Dream 06-17-19: Michael Zeiler has trained two dens of rare South American ants to smoke cigarettes and throw small lit firecrackers on command. He intends to deliver them to Trump Tower to blow it up. When his car won’t start, he tries to start a washing machine, and when it won’t start, he decides to drive the ants to the tower in a toddler’s plastic toy truck. Meanwhile, my coworkers and I are in the tower, trying to decide on a code name for Trump so no one will know we are talking about him. Most of the suggested names are much too long, like “The Sesquseptigenarian.” We hear an explosion and realize the ants have accidentally detonated at the entrance, meaning we will need to take the back door when going home in the evening. Trump orders us to the 15th floor, which is over two miles high. It is so high, the elevator bends to reach the door. A glass ramp extends across a chasm from the elevator to the actual floor. My coworkers and I stage an ambush on the ramp, in which several of us try to inject Trump with syringes, but when that fails, we beat him to death with a fire extinguisher.

Zeroes are a dish best served chilled.
Zeroes are a dish best served chilled.

Repeated dream throughout the night 06-11-19: I can see the name of the dream, but I can’t copy and paste it to share it with social media.

Dreams 06-10-19: I am part of the Cassini-Huygens mission. We load into a Cessna 210 converted for space travel, which alarms me because all the other people are so fat. We travel across the surface of Titan until we reach the center of a completely industrial area. We put on our coats and the lead astronaut flips a switch, revealing all the heat and light on the moon are artificial. I am then withLisa Oxenham Bratcher at ECU, who keeps asking me about “2 and 3,” which means nothing to me. She then explains “items 2 and 3 on the ballot,” which will improve drainage in town.

Dreams 05-31-19: walking around New York City for hours at a time with Jodie Foster, getting to know each other, taking pictures of 9/11 flashback scenes. At the top of a long hill, a country music song starts… “wouldn’t want to be at the top of that apple ceiling, apple ceiling, apple ceiling…” we run to the bottom of the hill to see kids having a mud fight in a school bus. At the top of the hill, football players were practicing on huge letters of the alphabet. Later, I see an old girlfriend going into a doctor’s office and knock her glasses off with my shoulder, then hide. Later, when she’s coming out of the office, I do it again, hiding again, and Abby Barron and I laugh and laugh about it.

Dream 05-28-19: After I made an incredibly difficult sniper shot to destroy a Russian laser in a video game, John Wayne gave me the Medal of Freedom and convinced me to run for President.

Dream 05-27-19: We have hornets in the barn, but when the exterminator arrives, we discover they are actually lady bugs. A roving gang of ‘50s bullies tries to rough me up, but when the fat one appears to be naked, I help the sheriff arrest him. Stacey Prouty Chadwell replied to this: I had a dream with you included! You were hosting The Price Is Right and I was chosen as a contestant. The items, up for pricing, ranged from an outhouse, puppies, a trip to Amsterdam, to the price of integrity and of ignorance! It was out there, but we were all in deep conversation and lotsa laughter.
Do you write about your dreams, as soon, as you wake? (Edison did everyday of his life.)

Dream, 05-26-19 (while napping while listening to scanner chatter of a grass fire in Happyland after reading some of the suicide blog of Martin Manley): I am in charge of a top secret project to recover Star Trek characters from the International Space Station who have been shrunk to very small sizes for time travel to planets with very small inhabitants. Some of them are on tiny toy train cars. Others are in little busses that also seem to be at the Super Bowl. As I sift parts of the USS Enterprise on the floor of a gym, my wife Abby appears. I inform her that I have decided to be shrunk to the size of a speck of dust and will live under a piece of adhesive tape stuck to her left shoulder. She says that she will be joining me.

Dream 05-24-19: I catch some thugs trashing the house, but am too late to confront them. I am able to shoot one round from my 9mm into the back of their car from more than a mile away. Abby Barron and I are then in the first class section of a 747 headed for Houston. For some reason I still have my 9mm. I wear it in an open holster or put it on the table in front of me. No one seems to notice or care, which I find very odd, and am unable to find anywhere to put it out of sight. People complain that my laptop is too loud, but say nothing about the fact that I am armed.

Last night (05-08-19) I dreamed Max the chihuahua lost vision in one eye, and when I covered the other eye, he would say the word, “Dark.”

From Mac Crosby: Channeling my inner Richard R. Barron and sharing my dream: David Schwimmer comes into Forget Me Not Floral, I refuse to serve him and proceed to tell him that his character in the show Friends is egotistical and sexist. He yells “Your banana trees suck anyway,” and leaves. I did not even know that I felt that way.

Dream 04-28-19: I am in an elite paramilitary group here in Ada. We’ve been assigned to clear out a suspected house. As we make entry, I am relieved to discover it is the house where I lived in the early 1970s, the one with the olive-colored shag carpet. At the back of the house, I find that my sister Nicole Barron Hammill‘s room is three times bigger than any room in the house, in conflict with her accounts that it was the smallest.

As my unit and I drive away, I explain to Abby the names of all the weapons we are carrying. We make our way out west of town to a barn that I recognize. I explain to my unit, which is now just a bald guy I don’t know and my dad (who died in 2005), that I had photographed this barn years earlier before all the wood fell off, leaving just the frame.

"Look at the size of that mouse!"
“Look at the size of that mouse!”

On close inspection of the property, we find the body of an old woman, who looks and smells like she hasn’t been dead long. We see lightning strike near the base of the barn and realize it has killed another old woman. When we inspect her, she is wearing water wings made from rusty bird cages.

We enter a house near the barn and find a third dead old woman in the kitchen. I see her cat, and decide to feed it. I open the fridge and take out the milk and pour it, but the bald man tells me that it’s Tarn-X, not milk.

We go back outside, where my dad falls to the ground. He takes my hand and sings a hymn in a woman’s voice and weeps, something like, “And Lord, if I go to the church, will my soul be safe?” As we mount our vehicles and drive away, Abby bursts into laughter as we see that the barn is swaying in the wind just like the grass around it. I make a note that the wind is from the north.

Dreams 01-27-17… 1. I found a secret half of our house, where I was hiding all the large-aperture, manual-focus Nikon lenses I’d been getting at garage sales for a dollar each. 2. In the middle of a dramatic high seas rescue, I ran into Hillary Clinton. I hugged her and told I was sorry things didn’t work out, like we were old friends. Then a bunch of us helped her fold and pack some sweaters. 3. My fellow photographers and I search for the ultimate funnel cake. 4. Abby and I were back in 1969, watching the return of Apollo 12a, the 2-man mission designed to test the seats of the command module for an ultra-high-G reentry. The spacecraft looked like a super-slick space shuttle orbiter, but painted blue and sporting newly-developed laser engines. NASA parked it in my garage. In the dream I was also aboard the mission, which required the other astronaut, who I did not know or like, and me to wrap our torsos around a bar, like at a carnival ride. The space food was, as expected, funnel cake.

Dream, October 2007: I ran into an old girlfriend, Kathy, in the town where we used to live, at a particle accelerator where they were bombarding Christmas trees with neutrons. She has a midget on a leash. She tells me she has been married three times and her last name is now Schoecheekowskischke, which she made up. The midget, she explains, is an adopted child from the second marriage. I get into a blue SUV and start to leave, claiming that the church I am assigned to photograph will only be dry enough for another 15 minutes or so.

If you're not going to say it, I will. Pipe.
If you’re not going to say it, I will. Pipe.

Dream October 2007: I was assigned to infiltrate a nuclear power plant. Our goal was to assassinate two people, both blond-haired women, and steal the weapons hidden inside. The weapons were phasers that had been deep-fried, only they looked a little like the nozzle on my garden hose (only deep fried.) We made our way through a labyrinth of metal stairs and railing to a series of doors. My partner (who I don’t really remember seeing) went inside and terminated our targets using a really cool chrome .22 with a silencer. We were then seamlessly running from the Israeli Army, dodging their small arms fire. Once they had surrounded us, we threw the phasers into a burning vehicle to prevent them from being captured. Then seamlessly, we are at a black-tie dinner party. Harrison Ford offers me a government job, which I accept because it will pay pretty well.

Dream, June 1989: I am holding Sandra K super close in an insane asylum to avoid being detected as an escaped inmate. We decide to go for a walk. We see a thunderstorm, and I hear George Thorogood music coming from the sky. I picked up my journal and wrote, “How does music come from thunderstorms?”

Dream 04-16-19: I am trying out for a cheerleader/dance team. We all receive cupcakes before tryouts. We assemble on a field, where an instructor shows us a series of dance moves. We start the dance, but I immediately realize I can’t dance at all and don’t know any of the moves, which I confess to a cheerleader in line next to me. As it ends, the instructor tells me I am off the team. The cheerleader storms off in a huff, and I see that she has stolen my journal. As I try to get it back, she uses an Exacto knife to remove the date, thus erasing it forever.

Dream 04-14-19: I am working at a Byng softball game when one of the girls is kicked out of the game for sliding into first too aggressively. I notice she is wearing a Victorian cape and hat. As we discuss the play, we see the dugout is now a precipice overlooking a canyon. “Look! Those birds are creating divisions in the water!” I see birds dive into a lake below, and as they hit the water, dams are constructed instantly. I wonder if they are trying to trap us, but as fuzzy carpet forms on the canyon walls and I see people walking both on the ground and on the walls, I realize the dams were built to allow gravity to work in an additional direction.

Dream 04-13-19: Mac Crosby lives in a Paris apartment overlooking the Champs-Élysées. She lets me crash for a week while I am in town. I have Hawken the Irish Wolfhound with me. We come and go all day and all night, going café to cabaret and everything in between. We make pictures, paint, write. The apartment is strewn with crumbs, empty wine bottles, paint spatter, and half-written poetry.

Dream 2016: I am back in college, living in a dorm by myself. The whole thing is very run-down. I hear a festival in the street below. When I walk down to it, I find I am in San Francisco, and it is an Irish jig festival. At some point during the dancing, people collide and a number of them fall down. I see Kathryn Sterbenc, and walk over to her to discover she is my wife. We walk for a while, and I break the news to her that I will only allow NFL teams to have 22-man rosters. She seems very upset with this news, so I tell her, “None of this is going to matter,” knowing that I am about to become omnipotent. Then, though I weigh thousands of tons, I float gently into the night sky.

Sometimes trapped
Sometimes trapped

Dream: 03-23-09: Literally everything in the world was incorrect. Abby and I used 3×5 cards to fix it.

Dream: 03-13-19: My goats were still around. In the dream I accidentally left the heat on in their shelter and it got hot enough to smelt iron. I then took Carl Lewis to a doctor appointment in Oklahoma City, but after racing through the lobby at a full run, he looked at an automated kiosk to discover it was actually in Omaha. Finally, Abby and I used bean patties to reanimate Denholm Elliott.

Dream: 04-13-19: I am working at a Byng softball game when one of the girls is kicked out of the game for sliding into first too aggressively. I notice she is wearing a Victorian cape and hat. As we discuss the play, we see the dugout is now a precipice overlooking a canyon. “Look! Those birds are creating divisions in the water!” I see birds dive into a lake below, and as they hit the water, dams are constructed instantly. I wonder if they are trying to trap us, but as fuzzy carpet forms on the canyon walls and I see people walking both on the ground and on the walls, I realize the dams were built to allow gravity to work in an additional direction.

Dream 12-14-18: I prepare to board a super-giant airliner which holds thousands of people. I get lost because it’s so large. We are very overbooked, so I am given a pillow and told to sit in the bathroom. I decide to take another flight, and watch as the plane breaks up on takeoff, catch fire, and crashes. I find myself in Iraq, clearing houses with Marines. We have no training, and our rifles are solid stainless steel. The work is arduous because no one is aware we are coming and every house we clear is a bathroom with someone shaving in it. I am teamed up with Jake Gyllenhaal, who is impatient with me and keeps telling me to not shoot him. Finally in open combat, we kill freely, until a family comes out of a house and we narrowly avoid shooting them. I board a helicopter and we strafe settlements. Finally, we get the word we are going home, so I sit at the mess table next to a women who doesn’t want me there because, “they always get hard on me.” Gyllenhaal tells me I’ll “never fire another round” in Iraq, and we flash back to the family scene where there is smoke coming from my rifle. Back in Ada, we see that the “back home” scenes were all filmed in downtown alleys. Riding in a limo with Gyllenhaal and several others, I say, “Remember this people. You’ve all stood right here.” We see a treehouse in the alley near 14th and Turner. Tom Hanks is inside. We introduce ourselves, but he runs away, obviously insane.

During a nap in the autumn of 1994: The headquarters for the New Order of the Third Millennium would be a 2 kilometer tall titanium phallis at the center of the Dead Sea.

Las Vegas, Nevada, October 2011
Las Vegas, Nevada, October 2011

Dream: Abby and I live in a tethered blimp 1000 feet above Las Vegas. It is surrounded by lavish railing that allows us to watch other blimps float past, thunderstorms roll in, and aircraft crash into power lines.

I am then at Mizza’s, a place that makes pizza from nothing but meat. The booths are made to look like tiny Jeeps. Kathy is dining with us. The meat pizza people seem happy to make something vegetarian for me.

After dinner we decide to walk to the field next door for martial arts training. On the way out, I decided to show everyone my photos from dinner. “Did you guys know about this?” I ask, and tap the glass on the door of the restaurant. “The new phones allow you to display your photos on any piece of glass in the world.” I scroll through my images on the door and enlarge several.

I see David in the field, who will give me martial arts training, which is little more than take-down practice. I am able to defeat him in two out of three falls.

Back home, we discover that Michael has bought my mom (who died in 2009) a nonstick pan. Mom hates it because it burns everything. Michael explains that it has to be specially prepared with an organic rag. Amber is there helping us look for the rag. She dives into one cabinet after another, trying to find it. When she does, it looks just like a regular wash rag, except when we put it on the pan, where it liquifies the aluminum, seasoning it perfectly.

Dream: Dennis Udink and someone named Jane are ahead of me on the trail by about six hours. As I catch up with them, I find they have made camp in a long, narrow tunnel. As we settle in for the night, we all begin to sense something isn’t right, like we are being watched. Upon closer examination, we find that there is movement in the rocks beneath us, as though bugs were crawling right below the surface. We still weren’t willing to leave the area, since we might not be able to return for years.
 
I poke around in the cave for a few minutes, hoping to find something interesting to photograph. I find a rusted iron monument in the wall, with a small coal fire visible through a glass window. I ask if anyone knows what this is. “I think it’s an eternal flame kind of thing,” Jane answers. I examine it closer to find it is a cremation oven from Auschwitz.
 
At this point the signs of evil became more obvious. While trying to light a fire, flies emerged from Dennis’ lighter. After hearing a commotion, we stepped out of the cave to see a cow. It starts to morph into something, and I yell, “It’s gonna Cyriak!” It then morphs into dozens of smaller cows in the fashion of Cyriak’s cartoons http://cyriak.co.uk/animation/ . The cows morph into a single cow, and someone (I don’t know who) brings up a Paladin tank (from the video game Unreal Tournament) to destroy it.
 
Back inside we debate leaving. someone says, “Okay, we leave first thing in the morning,” but I disagree and start packing, only to discover acid of unknown origin had burned through my backpack. We talk about the fact that we only have a couple hours of daylight remaining, but conclude we should take our chances and get out of the evil place.
 
Finally we get our gear together and move out. At the exit of the tunnel there is now an office. A park ranger comes out of the office and says, “Hold it! Coolness police!”
 
I sarcastically say, “Coolness police?” Then Dennis and I look at each other, and we both intuitively know that one of us is going to have the shoot the ranger.
My dream was a combination of tech talk at the office, the stuff I watched on Netflix yesterday with my wife, and cogs in the machinery like this one.
My dream was a combination of tech talk at the office, the stuff I watched on Netflix yesterday with my wife, and cogs in the machinery like this one.

Dream 12-01-18: Abby and I are walking in downtown Ada when we hear a helicopter. We look up to see it escorting a 747 with engines 1 and 2 on fire, turning final for an emergency landing. I grab Abby and say, “We need to move this way.” We run away as the jet crashes into an empty apartment building. We both run back to the crash site to take photos for the newspaper with our phones.

Dream 11-28-18: Abby, my brother-in-law Tracey, and I enter a posh hotel room. In the corners are shiny vortex spots. Abby walks over to one and vanishes into it in a flash, only to reappear from one on the other side of the room. We decide to go to the game, where we encounter thousands of armed civilians, and decide we need to be armed as well, so we each steal an AR-15 and a shotgun. A bear pursues Abby, but at the last minute I shoot it. The pellets from my shotgun move in slow motion, but hit the target. We try to enter another hotel room, this one much less posh and in a basement, with a horse we have stolen. We have to stand the horse on end to get it through the door and down the steps. Once inside, we see dirty vortex spots in the corners, and Abby once again walks over to one and disappears into it. Tracey and I decide to spray for spiders, which are falling on our heads. Abby reappears from the vortex on the other side of the room, looking terrified. She tells me she just spent “literally infinity” inside the vortex.

Dream 11-24-18: Responding to a report of a downtown Ada fire, I discover it is at my own office. I try to enter to see if I can help, only to be stopped by TSA agents and Washington Post journalists. I see flames licking from the top of the stairs where my office is located, but then remember that I moved to the middle of the building two years ago, and was then suddenly relieved that the fire wasn’t my fault.

I see Dan Marsh, who challenges me to a race to his downtown loft apartment. He is much faster than I am, and is wearing an orange jumpsuit, so I am unable to keep up.

When I finally arrive, he is nowhere to be found, but my sister, Nicole Barron Hammill, is at his apartment, hiding her boyfriend, “Wear,” under the covers. “That’ll show Mom and Dad,” she explains.

I return to my office, where I discover a maze of old darkrooms and equipment (about which I dreamed before), and find an oven that was left on for 40 years, which caused the fire.

Dream 11-16-18: Abby , Denzel Washington and I are redecorating Wal Mart with posters from his movies. Next to this I see a broad selection of VHS porn. Next to that, David Vogt and Debbie Vogt and I are dressed in towels in the shower section, where a bird is trapped. We all lay down as low as possible in a reenactment of “The slaughter of the birds at gethsemane.”

Dream 09-25-18: Abby and I are walking on Main Street in Byng when we top the hill to see a house on fire. My first instinct is to get my gear and cover it for the newspaper, but as we take a few more steps, we see many more houses on fire. We speculate it may be arson. We then turn around to see Byng is on fire as well, and realize it is the apocalypse. I decide to stay with Abby. As we return home, we see many people have gone insane. In our house, there are several insane children whose eyes have become huge red disks. Next door at a convenience store, I see police shoot a woman, and look around to see no fire or evidence of an event, and realize that everyone was dreaming it was the apocalypse.

Partially awake during this part of the dream, I see Abby is holding her hands up, talking to someone, obviously dreaming.

Dream: I was hunting caribou, and I was naked for the first time in my life. I am nakeder than the day I was born by a factor of five. I hunt the caribou with lightning bolts that seem to come from the sky, but also seem to come from me.

Exquisitely vivid dream 09-13-18: Riding a bicycle up and down Broadway in Ada repeatedly visiting Gym 210, where they remodel every 30 seconds. Weightlifters teach me a new leg clinch that they say will make me the strongest man alive. I finally arrive on the south end of town at Mansion of the Apocalypse. Inside I find thousands of toy rifles we are expected to use in the coming zombie attack. I find a grey one in the shape of an M249 Saw. I look over to see Amy Jo Johnson get bitten by a radioactive spider. She tells me she will have to go away to quarantine for two weeks, but says she will rescue me when she returns.

Voiceover: "It lurks."
Voiceover: “It lurks.”

Dream 09-09-18: Carl Lewis, Samantha Spears, Eric Swanson and I are on a trip to an underground zombie apocalypse theme park in Wyoming. We are in Abby Barron’s truck, but are towing an eight-story trailer. While parked at a rest area, a guy backs into us, so Carl shoots at him. At the theme park, the activities turn into a real zombie apocalypse, and we barely escape with our lives. On our way home, we stop at another rest area, where I try to make CB radio contact with a camera that has a built-in CB, with no success. I then see that Jamie Pittman is building a new model of airliner out of clouds. It looks great at first, but I have difficulty switching the camera from radio mode to take pictures. The wind picks up, and I tell Jamie, “it doesn’t look too good.” She yells at all of us, “It’s a human being, it should be treated that way!” The cloud airliner then dissipates in the breeze.

Dream 04-01-16: Abby and I are in Boeing’s new jet, the 7447, a triple-decker super super jumbo. The jet is taxiing for takeoff, but gets lost in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Soon we attempt to take off, but gently crash land in Aruba. As Abby and I wait for drinks at the bar, Courteney Cox swims by and says hi.

I turn to find I am the center of a press conference, fielding questions about my new hydrogen superchain fuel that will replace petroleum. I then drift into a theory I cultivated in my twenties about jet engines that use core fan blades the size of toothbrushes because they can borrow energy from the earth’s gravitational waves, like surfers borrow waves in the ocean.

After waking up, I continue to think these ideas through in the shower, including trying to figure out a way to borrow gravity in space, and how to I would put a station on the moon if I were doing it today. Then I went on a time-travel trip in which I take over Russia before the First World War using 29th century technology, and change history.

Profound dream during a nap, February 2007: My people and I are walking in green wheat. The wheat gets finer and finer until it becomes green ash. I hear a poem about becoming of the ash. Abby and I lie down in it together.

Ultra-complicated, ultra-vivid dream 05-26-18: I am a 14 year old black kid who has snuck onto a US Air Force base to use their F-16 flight simulator. It flies well and I demonstrate some sophisticated flight maneuvers. I meet the base commander, who is wearing a new rank between captain and major, which looks like captains bars with a bar diagonal across it. He tells me it is complicated new rank called “Prinz Eugen.” The simulator becomes a real F-16, and I fly it beyond its capabilities because of my extensive video game experience. I then take Abby to the hospital, where we see a woman in a cocoon who has just flown from New York and has no memory of the trip. Doctors tell Abby she either has a spider bite or has been in a knife fight, based on a macro photo they took of her neck. The clerk keeps asking, “What’s Spanish for ‘Joseph’?” We walk from the ER to the Amityville Horror house, which is huge and covers many acres. One of the children has gone insane. We try to take her back to the house, but she drops her turtle and tells it to “stay.” She enters the house, where there are thousands of insane children. We realize we will have to kill them all in a gun battle. Abby and I crouch into a vent shaft, and I tell her to go left, and I’ll go right. I kick open the door and insane children pour out into the shaft. I realize the magazine in my Ruger LCP only has six rounds in it, so I tell Abby, “Fall back!” As we are doing so, we arrive at a checkpoint meant to keep us from stealing Air Force weapons, but they let me keep my Ruger when I tell them it’s mine. The commanding officer says we’ll have to continue our battle inside a video game, which we enter. We install thousands of Nikon cameras to photograph the battle. It turns out the children have the power to literally suck us back into the real world. We have to burn the house down. The end shot is of us driving away with a huge column of smoke in the distance behind us.

Dream 03-18-17:  I am in the next Star Wars movie, which is being broadcast live. I am not dressed for my first scene, which is about 20 minutes in, but the floating audience kiosk comes by on it’s first orbit, so I hide behind folding boudoir screen. When I try to get dressed, everything goes wrong: I have a skirt instead of pants, and my undergarments are so tight they won’t go on. I walk about 20 miles south of town dressed like a chicken when I come across Harrison Ford working on a scene in which his cat can walk on water. He does this using complicated red and black devices on power poles high above us.

Three dreams 03-15-18: Dream 1. I am walking to work when a guy in a semi pulls a shotgun on me. I am forced to draw my weapon and kill him. The police are very understanding. Dream 2. I am driving to my parents retirement home at Chaco Wash upstream from Chaco Canyon when I take a detour and see an old girlfriend in a real estate jacket. I don’t stop to talk to her. Dream 3. I arrive at a church and am supposed to be part of an inspirational story about a miracle, but the room in the church where it is supposed to take place is missing.

Shock Wave
Shock Wave

Dream 03-04-18: Abby and I look outside to see the sky literally on fire. Huge smoke plumes of multiple colors rise in all directions resembling 1000 thunderstorms, some reaching the edge of space. The disturbance is thickest over Seminole to the north, but we are unable to find out anything on the internet or even via amateur radio. We see a shock wave approaching, resembling the first microseconds of a nuclear detonation. As it races toward us, we decide that it will either assimilate us or incinerate us, neither of which we can stand. We decided on a suicide pact, and even draw our weapons, but a short debate ensues over the proper way to kill yourself with a pistol. The shock wave dissipates as it passes, so I take Hawken the Irish Wolfhound and walk north toward Seminole. By the time we cross the river, we are picked up by a school bus. The children aboard want to play with Hawken. I get out to examine the sky, which looks less threatening but still surreal, like 100 thunderstorms at once. When I look up, the bus and Hawken are gone, but I find him in a nearby storage barn.

Courtney Morehead’s dream, 02-24-18: I had the scariest dream last night that I’ve had in a long time and thought I’d share. Lol back when I was a wedding photographer, which seems like a lifetime ago (awesome memories tho!), my biggest fear/nightmare was forgetting that I had a wedding that day. I did weddings so often all thru my 20’s that if I ever had a Saturday off, I would often have a near panic attack sometime during the day thinking that I had forgotten I had a wedding. Lol so last night I dreamed I was photographing a wedding when I realized that I had also told ANOTHER bride I would shoot her wedding that same day! About that time, I’m so glad to see Richard R. Barron show up as a guest, but when I tell him my dilemma, he’s no help (thanks Richard 😂.. he’s usually a huge help btw). Then Jeff Cali shows up and offers to drive me back to my office to get more memory cards so I can shoot 2 weddings at once, and he’s racing me all over town like we’re maniacs. THANK GOD my cat woke me up about then bc I literally didn’t know how in the world I was going to do it all, but thank u Jeff for trying to help. 👍😊 The End.

Dream 02-23-18: My college roommate has a contract to graze his cattle at Monument Basin at Canyonlands to reduce overgrowth. When we look at it from the cliffs above, I see that they have grazed the shape of a beaver in a top hat.

Dream 02-16-18: My family and I are “soap refugees,” meaning that we are fleeing with all the toiletries we are able to carry (based somewhat on an episode of Friends Abby Barron and I watched last night.) We are continually late for the airport, but never make it. I am led by an Army recruiter to a retesting station, where I use a flight simulator to perform basic ground reference maneuvers. I look in a mirror and see that I am Richie Cunningham from Happy Days, and intuitively know I am kin to all red-headed people everywhere. I see Abby Barron, who is creating a fold-out life-size cardboard cutout of me, which folds out slowly, one panel at a time. As she begins to unfold it, music starts, and the event resembles the intro to That Girl.

Dream 2016: Ayn, Robert, Scott and I are driving from Tennessee to go skiing in Alaska. Scott’s car is very overpacked, since it is also a college refrigerator.

We arrive in central Arkansas to discover that a landslide in the Sandia Mountains (which are actually in New Mexico) has covered Interstate 35 (a highway that actually goes north and south, not through Arkansas), and that we will have to walk across the mountains. As we do so, we become refugees among thousands, all of whom are, like us, dressed for snow skiing.

We see sandstone formations in display cases that are actually made of live ducks.

In Edgewood (which is also actually in New Mexico), we are taken into a small meeting room for orientations, then led down a hill in small groups, since we now number in the millions. The town’s Prime Minister holds a press conference. He tells us the landslide has been repaired. I see his executive assistant, Kathy, who is elated to see me. She hugs me, and I do a complete orchestrated version of La Bamba for her.

Dream 02-22-14: I discover that although Abby and I still live in our house and it looks the same on the inside, the outside is a third-world hovel covered in plywood and fallen trees. There is a man in our house in a burgundy smoking jacket. He seems to communicate with the outside world, possibly the CIA, using a trash can that is able to type his thoughts. He receives several messages, including one I intercept that says a radio station is coming to our house to give the man a major cash award. I also receive an envelope with a blank piece of paper in it, but as I hold it, it types a message on itself.

I urge Abby to wake up and get dressed, which she does. I go outside and come back in several times, trying to see if I can clean up the hovel outside. As I do so, the front door becomes smaller and more like a rabbit hole.

Inside, we begin the radio interview, which is also being presented on television, although the television camera appears to be from the 1920s and is made of Bakelite. For a while, I am operating the camera. For some reason, there is another person in the frame, a woman I don’t know.

Someone else takes control of the camera, and when they turn it around, I block it, saying, “I can’t allow you to film in that direction.”

Dream, 02-07-06: a married caveman couple live in our pond. Abby orders a Model-T full of epsom salts for them.

Dream, 08-25-1993: As the director of a documentary, I discover that water actually comes from the ground-up bodies of insane children.

Dream, 09-09-1993: I can perform miracles with the wave of my hand. My most impressive miracle is turning bridge beams into potato salad.

Dream: We are flying wounded soldiers out of Germany in C47 Dakotas during World War II. The aircraft are dangerously overloaded, and we remove seats, luggage, etc. to be able to carry more wounded. On the final flight, we are much too heavy, and unable to get out of ground effect until I realize the fuel selector is set to cloudy. “Wait,” I exclaim, “I’ll set the mixture to sunshine!” We begin to climb out. I am then near the back of the aircraft when I see three crew members from the starship Enterprise beam aboard. Julia Roberts turns from the pilot’s seat and smiles sheepishly. “It’s an infinity paradox,” she says, and I realize that if infinity is real, everything that can happen has happened and will happen. I am suddenly at the Ada airport where we are looking at a 3-engine race plane named the K-Infinity. I want to race it, but when I fly it, it goes faster than it possibly can. Finally, outside the airport, I chase down children who vandalize the bathroom, then complain because the rotating airport sign has wild trees growing on it.

Dream: The back yard is repeatedly invaded by female Irish Wolfhounds who mate with Hawken, our Wolfhound. Eventually, a naked man shows up to get his dog, who leaps back over the fence to mate with Hawken again.

Dream: I am at The Oklahoman, trying to use an old processing machine. I load it with film, but immediately realize that it is a print processor, and is shredding my film. As it does so, it starts to leak and spray chemicals, so I put on a yellow rain suit. I try to hide the machine so no one will know about my giant mistake, but when I try to plant it in a front yard, the gardener spots me. I am then walking through The Oklahoman, which occupies the entire Crossroads Mall. People say hello to me, but are embarrassed when I approach them in the rain suit. I enter the photography department, where it is shift change. Hundreds of photographers are scrambling to their lockers to change cloths, get their gear, and grab their lunches. I sit down and try to remove the rain suit, but photographers are constantly bumping into me. I see a basketball player with three arms accidentally put on one of my shoes. When I point it out to him, he says it is because his third arm is too cold.

Filed under "T" for "Mysterious."
Filed under “T” for “Mysterious.”

Dream: I am in the advertising department at my office, but I am in bed. All the desks have a bed attached, which I think is a sketchy idea at best, since the boss, Amy, will know if we are napping instead of working.

Amy, LeaAnn and Maurisa all have their first initial in a very large block of amber-colored ice, made from their tears, on their desks. Despite being their initials, they are all the letter S. The ice slowly melts and runs down the block, but the block doesn’t shrink, and water doesn’t accumulate below.

I decide to go to the next room, so I collect my Walkman cassette player and my iPad. As I stand up, I say, “I know why these things are crying. It’s because so many people out there are hillbillies.”

Nap dreamed a new word: atlolule. I didn’t dream a definition, so it’s up for grabs.

Two dreams: 1. At a dog mall, Abby and I spend hours looking for Hawken so we can give him a bath, and 2. My newspaper hires 30 new reporters for its television division, all in cubicles downstairs.

Dream: there is a giant Jade Helm-esque training exercise across the nation, and we have been moved into camps. I look into the sky and see bright red dots (identical to a Christmas decoration I set up last night) which are hundreds of military satellites in low Earth orbit. I then see fighter jets (identical to the ones in a video i watched yesterday about the 1979 Vela incident). In the camps, Abby and I are apparently the most dog friendly family, and all the best dogs want to stay with us, in addition to our own dogs. The camps become busses that take us home, and we are forced to say goodbye to a particularly attractive and affectionate dog (identical to one I photographed last week.)

Dream: I arrive at the office in time to see it has been cleaned out by a moving company. They are moving us to a regional newspaper hub in Holdenville. A big boss arrives to wish us well, and we are all required to pledge allegiance to the Constitution.

Dream recorded in my journal, 1995: In an airport lounge, I watch a man cuddle a wad of gum he calls “Schmooggums.” I see the face of a baby inside it. He misplaces it, but I find it on a bookshelf. Suddenly there is an air show, which I am watching with the Ada High cheerleaders. I peel away the gum to find a balloon. One of the cheerleaders pops the balloon and instead of a baby inside, there is a greeting card shaped like a baby.

Dream: Abby and I are four-wheeling in her truck on “quicksand beach” on the west coast. We can’t find an exit, so we try to climb a set of stairs, which we find are too narrow for her truck. We get out and meet a zookeeper with a goat. I pet the goat, but we are then approached by an escaped lowland gorilla. I try to keep the goat calm while the zookeeper tries to text for help, but he can’t get a signal.

Dream: I am searching for a perfectly black snooze alarm. In my search I am at ECU photographing the band, but when it turns instantly dark, they are all furious. We go inside to find the world’s largest collection of analog camcorders.

Dream: I was in a room with a deep purple-violet chair. I am aware that the chair is full of anxiety.

Dream fragment: “And after all, this song has been sung. Still there ain’t no lifelong metaphor for dung.”

Dream fragment: “Her boyhood was vented to worms.”

Dream: at an outdoor opera in England, we are searching for the elusive “Mink,” a 35-foot snake that looks like an earthworm. We break into 12 teams, each represented by a bright color. Kaley Cuoco is our team leader. She uses a garden hose to stir out the Mink, which slithers across the grass and into the audience. Cuoco announces that due to our success, we all receive a pair of blue shoes.

Dream: I open a Coke to find three powdered sugar doughnuts soaked in cola. This means I need to watch a Republican coworker fly his military trainer over the dump to drop practice bombs. He flies too low and strikes a tool box full of dumplings. On the ground he threatens to kill me if I tell his Captain, so I conjure a plan to bury the evidence in my garden.

Dream: At first I am hanging out with an old friend who I never see any more. We are at a creek bed, and her feet are really dirty. Then we are inside a hotel that has been flooded, presumably by Hurricane Katrina or the 2004 Tsunami, and we are playing tag. Water is up to our waists, and there are partially-broken windows through which we climb while we are hiding. I complain to the officials that I don’t have one of the special Frisbees used to tag our opponents (which look like a flying saucer made out of Tupperware.) I get in my car and try to drive out of the parking lot, but discover the bridge to Pauls Valley (Oklahoma) is out. Workers disassemble my car and store it below me, while I sit on a plywood seat and start to ride the makeshift tram that leads across a waterway. As I ride, I realize that I will be thousands of feet in the air, and that I am only secured by hanging on to the plywood seat back in front of me. I can’t see Pauls Valley ahead of me, so I assume it will be hours before we arrive. Suddenly I arrive at the mall, where Joan Rivers says, “Welcome to the Gap!”

Nap dream: I look out the front window to see a white Lockheed C-5A cargo jet fly by. A few seconds later it is followed by an orange one, which is apparently equipped with a STOL system, because it noisily hovers over the power lines in the front yard. It dips its right wing and slowly flies across the house toward the back yard. I feel certain it crashes. I try to open the front door, but to my annoyance, Abby has rearranged the living room and put a piece of furniture in front of it. She then explains to me that Petey the dog lives in our house, but we have to protect him from a dog outside that is exactly like him except for having tiger stripes. I finally go outside to find that without our knowledge, the road on which we live has been stripped out and is in the early stages of being resurfaced. I feel concerned that we won’t be able to leave the driveway. I take my digital Minolta to photograph it, but when I release the shutter it makes a sound like a 1967 Nikkormat with low batteries. This noise frightens the Mexican work crew working on the road, and they all flee in terror.

Dream: Abby, Nicole, Tracey, Lori, Bill and I are in Las Vegas where we find a tattered satchel and a yellowed envelope in the gutter. We believe they both contain treasures from antiquity, but are never able to find a place away from the crowds to open them and find out. I woke up and went back to sleep in hopes of solving it, but we never did.

Dream: My coworkers and I are dismantling the old “photo shack” darkroom down the block from our office. Aside from dozens of enlargers of various sizes and brands, there are a large number of cheesy religious items like clocks, statues, and lamps, all marked down for quick sale. We can have any of them we want for free, but no one will take any of them. I find a film-drying closet and count 14 exhaust fans capable of creating hurricane-force winds to dry film and prints. I see two large holes in the floor that are open to outer space. Once everyone else has left, I turn the shack over onto the street, revealing a small garage containing a tiny, faded-pink Model T. I turn the key and it starts. I drive it back to the office, glad that we will be able to use it as out mascot in upcoming parades.

Dream: Kathryn Sterbenc and I are in her lavish, multi-story apartment high above downtown San Francisco. We are trying to catch up, but there is a raucous golf tournament in the back yard. Several golfers throw objects at her windows, which embed in them like amber. We see Pamela Hudspeth, who asks Kathy for a psychoanalysis. They sit for hours in Kathy’s Greek Room and talk. When I read the analysis, I find it is is a six-point grocery list. Pam tries to make pizza, but when it doesn’t work out, she puts it in a bag and serves grilled cheese instead.

Appearances aren't always deceiving.
Appearances aren’t always deceiving.

Dream: I am in high school, in a gifted and talented class with six other students. We use upright desks and use metal tubes to communicate. I have absolutely no clue how to do any of the classwork, and feel like I am about to flunk out. The teacher tells me my behavior is off based on the fact that some of the metal tubes have been turned away from me. I try to log in to my iMac to do my work and find that the system has been replaced with a foreign-language version of Windows 95. Trying to fix it, I see the other students throw away copy after copy of Internet Explorer. I finally mouse to the upper-left corner of the screen and select “leave I/O diagnostic mode 3.2”, which returns the computer to Mac OS. I am then in the cafeteria with Elizabeth Redman and Kaitlyn Redman, who tell me the teacher is a jerk. We go outside to see hundreds of dazed students in yellow t-shirts walking up a hill. When we ask, they tell us, “It’s not a movie. It’s an entrepreneurship.”

Dreams: Randy Mitchell and I are at the edge of the Grand Canyon and decide on a suicide pact. I jump first, but the fall lasts for 15 minutes and I get bored. Then I am in Mexico where space aliens have taken over, with Tom Gilbert and Karen Alexander Gilbert. We pack our bags to make the crossing into human-controlled America, but have to cover our work with a towel when the alien patrols go by. I try on several of Tom’s shirts, but they all make me look exactly like him

Two dreams: Co-worker Randy and I are covering a crash at Latta Road and the Loop. I watch as several cars rear-end each other trying to see the crash, which involves a man who had crashed his camper into a building and they can’t get to him.

“I was going to tell you I was at home,” Randy says, “but now that you’ve seen me, here I am.”

I look out to the south to see the ocean. Randy says, “I know a guy who says the Atlantic is the healthiest thing you can drink. It’s full of diarrhea.”

(Get up to feed the dogs, go back to bed.)

I am then on the new space shuttle on a test flight to work the bugs out of the docking system. We get to the edge of space, then turn around and come back to Detroit. I decide to blog about the experience, but the internet is now an outdoor pigpen, so I hang my pictures of the event on the barbed wire fence.

“This was my second time in space,” I say. “The first was in 2001.”

Dream: I am at a party at my friends Michael and Thea’s house. They live on an empty country road. The other guest is a beautiful blond woman with deep blue eyes who sits in the front drawer of Michael’s desk writing love poetry and being depressed. She says she got this way from “the Kozakis stream.” We cut up lemons, which turn to limes. I cut up some other fruit and she takes out a pad and asks, “Will that be all sir?” I tell her she’s not my waitress. I realize I am having too many yellow and orange fruits for dinner. An angry teenager with a knife approaches Michael, who repeatedly provokes the angry man by tugging at his shirt. The angry man head-butts Michael, who falls to the floor unconscious. I walk down the road, which changes from dirt road to the hallway of a housing project. On the walls, I see numerous maps of cell phone service in the Congo. When I get back to Michael and Thea’s, a crowd has gathered and are very concerned for Michael. We then try to roll out a large rubber mat so we can do an MRI, and a comedy ensues when it is too heavy and too floppy to unroll. The angry man runs through the crowd, trying to escape from police, stopping to threaten us with his knife. The crowd gasps audibly.

Dream: Mackenzee Crosby and I are interns in the photo department at The Enid News and Eagle during the film era. The department is run by an old man We see him leave and I explain, “He said when he turned 65, he was leaving and not coming back.” I look in his camera bag to find his equipment to be from the 1970s and filthy. It is such bad equipment, in fact, that some of the focal lengths are wrong; he has 280mm telephoto for example. We go outside and are surprised to see a freight train speeding down a hill out of control toward us, but when it turns at the last minute, we remember it is “the 3:10.” We turn around to find the main highway into town has been turned into a beautiful reflecting pool, and a body luge tournament is about to begin. I open my own camera bag to find the old man’s stuff inside, including three filthy 280mm lenses. At that point one of the dogs woke me up, so I went to the other bedroom. The next three dreams were about trying to restart the first dream.

Dreams: my right arm got uncovered, so for a while I dreamed I was donating blood. After a while, I dreamed I was playing softball for Latta High School. Our pitcher can’t find her uniform, so she cites a rare regulation that allows her to play in a black bra. As a result, I get to wear her uniform. We take the field, but it is the Brooklyn Bridge, and we are golfing. I then realize she has a huge crush on me. I appreciate that because she has such beautiful hair, but when I turn to look at her again, it’s frizzy like a 1980s haircut. She hits a ball off the bridge. It lands in the water, but floats, and we realize that if it sinks, it’s a foul ball, but if we can get it back before it sinks, it will be a home run. We enter the subway, which is served by canals. We see the ball floating by and form a human chain to pull it out of the water. An angry New Yorker says he will no longer support Latta because of this turn of events.

Dreams
Dreams

Dream: we are playing Photon/laser tag in an indoor/outdoor arena. As we play and our weapons are upgraded, they change in our hands using transporter technology. I then realize we are shooting each other’s phones. At the end of the first round, I don’t have the highest score, but I did earn the “most hate generated” bonus.

Dream: Abby and I were fighting our way out of a huge, dark grey military complex at night under heavy fire. Shoot-and-scoot, cover-and-retreat, emptying mag after mag from our rifles and pistols. Just as we seem to be out of ammo and lost, Max and Sierra scurry off, then return after finding an escape route, leading us to safety.

Dream from May 2004, recorded in my journal: I am rowing down a muddy river beneath an Interstate highway. I find a box of lolly pops who are being bullied by their classmates. I escort them to a dry spot, where I install an Oldsmobile 403 engine in a lawn mower.

Dream: I was a dog handler at a wedding, in charge of a giraffe-sized Irish Wolfhound. A one point, he felt faint, so I game him a bowl of elbow macaroni and milk.

Abby and I both either dreamed or heard someone whistling a tune. I got my 9mm and cleared the house and made sure all the dogs were okay, but we didn’t hear any sound like that the rest of the night. None of the dogs reacted to the sound in any way, so my best guess is that one of us was dreaming about whistling and whistled.

Dream recorded in my journal, 1995: In an airport lounge, I watch a man cuddle a wad of gum he calls “Schmooggums.” I see the face of a baby inside it. He misplaces it, but I find it on a bookshelf. Suddenly there is an air show, which I am watching with the Ada High cheerleaders. I peel away the gum to find a balloon. One of the cheerleaders pops the balloon and instead of a baby inside, there is a greeting card shaped like a baby.

Dream fragment from nap: “cemetery-grade popsicle.” I then fell asleep again and dreamed that  Doug Hoke gave me a personal tour of his collection of toy airplanes and Steyr rifles.

Dream: LeAnn Skeen and I lower a huge semi into a lake at a grade school in Shawnee to separate the rabbit half from the non-rabbit half. Then Abby Barron and i accidentally crack a kitchen tile, opening an infinity. We collect the blue infinity goo in a bucket and keep it in a child’s bedroom upstairs, occasionally dropping things into it to watch them disappear into eternity.

Dream: Ashley Williams and I are recruiting for a minor league football team. We get Tom Cruise and Burt Reynolds to join. After a couple of games, we find ourselves being chased by boxes, which were throwing smaller boxes at us. Eventually we realize we are in a race in an obstacle course. Ashley is in the lead, and after crossing several difficult ladder obstacles, gets to the finish line and solves a complex puzzle to open the cabinet housing our first place award.

Dream: I was at an Allen football game when the quarterbacks tried to punch each other out. The teams were so ashamed they threw their pads on the field and went to the locker room, even though the game wasn’t over. The final score was settled by seven year olds playing tetherball.

Alternate title: Dogs Preserve Dreams.

I got up at 4:30 this morning to feed the dogs. I got back in bed and laid awake for 15 minutes memorizing the following dream:

We were in my Grandmother Barron’s back bedroom, the one where Nicole and I used to stay when we were kids, when we noticed the wind was picking up in one corner of the room.

We went outside to play volleyball, but noticed the wind was approaching hurricane-force. I began to notice flooding, and numerous waterspouts in the water all around. I shouted this as loud as I could, but no one seemed to hear me. Soon I realized I needed to be home, so I walked home several miles in knee-deep water.

There was a period in the dream during which I was absent, like a time gap in the movies. I woke up in poverty, which resembled 1890s England. The family in my house help saying things like, “He hates us today,” but won’t tell me who “He” is. On the floor I see a transparent plexiglass Scotty dog and realize this is the “He” they are discussing, and that he is responsible for all the suffering around us.

The dream shifts to a train station, and we are able to trap the plexiglass dog by placing sticks on top of him and beneath him so he is too tall to fit in the tracks. This allows us to board an old school bus, where it becomes clear that my family is The Waltons. I sit on the floor of the bus and color in a coloring book with Kami Cotler, the actress who played the youngest of The Waltons until I look out to see that John Walton, the father, is driving us over a huge body of water. As we enter a city, he turns to bus around and drives the city streets backward, explaining that it better allows us to admire the chrome fenders of our bus.

Dream: A  Southwest 737, a nice new 700-series, was trying to land in our garage.

The approach was high, so the pilot tried to go around, but did so too late and his landing gear clipped our roof. Our house wasn’t damaged (since for a few seconds the aircraft was miniature), but the jet careened into the pasture by our pond and burst into flames. Aghast, I rushed inside to get my cameras, but when I got inside I found myself unable to find the right cameras, then unable to find the right lenses, then unable to get the lenses to mount on my cameras.

By this point in the dream I feel certain that emergency personnel and other photojournalists would arrive on the scene and get pictures that I won’t, despite the fact that the crash occurring literally in my own back yard.

Dream:  Abby  was killed by a porcupine. :>(

Dream: Since it was windy outside as I slept this morning, which made a rumbling sound on the bedroom windows, I dreamed that there was a nuclear war.

I was preparing to go to an Ada High School football state championship game. I drove past the practice field to verify the game time, then started to drive north on Broadway toward home.

At this point in the dream there was a complex subtext that didn’t respect the timeline (it seemed to occur after the main events of the dream) about another photographer going to the game with me. He needed a camera with a decent lens, which I was unable to supply. At one point we were searching a van, presumably mine, for a 300mm, but what we found was mostly just tripod legs.

Then in the dream I was back on Broadway, driving home. I noticed a smoke plume far to the north that became a mushroom cloud, but it still looked like some kind of conventional explosion. I continued to drive and tried to call my wife Abby at her office.

I had the scanner in my car on, but there was no note of this event.

A flash occurred closer, followed by another mushroom cloud that was classically nuclear. I said out loud, “A nuclear war? Really?”

The blast wave approached, so I got out of my car (the Chevy Cavalier I had in 1990), and laid in the ditch by the side of the road. When it passed, I looked around for my car, which had been blown back into a yard about a block back. I walked back to get it, and was amazed that it would start. I tried again to call Abby, and while I was surprised to see that EMP hadn’t disabled my phone, for a moment I couldn’t remember the number for her desk. As I tried to think of it, there was a blinding flash from the Ada airport.

I got out of my car and covered by face with my hands, which were now wearing leather gloves. I realized I would die. I said out loud, “Goodbye Abby. I love you, I love you, I love you.”

(Now that I write this dream down, it all seems pretty transparent and obvious.)

Sometimes a Classic
Sometimes a Classic

 

The New Excellence

Part of me grows fruits and vegetables because they are healthy dietary choices, and part of me grows them because growing them is inherently wonderful.
Part of me grows fruits and vegetables because they are healthy dietary choices, and part of me grows them because growing them is inherently wonderful.

Editors note: I took down this entry after a bitter complaint by a reader, but have updated this entry to include these important notes: 1. I do not deny that struggles with addictions like smoking or eating or using drugs are difficult, and even imagine that those difficulties make them more worthy of our humanity, and 2. Every choice is a choice whether it is difficult or easy, and 3. We all face demons and difficulties, and we are all addicted to destruction in some fashion.

Also, it didn’t take long to adjudicate my assertions. Read this excellent article from The Telegraph (link.)

“I’d offer you something to eat, but I can tell by looking at you, you don’t like to eat.” ~Bubba

I just saw a dress ad on a social media site. The dress was on an obese model. Is this, in fact, the way the world is going: acceptance of sloth, gluttony, avarice? Are we really so politically and socially correct that we have no idea what real health and happiness mean?

Am I expected to accept this? Appreciate this? Keep my great big f*cking mouth shut about it?

I don’t accept that. There is a real reason for fat shaming and body shaming: fat. is. bad.

Fat is inherently, demonstrably bad, in many ways, including medical, social, and emotional ways.

Enter counter-shaming: How dare I tell a human being that what they are doing is wrong, no matter how obviously wrong they are.

As I write this someone with whom I have direct contact is complaining bitterly that his diabetic vision problems are the fault of doctors, insurance companies, hospitals, big pharma. The real narrative is this: I will behave like a four year old as an adult, eating nothing but dietary candy and moving my body like an injured soldier, and I will blame everyone but myself.

We accept that 40 percent of the population has type II diabetes by choice. We accept that the health care business is in business to keep us from being healthy. We accept the inevitable heart attack, vision loss, and neuropathy.

Is this an angry argument for a plant-based diet? F*ck yes, it is. I’m not special: I have been a vegetarian for 30 years, not because I’m some kind of robot or superhero, but because I have a little pride in my health and my appearance.

I promise I will never ask you to “accept” any flaw I choose to have.

You should have one of these a year, not one a day. This. Isn't. Food.
You should have one of these a year, not one a day. This. Isn’t. Food.

I can picture the scene right now anywhere in America: obese people drowning themselves in barbecue sauce and chicken batter, gobbling their fast food with the urgency of starvation, with the culinary maturity of an infant.

“Breakfast and off to the OKC zoo. Renting a personal tour tram. See the whole zoo in about 2 hrs little to no walking😃. “

When did our world begin regarding not walking as a virtue?

And where is the line? Can we not say obesity is bad, but we can call out smoking? Meth addiction? All are demonstrably bad.

Deaf ears?
A woman at a party once told me she couldn’t have my vegetable stir-fry because it had soy sauce in it, which was made with salt, and she was on a sodium-free diet. But she filled her plate up with enough red meat and sugary barbeque sauce to kill a… well, she died a couple of weeks later from complications of heart disease and type II diabetes.
How can you do this?
At a box store just a day or two ago, I saw a man who was so fat he was actually taxing the limit of the motor on his scooter. He might have weighed 500 pounds. And… ugh. He smelled like feces. When I witness this, I am filled with incredulity.

So what the hell is the almighty Richard going to do about it, besides this angry, judgemental rant? If you put me in charge, I mean really in charge with a title like “Kingemperor,” among my first decrees would be to end prescription drugs for all but the type I diabetes patients. The news prescription for type II diabetes is: diet and exercise. How? Your grocery card only has healthy fruits and vegetables on it, only in small amounts, and you are no longer licensed to drive. Get off you ass, fatty, or starve. And I don’t care which.

If I sound uncompassionate, consider this: obesity, sloth, gluttony… are all inherently uncompassionate. They only consider and care for the self, and only in the shallowest way. F*ck nature, f*ck other people, f*ck everything except this delicious donut.

And f*ck yourself out of the only real gift you were ever given: life.

I can almost see you sucking your thumbs.

One of the stupidest enduring myths about a healthy diet is that it doesn't taste good. I can make food that tastes better than any food you've ever had.
One of the stupidest enduring myths about a healthy diet is that it doesn’t taste good. I can make food that tastes better than any food you’ve ever had.

Note: this is one of my angry rants that’s been cooking in my drafts folder for six months. I am NOT pushing it to social media.