Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Akashic Records And Salt Pork

I wasn't getting very far in recalling details of my dream about The Ideal Woman from Redfield. My memories are very shallow. This would be a good time to remember what I said a few weeks about about the Interior Castle, but I'm not really recalling that either. I could look it up. But let me try to restate it on the fly. There's stuff up here, meaning what I can visualize, like a car, the picture of a car. Then there's stuff up there, also visualized but without entirely conscious thought. It just is. Getting there can be tricky. But the basic move is to do what Elvis advised in Speedway: "Let Yourself Go."

Yesterday afternoon I decided to try for some lucid dreams. I remember reading in a magazine once, along with invoking other spiritual experiences, that there are techniques to make lucid dreams more likely. Some are more strenuous than others. Endurance stuff, like staying awake a couple of days. Standing on your head for several hours, that kind of thing. Another way is the same as sympathetic magic techniques. Such as if I wanted to dream of the girl from Redfield, let's say, I might surround myself with red things and pictures of girls. Another way is to eat strange foods or unnatural portions of foods, anything to get your body out of its normal rut. It's a matter of purposely throwing your digestive metabolism out of whack, knowing you'll have a restless night, but also assuming you will sleep soundly for an hour or so, and in that brief time your dreams will be as lucid as can be.

[Let me pause here to give a legal disclaimer. The techniques described in this blog are "for entertainment purposes only." Do not try this at home or in any other bed outside your home. Consult your doctor before any medical or dietary changes. Like me. I phone my doctor a dozen times a day. "Hi, it's me again. I just saw an ad for Vagisil on TV. And they said to call you and see if it's right for me." No? OK, I'll talk to you after the next commercial break."]

I decided to go with this last technique -- dietary havoc -- which required a quick trip to the grocery store to get some navy beans, salt pork, and johnny cake. With some quick soaking and boiling the beans were softened up enough to eat by 9:30 p.m. A couple big bowls and it was time for bed.

Around midnight I was still awake. The discomfort of being so full was the biggest problem. But you know how it is with this kind of meal, a few hours in and you feel like a pressure cooker. The churning is bad. It's like the song "Locomotion," with the chugga chugga motion. The train's on your digestive track, speeding downhill, saying, "I knew I could, I knew I could!" This is no way to sleep; your midsection alternates between feeling constricted and about to blow. I was sweating through my clothes in agony, discomfort, pain. I felt contorted, twisted in knots. There's a kind of rotting away feeling, a gnawing that doesn't quit. It was exactly what I wanted.

Then it happened. I must have gone into an alternate realm of sleep. I was in a very cloudy place, clouds stretched out everywhere, like looking out a plane's window. There was a palace ahead. I entered the palace and was informed it was where the akashic records are stored. I knew about this place from reading Levi's "Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ." I mentioned this to the gatekeeper and he said he didn't remember ever seeing him. So I'm like "Hmmm, that pious old fraud!" Anyway, I checked the digital card catalog and got about 35 million hits on "dreams about women." I was just about to narrow my search to "anima" and more specifically "ideal women" and, I hoped, more narrowly yet, to "Redfield, Iowa," when I suddenly woke up with a most severe biological function in the offing.

The digestive impulse angered me in a terrible way! But with a full belly of navy beans, salt pork, and johnny cake, and the churning that always goes with it, even more than "She," this impulse is something "that must be obeyed."

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Ideal Woman's Home

My dream, revelatory many years ago, probably 30-some years ago, that The Ideal Woman lived in Redfield, Iowa, is surely a bust by now. It seems there has to be a shelf life on these kinds of dreams.

One, maybe it wasn't actually revelatory, but just something like this, a combination of "sumthin' ah et" and the randomness of words, sounds, and pictures in dreams. Maybe at some point back then I heard a TV news story that had something to do with Redfield, or a newspaper article, or saw the red sun going down over a field. The more I think about it -- especially after all this time -- the more I'm thinking it has to be a bust.

And yet... not so fast... don't they say in church this thing about prophecy, that it comes in dreams and visions? And if the word is the word, there's no shelf life on that. It might have been a dream for the future, not for The Ideal Woman existing 30-some years ago. In fact, it might have been that I was the first, or among the first, to glimpse the prophecy all those years ago as something even now to be fulfilled. It's an interesting nugget, isn't it?, that it suddenly pops back into my consciousness after all this time.

The obvious temptation is to go to Redfield, like the Magi, looking for The Ideal Woman. Maybe somewhere along the way I can find the Little Drummer Boy, and with him keeping a steady beat for our travels, we'll get there just in time to behold her in her glory. What if she's just now being born, She who will be The Ideal Woman? I could be like with Tony Randall or Paul McCartney. Just because I'm an old guy, I might yet live to fall in love with The Ideal Woman, if she hurries up and gets born. Or perhaps the Little Drummer Boy, being "little" and a "boy" will have a better chance of hooking up with her.

I say "hooking up," but that's just a joke. Kind of puts it at a crass level, something that seems essentially holy and is not really any laughing matter.

I have several -- I wouldn't call them "fears" exactly. Some trepidation, hesitancy; I'm thinking of some cautionary flags. I've been out on a limb before. I won't bore you with the details. Except to say at the very least, it's an embarrassment to come slinking back home after you've been massively wrong about something. They never really forgive you till you make an honest effort at counseling. So I'm a little reluctant to follow this new star.

The Tibetans -- or whoever it is -- those ones who are always looking for a white buffalo or red heifer -- they've got it easy; their heads are so far in the clouds everyone forgives them for traipsing over hell's half acre for the latest fulfillment of prophecy. It's curious you never hear how it turned out. That buffalo's always right over the next hill! Lucky dogs.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Ideal Woman

It just popped into my mind, a distant memory I have, which I can't really remember, because it was something in a dream once ... lonnnnnng ago. A distant memory of The Ideal Woman.

I shouldn't even bring it up since my memories aren't clear enough to write about it. I haven't thought of it for many years.

She lived somewhere that started with the word "Red." Like Redfield, Redbrook, something like that. I think it was Redfield ... Redfield, Iowa. I see there actually is a place called that. I knew it was in Iowa and that it started with Red, and Redfield sounds exactly right.

I can close my eyes, though, and still not actually see her. So it's all in vain. More or less in vain. I've never been to Redfield that I know of. But in my dreams, once upon a time, The Ideal Woman was from there.

UPDATE: I just looked at Redfield's official website and saw this interesting motto: "Not quite the heart of Iowa, but holds all the love..." Who comes up with a motto like that?! That says it "holds all the love." Unless, unless ... these dreams have been more common than I've known ... and that many complete strangers, men (and maybe women) have been dreaming about The Ideal Woman from Redfield all these years.

Or it could be possible -- and it's probably more rational and likely -- that the "holds all the love" part of the motto was suggested by the idea that Redfield is "not quite the heart of Iowa," meaning, I guess, that it's just off to one side of the actual heart, i.e., away from the geographical, political, economic center, Des Moines? So they'd be saying they're "not quite the heart of Iowa" in that sense, with the suggestion from the word "heart" of symbolic things, connections with hearts, the biggest being love. But the actual heart -- which they're "not quite" -- would have to hold some of the love; stands to reason. Redfield takes it one step beyond the norm, saying it "holds all the love" [my emphasis].

Holding all the love makes it a natural magnet for the dreams of the loveless. Thus explaining my beautiful anima dream all those years ago.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Old Faithful Settles In For The Long Haul

I was up early today and went out to take one last private look at the pieces of Old Faithful before they hauled it away. It was hard to see much because they had tarps and cables holding everything down. I could definitely see parts of the central tube, stretched down the center of one semi trailer. Unnaturally separated were the enormous steel water balls, cradled and cushioned in a big form crafted to keep them from rolling around. The other pieces were also carefully packed and tied down.

All three trucks were rumbling away, the engines still on. I was thinking how we could do it. Maybe Roto in one, me in another, and Grandma in the third. If we did it, it'd be better to have her in the middle, following one of us with the guy in the back making sure she kept up. But it'd be in vain. You can't have a 104-year-old woman driving a semi and a fugitive to boot. It'd be a black mark on her record, for sure, and would follow her the rest of her life. If it was just us two boys, we could probably vanish with the three semis somewhere in the hills, then back in the hills play with Old Faithful till we were old and gray, covering up the works only when the Google Earth people flew over.

But that was just a reverie. I had no intentions of doing anything vigilante. But I couldn't control Roto!

Around 8 a.m. the drivers arrived from the motel and there was no other business involving me. They looked at me suspiciously, like they half expected me to make a move. But I stood fairly still, looking as innocent as possible. I'll confess I was mentally trying a few things with the power of positive thinking, trying to conk out their engines, flip over their trucks, give them each a heart attack, rectal itch, something. But reality kept its repose and I was thwarted. Until, what's this?

Roto came around the corner about 60 miles a hour! He pulled up abruptly and parked his pickup catty wampus in front of the lead semi. He was out in a second, cussin', stompin', definitely worked up in a massive tizzy. (I'm going to leave out all the F-bombs he launched, but he schooled all the gathering in the fine arts of colorful language. As an artist, you might say he had colors on his palette that revealed several ghettos in the spectrum of light that were condemned long ago. If this had been the Jerry Springer show, the soundtrack would have sounded like Samuel Morse working the kinks out of his brand new code. Roto appears to know more slang for body parts, excrement, sex acts, and family relationships than English can possibly have; he's an international dictionary of filth.)

Plus, he was calling to me to join him, which I didn't. I pulled back further in case it came to gunfire and tire irons. Roto was all up in the face of the lead driver, provoking the others to come to the guy's aid. They explained to him -- amid the cussing and pushing -- that Old Faithful was being repo'd and he needed to back off, now! They were just doing their job. Roto looked over at me, like c'mon, c'mon, help me here... But I was brave. I made the cutting-my-throat gesture about five times. The drivers remained wary but went into more of an at-ease pose when they saw Roto was just hot air. He did go at-ease, but scowled at me like this ain't over, then threw up his hands.

The drivers exchanged clipboards -- the official paperwork. The third guy gave a clipboard to the first guy. The first guy handed a clipboard to the third guy. Then there was another clipboard the third guy had. He needed to pass it to the first guy. The first guy himself had another clipboard and gave it to the third guy. The second guy was there, like What? No clipboard for me? The first and third saw what was going on and, in kindness, worked through their large stack of clipboards till they found one for him.

I'm inching in a bit, because most of the excitement seems to be over. I'm getting closer to Roto, who's giving me some kind of hand signal that I don't recognize. The drivers are heading to their rigs, the first guy to the first truck, the second to the second truck, leaving the third to take the remaining truck. Now I believe I see what Roto's doing. He's pointing to a crowbar by the garage. Just as the drivers are finishing off the preliminaries of getting their trucks in gear, Roto runs to the crowbar, grabs it, and runs toward the trucks! They're barely moving, trying to edge around Roto's pickup, giving him time to climb on the one with Old Faithful's central tube. He's up there like a madman pounding the tube through the tarp. Then when the trucks start get to the corner, right where they'll be able to pick up speed, he jumps off, crowbar still in hand, stalking back up the hill.

So that's it. He went to his pickup, got in and drove off. Too bad I didn't have a second crowbar. I could've run after him and inflicted some massive dents in his passenger side door.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Old Faithful Is Moving Back Home

I might try to pin a new name on Old Faithful, like maybe Old Fickle. If faithfulness means staying with one who loves you, then faithful Old Fickle ain't. Being fickle, though, means you're not too sure who you want to be with. Instead, anyone who bats their eyes at you.

But to call Old Faithful by this new name -- Old Fickle -- might be doing it an injustice, since, it's clear to one and all it is not a living creature but just an incredibly complicated machine. Rather, there are machine components around it, while it is a series of tubes, spigots, knobs, and gauges. Just add water and it's good to go. And fire. It's like a TV dinner, just heat and serve. If you know how to boil water you've got a geyser.

I simplify, of course. There's a lot of know-how that goes into working a geyser. Especially if it spews on schedule like Old Faithful. You've got to have someone in the belly of the beast monitoring the gauges, keeping the flow of water coming, stoking the fire, and manning the bellows. Plus, think about it, there's lot of other things to work out, like getting various government permits, qualifying for tax breaks and incentives on your water bill, fire department inspections, and so on.

So at first I was ticked off when I got the notice, but now maybe it's for the best -- that Yellowstone Park wants "their" Old Faithful back. "Excuse me, but it's my Old Faithful now," was my first thought. But it was patiently explained to me that the guy who signed off on the papers and gave it to me was not properly authorized under the circumstances, something about there not being the legal steps necessary for his actions, that Old Faithful has a whole board of directors, supervisors, captains, and assorted hangers-on, and there are legalities involving quorums, the publishing of the board agenda in advance, and a thousand different things like that. In short, I didn't have a legal leg to stand on and would need to "cede any claim to said Old Faithful without delay."

I did have them on one point, the fact that their monitoring of the geyser seemed very lax, as they had not missed it for the last couple weeks. That was something they were embarrassed to admit, but of course it didn't have any bearing on their legal rights. They did promise to keep track of it more diligently in the future, to which I gave a sober nod, not wanting to rub it in any more than that.

The last few hours they were busy at the south end of the half acre packing it all up. The trucks are now loaded, the holes are filled in. And it's getting late in the day, so the drivers have gone off to stay the night in a motel.

I hope I have a good night. I might not sleep that well, knowing my dreams are sitting on the back of three semis. You know, the trucks are running. They always leave these trucks running. It would really be a bad thing, I suppose, were someone to drive off with one ... or perhaps all three. But how do you drive off with three trucks? It'd be like that one chick, the one who rides six white horses when she comes. She can really spread her legs -- I gotta tell ya -- to ride six white horses at once. That'd be someone worth meeting.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mystery Picture Of Old Faithful Appears

The picture you see is a mystery picture ... a picture that I did not take ... yet which appeared on my cellphone! Read on ...

You may remember the details I gave yesterday on the spewing of Old Faithful. If not, see yesterday.

In short, my cousin and I got the gas jets on, and with the required effort it takes to do it, Old Faithful was revivified. But one detail should not escape you:

I looked at it awestruck for a moment, then fidgeted with the camera and clicked off the picture [posted yesterday]. "I got it! I got it!" That was an historic moment. I paused, awash in emotions and literal water.

Then I heard the phone ring. It was Roto. There was a problem below. The water was massively spilling around him somehow, whether by seepage or a leak. Everything needed to be turned off, and so it was.

How many pictures does it sound like I took? Clearly it suggests one. The picture was taken, I paused, then I heard the phone ring. Roto tells me there's a problem and that everything needed to be turned off, and so it was. Admittedly, it doesn't say I didn't take other pictures. It doesn't exclude the possibility that I could have clicked off several more. Only I'm telling you I didn't!

And yet ... and yet ... this is crazy, I know ... when I checked my cellphone today ... there were two additional pictures ... weird. But to make it even weirder, in the mystery picture above, the intensity of the geyser is quite a bit more pronounced than it was in the first picture. And the angle is different. I don't recall seeing it in this way! That's part of what I can't get over.

How could it have happened? I'm thinking supernatural means. No, no, hear me out! There's a history of strange things happening with cameras and pictures. Strange hoverings of ghosts and demons behind people, or in the foreground of a picture. Deceased relatives suddenly appearing in a family photo. Ectoplasm blotching up a photograph in an unpleasant way. Weird double exposures -- apparently -- but the photographer swears that he only pushed the button once. Swears to it!

I was just reading a book on Saint Charbel (Sharbel) the other day, the hermit of Lebanon. He lived in the 1800s, basically alone, so there aren't lots of pictures of him. None that I know of. But it's on record that these other people were standing near his old "stomping grounds" and had a photograph made. But look right there in the foreground, seemingly coming up out of the ground or a shrub. That's him! They did not see him in front of them but he was actually there when they checked their cellphone. And as far as I know that's the only photograph of him!

Most people run for cover when they see a camera. This guy wasn't even there and he couldn't manage to keep out of sight! In truth, he wanted the faithful to see his apparition and to debate it forever whether the others Photoshopped him in. They claim they didn't ... and I think they sound sincere.

And just one other example in passing. My late father, who served as a monk, told me the weird story of Lahiri Mahasaya and cameras. A photographer tried to take a picture of the yoga master, but it didn't turn out. Lahiri said, "I am Spirit. Can your camera reflect the omnipresent Invisible?" The answer by implication would be no. Then he said, "Come, then, tomorrow morning. I will pose for you." An author explained the strange result, "This time the sacred figure, not cloaked with mysterious imperceptibility, was sharp on the plate." According to the photographer, though, the previous day Lahiri was having a bad hair day, so apparently any state we can attain short of mahasamadhi still allows for vanity.

All I know, friends, is I did not take the above picture of Old Faithful. It just somehow appeared! You see it and you're amazed, as I confess I'm amazed!

If there are any stories of miraculous healing from gazing at this picture, please send them to me. I'm hoping to honor the photograph by cashing in on it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gas Jets On! On! On! On!

Cousin Roto showed up bright and early. We enjoyed a plate of bacon and eggs and discussed the doings of the day. I confirmed that I was fully prepared to allow a massive blowing of Old Faithful, pronouncing my affirmation that the geyser was good to spew the mother lode of moisture. Roto was happy, nodding as I spoke.

Of course we would be stationed, me above ground, he below ground in the belly of the beast. He is more technically astute about the internal workings of machines and can read gauges and things really, really well. He can react in a flash, let's say, if a knob needs to be twiddled or dialed down quickly.

There would be much give and take through the day, as the water pipes needed inspection, the flow regulated, the heat source ignited, the heating of the mechanism raised to a fever pitch, etc. I'll spare you all the technical stuff, since that's Roto's field of expertise. If he ever figures out the intricacies of blogging maybe he can write about it someday. Assuming he can type, which, I don't know...

We compared the time of day on our cellphones to make sure we were right on. I compared my more advanced LG phone with full Qwerty keyboard and virtually unlimited texting with color photos with his five/six year old Nokia with no features. I hoped his phone was up to the rigors of the day, since we'd be exchanging many calls from underground to the surface and vice versa. And it wasn't long till he was down in the belly of the beast for the final test.

I gave him a call, and wouldn't you know it, the same interference on channel 14! He was able to give me a "Roger" amongst the chattering and we went to channel 5. The static wasn't so bad on 5; thankfully some of the neighbors were doing something else. Of course we had a couple of the expected miscues, like trying to talk over the other with our finger on the button, till we relaxed and regained the discipline proper cellphone use demands, saying "Over," "10-4," and the like.

At one point he called me down to be with him. He was working with the heating elements. He let go with some technical mumbo-jumbo about the central tube needing to be heated before the big steel balls were red hot. He was afraid it could come apart at the seams, I think, or something might rupture right there at the connectors. He flipped a switch and the heat bypassed the steel balls. Then with that accomplished he brought the switch back into place and I could hear the sizzle of water spilling into the cylinders.

At that point, he signaled, and I let out the cry that gives joy to both of us, "Gas jets on! On! On! On!" He pulled down his welder's helmet and twisted the knobs up as far as they would go. The gauges at once went into overdrive. He pointed me toward the surface, which I attained in a matter of seconds. This was going to be it!

After a few minutes my cellphone rang. Pushing the button, my instrument crackled into life, a short burst of static, then Roto's triumphant voice. Fortunately the interference wasn't a problem. "I'm twisting the blow valve! This baby's got a stack it's gonna blow!" I hadn't felt this excited since puberty. I quickly pushed the buttons it takes to take a cellphone picture, thankful beyond words, actually, that I didn't have Roto's crummy old Nokia. With a phone like his, an Etch-a-Sketch would be a step up! But, anyway ... just a few buttons, and ...

Before I could get the camera function up, I heard a rumbling like a freight train about to take a leak; it was a roar with a sizzle. Then for a split second there was a hush, a silence, but only for a second. Next, the central tube seemed to buck right there where it meets the ground. I saw the grass around the hole go brown. Then without further warning, a spray, pure white except for a rainbow hovering in its midst, burst tall into the air, proud but exhausting. I was sincerely reminded of that old Kierkegaardian truism, that love wills its own downfall. The spray couldn't maintain itself. It gave its all and there was cooling spray hitting me from the breeze.

I looked at it awestruck for a moment, then fidgeted with the camera and clicked off the picture you see above. "I got it! I got it!" That was an historic moment. I paused, awash in emotions and literal water.

Then I heard the phone ring. It was Roto. There was a problem below. The water was massively spilling around him somehow, whether by seepage or a leak. Everything needed to be turned off, and so it was. Then he appeared at the door. Disappointed, I said simply, without excitement, "Gas jets off. Off. Off. Off."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm By The Fence -- Where Are You?

Yes, it feels good to feel good! Good for me and good for the whole good world! The half acre is greening up good with spring. I saw some little flowers thrusting their blooms forth for all the world to see. There's a sun in the sky. I think I heard a bird in the distance, giving a tweet or two.

I've been out and about. I went to the east side of the house and looked north. But before my mood was reversed, I turned and looked once again toward the south. There was the garage in all its glory. O good garage! Grandpa was so proud of you! We all were. To finally have a garage after leaving our car outside all those decades. The only downside is it blocked the greater view to the south. But if we walk to the south side of the garage we can look south and see everything that is south without obstruction all the way to the fence.

Now when I look south, from the south side of the garage, I see the piles of dirt and the works for Old Faithful. It's kind of an eyesore really, especially now that it's in a hiatus state, not spewing but laying dormant. But no matter. Nothing can spoil this day!

I walked over by the east fence, near the corner post. There I took out my cellphone to call my cousin, hoping to get him back to help me revivify our geyser. I could picture him with his cellphone in hand as I rang him. We would converse -- a two way dialogue, just the two of us, man to man.

He answered and we talked. I walked as we talked. Everything seemed fine until I heard some interference on the line. Someone else on that channel, I guess. I suggested we go to a different channel. We found a clear one and I pushed the button to speak, informing him of my desire to revivify our geyser, if he could come over. It turned out he was trying to talk to me at the same time, which meant he didn't catch everything I said. I waited a second, then his voice came over. I gave it a "Roger," and responded, repeating my desire for him to come over and for us to revivify the geyser.

Pretty soon there was some more crosstalk and static on the line. We went up to channel 14. And I don't know, we must have been reliving something from our childhood, those kind of conversations we had, because he was asking, "Where are you?" I waited and clicked the button, responding, "I'm by the fence. Where are you?" He told me where he was, just going outside to check on his dog. It was interesting that channel 14 was so clear today, because we have some neighbors and that's one of their favorite channels. But they might have gone to town.

I clicked the button, "Uh, roger on that. I copy. Checking the dog." At that point I decided to broach again the idea of revivifying the geyser, to which he came back, through the static, to say, "10-4," that he read me fine. I answered that I was now walking over toward the geyser works. He simply said, "10-4." I looked down the dark hole, knowing I could never do that were the water spraying forth. We talked like that for a while and he indicated he would be over in the morning. We exchanged whereabouts all the way to the house, at which point I had to hang up my cellphone because the interference was a lot worse.

Now that I'm back in, I'm happy to be happy! It's such a great day! The half acre is greening up in fine fettle. All is right with the world! And finally we'll be able to revivify our geyser and break its imposed hiatus once and for all!

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Hope The Worst Is Over

As you can plainly see, this has been a tough time for me. It's really not the picnic you'd think it'd be to have something as magnificent, famous, and awe-inspiring as Old Faithful all as your own. Like having anything, it's a mixed blessing.

Possessions and me don't necessarily go together. It's like a teeter totter. You think you're up but then you're down. To have anything is to suffer. It'd be better to be wandering naked like the Ahimsa. But then we acquire what we have. Easy enough until it's something gigantic. It reminds me of an old friend from high school who owned a guitar too good for him, he thought. You'd think someone with the great skills this guy had would know that guitar was lucky to have him, but he didn't see it that way.

This could be why I barely step it up as far as possessions. Not to imply that I'm all that careful. I'm as busy accumulating as anyone. But look at the house. We barely make improvements on it. The garage is about as Grandpa left it. The lawn mower is an old auction sale lawn mower. We stepped up to a flush toilet but that's about it.

OK, here's the thing. Yesterday I was at the bottom of my game. Hence my rant. This morning things were still pretty bad. I was laying on the floor for a while, until it got too hard. Ouch. But I forced myself to get up, sit in a chair and stew. "Wah wah wah wah," went my mind -- with no apparent way up. Until something happened, I don't know what exactly. And it broke just like that. I snapped out of it. Whatever price you have to pay, I guess I did.

Now I'm thinking what? I think I've written it before, like the guy who pulls his mantle up to his face and looks across from the hill. You just stare at the horizon. Like Kierkegaard's Abraham, looking very askance at what is demanded him. Like it's something to tolerate, not to understand or accept. But if you don't have a certain amount of acceptance, what you're called on to tolerate next time might be much tougher to bear.

The worst may be over. It's time to pump it up, Old Faithful. It's time to fetch Cousin Roto back to his station. Let him fidget with the knobs. Keep the gauge out of the red. Keep the smoking down to a minimum. Attach the gas jets, fills the steel balls with water, scrub down the central tube, duck and cover. Hit the switch and let it spew. Old Faithful shall rise again!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Worthless Glory

I can't stew any length of time without everything turning on its heels, so now I'm quite down on the whole project. I hate it with passion and prejudice. I wish I'd never heard of it. Yesterday, it seems, I was gaga over the size of the Old Faithful works, even spinning it out in my imagination as bigger than Marvel Cave, much bigger than it is. But not today! Curse it!

Today, you could say I'm sated on all the potential glory; I see more shame coming out of it than anything. I'm not trying to picture it as bigger than it is anymore, I'm just trying to picture it gone. Like everything, it is the size it is, made as big as it needed to be to get the job done. It's the law of efficiency. Why spend more money on resources than it takes to accomplish a task? There is often some glory in size, with whatever value that is to you.

Anyway, what is glory and why have it? Glory is the result of people's acclaim. You get enough people shouting out their praise, then you get to sit there in the front row waving, being hugged by the First Lady, getting a dozen roses, signing a couple of autographs. It's over in an hour. Then you're back at the curb in the dark and cold, dragging your luggage out of a cab, being strip searched in an airport before taking a midnight plane back to your pathetic hometown, only to have the plane be late and have them lose your luggage. Someone else finds it, steals it, then you're sitting at home making a list of things you need to shop for to replace what you lost.

There's other aspects of glory. News articles, TV appearances, the mayor gives you the key to the city. To which I say: 1) We're cleaning fish on newspapers tomorrow, or over time they're yellow and brittle, a fire hazard. They also have articles on perverts and thieves. Is that the kind of company you want to keep? 2) TV appearances are worthless, because now every pervert and thief knows your name, face, and where you live. And wait five minutes and you're keeping company with Billy Mays selling orange flavored soap. 3) If the mayor wants to give someone the key to the city so badly, why doesn't he come around on his own initiative? It's ludicrous that I have to live in this town all these decades and he doesn't give me the key. But as soon as I have a little media scrutiny, there he is at my door. Plus, I know he doesn't really care. The only reason mayors want to give anyone glory is so they themselves can bask in it. Before the hour's out he's at his own pathetic home, surrounded by enormous keys, watching the news for who's going to be his next parasitic host. Those keys are made in China anyway.

That glory's worthless, and I'll tell you another one, what the Chamber of Commerce does. And please, no one give them notice of my Old Faithful exhibit or they'll be here, with booze on their breath! They'll come around with their ribbon and three foot pair of scissors, taking pictures of someone cutting the ribbon. It'll be me on one side, the Chamber president on the other, holding hands in mid shake. Then we'll be flanked with other members and well wishers. They'll snap the ribbon, take the picture, and all be back in their cars on their way home in 15 minutes.

They'll rush in their doors, some of them stripping down to nothing, then getting drunk to dull their ongoing personal pain. They've got thick and heavy curtains to keep the light out. They don't want to see you, your store opening, your exhibit, or to know you. They're watching the phone, hoping it doesn't ring, so they don't have to sober up to face reality or get their picture taken with someone they don't care about. Don't write, don't call, don't wake me from this haze. This is what they say. We don't want to hear about it, we don't want to know about it. Unlike the mayor, these folks don't even see it as reflective glory to bask in; there's too many of them. But they lock up the scissors so no one steals them, just the same, because someday the phone will definitely ring.

Glory is essentially someone else's worthless opinion. Today I say lock down the exhibit! Let the grass grow around it! Cursed be the day I ever got the idea! Now I know what they're thinking in Wyoming: Thank goodness someone took this thing off our hands; finally we're home free!

I don't need anyone's opinion on anything to feel better about myself. It's fleeting and worthless.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mentally Faithful

Here's an odd juxtaposition of reality and imagination, that I'm preferring the mental Old Faithful to the actual geyser. Fascinating!

I was in the belly of the beast a day or so ago, but then I came up. Of course I have full awareness and complete memory of what it's like down there. With a few lights strung around, attached to electrical cords plugged into a long drop cord, I could see quite well. The shine of the central tube is most impressive. It glistens as it rises to its full length. A good word to describe it is 'insistent.' It rises and stands tall. You can look at it -- it's so shiny -- and see yourself like in a mirror. It's also fascinating to touch it, to reach as high as you can, knowing that it strains toward the surface. What's so fascinating about it? That it's so cold, for one, freezing. And knowing that it is normally so hot, scalding hot.

The scaffolding and stairs and other necessaries are around. The giant steel balls for water with all the flaming apparatus, gas jets, knobs, gauges, water pipes, and bellows rack are standing in place as well. But I've left it and have returned to the house. I locked up the works, to keep out neighbor kids, and have been in the house these hours since, meditating upon it as a beautiful thing, in fact and in my imagination.

But what's coming to me now, as I sit and stew over the details, is this, that it's also a beautiful mental construct. Meaning it can be as big and awful as I want it to be in here, while out there it is as big as it is, which of course is not bigger than it needs to be to carry out and perform its function. It's big but not spacious. And I'm even having a hard time saying it's "big," when it's simply the size it is to get the job done. There's no credit in having something be a larger size than it needs to be to get its job done. For example you wouldn't want a car that took up two lanes of traffic just for the status, because they wouldn't let you drive it; it wouldn't be practical. Similarly, you wouldn't want a dinner pail that took three men to carry it.

But size is a good quality when it comes to the imagination. You can recall it as it is, but the more you stew over it, mulling, spinning out ever widening mental pictures, the larger it can become. Until you've got Marvel Cave in your mind for width and depth. And you've got scaffolding and structure that leads off ten different directions. The central tube has to have several relay boosters, perhaps reheating units for the water along the way as it travels from the original thermal depths. The steel balls are more like massive drums, set in frames with steel bars to keep its integrity, lest the weight within distend them at any (perhaps) weakened point in their outer arc. You not only have the heating unit, with its practical size, but now it's so big and generating such heat that you know it has to be wasting fuel.

And how do I envision myself within this massive structure? As very very small. Surveying it from all points in a hard hat. Wondering how it ever happened that I, a humble local man, ever managed to get such an enormous thing in my yard. I must own the county!

Friday, March 20, 2009

If You Would've...

If you would've told me a month ago the personal jam I would've been in a month from then I would've told you you were crazy. There would've been no way you could've predicted it. No one could've known. It would've seemed absurd. I would've laughed in your face. You would've been tossed out on your ear. It would've been ridiculous.

If you would've said Old Faithful would've been in my back yard, that alone would've been enough to've made you certifiable. I would've said that would've been impossible. No one could've guessed they would've actually shipped it to me. It would've been a ludicrous guess. If you would've said it, I would've said you were cracked. Nothing like that could've been foreseen.

But when we knew it was on the way, if you would've told me that I would've had so many problems with it, I would've been up in your face. You would've gotten a piece of my mind. I would've taken you out, and I could've, with several cutting remarks that would've left you twitching and babbling. I would've dressed you down and you would've come across as very embarrassed.

I could've never guessed what would've happened or that it could've turned out as badly as it did. I could've pictured Roto easily enough, underground, twiddling with knobs and gas jets, and that would've been fun for him. I should've turned out in life more like him, a man of the fields, acquainted with the hunt and stream, and I could've except I was sheltered and made a gentleman. They should've left me to nature. Then things could've been different.

But what could've been is not very useful now. We can always dream of what could've or should've been. It would've been nice but we're left with what is.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gas Jets Off! Off! Off!

The gas jets are off. I went out, then down into the bowels of the beast. The gas jets have been turned off and locked in place. One thing we don't need is for the half acre to be on fire, then threatening the houses around. I sat there and cried.

The gas jets would be on if I had a normal person's follow through. The whole thing of "On! Off! Off! Off!" is a personal matter, worth crying over, really. I put my hand to the knob. Unlock it, and one twist of the knob would spark it into life. Two twists would be a moderate stream. Three twists would be almost there. Four twists would either be life or suicide. What do I know about gas?

I rested my hand on the knob. I took my hand off. I walked through the structure, down the stairs to the steel balls, looked at the coldness below them and felt the steel. Freezing. I clunked one and it sounded full. Four twists of the knob would heat them, assuming the pilot light's on. It could be death, seriously. If this hole filled up with gas ... then let's say I stumbled on the stairs and broke a leg ... then let's say I stumbled again and hit my head and passed out ... the gas would take my life. It'd be a disaster. I must not turn the knob. Gas jets must stay off! Off! Off!

But still, could I do it? I want there to be some ceremony to it. I need there to be some official words of inauguration. To mark the historic occasion. That's why I must be above ground, not under. Being under the ground is for people like Cousin Roto. He will turn the knob. He will respond to my call, "Gas jets on!," just as he responded to my command, "Gas jets off! Off! Off!"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Be A Little Bit Humble

My sorrowful cry is this, "Death be not proud ... be a little bit humble."

I'm as humble as wallpaper, plain wallpaper. I'm trying to be extra humble, lest I find myself in the throes of a whole panic meltdown. It is a wild and crazy ride, the psychic inflation that goes along with procuring and installing the actual Old Faithful geyser in your back yard. I forgot this was going to happen. But even though it's not actually turned out and squirting yet, naturally I became proud, celebratory, and now I've been reduced ... in ways I really hate to describe ... because part of the whole thing about getting back up is to keep the torment somewhat hidden. Not neglected but fairly under wraps.

Cousin Roto has long since gone home. I don't know if he ever pays any psychic price. He might be one of the brutes of our species, without the extra sensitive knobs and whistles that I came with. I remember that as kids, at Christmas, he was very unsentimental. Not as appreciative of family traditions and formalities. He's probably doing just fine. He installed Old Faithful, big whoop to him, no doubt. He actually went home because he's ticked off at me. My barking of commands wasn't pleasant, "Gas jets on!" Then "Off! Off! Off!" I couldn't make up my mind. I figured it'd blow.

The humility instinct finally kicked in after some stern reflection. My bout with olfactory hallucinations seems to be getting worse. I don't know if there's a connection. I had to change pants a while ago because of the smell. Which smell is probably not even really there. Because I think I'm smelling it again. Parts is parts ... and the whole system is tied in one piece with another. Whether the smells are there or not, I still smell them. So it's getting me down, that and this enforced humility.

When, or I should say, if I ever get the thing working, I'll need to watch it with one eye blinking or something, so I don't feel too proud. What do you think? 50 per cent awareness equals 50 per cent pride?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wrestling Or Rasslin'?

What a struggle. I personally know what it felt like for the Titanic to go down. It broke in eight separate pieces and it wasn't pleasant. There's a similar titanic struggle, a dilemma playing out in my spirit. It's a combined show, three rings, death-defying, as painful as shingles.

I'm on the verge potentially of one of my greatest successes. Likewise I'm on the verge, probably, of one of my greatest failures. I'm so keyed up I feel like cussing. But I will refrain from that -- come what may -- because I don't like anything blue. Grandpa was the mad cusser of our family, F-bomb this, F-bomb that. But I vowed that I would keep my mouth pure and not traumatize my own grandchildren, if I ever had them, which it is starting to look like I won't.

No, instead of settling down with a good woman 35 years ago, I'm out here on my own, everything I got basically shrivelling up and worthless. I had such stupid ideas as a kid, like thinking I'd have to go downtown and stand on the street corner and ask women at random, "Would you marry me?" I don't know where I picked that up. Anyway, that's all past; I blew it. But past is sometimes prologue. And so here I sit, wrestling with the various demons of my soul. Or is it rasslin'?

Wrestling or rasslin'? Which is it? Wrestling is what they do in school. But rasslin' is what they do in the mud. You wrestle in a ring. You rassle in the slop, you rassle an alligator, you rassle when the stakes are to the death. Wrestling is a dainty sport. Rasslin' is two men or two women doing a take-down for all the marbles. Wrestling, you have rules and stick out your little finger to let the judge know you're refined. Rasslin', you put a finger in someone's eye with about a can full of mud. Wrestling is like a waltz or a minuet. Rasslin' is grinding it out like a cigarette butt. Wrestling's what they do in the Olympics, then have their urine test. In rasslin' the only test is survival.

Will Old Faithful blow? Will I look like the town's biggest fool. This is what I'm rasslin' with. Every day is torture, every night torment. My bed is swimming. I sweat through my clothes. I can barely hold myself together.

Monday, March 16, 2009

All Gas Jets Off

I barked out the command to Roto to cut all gas jets to the firing mechanism. He balked, as I knew he would, but I made it clear that that was an order. We're not going on with the firing, the heating of the water, or blowing the geyser just yet. This is something that needs to be done step by step and not all at once.

The serious stench of failure is in the air. I'm walking around smelling it. I'm seriously suffering from olfactory hallucinations, but this stench is all too real. The consequences of failure are too great, involving my self esteem and sense of worth. I am tied into deeds, the working out of my thoughts. I know it's wrong but I'm in a bad place. I know I should let it blow and not worry about it, but I'm not there yet.

I want to know my motives, expectations, the whole personal slate. Cousin Roto may be a savage beast driven by a lust for action but I'm a softer man, not a man of the hunt or field but a man of the salon, the house. I can swing both ways, since I was a boy, but with refinement and the polluting influences of education I'm torn. I look for nuance where others see clear cut distinctions. Roto wants to get it on, I want to step back and understand the implications.

You might say I'm a mental vivesectionist. Ha ha, kind of an amusing turn of phrase, no? Well, that's one of the big words I learned while away at school. I learned several big words, now that I think of it. 50 cent words, a dollar words. I still have a collegiate dictionary that I bought at the bookstore. It was $15, and since it's chockful of 50 cent words, I definitely got my money's worth. You flip through the pages and it's amazing. Like look at the section on "un-". They have lots of words with an "un" on the front, and that usually negates in someway the basic root word that follows. The only one I couldn't find was "Un-cola."

Old Faithful can wait! It must wait! I have all these head games to work through, the mental gymnastics that all geniuses step up and take their turn at.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

This Is Where I Fail

Keep me in your thoughts. Think something positive about me, please. Aim your good wishes my direction. I can see it building.

Everything is exactly in place as I said it was. I have made a vast technological stride as far as my yard is concerned. The mechanism is stewing. It's only a matter of time. But I can't hit the "fire" button yet, not until I've reconciled certain personal matters, aspects of my personality.

This is where I fail. If all holds exactly as it has in the past, I've come to this moment only to see it all fizzle out. I don't consider myself a failure. In fact, I'm the one guy I feel can get the job done. I wouldn't trust anyone else to do it. But as great as my success gene is, as many successful vibes as it emits and radiates, I tend to come to a moment of truth like this ... knowing ... that we can go one of two ways, and the one way is likely to be failure.

It's like "The Honeymooners" come to life, if you will. Or any show that's premised on the idea that the main character is the dreamer whose dreams are bound to come to nothing. I think "The Life of Riley" had that same premise. You hate to watch them because you know they're going to dream it up big only to have it come crashing down. Alice has the role of naysaying on the ascent, and encouraging on the descent.

Maybe you've been where I am. I hope I'm not simply shouting into empty space. Maybe you can identify with a person who senses certain success just before inevitable failure. That's a very torn perspective. It's a tragic flaw.

I know what success looks like. In this case it looks like a spray of water 185 feet high every hour or so. But I know what failure looks like, too. In this case it looks like dribbling water, an exploding mechanism, or the half acre on fire. The headlines will either proclaim my victory or my demise.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What Goes On Underground Stays Underground

There are mysteries underground that are best left unexplored. Every evil things goes on below the surface. Worms, grubs, bulbs, hell. I've noted the psychic parallels, that what you think is best not examined too closely, lest you find that you're a pervert. The way I picture the human mind is a lot like a Halloween haunted house, but none of it's pretend. The cobwebs, mental ectoplasm, and drippings are real. There's a mill wheel splashing through our brain fluids attached to a stone that grinds our thoughts down from larger kernels so that we can fit them through our ego and seconds later spit them out as words.

Underground, it's cavernous. You can crawl or walk vast distances and get lost. I serious believe there are statues down there in nooks, meant for us to see, but they frequently disappear. In places you can dig and dig, but beware, turn your back for a second and your backhoe will also vanish, perhaps never to reappear, perhaps to reappear somewhere else on the planet. And you with it!

We found some soft ground at the south side, backhoed it out, got the wooden scaffolding in place underground, installed the firing mechanism, the spewing mechanism, the giant steel balls, the water supply piping, the central tube, the rack for extra fireplace bellows, and after all that I was ready for a good night's sleep. It's amazing, you know, what you can do in a day. Usually nothing. I sit and watch TV, read the internet, take a nap, watch some more TV, eat, and that's it; I'm a vegetable. 24 hours speeds by like a wink. But then, you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. If faith can move mountains just imagine what it can do with geysers. It's no big deal.

Of course the local paper ignored the whole thing. Being ever the optimist, I figured they'd have a headline something like, "Local Man Transplants Old Faithful From Yellowstone To His Back Yard," but they must not have gotten my email. It's their loss! Since it seems like something that would sell newspapers. But one day I will get my due! Every devil does, right?

Cousin Roto stayed underground with the geyser last night.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Old Faithful -- The Actual Geyser

If I tell you what I wished for and that it actually came true, you're not going to believe it. I could tell you how it was accomplished but I don't expect anyone to believe it. So, how about I just don't bother to convince you? If you don't have faith in my word, you're invited to leave now. A man's word is his bond. That's what Grandpa always taught me. I remember asking him what that meant, "What's a bond?" He wasn't sure what it meant either, but said the point was that what you say is supposed to be true.

So if you want me to put my hand on my heart, I will. Or to swear on Grandpa's grave, I will. How else can I say this? What you are about to read is true.

I contacted the owners of the Yellowstone Park. I literally did. I told them that I was dying, and maybe I am, from olfactory hallucinations, and that my last wish was to own the Old Faithful geyser. I knew I had a good shot at getting it, but even with that I was amazed that it was no problem to them. The reasoning makes sense. When something is as faithful as Old Faithful it also becomes boring to the owner, because "Familiarity breeds contempt" but "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." They were happy to give it up, and when questioned as to why they didn't get rid of it before they said no one else had ever had the optimism to ask for it before.

Having Old Faithful might do me good on two fronts: One, the fame I'm going to have and the extra income from tourists at my place; Two, the healing hot waters might help clear my nose and head. If I'm sniffing near it right when it blows, I will get a noseful of water and that will clear my sinuses like nothing you can get over the counter.

Anyway, there's a widespread misconception that Old Faithful is a thing of nature. They've kept that up as a myth to fool the tourists and I might want to keep up the facade. I heard them hinting around on "Mythbusters" that Old Faithful was a fraud, but they had trouble constructing a full scale model of it, so it was never proven. As it turns out, it was built in the late 1800s by an eccentric millionaire. It has a whole mechanism under the ground, including two enormous steel balls that hold and heat the water, then a central tube that leads to the surface that spews it as far as the eye can see.

It was lucky that I and Grandma now own Old Faithful, because we've had lots of digging experience, digging outhouses over the years. I can show you the half acre right now. If you see all those 4 by 4 patches where the grass is especially green, that's where we used to go. That's a lot of holes!

With some digging -- and with Cousin Roto's backhoe -- we got the big steel balls and the heating mechanism installed, then the tube, the timing device, the rocks to surround it, etc., and it's been heating up for a while. I don't know what's taking it so long. It seems like it should be blowing pretty soon. I might need to go out and stoke the fire or use one of those fireplace bellows.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Bemused, Gracious Wave

First, a tirade: Rotten, stinking thing! Couldn't get this blogger to come up! So I'm sitting here like a bubble about to bust and can't get on.

Second, back to the show: I was just in the center of my living room, working on a bemused, gracious wave. When everyone comes to see the Old Faithful geyser spouting off, soon to be located at the south of my half acre property, they will want to see their host. I will occasionally wander out, in bathrobe and pipe, to visit with some of my geyser's well wishers, sign autographs, and tell where I got my big start.

It was right here, in fact, where I learned the values that I live by. Hard work, honesty the best policy, family, friends, service to one's country. And of course the rock solid conviction that wishing can make it happen, if you're young at heart. I make a wish and the forces align to bring it to pass. It is written, it is done.

Fate has conspired to make me a success. I tried to shrug it off. You've heard the story of the king who walked in rags, trying to avoid his destiny. Been there. And there's the story of the king who was slated to be killed, but he put a servant in his royal robes. Yet the arrow, shot askew, hit the right king and he died. That can happen. The first one, I mean. How do I know? Hey! [making self referential gestures and smiling].

ONE THING FURTHER -- That's the end of this particular post. I just wanted to note here, for posterity, that my favorite appliance dealer is retiring. So if you bought his appliances in the last couple years because you thought service followed the sale, you're out of luck. But that's a downer. What I want to do is actually pay tribute to him. He's out there, one of my regular readers. I'll just call him "P," because I didn't clear this with him. P, baby, you always did a great job working on my appliances. You were there when I called and I won't forget that. I always chuckled at something you did, the way you acted put out or incredulous that people didn't know more about appliances (1) or their place in life, working, not taking welfare. You had a couple things to say about immigrants. And I didn't completely agree but you're welcome to your radical views as an American. The whole appliance thing was funny, though, laughing with you. Like if someone didn't know how a dryer worked, etc. At first I didn't know either, to be truthful, but I watched you a few times. And now I believe I grasp some of the concepts. Have a great retirement!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Big Ideas I Have

There's two things happening with me right this second. 1) I have Big Ideas outward; 2) I'm so interiorly oriented I'm becoming a withdrawn clam. These are contradictory things, of course, but what can I do?

Number 1 isn't happening because of my isolation, being on the sidelines, being alone. Number 2 is happening as my constant reality, and the more it does the further Number 1 is from reality. Yet I have the impulse to look up in the air and cast in my all with society and existence. What would this look like from the air? Like the opening shot of "The Sound of Music," Julie Andrews with her arms raised, the helicopter swooping in. It's the center of the shot; it could be no other.

The way it would have to work, though, is that society has to agree to my terms. I know objectively I'm in no position to bargain. I'm not like a rock star who can insist on green M & M's, cold duck chilled to 54 degrees, and a zen garden on my desk. I'm not like the president who has his own airplane, helicopter, and limo. I'm not like the executive who spent a million dollars to redecorate his office. My offerings, while prodigious, perhaps stunning, don't look good on a resume or application. I couldn't qualify for a grant. Still I say that society would have to agree to my terms.

My terms are modest, basically that my house and land (the half acre) be designated the center of the universe. Mount Harney and Jerusalem would lose their claims. I would want to see a big map like on phone company commercials, looking like the headquarters for the moon shot, with my house and the various world lines, meridians, reoriented to that location, taking away Greenwich's prerogatives. Anything less would be taken as a slap in the face. And I might have to hire North Korea's publicists to handle my outrage.

I also want to have the geyser Old Faithful to be relocated to near the south border of my property, with all tourist royalties and payments being credited to my account. Whatever underground mechanism they have to generate its many eruptions, I want the sole copy of all schematics, that it could never be replicated.

Then and only then will I unleash such insights on life that folks would still be talking weeks later.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

You're All Just Magic Friends

I have lots of invisible friends on the internet. Most of you I've never met. Nor do you visit my site. In fact, it's incongruous to address you since you're never here. But I know you're out there somewhere.

There are lots of people I will meet someday that I don't know now. In some cases they're already beyond childhood. They're middle aged, or old. They're going about their lives, not thinking of me, I'm sure, but I'm thinking of them.

Whenever I hear of some old codger, like Tony Randall, marrying a woman 50 years younger than him, I think, hmm, who is there I'm going to know someday who isn't even born yet? Not to marry, because I'd rather keep it real. Such as having at least something in common.

But that doesn't mean I couldn't be an aquaintance, a confidante, a mentor, or a friend to someone much younger. Or much older. Look, I've got a 104 year old grandmother. I get along with her just fine. She sleeps a lot.

I might write in to the 700 Club and see if they can help me track down some of my magic friends. I was watching it one day and he knew about a guy out there with a sore knee and was sure that it was getting better. It's logical from my point of view. If he knows about something that specific, maybe he could help me too. You know, come to think of it, I had a cold that day and difficulty urinating. I wonder why he didn't single me out. Must have been pressed for time.

If you're reading this blog -- the brainchild that I gave birth to this morning -- then, please, let me ask you to pause for a minute. Could it be that we were meant to share this incredible friendship? Like two hitchhikers on the shoulder. Like two truck drivers buying the same eight track. Like two pieces of iron at the same foundry. Like two bullets in the same gun. Like two peas in the same can. Like two pilgrims at the same rock. Like bric and brac. Like Punch and Judy. Like a bowl and broth.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Nine Minutes

I only got nine minutes to save the world. And most of the ninth minute is gone.

This is a pressure cooker. The image of the pressure cooker is a great one. Grandma used to cook food in a pressure cooker. It was really the microwave of its generation. You put the meat in, set the pressure level to "stun" and let it go. The little gauge on top made it look especially dangerous, like the stove might be heading for space any second. But of course the biggest danger of the pressure cooker was if everyone ignored it and the heat built. Eventually it would blow. That was the danger anyway, even if it didn't happen.

Every minute that passes is another minute of this pressure filled day and life. I'm advancing on, though, aware that each minute must be lived, tick tock tick tock. The pressure comes from all the things swirling about, fears, hopes, what we neglect, what we confront. In an old house like this I have my worries. But it seems inert enough. The walls are still there. But who knows what goes on within them? There might be eating within the lumber, crumbling in the bricks. When I get to the foundation -- were that to happen -- I might find terrible creatures, bugs, chewing.

This isn't the inner castle I'm dealing with, but transfer it all over to that. We don't just have the body that is crumbling, the consciousness caving in, but the physical things that can provoke a disturbance as well. When you have a disturbance in the physical surroundings, it only hastens the other disturbances. Then add to it the other lives (or life) in your vicinity, your field of responsibility, and life is a lot like a pressure cooker. (Sorry about the cliche.)

Two minutes. That's what I'm down to. But maybe I'll be able to slop over. I shouldn't waste it. My wisdom is dwindling. I didn't start out with much. The rats are chewing in the bags. The bags are marked CARE. I've got a bunch of them still packed up from years ago. They sent them to me. I paid for these bags. They're stacked. The stacks are rotten. One minute. One minute and less to go. It can't be happening. My gauge is steaming. The steam is leaking. The leaks are hastening on. The time is gone. I'm down to the bare nubbins. Now I'm looking at bareness. That's it!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Ceiling Within

Once again today I'm thinking of the interior castle. That's one image for it. I like it, too, because castles are really something. I've never been in an actual castle, but seeing them in movies over the years has always been a treat.

I have some thoughts about seeing things in movies. For example, I have a hard time freezing what happens in this scene from what happens before and what happens later. I have a hard time watching a two minute scene, let's say, and feeling good about it. Because there's more around the corner, and it might all turn out badly. This relates to all the castles I've seen. They have the context of a bad guy lurking around the corner, people in the dungeon off their usual game, or an upside vampire crawling down the side of the parapet.

If you can freeze it like this: A movie that's nothing but a tour of a castle, stopping to examine things, no narration, no drama, that would be preferable. Since no movie like that exists, imagination has to accept the task. So we're left with an image, a castle, snipped from various movies, excluding all forms of danger and drama.

To me, things can be out of repair; I think that would match up nicely. I for one am getting older. My health care professional tells me I'm doing well, I told my insurance nurse I'm doing well, but I still might die at any minute, I don't know. Whatever the castle corollary is to that -- if the image stretches that far -- can be included, leaking pipes, flickering fire, cobwebs on the stairs, bats in the tower. It'd be hard to picture an actual castle -- not one of your billionaire's faux castles open for tours -- in the greatest repair. There's going to be corners and cracks where things are happening. Dust collects.

I wanted to say something about "The Ceiling Within," and this takes us to another aspect of the interior castle, the high ceilings. Am I saying enough about it? What do I see when I close my eyes? In terms of a ceiling. Rounded, dark, eyes darting too much, it would seem, to picture it. Shall I picture it like a castle ceiling? The walls aren't bricks. Maybe they're called big huge bricks. I wouldn't call them bricks. Stones. Very dusty up there, again, cobwebs. Solid construction. Built with extravagance. Still, somehow it's a lower ceiling.

There's anything I want to see. I'm alternating between the mental images I flash up, and the super images that are seen without imagining them. Those are two distinct places, distinct ceilings, or two aspects of the same ceiling. Which is easier to see? It makes little sense, but the latter, the super ceiling place. The images at the lower ceiling are there when you call for them. The second are there with every thought, but not strictly summoned, not arranged.

Would you like to see a glowing ball, perfectly white, with fuzzed edges? You can summon it artificially to this part of the ceiling, the lower ceiling. It takes its place in the parade of images. Your eyes examine its bottom, mid section, and top. You can turn it and see it go around or you can circle it. There's something concocted about it though. But without concocting, see the same ball -- your original flash -- all in a perfect standing, undeviating presentation, willed but not fulfilled by your own effort.

The ceiling within is where you can see everything you want to see.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Steady Drip, Drip, Drip

I'm becoming more analytical about my own thoughts. The interior castle, steps to the tower or locked in the dungeon.

Take any castle from the movies. Get rid of the bad guys, crocodiles, vampires, and that's what I'm talking about. I don't want my interior regions populated with bad guys who might be lurking around the next corner.

Just give me the castle, please. I can creep around it. And I would definitely creep. Meaning in slow, calculating, appraising, reflective motion. Around each stone, examining the cracks and foundations.

If I'm walking around -- just me and no one else, like in one of Bob Dylan's dreams -- I can be down where the sump pumps are. That far away trickling, echoed drips I like. The interior drip, drip, drip of thought is an appealing thing, especially if you had all the time in the world. We do, right? Because you can be alone and focused on it even in a crowded hall. I haven't figured out how yet but I believe it's true.

Now, let's say the interior is like a castle. And there I am, analyzing the cracks, the heavy stones, the flaming wall things, the table room, the walk in fireplace, the secret doors, the library, the ceilings as high as the sky. What do I need? A map? No, I have all the time in the world. But mentally isn't a map necessary? Well, how am I recognizing and processing without a mental map drawn somewhere and sometime? Could it all be instinct? Not very well if I'm using language. This must be the room of mirrors. This isn't complete perplexity, because language knots aren't indestructible; something preceded language.

(And even if I don't need a map, at various points I'll be making a map.)

OK, the castle thing isn't persistently satisfactory. It's still an image. But everything that has words associated with it is going to be an image. A stream. A journey. They're still simply understandable in everyday terms.

So what are we left with? There's some progress. Finally you just have to quit talking about it. But we haven't reached that yet.

[Now closing the big red book with expensive pages.]

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Carpet Racket

It'd be interesting to know whatever happened to Sam. He took that job at the carpet store and shortly after that we lost contact with each other. He had me come over that one time, trying to get me to work there too. But all I had to do was look around once to know that such a life wasn't for me. When I see a seedy looking guy in the office, looking out the door, and nothing but pieces and rolls of carpet stacked around, I'm out of there.

I'm sure this was a dishonest racket, and I'd rather keep my life clean, free of these kinds of entanglements. Maybe the owner looks seedy because he's in it for something on the side. One guy and Sam together in the store. Sam was just an innocent kid. The guy showed up in town from nowhere, supposedly there to sell carpet, but where'd he come from? What was the real story? What'd he have to hide?

You need to establish a reputation to do an honest business in one of these small towns. And you don't get a good reputation by just showing up, especially with a fly by night racket. Then trying to bring every fresh-faced kid in on your scheme and acting suspicious. My instincts have always been pretty much right on when looking at people and knowing they're up to no good. There's more going on in that office than meets the eye. Sam fell for it, but I never would.

Now, we know carpet stores are like an extensive pyramid scheme. Stores in other towns are on the lookout for vacant buildings in other towns. They split their inventory and even if they have to spread it super thin, they're willing to put up a sign, stack up a few rolls, and call it a store. It takes about 10 minutes to talk a desperate landlord into giving you a month's lease and another 10 minutes to get a local kid in there as your go-between with the public. Now you're sitting in your office, looking out at the kid's friends -- hoping they're as clueless as he -- so you can snare them as well, either for your own store or the store you hope to split off to tomorrow. Once you've got them in the door, a little fast talking does the trick. And certainly once you've got them in the car on the road to another town, they're trapped.

Sam and I grew apart. I never thought he was happy with that job but he either couldn't come back or his pride kept him from it. Or maybe they "disappeared" him. The evidence is long gone by now. It's one of the many forgotten cold cases. Poor kid, they dangled "something better" in front of his face, and like a fool he went for it. He should have held back, but the fact of the matter is he didn't. That store literally wasn't there for three days and they were angling for him.

I've never forgotten and I never will, what it was like seeing Sam stand there, the sad sight. He was waiting for people to come in and buy carpet, waiting for a commission. He had the best of intentions. And all the time that other guy was sitting back there in his office, looking out. Like a crook.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Seedy Bars, Tattoo Shops, and Carpet Stores

When they put in the shopping center, downtown suffered. Businessmen lost so much money they either had to pull out completely or build near the shopping center. All the choice spots were taken inside before they got there. But that left the buildings downtown as ripe pickings for what we might call Grade B or C businesses, even D or F.

These inferior businesses are the bane of civilization everywhere. Bail bondsmen, tattoo shops, skidrow bars, and carpet stores. There actually was a street just off the square that we called skidrow even before the shopping center came in. I knew better than to ever go there. It wasn't like the skidrow the traveling preachers talked about in the big cities but it was definitely a wanna-be. Guys standing on one leg, their other foot against the building, smoking a cigarette. Nothing you want to see.

Sure enough, the seedy bars were down that street, luring in the hopeless riff raff that every town is known for, or at least has a few of. Some crooked lawyer's going to be in the vicinity, probably running a legal scam on behalf of the troubled. A tattoo shop carves out a filthy living when their clientele gets roaring drunk. And there's a carpet store, always right there, foolishly thinking you're going to buy carpet.

But it happened just like I said it did: The shopping center was built, the exodus of remaining businesses of diminishing hopes followed, then the downtown area became known for this seedier stuff.

When I see a carpet store to this day it makes me feel sick. Have I ever been in one? Yes, actually, I have. So I know exactly what they're like. I'm in a position to judge.

There's several things you can say about a carpet store. It's as fly by night as any business can be. One day there's nothing, the next there's a carpet store. They didn't come from anywhere, they're not there for any obvious purpose. They sprout up like a poisonous mushroom. All they have is big pieces of carpet, so they can move in on a moment's notice. Usually what you have is this: Another carpet store in another town hears of a vacant building, they split their inventory, and they move in in the middle of the night.

I knew a guy named Sam who worked at a carpet store. He and I worked at the same place next door. Everything was going great, until one day we got up (this is true) and suddenly there was a carpet store next door. No one saw them move in, no one heard of it in advance. The place was vacant, as the pattern always seems to go, then BOOM, there's a full fledged carpet store. We didn't know the guy who ran it, but he looked seedy.

Next thing I knew Sam was working there, like within two weeks of the guy's opening it. I still saw him on breaks and at lunch, that sort of thing, and he acted happy. But I never really believed it. After all, what could be more boring, even more discouraging than looking at big rolls of carpet all day? In fact, I saw the whole thing, for this was the time I was in a carpet store. Sam thought it'd be a good idea if I came to work there too. But my path wasn't meant to go downhill.

Looking back at it now, of course it worked out exactly as I predicted. The business we both worked for is still there -- almost 40 years later -- but the carpet store is long gone. Long gone. I don't know what happened, but I suppose people got wise to the whole thing. Either that or they split off once too often with vacant buildings in other towns. Whatever happened, I haven't heard from Sam since, and that's the real story.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mode-A-Day Mowed Away

They tore down the shopping center. It's a lamentable thing to drive by the place that was the center of so much of our activities as a family.

But the days of shopping centers and malls, it appears, are over. Now everything's online -- no more bricks and mortar -- they're tearing it all down. Maybe the bad economy has something to do with it too. Construction has come to a halt. 1) Because there's nothing to build; 2) Even if they wanted to there's no money; 3) Customers are busy shopping online.

That's not the way it was 50 years ago, which is about the time, I think, when they built the shopping center. Back then we didn't buy everything online. A good brick and mortar store was what we preferred. People who worked there greeted us. We walked in, looked over their wares, maybe ate a pickle if it was a place that sold them, and bought what we wanted.

The shopping center was like a godsend. Finally we could go to one place and stay inside. No more traipsing around downtown into a warm store, then out into the cold weather. It was about 10 years later the stores started closing downtown. But we had the shopping center. Then they got rid of the parking meters downtown and we were torn about where to shop. But since the stores were closed anyway there wasn't any point to the free parking.

I personally preferred the shopping center. Grandma liked it. It sounds weird to say it these days -- when bricks and mortar stores have entirely gone out of favor, and online shopping is all the rage -- but we were even proud of the shopping center. I was. We had cousins come to town from Denver and we took them there and hung out. It was a cool place. A bowling alley that smelled like stale beer. A nice dime store. A restaurant that had you actually phone your order back to the kitchen. And the Mode-A-Day store, a place for women that Grandma got some nice dresses at. She never liked sack dresses, I might add.

I don't know precisely what happened to devastate the shopping center. Of course, I suppose online shopping had something to do with it. Plus the fact that bricks and mortar stores are generally out of favor. I'm thinking it just got old. We weren't overly proud of it, say, after 40 years had passed. By then we took it for granted, thinking it was just always going to be there.

Then, slowly but surely, shops started closing. Pretty soon the customers were home with their computers. Fewer crowds meant more stores closing. That meant less revenues and more dilapidation. A local gang painted some graffiti on the wall. And that did it. The place closed up. The bulldozers came in.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Couldn't Return To My Dream

I had the dream yesterday about the big carnival ride, a lifting device that went super far up into the air and dropped people off at or near our half acre. But then I woke up just before I myself was about to ride it. The lady with the 10 dollars in her mouth, who may or may not have been dead, chewed up all the time -- and time is money, in this case she was chewing 10 bucks -- so I ended up waking up before taking the ride...

I was thinking about it as I was going to bed last night. I was in that twilight zone just before you fall asleep, sort of feeling like I was still awake, thinking about it, but then when I actually did fall asleep the subject never came up. Dreams are weird. You think they're just part of your thought process, so why can't you think what you want to think? Why does it have to come involuntarily? I wish I knew. As it turned out I dreamt something totally unrelated that I didn't remember.

When I woke up, then, today before the alarm went off, I was laying there thinking maybe I could drift into that twilight area again and dream it as a conscious thing. Maybe not being actually asleep, but still in the vicinity of sleep close enough that I could at least take a ride on the thing. But that didn't work either. So it was not to be.

That would have been one great view of the whole neighborhood. I'd love to see it from way up there. Maybe I ought to go ask a guy at the airport to fly me around.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Bird's Eye View

I almost got a bird's eye view of the whole neighborhood ... in my last dream.

At the bottom of the hill to the west there was a gigantic carnival ride type of machine. It was more gigantic than anything from real life, making it look actually scary in how high the people went. They were very small up there and it didn't look tame in any way. I kept avoiding taking a turn. Put it off too long because it looked dangerous.

They were going from the bottom of the hill to the top, so it wasn't exactly like a carnival ride. Like a ski lift more, except picking you up, then going really high, then turning, then setting you down.

Finally I decided to do it. Faced my fears. Figured once I'm on it'll be too late. Anyway, no one's falling off.

So I'm in line. But the woman strapped in the device just ahead of me had either passed out or was dead. And the person ahead of her pointed out to the ticket lady that she had 10 dollars in her mouth. The ticket lady needed to get the money out of her mouth and was surprised to see it there. She gently clunked the back of her head at the top of the neck, her mouth opened, then she pulled out the two five dollar bills that were there for some unknown reason.

Now it's my turn to get a ticket and I'm thinking she needs to wash her hands before waiting on me. Then she very nicely said, "I need to step into the kitchen and wash my hands." I said, "Good idea."

That was when I woke up.

But had I kept on in the dream, I could have seen everything in the neighborhood with a bird's eye view. That would have been great: the west, east, north, of course, and the south. Our own little plot of land, which was where they were letting people off. See it from way up there!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The North Never Melts

Snow blanketed the entire world the other day, preceded by hours with rain that became ice. Everything was a slick, hard mess. We were hoping for an early onset to spring, but as it turned out, those hopes were dashed with winter's surge. Hoping ... it never seems to affect the weather.

Then, as with most things, the days brought differences in the outlook. It might be really cold at night, but the sun's rays have a hidden warmth. It beams down and when it touches the chilled earth, the chilled earth begins to loosen up, pat itself on the arms a bit to get the circulation going, then shed its coat, sweater, and long johns, finally to find itself warm.

I took my coffee grounds out to spill them on the snow -- I love the look of coffee grounds splattered everywhere -- and when I got there most of the snow was gone. Clear over by the well, under the big maple tree, there was still some snow. But that was about it. Also over by the fence. There's places there, I'm sure, where the sun's rays never make it. It's a tangle of grass that mice have arranged to live in.

Those places are on the south, I might add. Meaning, there actually is plenty of snow left, and ice under it. But you've got to go north to find it. I could look, but I don't think I will. North is only a few feet away, just on the other side of our north wall. I'm not that interested. I already just know it. Because I have experience with life. I know the north never melts. Yes, maybe by the time July gets here, even things on the north will finally catch up to the south.

Just chalk it up as another reason I think the north is not as good as the south. It's a very shadowy place, where mankind finds an uneasy welcome at best. You could die going north.