Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Death Of A Blade



Dawn arrives late and I wonder if just a month after the Summer Solstice if already the sun’s light is growing weaker. Surely, it is far too early for the light to be failing for the season is in full bloom and all its glory.  Yes, it is an illusion, a false hope, a chimera of sorts. The predawn sky tells me fog has settled in. The warmth begins already and the air is thick with moisture and heat. Every breath is an effort and there is no relief in the shade for there is no sun yet. It will be another hour before it is light enough for yard work and the heat has a head start on us all.

It feels wet but not that cooling liquidity found in clear water or streams or even rain. No, this is like having warm spit on your body, thick and clingy, as if a giant dog has licked us all right after drinking lukewarm water. Sweat breaks out on me as I walk to the shed and even though the temperature might not be high it feels muggy. The dogs are dispirited and listless. This is not an adventurous romp out in the woods or a chance to play, no. This is a trip out into a sauna and it seems as if it will get worse before it gets any better.

The mower roars to life and I wonder how long it will last. It’s been around for about seven years now and it’s been through some pretty thick stuff. It’s a push mower I bought cheap and I’ve gotten my money out of it several times over. But let’s do it by the numbers; the front yard is cut first, the piece of yard across the trail is mowed before anything else in front, then back and forth and back and forth. I’ve mowed the yard every Sunday morning since May. I’ll keep it up until sometime in September or October. Back and forth until I hit the first part of the yard with a tree, then around and around until I hit the garden, and then I’ll cut what’s left into sections. Back and forth and back and forth; it feels so damp I ought to be leaving a wake. Or be the main attraction in one.

The backyard I divide into two parts and then go after the fire pit area. The trail needs to be mowed again but I wonder how much energy I will have. The heat is oppressive. Sweat clings to my body, runs down my back and legs, blinds me, soaks my gloves and I can feel it pooling in my shoes. My body cannot cool because the sweat isn’t evaporating. I feel like I’m dissolving in the heat and it is getting warmer with every pass I make with the mower. The sun breaks through the fog and it’s as if someone threw another log on the fire.

It’s odd what grows and where it does and what does not grow and where it does not. There was a patch of thick  grass thriving near the fence on the west side of the backyard but the trees have begun to shade it out now. There was very little growing near the firepit when I arrived but now that I’ve cleared it grass is trying to edge into the place where a briar patch once thrived. Those were some monster briars, too. The stems of those things were thicker than my fingers and their weaponry was proof against all gloves. They grew tall and straight up in the air then began to curve down and entangle with one another as they matured. I cut them all down with a bush hook and then rolled them all together in pile and left them to dry out before I burned them. This was years ago but the briars still return, a little weaker each year, in that same place each time, but now they get mowed often. I wonder if I died today if next year they would begin to grow up large again.

The trail I cut to The Big Oak on the corner of the property began when I decided to fence the area in back in 2007. The vines and briars were so thick back there it took a few days just to hack a path to put the fence up. Bert set up patrolling the perimeter and the path began to form through the paws of the dogs. I decided to run the mower down the path, to open it up a bit, and just kept expanding it. The mower may be a smallish push mower but it has done its part in getting the trail open enough to enjoy it.

The slope leading down to where the firepit lies isn’t steep or long but I’ve recently been mowing it too. I axed a few stunted trees to make room for those doing much better, and the firepit area, one day after I am long gone, may be ringed with the Oaks I left there. This is my dream, to be the nameless and unknown grower of Mighty Oaks, and perhaps I will be. But as I am thinking of greater Oaks the mower’s handle slips from my grip and rolls, just a foot or two, down the slope. The new stump of a recently hacked tree is there, gets hit by the mower and the mower bounces over on top of it The blade stops with a loud noise.

I check the blade and yep, it’s bent but I have a spare. The old blade is very worn, it was time to replace it, and sweat pours off of me as I turn the bolt, around and around and around. Damn, the piece of metal that hold the blade is broken too. I’m dead in the water here.  Closer inspection reveals that the shaft is bent. The blade holding piece of metal isn’t a big deal but that shaft…

So repairing a dead mower might mean more money than I have in it. A new one might mean more money than I want to put into one. Yet I have to decide before next Sunday.


Suggestions?

Take Care,

Mike

To Hold Not To Have.

The new moon has devoured all the light in the night sky except for the stars so my bedroom is totally dark. I raise myself on my elbows and listen; Lucas is on the floor to my left, with Lilith just west of him. Lucas snores on occasion but he and his sister are breathing in unison now, two hearts beating with wind ensemble and the music makes me want to lie back down and drift again into slumber. Sam’s ragged breathing from the north side of the bed reminds me he is there, too.
“It won’t be long, Mike.” And I knew she was there before she spoke.
“I know.” And I do know it. But I have known it for a while. Sam’s life is slowly ebbing away from him like a feather dropped from a very tall tree. It isn’t over yet. Sam is a fighter. Sam is a survivor. Sam has lived through Holocaust Level hell on this earth the only two things he has never known is peace and how to quit. Sam stays alive because it’s the only thing he’s ever really done well, except kill. Life and Death; the sleek and shiny black puppy I saved from being a skeleton with a patchy coat has been gone for years now and he’s been replaced by a stumbling and blind skeleton with a patchy coat. The circle is nearly complete. Sam isn’t eating as much as he should and what he does eat isn’t sticking to his ribs as it once did. The last few days have been brutal to him. The heat sucks the life out of him. Sam is now becoming more blind and more deaf more quickly. But Sam struggles to his feet each morning, his front legs trying to provide the support to get him vertical, his nails digging into the carpet, his hind legs trying to get him upright, his tail wagging and his head up. In the thirteen years plus that I have known him Sam has never surrendered one moment of his life to despair.
“He’s my favorite, you know that too, don’t you?” And I can feel the weight of her body on the bed. She’s still well over twenty-five pounds lighter than Lucas even though he’s lost weight. “His body cannot carry as much life as his heart holds love.”
“That’s well said.” And I mean it. “You should put that in a poem”
“Will you help me write it?” Her body weight shifts and I can feel her lying back on the bed. Where he voice comes from changes direction. I can feel her turn to face me but I cannot see anything at all in the darkness.
“I’m not much of a poet.” I say to her, somewhere in the darkness.
“You keep telling people that.” She sighs and shifts her weight again. I hear her shoes drop to the floor.
“It’s true.” I say and I resist the urge to reach out for her. She will join me if she’s going to and if she’s not then trying to hurry her will break the spell.

“It’s true you don’t try. It’s true you don’t allow yourself to be a bad poet in order to become a better one. It’s true that you don’t want that part of your soul back from where you left it last time. It’s true that you aren’t making any damn effort.” She rattles this off and I realize she set the conversation up to head in this direction. “It’s true” she says but this time her words are as gentle as an admission. I feel her weight shift again like the water tipped in a small vase.

I hear the sound of fabric on skin, the sliding of a simple dress away from a body and the hesitation of nudity where there was none a few seconds ago. I feel her ease back into a prone position, the decision not really made, and yet the power of desire beginning to build between us, memories, promises, and heat. This is what it is between us, really, when everything else is stripped away, like the clothes we dress our lives in. She wants me to desire her, she wants me to know of her desire, but even when she is there, near the end of the bed, nude, she wants me to wait for her to come to me. I’m not allowed to reach out and grab her even though there isn’t anything else I rather do. It’s the balance of a moonbeam on a fingertip, the resting of a bubble on the palm of the hand or it’s the smell of incense in the room that cannot be brought closer by any other means than just to breathe it in. If I am incapable of that there will be so much more, so many other times, I will not be able to…

She takes her hair down and I know at this point she’s made her mind up but I know she doesn’t know. I feel her shake her head to loosen her locks she had imprisoned. Maybe she wanted to look severe and maybe this was not on her mind or maybe she told herself it wasn’t. I can tell the freedom feels good to her. She reaches out and touches my foot and squeezes, and now, at this moment, I know she’s asking me to wait, openly, admitting for the first time out loud with a touch that something, wait for something, for that moment in her mind that will guide her. I’ve never understood this part about women but I’m not supposed to understand. It isn’t my place to ask for, or receive, an explanation. In the near total darkness I feel the weight of her body shift and she slips slowly towards me in silence. The empty space beside me is filled with a shadow in the darkness and suddenly she is not only in the room with me, not only on the bed with me, but she is with me.
“Hold me,” she whispers and that is all. Her body melds into mine and her arms, her hands, and every nerve and cell of her body is welded to mine in a way that defies any sort of explanation. I draw her close in the darkness and feel her breath, smell the life of her body, feel the excitement in the hairs on the back of her neck, and she brushes her lips against my own neck, with promises, later, later, but now…

Hold me.


Take Care,

Mike

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Take Your Clothes Off To Read This





You have to wonder how those deep rainforest tribes handle nudity and sex. I imagine that neither subject is a big deal to these people and as such, no one even begins to be offended by anything anyone else does. It would be nice if the rest of the world was like that, too. Sex crimes and sexual difficulty rarely come into existence when your naked neighbors, friends, family members, parents, grandparents, and siblings all more or less copulate openly.
Many years ago, when I was much younger and much more energetic, the manager at a hotel asked my girlfriend and me to leave as we were disturbing the guests to either side of our room not to mention those across the street and those in the neighboring area codes. We thought the whole ordeal was hysterically funny but my girlfriend was a little mortified that the manager had knocked on the door and we had never heard him.

Teenagers, with sex drives as geared up as rabbits injected with espresso, are a lot more prone, no pun intended, to bouts of public and semipublic mating. I was eighteen years old before I had sex in a bed. Before that it was in cars, on blankets on the ground, on a beach, on the roof of a house, on a picnic table, in the girls’ bathroom at high school and once in a treehouse. When I was a teenager, given a willing partner and a .0001% chance of not getting caught I would have had sex in the middle of a church during a funeral service that involved a close relative.

Of course, this isn’t limited to teenagers, it’s just they don’t have the ways and means to do much better. Human beings, by and large, will mate anywhere at any time with anyone they have an attraction to, regardless of their age or status. American politics has been littered with broken careers and truncated terms of office as men and women who have been elected to uphold the law have been caught holding onto something much warmer to the touch. Remember Clinton’s Blue Dress Code and JFK’s Monroe Doctrine? Remember Gary Hart’s last boat ride? How often has illicit sex shaped the future of this country?

Isn’t time we just got over it? Why do we bother to care what other people do with their bodies when we know for a fact that caring about it, thinking they ought not do it, makes doing it that much more better for them?

In my lifetime, more in the distant past than recently, I have been “busted” by passersby, the cops (more than once, the missing underwear thing still haunts me), at least one skating rink owner, a hotel manager, and an angry husband for having sex at the wrong place, the wrong time, with the wrong woman, too loudly, or some combination of the aforementioned. This isn’t to  mention the roommates I’ve had that have rolled their eyes, made suggestive noises, or turned their music up far too loudly to express their displeasure when things weren’t exactly kept undercover.

So what is the real issue here anyway?

Even as we scrunch up our faces in disgust when two guys are busted in Valentine Nebraska for having sex on top of a car on main street, the porn industry is raking in billions because some of us, not me of course, are willing to pay to watch people have sex. Does this seem in any way healthy to you? Men, who are accused of having the sexual morals of alley cats with tequila IVs, will get together and go to a strip club, act like apes who just reached puberty, get fleeced for all their cash, then talk about nothing else in such glowing terms for six months. Take these same men, put them in that same strip club alone, and individually they become silent and still.

Does this seem healthy to you? There’s an unspoken dichotomy here when it comes to sex and nudity and the two aren’t exactly similar.


Someone ought to make a movie where everyone in the cast is naked. Everyone, all the extras, the doorman, the cafeteria ladies, everyone, and it would be interesting to see if the movie was enough to pull past the nakedness. Or perhaps, if everyone was nude no one would notice. Without the forbidden element would we revert back to the rainforest?

Remember the movie “Basic Instinct”? Sharon Stone’s vagina became famous overnight and no one would ever consider her a natural blonde again.  But what would that movie look like if everyone was totally nude from the opening credits? Okay, from the opening credits everyone was nude, but the next scene men in suits appeared. Contrast was completed and we were just waiting for more nudity.

And so here we are. Hopefully, if you really did take your clothes off to read this, and you were in Starbucks reading this as I was when I write it, you were well received, or at least not arrested. Yet it is here I have a confession; I have not practiced what I preached.

Our bathrooms at work are located between individual offices. Why someone would think this a good idea, I cannot say, but there’s a guy who either has the world’s weirdest sounding bowel movements or he’s engaging in a little self-service two or three times a day. Honestly, that sort of panting noise ought to involve a German Shepherd Dog or a 5K in triple digit heat, not a bowel movement or a little relief at hand. One day I just banged like hell on the door, to let him know we could hear him. Sound familiar?
Then there was Friday. I came out of the Y and there was a passel of young kids standing on the steps leading to the parking lot. There was a very young man and a much younger girl sitting on the wall next to the walkway and she was sitting in his lap. I got into my truck and watched as they made out, (in front of the kids!) and he kept reaching up and untying her top, and she had to tie it back again and again. The thing here is that he kept his face right next to her face so she had to keep her face turned or he would try to kiss her again. She didn’t make an effort to get away, didn’t try to push him away, but she didn’t seem to like what was going on, either. I wondered if she, like the other kids around at the time, had been raised to think this was what affection was supposed to look like? Did she think this was how it was supposed to be? Was she not only unwilling to hope for more but also incapable of thinking she deserved better?

Our views on sexual behavior have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Our attempts at making sex unnatural and more about the parts and pieces than emotion have come to fruition, no pun intended. From a man in a bathroom very likely watching porn on his cell phone to people who haven’t reached full adulthood trying desperately, publically, to find some sort of worth in their own bodies, sex has been redefined as more of a social conquest than a spiritual coupling.

Still nude?  

Take Care,

Mike

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Orphan Words, the Coffee House Singer, and Mind Chirps.




It’s a certainty at this point as if it wasn’t before. The finality is sinking it and I wish there was some mechanism in place would make this feel differently.
“…a verse and a verse and refrain.”

This is familiar territory. This is my old stomping grounds. This is my old neighborhood and the place I feel right at home. I am alone again.

Usually, there is a triggering event or something I can take away as an object lesson but I cannot track it down this time. It wasn’t something I said and honestly, the words that come out of my mouth sometimes are intellectual orphans. They are someone else’s thoughts I took in and cared for and when they jump the fence and go forth with my voice blaming me isn’t totally accurate. It’s another aspect of who I am, I suppose, to foster words and phrases and thoughts that are not entirely mine. A person cannot be a writer without some verbal baggage or whatever it is, like something getting stuck to the bottom of the shoes or the roof of the mouth. Where to store all of this stuff? Generally, I write down everything I hear that I like, a curious turn of a phrase, a nice sentence or a piece of one, but this is akin to feeding strays or offering some street urchin a loaf of bread, isn’t it? I was wrong to call them orphans. I’ve taken ownership. I’m responsible. Yet this time, I don’t think it was something I said. That sounds odd even to me.

So there I am, listening to a narrative about something that is real and mundane and yet important but the strays and beggars in my head are relentless. They would like a tiny, bit more space, and suddenly something I’ve said aloud seems more than just a little alien. There’s a whiff of another world in my words or perhaps it just sounds like someone in my voice, like a bad impersonation. It isn’t that I’ve said something wrong, or crazy, or hurtful, but it’s as if I’ve read aloud something that isn’t in the script. It’s like the speech pattern of people who have small children. Have you ever noticed that people with small children begin to speak to other people in that same tone of voice they use with their kids? This happens especially when they want someone to do something they know they ought to be doing anyway. Show me a woman with a five year old little boy and I’ll show you a woman an eyelash away from using the “mom voice” on her male co-workers. It’s effective as hell too because most men remember that tone and either respect it, remember it fondly, fear it, loathe it, or a little of it all, but they will react to it. So what happens when all things familiar leave a voice?

Get a bunch of guys in the same unit together, let’s say, of the Army, and you’ll find them all using “Green Speak” when talking to one another. That’s the common language of their branch of service with all its customs and idioms and slang. There’s a subculture with deep inside jokes that no civilian could possibly understand. I know that after I got out of the Army I went back after I couple of months to visit and could hardly understand the same guys I once lived with. The same goes for, at some level, for truck drivers, hospital workers, night shift people, and strippers, I would think.

Still with me? Do you see where someone’s environment drives how they speak with other members of that environment? Do you understand that once this begins to happen it will keep happening until accents and branches of other languages begin to appear and finally one group of people couldn’t understand the root language they began with. But it goes deeper than just speech because all of this begins with patterns of thought, with like patterns of thought, that is. More to the minutiae, who a person is can be totaled up from the sum of the parts of society; pop culture, television shows, popular songs ( call me maybe!), celebrity scandals, news reports, politics, religion, and a host of other ideas and thoughts and words and gestures that appear in front of people each day that give other humans a sort of intellectual echo locations of who someone else might be. A hundred billion different chirps of societal expectations and seven billion different sets of cultural bent ears are listening for the familiar and what they really want to hear, repetitively, please.

It’s the sort of sounds you’d hear right now if you were here with me in the place where I’m writing this; coffee being made, cell phones going off, email notifications coming through, the blonde in the white shirt speaking loudly, music from overhead speakers that just sort of blends everything together with everything else, the cosmic peanut butter to the jelly of the room creates a mini-universe for everyone in the room. People like things this way and if one person stood up and started singing, “Skating Away” by Jethro Tull then there would be anger, uncomfortableness, an inability to carry on, and some people might even leave. Even if the singer sang no louder than the blonde, what do you think people would think?


I don’t think it was something I said or something I did. Rather, it’s a form of social blindness, a certain degree of cultural oblivion-ness, it’s intercultural incompetence or perhaps the idea, that none of this stuff really matters to me as getting a sentence right. I think people can tell that I’m not tuned into what’s around me and worse, I flat don’t care about Honey-Boo-Boo. I don’t care about a lot of things that are human and chirpy and makes up the glue that holds us all together.

I think people can sense this. 

So here we are again. I’m going to buy a six pack on the way home and what you’ve been reading has to be edited and refined and the four letter word that keeps conjugating in my writing has to be transmogrified into some other word not legally recognized as the Californian favorite word. The cultural sonar around me fades and disappears as I think about how to write this, which is irony, you know. If you aren’t smiling now you didn’t get it. Damn, I was so hopeful.

This is my song in the coffee shop. This is for those minds that will hear me. I will warm my fingers by the warmth of the wreckage of my life, and I will set off to write once more.


Take Care,

Mike

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Women







Women
November 20, 2008 






It may be said in truth in regard to women there is not much any man could say that might be considered truth, but I feel compelled for the attempt. In my life, all the men folk I have encountered were very much the same, and perhaps it is because I have known too few to make a comparison, but no matter be a man a poet, a drunk, a construction worker, or a president, there is a commonality amongst men that defines all of them to their gender. The women I have known in my life have been different. It is easy to define a woman by her trade, as it is men, be she a waitress, an artist, or a construction worker, but each and every woman I have ever known, there is some quality about her that defies explanation, definition, or description of any sort.



With men, the answer to who they are grows more clear each day, but with women the fog settles and lifts. The light within blinds and then grows dim, yet rarely burns steady on. To love a woman is to love this about them or it is to never love at all. To demand a woman not be this way is to demand of the moon to chose to be sliver or full, bright or dark, yellow or silver. To demand of a woman is much like making demands on the moon, a man can only hope his demand has guessed what it is she desired, and make believe his will bent her so.



The only common quality of the Sisterhood of women is that of magic. It is the magic to heal, to sooth, to excite, to silence, to confuse, to determine, and to bring forth in any man everything that might have ever been good in any man. Not for money, nor fame, nor glory, nor material gain, nor life itself will any man be shaken in the manner the love of a woman will fling him forth. No threat of death nor pain of torture would haunt a man more, or hurt a man worse than to lose the love a good woman. Not in this world, nor any other I have heard describe, is there any heaven greater than that found in the eyes of a woman I have loved.



No labyrinth of ancient fable, or dark cavern of deepest earth, or forgotten glyphs of forgotten civilizations have ever confused and befuddle me as a woman's silence. Like some incompetent wizard I have cast spell upon spell, words upon words, and effort upon effort at easing some woman's sudden refusal to converse with me. Perhaps it is the effort itself she sought, but if that is true I cannot say for certain. This day she is done with me, and all her actions say so, yet the sun comes up tomorrow and nothing was ever wrong.



There is much I might write in consideration of a woman's body for neither man nor nature has yet to match such beauty in any creation. If there is a sight more beautiful than a female human in natural nude I cannot speak of the experience of seeing such. There is no science of humankind that can describe the curves and lifting of a woman's breasts, the downward growth of her legs to Mother Earth, the eternal light and ice of her eyes, the purity in sculpture of her hips, and the absolute stunning grace of the body in her entirety that every woman in some way possesses in whole. Dance was invented with a woman's walk, I am sure, for there is such a rhythm that demands music. There is a grace in a woman's simple act of breathing that in and of itself, is enough to take the breath away from a man.



The only common quality of women is magic. Every woman I have loved, or sought to love, or even loved for only a very short time had this magic, yet I have never found that magic twice. Each woman arrives on this earth with something about her that total defines her as a sister to all women, yet a stranger to all men. No woman I have ever held, for ever how long I held her, did not first hold my heart in her hand, or at least her eyes. From my first kiss from a young girl to the last woman who set my world afire, there has not been one moment of my life when some woman did not, or could not, hold sway over me. In each and all of them, in women I have known, women I have loved, women I had gazed upon in distance, women I had read, watched, studied from the long dead past, and of those I will never know, I have in some way, worshipped them all.



Take Care,


Mike

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I Fought the lawn and the Lawn Won: 7/13/14




I seek solace in exhaustion. I’m not going to drink my way through this, I know better than that, so working myself into a coma is the only thing I can think of doing. Dawn appears Saturday morning and the coffee is ready to go. It was a sleepless night but it was to be expected. Work gloves and long sleeves are the uniform of the day but curiously, I wear a tee shirt. There’s a reason I wear long sleeves, isn’t there? I begin with the low lying branches on the west side of my property and the vines that seek to invade the Oak trees there.

Thirteen years ago the Oak on the west side of the property were a sorry lot and they more or less stayed that way until I decided to unchain them from the vines that were strangling them.  I went in and hacked and hacked and then I hacked some more. Slowly, over the last few years, the vines have been in retreat and the Oaks are even more slowly beginning to gain some altitude. But I cannot let up, no, not even for one season. There are wild grape vines high in the upper branches of the Oaks and if I don’t get them down they will become ladders for next year’s vines to climb even higher. Vines climb upon their dead each year until there is a mass of dad and living vines that drag trees down. They’ll stunt or even outright kill young trees and they’ll damage the older ones.

I take down low hanging branches so the vines have to work harder to get up and it’s easier to get them back down. Some of the vines are so entwined with the Oaks’ limbs that I cannot do anything but nip them off as high as I can reach and cut them off as far down as I can find. There’s a million miles of vines on the fenceline and I wonder how many feet I’m going to manage today.  I pile the limbs I cut off and the vines I kill on the tarp and drag it all to the Fire Pit. I started at dawn and quit in the middle of the morning. It’s very hot and I am dehydrated. Insects have feasted on me where  my where my skin was exposed. Oh, yeah, long sleeves.

Second shift begins at three and I’m trying to clear the West Bank of the pond that creates the eastern most border of my property. A couple of years ago I started a fire that got bigger and badder than I wanted and it killed some of the young Oaks. It’s a bitch what happened and I hate it, but there is nothing to be done but try to start over again. There’s a few good trees started and there are some very small Oaks just getting up. I go in and clear out those who have no chance because they are too close to the older trees or because they’ve been damaged. There is a lot of dead wood to haul out and I pile it up on a tarp and haul it all to the Fire Pit. The day is winding down when I quit and I don’t have enough energy to get done all that I want to get done.

A storm brews up and slams into us near dark and it feels good. The cool wetness and intensity of the wind whipped rain is in sharp contrast of the stagnant humidity that has ruled the day. Oh, but wait, lightning strikes very close to us and the electricity goes off briefly. My computer shuts down and refuses to run again for about an hour. It’s back up but it’s running really, really, slowly. I may have to buy another or get this one fixed. It’s six years old so… By ten I’m on the bed listening to the storm slowly spend its last bit of energy in a very light rain. It feels good to be this tired.


Dawn, again, Sunday morning, and the old leaky espresso machine is asked to rise to the occasion once again. Exhaustion is already here and it’s a question as to whether or not it can be defeated by caffeine alone. Coffee has never failed before. Coffee is a fundamental part of living, like air, food, water, and writing. It’s one of the tenets of my religion. It’s proof of existence. Decaffeinated is the same as saying Satanic. This is not subject to debate.

I know I’m tried when I start trying to bargain with myself about how much I will do.  “Just do the front,” I tell myself, “and that will be enough!” “Wait and mow this week and it will be okay,” I say and wishful thinking begins to set in. “You don’t have to do all the extra stuff today, just mow the grass and be done with it!” But here’s the thing; I want to push more than just the mower today. I want to push myself.

It’s foggy and a little hard to see at six-forty-five, but I cannot wait. There are parts of this yard I could mow blind and the West Bank is so thick I won’t need light there. The first half hour is spent trying to keep the mower alive as I invade the thick underbrush that limits my ability to navigate on shores of the pond. The thick grass on the north end of the property takes another twenty minutes. By then the fog has lifted and the rest of the front yard awaits.

I’m ridiculously happy about my Zinnias. They came up and bloomed quickly and now the butterflies have discovered them again.  My tomatoes could be doing better but the pepper plants are rocking. Next year I’m expanding the garden and mowing less. I tell myself this each time I mow, you know.

The front yard is nearly done and I run out of gas. Refuel and keep going. I mow the back yard, part of the trail, the area around the Fire Pit and then I’m done. Really, and really and really done. I haven’t been this tired in years.

A man ought not drink when he feels so strongly he needs to or that he might have a reason to drink hard. But exhaustion is a drug that cannot be overdone. I think. Damn, I am so tired.

It feels good.


Take Care,

Mike

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lilith's Rescue Day: 2014




Our First Kiss




Today is the second anniversary of Lilith coming to join the pack here at Hickory Head. She was my first rescue that I actually went out and looked at on the internet. I wanted a girl dog and Lucas was supposed to be a girl dog but he turned out to be male and what was I going to do, order a canine gender reassignment? So Lucas became Lucas and after Bert died in April of 2012, I went shopping for a girl dog. Why a girl dog? I never had one before. My pack was always male and I had always been told that girl dogs were…different. I also wanted a Pit. So I decided to find a Girl Pit who needed a home. I decided to go online and look at BARC, the Brooks Area Rescue Center, who regular set up adoption events at Petsmart.

And that’s how I met Lilith.


I’ve never met a dog I didn’t like, as long as it wasn’t one of those tiny little yappy dogs who do shots of espresso in the morning before they go to lurk. But Lilith was an exceptional dog the first time I met her. She was smart, kind, shy, but she seemed to be there to find me as well as for me to find her. It was supposed to be a meeting but it turned into an adoption. An hour later I was driving home with both my first girl dog rescue and my first Pit Bull all in one!  

The boys back home loved her, kinda, sort of. Sam and Lucas both snuffled her relentlessly but Lilith didn’t seem to mind at all. She was a happy little girl who just wanted to have someone to tell her that it was okay. Lucas didn’t like having someone else around who was the center of attention so he spent the first three days skulking under the table. On the fourth day Lucas discovered that unlike Sam, who was aging, Lilith could play, and she could play hard.

An unending, nonstop, moving, messy, collision filled, game of bitey face began before dawn and ended well after lights out. Wild hippo noises broke out at odd times and it sounded very much as if they were killing one another. Lilith was tiny but she was also very sleek and very fast. Her innate Pit Bullness drove her full of energy across the yard or across the floor when playing with her much larger brother and she wore him out then wore him down. It was delightful to see Lucas playing with such tenderness with a much smaller dog. He had never had a puppy before in his life and was trying hard not to break it. But they played so well together and then they would lie together, bodies touching and worn out but souls united.  A bond unlike any I have ever seen between two dogs was forming in front of me.
 
The L Hounds had arrived as a team.

But there was the question of Lilith’s temperament. You may have to help me here because I’m not sure of the word I should use. Lilith wasn’t quite shy. She would come if I called her and she loved to be petted. But Lilith would stay by herself in the bedroom while we male denizens hung out in my office or the living room. I would go lie down on the floor with her and pet her just to make sure she was okay, and to make sure she knew she was valued. Lilith seemed to love the idea that I had come to hang out with her. I just couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t come hang out with us.

My theory is that Lilith was trained to sit in a crate all day. She had her place to stay and that was where she belonged. Lilith wasn’t ever let out to play or to wander around so she just didn’t know how to do so. I started calling her into the room whenever she was alone. At first she would come in, hang around for a while, then leave, but I kept trying to get her to stay. Eventually, I think she got the idea that she belonged with us and she would curl up in the corner and sleep.

You should do that, you know. You should go find your dog and just lie down beside her or him, and let that animal know you’ve come in just to visit and some pettings maybe, but you should seek them out at odd times. They love that. They like the idea that you miss them.

Now, here’s where I need a word. Lilith would, at first, come over to my chair, from behind, and tap it very quickly and very lightly with one paw and then look away. Was she being shy? To me, it seemed like she was being polite. Is that the right word? She seemed to be saying, “Excuse me sir, but if it isn’t too much trouble, when you find some time, could I be petted on a dog’s head, please?”
I would always stop and pet Lilith when she did this and she loved it. Any motion she made, no matter how small, was enough for me to stop what I was doing and encourage her. Come here, Girl Dog, come to me and be petted! Well, it final got to where she would approach my chair from the side and put a paw on the side of the chair and leave it there. What was even more fun was when she started to lick the back of my head having come up behind me while I was on the sofa. The sofa is free standing, not against a wall, and Lilith could sit and kiss my head while I was reading. Of course, I had to call her over to pet her or reach over the sofa, so Lilith felt comfortable, to the point of obsession, with this approach.

It took a while, but I finally got Lilith to jump up and put her front paws on my leg while I was writing. It was a lot easier to pet her from this position and Lilith acted as if she had just ascended the throne of heaven. She had to snuffle the keyboard and the mouse and she stared at the screen as if she wondered what the hell to make of all those symbols. But this took months. Oddly, when I tried to get Lilith to jump up on my leg she would usually move to the other side of the chair, regardless of which side she was on, she would move and then jump, as if she wanted me to have some sort of waiting period in case I changed my mind. I never did.

Finally, because it was getting cold, Lilith decided that she wanted to get up on the bed. Now, she wasn’t about to get on the bed because I asked her to, but she would get up on the bed after Lucas did, and she would sleep at his feet. There were times I didn’t know she was there. If I shifted too quickly in the night, or moved suddenly she would instantly leap off the bed and not come back up.

I kept trying. I wanted Lilith to feel totally comfortable with me and our home. Finally one night, in the middle of a really great sentence, a smallish Pibbilated Girl Dog nearly landed in my lap. Oh hai, I would like to be petted on a girl dog’s head, okay? It was a very exciting move for Lilith. She was testing waters she knew not how deep. But she got a lot of pettings even though one of her brothers, and I won’t mention any names, tried to head butt her away. Lillith had blossomed!

So now I get a Pibble Princess on my lap even when I don’t always want one. But I do stop to pet her. I want her to feel like this is contact she can seek out. Sometimes she wants out. She will hop up on me and then get down quickly if she wants out. Lilith is training me. Still, it’s amazing at how she perceives the area inside the house. When Lucas is on the bed she will sleep at his feet, not at my side, but sometimes she tries to steal his place. He usually tries to flatten her to get her to move and sometimes she just stays put. One night, Lucas was slow to get on the bed and Lilith deer-leaped around the room in three bounds then rocketed onto the bed and dove into Lucas’s spot before he could react.

Lilith loves to snuggle. She will get on the bed and wiggle around while lying next to me to make sure she is as close as possible. She likes keeping a paw on me or keeping her head pushed next to my body. Lilith seeks out contact now where once she wouldn’t stay in the same room with us. She’s slowly encroaching on Lucas’ territory but the battle is very friendly.

Lilith still likes her downtime away from us guys. She goes out in the morning and stays gone after Lucas and Sam return. She likes to lie in the sun while we guys are inside and I let Lilith do what Lilith likes. But I will hunt her down and pet her if she stays gone too long and maybe sometimes she’s waiting for that to happen, just so she can be sure I still will do it.

Maybe this is all projection on my part and dogs don’t really live like this or love like this. Maybe Lilith was just doing what she did and wasn’t really the most polite dog on earth. But she’s my dog now. That’s all that matters.

Oh, yeah, by the way, Girl Dogs? Totally different form of energy; my next may be another female! I may get another Pibble Princess!



Take Care,
Mike




Thursday, July 10, 2014

To Hear In The Dark. To See in the Noise.



Towards the end of her life my paternal grandmother suffered from severe audio hallucinations. Unable or unwilling to accept the fact that her mind was creating sounds, her mind then invented a narrative to go with the illusionary background noises. The results were a story that a family had moved into the attic and they came and went through a secret door. She believed this to be true so much to the point that anyone trying to talk her out of what her mind told her was part of the conspiracy. The people in the attic were biding their time and waiting to come out and take over.

The woman died peacefully in her sleep when she was 90. I say “peacefully” for it comforts me to think that she just fell asleep and never woke up again, but I have no idea what she thought she was seeing or hearing in her last moments. I can remember her calling me and whispering that the people in the attic were there again and I told her that no, no there was no one in the attic, and I called my father who once again went over to check. Sometimes I wonder if she invented the people in the attic so that someone would come to check, just to have some sort of interaction.

She called me one night just to talk and halfway through the conversation she realized that she had called twenty minutes earlier. I wasn’t going to say anything to her about it, and I think the fact that I didn’t say anything made it worse once she realized what she had done. I understand now that she must have wondered how many times it had happened before and I also wonder how many times she paused, hand over the phone, wondering if she had just spoken to me. It only happened the once, but how many times does a person have to know their brain had quit on them? Once a person reaches a certain age then age is only reason anything goes wrong anymore.

Right?


When I was a child I actively hallucinated. Objects, everyday things, and the periphery were all haunted by my inability to conceptualize reality the way that everyone around me did. Perception is an average, a mean, a medium, the sum of all perceptions divided by the number of people who happen to be there and that’s how we define what is real. If a group of people see something out of the ordinary they will discuss it until they come to a conclusion as to what they all saw. They vote on if they saw a bird or a plane but that doesn’t change what they saw or what anyone else might have seen.

Let a human being get off on their own and then that’s when things get either very weird or very real. Most people cannot handle being alone. I’ve always been a Hermit and as such, I’ve never had a support group for reality. I see things that I know that aren’t really there and it’s cool, I’m okay with it. I know what is “supposed” to be there and that helps, but I lack the touchstone most people have. Genetically speaking, I’m pretty much screwed. My father also had audio hallucinations.

My father heard music at night and that’s pretty common from what I understand of the phenomenon. My new ceiling fan makes a new noise and my brain translates this into music that is coming from the outside. But my father never looked inside for the source of strange sounds so he was constantly blaming someone else for the “noise”.  He started a petition drive in his neighborhood to get rid of the dogs that lived across the street. The dogs barked all night long, he claimed, but no one else heard them. Of course, seeing how there were seven Rottweilers you’d understand why his mind might take up the idea of large dogs making large noise, but that simply wasn’t the case. Evidence for a thing is not proof of a thing, you see.


Back when I was in my late twenties I was in love, very much in love, hopelessly and madly in love, with a woman whom I fit more tightly than a glove. In the very darkness night, without a light in the room, I awoke and for a second was disorientated. I was at her house, in her bed, but for an instant I couldn’t figure out which way the room was pointing. I stopped trying and listened; her breath was strong and deep in the dark. Her life was the only sensation in the room at the time. Her breathing was the sun and moon and the stars and the sky, the earth and the heavens, and she was mine. I remember waiting, hesitating, and then slowly putting my hand out to touch her, to test the waters of desire yet again, feeling that moment of realization, or excitement and passion, when she realized why she had been awaken, and by whom.

In the beginning I was told that I could not come over on a week night, because she had two sons and she was not going to entertain on school nights. Then she allowed me to come over in the middle of the week, but herded me out of the door right after dinner. There was a night when it was raining very hard and she let me stay on the sofa, but in the middle of the night appeared, undressed, to lead me into her bedroom. She fought against us both, her desire and me, and she very slowly lost. The night she allowed me to stay she tried desperately to maintain some sense of balance but the rising tide of passion engulfed her and it did me. Finally, at last, the sun rose one morning to find me still beside her and her sons awake. I took a step towards many things that morning and never really perceived any of them until it was far too late.


I can still remember the way her thigh felt under my hand that black night. Or can I? The memory is true, the night did happen, but how much of it is now tainted by time or a brain willing to commit forgery in the name of memory? If she doesn’t recall that night, or won’t, the majority does not exist, does it?


If you write fiction, or if you paint, or if you somehow create something from your mind that others can see, or cannot, you are operating in a minority position. To be accused of madness is the best you can expect from the rest of the world and even in that, you cannot hope or pray they will allow it only to go that far.

I have spent the better part of half a century alone. Easily discarded, often forgotten, and once again in the company of a species that is not my own, I can only offer you what I see, and hear, and touch. Now, after all these years, I can hear the sound of the wings of birds as they pass overhead. Surely, certainly not, I do not hear these feathers in the wind, for age creeps up upon me but I look up as my ears tell me there is sound and in the sky there are winged animals, be they pigeons or sparrows, I believe, that I can hear them.

Take Care,

Mike

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mullet Man And The Gnat Whisperer Floating Down the River Of Old Spice





I try not to be a judgmental person but there are certain times I have an involuntary reaction to someone else. To wit: I was driving down the highway on the way to a meeting when I saw a young man with a long Mullet Haircut, wearing a Rebel Flag tee shirt and a pair of cutoff jeans. He was also wearing flip flops and smoking a cigarette. This is Joe Dirt’s illegitimate son, Joe Dirt The Second, known to his friends as “Number Two”.  You see how I am? This guy could be a perfectly nice person and here I am fictionalizing his whole life simply because he looks like he would get kicked off of “Swamp People” for being a hick. Oh, and he also had a twelve pack of Natty Lite in one hand, clearly visible through the nearly transparent Mal-Wart bag.  That pretty much sealed it for Number Two running along as fiction in my mind. Do I need someone like this in a story? Hmmm.

So this is a meeting that is sure to be very quick because it’s an outside meeting and it is 97 degrees in the shade. Get out in the open and add ten to that. The fact there isn’t a breath of air and you now know how it feels when you begin to die. I like this kind of weather. It separates the people who really want to speak with me about things that are important to me from those who are just killing time. I’m hungry, really very hungry, and it’s still an hour before lunch. Maybe the end of the meeting and the beginning of lunch will occur at the same time.

Let’s revisit, shall we, my thoughts on being judgmental?

Being judgmental creates an internal support group. You know better than to start applying stereotypes to random people but you just did it. So, in your mind, you look for some sort of justification, don’t you? Oh, Mullet Man! He can’t get a job, he walks down the road, he’s too lazy to jog, he drinks Natty Lite cause it’s four for a dollar and bought that damn shirt from a man in the holler.

Yes, in my mind, I started trying to figure out if Mullet Man had a job and if he ever wondered if the way he looked might keep him from it. Then that little ditty broke out and I had to laugh, which made me feel bad…while I was grinning.

Okay, I pegged him as a racist slacker with substance abuse problems and genetic tendencies towards prison tattoos and sexually transmitted diseases as well as a Wal-Martian.

I know it’s wrong okay?

But I can see him tossing his hair like a quasi-male Paris Hilton as he walks through the door of the single wide holding the bag up for his woman to see. She’s just gotten the early pregnancy test back just in time to apply for her Learner’s Permit online as soon as her little sister gets off Match Dot Com.


Stop. It.



Anyway, there’s this business meeting and I could count the number of people who wanted to be out in direct sunlight. I didn’t but I always wear long sleeves and a wide brim hat. I’m ready for it to be 100 degrees and it’s only 97. The meeting, incredibly, resolves nothing, but there has to be another meeting. Then an Outsider shows up, right before the meeting ends, and this is a man created for a television movie. I can’t write fiction like this because no one will believe me, really. The wind changes direction and I realize that Karma has come to call and as always, I am not going to like it.

The man weighs about four hundred pounds, maybe more. He’s wearing a tee shirt that would be tight on me. It’s made out of the same fabric that the Incredible Hulk’s pants are made of because they never rip off of him either. Yeah, that shirt goes in a second but you gotta love a monster that wears pants all the time, really.

Old Spice. The Tee Shirt Titan is wearing Old Spice. No, to say the man is wearing Old Spice is like saying Tammy Faye wore make-up. It’s like saying Elton John wore a hat. It’s like saying Miley Cyrus wears trashy like a tattoo. Or a trashy tattoo. Or even a tattoo of trash, that wouldn’t surprise you know, which is a sad commentary…it’s caffeine that does this to me, I’ll be okay, really.

Old Spice. I have no idea if his little girls slung water balloons full of the stuff at him or if he fell into a vat of it in the factory, or oh please dog no, he self-applied willingly. That one thought dominates my mind. The smell dominates my nose. But then I notice the man has a following. A rather large following of the small follows the large. The man has attracted the largest swarm of gnats I have ever seen in my life.

Billions and billions.

This is a man not remotely involved in the meeting but rather just someone walked up and said, “Canna’ ask a question, maybe?”

Sure. Why not. What’s it going to hurt?

The man’s inanity was enough to kill at close range but then the gnats hit. By the hundreds, nay, by the thousands, then by the millions they flew in like loopy kamikazes without orange rising suns painted on their wings, because that would look weird.

Do you know gnats? Gnats are tiny flying insects who look like miniature houseflies. Imagine a house fly at about one-twentieth the size. They don’t sting or bite but they invade every orifice and they swarm around the human face. Ears, noses, the mouth and eyes are not safe. I tried snorting hard to get one out of my nose, we Southerners are experts at this, but two or three dove into my mouth as I spoke.

I could taste, I swear it, Old Spice.

You have no idea what was going through my head. Did I just devour three, four, a half dozen of these creatures that had dined on some part of…that? The thoughts of lunch left me as breakfast was threatening to do so literally. More and more of the flying spice spheres swarmed at me and I tried desperately not to speak or breathe or look. I could not get the taste out of my mouth or mind. I felt like puking.

I fled.

That’s what I get, you know. I fictionalize people because they make great stories sometimes and this is why it’s bad. Karma; that great equalizing force in the Universe stands ready to unleash justice at a whim.

I can’t eat. I swear I still taste Old Spice.


Take Care,

Mike

Saturday, July 5, 2014

This will take your breath away.

The Selling Of Half of Women and the Losing Of the Whole.

In 2006 I was dating a woman who had a nineteen year old son. The young man and I became friends which led to him forwarding me some off color jokes that would have angered his mom, but none of them were truly offensive. One day he forwarded me a message on my phone that was a photo of a very young and halfway nude woman. I couldn’t believe he did it but before I could call him another photo arrived and then another. The last was of a very nude and very very young woman. I called him and asked him how he felt about sharing a jail cell with me and he seemed shocked that I was shocked. This was common practice. It was no big deal. Everyone was doing it. I asked him how old the girl in the last photo was and he said he didn’t know her. I told him she looked fifteen to twenty, and the possibility of parole, with good behavior. I felt like burning the phone and heading to Mexico before the FBI broke the doors in. But again, he seemed puzzled by my reaction.

I don’t have a problem with casual nudity. I think more people ought to go around totally nude and then maybe we’d simply get over the idea that there is something intrinsically different between someone wearing clothes and that person sans clothing. But this isn’t about nudity at all. Nudity isn’t the most salient point in sending or receiving nude photos, particularly with young people these days. This is an issue of males on the internet asking females on the internet for nude photos, and sometimes outright demanding such photos. This has as little to do with nudity as rape does with orgasms. It’s a method of control using a female’s body as a weapon against her.

33-year-old Justin Ross Harris left his infant son to die in his car while he was at work. But Harris had researched prior to the death such topics as “How Long Does it Take a baby To Die In A Hot Car” and “How to survive in prison”. He and his wife also had two insurance policies out on their son. It’s odd that the computer would be the downfall of Harris. The alleged man spend all day, the day his son was slowly dying, sending messages back and forth between himself and six women, one of whom was only sixteen. Nude photos were exchanged and we can only hope Harris had a closed door to his office.

Harris didn’t seem to show any regard for his dying son, his marriage, his job, or the fact that one of the women was sixteen, no. He was trying to get nude photos of women in what can be considered the most superficial of any sexual act short of masturbation. The social interaction needed to get a live woman in person to undress isn’t needed or it’s too hard. Now, all you need is a keyboard and some time on your hands. Clearly, there are women out there who are receptive to the idea of sending. But this isn’t harmless give and take, even discounting the murder of Harris’ son.

I have a female friend who is into online gaming. Men who play and who know she’s a woman make constant reference to her gender and some in ways that are derogatory. Even other women get in on the act. When my friend tried online dating there were many men who came right out and asked for nude photos or nude chats. What the internet is training women to believe is that they are there for the asking. “It doesn’t hurt to ask” is something I’ve heard before but it does. Women are worn down by the constant idea that some male they know is, sooner or later, going to ask them for a photo of their breasts. They become used to the idea that this is going to happen and it is going to happen simply because they are female and online. Physically, one in four women can expect to be sexually assaulted in their lives. Online, an unwanted sexual encounter, it’s any given day.

They are going to be asked because men are accustomed to asking and getting a woman to respond to the request in a positive fashion. It’s a vicious circle of overwhelming expectations which are fed by women who simply give in to get positive male attention. If a woman walked into a bar and only a small percentage of the men tried to openly fondle their breasts then it could be expected that a well-placed slap might dissuade those men. This would not only be because men were getting slapped but because other men would see this behavior being punished and they might be less inclined to grab. Moreover, if there were men in the bar who saw this and disapproved, and there are, then you'd expect the grabbers to get punched by other men.

As men, we very rarely try to discourage the behavior of other men online. In our defense, a lot of what goes on goes on behind closed doors, which is at the very root of the problem. There is a disconnect between the men asking and the women sending. Social skills are being truncated by online sexual predation. A man could ask twenty women a day for nudes and even if he was shot down by all but one of these women he would still, in time, have quite a collection of nude photos and the excitement of the transaction. This isn’t exactly courtship ritual material. Again, this is masturbatory in a way that damages that man’s ability to function with real women in the real world and dog only knows what it does to the woman’s idea that her body is special and ought not to be passed around on the internet like a video of a dog who can speak English.

The year is now 2014. The nineteen year old is now twenty-seven. If he is married then there is a very good chance, unless he has changed his behavior, that everyone he knows has a nude photo of the woman he married. If he has daughters then what will he expect them to do when they are old enough to do so?

Justin Ross Harris’ sociopathic behavior wasn’t born out of trading nudes with sixteen year old girls. I think it was heightened by it. I think that each time a woman is asked for a photo of her breasts by someone she is friends with then that lowers her expectations of the men around her and I think it has to have an effect on her self-esteem. In a world where such requests come in a flood rather than a trickle we have to wonder what we can do to stem the tide. Courtship and foreplay seem to have been dispensed with in favor instant gratification. Behavior once seen as degrading or humiliating is now part of the internet culture and norm. Justin Ross Harris and his wife rose out of that culture, had a son, and then looked to the net to find a way to rid themselves of someone who wasn’t entertaining enough.

We have to stop thinking of women as those people on the internet who have breasts to be seen and passed around. We have to stop thinking of this sort of behavior as harmless. We have to stop passively hoping that the objectification of women on the internet can’t in some way, have terrible consequences.

Take Care,

Mike

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Drink In The Heat



I hate shopping and I hate it even more when I have to do it on a day when there is a crowd. I usually go in at dawn but circumstances demanded that I go after work. I plan not to go back into town until Monday, if I can help it. I have to load up on supplies and hunker down with some beer, some food, and some writing for a few days. I do not like drinking holidays. The odds of getting hit by a drunk go up exponentially when a drinking holiday lands near a weekend. There will be a lot of drunks out. I intend to stay in.

The irony here is I have beer and I also intend to do some drinking.


The heat is here also and it isn’t playing around at all. It’s flirting with triple digit temperatures by early afternoon and it’s sticking with that story until the sun begins to inch down a bit. This is the time to start a fire and do some serious yardwork, is it not?

The back acre has suffered from neglect and the vines have all ran wild and free. This has to end. There is also the issue of the Giant Piece of Wood that did not burn completely during my last fire. When the firepit flooded and became a pond, the Giant Piece of Wood steamed around in the water mocking my efforts to have any sort of fire at any time. I will not be ridiculed by a Giant Piece of Wood. Yet as long as there was five feet of water in the firepit all I could do was send Sam in for recon missions and afternoon swims.

Yet the heat has something to say about everything under the sun. The firepit has slowly dried up and I’ve enough time for a fire. I wake up and begin a pile. One match later a fire is born. I like being able to start a fire with just one match. It’s a religious experience. Here is the spark from a tiny stick and from that I have to coax my conflagration. I’ve built stairway from the bottom of the pile to the top made of Spanish Moss, pine straw, and leaves. The bottom step catches, smokes, smolders and then it gleefully takes flight. Fire at ninety degrees isn’t a hard thing to do at all.

Starting the fire is the easy part. The hard part will be trying to stay with it. Over on the east bank of the pond, between the pond and the fence, things have gotten out of hand. The vines have run free and there are many downed branches. I toss it all over the fence and onto a tarp that I will pull to the fire. I have to use a bush hook to get some of the vines down and a couple of the larger branches have to be hacked into smaller pieces. The first load is dragged away and tossed on the fire in due course. I move over to the west side of the property to get rid of some invasive vines there and to pick up some fallen limbs. Into the fire they go, also.


Meanwhile, it’s warming up very nicely. The humidity was already at a billion percent when the sun came up. The fire crackles and jumps with the new fuel and I can feel the heat from twenty feet away. My body is warming up, too. I begin a full body sweat, the kind of sweat that hard work brings out in a human being, as it should. I think we’ve lost touch with our inner animal in more ways than we can imagine. Right out of high school I was dating a woman whose father ran a produce farm. I doubt that he was blind to the fact I wasn’t spending my Saturday morning for the joys of picking peas, but I was good help. One very hot Saturday morning her father and mother went to sell some produce and she brought a blanket. Before during and after harvesting we were tilling some fields of our own and I remember the intensity of the effort and the total liquidity of the sweat. We were bathed in it, soaked in the sea that rose like a tide from our bodies and we only wanted more. There was no fear of the way that we would look or smell or seem to anyone because to work in the fields was to return to being a hunter gatherer and we were doing as much of both as we possibly could. I wonder if her parents could guess that our harvesting was much better when we took breaks to reap what our bodies wanted so?

The heat breaks through my reverie so I take a break for some food and a lot of water.  Against my better judgment I have a beer with lunch. I sit on the porch to eat because I’m too dirty to be inside. The beer is a thing that goes down quickly, smoothly, and once one is gone another beckons. The heat flirts with triple digits. I have things to burn.

An old tree fell and there are pieces that need to be fed into the fire. I have to chop two pieces up with an axe and I can feel Summer deep down inside me. My lungs struggle to keep the oxygen going, my heart pounds with the effort of the axe, and I can feel the inside of my body moving around as my body temperature rises with the effort of the work. More stuff on the fire. More stuff to hack and burn. Another beer please, and that would make three. I rake up all the stuff near the deck and feed it into the fire as well. I am soaked down to my socks in sweat. Beer four gets killed off with a quart of water as a chaser. I walk over to the fire and inspect the Giant Piece of Wood and it is a’fire from one end to the other. The blaze is on its horse now, devouring everything quickly and with very little smoke. Heat. Oh my, there is so much heat. I feel my skin prickle and withdraw from the heat so very extreme.

I stagger a step and catch my balance at an odd moment.


Beer, Mike, is not what you need to have right now. You do realize that, don’t you?


Four beers isn’t too many except I’ve been working outside now for nearly six hours. I decided to push it, another hour, another beer, because I don’t have to work tomorrow. But I reduce my effort, slow my pace, and start drinking more water.

Sam steps on the tarp as I’m pulling a pile of branches out of the woods and I have to shoo him away. Sam has taken to getting in the way. I have to dance around him in the hallway. I have to push him away from the shorts on the floor when I bend over to pick them up or he will step on them, too. He’s learned to zig when I zag and it is fully irritating. But Sam is dying. Old age stalks Sam and Sam would like me to notice him, and perhaps, do something. I’ve always done something before. I’ve always been able to make Sam feel better. Once, long ago, Sam let me take a pair of pliers and pry two chicken bones out of his mouth. One was stuck cross ways against the roof of his mouth and Sam never growled at me at all. Fix this, Dad, please, it hurts.

I can’t Sam, you’re dying.


A six pack is drained before I quit for the day. I am done in. My clothes nearly stand up by themselves they are so full of dirt and salt. I can barely move I am so tired yet I feel like I’ve done something today. The fire is banked and it’s slowly eating itself to death. I take a shower and marvel at how wonderful clean feels. Today I dared the heat to kill me and here I am, again, alive to write about it.

Take Care,

Mike

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Condolence Book for Eyal, Gilad & Naftali

http://www.israelemb.org/washington/NewsAndEvents/Pages/Condolence-Book-Eyal-Gilad-Naftali.aspx



On Tuesday, July 1, Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frankel were laid to rest in Modi'in.

"For 18 days Israel hoped and prayed that we would find the boys safe and well," said President Shimon Peres. "With this bitter news all of Israel mourns their deaths."

Messages entered into the form below will be included in the Embassy of Israel's condolence book on their behalf. Only entries with a complete form will be included in the book.