Monday, July 31, 2017

Bunny Games

We have 3 bunny rabbits that make our yard and the neighbor to the south their home. (the neighbor to the north has a fence that doesn't allow bunny entry).  The one neighbor has some tasty wildflowers but we have a fence with slats that allow them entry but not larger critters which they seem to know keeps them safe from dogs and cats. and the occasional predator that comes over from the park along the river.  Our back yard also has a thick evergreen bush against the back of the house which is good cover in bad weather.  We also keep a dog bowl full of fresh water out among the plants, which both critters and the birds love.
Abby goes out about the same time each day, a walk with Dad in the morning and evening and a walk at lunch with her dog walker, and once out to potty at 5 pm before she is feed.  When Abby is on the leash, the rabbits just lie low and don't run off. Being the trained huntress (snort) that she is Abby doesn't even see them.
When it's just me leaving our house to run an errand or take the recycling out, they don't even bat an eye.But when Abby is let out late day, she's off leash, so I give them a heads up that she is coming out before I let her out.
While she waits on the sun porch I'll go down and gently shoo them out of the yard before I let her out the door.

They know the game, and just hop to just the edge of the fence and wait for Abby, and as Abby runs towards them, make one hop through the fence and then just sit there and laugh at Abby who runs at about the speed of molasses (and if she gets close she just "points" so the bunnies are in no danger). It's even funnier when she tries to "sneak up on them" and they hop through the fence at the last minute.

"Hasta La Vista Baby!"

It's a game for all involved I think.  It's gotten to the point that when I'm letting Abby out into the sunporch to start the rabbit hunt I'm humming the Mission Impossible Song but it's-


Bun, bun, bun bun, BUN BUN bun bun.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Abby Lab Says - My Pawrents are WEIRD!

If I lay here, Dad will get home sooner.

Abby T. Lab here.  My paw-rents may seem all normal to all you but I have to tell you, they are actually rather STIR-RANGE.  Case in point, a conversation Friday night when Dad got home.

Mom:  Hon - could you please pick up that small pile of clothes on the bathroom floor and take to the laundry room? (in the basement)

Dad:  Your knee bothering you?

Mom:  No, a giant spider just ran under them and although I stomped on the pile for a while, it might still be lying in wait.
Seriously Dad? Mom's afraid of a pile of underwear?

Dad:  (sigh)  You have rappelled into a canyon in the dark, you have landed an airplane as a typhoon approached and I've seen you up to your elbows in enough gore to make a maggot gag. . . .and you're afraid of spiders.

Mom:  It was HUGE!!!

Dad:  How big?

Mom:  The size of a QUARTER!

Dad (chuckling):  That's not huge!

Mom:  Spiders the size of a quarter can skeletonize a cow in under two minutes.  

Dad (laughing and pointing outside):  Look! a centipede is stealing your hubcaps!

See what I mean folks - non-stop weirdness in this house.

But they feed me treats!

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Color of Memory - A "Mom" Post for Flower Friday

What color brings to mind your past?

When I was really little, I shared a bedroom with my grandmother who lived with us until her death. The room was painted what I think they called rose, but was really more of a vivid salmon pink. She loved that color, that of the roses her Norwegian logger husband gave to her before an accident in the woods, the weight of the world falling down. Doctors could do nothing for such internal injuries so they brought him home to quietly bleed out, there beneath her tears. She was just 36 years old and had three children. She never remarried.

As a kid I hated that color.  It certainly didn't match my G.I. Joe action fort I'd built in the corner of the room. I swore if I ever had my own place it would NEVER have a pink room.
A couple short years after Grandma passed away Dad stated stated that my room needed repainting, (Yay!)  I asked if I could paint it and maybe paint a rainbow on it (hey, I was in 6th grade). He said yes, but he was only going to buy the base color. Anything else I did to it, I'd have to use what was in the garage of the leftover paint.

I chose yellow. Let's just say there wasn't much to pick from for the rainbow which is why there remains to this day (though the yellow has been painted over), two rainbows, a half one behind the bed, and a full one on the other side made out of 70's yellow, gold and aqua and yes, the remainder of the horrid salmon pink. Dad refuses to paint over them and surprisingly, when he had his kitchen fire, my room was the only one closed off to the point it had no smoke damage.
There is no accounting for taste in color. When my daughter and her husband bought their first home, the price was a steal given the area, which was quite upscale, but for a good reason. Some of the walls were painted black (the rest seemed to be covered in those press on mirrors). Bits of the back yard looked like it had been torched, and the carpet inside was damp enough with spilled beer that you could probably grow wild rice in the living room. It had been some young hipster's bachelor pad (or Darth Vader's, we're still not sure). Now it is painted white and varying shades of blue, with three stories of glass that look out onto the Rockies, the walls seemingly joining the sky.

I'd say that if I had a favorite color, it would still be yellow, the color of butter, of daisies, and the sun that makes you weep as you look into it. Yet, there are other colors that bring back memories. The Range living room is this antique looking sage green.  It could stand with a redo, but the color will remain the same, I think, as I go to the paint store to look at samples.
It's the color of my parents living room, not the green of the apples in the tree in the backyard, that hung low over the limbs we'd hang from like monkeys.  It's not the deep grey green  swirl of a river full of steelhead.  It was more of the aromatic sage of something wonderful coming from the oven; the laughter of Mom and Grandma in the kitchen; the recipe born of white paper and cursive script.  It's those smells that make you weep for the lost colors of childhood.

In looking through all the little squares of paint at the store, I think to myself that we always seem to associate scent with certain periods of our lives, but how about color?

There, in one display, are the rich vivid hues of sunrise. That takes me back to my last  time camping out in the woods, watching the sunrise from my spot underneath a tree.  At first there is only darkness, the colors of the starless night, of a deep ocean crossing, the sky then gathering a bit of light in the depths, like the eyes of Jesus that look down on us from a cross on the wall, eyes that show no age as they show no forgetting.
The first hint of day is red, the royal blue-red, that in centuries past would have been forbidden to be worn by the masses, on threat of death, then oranges and yellows, dripping like forgotten fruit into the horizon, their taste and texture, fragrant and lush against the plate of the earth. Pink and white, the color of salt water snails found in the submerged sands of paradise, washed clean of their prison. Then finally blue, just a hint of blue, paler even than the bluest sky I remember from my last time aloft, just a hint of blue, fading, for into the sky comes the weather, thick clouds pulled up by the still slumbering earth to cover it and keep it warm.

Before the the sun could even warm the earth, warm me, blue grey gave way to grey, like the whole of Lee's army taking on the battle between dusk and dawn.  The blood red of the sunrise leaches into the earth until the world goes suddenly and softly grey again.  The clouds mourn and the birds sound an echo of taps up in the trees, as I sit and remember a battle of my own, tracing invisible scars of it upon soft skin.

Then, there in another section of the paint store are the blues and greys.
In the Spring of my childhood, after the winter cold and snow retreated, Mom and I would head outdoors, just the two of us, along the shores of local bodies of water looking for stones, stones that may have not been unearthed for years, abundant embedded in earth and sand. They're quiet treasures on the shores of the the West, wind swept lands riddled with unclaimed treasures that people simply pass and forget, not knowing what they have underneath their feet. Beneath this great land lies jeweled richness of stone, and prehistoric bones, telling tales as they surface, dotting the future with pieces of the past.

Some stones are so tiny as to be little bearings of smoothness, the size of a small birds egg. Others take both hands to hold. My Mom as well, was fascinated by stones, and we'd search through the grey and dark and cold surfaces looking for the one that will break open into glorious color of gemstone. Rich colors forged in heat and fire and fate. We'd hunt down an agate, and knowing what we will find inside of it, we'd smile.

In native Indian culture agates were believed to cure the stings of scorpions and the bites of snakes, soothe the mind, prevent contagion, still thunder and lightning, promote eloquence, secure the favor of the powerful, and bring victory over enemies. In this agate, Mom might not find a cure for the stinging bite of what she has within her that was too soon to take her life, but in it she found strength and beauty, swirling colors of joy in that moment, something to sooth the thunder that rolled through her in dark frightened moments.

She hand picked them, and cataloged them by color and origin. I happily worked with her, capturing the deep energy of the earth, that grounded her to us.

Then, there are the reds, the color that is the crowning head of birth, the liquid grace in a gold chalice. It is color, that like blood, has as many variances as does the way it can be spilled, there in a flash of light, a burning, a blow, one instant of sublimation, then darkness again. It is the color of the senses, the depth of rose, the scent of meat, the taste of a lovers whisper, a torrent of red wine, of desire and loss.

For red is also the color of warning, the flash of a light at the approach end of the runway that tells you if you are too high or too low. Such lights glare with luminous boding of the nearness of earth, the red and white lights that slide across the night itself, speaking aloud with silent sound to eyes that sometimes see what the soul cannot.
You took in those colors and process them with a quick movement of hands, as your aircraft bears down upon the earth, holding in check, the vast mass of weight and gravity as long as you can, until the engines pant as if breathless, the power brought back in the last second as the wheels kiss the pavement.  Sometimes at that point, you are breathless yourself, as the white centerline lights lead you gently in.

I think of that bright white as I look through the second of white paint. The section of samples of white is bigger than one expects, ranging from Casper the Friendly Ghost pale to rich cream, from the crystal purity of light that sparks off of a diamond ring to the wood scented smoke that is Fall. White brings to mind snow; not the snow of the ground, but the snow aloft, where thick water droplets the size of guppies give way to a thick white spray that parts as we fly through it in waves of frigid courtesy.
On such a flight we fly in silence, but for the occasional chirp of a radio, our movements in sync. Today, they'd call that CRM.  Back then we sort of worked in some sort of unspoken telepathy that was both trust and history aloft,  like two birds that leave a guy wire at exactly the same time. Our hands move in a silent prayer of ritual without words, a communion of motion and metal.

Flying on a clear night, one gets the sense that movement stops as if your ship is hung suspended from the stars with no forward progress. But when the snow hits, if the moon is bright enough, you have a sense of speed that is the wild leap of a toboggan off a hill.  As the miles trail behind us like wake, we look out into the snow much as we did as children, mentally sticking our tongues out to catch a flake and let it melt, looking through the windshield with a sort of hushed searching for something so far beyond us, we can't as yet grasp it. It's a look that's both the wonder of the unknown and knowledge that is profoundly intent, time slowing down even at .82 Mach.

We had command of millions of dollars worth of steel, and a mission. But in that moment, we were simply children, our craft not burdened with time's dragging weight which the old garb themselves with each day, but with the unfettered fast movement that are those lost moments of play out in a snow covered field.
Color is memory, and memory vivid color.  One may bring back the other yet neither will ever be exactly what they were. It's like an ancient recipe scribbled on frail paper, the letters faded, even if the intent is clear, familiar in form and sense, the name and presence of elusive and sentient forces of grain and yeast, water and love, a taste and smell that you can recreate, yet it will never be exactly the same. Yet, even if it is not the same, the shape, the faint taste, brings you back.

It comes back to you at odd times, sometimes when going full tilt into your day; sometimes as you sit in quiet reflection, a resonant distant hum of the dog sleeping beside you.  The colors around you have a spent quality, like the rise of dissipating smoke, of the steam of an ancient engine, even as they softly gleam with light, pushing from their solitude into yours, nudging that memory of the past.  It's a past that can be cold and vacant or warm with color.  It's all how your soul sees what your eyes sometimes cannot.
I think of my Dad now, moving across his bedroom floor in bare, cold feet, the room nearly empty, but thunderous with the presence of my Mom.  I remember the day he first opened her closet after she was gone, to see the remnants of her existence in colorful pieces of cloth, in those favorite colors of agates, blues, and black obsidian and ivory, blues and golds, discovered like gemstone when that door was broken open. How vivid the look on his face as he found them. Not a look of grief, or incomprehension, but a look of fierce affirmation that she had been here, that she had loved him. A look of recognition, of the subtle, complex beauty that she left us - her spouse, her children.

As the sun comes up early this morning, I sit with my bread and coffee. Down the hall is a salmon pink bathroom that was the favorite color of a young Swedish woman who was the love of someone's life before she was my Grandma.  It could be redone right now, but it won't be.

It sits as proudly in the morning light as my Grandmother did, in the bright glare of grief where shadows not only defined and became personal but formed and shaped her unexpected destiny. I'd like to paint it yellow, and someday I will.  But for now, it remains.  She loved that color and so, for that moment in the past, that memory, I let it lay upon the walls in peace.

-LBJ

Thursday, July 27, 2017

GoughNuts - And a "Tail" of the Search for an Indestructible Dog Toy

Barkley was the killer of toys supreme, and finding a durable dog toy for him was always a challenge. His Mr. Squeeky, a big rubber ball with feet was the only toy that survived and now sits on the box that holds his ashes, but I still searched for a dog boy that couldn't be "deaded" in about 15 minutes after we got Abby the Rescue Lab. She's a Lab "Mix" and given how well she did with her first chew toys I'm thinking "Part Black Lab - Part Wolverine".  She's great with stuffed animals and carries them around like puppies but any ball, bone or such is usally split in half within the day.

So I was very happy to hear about the 


 in todays post from my friends


and went out and ordered one!  Awesome! (our wonderful friends at Chewy.com also carries them but if you order from GoughNuts directly there is a larger selection and they have a store locator on their site as well).

Amy Rockwood and her team of polymer and mechanical engineers at GoughNuts know that in the design of a great chew toy fun and safety go hand in hand.  Each toy has within it a red center so that if there is ever even a small compromise of the toy, you get a patent pending visual indicator "red means stop!".  If that happens they will replace the toy, but they hold up amazingly well, even ones used daily by active K9 Officers like Officer Glenn Graves and his K9 partner Kai from the Modesto Police Department.

With that, while I take a quick lunch break, for my newer readers, a chapter from my first book - The Book of Barkley - about the quest for the unstoppable dog toy.  

CHAPTER 11 – Soldiers In Your Cup

Ow!  Ow!  Ow!

It was six o'clock in the morning and I had just gotten up to brew a pot of coffee when I stubbed my toe on yet another hard rubber dog toy.

Where did that come from?

When I went to bed, Barkley was lying on the middle landing on the stairs, where the sun warms the carpet up before dark and from which he can survey the front door. His toys were all down the hall in my office where he hangs out with me in the evening when I’m on the computer.

But apparently during the night, he brought his toys into my bedroom, additional reinforcements perhaps for the protection of “Mom.”

His toys had evolved since he was a puppy.  When he was little he had a big goofy looking squeaky spider and a plush elephant that he carried around in his mouth constantly, never chewing on them, just toting them around and even sleeping with them. Somewhere in the growing process, however, he decided toys were better chewed on than used as play toys.

Soft or thin rubber toys were de-squeaked within minutes of presentation, the happiest minutes of his life by his own accord.  I would hear “squeak squeak squeak” to the point I was contemplating grabbing hearing protection from my range bag, then suddenly, silence.  I’d look over at him sitting there with the squeaky device lying on the carpet surrounded by tufts of stuffing and shredded fabric. Given what some of the fancier toys cost and how quickly he destroyed them, I figured even Congress could not spend money like that, in such a time frame.

I could occasionally find a super cheap stuffed animal on sale for a buck that I would give him, knowing it would be destroyed.  I even found on sale a high quality stuffed duck that also squeaked (likely due to the duck having a pneumothorax). I thought with the sturdier materials it might at least last a few days. But it also only lasted a few minutes, and I was growing concerned that he might accidentally swallow parts of the toys, even if he never tried to.  Future toys were going to be tooth proof.

It's tough for me to remember he's a dog, not able to understand "that would not be smart to eat.”  For I grew up in a generation that still had toys that heated up, could blow up, or leave scars.

Think about it, why can’t you get the kids a good old Sonic Blaster anymore? Nothing like a toy that perforates the eardrums the old fashioned way, they used to say. Blame it on the Cold War or the TV show The Man from UNCLE, but in the last part of the sixties, when I was small, we had some of the best toys. They would be considered by some to be dangerous, life threatening toys but they put the BOOM in baby boomer. The sonic blaster was one of the best, a pump-action gun that fired a big column of air toward distant enemies of the state. Sit in a room full of middle aged men and say "Sonic Blaster" and I guarantee at least three guys will smile and go "FOOOOMMM! We took out spies, treacherous piles of leaves and that stack of trash that was hiding a spy or a rabid squirrel.

And people now worry about burning their hands on the EZ Bake Oven.


Most of our favorite toys were not unlike Barkley’s here. They were inexpensive, simple and fueled by imagination, not batteries or computer components.

As children, we’d wait patiently with the dog for that first break in the weather, that first slice of spring sun bursting from the sky, opening cold fissures in the landscape. Snow had been fun, but we were tired of the very bitter cold in the last days of winter; stampeding flurries that swirled around the family home with all of the order and elegance of a hockey game, keeping even the hardiest kid indoors.

Summers were anticipated glory. We'd be out after breakfast and play all day, with kids gathered up from around the area, a posse of potential. We'd drink from the hose if we got thirsty and ripped more than one pair of knees out of a pair of jeans, which our mothers would patch, not replace. We offered up skinned knees as homage to the ancient gods of play, exposed our faces to the sun, gaining confidence in our movements, in ourselves, breathing deeply, nourishing ourselves on the scent of grass and the occasional peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Our play burst out of something within our own minds, shouting forth as we charged the next hill with a bag of plastic soldiers in tow, darting past "throwing grenade guy" with "bazooka guy" to take a spot of land.  To us, with the agile minds of children, it was all real. We scurried between small valleys and miniature cliffs. An empty Styrofoam cup with the end cut out with our pocket knife became a tunnel; a scoop of dirt became a foxhole. Overhead was a peaceful bowl of a summer sky, below, the happy shouts of children calling forth from smoky battlefield fires that only we could see. The sound of the barrage was both remote and near, our childlike voices providing the sound effects, a vibration in the earth sensed with our minds, rather than felt, as our battalions moved onward, taking more ground.

We advanced until we reached the neighbor's yard, a pristine landscape where the war had not reached, where there would be no quarter given, where soldiers were not to pass and disobedience would be death. Mess with the neighbor’s flowerbed, and the troops would be put to rest, the commanding forces grounded. No cookies either, the ultimate punishment.

Such were the days of my childhood. We were immortal; the clouds rushing by faster than our troops could advance. Glorious days. Only darkness or the sound of the dinner bell would bring us in, dirty and hungry and aching to be outside again, and then curled up in sleep with our dog there beside us.

So I understood Barkley and his quest for the perfect toy.  But I will have to make sure he gets one that will not harm him.

The “Kong” type toys were a good find, indestructible hard rubber in which you could hide a treat. But though Dad’s dog loved hers, Barkley wasn’t all that interested in his, unless you inserted an entire steak in the middle.  His favorite toys were the yellow tennis ball and material covered bones and balls, especially the one with a cord on it that you could wind up and throw. 

Still, I missed the look of pure excitement on his face when he heard the first “SQUEEEEK!" of a toy.

A friend of mine had just opened a store that had both a bakery of pet treats and pet gifts and one of the product lines were these “indestructible” dog toys.  They were a thick material, heavily corded with thick stitching, allegedly resistant to even the toughest of teeth, guaranteed.  Made with bright colors and shaped like an assortment of small animals, they were tempting.  They were also pretty expensive. But I got him the biggest and toughest one, Larry the Lobster and presented it to him, thinking that I had purses that cost less than that.

Larry lasted much longer than other toys.  Approximately fifteen minutes longer.  I removed the remains in the bucket and took it back to the store, as it did say “guaranteed.”

The girl working that day was not my friend, but a new employee.  She looked at my receipt and the remains and said, “you don’t get a refund if you put it through a wood chipper.”

“I didn’t,” I said. “My black lab did this” and showed her a picture of the carnage.  She looked doubtful, so I waited to show it to my friend later, who got a good laugh out of it.

I got my refund, and the quest for the indestructible squeaky toy would resume.

(c) The Book of Barkley - Love and Life Through the Eyes of a Labrador Retriever Outskirts Press 2014

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

From Russia with Love - A Little Travelog Post

Little Prince lived alone on a tiny planet no larger than a house. . 

The suitcase is empty, but it is not. There in the bottom, a small piece of paper with some writing on it.  I read it and I smile.

The bag's opened up, some toiletries spread around the hotel bathroom.  Another day on the road.  I guess the wandering spirit runs in my blood, passed on my from Air Force father to me. Seems like ever since I got a control yoke in my hand I've been wandering across miles of land, across rivers and towns in whatever way I can, be it dromedary-like transport plane, raggedly land rover or sway back mule.

I have an anchor, over time it's been a large house, a small house, it's been simply a suitcase and someone I love.  But when I'm there, I am thoroughly happy, for that anchor, instead of being a confinement, is simply the base from which I move, a fulcrum that amplifies the effects of my motion, the beat of my heart.

St. Expurey said, "He who would travel happily must travel light". And so I did, the earliest memories little more than the remembered feel of the starched uniform shirt I wore, the dense oily smell of jet fuel lingering on the tongue like smoke. It seems as if all my early years were reflected in the window of those moving airplanes. I see my reflection, my past, through bug splayed glass that tinted the world bright.
The airplane, the destination and the years changed, as did the landscape of my career, but some thing things never changed. Days in an airplane traveling far. Miles and hours spent watching the landscape, silver grain elevators, red winged birds, mountains formed of ice and fluid need, and rivers without borders, all blending into a bright diorama of life racing past. The world looks different from above, clouds massive and dark, looming up like a target in a gun sight, looking twice the size of an ordinary man.

I have spent a half of my life it seems, on the way to somewhere. I have watched a hundred cumulus clouds erupt, the mass assassination of mayflies and the disappearance of a slice of cherry pie at a tiny airport diner and the journey was only beginning.
In each day comes another opportunity for adventure. The ride to the hotel was something to remember, in and of itself. A shuttle service, stopping at several hotels on the way. The driver, sullen and demonstrating why driving was his second language. You know how when most people drive, certainly professional drivers, they brake using an increase in pressure on the brake pedal so as to come to a smooth stop. Not Mr. Shuttle. The only brake technique he used was to stomp on the brake, let up, let the car roll, stomp again. It would take four or five of these stomps to equal one normal braking action. No traffic, heavy traffic, it made no difference.

I started to feel like a bobble head doll and the 25 dollars I saved over a taxi was starting to look like one of those small decisions that had great, oversized repercussions. But perhaps I should have been more patient. I guess it was hard to concentrate on braking when one is texting while driving in heavy traffic.

I simply made sure my seatbelt was fastened and then bent down as if into a stiff wind, horns of the impatient exploding into the rain-split asphalt that opened and closed with opportunity. Like all traffic in big cities, we carried on, sharp with speed, and then trickling to a standstill, the road dipping into the fog, like a hand cleaving water, the headlights showing the gray bulk of streams of cars coming down the hill like rain.
When the last guest got off and it was just me, he quit texting and had a series of increasingly heated exchanges in his mother tongue with his dispatcher about how he only got  the equivalent of 47 US dollars in fares for this trip and he wanted to get a number one spot when he got back to the airport. (Actually, sir, you got 68 dollars in fares, one that you did not log and pocketed. I notice things like that.)

The arguing got more heated. I am not fluent in languages. I can simply listen and relate small things in a number of languages that come in handy, Russian, Chinese, Farsi, just enough to know when it's a good time to get out of Dodge or when happy hour is almost over. It comes in handy, the knowing, the looking, I think, as I catch quick glimpses of other drivers in the failing sunlight, faces fixed and grim as they fought to get upstream.
The van driver, still yelling into the phone while almost whacking several people on bicycles,  finally stopped in front of my hotel. I paid him the fare plus a 15 percent tip. He did NOT look happy, expecting much more from the American Redhead in nice clothes.

He muttered something under his breath about what he had to do to get a big tip, and I replied -

"Вам надо научиться использовать торможения." (you need to learn how to use braking)

He was still standing there, mouth agape when I went up to my suite.

But I had arrived. The hotel bulked long and dark against the city sky, but inside was golden warmth, a bite of a fresh apple, a much-needed bottle of water. Sitting still for a minute taking care of the aching neck and soon it was time to meet my partner for this assignment while we went over notes for tomorrow's business over a light meal.

After a short walk back to the hotel, my partner making sure I got to my room safely, I made a couple phone calls to loved ones, wanting to let them know I was in and safe. My Dad always worries when I travel, even when I can't tell him where I'm going.  So do friends, and I try and keep in touch. Then I took a long bath in a tub so deep you could hide a Mastodon in it and slept until it was 6:30 in the morning. Unfortunately, it was 6:30 in the morning where I wanted to be, not where I was at.

So I got up and made coffee and watched a stain of light snare itself between steel and rain, spreading until the stain grew light and the light became morning.
By choice or not, travel is part of my life.  But travel brings something to you that people who live in the insular world of their home town their whole lives may miss. It pushes your boundaries. When you travel, you can become invisible, if that is what you choose. I like that. I like to be the quiet observer. Walking alone along the edge of another ocean, as it stretches away into space with its illusion of freedom. Strolling through the celestial hush of a square that has seen generation after generation, the sun glinting off marble where the monotonous rain has washed it bright. What stories would that old building tell, what makes these people who they are?

You don't have to understand the language that is spoken, only the language of the streets, the scents, the stone. Without understanding a word around you the language becomes simply a musical background for watching the water flow onto the shore or a leaf blowing in the wind, calling nothing from you.

You may have work that takes much of your time, yet still, in this strange place, there are hours open to you.  You don't have a lawn to mow or bills to pay.  There is only life ,simple and inescapable as an empty hallway, where you can leave behind for a moment, the burdens that you freely asume and carry as bright and ambitiously as brass. For this moment you are simply a creature of choice, free to visit stately buildings, savor a cup or coffee or simply go watch the trains.  You're open, if only for this moment, as a child to receive all of the world, not just your own.

It is all there for the taking, multicolored flowers in bright density, the smell of fresh bread baking, laid out like fabric on the ground which you pick up and wrap around you, drawing in a breath through the scented cloth. This fabric, this essence of a place, that contains both the dead and the living, the blooms of lush flower, the decay of a building, the smells that are both the death and the birth of a city. You are a historian, you are a hunter free to explore and seek and find and then return home bringing memories to lay on your doorstep.
From the memories come words.  They may be only in your head, they may be on paper.  But they tell a story, one composed of past journeys on ancient rails washed clean by wind and rain and tempered by time, written to the mournful sound of a train whistle echoing through ancient memories and newfound dreams.  The words strung out like cars, beyond which wait the world and life, hope unrestrained and incontrovertible.  They recall the memory of it all, moving fast now, wind rushing past like flood, leaving you breathless.

The suitcase is open on a simple wooden stand. It is empty, but in it there is so much, the smell of crushed sage as I bounced across the desert in a jeep, the wood smoked burnt woods of autumn, the smell that is untouched ground after a rain, the rich earthy scent of something being lit that had for so long been cold.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sometimes we just need a little support.

Hey Mom's what's that?
Is it a bird?  A plane?  A giant bone shaped stuffie?
Mom said it's a pillow. She is writing a Novella that's going into a published anthology with some action and sci fi authors she knows so she's been on the computer both all day for work and late into the evenings the last few days. So Dad (a mechanical engineer) made this pillow by cutting pieces of bone shaped fabric and sewing them together and stuffing it so it cradles and supports the neck for some couch napping or bedtime.

Dad will demonstrate before he takes me for my walk.
ZZZZZZZZ

Come on Dad. . Walkies. . Walkies!