Thursday, April 30, 2009

Slack Thursday

Astro Boy (Hot Toys 2005 Hong Kong Toy Show limited edition)

Today's slack rating scored in the high nines on a ten point scale. I oiled up one of my favorite defenses against The End Of The World, and set the machine in motion. Selective denial. No talk radio. No headlines, or newscasts. No politics on the internet. If I pretend it doesn't exist, then it all goes away. Bye Bye.

And part of what made the slack a little sweeter, was knowing that I have an enjoyable shift to work tomorrow morning followed by a weekend, and then a week of my favorite detail. The bills will be paid, and some modest gains will be made in savings. All stuff to be grateful for.

But for today, I walked down the tracks, up to the corner, and talked to old John for a while. Or rather I tried to listen. We sat outside at the corner table, but the kids running the Starbucks had the music on just loud enough that I had to strain to hear John. To boot, they play a really crappy station, Grate XM: All Irritating, All the Time. No deejay; no commercials; nothing to let you come up for air in the nonstop jangle of irritating songs.

And I ended up missing most of what John had to say. Much of it I have heard before. Nonetheless, I try to tune in when he talks. You get his story in fragments- a little here, a little there. It's not easy to fit it all together. Today I could not glean anything distinct, and after a while I quit trying. It was enough to sit and listen.
The afternoon was taken with the small details- the 'chop wood, carry water' of life at this place and time. Sometimes you take it for granted; other times you hold your breath until bedtime. Then you exhale, grateful for an uneventful day. Mary gets home in an hour. We're going to have steak for dinner. It's good. Sometimes it is just plain good.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Good in the Small things

Daikumaryu Gaiking

It would seem that I am not alone in noticing The Inversion. (but I take credit for the cool capitalized name.) Odd set of feelings at work- Partly I feel vindicated. When you get a sense that there is something amiss on a vast scale it's a good idea to take a step back, and try to make sure you're not just seein' things. We often joke about people with paranoid delusions, but when you encounter the real thing it's very creepy.

I was going to a storefront Serenity Hall some years back. It was right when the first Gulf War was starting, and America was pushing Sadam out of Kuwait. A young guy took the podium- looked to be in his early twenties, and neat enough that he didn't look like he was on the street. He identified, but within the space of a minute he was telling about how he was receiving radio messages from Sadam Hussein in his head, and that he had contacted the CIA, but the agents are still tailing him because he knows too much...

After a couple of minutes someone took him outside. Nobody who saw it thought it the least bit funny.


Like I said. Before you start writing about mass insanity, it's a good idea to make sure that you're not the one who's nuts. But Dr. Sanity is not nuts, and neither are the people who left comments on it here at the wfb. That still doesn't mean that I'm not nuts, but it does indicate that I'm not the only one to see it. It would seem, to borrow a phrase from the Lizardoid Master, that there is indeed, a 'bad craziness out there'.

So what can you do? That's the real question. Get in the political game? Engage the forces of The Inversion, and act like some noisy old crow on someone else's blog? I don't really have an answer. If the society lurches toward cultural suicide what can you do to dig your heels in against the pull? Focus on what is True...

Watch me sling some advice that I won't take- no. Forget it.

I'm generally doing pretty well when I can keep my focus on the regular details of daily living. Shopping. Fixing food. Paying bills. Once in a while straighten up the house, and change oil in the cars (which I need to do). Get out and walk. Work when I can. Even so, I was glad not to get a call this morning. The coffee pot broke. The internet was depressing. I had a case of the blues, and all the energy of calculator battery. I drove down to the corner. Old John was there. He had nothing to do, so we drove down to the frame shop to see Mary. But Mary had already left. The Boulevard was choked down to one lane in either direction, so we cruised back along the side streets. Soon the jacaranda trees will be in bloom and those neighborhoods will be lined in giant purple bouquets. But not yet. Today it was all just spring gray.

Got home, and found the house insurance bill. There went next month's check. And just when I thought we were going to get some breathing room. I know. Be grateful that there will be a check to cover it. Still. I said fuck it, and went out again. Sat and had coffee at another Starbucks. Didn't want to talk. Drove home, and picked up a burger for my mother. The boss had called when I was out. I got a gut drop, because I was tired enough that I didn't want to go pull an eight hour shift, but broke enough that I couldn't turn it down. Besides it was already after two. I called back. It wasn't for tonight. It was a day assignment this Friday, and a week long assignment next week at The School By my House. Couldn't be better. So if we don't get ahead in May, there's still a chance for June. Nothing left for the afternoon except to sit here, and let the day flow out onto the keyboard. Mary will be home soon. I got some Chinese bao muffins with barbeque pork to steam before dinner. Life is good in the small things.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Seeing Things on Tuesday

Full Armor Double Zeta Gundam

So today it was a lunch pail on the roof.

Mary has been getting up around five thirty to go for an early morning walk with some friends. I've become lazy enough to stay in bed after six some days. I was going to do that this morning, as a matter of fact, but Booger the Cat had other ideas. March from my ankles to my chest. Weeow. weoooow. Swat my cheek. Nose in the face. Stand on the bladder. How the hell did a cat figure that one out?

I was just about to give in and get up when the phone rang, just after six. Another day at Beachside. Fine.

It was a good one, too. Monday was early dismissal so I took care of all Tuesday morning's work on Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning the grounds crew comes, and takes care of the exterior. The kids are testing. No activities. Except for the lunchpail on the roof, the day was as slow and uneventful as a day can be. It was a small day, in the great scheme of things. I took care of a set of duties in the absence of the regular man who does the job. A small cog in a small machine. I know those simple duties well, and I did a good job of carrying them out. I finished the day, and now I'm tired. Tonight we're just goin' for burgers.

Chop wood. Carry water.

In your mind there is a particular lens through which you can see Truth, and Beauty at the core of the most mundane details before you. But it's not an easy view to keep in focus. Sometimes booze, or dope gives you a glimpse in the transition from sober to sloppy. Never works for long, though.


Sometimes Big Events cause the lens to click into focus. For the last going on three years now, I've had pretty good access to the lens. And since the service last Sunday, I've been able to look at a lot of things both small and large, and see something priceless in them. Today, things seem to be in focus. Grace. I'll take it while it lasts.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Cool Monday

Zaku II

nam myoho renge kyo nam myoho renge kyonammyhorengekyonammyohorengekyo...

Somehow I never did take to the Daimoku, the chanting of Nam myoho renge kyo. The first time I heard the Daimoku, and the Gongyo, a recitation of liturgy chanted in a kind of phonetic pidgin Chinese, the sound struck me as cacophonous, jangling, unpleasant. Nine years later my opinion of it hasn't changed. And try as I would, I just never got comfortable with the use of the Gohonzon, a piece of caligraphy used as an "Object of Worship". My wife is a devout believer, and practitioner as are most of her close friends. I tried for a year, but- what can I say? It left me flat. Too bad, too because it did cause a rift between Mary and me. And it would be nice if we both shared the same religious views. I never really realized how deep set my own belief in God was until I tried to practice a religion in which that God was absent. I just couldn't do it.

Charlie was a firm believer in the Gohonzon, as is his sister. He was passionate, evangelical; he introduced many people to Buddhism. Charlie's sister and a couple of his closest friends sat with him and chanted the Daimoku as he lay dying. The last thing Charlie heard in this world was his sister and friends chanting for him, and the sound carried him over the line, and into the next world.

And the Daimoku rang out and clattered through the chapel where nine years and four days ago, Charlie had delivered me safe and sound to sit up on the stage there and exchange wedding vows with Mary. There was a black and white portrait of him on the stage. And the service.

Look, I don't want to give the wrong impression. We were not close friends, Charlie and I. But he was barely a year older than me. It's one of those instances where the lightning strikes uncomfortably close to home. And looking around the room there yesterday I saw a great many people who were there at our wedding, and every one of them just looked old. Well, that's because they are. And so am I. Mary is sixty.

I guess it just adds up to one of those dark epiphanies- getting a first hand look at mortality, and really realizing that you too have a ticket on that bus. And so does your most dearly beloved hold a ticket for that bus. Like it or not. In a few day's time this will fade, and I will go back to believing that there is no such vehicle. That's our default setting, and necessarily so.


Today was good. I worked the day shift at the Beachside school, and other than some rotten meat on the playground (go figure), and a stopped up toilet the day was uneventful, and just busy enough to make the time fly. And Mary just got home, and we're going out for Mexican food, although she doesn't know it yet.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Sweet

Perfect Grade Gundam RX78/2

There's all sorts of serious stuff going on that I'm not going to write about. The day, bright, clear and cool is as perfect a specimen of California spring as ever was enjoyed by anyone at any time. I saw old John at the corner this morning. He had scored some lasagna for cheap over at Fresh and Easy some weeks ago. He took it out of the freezer, heated it up, and carried it down the hill to eat at the corner. Eddie was there, and so was M, the guy I picked a fight with some months back. As I said before, I later apologized to M for my unseemly behavior. We're friendly and polite with one another when we both end up there at the same time, but it's still uncomfortable. Actions have consequences. In retrospect, if I had been content, last summer, to just walk off and go home, then none of the current tension would exist. I get pissed off, and lose my temper sometimes, but I never stay mad for long. Or more accurately, the latent anger in me finds another target. That's probably the best lesson I took from spending the year with Nichiren Buddhism. Anger is a world you carry with you, and enter periodically. It is a level of hell in a way. But it's the anger that's the issue, not the object to which the anger affixes itself. Because that's the nature of anger. The essence of it is pure, unconnected to any specific stimulus. It needs to latch on to something in order for it to work its dark magic. It is listed among the Three Poisons, along with stupidity, and greed.

In the Christian tradition, anger is one of the seven deadly sins. It's easy to see how you can get hooked on it. It definitely makes the adrenaline flow. But like anything that delivers a buzz, anger gets to be a habit, and even an addiction. Imagine being angry enough to seek out multiple discussion groups you don't like, and barge in on them for the sake of tossing out insults, and picking fights.

Now who would do that?


Yesterday I posted a picture of the Perfect Grade model kit of the Zeta Gundam. The one today is the original. It is the RX78/2 from the series Mobile Suit Gundam which aired in Japan back in 1978, and also the first in Bandai's Perfect Grade model series. In Japan, this Gundam is as iconic as Mickey Mouse is here. Incidentally, a Gundam is not a robot. It is a combat machine, driven by a human pilot who sits in a cockpit in the middle of the chest. There are thousands of variations on the basic Gundam seen here. The Perfect Grade, or PG models from Bandai, are the last word in precision toy making. The kits run from just over five hundred pieces like the RX78/2 to seven hundred plus for the Zeta, not counting decals, wires and screws. Underneath the white, red and blue armor is a completely articulated skeleton, detailed down to hydraulic pistons that move with the bending of the limbs. The kits are expensive. Opening up the box, and seeings dozens of racks of parts is just plain intimidating. Finding out the assembly manual is in Japanese is something of a gut drop. But when you study the manual, it quickly becomes clear. The manuals are absolute masterpieces of technical writing/ illustrating. If you pay attention, you can get through even the complicated wiring scheme in the Zeta without a problem.

The kits need neither paint, nor glue. All the pieces press fit; all surface matches, all fits are perfect. Once you've figured out the manual, and snapped the first two together you're hooked. It's like the first pistachio. Chances are you'll be up late.

The finished pieces, however, are not toys. They're model kits, fussy, and delicate. Even though the Zeta from yesterday makes a perfect (no part swapping) transformation into a space plane, the process takes nearly an hour, and it's really not very much fun to do. The RX78/2 is beautifully articulated, but it doesn't hold a pose well, and like I said- these things break real easy.

Anyway- that's the odd ramble for Saturday- from anger to toys. That's a progressive movement if ever there was one.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Mary's on That Greenline Train.

Zeta Gundam (Perfect Grade model kit)

Click for Mekanda Robo/ Gundam private auction info

Sitting here in the den I can hear the playground noise from The School Near My house. I worked there the last two Mondays. This next Monday I'll be over at the Beachside campus. Work keeps trickling in, despite, or perhaps because of the fact that two long term assignments are taken right now. Which is fine by me. Barring the unforeseen, I should be on to work this summer again. No small thing to be grateful for. And we've had the second day in a row of cool, and cloud. Again, small good things add up. As always, there is stuff to sweat over.

I will feel immensely better when Mary gets home. She's got jury duty. Which has little to recommend it under the easiest of circumstances- wait.

Odd. I wrote 'wait' because I got interrupted by a phone call. It was Mary. She's on the train, and on her way home. They didn't pick her for a jury. She's free.

On the train? Yeah. On the Green line to be exact, which runs west from Norwalk almost all the way to the airport, and back. And there is a huge courthouse in Norwalk, which is about seven or eight miles from here. And there's a courthouse right here in town less than twenty minutes away. Like I said, jury duty has little to recommend it, anyway. But to rub it in just a little deeper, folks from around here, at the far eastern edge of Los Angeles County, Mary included, are being summoned to the courthouse in Compton. Yes, that Compton. Go figure why they have to bring in jurors from the far side of town. Google maps calls it at a little over fourteen miles to get from here to there. I think it's probably fourteen miles as the crow flies. On the street it's way more, and it's all nasty goddamn traffic, and little in the way of scenic beauty. And parking. In Compton.

That's why Mary took the Green Line. And she's on the train, headed back to the Norwalk station. I'll be glad when she's home. I'm going to barbeque chicken when she gets here. Later in the weekend my nephew should be up for his fourteenth birthday. Here's something of a relief- he's old enough to appreciate getting cash in a card instead of some dorky present that his uncle picked out. As you might guess, he's burned out on toy robots. anyway

I made a point today, of turning off talk radio, avoiding current events on the web, not looking at the newspaper, and generally standing here with both fingers in my ears, and my eyes closed. It does wonders for the attitude. It's hard to keep in mind that the meta events, and tectonic shifts in life, and the world as we know it are going to take place whether I pay them any mind or not. Getting distressed over it doesn't slow it down much.

And that's the sum and total of this day thus far. Some times are easy; other times need ease thrust upon them. So it is today.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Loss of Cool Days.


OK, now I need to cool off. I grew rather short tempered with a couple of trolls over at Gagdad Bob's site today. But both were such glaring voices for The Inversion that I just went off. And this when I had more or less decided to get away from the topic.

And, damn it, I'd rather be sitting here spinning off something amusing than getting into politics. But it isn't just politics. It is far more than that.

And it comes back to 9/11.

Remember The Weekly World News? You always used to see it at the supermarket check stand. Every time there was a disaster, the Weekly World News would run a badly doctored photo of Satan's Face appearing in the cloud of smoke. As a side note, I believe even The Weekly World News had the respect not to run such a picture of the attacks on The World Trade Center buildings.

But I, and many others truly saw Satan's face in the smoke of those collapsing buildings. It was the over reaching of unadulterated evil. The veil was ripped open that day, and the true face of the Adversary was revealed. And the sight was a dark epiphany that yanked me untimely from my moonbat worldview.

At first it seemed certain that everyone had seen it. But soon enough it became clear that not everyone had seen it. And as time goes by I find fewer and fewer who saw, and remembered. Because those who Saw it had their lives changed, and the needle on their inner compass was, from that day, drawn ineluctably toward God.

Others, when the shock wore off, began to blame the whole thing on America. The attack did achieve one thing. It drove a mighty wedge down an already widening rift in American culture, and politics. Red state/blue state was born. Early on a phrase came to me:

The alignment of sides has begun.

I believe the Alignment of sides is complete. The rift between left and right is no longer the see-saw of alternating Republican and Democrat administrations. It has come to represent irreconcilable worldviews.

Gagdad Bob has taught me, among many other things, a very good word: metanoia. Metanoia is like crow, only not quite so tasty. It has been a staple of my diet for the last eight years. I have little patience when someone comes by and tries to sell me on the ideas that produced this bitter feed.

Which brings us back to The Inversion. It's the second act, after The Alignment of Sides. And it's on.

And so it goes in the last days of the world as we know it... I did not want to get into this stuff. This is stuff I generally keep to myself, or reserve for one on one communication. But somehow it just came spilling out in a tumble. And so it goes.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Save Gaia Day Or Else!

Zambot 3

The heatwave broke like a stick. Yesterday was enervating. Today refreshing. Cool, not too cloudy. You know how every now and then you feel like you're off by a day? The sense that time is out of joint. Like when a Wednesday feels like a Thursday, and you almost have to remind yourself what day it is. On rare occasions it works to the day's advantage. When a Friday feels like a Thursday, every time it occurs to you that it's Friday you feel better. If Thursday feels like Friday, then it's all to the worse. Anyway.

I've had that 'time out of joint' sensation recurring, only it's on a seasonal scale. I keep getting the feeling that it's late summer. That soon it's going to cool down, and the days will start to draw short. But it's the middle of spring. We're well past equinox, and hurling headlong toward the solstice. Summer is coming. Maybe it's part of The Inversion. Yeah, I'm still on that kick. It didn't take Sal, Ricky, Mushroom, and Walt any time at all to find more examples. And I got a bit of an Orwellian creep out today, speaking of The Inversion.

I woke up thinking it was Tuesday. But it was Wednesday, and I forgot to take the trash out. I got it in time, had coffee, and when Mary got back from her walk we had breakfast as always. She has a busy day on Wednesdays. I was getting ready to go out walking when the phone rang. It was eight O'clock. Couldn't be work. It was work. Can I get over to Stephen King Elementary? Yeah.

Today was Earth Day. Kids had sad Earth with frowny face shirts. Save The Earth Shirts. Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. They made a giant mural- land, river, trees, out of trash. It looked like shit. Had all the charm of a grade school kid reciting political talking points. Classes came in to look at the giant mural. WOOOOOW! WOH, COOOOL. I think the kids knew how crappy it was, though. Hard to tell. It wasn't about creating anything. It was all about shame. Your plastic milk bag will last 100 years in the environment. Your aluminum can will take 500 years to return to nature. They don't seem to define "return to nature", but whatever it is, it'll take your glass bottle thousands of years to do it.

It starts to sound suspiciously like the immanent lethal, hideous dangers of second hand smoke.

Learn why it's bad to make trash. Make something ugly out of trash.


And the Mars Rovers? Perhaps they fade from memory, become rumors, and later legends to be dismissed as fairy tale.

OK- that's it.

I'm getting off this kick for now. Mary just got home. Screw Earth Day, today is our ninth anniversary. And we have had nine pretty damn fine years together. The best nine of my life, that's for sure. We're going for sushi at Sushi from East. Mary's friend Susie took us there for a wedding present nine years ago. It's still one of our favorites

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Inverted Tuesday

Mazinger Z

I promised I wouldn't gripe about the heat. I'm not. But it was hot enough that I didn't feel like going out and doing a six mile walk in the hills, either. I was content to sit home with the allergy making my nose run like a tickling faucet. You don't want to use the keyboard, here. Yuk.

Stuff has been bugging me as of late. The stuff that I usually make a point of not writing about. You know. Politics, and stuff like that. Mostly, it's the stuff like that that is bugging me. And it's one of those notions that people either don't notice, or if you bring it to their attention, they may even acknowledge it, but it doesn't register with them any more than a minor change in weather.

It's The Inversion.

The islamic/Arab world has fucked with our economy, murdered thousands of innocents, and made no secret of either its hatred for us, or it's desire to put all of Western Civilization under an islamic bootheel.

They came here. They murdered three thousand of us in a sadistic, and gruesome crime. And, to paraphrase the Marquis de Sade, What they did, is only the shadow of what they would have done. We should have nuked the bastards right off the goddamn planet.

We responded by sacrificing American lives to liberate Iraq from Sadam, and Afghanistan from The Taliban.

And America must apologize, and make conciliatory gestures to the Arab/moslem world?


It comes in smaller things, the inversion. Perhaps it's like gardening. Once you become a gardener, the world turns to roses.

But why should a contestant in a beauty contest be the target of lunatic hatemongering because she believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.


I do not watch television. But last week I happened to hear a snip of a news cast on one of the major TV networks. Definitely not cable. The report was on Obama's visit to Mexico. The report said nothing. Nothing but hope and change, that is:

Obama is bringing some hope and change to Mexico. The Mexicans want some hope and change, and they feel Obama will bring them some. The Mexicans like Obama, but they did not like Bush. Cue interview of English speaking Mexican: Bush did not bring us any hope and change, but Obama will bring us some hope and change. End clip...

I wish I was exaggerating for dramatic effect here, but once they said, "President Obama is visiting Mexico" they exhausted all the content of the segment. The rest was pure fawning. The news tells you nothing. It's a pebble of fact in an avalanche of bullshit. There is no truth to be found there.


Remember Dick and Jane from the primary school readers? Dick had a dog named Spot, and Jane had a kitten named Puff. Boys have dogs, and girls have cats. Not anymore. I see dozens of posters, cut-outs, and ready-made school system approved classroom decorations, and they all have boys with kittens, and girls with dogs. They show girls with baseball gloves, and boys playing quietly.


And suddenly progress is no longer cool. Pardon me for going all old fart on everyone, but when I was in grade school in the late fifties through early sixties we couldn't wait for progress. We were going to outer space. We would build giant bubble cities under the ocean, and soar to work in flying cars. What ideal of progress inspires today?


And what is the green ideal? That we all pay more and receive less. That the overall quality of everything be reduced while the price increases. Shrink. Cut back. Do without. And the return for this sacrifice? Maybe some abstract satisfaction that each of our individual lives is having less impact on the ecosystem. Sure gets my blood racing.

Compare motivators:

A) Go to outer space.

B) Lessen your carbon footprint.

Which one inspires? Which one is taught?


OK, that's enough. End of rant. Is Truth being stood on its head, or run out of town on a rail?

Yeah, it is.


Monday, April 20, 2009

The Birds and the Bees, and Hellgrammites

Getter Robo Number Three

Well, here it is. The end of a long day, and a short weekend. We got a foretaste of summer today- clear, hot, and hot. The boss called yesterday afternoon to ask if I could do the School by My House today, and I said, "yes". Must be a Molly Bloom thing, or something. The other thing he had was to go over there and check for a swarm of bees. I get all the cool assignments. I went over there, and found the bees. At any rate, I'm glad to be done with the night shift for a while, and working the day shift at an elementary school is eight hours of being busy with small, and mostly enjoyable tasks. The highlights of the day were a dead bird, and the arrival of the bee guy. The bees were starting a hive in one of the sprinkler valve boxes out on the main field. They were going in and out through the little opening in the lid, and there were hundreds of them buzzing around out there. The bee guy came out around ten. He uses a vacuum to gather all the bees. Just sucks them up into a box. He said he takes them to a guy who has bee hives up in Hacienda Heights.

And the dead bird was pretty easy to take care of. I got it with the picker-upper thing, and put it in a bucket. I was taking it out to the dumpster (no, we don't do bird funerals). The principal was coming down the hall, and she stopped, and wanted to see the bird. It made her shudder, and get all creeped out, but she wanted to look. Had to look. Twice. That's a really weird instinct that we all have. We always want to get a closer look at something that gives us the horrors. And I call it an instinct, because everybody seems to do it.

Some years back I was in West Virginia for the summer. I went with a couple of friends to visit a woman who lives on an island in the middle of a river. Getting to her house meant a ten mile bounce, and crawl down a dirt road through the mountains. Cool house, though. Much socialising went on, and we ended up car camping out there rather than risking the dirt road by moonshine.

We made a fire, and one of the guys had a lantern. We hadn't sat there long, when thpthpthpthpsnick! the biggest and most grotesque insect I had ever seen flew into the light, and landed on the nearest tree. Three people ducked, and yelled, "SHIT!" with one voice. Of course, we immediately had to shine the light on the monster, and crowd in to get a better look. The creature was damn near the size of my hand, and it looked like an evil cross between a dragonfly, and a scorpion. It had four paddle like translucent wings, a long neck, a big round head, and a nasty pair of mandibles that could surely draw blood. It clung to the tree for a while before flying away. Everybody ducked when the thing launched from the tree trunk, and we could hear the dry scaly flutter of its four huge wings long after we lost sight of it in the dark outside the campfire. I slept in the car.

The guys I was with were locals, but they had never seen anything like it. I asked around, and one old guy said, "What you saw was a hellgrammite." Well named, I thought. I ran across the term, "hellgrammite" somewhere on the web the other day, and put it into Google. It turns out that a hellgrammite is actually the larvae of the giant bug we saw. As soon as I saw the picture I recognized the monster in the woods. It is called a Dobsonfly. Mostly harmless. (you gotta check out the video)

Anyway. It was a good day, and productive. The forecast for tomorrow is heat, and slack. I won't complain about either.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Arrives (and none too soon)

Once again I find myself typing words on the computer in the morning instead of in the afternoon. And just like yesterday the cat got me out of bed before I was really ready. And just like yesterday I have the long grind of the night shift waiting for me. And so it goes.

As long as I'm struggling with trying to come up with some content I want to thank both Walt, and Mushroom for their feedback and for their blogs. Walt has an uncanny knack for selecting tight pithy pieces of wisdom, and Mushroom's earthy approach to faith and scripture transcends cloying pie-in-the-sky platitudes, and delivers the grit of real world religion. Good stuff, gentlemen. Your words have meant much to me. Thank you.

And tonight will be the last night of this assignment. Monday, the new guy takes over the run. I wish him well. He's young- early twenties, and he wants to earn money to get back to college. Actually, I hope they hire him on full-time. He seems like a decent sort, and this position would give him the chance to make a decent income and stay in school at the same time. It's tough, but not impossible. I did it when I was in college.

And the good news, too is that there will be another position opening at the end of June, and that should slot me in for the summer. Of course, nothing is certain, but things have a way of working out just the way they are supposed to. You do the footwork, pray, and leave the results up to God. Oh, yeah, like that's easy. Easy like walking a tightrope. Just put your foot in the right place, and gravity takes care of the rest. Just put your foot in the right place. In the mean time, it'll be nice to resume a more slackluster routine for the next week. I have a lot of stuff I've been musing about, but I need the vacuum of empty time to put the musings into coherent thoughts, and the thoughts into coherent sentences. Sitting here as I am now, with one eye on the keyboard, and one eye on the clock doesn't work very well for me. And with that, I'm going to get some food, and get ready for the grind.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

S.ure H.appy I.t's T.hursday

Getter Robo One

This breaks routine. Normally I don't stop by the wfb until I've hit the other places on the bookmark list, and normally I don't feel like writing in the morning. Actually, that part isn't a break in routine. I still don't really feel like writing. I feel like going back to bed. But dear old Booger the Cat has her little cat sense of order, and cat order calls for me to be up and about before seven thirty. If I'm tardy, she'll jump up on the bed, and march from my ankles to my chest and back again, pausing to stick her cold nose in my face, swat me on the cheek, and cry. "weeow, weeow, weeow", until I give up and get out of bed. So it was on this cold gray morning.

I mentioned Wednesday that I was going to start a long term sub assignment- the brutal night run between Stephen King Elementary, and the Beachside campus. It would have meant steady work from now until September. Would have. I talked to the boss yesterday morning. I had initially expressed some reluctance about taking on the job. As I've mentioned, it's a brutal slog of a run. But after sleeping on it, I resolved to tough it out and give it my best effort. Besides, we really need the money. When the boss called, I told him I was up for it, and ready to go. He said I had the assignment, but he wanted to double check with the school principals, and he'd call back to confirm. He called back. They're giving the assignment to someone else- a twenty something year old who's trying to earn money for school.


But would I be willing to finish out the week, anyway?

Sure. Be glad to do it.

And that's why I didn't get a post up yesterday. I was just too beat when I got home last night to even think about spelling a bunch of words on the computer. I didn't even want to read a bunch of words on the computer. Just too beat.

And this was an epiphany of sorts. At first I was beating myself for having been honest about my doubts on whether I was up for the assignment. Why did I say anything? Am I just being a lazy ass? Willing to work, but only so hard? Am I just wimping out? Putting my petty comfort level above the responsibilities of keeping up the household? Maybe I should have just kept quiet. But, you know what? It's no accident that the last two guys who have worked this job full time, just got fed up with it, and quit in anger.

No. It hit me like a ton of bricks about quarter to ten last night, when I was staring down the barrels of another row of rooms to clean, and the sidework, and the lockup yet undone. And realizing I was so damn tired I was aching, and dizzy. I'm getting too old for this shit. I'm in very good shape for a man my age. I like to work, and I don't mind working hard. But this was just too much. And I don't want to admit that to myself. The accusing voice in my head tells me I'm being a wimp. That this is a not a failure of strength, but of will. But I'm not inventing exhaustion for dramatic effect, here. I am up against the hard truth of being closer to sixty than fifty.

Welcome to life in the last days of the world as we know it. It's like encountering a boundary line, a border fence that just got moved in closer than it was the last time you approached it. This field used to be longer and wider. What happened? What do you mean, someone younger, and stronger?


As much as I was looking forward to making a little extra cash, and all, I'm actually relieved that they're giving the assignment to the younger man. I have tonight, and tomorrow night still to go, and this feels like the longest week in human history. But the week will end, and with it this assignment. I've done OK this month. I got more work this pay period than in the last two put together. All in all, there's still much to be grateful for.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Almost Wednesday

Getter Poseidon

Twenty after eleven. This day is over, and I'm beat. Today was payback for yesterday. There was no call this morning, and Mary was off to visit her mother, so I figured I had the day to myself. It was just after noon, and I was just getting ready to leave for a walk, when then the phone rang. Work tonight. Stephen King Elementary. maybe. Can I do it?

I like to work. I am always happier when I'm doing something productive. But the shift that splits Stephen King Elementary, and the Beachside campus is long, tough, and tedious. There's a level of physical labor that is healthy, invigorating, and that I actually enjoy. But too much past that level, and it starts to beat you down. The needle on the strain meter for this job is way outside the green, and hangs in the yellow just a hair off the red zone. Plus I had some bad vibes from the day guy up there just last Tuesday.
"Yes, I can do it."
But it wasn't certain. The Boss said he'd call me by 1:00. That gave me an hour of feeling like I'd been pulled over for slacking, and was looking at eight hours of hard labor for my crime. Unless I was lucky, and got a suspended sentence...

The phone rang exactly at one O'clock. I was on for tonight, and possibly longer. Possibly very long term. The Kid who was the regular night guy split, and took off for Texas. The Kid was supposed to finish out the month, but he just said, "The hell with it", and took off yesterday. I guess he has a job lined up, there. I don't blame him in the least for just taking off. That's exactly what I'd do.

Just exactly what I felt like doing, to tell the truth. But I went in there, and I did it, and it mostly wasn't much fun. I talked to the Day guy over there at SKE, and he was cool. No mention of last week. I'm fine with that. He confirmed it. The Kid is gonesville, Daddy-O.

So it's the classic good news/bad news delivery. I have a rare opportunity to earn some much needed money. But earning it won't involve pastoral mornings on the dewy fields. Just a hard eight hour slog through dirty classrooms that runs until ten thirty at night. And maybe ending up posting on the blog after midnight, when I should be in bed.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Well and Slow on Monday

Getter Liger

Usually I sit down to write in the mid afternoon, but I got a call for work this morning (a good thing) and afterward, the business of life got between me and, what now feels a little like a responsibility- writing something on the world famous blog. But dinner is over, Mary is out at a meeting, Booger the Cat is at my feet guarding the chair, and I'm all out of procrastination. It's kind of funny- the "world famous" thing. And the byline about fame and fortune. Of course, I meant it as something of a joke. I hardly expect this endeavor to actually result in either. But the 'world famous' part has come true. I get a few hits a week from off shore. I've had visitors from Europe, Asia, Even Australia, and South America. It's the toy pictures, especially the Bullmark pics from "Reflections on a Talking Robot" that brings them. I doubt they stay to find out what happens next in La Habra.

But like I said, I got a call for work this morning, and today it was at the school that's less than a block away from the house. It was the first day back after Easter, so that would have made it an easy day anyway. Usually the first thing you do when you open up, is to take care of the restrooms. That was done over the break. To boot, the day man over there actually showed up, and unlocked the plant before leaving, so even though the call came late, and I had to charge out of the house, it turned out to be an unhurried day. Once school had begun I just took the park patrol grabber thing, and a bucket, and worked my way out to the big field. It's quiet out on the grass in the morning. The field smells green, and sweet. I have the radio if they need me for anything, but other than that, the next three and a half hours are mine. Cool, and cloudy. The day couldn't commit itself to either being gray and overcast, or blue sky and clouds. The kids were subdued, as they always are the first day back. No bathroom disasters, and only one barf on the rug. Not much throwing and yelling during either lunch. The afternoon is busier than the morning: taking care of the lunch area, the kitchen, and then get the gates unlocked, and plant closed up at the end of the day. The afternoon is as busy as the morning is slow. It was all of a piece, and all rolling along at about seventy eight per cent capacity. Like someone turned all the dials back off of ten for a while. A slow Monday after Easter.


Friday, April 10, 2009

A Good Friday

Getter Dragun

It's another one of those shadowless silver days, and it's well enough along into the spring that the graylight stretches out into the evening past when we're usually used to having dinner. And solstice is still over two months away. I can just imagine living in the far north where the darkness and daylight cycle swings from all day to none in the span between solstice and equinox. When Mary and I were on our honeymoon trip we stayed a couple days on Mackinac Island, courtesy of my most generous cousin- my mom's cousin, actually, but that's another story. Mackinac Island is on Lake Huron in the straits between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. It's between the upper, and lower peninsulas of Michigan. We were there in May, and it was light well past nine at night. I can just imagine how cold and dark it gets up there in December.

Earlier on in the day Mary and I did a low effort walk- we ended up following the city crew down the railroad easement as they cut down the last of the tall grass, and weeds. It's less scenic now than it was a while back. From there we took the long away around, up Beach to Whittier Boulevard, and made a stop for lunch while we were up there. I have been blessed with a very good marriage. Later this month we'll celebrate nine years together. It seems like nine minutes- underwater. (just kidding- I had to use that joke, though) We just get along well. And the things that make it good are simple. Sitting on the couch together having coffee in the morning. Sharing breakfast and dinner. Riding the bikes. Walking. Walking most of all. If I could carry one single memory out of the world to remind me that life is Good, it would be walking with Mary.

We can carry on a conversation along the tracks, but the traffic on the street is too loud. We kept a fairly brisk pace up Beach , crossed Whittier Boulevard and stopped at another one of the minor food treasures in the neighborhood, Cilantro's. We always get their carne asada burrito: grilled steak, beans, rice, cheese in a huge hot flour tortilla. It's a pig out. The other addictive treat they have there is cucumber lemonade. Which is just like what it sounds like: they keep these four or five gallon glass crocks full of the fruit drinks- deep ruby jamaica, milky horchata, and the pale green lemonade with chopped cucumbers. It sounds awful, but it isn't. It's a good candidate for the most refreshing drink of all time, and it is the perfect complement to Mexican food. The stuff would probably make a dangerously tasty margarita.

As I said, the burrito there is a pig out. Fortunately, the place is close to home, so we didn't have far to walk to get back.

And that was the event of the day, on this Good Friday, the tenth of April in the Year of Our Lord, 2009. Another sweet pause in the last days of the world as we know it.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

A little BS About Toys

Yesterday I posted the picture of the black Evangelion figure, EVA Unit 03. The chrome one from the day before is unit 04. Notice that the chrome one doesn't have the power umbilical like the other five. That's because it was powered by the S-2 engine that blew up, and took out New Mexico, Arizona, and most of Colorado, if I remember right.

I started with the photo of Unit One, the purple guy, on the first of April. The red one is Unit 02. The yellow one with the shield is Unit 00, and the blue is Unit 00', the rebuilt model of Unit 00. All the figures come from the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, which is as strange a work as I have ever seen. The Wiki entry provides a decent synopsis.

"Evangelion", of course, is Gospel, and Genesis, is the first book of the Bible. But the twenty six episode story is not a Christian allegory. Rather Hideaki Anno, the creator seems to throw Biblical, and Christian symbols into the apocalyptic, enigmatic, and dreamlike storyline for the sake of enhancing the the overall weirdness that stretches from the plot, to the nature of the Bio-robotic EVA, depicted in the toys. Most Japanese robots aren't robots. They're battle machines driven by a human pilot, or team of pilots. The Evas are also controlled by a human pilot. Problem is, under the armor the Eva is a living organism- a giant humanoid creature that is cloned, and then essentially pithed, and kept alive artificially. The human pilot is entombed in a cylindrical metal capsule which is charged full of oxygen bearing fluid, and inserted into the creature's spinal cord. (see the yellow one in the picture- hatch open, entry plug exposed) There, the pilot develops a telepathic bond with the thing's brain, and takes it out to do hand to hand combat against transdimensioal "Angels" which take the form of everything from bipedal insectoid monsters, to giant crystals trying to bore into the headquarters of NERV, the clandestine ultratech military science unit that created the Eva's from genetic stock that they recovered from the giant monster that they found at the South Pole after following directions discovered in The Dead Sea Scrolls. When they found the monster, it blew up, and wiped out almost everybody. NERV passed the disaster off as a giant meteor strike, and created the Evangelions to fight off the giant monsters descendants, the Angels...

Sound ridiculously convoluted? It is. It's a deeply flawed work. Nonetheless, it's one of the most powerful stories I've ever encountered. And the Angel attacks- the monster fights are some of the most heart pounding action sequences I've seen. It is a strange, and wonderful piece. Definitely worth the twelve hours, and change it takes to watch the series. The toys are cool, too. They are from Bandai's Soul of Chogokin series, which usually focuses on re-doing the classic pieces from the seventies. Neon Genesis (1996) was popular enough that Bandai broke with tradition to produce these little gems. They are almost all metal, and incredibly well articulated, and well balanced. Actually, they're the only toys in the whole Soul of Chogokin series that are actually fun to take down from the shelf and play with.They can assume almost any pose that a person can. But the picture with the post tonight isn't from the Neon Genesis Evangelion series. It's a Rick Dom, Principality of Zeon, enemy mecha from the series Mobile Suit Gundam, which first aired in 1978. And it's not a toy. It's a model kit. Anyway- that's about all for this sweetly uneventful day.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

All Things the Same

We had rain before dawn, and it was still dark when I got up. But sunrise fired orange out of a clear violet sky soon after I sat on the couch with coffee, a comforter, and Sam the Cat. Mary has been getting up early to go walking with some friends of hers, so I had an hour or so to sit and just think.

Later on in the morning I went out on foot to do the walk up the hill. From the West heights you could see Catalina, the Spruce Goose dome in Long beach, and the giant cranes in the Long Beach harbor. Perfect morning - bright sun, white clouds, deep blue sky.

So I took the long way around, and walked down to the corner. John's shopping bag was tucked under the table just outside Starbuck's door, but John was nowhere around. The long way around adds up to about eight miles, most of it through hills. I was tired enough to just want to sit for a while. I got coffee, and took a table in the sun.

Among the features of most of the nightmare dystopia of the future type stories is that everybody- men, and women alike, wears the same uniform. Everything is colorless. There is no variety of style. It is sameness piled on sameness. Conformity of appearance, thought, and behavior.

I get on this tear every now and again- comparing the present to what I long ago thought/feared the future would be. Sometimes it just comes on me- I feel like I'm watching a movie, or something, but I start running down the check list. Like today as I sat at the patio just outside of Starbucks resting up from the hike. Stuff I couldn't help but notice- Slovenliness. Every man I saw wore shorts, or jeans, and every one walks around with their shirt hangin' out. Same for every woman I saw. They dressed no differently. And everyone was drab. olive. khaki. gray. With the exception of a couple of women who walked by wearing dresses, everyone there looked like they were ready to dig into some yardwork. And the two women who were wearing dresses wore wash 'n wear hairstyles, little make up, and went bare legged. In short, they looked like crap. Everyone did. I remember visiting New York City back in '87. One of the things that blew me away about the city was that people dressed well. Everywhere. Los Angeles is much more casual. But we've let the bottom fall out of casual, even. Now it's just- whatevar.

And yes, everyone's more comfortable. Men aren't wrestling with ties, and women aren't wrestling with pantyhose. No one needs the dry cleaner any more. But a great measure of civility, and beauty has been lost to the world. We have become comfortably drab.

And what was odd, too is that I noticed the drabness extended to the parking lot. There were three or so generic classes of vehicle- SUV type, sedan type, vans, trucks, but within those classes the vehicles were virtually indistinguishable. You couldn't tell a Ford from a Subaru, from a Toyota. Not only that, but I noticed how few cars in the lot came in any real color. Most were silver, white, or some variant of brown/beige. Some were redish, or blueish, but there was not a vehicle in sight that you could easily pin a color on. More drab. Like the music coming out of Starbucks. They don't have to turn pop tunes into Muzak any more. The musicians seem to have volunteered to provide insipid fare. And when you walk in there, the headlines in the LA Times echo the headlines in the New York Times, and they both echo the networks... More of the sameness.

I hate when this stuff starts to get to me. But sometimes it just does. After a while I got up, and left. I saw old John at the corner of Beach, and Whittier. He was standing in the island in the middle of Beach wearing bright kelly green slacks, a sea green jacket, and a yellow shirt. He had been across the street at Fresh & Easy. You can get their day old food quite cheap if you know where to look. John does. I waited for him, and then we walked back to the corner, and talked a bit. And that was the morning.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Waiting on the Truck

Blogger always assigns the time for a post when you push the New Post button. That is- the time signature that appears for a post is the time when you start writing, not when you finish. So this one's going to read something like nine minutes after three, or somewhere thereabouts. At any rate, it's the middle of the afternoon. I made a good hike up the hill, took care of errands, and the only thing left between now, and dinner is to write something. And wait for the UPS truck. The tracking code lists the package as having gone out for delivery just after seven this morning. It is somewhere in a truck, on the street, and not here. Of course, the probability that the package will get here is pretty high. UPS does good work. But once I got a toy I ordered on line delivered to a house three blocks away. Nothing is one hundred percent certain. And it is after three, and usually they come by around noon. I'll sit here cooking up scenes of disappointment and disaster until the truck shows up. And then I'll be all relieved, decide that the world is not such a bad place, and forget about it until the next time I buy something on line.

In a way, it's fun. There's something of Christmas, or birthday in getting a parcel delivered. Similarly, there's something unreal about ordering something from an on-line vendor. You look at pictures, click the mouse, type in the numbers. If you feel the need for tangible evidence of your transaction, you can print out the confirmation e-mail. Nobody does. And then you wait. It's the waiting- the dead time between the last mouse click, and the sound of the delivery truck, that breaks the connection between buying something, and receiving it. That makes the appearance of the merchandise seem magical. It's a Santa in April thing. Unless it doesn't come. Then the connection is immediately reestablished. Because they already have your money. And you have nothing. So then it's phone calls, and e-mails, and all kinds of bullshit just to get back to square one. And now it's after four. And the wait continues, exacerbated by the time. Looking at it optimistically, the later it gets, the closer it gets to the time the package will be delivered. On the other hand, the later it gets, past a point, the more likely it becomes that you got skunked. And that's where the afternoon's writing project ends. Waiting.
And of course as soon as I got off line, the truck appeared. I'm all relieved. And the world's not such a bad place, you know?


Monday, April 6, 2009

Taxes, and Taggers

First stop this morning was to get the taxes done. That has always meant a refund from both the feds and the state. Not this year. Even with the small income I've got, I ended up having to kick out over four hundred bucks more than what they've already taken. Bummer.

But the rest of the day was just too damn fine to let even that keep me pissed off for long. I took out some aggression on the weeds in the back yard, and now the yard looks better. After that some errands. Trader Joe's has these pita crackers that come laced with some weird addictive substance that got me weirdly addicted so I went over there to get my cracker fix, and copped a decent stash- enough to last for a few days if the wife doesn't find them.

Mary was home when I got back from TJ's. She was out back in the gazebo preparing materials for the pre-school art class that she teaches. She was measuring out red, yellow, and green colored sand, and mixing it with glitter. Booger the cat was there covered with dirt and dry grass, doing her cat best to be helpful. She sat on my feet as I stepped up to the table. I scratched her head, and she swatted me with her claws. That's my cat. I wanted to go hike, but Mary had too much stuff to do. And I thought better of going up the hill again, and took the easy way out with a stroll down the tracks. The puddles are dry; the mud is gone, and guys on tractors are mowing the four foot high weeds. That will pretty much end all the scenic beauty until next year. Nothing but bare dirt, and taggers from now until the end of fall.

Taggers. I hate the bastards. I'm actually not a total curmudgeon when it comes to kids getting crazy. And that railroad easement has been a place where kids have been 'getting away with stuff' for a long time. When I was in high school, we used to ditch out and go over there to get buzzed, drink beer, or just get away from school, sit under the low trestle, and have a smoke. Back in the day I enjoyed many a quart of beer, and not a few reefers along that weedy easement. But no one would have thought of painting all over stuff, thus drawing attention to the place, and what we were doing there. That would have been like advertising: "We're doing illegal stuff here! Ha, Ha, Ha!" I mean- what a bust, as we used to say.

Now, of course, every square inch of block wall, and even the discarded scraps of cardboard, and plywood that get dumped there end up tagged. Like the windows at Time Out Burger. Etched. Or the toilet seat in the rest room at the local supermarket. Or every dumpster, every trash can, every bus stop, every place where someone isn't vigilant about cleaning off the graffiti. Tagged. The city actually has at least one full time employee who does nothing but "graffiti abatement" as it says on the truck. He drives around towing a pressure washer, and carrying rollers, a camera, and tons of neutral paint. I asked him if they ever catch the taggers. He said yeah, they do. They match up the photos he takes with stuff they find at the high school, and in the possession of kids who get rousted by the cops. Sometimes it comes together, and they nab one. Sometimes. But mostly they just keep painting it over. Sisyphus, and the stone. And so it goes, on this gentle day. One more feature of life in the last days of the world as we know it.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Walkin' the Ridgeline

all pictures click to enlarge
We went from a gray Friday to a hazy Saturday to a clear, bright, and windy Sunday. Mary and I went for breakfast burritos. She had machaca. I just had the potato and ham and egg. At any rate we both had calories to burn, and it was a perfect clear day so I grabbed the camera and we headed to the park. It seems like I end up taking the same pictures over and over: the tunnel like trail, a view from the hillside (which almost never comes out), or various closeups of flowers, or what have you. And year after year the same cycle: here's the view in April, in August, October, or December. The green hills followed by gold hills, gray hills, and then back to green. Still, it's always new, and always just different enough to notice changes from the last time I was there. This is still the green part. The first picture is the entrance to the park. It's a long steep downhill, which makes for a long steep uphill to end any walk on.
And since it was clear we decided to take the trail that leads up to the ridgeline, and the top of the hills.

Also steep uphill.See? Mary is sixty. I'm fifty six. But we made it without any trouble. Much to be grateful for, right there. Here's the view looking east from the top of that trail. Notice the hilltop with the antenna in the center of the picture. That's a former Nike missile site overlooking North Orange County. For a long time it was just abandoned. You could walk right up to the empty missile vaults.We took the ridgeline road west for a ways.

Straight north of us Mt. Baldy hangs on to the last cap of snow.

This is the view south to the ocean. That's a disorienting feature of this corner of Southern California- You normally think of the ocean as being to the west, but around here the roads to the beach run north and south.

It's exhilarating, being up on the top of the world there. We almost took the long way around to the bottom of the park. But that would have meant climbing the very long steep road to get out of the park. So we didn't. Good call. Anyway. Mary just got back in, Booger the cat is bugging me for some attention, and I have a barbeque to light. It's a gift, I'm tellin' ya.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

One of My Favorite Songs

One of the odd things about Booger the Cat is that she likes music. Especially pretty music. She's not too whippy about hard rock, but a lyrical melody, acoustic instruments, and voice has her up in my lap listening intently to the computer speakers. She really likes this song. So do I. This is not the sort of music that I generally like, but it's one of those rare tunes, and singers that I just fell in love with right from the first hearing. I first heard this song on the clock radio one morning in the spring of 1994. I was having a rare pleasant, and beautiful dream that gently took the shape of the opening bars of this song. I floated up into a half awake, half dreaming state, and the singer's sultry voice, the harmony from the backup voices, and the eerie, syncopated melody poured out into the room like a visitation of angels. As soon as the song ended I got up, and turned off the radio. I didn't want another piece of music to crowd it out. The song just haunted me all day. And I had no way in the world to find out who did it. Some months later I was sitting with the gang on the patio at Mimo's cafe in uptown Whittier. Dimitri, the owner was there having a smoke with us. And this song came up on the background music. The first bars grabbed my attention. I asked Dimitri who that was, and he showed me the album. The song was called "Reward" and it was recorded by Polish singer, Basia. Eureka!

Hope you enjoy.


Friday, April 3, 2009

A Short Hike, A Long View

Sometimes staring at the blank post window is intimidating. It's one thing when you have a definite idea you want to work on, or if something odd, scary, or amusing happened during the day. But when it's just another featureless day in the life, then the post window is like an unpaid bill. It's odd. Sometimes I think about firing off a screed on one of the many things that make me want to screed: the MSM, enviro-weenies, tattooed chicks, libs and leftards, Teh Preznit, nanny state laws, and on and on and on. But the line for that soapbox stretches around the block, and there are zillions of fine, angry voices railing against the idiocy, and the ugly. One of my older posts actually got linked on someone else's blog a while back. He described the wfb as a roadside park on the information highway. I liked that a lot. And maybe that's part of the reason I haven't used this small forum to go off on all the bullshit out there. It's not my gig, so to speak. Anyway.

Today I fell back on the routine that sustained me pretty well between the time when the artistic burn went out, and the heart thang punched the re-set button on my whole existence. It is a daily routine of polished slack. Coffee on the couch with Mary, and Sam the Cat. Breakfast. Internet. A few minor errands. A hike up the hill. A little straightening up around the house. Dinner. Especially good is the hike up the hill. It feels good to work muscles, breathe hard, sweat. It just feels good to be able to do it. I remember well the long frightening weeks before the angiogram, when I could barely walk around the block. Waking up at night with chest pain, and hoping it would pass so I wouldn't have to call 911. And how bad that short stay in the hospital, and the deceptively simple seeming procedure kicked my ass. Gagdad Bob gave me a good piece of advice after it was over. He said (paraphrasing, here) to look at every day as if I was playing in extra innings. That each one after was a gift. I try to do this, and much of the time I succeed. And much of the time I don't. Even now, some two and a half years later, I find that I get angry quicker than I used to. My whole range of emotion swings from pole to pole faster, and easier, too. So if I'm more easily moved to anger or depression, I am also more easily moved to appreciation, gratitude, and thankfulness. I guess it all evens out, sorta.

And today, as I pushed up the steep hill on Solejar Dr., I wrestled with a lot of emotion, a lot of decision, and a lot of uncertainty. Big decisions, and possibly bigger changes are right on the horizon. I started writing about this stuff yesterday, but The Voice just said keep quiet about it for now. So I sidetracked off, wrote about Booger the Cat, and left an incoherent mess of a post that ended abruptly as soon as dinner gave me an excuse to get off the computer. And I'm not trying to be coy, but I still need to just sit on this stuff, and pray on it for a while.

I've learned not to pray for what I want. Because what I want at any given moment is colored by my immediate circumstances. What I think I want is not necessarily the best thing for me. So I pray: It is not what I want, but what God wants for me; not what I would do, but what God would have me do. You see- I figure that God has a somewhat wider perspective than my own, and that God ultimately has my best interests at heart. And prayer works. That's why so many people rely on it.

Give you an example- I started the part time job with the local school district as soon as I was on my feet after the heart thang. At first working a full eight hour shift kicked my ass so hard that it took me two days to recover afterward. But I got my strength back, and by that summer I was digging out sprinkler lines, working a jack hammer, and pouring concrete. A full time position came open- the one I subbed for the other night at Stephen King Elementary. I put in for the job. I did not get hired. Instead, they hired the twenty three year old kid. I was pretty disappointed. Now I am glad. I can handle doing that night run on a short term basis, but as a daily grind it would have beaten me down. It wouldn't have been long before I purely hated it. I would have been stuck there, too. At my age I don't have the years left to go job hopping trying to start one last career before the clock runs out. So that was a case in point. Now, I'm not saying that if I would have prayed to get the job, then I would have got it. God works, as they say, in mysterious ways. But I did pray for God's will in the matter, and in retrospect I can see that things worked out better for me than they would have if I'd got what I thought I wanted at the time.

And this week will be Easter vacation for the schools, and this year there will be no week long project like last year. So it's a week of slack, adulterated only by the mundane tasks of life in the last days of the world as we know it. Not a bad thing at all.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cloudy Day With Cats.

Another one of those shadowless silver days, and a cold one to boot. It was the last day of school before Easter week. The first thing in the morning routine at Sweetwater is to lock the gate to the big field. The gate is up on a bank overlooking the plant, basketball courts, and playground. Except for lighting the green on the big L shaped field, the invisible morning sun just doesn't have enough energy to reflect any color. The school buildings, the surrounding houses, yards, trees, and the Puente hills to the north, sleep in shades of silver and gray. It didn't change all day. But there's a lot of change coming down the pike in the whole work thing, but I don't want to BS about work. Suffice it to say that I did it, and it was good. Now I'm tired. And that is how life generally clicks along.

Booger the cat just came in to the den, dug her claws in the carpet, and hunkered down by my chair. I've tried a few times to get a good picture of ol' boogies, but getting a good cat picture is harder than it sounds. She's a plump calico Manx, white fur splotched with striped patches of brown and black. She's a rumpy Manx, which means she's got a tail like a bunny. And Manx cats naturally have long hind legs, and short front ones, so Booger looks like a bunny cat. Too cute for her own good, actually. She's a cantankerous, often bad tempered critter. Don't touch her hindquarters. Most of the time, you just don't pick up the kitty unless you want to lose some skin. And you have to be careful petting her too. Other times the cat will beg for attention, and just melt on your shoulder. She spends the night on the foot of the bed, and wakes me up if I'm not out of bed just after Mary. Nicest old kitty ever. We got Booger the Cat from an elderly woman who Mary knew. Someone had just thrown the cat away. The old woman found the cat in her garage, cowering in a corner. She tried to keep her, but the Manx didn't get along with the other cats. Mary and I had had a cat, but it got eaten by a coyote when we were living up at Possum Flats. So we took the Manx.

I looked around a little, and found out that people actually pay money to get Manx cats. You generally won't just find one at an animal shelter. My guess on Booger the Cat's story is this. Someone bought the kitty, and gave her to a young child. Kitty is too cute for her own good. Kid snuggles too tight, won't leave the cat alone. Cat swats, and scratches. Kid 'spanks' kitty for being bad. Cat scratches one too many times, and gets a one way trip in the car. Just a guess. But that's how we got Booger the Cat.

We have another cat, a half Siamese named Sam, that my brother dumped on us. Now there's an unlikely story for a cat with zero personality. Sam belonged to someone in New York City. He was given to a cat adoption place, and that's where my brother got him, and another cat. My brother came out here for an extended stay a few years back, and brought the two cats with him. A couple months later, he went back to New York. Without the cats. Some cats get thrown away, others get plane fare. The other cat that he brought died a while back, and now we just have Booger, and Sam. They can't stand each other. But now I need to go get some food. And that is all.