Monday, January 30, 2023

Days between rain


  Days Between Rain


Last Thursday, the 26th, I noticed that Buddy the Cat was was limping, favoring his left hind leg. Friday, the 27th,  I had my bestest ol' pal in the world at the vet.  County Line opens at 7:30. I was on the phone with them at 7:29, and in the office two hours later.

It scares me how much I love that silly beast.

When we lose a loved one, the grief and shock hit so hard that it leaves us numb. It's like a protective shield that rises in the face of devastating truth. Sometimes the first phase of it is a strange giddiness, almost euphoria, like a hit of speed to keep you from crashing out. The true pain leaks out slowly over many, many days.

There is no such shield with the loss of a pet. The pain is immediate, intense, and overwhelming. I've been reduced to a sobbing child more than once  by it. But the doc said Buddy the Cat will be OK. He's eleven years old. It looks like he didn't quite make a jump up, and fell on his butt; sore, but not injured. 

 Friday evening I got the news that Gerard VanderLeun had passed away. I knew it was imminent; nonetheless, it's a blow that still has me numb.

 Our lives are defined by love. The depth of love I feel for my wife, my friends, and family, and my pets is terrifying. There are times when I think I'd rather lose my own life than go through the pain of losing any one of them. The loss of our dear friend Gerard, has hammered this home like a nail through the flesh.

I had promised Troy,  president of our bicycle gang, that we could carpool out to Redondo Beach for a club ride 9:30 Saturday morning. Otherwise, I'd have stayed home. The South Bay beaches are a long, and often miserable drive from here. Troy got over to the house around 8:00 am. We loaded up the bikes, drove over to Molcasalsa for breakfast burritos ($2.39!) and hit the  freeway. National Weather Service had Redondo at 61 degrees for the day, with  clouds and wind. Penny, and Dave were  waiting for us on a side street off Coast Highway. We bundled up, and prepared to give ourselves Hard Core Prizes for a cold, windy ride.

Our coats were off within the hour. Friday had been cold and shitty.  Saturday was a jewel. Temps were somewhere in the mid seventies, the air as clear as January. Most people were out in shorts. Everyone was grabbing a chance to get out before the next storm rolled in, Sunday. We rode from Redondo north through Hermosa, Manhattan, and then the bleak Dockweiler, right under the take-off zone from LAX. 


HT Penny for the pics.

We stopped at opulent Marina Del Rey. Time was, we'd have have continued up into Venice beach, and Santa Monica. Venice used to be crazy fun, but that was then. Time was. Now it's just dirty, depressing, and dangerous. We cleared just under thirty miles for the day. Not bad for old farts on fat tire bikes.

Sunday morning was cold and rainy. The cat was not OK.

When I turned on the coffee, Sunday morning, Buddy was in the living room, huddled under the coffee table. Didn't meow. Didn't want no fish. He doesn't usually sit on my lap in the morning.  I picked him up and sat in the big chair. He didn't object, just flopped, listless in my lap. I held the old cat close, and felt the pit drop out of my gut. Gerard is gone. American Digest is over, and the internet is a desert. And now, the cat? I just sat there in the dark, and wept. I had to wait for Mary to get up before I got my first cup. 

Let's end this rather pointless post on a positive note. This morning as I got out of bed, Ol' Buddy was clawing away at the rug in the hallway. He chased me into the kitchen, meow, meow, meow until he got his fish. Looks like he's going to be OK. We have cold, and rain again today, but by the end of the week I should be able to get back to the stone. Life goes on, right?




Thursday, January 26, 2023




We're almost through January. Today is Wednesday, the 25th, and, thanks to the first rainy winter we've had in years, it's the first day in weeks that I've been able to get back to the stone.  It's like exercise; I feel like I'm getting back on a workout schedule after three weeks of sitting on my ass watching television, and eating pizza. 
So, I'm going at it slowly. The task right now is to correct the illusion that the figure leans too much to the left side, (or right, depending). The figure doesn't really lean, but I needed to cut some material away so it seems to balance better. Here's what I'm starting out with this morning:

 seems to lean...
 Here's where I left off this afternoon:
lean corrected

Work continues. The next challenge will be dealing with that very flat face in front, but that won't happen for many sessions. Truth to tell, the work just feels like work right now. I don't have much in the way of creative energy, and my spirits are hitting a deep, deep low.
Not many people stop by this blog, and that is entirely OK with me. I don't offer much in the way of entertainment, like posting music videos, or links to outrages and oddities around the internet.  I don't see any point in jumping into politics, and current events. Too many others already do this, and they do it way better than I could. I guess, you could call this a vanity project, or something. I don't know.
This new year started for me with a feeling of apprehension. I felt it over at our friends' house New Year's Eve, like we were entering a season of darkness, and loss. A bad moon risin', as the song goes. Suzie asked me about resolutions, or, more realistically, hopes for the year ahead. I answered that my only hope and prayer for the year was that we all make it safely to the next one. That hope got blindsided fast with the news about Gerard VanderLeun.
 I'm going to assume that anyone who stops by here is familiar with Gerard VanderLeun's site, American Digest. Gerard is a treasure. His site is, hands down, the finest thing on line. He is among the great storytellers of all time. He is the Poet Laureate of the internet. He has been a host, a teacher, and a friend to a great many of us.
Imagine going to school every day, only the school was so much fun that you couldn't wait to get there in the morning, and once you arrived you never wanted class to end. And for over twenty years, it didn't. Every day Gerard had something new. Every day something you didn't know before. Every day something to make you laugh, weep, think deeply, or wax furious. 
Not to mention some of the finest poetry in our language. 
The comments section on AD has become a family. Ghostsniper, Casey, Julie, Mike Seyles, Mike Austin, Dirk, Joan of Arrgh, to name just a very few have become...
Have become what?
Relationships like this are something new in the world. We individual participants are literally scattered all over the planet. We gather at one"location" that isn't really a place. We trade notes on line in comment boxes, typing out our thoughts, and opinions on news, or human interest items. We write a bit here and there about our personal lives. Other than a tiny icon, there is nothing to distinguish one commenter from another. A post from Julie looks just like a post from Casey: same font, same spelling, no pictures. A post is pure thought, stripped of any visual, or vocal cues. We know the writers only by their content, and style on the keyboard.

And yet, we quickly get an impression of the personality behind the post. In time, commenters come to life in much the same way we meet, and get to know people in the flesh.  We develop friendships with people we've never seen, and probably never will. There are people on line whom I've known for years, and who have known me for as long, yet we could meet by chance in person, perhaps even carry on a good conversation, and part never knowing who it was we met.
There have been times when I wondered if there is any point in it. Why do this?
I can go back to when I first got a computer, and went on the internet in 2003. I had no way of knowing it, but all the views I held on politics, culture, and religion were about to get overturned, and I was about to get launched on the spiritual journey. Almost all I thought I knew would turn out to be false. I was drawn slowly, but inescapably into the orbit of Christianity, even though I had neither the desire, nor intention to do so. I have become a Believer, a Christian, albeit feral, and unchurched.
No one tried to convert me. People sitting at their desktops writing their thoughts, beliefs, arguments, experiences, effected all the change. The Holy Spirit will employ whatever medium it can as a vector: the written word, the spoken word, even, apparently, this  internet thing.

Thu. 1/26/22 

As I write, Gerard remains in hospice. My apprehensions on the new year were well founded. It's a little after 5:00 in the morning as I sit here. The comment count at American Digest is well over 300, and growing. Gerard touched a whole lot of people.
I haven't looked at anything else on line yet, but I know what I'm going to find. I can feel my gut sink. I'd rather blow it off, and just take a W&B yet sure as I'm sitting here, I'll finish up, start in on the list of bookmarks, and take in the toxins of the day.