Monday, October 30, 2006

Compost me

Been an action packed weekend.

Found out on Friday that my mom's mom died at the natural age of 88 at her old folk's home in Petaluma. Funeral tomorrow, that's right, on Halloween. As good a day as any I suppose. Lovely lady that grandmother.

We're going to plant her in the ground, no embalming, up in Santa Rosa. Not a bad cemetary, and I'm a cemetary afficianado. What to do with all our corpses, such emotion gets tied to it, for the deceased and the loved ones often times. For the record, I'd like to be wrapped whole in a sail and slid off a plank to go sleep in Davey Jones' locker, but I've heard that could be pricey or difficult, so if I don't figure it out by the time I kick then, realizing people will do whatever the hell they want to after I die, I kindly but strongly suggest composting.

The Rebirth Brass Band at the Independent Friday night ripped like holy hell. Loved it; without a doubt one of the best shows of the year . Would see them again in a heartbeat. They did the best cover of that "One love, one heart, let's get together and feel alright" song I'd ever heard. A show like that could easily change the cadence of my walk forever, like a book that you can't think the same after reading, or electro-shock therapy, the beat goes on, second line style, no end to this groove in sight, a fantastic and delicious transformation.

Pumpkin carving party at our house for the kids Saturday. Great row of jack-o-lanterns sitting on the deck rail. Pumpkin curry, pumpkin corn bread, pumpkin cookies, roast pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin wine. Just kidding about the wine, that'd be freaky though, and probably pretty nasty tasting, whatever gets you through the night kinda booze.

Took the boy to his fifth week in a row of Sunday School yesterday, where he got to carve a pumpkin. He passed out on the way home, so I had myself a deeply satisfying swim in Strawberry Canyon, but when he woke up I took him for his first dusk to night hike in the hills above our house, very fun. Kids just love flashlights, moons through trees, deer bounding by noisily, dried wild artichoke flowers glowing in the moonlight, and tunnels of trees. It's the bleeding woods at night in late October - who wouldn't love it once they got over the scary movie brainwashing, and all the unidentfiable sounds? Hmmm, better check myself and the boy for ticks, come to think of it.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Post bath, busy eating her towel. Many developments since she turned five months. Graspy, very graspy. You know your blemish is noticeable when your infant tries to scratch it off your face. Now she likes books too, touching each page as we go. Her brother and her can amuse each other with peek-a-boo type games to the point of them both shrieking with laughter. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Single Brown Pelican

From my typical slouched position in my chair the window shows sky. Crane tops appear if I move my head only. Sure, if I stand up, or walk around the partition into the neigboring cubicle I can see all kinds of landscape oddities, but mostly I groove on the passing clouds and birds. Seagull flew by earlier, extra nice because it's flight path formed a dramatic ellipse. Thought to myself "nice to have an office so close to the bay as to see seagulls out my window". Then I thought, "but you know it's funny, I never see pelicans, guess I'm not that close." About an hour later a single brown pelican flew by slow, from north to south, close enough that I could feel the intricate brown/white/black variegation on it's wings. The pelican motion sent sculpted undulations washing over me; I became the pelican. Back inside my human frame now thankful, brisk, bright avian Autumn. Devil may care, happy go lucky.

Monday, October 16, 2006

It's That Car Up There

The boy and I cruised down a local street in our large red sedan one recent weekend morning. With my window part open I let a silent but violent one slip, not figuring that it would "affect" my son. The release proved more potent than forecast. Almost right away he announced in a bold and confident voice "I smell farts!". As I hesitated before responding he continued "I think it's that car up there." pointing to a smaller red car ~50 feet ahead of us.

To verify, I asked "You think the farts are coming from that red car up there?"

"Yeah, that car's stinky" as he held his nose with his right hand and pointed with his left. My quiet but persistent chuckling precluded divulging the true details at the moment, but I must grant him due credit for thinking up such an original, albeit far fetched, excuse. I tend to go with "low tide", "cattle ranch", "leaking septic tanks", or "apple processing plant", in accordance with my West Sonoma County roots. To qualify this bit of lowbrow, I almost did not post it due to the inherent necessity of admitting to all who read this that I farted, unless I wanted to create a fictional farter character. What the fart? I read somewhere that it happens to the best of us, praise Charles Buckowski. Besides, "Shut up Beavis" is a phrase that I still enjoy "whipping out" upon occasion.

Woke up Happy

The boy woke me up at ten til five this moring, shining with palpable vim and vigor, in what I would term an exceptional good mood. He got me to follow him to his room after I'd changed the little daughter's diaper. He requested eggs & toast. I requested that he turn off his light so that I could snooze another ten minutes or so in his bed. He countered with a request for a story, bringing me his book of pre-meal prayers and songs from around the world. I read a few, he insisted on leaving the light on; he hopped downstairs like a bunny rabbit while I did indeed fall back asleep until ten til six. I gave him a small dish of almonds, cooked him his eggs & toast, poured him his apple juice, and prepared a small after-breakfast bowl of pimento-stuffed olives. The kid's fabulous mood filled the house, disintegrating bad vibes wherever they hid, very nice. Monday, Monday with a light rain beginning to fall, so many chores left undone. A pile of freshly picked pumpkins from our backyard patch lie stacked in the middle of the rear lawn, awaiting front porch presentation. The commute dragged extra slow, but the memory of my happy toddler keeps running around in my head, squealing with delight. Can't put that in a pill.

Take Away Your Fear

Grandmother reached the level where she needs oxygen all the time to keep from passing, can't open her eyes anymore, or talk, although she tries, responds to talking and touch. Doc says that she is "actively dying". I sat by her bed for the last 20 minutes before the end of visiting hours last Saturday night, saying what came to mind, practicing pumping salt water out my eye sockets. What to say, to do, for a stoic and beautiful grandmother in her time on the edge? Whatever one can, whatever one feels one should I suppose. If you think you know I doubt you do. We travel the October Country regular just like every year, but the skeleton faces present involuntary grins in greater dimensions. The annual plants present their corpses in more striking fashions, and every microscopic monolithic thing aligns with instinctive time and energy tranfers. Lighting bolts shoot through me from the hot electric clouds in my head when I close my eyes and look around. Have I not had sufficient time to prepare? All the time in the world, no less.

Lucinda Williams sings:
"Did an angel whisper in your ear
And hold you close and take away your fear
In those long last moments."
in her classic Louisiana dying song "Lake Charles".

That Lucinda's got a hold on me.
But not on Grandmother. She gave up the ghost Thursday October 26th at about 19:00, deep in October Country, in the neighborhood I spent some serious years of my childhood, in Petaluma. I got the news on a high blood pressure office Friday afternoon, no time or space for emoting. Felt disorienting. October ain't over yet.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

See my brother Big J from the Ghetto enjoying our throne chair with the chillunz. The girl draws the boy to her, too irresistable to remain unfawned over for long.  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Fleeting Memory

Memory, my shiny trick gadget of yesteryear tranformed somewhere along the line to a fair weather friend. Any particular moment might recall in Kodachrome, or have gone galavanting the coldest back alleys of inter-galactic space. As a young kid I listened with amazement and concern to adult after adult tell me that they had almost no recollection of life prior to about ten years of age. Would I too, lose my vast collection of detailed memories? How young could anyone recall, for how long? At my 6th birthday party, on the grass under the big oak tree at 1020 B Street in Petaluma, I vowed to recall that moment in 10 years on my 16th birthday - no problem. While waiting for my mom to get ready for a Thanksgiving car ride in 1978 I once again made a vow, this time to remember that rather unremarkable moment for the rest of my days - no problem, the shrubs, the sun, the gate, the red berries on the shrubs, the gravel driveway remain with me. One must select with unconcious care what one commits to permanent memory after awhile, or at least that's my excuse, because I forget hell of moments now, even fun ones. My grandmother has the Alzheimer's and can't remember much anymore, and I can relate, although it's somewhat scary. Kind of like being super-drunk I'd guess. Elliott once told me that many of the homeless drunks in Stockholm can't even remember their own names. That's how Grandmother is, but little memories still glimmer through. Drink To Forget always was one of my favorite MDC songs, about a guy repressing his memories of fighting in Viet Nam with alcohol, available and satisfying. I quit drinking to forget (not that satisfying), but unconventional cat skinning is my middle name.

I've read about folks remembering straight back to the womb, but I have a hard time imagining such. Some of my memories stem from a quite young age, maybe around one year old. Took the boy to the carousel in Berzerkeley's Tilden Park last Sunday. He hadn't been there since he was about 18 months old, a couple years ago, but when we got out he indicated that he remembered by asking if it was Christmas, like it was last time we were there. Then, as our ride on our respective zebra and goat ended, he pointed out the ostrich, the very one he'd ridden almost 2 years previous. I was surprised that he remembered, but of course, why wouldn't he? I did. He had puked all over that ostrich, after all. What else does he remember? For how long? More than I thought, ever more, even things I can not. More good memories and less crappy ones seems a wise path, and a default mindset of "People love me and are trying to help me" rather than the popular "Everyone hates me and is trying to hurt me" fallback.

The tastebuds, the eyesight, the flexibility, the body itself must all go, so why not these fleeting memories? Snazzy while mine to play with though. Vonnegut's idea from Slaughterhouse-Five of viewing each person as a long snake with an old person at the head and an infant at the tail visits me often. The whole life laid out. One could dwell in any part of the snake for as "long" as one wishes. How could the now be less than eternity? No need to fret, or dwell in bitter spaces and odious comparisons.

Bryn once wrote me that, although he liked my writing, he found it a little Astle Greystoner. I had to ask him what he meant. He clarified the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe "Castle Greyskull" reference. Cracks me up, and I admit the odd mystic medieval wording my subconcious continues to gravitate toward. A fine example of a repressed library of memories. What else would we expect from a thousand-year old were-wolf like me, details of a dozen lifetimes coded into the laminations of my vertabrae, releasable only by the tenth Rolfing session, or a skilled sorcerer's touch.

The October Country has arrived once again, and the Bradbury book of short stories by the same name calls my name in a spooky voice from a dusty corner of my bookshelf. Love these foggy mornings, Summer moldering away beneath rocks of time. Brown leafed, gray skyed Autumn accepts every dance, denies no reasonable comfort, no matter the consequence in some far-off Winter, just like I remembered.