Thursday: A Few Things

  1. Still walking. Sounds like I’m bragging, right? I’m talking about exercising. My progress goes up and down. My 28-day average is just 7.51 miles (sixteen thousand plus steps), with my best being last Thursday, ten and quarter miles. I try to get in more, but stuff. I’m in a heavily hilled area. Examining results with where I walk is interesting. My flights will increase to fifty to sixty a day, and my activity level will increase, but my miles decline. That’s because the steep hills really slow me down. Coming down is less of a physical exertion, but requires a lot from my legs to keep from just pitching forward. Great views, though, and getting the exercise outside is worth it.
  2. COVID-19. We have people who shunned masking, attending rallies (see Herman Cain and Tulsa), church, and parties, who are now testing positive and being hospitalized. Some, like Cain, had underlying conditions. Cain is seventy-four, and I guess he’s okay with getting sick, possibly going through what others have endured, and dying, but what about spreading it to others, and putting them through it? Yeah, nobody say this coming.
  3. COVID-19 Redux. Other crazy reports have one, teenagers trying to deliberately contract COVID-19. Let’s play a game and see who can get infected. (Alabama Teens Are Throwing Coronavirus Parties with Cash Rewards for the First to Get Infected.) Oh, the young… Proves that life can be stranger than fiction. Beyond that, some people who are testing positive are refusing to help with tracing. (Party Guests Wouldnt Talk After 9 Tested Positive.) Hit with subpeonas and facing fines of $2000 a day for not helping, they caved. Florida setting new records for their state with ten thousand cases in one day, a one hundred sixty-eight percent rise. Of course, commentators are blaming the protests or riots, and Gov. DeSantis has vowed that Florida wills stay open. Paul Krugman has an interesting threads based on Opentable reservations for Texas, Florida, and Georgia. After reservations rose with re-opening, reservations began declining as positive cases surged. Here in Oregon, cases are rising. Gov. Brown has declared masks mandatory inside businesses, but several sheriffs have declared her policy unconstitutional and have refused to enforce it. I always thought it was up to the courts to decide constitutionally, not the sheriffs, but they know better. Even Oregon State Police aren’t even masking as they enter businessesTo quote one officer who wasn’t wearing a mask, “Fuck Kate Brown.” That’s protecting and serving for ya. Shows why trust and support for police keeps declining; they’re deciding what laws they’ll obey and enforce, and mocking what they don’t like.
  4. I’m not good at celebrating. My sixty-fourth birthday is this week. As with every year, my wife asked me what I want to do to celebrate. I don’t have an answer. Parties don’t generally entice me. Socializing in general doesn’t entice me. She knows these things about me. I feel pressured to ‘do something’ to celebrate to mollify her.
  5. Still painting walls. We have high ceilings in the dining-living-kitchen combo. Three hard to reach corners where the walls and ceiling met. I’ve bought an extender that telescopes out to twelve feet. I have an edger, brush, and roller that can be attached. Control, though, is challenging, and a bit comical, and a strain on the neck, squinting up there at the wall from twelve feet away. Refreshing the paint on them is also an interesting process.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Thursday’s Theme Music

Took a walk into the steep hills of southern Ashland, where you lean forward like you’re walking into a hurricane gale to progress up the incline. Looking back over the browning valley, across to where vineyards sprawled under a blue sky and the Interstate snaked by with semis full of goods, the song, “Bullet the Blue Sky” by Oasis (1987) stole out of memory into consciousness.

And i can see the fighter planes
i can see the fighter planes
Across the mudhuts as the children sleep
Through the alleys of a quiet city street
up the staircase to the first floor
Turn the key and slowly unlock the door
A man breathes into a saxophone
Through the walls we hear the city groan
Outside is America
Outside is America

h/t to Metrolyrics.com

Not surprising. I’d be writing in my head as I walked, picking up where I’d stopped for the day, moving the chains to the next day. As my story companions travel, they stop and watch things and wonder.

Basically, as I was doing today, wondering about the past, the future, the present, politics, you know…the world.

Here’s the music.

Victory Is Coming

The birds were plentiful and noisy. Several noticed, “Hey, where are the humans?”

It seemed true, the birds agreed. They didn’t see as many humans as usual. Odd, up here in the northern latitudes, where winter was rolling over into spring. That’s when the humans usually became more active.

Word went from bird to bird, flock to flock, pecking for confirmation: were less humans out? Fewer cars, trucks, and motorcycles? Were all noticing this or was it a local anomaly?

“Yes.” Verification flew through the flocks. Except for a few pockets, less humans were present outdoors. The birds were winning the war. 

Orders were issued. “Increase your efforts. Be vigilant. Keep shitting on them, shit on every human you see. Our strategy s working. Victory is coming.”

A Stormy Mountain Dream

Well, dreamed that I seemed to be on a pilgrimage. At first, I traveled with others, about thirty of us, I’d guess. I knew a few, but none were intimate friends.

We were all walking together on a road or a path (it didn’t seem clear). We’d left a city and were now into the countryside.

We came to a small house. Many announced they were stopping to rest or had decided that they’d gone far enough. But it was light. I wanted to keep going. With a few accompanying me, we went on. Walking faster, I’d assumed the lead.

Glancing back, I discovered that more people had dropped out. The remaining were far behind. I waited for them to catch up. They slowed. Exasperated, I walked back to them. They told me that they were stopping to rest.

I shrugged and asked if they minded if I went on. I felt driven at that point. I realized that we were heading toward a mountain, and I wanted to get to the top of it. I told them that. They laughed. They weren’t planning to go that far. If I wanted to go on, that was alright with them.

Their condescending tones told me their impression of my desire. It irritated me. Deciding that I was done with them, I told them, “See you later,” and left.

It was still bright daylight, but parts were darkening. I realized a storm was coming. No, then I saw that to climb the mountain, I had to go through a storm.

Well, alrighty. I hesitated some but remembering the others’ tone restored my will. I was going on.

Now I reached the mountain. The paths ended at the bottom. It was steeper and taller than I’d realized. Looking for the easiest path, I couldn’t find one. Just had to go for it. I was tiring, and entertained thoughts of going back. Looking that way, I was surprised how far I’d gone. I’d gone up more than I realized, and the view of a broad valley was stunning. Far away, I thought I could see the city.

I couldn’t believe that I’d gone so far. The city’s buildings were barely visible. I’d gone miles, but it’d only been a day. I also thought it odd that it stayed daylight for so long. Well, that didn’t make sense, which made me chuckle.

Then I turned back to the mountain. Holy moly, it seemed incredibly steep and tall. There was no way that I could get up it. At this point, I had to crane my head and neck back to see any of it. What I did see seemed like sheer granite walls. This would be a climb, and I wasn’t ready for it.

But I’d come so far that I didn’t want to go back. After vacillating a bit, I spotted a place that seemed like a way up and started up the mountain. Big, hard, cold drops of rain fell on me. There weren’t many, but they were huge and hurt when they hit, and were incredibly cold, sending shivers through me.

That slowed me down and returned me to thinking, do I want to go on? I didn’t really decide but felt like I’d let myself down if I didn’t, so I resumed walking and climbing. Sometimes I could walk, but then would come to a place where I’d need to climb, so I did what had to be done to get up the mountain.

Harder, more thorough rain suddenly erupted, soaking and freezing me. I hunted protection in the rocks and found a little. Hunkering down, I put my back against rocks and shivered and rocked from the cold. A wind would sometimes blast me, forcing me to duck my head. I tried looking out over the valley but the storm blocked the view. Feeling miserable, I cursed myself for trying this.

After a while, the rain relented. I’d become numbed to the cold and decided I had to do something, so I’d go on. Moving might warm me. Leaving the rock’s shelter, I discovered a path and started walking up the mountain, no problem. While I did, I discovered that I’d been praying.

Praying is contrary to my nature. I wasn’t sure what I prayed for. At some point, I found that I’d walked out onto a rock ledge. The rain didn’t fall there, although I could see it still fell in places around me. Lightning struck me, lighting me up in a purplish aura. I saw myself standing on the rock with my arms stretched out, lit up in a light purple aura, as a bolt of lightning stayed attached to me.

The dream abruptly ended then with me sitting up in bed and sucking in a breath. Thinking back on it, I thought, I’d been praying for magic.

Looking back on the dream versus writing it, I can’t convey how fast it went, just click, click, click, jumping from scene to scene, image to image. It’d been a very fast-moving dream, and I haven’t been able to convey that. Remembering it, though, my heart beats hard and fast.

Odd, but I think I dreamed this before. It seems so familiar.

A Randy Dream

First, my buddy was there, Randy. Randy died years ago, colon cancer, just before his sixtieth birthday. He was two months older than me.

Suddenly, in my dream, he was still the hale and hardy southern boy I’d always known, a man without an ounce of remorse, but charming and polite, a rogue right out of a Faulkner novel. He was always an entertaining and generous man.

So he was in my dream, coming along as he did, naked, as he was, which was startling. Part of my conscious mind intruded, hollering, “Time out! Why is Randy, who is dead, naked in my dream?” Dream me just ordered, “Go with it, dude.”

Still, it was non-plussing to be visiting Randy at his house. Naked, he was talking and entertaining me, talkin’ about sports and music, while providing beer and hot wings.

Okay.

Sometime during the dream flow, the house spun, or I left, or Randy left. Maybe it’s just a dream gap. However and whenever, I was now out in a woods, on a hill, by a cave. I’d been walking and was sweating, so I stopped to drink some water.

I’d noticed the cave. Weeds and brambles were growing around the entrance. The entrance’s squared-off appearance made me wonder what was within, and enticed me to explore. Searching for what might be within the cave — is it a cave or an old mine? What makes me think it’s an old mine? — I entertained entering it but hesitated. One, it looked dark. Two, I didn’t have a light. Three, there might be animals within in. Four, it might collapse.

But it looked sturdy, tall, and wide. The entrance seemed to be reinforced with cut granite. Beginning to think that it was part of a train tunnel, or for cars, I looked for railroad tracks, a road, or some vestiges that could be evidence of its previous use.

While this is all happening, I’m suddenly aware a man is there. White guy, not particularly old in appearance, but still with a balding gray head and a tidy gray goatee. I thought he was was wearing a toga but then he seemed to be in a suit but without a tie. I think he was barefoot. I also wondered if he’d come out of the tunnel, but he was behind me, so I thought, no, that can’t be right. Was he there before?

I then saw a pile of railroad ties to one side, prompting, aha, this probably was built as a train tunnel. Thinking that encouraged me to want to explore the tunnel because a tunnel is safer than a cave, was the reasoning, partly because it’ll be open on the other end and lead somewhere.

The man and I hadn’t addressed one another. In fact, I had the impression that he didn’t want to be disturbed. Just something about his demeanor.

Now, though, he was approaching me. I turned polite, expectant attention his way. He was holding a gray mortar and pestle. As I took him in with some wariness, I had the impression that he was offering that to me.

Which he was. “Here, this is for you.”

“What is it?” It looked like off-white shavings. I was suspicious.

“Medicine.”

“Medicine for what?”

“For everything. It’ll cure everything. Take as much as you want.”

“Okay, don’t mind if I do.” I reached in and took with my fingertips, then pushed it into my mouth.

Randy showed up and said, “I’ll take some of that.” He then helped himself as the man shrugged and said, “Help yourself, there’s plenty here.”

The dream ended.

A Friend’s Question

I encountered a friend during my walk yesterday after I finished writing. We met at an intersection as I came up a hill. We were going the same way after that, so we walked together and talked.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Decomposing. Just finished my writing. I like to walk for thirty minutes after writing to think about what I wrote and what I’m going to write next, and get some exercise after sitting for so long. You? Where are you heading?”

“I’m going to the store to buy a lottery ticket.”

That surprised me, and I said so. I didn’t think he was the lottery ticket-buying kind, if you understand. He laughed and agreed, telling me that he wasn’t, but an aunt had called and told him that she’d dreamed he’d win some money in the lottery, so he was doing as she bid because he told her that he would. He didn’t believe that he’d win, but he’d made a promise. He’s seventy and ended up telling me that his aunt is twelve years younger than him.

“Tell me,” he said. “If you don’t mind. You write every day, right? If you won the lottery, would you quit writing? I assume some pursuit of money or income is involved in your quest, but it seems like you write for something else, from all of our conversations.”

No, I wouldn’t quit writing. I write for me and my entertainment. Yes, I want others to read and enjoy what I write — I don’t want to keep this a private party. But writing, imagining situations, experiencing characters, finding the words, etc., is a pursuit that provides tangible satisfaction with the joy of discovering the story, exploring it, and putting it on some medium where others can enjoy it.

That’s what I told him, but in less words. The short answer is, it’s not about money.

It’s about writing.

Friday’s Theme Music

After I’d finished writing, I headed into the wilds of Ashland’s streets and sidewalks. Using the East Main crosswalk by Sherman, I saw a young woman driving an SUV toward me. She seemed to be steering with her elbows, as her left hand was holding a phone to her head as her right hand worked on applying lip gloss. Like, holy crap, just what you want to see coming toward you as you’re crossing the street.

The day had warmed to an almost balmy 56 F. Sunshine was blooming but rain was lurking on the mountains. The clouds seemed shifty, like they were planning a move. I decided I wouldn’t mind a little rain, so pressed on, heading down Fourth Street.

Down on the corner of Fourth and B was a pile of popped corn. Look, hey, what the heck is this doing here?

Must it be said that the sight stirred a 1972 song into my stream? ‘Course not. The song is a synth-pop ditty name “Popcorn” by Hot Butter. Seriously. And it was an international hit. Seriously.

I don’t know what’s up with that, but here it is in all its glory. Listen to it, please. Let me know if you’re familiar with it. Just curious, ya know?

Saturday’s Theme Music

Thinking about disasters as I was walking yesterday. Australia is struggling to catch a break this year, going from bushfires to rain to flooding. Indonesia continues having a tough time, quakes in Puerto Rico, and flooding in Chicago.

Then there’s the snow. A winter storm passed through here, giving us a couple inches. Trudging through the aftermath, we’re grateful because it helps the snowbanks, an important source of summer water, even while many mildly rue and curse the snow. Come on, it’s snow, and disrupts our easy ways and pleasantries with its cold intrusion.

It’s impressive how tiny flakes can add up. Our flakes went from normal or average sized to supersized flakes, back to normal before dropping into tiny. All still added up.

These thoughts took me to a Kate Bush 2011 song, “50 Words for Snow”. I enjoy her but I’m mostly aware of this song because Stephen Fry is the one giving the words. Fry delivers them like he’s tasting the expressions. Then Kate goes on with a chorus, “Come on, man,” telling him how many more words he has to go. I don’t hear this song often, originally hearing it by chance on NPR (“Is that Stephen Fry?”) but have since listened to it on the ‘puter, trying to understand all the words for snow. I find it satisfying and contemplative.

Like snow.

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