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Ed on Cold Mountain
OK, here I am back on 100 Words after many years of being away but often thinking about it...why? Well, who knows, structure, loneliness, boredom, all kind of rationalizations for the real need which is to stick my arm out the window of a speeding car and see what happens if I connect with a phone pole. Once I thought this site was simply a way to erect billboards on Mars, but tonight I think it's a way to let people spit on the sidewalks of their city cleanly and dryly and let the words stick to waffled soles.
Picked up the cat at the vets toay. She had been boarded there for 10 days. She became loudly vocal when I showed up in the office and when we got home she spent the first hour refamiliarizing herself with the scents of things she has known for 13 years. Froze garden chard, ate dried mango, fertilized the lawn and now I am waiting for the rains to begin. Words, like rain, spatter on the screen...the keyboard clicks are almost like raindrops on wide mature cottonwood leaves. The language of leaf and rain, like cat language, familiar but incomprehensible.
Cold and rainy today and I lit the downstairs woodstove. As the shop and studio warmed up I dreamed of canvas skinned kayays and shaker seed sorting tables. Thoughts of bevel boards and dovetail scrapers came and went as I cleaned, oiled and adjusted the bandsaw. Ah, the bandsaw..no longer in storage where I had to drag it out to use it, now mounted proudly on my new Mini with reversing motor, opposite the jointer at the other end. What a sweet little combo machine. Butterfly tables, lath art, ukuleles and cross-country skis. It's a true "dream" shop.
Got my haircut today: now I am wearing a hairshirt of countless spiky barbs. What sin am I atoning for with this penitential undergarment? The sin of going too long without changing my socks? That is, "The Joy of Socks?" Maybe the freak flag folks had it right in the sixties...how could there ever be hair shirts if no one ever cut his hair? And what is the world record for consecutive days of unchanged socks? Is not changing socks like not cutting fingernails? And can I absolve myself of sins simply by removing my t-shirt and showering?
Cool air and empty skies after a week of on again off again rains. Not fall yet, but no longer summer. The garden continues lush but the alder leaves are leaving behind their hot weather green and starting to show the russet that precedes leaf drop. The morning mountain haze looks thicker and damper, tinged with a pale coral throughout. The humming bird feeder remains full, the humingbirds now on their way to Mexico. Not yet too cold to sleep with the windows open. Wake early and see myself as part of the busy, spinning, turning and constantly changing world
Slid, slide, sled. Flit, flight, fled. Trip, tripe, tread. Lip, leap, led. A wonderful fall day, good to be alive and breathing in the cleanest of air. The sky the bluest of blue. Watched a wide winged bird soaring at an elevation of about 8000 feet, and an actual height above a blue mountain lake of better than 1500 feet. Wish I could fly. Fly, flew, fool. The question arises...are bear bells warnings or invitations? "Go away, I am an unknown,probably dangerous creature" or "Come and get it! I am carrying food just like the other bell ringers."
the Incredible String Band said: King Jesus, He said "It is not very far" and the Buddha he said "It is right where you are." So why is it so hard to find, being close at hand or, in fact, the hand itself? Scratch anger and find fear, I have heard it said, speaking of words I have heard said. Thinking here about you, car drivers of the planet, insulated, isolated and going somewhere more important than anyone else. Scratch fear, though, and what do you find? Something not far away, near,at hand, the mystery of birth and death.
A day of huckleberries. Literally and without exaggeration, I waded chest deep in acres and acres of the blue black spheroids today, swimming in green waves of bush after bush. Sometimes sitting on a log and picking the bushes I could reach without getting up and harvesting hundreds before having to slide down the log to the next cluster of plants. The sky grayish, the air clear and cold, the wind now and then rushing through the alpine fir. Where was I? Hah! Like I'll ever say! Four people picked 5 gallons. In the Idaho mountains, way up NoTellum Creek.
Spent two hours in the dentist chair this morning, rolling on waves of NO2. Stepping out of the office aftwards, into the balm of late summer air and artist skies, struck by the fact that everydayness is pretty special. Even to be able to walk is a psychedelic experience and each textured surface that gets stepped upon by shoed feet is so worth noting and appreciating and when everything is clicking there is a sense of reverential puzzlement (we used to try to express it with a slow drawled "oh Wow!" but pop culture trivialed that) and profound a-stonyishment.
Freeze warnings for the Panhandle and the moon is huge. A large universe of firewood blocks needs to be split soon and this season's slash piles need to be tarped against the inevitable September rains so they will be dry enough to burn in October on a gray still day when the huge orange fireball of each stack will impress with its light and revive with its heat, when roils of hot air will thicken into mist then fog then veils of smoke then a thick pillar of dark gray to lead all wanderers into the Promised Land of winter.
Hard to write this evening..not because of any writer's block or brain freeze but because I visited with an orthopedic guy this afternoon about a trigger finger on my right hand, the ring finger, actually and he injected it with a potent brew of painkillers, numbifiers, and steroids and the finger now feels like a frozen banana. That finger is responsible for quite a few keys so typing is a new experience this evening. Well, keeps my mind off the other things I could be thinking on this anniversary of Benghazi/New York. God bless us one and all.
Had the first hard frost this morning. The recently mowed lawn is glazed like a flat green cake (McArthur Park?) and the thermometer reads 29 at the house which means 27 in the garden. The growing season here in the foothills of the Cabinets is mid-May to mid-September, but the growing season for people-flowers seems even shorter. From birth to death, the period between the deep frosts of the Bardos, is it a time long enough for growing? Too short for some (us slow learners) and too long for those who duck out early (the young good).
The DNA of AND is a connection, a cross-tie between parallel tracks carrying the brain's freight. Not a never connecting helical spire of unresolved imagery, but more like a verbal nunchuck; two hard swinging solids with a chain of links binding them. Or maybe that would be the physics and mechanics of words, while the real chemistry of words is something that has to be titrated in the vat of the brain, boiled in the stew of gray goo to yield the volatile oils and distilled essences that oily coat the vision and let us see the world afresh.
Getting to know you...getting to know all about you...Find that comforting or threatening? And by the way, can anyone REALLY get to know all about you, even if aided by NSA warrantless wiretapping and drones no larger than a thumbnail? Drones equipped to monitor brainwave activity and detect hostile intent before it even emerges at the conscious level, enabling PeaceKeeping of unprecedented efficiency. Yes, I suppose one could really be completely known in that way. I sort of like the idea of micro-miniaturized drones with little bitty electric motors and wee chips of solar cells for power.
Up on a hilltop yesterday, at more than 6800 feet above some theoretical datum, with views into Wa to the West, Canada to the North, MT to the East and ID to the everywhere else. Sky so blue and clear it was like a wondrous inverted lake on a calm summer day,with a few cloud canoes drifting in from some distant shore. The hilltop was gray and rocky; the rocks glittered with mica and many were as sharp-edged as paleolithic adzes and the vaporous green mist of lichen was like shadows in the crannies, and all glowed intensely.
NPR this morning, in an article on the Ebola crisis, happened to drop an interesting factoid...that the number of affected people has doubled in the last three weeks and now totals about five thousand. Having been raised in this apocalypse-venerating culture, I immediately began counting doubling periods on my fingers...let's see, 5, 10, 20, 40 etc until by the thumb on my right hand (10 doubling periods) the total was 2.6 million...in 30 weeks or just over half a year. Then it got interesting. The world population between the 18th and 19th doubling. One Year.
Seems likely to me that what is written about, if it is done spontaneously and without pre-scripting, will be influenced by the time of day or night. Against the black screen of the night I see more clearly the pale yellow of the cottonwood leaves lying on the fiery green grass. Against the bright silver clouds drifting on a deep blue background it is easy to find midnight in the cauliflower furrows. Yin and Yang of day and night and the sinuous curve that divides them; the images of dusk are dusty, curvy and hard to put into words.
Health food stores with rows of candy bars; newspapers with justice and peace advocates, not that there is anything wrong with justice and peace and, hey, it sells right, just look at the superhero films scorching the big screens lately but what about objective reporting and straight narration of facts? and sure I get it that facts are sometimes slippery and nuanced and that words can take on lives of their own, running like water downhill into rock cracks and sometimes pooling up in reflecting ponds and sometimes great lakes with wind-whipped waves but why not health food, really?
Money, Money, Money. Or as the creator of Crystal Blue Persuasion would have it..cue the guitars, boys...Mony Mony, Mony Mony. A stash of cash makes dreams come true, right? I Married a Millionaire..the stuff of sitcom seriousness. Or maybe Biggie had it nailed: More Money More Problems. What would No Money No Problem look like then? If the world took a Vow of Poverty at all once, starting right...Now! we would all still need to eat sleep and get to work. A money-less urban society seems unthinkable...maybe easier to imagine universal and limitless wealth.
How do you respond to an e-mail in which the writer apologizes sincerely and heart-brokenly for a wrong he imagines he has done you and yet you have no idea what that wrong could be? An e-mail so troubling it reminds you of a suicide note, pitiably trying to make amends for a hurtful wrong that has not yet happened but which the writer knows is not far off. Remorse in advance is what it seems to be. So, what do you say back? "Your life is Your life...I respect that. No harm, no foul." Peace.
These days, here in the Land of 1000 Dances all the dancers are young and unwrinkled. In the Realm of Only a Few Dozen Dances there are legoblock highrises housing hundreds of aged folks expelled from the Land of 1000 Dances and condemned to finger and toe tapping away their final songs. Billboards display ultra high def flawless beauty in the Land; in the Realm all photos by law are low res newsprint quality and are forbidden to be displayed in the Land. Shiny cars and glossy candy wrappers. If you can't be young and beautiful, you can't be seen.
Summer Breeze, bananas in the air as the time flies really like that arrow. The seasons are changing, or so they say. Couldn't prove it by me today, what with the t-shirt temperatures and the fluffy puffball clouds and the rivulet of salty sweat trickling down the spine valley as I placed plastic sheets on the piled brush in an attempt to keep the piles dry enough through the rains that are, inevitably, coming so that some time around the third week of October, the future, that is, the burn ban will be lifted and BurnFest will take place.
New Yorker article on the backstory of Wonder Woman and her creators...rooted in Planned Parenthood feminism, gender equality, suffragism and free love. The sort of stuff Superman didn't have to worry about and that Batman would sneer at. Why haven't there been any blockbuster movies starring Wonder Woman? My guess is because the producers of those movies can't figure out how to make movies without using lots of explosives, expletives and ex-cons, not to forget drugs and absurd motor vehicles. A Rosie the Riveter, "hard work and common sense wins the day", script starring Wonder Woman might work.
All afternoon the large helicopter and the small unmarked fixed wing flew over the woods surrounding my isolated compound. They appeared to be flying a search grid, with every now and then a random diagonal. I hid everything, including myself, under the dense dark green foliage of a wolfy fir and tracked their movements. It was a long time until the sun went down, hours, and small bugs that live on the underside of fir needles dropped onto my shirt collar. "All for the Cause" I repeated, and kept my morale up by reading familiar highlighted passages from the Book.
God sleeps restlessly in the summer, tossing and turning and kicking off infinitely large and correspondingly heavy sheets that ripple out woven waves to the farthest reaches of edge-less space. One particularly humid evening in the vast vastlessness of the Eternal Village of Vast God rose to take a leak. She opened her one endless eye slowly so as not to be shocked awake with the abrupt comprehension of All Things, blinked once, which supernovaed countless suns into blinding oblivion which took with them whole civilizations, some of which were pretty cool and padded off down an endless hallway.
Padding quietly up and down the aisles of a health food market, I marvel at the sensual voluptuousness that packaged food has become. My fancy is tickled by sugars and fats; oils that Pashas of yore would have used in activities the description of which would include words like nubile and erect. I am not a food fetishist, I eat to live not visa-versa, but the colorful wrappers on every can and every bag, box, blister pack and foil-wrapped tasty treat in this place feature lean and healthy animal icons or nubile and erect young lads and lasses.
Not cold this morning, but cool enough to make the tips of my toes a lower temperature than the rest of my feet. Even through my socks. a reminder that the month is nearly over, the nights have overtaken the days and not even global warming will be able to stop the approach of winter. The garden is waging a valiant, flag-waving, boy on the burning deck, last ditch, holding action, but that's all that it is. The carrots and parsnips and beets are happy as can be, the greens are holding their own, but everything else is done.
On the wall of the dead man's bedroom, above the desk still cluttered with Rick Steve's books and partially unfolded maps, was a sketched outline of the state of Wyoming. Red and blue pushpins had been inserted in a half-dozen locations on the sketch. These pins marked our destinations. The dead man's sister cradled the box with his ashes under her left arm, close to her chest, and pointed with her right hand to the eastern-most pin. "Here," she said. "We start with this one. We find the spot, spread one sixth of his ashes and move on."
The windows were replaced with television monitors, so she could not tell day from night. In the center of each of the four featureless walls of her room the monitors displayed only the interiors of unremarkable classrooms filled with attentive young students listening to an earnest teacher or some sort of indoor sport like bowling, boxing or basketball. An eyemask made from a sock allowed her to sleep despite the persistent artificial illumination. A peach with a meal signified, she imagined, summer in the world outside. Strawberries meant spring and a bowl of warm soup signaled the arrival of winter.
One knock meant the masked guard was at the door to accompany her to the part of the station she called "the facilities". She would be allowed three hours to use exercise equipment, shower and even stretch out in the sauna. Two knocks meant a meal would be waiting for her on the floor of the metal-walled hallway when she opened the door. Three knocks put her in an anxiety state...her heart rate sped up and cold sweat formed under her arms. Icy tension blossomed in her belly and spread wide as she imagined what would come next.
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