Saturday, September 28, 2019

A Leaf or a Star

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars. - Walt Whitman
Even the smallest to the largest

In the 1850s, an American poet pulled away from standard poetry format and moved into his own poetry. It was a bold move, but then Walt Whitman was bold in so many ways.

His “free verse” was exactly that: free.  Whitman was strong in his beliefs that all people should read and understand the meanings that are embedded in the words.  The importance of the individual, whether it be a person or a blade of grass or a distant star, was central to his vision.

Walt Whitman fell under the extreme condemnation of his bi-sexuality.  Although Leaves of Grass was labeled to be almost pornographic and obscene, but that did not restrict its success. In a November 1885 review, it was suggested that Whitman was “guilty of the horrible sin not to be mentioned among Christians”.

This part of the popular opinions, Whitman had intense relationships with several women, and claimed he had six children. Whatever his sexuality, it cannot be criticized in current mores and rightly so. One cannot be defined by one element of life but taken as a whole.

Whitman’s most memorable poem will always be O Captain! My Captain, written after Lincoln’s assassination. He once said, after constant repetition,

"Damn My Captain...I'm almost sorry I ever wrote that poem."

So, hoist a glass to an individual who believed that people/leaves of grass/stars are unique, no matter how small or large or whatever.

From YouTube read by Tom O'Bedlam

Infinite Jest--Time will find us

Video Tape to DVD
From one media to another
Times change, without a doubt.  As technology made photographs more accessible and cheap, almost every family documented big events.  Burgeoning photo albums showed the styles of the 1960s and the 1970s.  Silly hair styles and mini-skirts were part of the albums.

Movie cameras shrank from complicated monsters with four blinding headlights to hand-held quiet 8mm cameras, capturing the silliness of my era. 

We were the hippy generation, the postwar baby boomers.  Long straight hair and ‘hot pants’ were the style; leisure suits were dressing up.  We documented our life together with photo and film. 

Hot babe
At Christmas 2012, I arranged to transfer a big box of 8 mm film to DVD, with my narration and background music. 

From our early marriage days, through our children era, and then to the mid 90s, I soon found myself smiling big and a little teary.  I don’t know what reaction I expected from our now adult kids. Oh, Mom! These are so great! Thank you so much!

Because we were diligent in recording our history and obsessive about keeping those films, we have a new position in the minds of our grown children:

                           We are their source of INFINITE JEST.

What we did get were peals of laughter, OMG-dad-you-were-such-a-geek, and LOL-mom-you-were-so-hot.

Our grandchildren will have hours of diversion and entertainment with our visual legacy to our progeny.  

Hours and hours of infinite jest. Yes, our legacy is digital.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

To Be the Queen of Queens in Switzerland

Die Tiere können ab einem Alter von zweieinhalb Jahren am Ringkuhkampf teilnehmen. Ihr Gewicht beträgt zwischen 400 und 900 Kilo.
Future Queen of Queens
Switzerland, oh Switzerland. 

People contemplate Switzerland and immediately envision snow, mountains, cheese fondue, watches, chocolate and lots of other stuff, just like every other country. But, one is discounting a key factor in Switzerland's economy:


Perhaps one of the strangest festivals involving cows is Annual Cow Fighting, beginning in March, lasting through September. Cows will spend the summer roaming and eating in the pastures, making delightful creamy milk that turns into magical cheese. So they have some time to fight.

All cows are naturally bossy and territorial, loving a good cow fight. Locking formidable horns, wrestling around a bit, until the loser gives up. Being muscular and easily riled, this breed appears like it could rip guts out. Mooing louder and apparently scary, the battle is mostly push and shove.

Hérens  breed is the cow of choice because they are particularly feisty and temperamental breed. This breed battles well, with its owner hoping to capture the prestigious title, Queens of Hérens.

From March to September, battles are held all around Switzerland, attracting tens of thousands of spectators. the final tournament will result the crowning of the Queen of Queens. The prize is one of those humongous ornate cowbell. Then any offspring will be sold for a big hunking price at an auction.

The Queens of the Queen at the Combat des Reines
The winners

To access the interesting sites, please click on the colored and maybe underlined captions beneath the photos or in the text. These are fascinating sites, truly.

These amaze me, delight me, and give me an appreciation of the history of a country. 

Just you wait to see the Exploding Snowman. You will love it.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Oh, the Games People Play

Brueghel egg dance
The Egg Dance
History is a bloody horror. Between war, politics, brutality, plagues, intrigue, and so much other parts of inhumanity in post-Crusades, the common people suffered incredibly miserable and hard lives.

Very few times of pleasure and joy existed. Love, sex, family, and successful amounts of food to eat were about it. But there had to be more to life.

Communities pulled together in whatever hell was going on around them. With this unity and great imagination, they found other ways to raise their joy in different ways. 

The English are truly creative in this. I know that all countries are as well, but the information on the English is readily available. Crazy people, them.

Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake: Competitors must race down a steep hill, chasing and trying to catch a round of cheese (preferably a double Gloucester cheese) as it rolls and plummets to the bottom of the hill.

Dwile Flonking: Competitors use a pole to launch beer-soaked cloth at opponents. Missing a target twice results in the flonker must quickly down a pot/pint of ale before the opposing team can pass a soaked cloth to each other.

Ferret Legging: Ferrets are trapped in trousers worn by the participant. The winner is the last one to release his/her ferret.

Wellie Wanging: Competitors must hurl a Wellington boot as far as possible within boundary lines from a running or standing start.

Shin-Kicking or hacking or purring (from the early 17th century): Two contestants attempt to kick each other in the shins, to force their opponent to the ground. 

Numerous YouTube videos are available to elaborate on these games. Although these community games date back centuries, interest has resurged and have developed a following along with rules and awards.

YouTube Shin Kicking Championship 2019
hosted by Glouscester

So, the games that were designed by humble village people as a diversion for their lives have now developed as part of the 21st century. Not video games or dependence on electronics, but this involves interaction with real people in real time settings. 

History has taken some detours and games have evolved. Good or bad. But people have always known how to party.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Queen of the Carnival

Abandoned Trailer Home. Tulare County, California. DSMc.2012:

Today I am thinking of Theresa.  

I see her with her dark straight hair, smooth dark skin, living in a land of Wonder Bread.  In my mind, she is surviving with her brothers and parents, moving from place to place, always starting over.  I see her catching the bus, eyes cast to the ground, hoping no one would notice her.

I can see her yet, a small teenage girl, shivering with anxiety.  A dark skin among a sea of all white, Theresa was drowning.

It was strange then and even now to me.  

On Friday near the end of May, our Yellow Bus had bumped down a dust and gravel road, everyday passing a weedy patch, hiding a rusted and faded single wide mobile home. With weeds almost engulfing it, this tin can of a home for years had been empty, with overhead wires feeding it power, and buckets to carry for water.

Then, on Monday there parked by the battered trailer was an equally rusty station wagon.  

On this Monday, Theresa stood waiting where gravel met weeds.  She ducked in quickly, and scooted over in the seat behind bus driver.  She shrank down into her shell, dark straight hair shading, covering her face.

Days careened into each other, until Yellow Bus stopped to release Theresa on the last day of school.  And that seemed to be it, no more stops and hiding behind her hair.

Carnival!  Yearly Carnival weekend arrived for its annual weekend of wonder and excitement! Lights and games and rides--glamour and side glances at the exotic carnies!  

In the middle of rides and games stood a booth for choosing "Queen of Carnival".  A photo of each candidate hovered over a gallon glass jar, where one could drop some coins.  The winner would be the one with the most coins, meaning not just pennies, but some silver as well.

I looked at each familiar face, lovely young women all of them.  Donna?  Betty? Maryanne? ...and then there was a photo of Theresa over an almost empty jar. Theresa?  Is that you?  

Theresa and her family walked around the Wonder Bread street.  Whispers followed them--India?  My dad was in India during the War... Dark skin and oiled coal black hair, deep brown eyes were proud, defying, almost angry.

The sun set on a last night when a queen would be chosen and crowned, culmination of all the lights. 

In the moments before the jars were to be collected, Theresa's brothers carried bags of coins to pour into an almost empty jar sitting beneath the photo of Theresa's smiling face.  Handfuls of coins rained into the jar, over and over, until overflowing. 

Judges walked around and looked at each photo, at each jar.  Stopping at Theresa's coin filled jar, each nodded.  One took her photo and walked up steps of park's bandstand.  Standing at the foot of the steps were Theresa's family, dark eyes reflecting bright lights as only a carnival could have.

When her name was announced, Theresa stood tall, a queen in Wonder Bread land, walking up steps.  A crown was placed on her dark hair while Theresa cast a brilliant smile across the town.  Her father stood proudly, tears down his face. His daughter.  His girl was queen. 

For the entire summer, whenever Theresa and her family ventured into town to shop, she always wore her crown.  Every single time that homemade crown-- made of cardboard covered with heavy duty aluminum foil, caked with glitter and shiny sequins--perched upon her dark hair, now pulled back away from her glowing face.

When it was time for Yellow Bus to begin making its its daily journey, the car was gone, leaving the trailer, new weeds growing.

Queen Theresa moved somewhere, taking a glow of one night when she was crowned.

Where did she go? Does she still wear the crown?

This is a post from May 2016. Carnivals are and were big events in every small rural town.  I can still smell the cotton candy, suck out the syrup from snow cones, and try to throw the ring.  We raced around, chasing each other, until our parents had had enough.

Usually when pulling out a re-post, I do rewrites, correcting verbs, etc.  Sometimes that means lots of re-writes. But in this post, I could not. We had just visited home and drove by this rusted yellow single wide trailer. The image of that one event is so invested in my memory with its images, sounds, odors.

Last time I drove by that dusty driveway, the trailer was gone, with only pieces of rusty twisted tin laying about. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Funny Funny Philly

Merv Griffin in early years

The stage manager scowled from backstage as Funny Philly sang his opening song, “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts…”  Since Billy Cotton and Danny Kaye's deaths, the vaudeville acts went wild with imitations.  And Funny Philly was famous for his spirited performances that endeared him to audiences across the country.

However, it was unknown to audiences that Funny Philly was a tightwad, paying his crew paltry salaries.  The schism this created was reaching monumental proportions.

With no motivation, the stage and prop crews became sloppy and some walked away.  Funny Philly found his bookings sinking lower and lower.  It took two weeks for Funny Philly to extrapolate the cause.

By then it was too late.  The only job Funny Philly could get was that of managing the backstage door.

This are a Wed. Words challenge from Delores in 2015. I love this stuff. Playing with words is so fun.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Crusty Walls

Sunken Lane
Along paths of crusty walls 
and tangled brambles
Will time be soon left behind?

A path once of stones and dirt
Now displayed a row 
Of weeds, all now green and grown.

His footsteps had walked in mud,
Racing and laughing
Youth and friends hooting beside.

From his home, peat smoke once rose,
Fragrant over tall trees,
Brown bread baked on warm stone hearth.

Home now stones, long gone, hearth cold,
Gray rocks on his feet
Reminded him that green never leaves.

Nor will he.

Just images from my mind as summer fades makes me long for green.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

General Sherman vs. General Grant

Moro Rock
When our gr-daughters were off for spring break, we invited them to go on an adventure to see the Sequoia trees in Yosemite, California. We all had wanted to take this trip for some time and this was a perfect time.

Winter in the mountains had been strong with snow still piled high in the mountains. It was outstanding.

Sherman tree, largest in the world by mass. Girls showing true selves, and all that.

Grant tree, 2nd largest. There was too much snow to get to see it.

 I fell here, but then I fall everywhere.

Snowball at sister. Never been around snow before.

We thought this dog was big...

...until we met this Great Pyrenees. 

This is what we expected, given the info provided by host. Rustic.

This is what we saw when we got out of the car.
Neighbor said it had burned down 10 days ago.

Then the owner pulled in, saying that he didn't know this had happened until he received notification from fire department. He said we could stay in the other two rustic apartment, but there was no electricity.
We asked what we could do. He said that he would rebuild. 

The neighbor told us about Camp Nelson Lodge in Springville, CA,  about 10 miles away.

It was awesome. Truly awesome.

It did remind me a little of The Shining hotel in how perfect it is.
Apparently this entire mountain has areas known for hauntings, which we didn't know at the time.

The entire lodge is pristine, no dust anywhere. I checked. Hmmmm.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

#03984 is the winning number.

21 Car Paul Menard
Oh, yeah. 03984
Rick answered the door bell with no expectations at all.  But when he saw the uniform he fought the urge to run, but this one wasn’t blue with a badge---just a postal worker holding out a UPS letter. 

Rick was told that this was a classified letter, First Class and it needed his signature on the green card to verify letter had been received. With shaking hands, Rick signed his name, taking the envelope.

Falling onto the stained couch, Rick cleared the beer cans and mirrors off the table in one sweep.  This is one serious letter, man.  Serious stinkin' serious.  Tearing the tab across cardboard, Rick pulled out a regular envelope.  Lookit!  My name typed ‘n everything!   

Return address was a local Ford Dealer.

Then the letter…a real honest letter, with stuff about an award, with his personal number—03984…honored to win his very own 2016 MustangHoly crap!  This is real….

My own Mustang?...Rick dropped his head between his knees, contemplating throwing up or passing out.  

Directions indicated prize winners… Winners?...were to check in by 2 pm today…Today? allow recipients time to tour the car lot filled with Mustangs of all colors.  

The drawing would be…Today?  Rick stripped off stained torn clothes, found the cleanest spread over the floor, and raced out to his ‘cylce. With a roar, off went Rick, off to pick out his own Mustang.

About twenty men toured around the car lot filled with sharp cool fast Mustangs.  Rick joined them, each reverently touching cars from end to 
end, roof to undercarriage.  Hot sun baked each man, no one cared. After all! Mustangs!

Ford Mustang at Beford
American style
When a bald man, gut-hanging over his belt, called numbers, checking them off.  Nodding abruptly, he explained, “You guys!  Lissen up!  Your number called, you come up with your letter, and we’ll get outta this damn heat.  Inside we’ll make sure you’re who you say you are.” Nodding again, he called the first number.  “O4669?”

Gut guy and 04669 disappeared inside.  Minutes passed, Gut emerged, called out 06322, and the process went on until only Rick was left, clutching his letter, 03984, precious 03984. Letitbemeletitbeme…

Finally, 03984 was called.  His heart pounded in his chest, Here!  It’s my number.  The door opened into the showroom, and Rick’s mouth all but dropped.  Lincolns, Mustangs…I could make big bucks lifting these…

But then, Rick was taken to another room, where a ring of badges anticipated his arrival.  One grabbed Rick, cuffed him, and read the Miranda Rights. 

A big white bus awaited him, filled with all the other award winners, grumbling and shocked.  Just like him. Mustangs grew small as the bus drove away.  I coulda won the cool black one, with the racing stripe.  Yup, I woulda picked that one.

The underlined words were provided by Delores in Wednesday Words in 2015. Rewrites followed and then this is what you read.

This has actually happened several times, where ex-convicts had broken their paroles. But hope springs eternal when it comes to Mustangs.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

On live today, from Man on the Street

9/11 nyc from space
As seen from space
Getting ready for work...watching a live financial show... Man on the Street sending current sites and images to two commentators...Talking about Wall Street...then...Man on the Street cameraman turns camera upwards...

One stops mid-sentence: Wait, what?...Did we just see a stunt?...No, think it is a bomb of some sort...WAIT?...(focus in tight, there, there...) Smoke, look!...Explosion  (Did you see that?!!)...What? See the second tower?...A plane? What you mean there are two planes?...Both towers, smoke and fire?...Oh, dear God, no! NoNoNo......

People start running, some screaming...Get in that door, get out of the smoke!...Confusion

Noise, so much noise...Sirens...

Live TV, from the Man on the Street...Both men find their voices, but there are tears. Screen switches to main news. Their voices are scratchy, confused.

What could they say? What should they say? How could they say it?

How could they say anything then, or in the hours that followed? Or the days? Years? Or over the next 18 years? 

What can we say now?

Even now, looking back, what will anyone say in days, years, decades to come?

The numbers of those exposed to the toxic fallout are about 400,000. Of those 10,000 have registered with World Health to check for cancer. Many have died, and it is predicted that more people will follow as time passes.

Tomorrow is that day, 9/11.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

When the Door Opens

Yalehome door hardware
The unexpected can hit at the turn of a door knob. You are working at home and all is going well. Papers, reports and whatever. All was going well until the door knob turns.

So, here you go, following the family of Professor Robert Kelly, BBC correspondent from South Korea. 

Suddenly Dr. Kelly is a viral superstar. But is he the star? Or will sweet Megan Marian Kelly achieve the role of Ruler of the World?

Who knows what will be next? Will it be another turn of the doorknob? Will it be a tizzy tantrum outside the office door? 

How about the family dog barking loudly? Needs a walk? Who would walk the dog while taking the children to the park?

Maybe it would be Mom chasing after two screaming children? And one of those children is vomiting? Who will clean up the vomit? And, how about changing diapers?

The truth is that work is work, no matter where. If it were an invasion of a 4 year old or an invasion of fellow workers, work is always work. It just has more possibilities, which is a darn good thing.

The real super star is Mom, as we all know very well.

Friday, September 6, 2019

At the Witching Hour

Witch Creek Fire at night.jpg
Witch Creek Fire

Sunburnt Sun
Gray and pink...
Wisp to Wild
Grasping, consuming.

Swirl upward--
A gift to fires
of all fires.

Witch Creek,
San Marcos,
Elfin Forest, 
Mount Palomar...
Other battles without names.

Burn to the ocean
or Stop at the crest?

Fiery tongues lick cold
Impassive walls.
Left empty and deserted,
Waiting for the end.

Homes and trees
To rest, layer upon layer.
White and Gray.
Green life, now absent,

The Tinder Fire, May 5, 2018, Clear Creek Pines.
Becomes moonscape
in moments, in hours.

All for 
A Sunburnt Sun,

Fire at its witching hour.

I will read ashes for you, if you ask me,
I will look on the fire and tell you from 
   the gray lashes
And out of the red and black tongues and stripes
I will tell how fire comes and how fire runs 
as far as the sea.

Carl Sandburg Fire Pages

Over the thirty years of living here, we have seen and experienced wildfire. Photos cannot do justice to the horror fire spreads.

Just a few hours ago, smoke rose over the acres north west of us. We smelled the fire before we saw the fire.

Donations to the American Red Cross can be made at: Red Cross Donations

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Experiencing Cow Chip Toss First Hand

Identifying a freshly dumped pattie
Chatham Cow Chipping Competition was long over when I visited my brother at his town of Chatham.  As I promised, here are some times that I enjoyed and shared with my brother Don. Do not expect any great thoughts.

You cannot make any of this up. Good times were had by all.

I was active in finding and scooping up the patty.

Notice that the patty is the size of a toilet seat.

Checking product for correct dry and texture
Considering aerodynamic and wind direction.
Disappointment at the failed toss. It went about
7 to 9 feet. Oh, well. Next year.

The patty now lies in my yard. It will disintegrate
in time.  

 My brother Don contacted his friend Gene, who cleared the field of cows for our adventure. The field was loaded with products. We had much product from which to choose.

Don spent a lot of time on farms over his 72
years. He is so much fun to share our
stories and memories.
He also possesses so much knowledge about
livestock and farm life. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Working on the Chain Gang

Carmine Persico in September 1986 at the Metropolitan Correction Center in Manhattan. Three months earlier he had been found guilty of charges that he was the leader of a vast criminal enterprise. In September he was convicted of additional racketeering charges and sentenced to 100 years in prison, raising his combined sentences to 139 years.
Who is the Boss? I am, oh yes, I am.
After work, after the business of life, the team had been eager to settle at the nearest watering hole. It had been a rough day.

Hey, Jim. How did the office manage all that blow back from the big guys up at the top?

"Well, you can imagine, Tom. It blew them all away. I mean, what did they expect when the stink settled down after the clean-up crew took care of the rot?"

"You guys, give it a break. Life never changes for those guys who settle at the top." Co-workers mumbled, nodding in agreement. 

"Big guys at top? They live well, really well. I mean they go to work in their spiffy black suits, leave in their spiffy black suits." Jim growled.

Again, all nodded. The fifth co-worker, Kevin piped up. "I'm exhausted. We complain every day. Can't do anything about them. They can take us down without a thought."

They grumbled and took off for home where family and friends lived. Come sunup, they would be at work. At sundown, they would be lined up again. 

The big bosses were already singing together their raucous out-of-tune songs.

After work, relaxing and complaining
Silently, the crew left, singing songs of their own,
sweet songs.

Crows Swarming Pennsylvania Street
The bosses in black suits
Singing raucous songs, non-stop songs
Bosses of the sky, bosses of the trees
Otis Redding: Working on the Chain Gang