All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Post Operative Enigma

" Cardiological Associates. How may I direct your call?"

" This is Geo. I had a pacemaker change-out this week and need to talk with a doctor."

" Which doctor performed the procedure?"

" Electrophysiologist. Big Irishman."

" He's busy in the basement today.  Perhaps the A.C.N-P. could help. I'll put you through."

 "Acute Care Nurse-Practitioner. What seems to be the problem?"

" My upper body's turning purple."

" Anything else?"

" Yes, I'm turning yellow in some spots too."

" Well, Geo., I wouldn't worry too much. You're a thin man, so you show fluid discolorations that larger people seldom notice because they're absorbed into adipose tissue. Are you in pain?"

" Not especially, just a bit around the incision..."

" Hold on, they need me downstairs, Geo. I'll connect you with another department."

"This is Herpetology. How can I help you?"

"I'm thin. I'm turning different colors. Is that bad?"

"Depends. Where are you?"

"About 10 miles south of you. Should I come in? I can drive ok."

"No, no, I meant what's around you right now."

"I'm in the back yard at a table. There's a broom shrub blooming and I'm surrounded by periwinkle. It's quite pleasant really."

"Hmm, periwinkle flowers purple. And the broom blossoms, what color?"

"Uh, yellow."

"As I thought, your operation stimulated old limbic brain layers. In your ancestry, any Iguanas?

"Maybe. Maybe real far back."

"Doesn't matter,  I suspect you're from a chameleon clade and it's affecting your chromatasphores on a cellular level. Doesn't matter if you're thin either."


"No, I'm quite short and stocky but it happened to me once. I was standing on a street corner, admiring the sky, when I turned blue and white."

"Was the condition dangerous?"

"Only when people tried to stuff letters down my mouth."

                 [From Norma's garden to all: ''Hello! Have a relaxing holiday"]

Thursday, March 28, 2013


It had been six years since I'd seen Gabriel.

I remember waking up on an operating table after cardiac ablation --which was because I had a problem my old pacemaker couldn't correct. While gardening at a high school, my pulse increased to 250 beats per minute, about like a hummingbird, and I was discovered flitting from blossom to blossom. The campus entomology club convened an emergency posse and managed to catch me with several butterfly nets.

The procedure fixed my tachycardia and I woke in the electrophysiology lab in a hospital basement. Everybody was wearing surgical masks. A tall young man approached and said, "Hello Geo., I'm Gabriel." I told him I wasn't surprised but hadn't expected him to be in scrubs. He laughed and explained he was my nurse. We would remember each other.

Six years passed and then, four days ago, I again found myself being prepped for surgery in that same basement. This time I was to get a new pacemaker, state of the art, better than the old wind-up ones or those noisy diesel things.

I saw a familiar figure. "Hello Gabriel."

"Hi Geo. It's been a while."

"Still in scrubs, I see."

"As long as I need to be. You've got a busy morning ahead."

That was Monday. I elected to recover at home instead of upstairs in the hospital so I went home that afternoon. This means I've been only lightly supervised, taking pain pills and various medicines that make me feel taller on one side than the other and back again. Now it's Thursday and Norma has told me I've had several conversations, seemingly coherent conversations, with a number of people. Problem is, I have no recollection of them. My powers are under a cloud. So if I've made any comments on peoples' blogs this week that may not reflect strict sobriety or that express regrets to the Czar regarding services rendered to the Hapsburgs, please understand Gabriel couldn't do everything.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Time Travel II

It has been a few years since I wrote about time travel. It was in an essay. A good topic to revisit this weekend, in the glowing solstice shadow, because of a photo --taken by my brother exactly 43 years ago-- of two young people who touched lives, joined ways, and to that touch entrusted all their days.

In that essay, I wrote this: "There is a freedom in restraint. Perhaps it comes from gradually concerning ourselves less and less with the good opinion of young people. The reasons we older people go about things need in no way trouble them. Let's consider that a prime directive." Now I write such paragraphs, but once we were young: we were the young people about whom such paragraphs were written. How did we do it? How did we navigate adversities, dodge and not dodge the blows of the world? I don't remember.

We should have worn helmets.

Time machines are dangerous and not precisely self-contained. There are extensions and linkages that cannot be seen all at once, belong to no particular moment and can only be deduced by their effect upon us later. From this remove, it is easy to forget the vast reserves of temporal energy we kept in those days, the promise of it --and I accept that. But there's one thing I can't quite reconcile with photographic evidence: for some silly reason I remember us being in color. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Roof Cat II Or III

Can you find the surveillance device in this picture?

The scene is a little patio at the middle of the house. Three doors give onto it, so whatever foot traffic involves shortcuts often crosses it. Here is an enlarged detail showing the device:

My last mention of Roofcat was a year ago in a little poem. He got on my roof one day and never got off. Maybe he likes it up there. I don't. I get on the roof as little as possible. We are different, he and I. For one thing, when Roofcat shakes his head it sounds just like a maraca. I don't know why I am reporting on Roofcat again. Maybe it's my new theory that head-rattling is his alarm system in response to intruder-surveillance.

Maybe it's because "Roofcat" is a relatively new name. There was an earlier encounter. If I cast my thoughts back another year, fully two Marches back, we simply called him "Visitor". It is a slow process naming a cat who does not care to make friends. I have never petted his head and presumed to call him anything to his face. He would not believe me sincere if I did. Nor would I try to pick him up. As part of early childhood education, I tried handling feral cats and was rewarded with special insight. They show affection by shredding.

We did communicate in a way, early on. Visitor, now Roofcat, would stare at me and stick his tongue out. I tried doing the same but, when I did, something in my upper neck cracked really loud. I considered this a subtle sign of age and maturity. But now, and I share this with fearful reservation, sometimes things crack in there with my tongue still in my head. If this keeps up I too may sound like a maraca by and by.

I have just shaken my head experimentally and resolved to remain off the roof.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Qu'est-ce que tu en penses?

Today her slate asks, "What do you think?"

By the pumphouse, between Saint Francis and a blue pot, she asks that. I think of a poem I wrote two years ago about Saint Francis:              
                                              Contrainte Artistique

                                               Puisque Norma a hérité
                                               d'une statue de jardin
                                               de Saint Francis,
                                               je l'ai construite
                                               une petite église
                                               Catholique pour
                                               le mettre dedans, et
                                               ai collé des colombes
                                               de plâtre à lui --
                                               mais aucunes plumes
                                               collant dehors sa bouche.

It's about how she was given the little saint but he fell over too much and I had to build him a small Catholic church and glue his doves back on. She gave him a fresh coat of paint, and  pointed out that the upper dove had lost a wing tip. She asked what I thought. I told her it looked suspiciously bite-sized and she should paint a few feathers sticking out of St. Francis's mouth.

This was not well-received. She gave me a look. I gesture toward her slate.

"It is still what I think," I say. "Imagine having a bird in your face for several generations. There are limits even to the patience of a saint!"

Then her cell-phone rings. Our friend, Christina --who loves us like a sister-- calls: "How is your yard today?"

"Fine!" She says, pointing the phone at me, "but there is a crazy old man in it. Look!"

What do you think?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Wordlist 17, Gravel Therapy

"The Russians":
As those who follow this blog know, I have reported lately upon identity theft, outrage, crime and punishment. And those who received countercultural educations in the past half-century know what is meant by "reading the Russians". This was ideally done in garrets by candle light --basements being reserved for the less subversive recreation of meeting by gaslight and discussing rivers of blood.  Those who read the Russians know Crime And Punishment is a great and suspenseful novel written in 1866 by Warren Peace.

Ok, I didn't read all of it. Stayed out of basements too.  But I do know the recurring themes of 19th century Russian novels were these: the conflict between the two sides of human nature, back and front I think;  that once the gods turn against a man they will not consider him again --or was that the Greeks?

βροχή is the Greek word for rain, and the English word for rain is derived from it somehow. I am in California, getting the hang of the language, and notice we get a little rain and sunshine and other forms of meteorologic confusion every day lately, and that is a typical Spring. With rare exception and some internal permutation, this state gets about 20-25 inches of rain a year.

Usually we get it in millions of little drops over a span of 8 or 9 months but I remember one year, 2005, when it came down suddenly enough to make a lake of Badwater Basin in Death Valley (which is mostly gravel).  We didn't get millions of little drops that year. We got all 25 inches of rain in one great big drop instead. That too gave onto a typical Spring --and DST.

Daylight Savings Time:
DST is also an ancient Greek invention but they never used it because, like me, they could not remember whether Earth's orbit sped up or slowed down last night. For 35 years I had to be at work at 6:30 a.m., so I got up at 5 a.m. Then I retired and was surprised and delighted to learn there is no such hour. This is why the Greeks, conquered by the Romans, retaliated by making Italians of them, who in turn authored the Age Of Enlightenment.

My friend, Willie --who is Italian-- has been guiding me through a difficult time, helping me emerge from the combined illusion and disillusion of identity theft. But he can't be here or on the phone all the time, so I have enlisted the aid of ὅμηρος. Ok, ὅμηρος isn't his real name. I just used that to write a post around his picture one time. His name is not Homer. To protect his identity from shameless thieves, I called him that instead of his real name which is Turbo. He is a Gravel Therapist.

Gravel Therapy:
Those of us who have sought therapy for the jumps, or recoordination of any injured part, know it can sometimes be an adversarial process.  As you may surmise by the photo over this wordlist, Gravel Therapy is not. A Gravel Therapist is not aware of the adversities of the world and does not include them in the healing process. All they need is sun-warmed gravel on a Spring day and no words, no words at all.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Future Of Crime And Punishment

Phone (automated female voice of neutral but strangely cheerful inflection): Hello! Thank you for calling the Law And Equity FRAUD Hotline. If you are reporting a FRAUD, please press 1. If you are a victim of FRAUD, press 2. If you are the perpetrator of FRAUD, press 3.

Caller:  Beep...uh...beep...oops!

Phone: I'm...sorry, I didn't quite get that. Please try again.

Caller:  Beep!

Phone: FRAUD is a serious criminal offense and I'm glad you are reporting it. Please repeat your entry.

Caller: Beep beep?

Phone: Alright, I understand you are reporting a crime that you have committed. If this is correct, press 1. If not, press 2.

Caller: BEEP BEEP!

Phone:  I'm...sorry. That's what they all say. If you insist on your innocence, press 1.

Caller: Beep.

Phone: Stubborn? I understand. Please slap yourself around under a bright light. When you are ready to tell the truth, press 4.

Caller: Beep beep beep beep.

Phone: Thank you for confessing to the crime of FRAUD. You may now lock yourself up and throw away the key. If you believe this judgement has been reached in error, please stay on the line (muzak).

Phone (automated male voice): Hello! All our representatives are busy right now but your call will be answered in the order it was received and monitored to insure quality of service. Estimated waiting time is between five years and fifteen years which, if you are found guilty, will be deducted from your sentence. If not found guilty, please press the pound key to repeat the interrogation. Thank you for calling Law And Equity Hotline. Goodbye.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hoodle, Random Thoughts, Shadows

This post is assembled from notes scribbled on a small spiral-bound jot pad at odd moments of relative calm between recent downpours of strange events, flurries of problems and frenzies of repair and resolution. What this tempest has to do with the photo above is this. It is a view of the woody end of our yard, which I often watch from an outdoor table or, on blustery days, the back porch pictured in this odd Normaphoto:

In the upper terraces of those tall trees I have lately monitored the progress of an eyas. Eyasses are what falconers  call nestling hawks. There is a hawk's nest up there. You can see the woody end reflected behind the brilliant ball of light that precedes Norma and over an array of philosophical instruments I use to decode the universe from inside the back porch. It is a confusing spectacle and I will not refer to it again except when I need my field glasses.

Of course, I am leading up to something. Last week, hours after a visit to one of my two cardiologists, I was contacted with alarming news. Due to a compromise of personal security that I won't go into, my identity had been stolen. My attempt to file taxes was rejected by state and nation because someone had used my name, birthdate and social security number to file ahead of me. So I've spent the past five or six days doing hurried paperwork and making bewildering phone calls to faraway places with strange-sounding names. I have visited offices full of wonderfully helpful people who work behind bullet-proof plexiglass. This is how one reclaims one's legal identity. Think about it: two cardiologists; stolen identity. I am a man of my time!

From Barrie's Peter Pan: "Boy, why are you crying?"
                " I am crying because I can't get my shadow to stick on."

Here by the house, I notice daffodil shadows are held down by pebbles and pavers. And I hear the hawk from further out. She launches onto a majestic circle, calling her call --a sonorous "screeeeeeee!"-- and her shadow undulates over the green field. Her hysterical fledgling remains treed, flapping awkwardly from twig to topmost twig yelling, "Hoodle! Hoodle! Hoodle!" His shadow is fragmented, claimed by leaves and branches.

In this modern world, our documents and records comprise our shadows and, when they come unstuck, must be painfully sewn back onto our toes. I could go on but it would be the same as shouting "Hoodle!" all day. So I go out to the woody end and say: "Hoodle, don't cry boy. We'll both get through this and then...well, then we'll fly like Peter Pan."