All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Monday, October 31, 2016

Spectral Encounter

This being Hallowe'en, and having made my mind up to make good on a decision to expatiate  a mention made weeks ago about spectral encounters (yes, Jon) I began to doodle yesterday. I have had two such experiences, 34 years apart, and will address the first.
I was four years old, standing beside my mother in the back porch as she operated the wringer washer. The inner doorway gave onto the kitchen. I looked in and saw the figure above appear from the south wall, glide through the woodstove and table as if they weren't there.

She looked more like a 3-d shadow, walking alone, than figures I was used to seeing. I could discern some features. She was young, younger than my mother but older than my sisters --who were soon to be teenagers. She was upholstered in a longer, translucent, version of the black bombazine dresses my elder relatives wore sometimes, and was veiled, hat to waist.

She then passed through the north kitchen wall into my sisters' room. I told my mother: "There's a pretty lady in the kitchen..." Mama shut off the washer, asked me what I'd seen,  took me into the rooms on the figure's trajectory. Nothing disturbed, nothing there. She then held me close and I got chocolate milk.

I won't go into my second encounter with a ghost. It took place in the summer of 1988 --34 years later-- and involved someone I knew. I'm concerned that the manifestation was meant personally, not intended for repetition. But the point is, despite my inimpeachable adherence to rationalism and concession to ghostly sightings being annectotal, there is an axiom I have long been trying to substantiate: The absence of evidence is not always evidence of absence. 

But, Hallowe'en is also the e'en of an election month, and I can't ignore the terms of Ovid. We have all, all parties, despaired with a grand old --and dignified-- faction and wept with Echo for the absence of Narcissus . Let the lessons of Rome, Nature, Supernature and the promise of chocolate milk guide us into the coming month.  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tide, Time and Poetry (Revisited)

I was called to substitute for your regular pastor at an inopportune moment and had no sermon prepared. However, I found this Antijeremiadic McWhirtle on which to improvise.
Like all humans, I contain several tablespoons of salt --a ratio I share with my weight in seawater because both are made on earth. Earth, in turn, was assembled by electric and gravitational attractions various compounds in outer space exerted upon one another. Throughout these compilations there remain attachments to forces among shifting stars. Like sound aimed at a microphone element they stir the oceans and make them speak. We hear it on the shore when currents collide in waves. We hear it when wind scrapes treetops. We hear it in our brains when we are very sleepy. Here is a little poem about that:

The ocean is always
In you and in me,
Where gravity dreams,
Fictitious forces swirl,
Marmoreal seams pitch
Into air.
What is too far
And ancient to see
Can at least be
Heard there.

Let's see what rolls out of the waves, shall we?

Certainly technology-heavy genres have their distances and drawbacks. Heavy Metal and Rap always sounded like rhythmic tantrums to me --a parent shouting its wit's short end, a child stomping off, the heart beating over one's foetal head. When the beat stops I expect to hear: NOW GO TO YOUR ROOM!!, glass breaking or a door slamming. But that too is part of the poetry of our time, the rhythm of waves. We ignore it at our peril. I've never been an avid e.e. cummings fan either, but discovering "i sing of Olaf" at a crucial time impelled me to leave no authority unexamined and saved my life.

Next wave: In 1968, I drove a hop truck in the late summer harvest. When possible, I'd stop for lunch at Flora's place. She had a poster there of a Robert Frost quote, "Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee, and I'll forgive Thy great big one on me." Flora was a retired school teacher who knew poetry and I was a hick who needed to know more. Reciprocity, especially in forgiveness, opens poetry --and working hops without it was just hot and hard. I kept learning and prospered.

I could go on anecdotally  about how poetry redirected me in positive ways, but these two successive waves suffice. Thought is very random enterprise, like the vast universe that sets it up and sends sunlight to fuel it. It generates safeguards of common sense that make us find beaches not with little whiney trumpet exhaust or subwoofing cars but in ancient hop trucks. It also furnishes an ocean in our heads, portable oceans, which cuts metaphorical driving considerably. I am reminded of the old Masefield poem, which I learned over a half-century ago but can still recite inaccurately from memory:

"I must go down to the sea again, to the Coney Island sand,
And all I ask is a traffic jam backed up to Disneyland..."

John Masefield, as you know, was a writer for Mad Magazine who became the British Poet-Laureate.

I am still a hick. Help! Amen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Predacted Redux

I decided to repost the first (2009) entry in this blog, with pictures this time but there are temporal adjustments on the webcam that escape me. However I'll set the lens to focus back generally --after all, humans aren't designed to be exact, just closely approximate. Yes, I remember this one,  from 1956. Close enough.
The kid was full of hope.  
And then I am in 2016, which is (let's see, borrow from 20, carry  the one into 10's column --5 from 11 is...) 206 years later. Closely approximate. Amazing, the flannel shirt has lasted this long --and I appear no older than my later 60s. My computer is an early model, an upgraded Jacquard Analytical Engine that used to operate looms. Here, my math skills are eclipsed only by theological inaccuracies that initiated this blog.

I see the introduction has run too long, so I'll clickably link to the post under discussion called --I can't remember what it's called but click here-- and see if you can struggle through it --I sure can't. I hear this from others about their first blog posts and wonder if anybody's working on the problem. Still, I rather like its closing paragraph, especially in an election year for some reason, and will reproduce it here:

The feeling common to faith, intuition and logic is that something has opened, moved and caused ripples upon the surface of the waters; something tremendous has happened. Very much like falling in love --itself too intense for analysis-- which is esteemed by church people, intuitives, logicians alike, and misunderstood by all. As a unifying force, love elevates the enigma and will doubtless save us all if we do it more.

Now it's getting late and, I think, time to avoid thinking about stuff --especially any aspiring candidate for anything who just acts creepy-- and raid the kitchen for cookies and milk.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Good Old Grinnin' Gruntin' Other News

What is election anyway, hah? In its closing month, it  is mostly reflection --two surprisingly similar words that probably don't mean each other, but if they do, what then, eh? Then we have Other News.

What is reflection? Here is a thought experiment to help take our minds off the election: If we position two mirrors facing each other, they reflect mutually --toward infinity, limited only by surface imperfections and differences of angle which become more pronounced farther into the experiment. Or is that election?  Maybe I need a photo here.
Above is the rear end of our 1971 VW Bus. The little door, top-hinged to conk one's gonk, covers the engine compartment. The battery, which weighs 35-40 pounds, is situated impossibly inside, just ahead of the right tail light. This is doubtless the cruelest spot EVER to put a battery in a vehicle. I changed it out for a new one yesterday --as I've done many times but I'm old now. Had to bend over double with my head in there and got all banged up. I now feel lousy.


In other, yet other Other News, the Harlem Globetrotters signed up Pope Francis as a team member last year and gave him a jersey  but I doubt they'll play him much. He's older than I am and would get all banged up too. I've got to reach further back...

In the mid-1960s, I wanted to hone my interpretive reading/public speaking skills and signed up with the Sacramento Valley Forensic League. To train ourselves not to break up during competitions, one method was to recite this bit of Rudyard Kipling's poem, Gunga Din, while adding our own adjectives and keeping straight faces as long as we could:
"I was chokin’ mad with thirst,
An’ the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin’, gruntin’ Gunga Din."

Of course, we learned to recite it through such augmentations as grinnin', gruntin', fartin', belchin', stinkin', droolin', shittin' but when someone wrote in Kiplin' , it generally got a confused pause --and laughter. We were ready. Election months are full of trial, honors, confusions, opportunities to break up, disappointments and triumphs. You be ready too.