Random Writings and Photos

Random thoughts and/or photos

A Walk Among Ponderosa and Alligator

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on June 28, 2020

I went for another hike Friday, July 26. The sky started out blue, but clouded over. There was a cool breeze all day, thankfully, because the weather has been in the 90s pretty steadily every day. Still, the sky was an odd color. I wondered if there was some of that dust from the Sahara dust plume in the atmosphere already. The storm was supposed to hit the Gulf Coast area on Saturday. Well, no matter; it was a great day. After the hike, I looked back to the area where we’d hiked, and saw Virga rain in the upper atmosphere. Virga is rain that evaporates, above the ground. In the southwestern USA, storms are easily visible a hundred miles away. One can see the rain falling from the clouds, but it often doesn’t extend all the way to the horizon. Hence, drought, even though there’s rain.

The trail we began hiking on is called Mahogany Loop (Forest Trail #05602), but we intersected with the Ponderosa Trail Loop, which meanders through a dense Ponderosa pine forest in the Cibola National Forest that hasn’t been logged in perhaps fifty years. I took a few photos of those, including a Ponderosa broken by high winds, and some bark beetle damage that killed many thousands of old-growth trees throughout New Mexico. There were also some Alligator Junipers, and I photographed the lower portion to show it’s texture and immense thickness. Very old tree. There are other tree species too, and tons of wildflowers. We met a couple with their dog. They said they had seen him twice in the area, and were unable to find his owner, before deciding to adopt him.

Interestingly, this is the first time I’d been back to that area in an entire year. It is directly adjacent to the area where Angelina Jolie shot the movie “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” which wrapped July 1, 2019. The film was directed by Taylor Sheridan and produced by Film Rites and BRON Studios, based on a book by Michael Koryta. Book.jpg Ms. Jolie is quite friendly, and chatted with the background actors surrounding her during brief cuts in one scene that was shot many, many times. She is funny too. Her makeup included tangled hair, deep bloody gashes, and soot from a fire in a previous scene. Since it is OK to respond to an actor if they speak to you, I was curious about what had been happening to her character. “You look a little worse for wear,” I said. I regretted saying that afterward; it’s not the sort of thing one says to a woman. She pulled down her torn shirt to reveal a scar at that point, saying: “And I got hit by lightning too!” Whew. I hadn’t meant to insult her, just saying what was on my mind. I was a bit embarrassed and looked down when she did that. A bit later she told me that the movie is very well done, an intelligent, tense drama, and very much worth watching. I looked for it and found that the release date is October 23, 2020. I will watch it.

So, getting back to the hike. After we returned to our vehicles, we headed back down State Road 337, but stopped at a private cemetery just off the road. It was fenced, so I didn’t enter, but I took some photos, with respect. The details of the graves were very touching and sad, especially the ones for “Victor, Son of Manny and MaryLou,” and for 20-year-old Rosa, who may have died during childbirth, as it is inscribed: “Mother of Dorothy”.

Very sad. But they were, it seems, very much loved. And lived, for a time, in beauty.

 

 

Posted in 2020s, death, family, hiking, love, movies, photography | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Crest Spur Hike – Sandia Mountains

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on June 21, 2020

Took some photos on a hike along the crest of the Sandia Mountains. Social distancing, masks and all. Used a new trail called the Crest Spur to link up with La Luz. Hiked with a few people in a hiking meetup, organized and run by Frank Ernst, shown in the second photo. Flowers can live short lives in this desert heat, so I always photograph them. Didn’t see any wildlife that day (06/18/20), but there were quite a few people on top of the mountain, despite the Tram not being in operation, nor the new Ten-3 restaurant being open. I did see two workers inspecting the cables. If you enlarge the photo you can see them on top. Workers often ride on top of the tram car in the morning so they can do a quick visual of the cables, and also because the car is full of all the food and water the restaurant needs for the day. Twice a year they have to shut the Tramway down to do a detailed inspection and test.

The views are usually spectacular, but on this day, smoke from the fires in Arizona came in like fog, blanketing the city. In one of the photos here, you can see a thin blue line representing the brilliant blue we usually experience here. Below it is the blanket of smoke. As always, click on a thumbnail to enlarge it, use arrows to scroll.

 

Posted in 2020s, hiking, My Life, photography | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

To My Brothers

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on June 14, 2020

 

 

 

I love my three brothers very much, and while we are not all on the same page politically, we can usually disagree, and still hang out. We are brothers and that means a lot. We shared a lot of good and bad things as children and we stick together through thick and thin.

However, recent events such as Black Lives Matter protests, and solidarity protests over George Lloyd’s death, the violence that bled out of peaceful protest, possibly by instigators — I mean, who trashes their own or their neighbors’ stores? — and the misunderstood calls for “defunding” the police following on the heels of disagreement over the need for masks and distancing are threatening to tear us apart.

There was a heated discussion that I was notified about, and I was saddened by the way the discussion was going, so I wrote a reply to all three, even though only two were involved. The third has let his views be known many times, and was referenced in the discussion.

So these were my thoughts on the subjects touched on:

I think cops tend to be part of a blue gang, and many have the idea that they ARE the law, but they are not. There is a lot of racism within police ranks, and it only comes to light once in a while, because the good cops say and do nothing about it. I don’t think bad (and illegal) cop behavior is all about racism though. I’ve seen them wielding long hardwood batons on peaceful white protestors, and tapping them on the shoulder as they walked away, squirting pepper spray directly into their eyes.

I was harassed by cops while bicycling across country, and I’ve been stopped on my motorcycle by a Sheriff who reached for his gun as soon as I reached for my license, which he had just asked for. I’ve been spread-eagled onto the hood of a patrol car for a traffic stop that (being overtired from overtime and not having eaten, and on my way to a nighttime class) I politely disputed. His insistence that I’d run a red light when I’d seen him next to me was ludicrous. I got pissed off and called him an asshole, so I was charged with assault on a police officer (a felony). Not my best move, but an over-the-top reaction from the cop.

Those are just a few examples, but the police, in general, have had the idea for some time that any hint that you’re not going to treat them like tin gods can lead to arrest or death. Even standing nearby outside my residence while I, silently and legally, observed some white teenager getting roughed up by the Baltimore cops brought a threat of arrest for me. These are realities, and it’s worse for poor people, especially blacks. I learned this in downtown Baltimore when I was younger, and from my recent trips, I’ve seen little change in the living conditions downtown since the 1970s. The “inner city” as we used to call it is actually deplorable. For the record, children who ask to wash your car windows in downtown Baltimore are polite, and not petty thieves. I do believe the pattern of racist redlining, denial of credit and racial profiling is the same there. There is deep distrust there now in people’s eyes, and it wasn’t always that way. It’s sad.

I do remember that my grandfather was a policeman, and (brother) Pat was military police. Violence against the police is not the answer. And, the “defunding” that people are calling for means shifting some police funding to other more appropriate organizations better prepared to deal with mental health issues, for example. We use armed police, trained to deal with violent criminals, for minor things, while there are huge cuts to the budgets of mental health institutions and drug treatment centers. The public is not the enemy, and any police who think it’s us versus them are no better than a gang. I applaud those cops who took a knee. I applaud the cops who work closely with their community, and put their lives on the line to help, but there needs to be an attitude adjustment if people are to trust the police again.

The adjustment starts now, because it’s past due.

I don’t know if this will help. It may not. But I felt I had to state my opinion honestly, right or wrong, or misinformed as I may be. But, I always want people to think beyond the talking points. And I want open discussion, not name-calling or attacks.

A very young me

Me

Posted in 2020s, current events, family, Human rights, Life, madness, opinion, politics, race, rants | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Snowballs With Syrup

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on June 8, 2020

Sometimes it feels like I have a snowball’s chance in hell of remembering events from a long, long time ago, but I still remember building and running a snowball stand with my brother John. Summers in Baltimore, Maryland are as hot and humid as a rain forest. Not only does the Chesapeake Bay intrude directly into the heart of the city, but the ocean is only a hundred miles away. Hurricanes have hit Maryland often over the years, bringing heavy rains and flooding. Ocean storms bring lots of moisture all the time. So, before air conditioning, summers in Baltimore left us sweating buckets in the sweltering heat. Our parents, happy to have us all, were nevertheless always broke providing food, clothing and medical care for seven children. We survived OK. There was always food on the table, even if, occasionally, it was only potato pancakes.

None of us were over-fat or undernourished. We all walked a couple miles a day for school, and played, bicycled and climbed trees the rest of the time. But summers — summers could feel like trying to walk under water. We craved relief. Sodas were good, and although cheap, not a regular part of my parent’s shopping list. But there was plenty of water, or Kool-Aid. And occasional watermelons. But my brother and I also wanted to make some money. Watermelons grew too far away, and everybody had their own Kool-Aid. In winter we could shovel our neighborhood sidewalks, usually for small change. Most people cut their own lawns, and John and I had to cut ours, but it was miserable work in that humid heat. So we went into business.

It seems like it was three summers, but I can’t be certain. We cooked sugar down into syrup and added flavors to it. I tend to catch myself now when I start to mention a “snowball” stand because no one outside of Baltimore calls it that. People always get this kind of dumbfounded look on their faces, and I add, “snow cones”. And only old folks know about shaved ice. Even when we were growing up it was rarely done that way anymore: it took a lot more effort and time. But even when there was a rival stand somewhat near, people said they preferred our finely shaved ice over the ground stuff. It’s a lot smoother shaved. Hmm. (Ignore the other meaning.) We never made much money, since it was a word-of-mouth business. People also loved the scoop of vanilla ice cream we’d add on top for a nickel.

Man, it was boring sitting there sometimes, sweating, trying to read while we waited for customers. We had built our stand in a space between the front porch and the driveway. We had to make ourselves snowballs to cool off. Shaving that ice had its problems though. We had to get the block of ice out early so it could melt a little into the upside-down bottle caps we nailed to the bench to hold it in place while shaving. Start shaving too soon, and the block would move around. Once in awhile it would slide right off the bench onto the ground, then we had to scramble to clean it off. We threw the first shavings away. Another problem was the sun, of course, so we covered the ice with a bath towel. Unfortunately, if the ice was fresh from the freezer, the towel would stick to it, so when we pulled it off, fibers would stay stuck to the ice. Had to shave those off. I hope we never gave anyone a snowball with towel fibers in it! We’d get a little woozy out there sitting in the sun long hours.

Sometimes we’d run out of ice, which meant trying to get every last shave out of the thinning melting chunk left late in the day, without cutting into the bottle caps. It was a long walk to the store with our wagon to buy and haul home two big cubes of ice we’d cover with a towel all the way home from at least a mile away. Sometimes water would be running out of the wagon by the time we got home. Eventually we got the idea to freeze some tap water in big pots, since our parents had a deep freezer in the basement. But it was only a few inches thick, hard to get out of the pots, round or oval-shaped, cracked easily, and didn’t last long.

Day selling was slow — a kid here and there. But evenings! Evenings we were busy. Took quite a few shaves across the ice with the heavy-duty blade in our little cast metal shavers. Shave, back off, shave, back off, shave, back off, shave. But much faster than it takes to say that. We had strong arms. People sent their kids over to our house to buy several at a time, because there was nothing close, and walking a mile for a snowball was no one’s idea of fun in that heat. People drove less then. It cost money to pay off a car, maintain it, and buy gas. Stayed hot all evening. Even sweated lying perfectly still in bed at night. So we had plenty of business as long we stayed open at night.

But that brought problems too. We had rigged up a big bulb in the stand. That brought flying insects, but snowballs were worth it. So was making money. It also brought lots of people, so there was the bright light and lots of noise. We lived in one half of a duplex. We got in trouble with the other half for that. It was odd, because the other half was where my mother had grown up. Her mother died when I was two years old, and Granpop, her father, died while I was still in grade school, still an altar boy, so I got to serve that funeral mass, and for Granddad, my other grandfather as well. Both men had lung damage from either mustard gas on land, or stifling conditions aboard ship in Granddad’s case. For some reason he also spent a lot of time cleaning the sides of his ship while underway. Probably swallowed a lot of seawater. During prohibition he made beer in the bathtub.

I’m drifting from my story about snowballs, but I remember both men well. An electrician, and a cop. Good men.

So, sometime after my maternal grandmother died that house was sold. My mother had married, her brother George had joined the navy. My grandfather lived with his son Charles, a sailor in the Merchant Marine, and their kids. We were close with them until Granpop died, soon after he’d moved in with us. But, that’s another story.

So, as my parents kept bringing more kids into the world, we kept moving. My birth certificate says their address was in an old Baltimore neighborhood, on Gay Street, near the famous Lexington Market. But they moved to Florida for a bit, which is where my grandmother died when I was two. I don’t recall where we lived in Baltimore at first after that, but I was in Kindergarten the year we moved into a house, briefly, in a development in northeast Baltimore call Armistead Gardens, north of Pulaski Highway and east of Erdman Avenue. I was surprised the day we drove up because the grass was so high. John had been born a year after me, but while we lived there Pat was born. So we moved again, to Evans Chapel Road, near the Roland Water Tower. The first of my sisters, Kathy, was born there, and then Karen next. I managed to complete my first four years of grade school there, at Saint Thomas Aquinas school before we moved again, out of room.

So, that was how we ended up on Frankford Avenue, between Belair Road (U.S. Route 1) and Harford Road, next door to the house where my mother grew up. This time we stayed put for the four years it took me to finish grade school at St. Anthony of Padua school, and the five years it took me to complete four years of high school at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Another story there.

Meanwhile, on Frankford Avenue, an old crabby woman lived next door with her middle-aged son. She wasn’t happy to live next door, indeed, a cinder-block wall apart from five loud rambunctious kids, and then my parents had two more, Brian (back to boys) and then Mary Elizabeth, aka Betsy.

I asked my father once why he never used birth control. He claimed the Church wouldn’t allow it. He drifted away from the Church after my mom had to have a hysterectomy to save her life, and the parish priest had sanctioned it. My mom says my dad, strongly influenced by religious patriarchy, wanted to have more kids, and had initially forbade the hysterectomy, because she would no longer be a woman if she couldn’t have kids.

And that is why we had to shut down the snowball stand late that first summer we ran it. Not due to the hysterectomy, but because of the crabby woman next door complaining about the noise, and the light on all evening. My parents resisted, but gave in, probably due to a noise ordinance, and hell, we were running a “business” in a residential neighborhood. But, that didn’t stop us.

Next summer was better, for us at least. We didn’t have as many customers, hidden as we were around the back of our house, since we rebuilt our stand by the back door, and we could retreat a few steps into the cellar when it got too hot. And, the deep freezer was right there, with the ice, and the ice cream, for an additional cost of 5¢ a scoop on top of your snowball — sorry, snow cone. Someone wrote about Baltimore snowballs recently, claiming that snowballs were in a cup, and really, you could bring your own cup to our stand for a slight discount, but a snow cone, he claimed, was a snowball served in a cone. A snowball, drenched in brightly colored flavorful syrup, even with ice cream on top, cone or not, is a snowball to me. Always will be.

Posted in 1960s, family, food, Life, My Life | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

WELCOME TO SPRING  

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on May 17, 2020

031920 (14)         –  Mar 24, 2020   

What is Spring?
A time of rebirth
species renewal
rutting and fucking
flowers and scents
a riot of color
olfactory overload

Love
what is love
to an old man?
No renewal
no fucking
meaningless colors
meaningless smells

May-December
youthful May
deathly December
a gulf between
irreversible
relentless
widening

We race through Spring
jog through Summer
Slow in August
Pause in December
as if as if as if
as if as if as if
to forestall death

But death comes
to one and all
time is so short
between seasons
Spring, Spring, Spring
the herald of doom
extinction pending

Spring is but
a short walk
at the end of which
smiling and cheerful
casually patient
waits our friend
the Executioner

I greet you, friend
I know you’re there
can’t feel you yet
can’t smell you
can’t yet see you
I know you’re there
I extend my hand.


And further: In the Spring, a young man’s thoughts turn to fancy; an old man’s thoughts turn to stone. What is life? It is spring, summer, fall, winter, love, sex, and death.

Posted in 2020s, Life, poem | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Lazy Days of Isolation

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on May 15, 2020

Me

Feel so lazy. Days dissolve into one another. Sometimes there are things to do, but mostly not. I could work on getting a home studio set up so I can submit video auditions, but I don’t. Usually, when I want to audition, I have a monologue to record, using my DSLR camera, but I’m not getting actual monologues or dialogues to record. Some outfits located in other states have requested videos, but some want use of specific equipment I do not have, or are simply planning for some unspecified future date. So, for now, I’m simply replying to leads from Actor’s Access, but not hearing anything back. All shooting in New Mexico is still postponed. So, I go out and hike sometimes, but much less than when I hiked with a group. Although I live alone, I was always comforted by seeing people on set as a background actor, in auditions for local independent projects, or hiking with friends or bowling. Not much incentive lately to go out at all, or do anything.

Calendars

It’s all so odd. But I keep fighting it.

I finally had to paint my gate. I bought the paint last year, but never had the time to do it. The weather was bad when I had time. Always something. I knew it would require more than just paint, so it was hard to justify the time. But time is what I have most of. Just spending my time writing the blog now, or doing poetry and acting classes on Zoom.

So finally, on the prodding of the homeowner’s association here, I decided to just do it myself. I don’t own my house — I rent. So the landlord did pay for the paint. Can’t expect her to buy a new gate, as we’re in the middle of trying to get the roof redone after recent leaks. It’s a weird roof, flat, covered in a hard foam. Always needs work. Got done a few times before, but is in bad shape now. Homeowner’s Association used to take care of all that, and the stucco maintenance, but decided to put that back on the owners. The owner hasn’t ever had to do it, and the roofers that have given estimates are demanding an arm and a leg. So, I wasn’t going to bother her about the gate.

I went out a few days ago. Looked at it. I went back in, got some tools. Took it off the hinges, and found out it had no screws, dowels, or nails holding it together. It had been built and assembled by hand, and, of course, in New Mexican low humidity weather, the wood had long since dried out, shrunk and cracked. After I took the hardware off, I realized that the hinges had actually been all that was holding the whole thing together. Nothing was glued in, and it was literally falling apart in my hands. Almost bagged the whole thing. But I got some large clamps to hold it together and reassembled it.

There were some loose, broken pieces that I had to glue a bit, and I screwed an old piece of 1×2 across them on both sides (after chamfering the edges). Then I kept going. Already had the paint, so I painted, and painted, and painted, getting all the paint across and deep inside the cracks. I spent the whole of a hot day on this project, drinking water, juice and milk, hardly eating, but I got it done. The damn gate looks almost new. Of course, then I had little desire to do anything else. But I keep looking at the gate and admiring it, feeling like I accomplished SOMEthing. Little victories.

Outside   Inside

Posted in 2020s, current events, depression, My Life, photography, quarantine | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

MONDAY-FRIDAY

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on May 12, 2020

When Monday is just another day
a day like any other
not the first day of work
nor hump day –
is it still Monday?

And what is Monday
when you work at home?
Same time same place
same walls same ceilings
same food.

What if

What if
when this is over

we only
work weekends?

 

Posted in 2020s, Coronavirus, COVID-19, current events, Life, quarantine, SARS COV-2, World | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

RE-POST of “It Didn’t Last”

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on April 26, 2020

for-world-peace

——————-> It Didn’t Last <———————

(Post of mine on another Word press blog: ENNUI, Personal & Political)

I post there sometimes, as I try to reserve it for feelings of ennui. But no one has visited the site lately.  I didn’t want to double-post, so I’m just leaving the link here, if anyone is interested. I wrote it on 04/20/2020. Things have changed a little since then.

 

Posted in 2020s, Coronavirus, COVID-19, current events, opinion, politics, rambling | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

If You’re Sure, Well, Wash Your Hands

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on April 23, 2020

Sure

Not too long ago (2008-2009) there was a commercial for Sure Deodorant. The commercial played on the insecurities of a few people that people would notice sweat on their clothes, so, to avoid terrible embarrassment, we should all use deodorant, particularly the Sure Deodorant, because, of course theirs was better than any other at keeping us from sweating. As if it wasn’t bad enough that they had slowly convinced huge swaths of us that we didn’t dare leave the house without plastering our armpits with deodorant. And, of course, U.S. ingenuity had already conceived of deodorant soap, so we could lather deodorant all over our bodies as well, even in and on places that didn’t need it. And many women were convinced that they needed deodorant douches as well. Anyway the Sure commercial played their meme over and over: “Raise your hands, if you’re (Sure).” Because, of course, no one could lift their arms up if there was sweat in their armpits, or showing through their fancy clothes.

And, well, I don’t care, but this current mantra of wash your hands, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, just reminds me so much of that commercial. At least, since this SARS COV-2 virus is killed by ordinary hand soap, it is a useful thing to shout about. Or sing about, as people are being asked to put health-practice-advice lyrics into popular songs.

So, I did. Your may recognize the song this is based on.

WASH YOUR HANDS

You, you got a nasty virus thing
We’re in a sticky situation, it’s down to me and you
Well now that we’re together
Show me what you can do
You’re under the gun
Under the gun
And plannin’ to live
Wash your hands
When you want to let it go
Wash your hands
When you want to let a feeling show
Wash your hands
From New York to Chicago
Wash your hands
From New Jersey to Tokyo
Wash your hands.

(With apologies to Bon Jovi for modifying their song: Raise Your Hands)

Bon Jovi

[Their 2020 tour is cancelled, but Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Halsey and more united for a New Jersey concert to benefit the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, yesterday, April 22.]

 

Posted in 2020s, Coronavirus, COVID-19, current events, health, Life, medical, opinion, quarantine, SARS COV-2, song | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Trumbo, a Movie, a Little Bit of mid-20th Century Politics

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on April 21, 2020

Trumbo (2015 film)

Trumbo was released in U.S. theaters in 2015. At this point in time, it’s hard to say if movie theaters will survive the economic pandemic caused by a previously unseen virus that sneaks up on us and spreads like wildfire before we even know we have it. We will survive, but will theaters? our economy? our democracy? Hard to say. But, I do want to review this movie, because I just got around to watching it tonight.

I thought this might be a boring story. Writers. A blacklist. I know how it ends. But, I had no frickin’ idea!

Before I go any further, I have to recommend this movie, if for no other reason than the fine acting of Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Louis C.K., Elle Fanning, John Goodman, and Michael Stuhlbarg. These are not only good actors, but passionate actors, the ones we like to watch. A great story, not the whole story, but it was a sad, and, yes, good chapter in the history of this country. That said, I have a few other things to say about the content.

Sure there were a lot of people caught up in the whole Hollywood blacklist. Good people. Not perfect, but basically, good people. For some years now we’ve heard people like them called “liberals” with utter disdain, hatred and fear. And really it should remind us of a time when people, including the media, treated people as pariahs, as lepers, undesirables and even, yes, traitors, for their political views. It wasn’t just the Hollywood Ten, but hundreds of other actors, and teachers, students, tradesmen. Thousands lost jobs, homes, families and some, their lives.

Admittedly, it was the fear of the Soviet Union, and the Cold War against it and their political system which brought about Red Scares, and Blacklists, and persecution for what people thought. None ever sought to have any foreign nation invade and run the USA. They wanted a better life for everyone. Many believed the USSR was moving further along the road of civil rights, but they were idealists, and idealists of every political stripe tend to have blinders on, distancing themselves from real people, and a real, harsh world. Nevertheless, it is in all our interests to respect people who love this country and want to see it do better. There were “liberals” who wanted an end to segregation, to racism, to child abuse, to spousal abuse, and wanted everyone lifted up, everyone to have equal access to education, to jobs, and to participate in Democracy. This movie touches a little on that, but such was the case in the 50s and 60s, because I saw it. And it happened again to people who continued to carry the torch of equal rights for all, and who, following their consciences, opposed the war in Vietnam.

Much has been said about the people who did that then, and a lot of it is untrue. We see this now in “fake” news stories, fake emails, fake messages, fake tweets, and entirely made up scandals about political opponents, for political gain and power. This movie should remind us that not all we hear, not all we read, not all we see in 24-hour “news” shows is worth more than belly lint. There are hardworking journalists working every day to bring us the news of what is happening, in this country, and the world. They tell it like it is, usually in short articles and media bites. And it is REAL news. The rest is all talking heads crap, opinions about the news. It’s fine that people have opinions and want to share them, but that is not news.

Many want to tell us what to think, instead of showing us how to think. We need to form our own opinions, not based on what other people think, but on the basic news facts, which are often buried under opinions and advertising. With a world of information, literally at our fingertips, we should research news stories, find out more, what’s behind the stories. We should never, ever, listen solely to a set of opinions that all fit into one “camp” of thought. That is what we should hate. There are sometimes two sides to issues, and often more than two sides. That’s just my opinion. But movies like this are designed to give us food for thought. We should eat of this fine freedom we have to think whatever we want. But we should also defend that freedom both in actions and carefully thought-out conversations with others, and not simply use thoughtless opinions as ammunition against anyone who might have different opinions. Our history says we can be better than that.

Posted in 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 2020s, current events, history, Human rights, Life, movies, opinion, politics, rants | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Book Review of Binti

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on April 18, 2020

Binti

Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor

Book one of a trilogy.

A fascinating look at travel among the stars, from the perspective of someone living on a world where she is looked down on, even though that world and countless others are dependent on her tribe’s scientific and mind-bending abilities. Binti is 17, and rebelling against family and tribe, alone of her people in wanting to travel, with others of Earth to the universal University Oomza. She will be among far more alien people than she has ever imagined. But she travels with the red clay of her land, and the knowledge and strong mental training of her people, something she is sure of, but does not know the full importance of, nor how to fully use it. But she is very young, and the universe can be a very harsh place to live. Fortunately, she has a form of magic with her, in the form of ancient but misunderstood technology, despite a complicated family history.

Well written, there is much that is said besides words, on several levels. A quick read, unfortunately, but one unlikely to be forgotten quickly. Fortunately, the sequel, Binti  Home, continues the story, from the perspective of a much matured adventurer one year later who returns home, and home is not what it once was. Her family is, as she expected, hostile, but she seeks reconciliation. That, however, is made immensely more difficult by her transformation, a transformation due to an alien, an enemy of her people. But her own people are still engaged in intra-tribal fighting, despite a greater threat to all.

In the third volume (which I have not yet read), Binti: The Night Masquerade, the description reads that she needs all she has learned from her studies, her near-death adventure in space, her alien transformation, and her family and tribe’s hidden powers, to deal with war, war she thought had been averted, but war that could destroy her entire tribe.

If interested in this, the entire trilogy is available in a single volume, on Kindle, or in book form as Binti: The Complete Trilogy. I recommend that, because the individual volumes are short: 96 pages, 166 pages, and 202 pages. The paperback form of the Trilogy contains 368 pages. It is six inches wide by nine inches tall, whereas the others are 5″ x 8″.

Nnedi Okorafor’s books include Lagoon (a British Science Fiction Association Award finalist for Best Novel), Who Fears Death (a World Fantasy Award winner for Best Novel), Kabu Kabu (a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book for Fall 2013), Akata Witch (an Amazon.com Best Book of the Year), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), and The Shadow Speaker (a CBS Parallax Award winner).

 

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I RELEASE WHAT I AM RECEIVING WHAT I NEED

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on April 14, 2020

4-13-2020

103017 (2)

I release this viral blue funk
sometimes dark thing
in my soul.
It haunts me
from time to time.

Release this loneliness
that feeds my blues.
Not lonely all the time
sometimes it just appears
out of the blue.
Does it feed my blues?
Or
Does that blue funk
feed my loneliness?

I release this obsession
that comes upon me too
obsession
about
what I’ve said or done.

I release this obsession
that comes upon me I release
this obsession that comes
I release this obsession.

I sit too much
at the computer
watching movies
reading
or just
wasting time.
I release all that.

Often I want forgiveness
for things I’ve said or done
but
I must give forgiveness
without expectations
of return.

I receive friendship
though
sometimes
it is not easily
given away.
I receive smiles
and those
O
those
I can reciprocate
easily.

I try to understand
how other people feel
put myself in their shoes
feel their perspective
but
sometimes
I get pissed off that they
do not understand.

With all these things
I know
I must lead by example
be open-minded
without expectations.

It is springtime
despite the snow and rain
and today’s cold damp air
hovering around my soul.

Yet it is time for Spring
Spring delayed
Spring postponed
but not cancelled.

It will come.

 

04/13/2020

Posted in 2020s, depression, eremiticism, Life, My Life, poem, poetry, quarantine, World | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Zinc and Viruses, Red Wine & Chocolate

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on April 13, 2020

chocolate           Red wine

There has been a lot of talk about ways to treat a corona virus like COVID-19, and much of it is anecdotal, or speculation. No documented cure is known, but there is this, from Nutritional Pharmacology* :

(PLEASE NOTE THAT I AM NOT RECOMMENDING ANTIMALARIAL DRUGS OR QUERCETIN!!!!) This is only a preface to the information that follows on fact-proven nutritional information about zinc (also not a cure).

A South Korean researcher claims, that, in Vitro (in a test tube or culture), by increasing the zinc concentration in cellular cytoplasm, viral replication is inhibited. As intracellular levels of zinc are increased, inhibition of viral replication is vastly increased, according to the paper. The researchers used two antimalarial drugs which are ionophores (molecules that can carry a charged ion like zinc across a cellular membrane). The key word phrase in this research, however, is “In Vitro”, meaning not tested in living beings, so that is why health professionals are not recommending it. South Korea has been treating high-risk, critically-ill COVID-19 patients with one such prescription-only drug, hydroxychloroquine. There is a nutritional supplement called quercetin that is a zinc chelator and ionophore, and requires no prescription. In addition: Elderberries, Red Wine and Blueberries have high amounts of quercetin.

However, neither the drug or supplement is actually proven to fight off viral infections, or increase zinc uptake in vivo (in living things).

This is the only real, actual, proven, fact-based information you need** :  

Zinc is a mineral that’s essential for good health. It’s required for the functions of over 300 enzymes and is involved in many important processes in your body. It metabolizes nutrients, maintains your immune system and grows and repairs body tissues. Your body doesn’t store zinc, so you need to eat enough every day to ensure you’re meeting your daily requirements. It’s recommended that men eat 11 mg of zinc per day, while women need 8 mg. However, if you’re pregnant, you’ll need 11 mg per day, and if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need 12 mg. Some people are at risk of a zinc deficiency, including young children, teenagers, the elderly and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

However, eating a healthy balanced diet that includes zinc-rich foods will satisfy everyone’s needs.

Here are 10 of the best foods that are high in zinc:

1. Meat, especially red meat., but also lamb and pork.
2. Shellfish, especially oysters. Other shellfish contain zinc, just not as much.
3. Legumes like chickpeas, lentils and beans, although, while raw, the zinc is not as well
absorbed. Heating, sprouting, soaking or fermenting legumes can increase this mineral’s
absorption in our bodies.
4. Seeds. Particularly, hemp seeds (31-43% RDI), but also squash, flax, pumpkin and
sesame seeds.
5. Nuts. Pine nuts, peanuts, cashews and almonds can boost your intake of zinc.
6. Dairy. Cheese and milk provide a host of nutrients, including zinc.
7. Eggs. Contain a moderate amount of zinc.
8. Whole grains. Wheat, quinoa, rice and oats contain some zinc.
9. Vegetables, but only certain ones. Potatoes, both regular and sweet varieties, but also green beans and kale.
10. Dark chocolate, contains reasonable amounts of zinc, but also a lot of calories.

Supplements can create problems, especially in unbalancing the ratio of vitamins and minerals in our bodies, so the one really proven and effective way to add zinc is with food. Zinc and iron fight for cell receptor sites. If you take zinc supplements on a regular basis, or too much, you could become anemic. Iron is necessary to attach and transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

I am eating meat, shellfish, beans, nuts, dairy, eggs, whole grains, and potatoes. I should probably stock up on dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate, BTW, pairs really well with red wine, just FYI. I like to pair red wines with my meals.

Sources

* https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article-abstract/33/7/1716/4692824?redirectedFrom=PDF

*The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 33, Issue 7, July 1980, Page 1716, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/33.7.1716

*Book – Nutritional Pharmacology, Originally published: May 6, 1981

**https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-foods-high-in-zinc

 

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Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day 2020

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on April 11, 2020

Sunday, April 12, is Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day 2020, in the United States. You might just find yourself inside on this particular Sunday morning, and there might be a ham, or other traditional Ēostre, Easter or Passover foods for dinner, but maybe grilled cheese for brunch? instead of eggs?
[In case you’re wondering, according to a Northern European legend, the goddess Ēostre (or Ostara) is supposed to have turned a bird into a hare, a sacred animal from antiquity. Birds do lay eggs. But, actually, in Medieval times, a common practice in England was for Christian children to go door-to-door begging for eggs on the Saturday before Lent began. People handed out eggs (a symbol of rebirth) as special treats for children prior to their fast.] So those Easter egg hunts are supposed to be a week earlier.
Grilled cheese sandwiches date back to Roman times.
Now, there are a lot of ways that people make this sandwich. Personally, I see a grilled cheese sandwich as quick ‘n’ dirty. Throw some cheese between two pieces of mayonnaise-covered sliced bread, and fry it in a cast iron pan until it’s crispy brown on both sides and the cheese is gooey. That’s traditional. My mom had an old sandwich grill that could be used over an open flame.
pie makerI never understood why it was round, when the bread was square. I found out recently that what we called a sandwich grill, was actually known as a pie iron. That’s right, it was used to make small pies over an open flame, which of course is why it had a long handle. Nevertheless, I never saw my mom make a pie with it, and I thought it was a bit wasteful of bread because the corners would break off or she’d cut ’em off to make it fit inside fully. Nowadays there are square-cornered ones made for sandwiches.  square pie iron
Of course, since I live in New Mexico, I add green chile to my sandwich before it goes in the frying pan. I love a little bit of spiciness in my cheesy foods.
And, there are hundreds of different ways that people make grilled cheese sandwiches. There is even a Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship every year. Some people add strawberries. Sometimes you’ll find Nutella® on a grilled cheese. Or sweet and sour red cabbage. Steven Raichlen, of TV grilling fame, makes a grilled cheese sandwich with portobello mushrooms served in blazing cognac. Fancy.
There are people who use blue cheese — sorry, not me. The only thing I ever found that makes blue cheese palatable to me is a very dry, and intense 100% peach or apricot wine. I used to make those at a winery that has since closed. I stay away from any kind of fermented or soft cheese for a grilled cheese, because I like harder cheeses anyway. Hard cheese is an excellent source of protein and calcium, with less lactose, since the whey is removed during processing. Soft cheeses such as brie and Camembert provide less calcium per serving.
I grew up with grilled cheese made from processed cheese that could be sliced from a rectangular block and melted very easily. Velveeta is the most famous of those. But it had little taste. So there’s a happy medium for me. Although the firmer the cheese, the better it is for you, some cheeses, like Romano or Parmesan, are a bit too hard to slice, or melt in a short time, but it’s easy to find the semi-hard extra sharp cheddar in most grocery stores, and that’s what I usually have in the house for sandwiches or to grate into omelets. Swiss cheese on rye is damn good too.
My sandwich falls into the competitive category of “Classic, plus one”.  While I cannot stand processed cheese anymore, I enjoy mayonnaise, so I layer some Mayo on one side of both pieces of whole wheat, sour dough or oat bread first.  Mayo
Then I slice enough cheese to cover one side of the bread, and smother it in roasted green chile pepper.
Now, in New Mexico, these are spicy and flavorful. Don’t ever eat a Texas “green chile” because they think a skinny modified bell pepper is green chile. It’s not. They’re flavorless and have no spice. Texans mostly think chile is dry red chile powder cooked with beans, and they spell it, chili, which is not the Spanish name for the peppers. The peppers themselves are native to South and Central America.
That said, I close up my sandwich and drop it into a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Mine usually has some leftover oil in it, but if it doesn’t I will borrow another tradition and spread Mayo on the outside on my bread as well. It is supposed to make the bread a bit crisper, but I have never seen any difference, whether I use vegetable oil, or bacon grease.
You can even use butter, good old-fashioned butter from free ranging, grass-fed cows, the kind that turns a nice golden color when it warms up, but it can overwhelm the flavor of the cheese, in my opinion. (I only use very flavorful Irish or French butter in my home.) Everybody has their own opinion about what makes a great grilled cheese, but I think it mostly depends on how your mom made it.
041020 (1)
I fry mine on a medium heat that allows just enough time to evenly brown both sides of the bread — making it crispy without burning it — and to just melt the cheese enough to make it a little gooey.
Voilà: 041020 (2)

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Oh, Day Whatever

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on April 3, 2020

Stay Home flyer

So, we’re all coping as best we can in the middle of this viral pandemic. Some peoples’ jobs are essential, and they’re still out and about every day. Those of us stuck at home or near home are a little envious, but really, the people working are at greater risk, and they aren’t seeing much more than deserted schools and shopping centers, and shuttered stores. It’s somewhat like the post-apocalyptic dramas, but, in this case, humanity hasn’t been wiped out, but is basically in hiding, from an unseen foe, a foe that preys on our very human sociality. Therefore, we must become the opposite. Not antisocial, because that implies an antagonism to social instincts, but asocial — isolated and generally not with other humans. For me, this isn’t a new thing, so I feel I’m doing OK.

However.

Yesterday I rode my motorcycle to shop at a Smith’s. Go there all the time. I walk down this one aisle they closed off. It’s weird. A dead-end aisle. Not the booze aisle. Baby food, lotions, similar things. Narrow opening into the aisle. Plexiglass covering the rest. Back part closed off with thick plexiglass. I don’t understand it. Anyway, I walk in looking for something, and I can’t find it. So there’s these two women near the exit, and the older one of them seems to have bronchial problems, breathing hard, and I hear liquid as she keeps trying to, I don’t know, bring something up? without coughing. And the sound is so disturbing – like someone breathing underwater – and I’m sure she’s got pneumonia, and possibly due to complications from Covid-19, and she’s not wearing a face mask. And I’m trapped there, because I don’t want to go near her, anywhere near the space she’s in, and it’s the only way out. Pissed me off. Isolation rage? Corona rage? They will actually deliver your groceries to you now, or you order and they will bring them to your car. I couldn’t understand why someone that sick decided it was better to just go to the store anyway, and without even a cloth or paper mask. I wanted to scream at her, “Why did you come here?” Covid-19 or not, if you’re that sick and people will deliver your groceries to you, why the hell are you out?

As I write, a neighborhood church is just now playing Amazing Grace with chimes. It’s usually how they call people to services. I thought large church services were banned? I know it has a large congregation from all the cars I see going in and out, especially on Sundays. It’s 8am here on a Friday. But Good Friday isn’t until next week. Maybe they’re doing a parking lot service. That’s a thing around here.

Pickups at restaurants. Grocery shopping, but no more than once a week. Not much else to do. They want us to stay out of parks now. Was no more than five people, but they’re saying just stay home unless it’s absolutely essential. I don’t know. Is cereal essential? Is pomegranate/cranberry juice essential? Is lotion for my painfully cracked heels essential? Cat food? If I don’t feed them they might eat me. Raspberry sorbet? If I don’t have something sweet, I will go stir crazier. In some states, liquor stores are closed, but in others gun stores are open. Here, we have alcohol, but the gun stores have been deemed non-essential businesses, for the interim. There doesn’t seem to be much consistency in the decisions about what is essential and what isn’t.

Life on hold. So strange. 11 years ago, I thought retirement was bad. No sense of who I was without my job. Had just gotten divorced two years before that, so no one to live with either. Peaceful at first, but aimless, empty, boring.

So, I got busy, I hiked every week, once, twice or occasionally three times. Up the mountain to the ridge with a hiking group. Hiking along the mountain ridge. Sometimes snowshoeing, sometimes hiking up to the restaurant on top, at 10,400 feet above sea level. Started working for a winery, which was not only hard physical labor, but kept me more social, having to deal with the other workers and the customers. Eventually started working as a background extra in movies. Much later, the winery closed, which was very sad, but I still had the movies. I managed to get a few speaking roles in unpaid local productions. Not ever having had actual training I took a lot of acting workshops at first, and then settled into regular acting classes every week. I’ve been doing that for several years now. Busy, busy, busy. My days were full.

Not so much now. Just before this all happened, I had a callback audition, one of the things every actor hopes for. I would have been interacting with the other person who already has a role in the production, so it’s called a chemistry audition, to see how we work together, but that was postponed, possibly now cancelled. That was quite a letdown. Movie production is halted altogether. Classes are postponed. Hikes are more limited, and, although I can still hike, going out at all is being discouraged. My acting teacher/coach is now having online classes, so I still have class, still have monologues and dialogues to memorize. Less dialogues now, since it’s not set up to be able to watch the other person when I’m speaking, so it’s much harder to interact, and play off of the other person’s emotions and reactions. It had been great to have that interaction, even if, like in actual productions, one has to do the same scene over, and over, and over, etc.

Nothing to do but memorize lines, wait for classes now. I write some, I read a lot. I play solitaire. I watch movies. Recently I decided to order a set of DVDs of the first season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I don’t watch much TV, and avoid TV shows that require me to watch every week. So, I was leery at first. Took me a few weeks to get around to it, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. The show is good. The acting is consistently wonderful. The dialogue is great. When Mrs. Maisel decides to use her talents to be a comedian, she manages to meet the best comedians in New York at the time, including Lenny Bruce.
Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein are brilliant actors. The series is worth watching for them alone. It’s nice to see Tony Shalhoub in there, playing something other than Monk. The writing is consistently good, show to show, and within each show. How wonderful to be able to watch this at my leisure.

So, there are benefits to this isolation. And really, I’m used to it. But part of me wants to be out, hiking up a mountain with a group of happy hikers. Part of me really likes being with other actors in class or on a set. We get to try out parts with each other. Weeks ago, the acting coach had an actor use me as the object of her monologue, and, to get more playful intensity out of her, had her flirt with me, since I was sitting close to her. It did change her monologue. Sounded better. But she was a bit embarrassed. Which is a good thing, because actors must rise out of their comfort zone. I actually liked it a lot. I found the flirting felt real to me. She is a good actor. I actually like her a lot, so I was a little embarrassed, because I think I showed my delight at such a prospect. I wouldn’t mind having her flirt with me. But, anyway, she’s happily married. Such is life. A little bit of excitement for me though.

where-is-waldo

Sure could use some excitement now. It’s not the same online. I don’t even like reading e-books, or watching videos on my computer. I like the feel of a book in my hand, and the practiced way my hands keep the pages moving so I can preview a little ahead all the time, and I hardly notice that I’m reading as a story unfolds. Lots of time for that now. Lots of time to binge watch a TV series, or DVD movies. But I wouldn’t mind having company while I watch. Wouldn’t mind company while I eat. Wouldn’t mind a soft warm body in bed with me at night. Not much substitute for that online. There are limits.

I find myself looking forward to the end of this extreme social isolation. I’m going to take advantage of all social interaction in person that I can get. Maybe I won’t be by myself if this happens again.

Posted in 2020s, current events, eremiticism, Life, My Life, quarantine, rambling | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

HUMANITY GOES VIRAL (a haiku)

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on March 30, 2020

A common focus
This is what real peace looks like
One world together.

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A NOVEL VIRUS

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on March 22, 2020

Virus-World

New
terror inspiring
I keep wondering when this will be over.
Like endless wars and terrorism.
When do they end?
When will we be safe?
I want the world
to stop hating
to stop fighting
to come out
to rejoice
in our common humanity.
How novel.

Posted in 2020s, current events, eremiticism, Life, madness, misanthropy, poem, poetry, Random Thoughts, World | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Transgressive Spoken Words

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on March 20, 2020

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

LOVE POEM

Sometimes love
is unrequited.
Painful.

Sometimes love
just ends.
Painful.

Sometimes you wish
it would end.
Painful.

I want to tell you
about a love that
is always always
there for me.

Bacon.

O, bacon, bāācon,
wrapped around my…………..tongue
how I love you
hot and juicy.

O, bacon, tit–illating bāācon
Let my tongue probe you
taste you, devour you.

O, bacon, flirty bāācon
tempt me
satisfy me
stay with me.

O, bacon, bāācon
in my heart forever.
Oooooh, bacon.

Bacon Star

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She Was a Queen, book review

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on February 7, 2020

Sometimes I mention books in passing, books which set me thinking, or oddly seemed to reflect events in my life. However, this was not the case with this historical novel, She Was a Queen, written in 1936, by Maurice Collis, who lived in Burma for 20 years.

Queen 1

This a really fascinating story. Although it is ostensibly about the last Queen of Burma, it is also a history of Burma in novel form. I learned a great deal about courtly customs and intrigues, religion, cobras, elephants, and their place in that society. About farming, pagodas, and palaces, and ornamentation, and jewels, and royal ostentation.
The most interesting person was Ma Saw, the Queen, a woman far more intelligent and logical than the Kings she lived with, despite her humble non-royal beginnings, or more likely, because of them. With her abilities, she could have been as cunning as any palace courtier, weaving her way through court intrigues and using politics to dominate the court. However, she was not like that, and wished only to protect and nourish her country. A very well-loved royal, but encumbered by foolish kings who lost the kingdom, through their stupidity, arrogance, preening vanity, and a bit of madness. One would hope we have learned from such examples, but I fear we have not. However, this book is a great read for all of that, with drama, dangers, elaborate executions, outside threats, and miracles.

The novel is based on a Burmese history called the Hmannan Yazawin, or Glass Palace Chronicle. The Chronicle dates form 1829, when King Bagyidaw of Burma appointed a committee of scholars to draw up a definitive history of what had happened in Burma from the earliest times to that present day. The scholars produced a book of several volumes, and it is considered to be the official history of Burma, at least as far as what all concerned believed to be the historical truth. The fifth volume concerns the fall of the Pagān (Burmese: ပုဂံခေတ်, pronounced [bəɡàɴ kʰɪʔ]) dynasty. It was translated into English in 1923, and is the basis upon which Maurice Collis – who tapped other people and resources as well while he lived in Burma – created this novel. With a few minor exceptions, the characters, the structure, and the story come straight from the Glass Palace Chronicle.

 

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The One and Only Terry, Not Complaining

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on January 27, 2020

Ivan

I just finished a book, called THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. It’s a children’s story, but I wanted to see what it was about. As I got near the end, my eyes began to feel funny, and as I finished the last line, and turned the page, a tear rolled down my cheek.

Sounds corny, and I know you might not believe me, but if you don’t I might just tear your head off. Ivan wouldn’t do that — he’s a silverback gorilla — but I might. My name’s Terry. I’m a human.

I have a cage too, like Ivan. I can leave it anytime I want, but often I don’t. There are other humans outside my cage. Sometimes, like Ivan, I long to be with others of my kind. Sometimes I do, mostly I don’t. Sometimes I think I’m not like the other humans, especially if I am in my cage too long, as Ivan was. Sometimes I really do enjoy being around other humans, and I act just like them. And I smile, even though I still feel lonely.

Sometimes, in my zoo-cage, I read a book like this one, or watch a movie that makes my eyes tear up, and sometimes tears drip off into my beard. It’s then that I remember what it’s like to be human.

And I remember what it was like to work every day, to live with someone every day, to wake up with them, to eat with them, to watch movies and plays with them, or drink with them, or dance, or travel, or sleep together.

Once in a great while, after two divorces, I found someone to have sex with, and I liked that a lot. And doing things to each other that made ourselves feel fantastic. And I liked the sleeping together the most, the warm body next to me, the feel of skin against skin. Me, making breakfast for us. Eating together. Watching TV, or going out to a movie, or eating in a restaurant together. Or sex in the big overstuffed chair, or in the kitchen, or in the car in a parking lot. But mostly I liked the touchings, the sittings next to each other, or the cuddlings in bed before the most restful sleeps I can have, luxuriating in the warmth and skin of another.

It seems all that is over now. Age creeps in. Habits overtake. The mind slips sometimes — it’s so much harder to write now. Misspelling things a lot, switching letters around, leaving letters out, forgetting words I used to know, having to use a machine to look up spellings and meanings, and not noticing my mistakes sometimes until the second or third read. But I majored in English, and I read every day. Sometimes, no matter how much I liked a book, I forget what it was about. I used to be able to remember whole paragraphs from a book, and where in the book to find a sentence or scene.

And the body is slipping away slowly too. The erratic peeing, sometimes strong and steady, sometimes painfully urgent, sometimes in fits and drips. The heart that almost failed me once. The pills I take. THE ANKLE. The ankle I turned sideways stepping off a curb in August! I hike in the mountains, climbing hills, and stepping on and over large rocks, and running downhill without falling on the loose scree. But for some reason I stretched out and twisted the fuck out of my ankle, months ago, stepping off a curb. It’s much better now, but not entirely healed, which makes me feel less whole. And weaker. And I don’t like that feeling. The pain of the fall was unlike anything I’d ever felt:

— worse then the time I rounded a curve too fast on my motorcycle, and fell in the gravel on the side of the road with my right arm out. That didn’t hurt till later, but it took a year to heal, and I was in my early thirties then.

— worse than the time a car ran into me while I was crossing a street at night, and it pushed me half a block down the street while I was still standing, until the driver noticed me and slammed on the brakes, which slammed me against the asphalt.

— worse than the time a car hit me on my bicycle, sending me flying and crumpling the bike frame under its wheels, or the time a car knocked me off my bicycle, tearing the left pedal completely off, and leaving me with a huge multicolored bruise on my hips and ass.

— worse than the two times I totaled my motorcycles running into vehicles, or the time a car rounded a corner directly into my car head on, and my brain bounced badly off my skull.

No, stepping off that curb did something to my ankle I’d never felt before, sent shooting pain up my leg directly to my brain, and my mouth opened as it went by, and I screamed out loud — something I’d never done before — and when I fell, I pulled on the same nerves, tendons, muscles and ligaments, and I screamed again. But that sharp pain went away immediately after each of those. But there was pain still. Five months ago. But even after wearing a stabilizing boot for two months, and then an ankle wrap, I still feel the changes in my ankle, the not rightness of it. X-rays show a tiny bone chip fracture, but can’t show soft tissue damage. Can’t have an MRI unless I see a physical therapist eight days from now. But I don’t know how much of that the insurance will cover.

See what I mean? Yeah, sure, I have all of my limbs and digits and both eyes and ears, but I don’t like this feeling of gradual decay. I really liked the bicycling, the running through streams over wet, slippery rocks, hiking up a mountain until my lungs felt empty, hiking twenty six miles along the crest of a mountain. I still hike, sure, but there’s a bit of insecurity creeping in. Can I jump off this rock? Can I leap across that sliver of a stream? Or step off that curb? Can I still bicycle a hundred miles?

NOW, DON’T GET ME WRONG – I’M NOT COMPLAINING. It’s good to feel pain, to know I’m alive. It’s good to be alive, to feel the sun, wind, rain and snow on my skin. It’s good to taste food, good coffee, or a glass of good wine. To listen to music, to hang out with people at a play or on a movie set. I still enjoy reading and writing.

It’s very, very good to feel real love for another person, and I do. Love is love.

There are friends I see. Pool games to play. Poetry to listen to or recite. People that I meet. People to talk with. But, sometimes, I still wish for sex, or for just that gentle touch of lips on mine, or the feeling of skin on my skin, or just a touch to my face or a hand in my hand.

But, it’s unlikely. I have a cage around me. Not just the house, but the one in my mind. I don’t trust people any more. I say odd things sometimes. I scare people. I’m leery of strangers I don’t love. But I know I have to spend lots of time with people to get to know them, or love them. And yet, I stay in my cages, and wish I wasn’t so alone in them.

Sometimes.

Posted in eremiticism, health, Life, love, madness, misanthropy, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, sex, Writing | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Isla in a Sea of Sand (part 2)

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on January 22, 2020

Part Two: Guilt, Consequences and Separation

Isla drove me back to the sag wagon later on. The rest of the bicycle group was off doing other things. Our fearless leader 1976 image_ on this cross-country bicycle trip, Nancy, saw this trip’s purpose primarily as networking. She wanted to help connect with all sorts of active people around the country, trading information and distributing contact information. So any chance she had she was talking to people, interviewing them, picking up more books and literature. Peaceful change was her goal, and not far from what I had worked for myself. Beside my participation in antiwar marches, lobbying, and organizing, I had spent years volunteering with a free medical clinic in Baltimore, Maryland, the city of my birth. The Clinic had been started by anti-war activists, a local chapter of the Black Panthers, and free-school teachers, among others, including some doctors.

Nancy herself had not actually been involved in all those kind of activities in the late 60s and early 70s. She was an exchange student in Italy for a year (1961-62), graduated from Brown University in 1966, and then spent two years in the Peace Corps in Colombia, SA. Then she spent four years in Japan (1971-75). The trip was actually a way for her to find out what was going on in the U.S. in 1976. And she was writing a book about the trip. I never read it, but it was published, in Japan, and I don’t read Japanese. At any rate, at the time, we were nearing the end of our stay in Albuquerque, heading north to Los Alamos, and Taos, Cimarron, and Raton, before angling east towards Kansas. And there was Isla to consider. We were standing there, next to the MG, trying to say goodnight, when a pickup screeched to a halt just a few feet away. Isla had already made me promise not to say anything to Carl, to leave that up to her, when there he was. He jumped out of the truck, stepped right up to me and roared into my face, “Are you screwing my wife?” Well, how to answer that? Isla had just told me not to tell him anything, that she needed to have that conversation with him. I was torn between a guilty expectation that I was about to get a beating that I deserved, and doing as Isla had asked. I said, “I had wanted to,” meaning nothing, but hopefully implying that I’d only thought about it. He yelled back, “What the hell does that mean?” I had no answer. Isla intervened, took him aside, and they both drove away together. That left me free to help prepare a meal for the group and then get caught up on what everyone had been doing. Some had been getting clothes washed, and getting food for the road. We would be leaving next day. Nancy left me alone, which was good, because I didn’t want to try to explain what I’d gotten myself into.

In the morning, there was Isla again. She’d brought my bedroll with her. She told me she had told Carl what had happened, and he would be leaving. She took me with her. I thought we might be going back to that same house where we’d had our tryst, but we went somewhere else. Another friend of Isla’s had told her she could use it. He was the owner of the local art house movie theater. We looked through his record collection, and the only thing I remember listening to was Jerry Jeff Walker, something Isla liked a lot. I don’t remember if we sat on a chair or a sofa, but we were kissing, and taking clothes off, and, something was wrong. That urgency was gone, that overpowering desire had evaporated. Guilt. I felt bad about Carl. I didn’t want to come between a married couple again. Isla have been married to Carl for six years. They’d served in the Peace Corps together. We were ashamed. Our Catholic brainwashing had kicked in. It was as if we’d sinned, but neither of us was religious anymore. We talked for so long I lost track of time. We said goodbye there. I gave her our itinerary, and told her she could send me mail via General Delivery. I really never expected to see her again.

I rode over to the sag wagon, but it was gone. Holy crap! Well, I knew where they were going, so I hit the road. I knew I could catch up to them. On the way, I overtook Darla, a woman who had just joined our group in Socorro, NM two weeks earlier. We had stopped there for a couple days. She had also left late, so we rode together. She was very happy to see me, as she hadn’t really wanted to travel alone. We were desperate to reconnect with the group, although it wasn’t unusual for any of us to travel at our own pace. After a couple hours of riding, we were well away from Albuquerque, heading north, when it suddenly clouded up, and sure enough the sky opened up. We saw what looked like an old farm and ran for a low shed. It had probably been used for chickens at one point, but it was ours now. We were wet, and well, once we got our wet clothes off we put our bedrolls together. Huddling together for warmth seemed like a good idea, but it didn’t take us long to start fucking. In this little low-roofed shed, while the storm thundered above, lightning flashed, and the rain poured. We slept there till daybreak. The rain hadn’t lasted long, but we hadn’t really noticed. We had slept curled up around each other.

Caught up with the group later on and had dinner with them in Santa Fe. We’d be on our way to Los Alamos the next day. Slept with Darla that night. This was looking like it would work out great to have a bed partner in the group. We took the standard tour of the visitor center at Los Alamos, saw replicas of the atomic bombs Little Boy and Fat Man that the U.S. had dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Listened to a talk given there, and watched a short film about the making of the bombs, and the testing at Trinity Site. Of course, Darla and I shared our bedrolls again. In the morning, we all headed to Taos to visit the New Buffalo Commune.

New Buffalo New Buffalo, one of the largest and well-known communes, was an interesting place. Farming, and self sufficiency were the norm there. There was music, and basic, plain food. We actually found ourselves criticized for not living a lifestyle like theirs. We had two writers with us, Nancy, and also Rick from San Francisco, which is where the bike group had left from. The folks at New Buffalo felt they were committed to a lifestyle that would change the world, whereas we were just tourists, getting paid to write. I thought that was a bit unfair, and personally, I felt that the people at New Buffalo were just dropouts, too far removed from society to change it. In the Easy Rider film, Peter Fonda’s character had said he thought they could make it. Dennis Hopper’s character didn’t think so. Hopper himself hung out in Taos. New Buffalo’s lifestyle was very laid back, but people had been leaving it for some time. The remainder were a bit fanatic. I wanted to see our culture change too, to see us go from a country that always seemed to be fighting somewhere around the globe, threatening to destroy the entire planet with our nuclear weapons, and polluting not only rivers and streams, but oceans and the very air we breathed. You couldn’t escape that by living out of the way and off the grid. Nice for them, but wouldn’t change a thing. It was strange to argue with people whom I’d thought were much like me, but they were too fanatical to think there was any other way but theirs. Although the commune had been founded 9 years earlier, we had to use corn cobs to wipe our butts in the outhouse. They weren’t just trying to reduce paper waste; they wanted to use the outhouse sludge on their crops. I was trying to survive too, but looking for actual ways to restructure society to benefit all. I had a more political bent, from my anti-war activities, and my experiences helping to provide community health care with the goal of universal health care. I didn’t enjoy my time at  New Buffalo, so I was happy to get on up the road the next day.

We didn’t have far to go. Only 17 miles north of Taos is the Lama Foundation, a spiritual community, oddly patterned very closely on the lifestyles outlined in the books and literature we carried with us. Lama Foundation Dome It was one of the most well known communes in the area at the time, and one of the few left now. New Buffalo is now a B&B. This was the first time I’d ever seen an outhouse designed for two people to use at the same time, but that wasn’t the oddest thing. The shit holes had been designed low to the ground with painted shoe prints on either side of the holes. Apparently it is considered better for people to shit crouched down like that. At the time, I had no idea this was common in other countries. I liked this place much better than New Buffalo. The people seemed almost beatifically happy. They had small cottage industries going, and reached out to people in Taos, Santa Fe, and native communities as well. Such a difference from the grungy drop-outs at New Buffalo! There was a lot to see around the Lama commune, and we were welcome guests. Nancy was in heaven, interviewing people. People there were not critical of others, and did their best to demonstrate a better way of life. The food was much better there too, but I didn’t stay long. A green MG drove up. It was Isla, from Albuquerque. She’d come to see me, but really she wanted me to go back to Albuquerque with her. She asked me to just come back for two weeks, so we could get to know each other. I agreed. I told Darla I was leaving for a couple weeks. She didn’t seem entirely happy about that, but we barely knew each other either. On the drive back to Albuquerque, with my bicycle strapped across the back of the little car, Isla told me she and Carl had never wanted to have children, or rather that she hadn’t wanted to have children. I think Carl was the type to want children. He really was a nice guy. Guilt. Guilt.

But then, Isla laid the bombshell on me. She said she wanted to have a child with me! I didn’t know what to say. I had read The Population Bomb in high school, and had resolved never to add any more kids to the world, especially in a country that used more resources per person than anywhere else on the planet. But, with Isla smiling at me, waiting for my response, I felt loved, wanted, and it made me happy. We would build a house together, maybe renovate an old adobe, and we would have a child. Actually we’d have to have two, because I could not see having a child grow up without a sibling. I’d grown up with six. We smiled all the way back to Albuquerque, happy as we could possibly be. Carl had left town. I stayed with Isla in their house. A curious neighbor asked me who I was. I said I was a friend of theirs. I wouldn’t find out who he was until much later. I was clueless.

It was a joyful time. We were in love. We cuddled all the time. She showed me how to make chile rellenos. We talked a lot, made plans for the future. But, although we would be together, I wanted to finish the bicycle tour. It was the adventure of a lifetime, and I knew I’d come back. Isla asked me to move to Albuquerque for a year. If I did that, she would go with me anywhere I wanted , if I didn’t want to stay.  I promised. She knew I’d come back. After two weeks, we said our good-byes, and she packed some food for me for the road. Burritos, sandwiches, and a few chile rellenos. Relleno

It was a good thing she did, because I had a long ride ahead of me and the group was already in Kansas.

Posted in 1970s, Bicycling, Life, My Life, relationships, sex, Travel | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

LEARNING LESSONS, 50 Years Ago

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on January 16, 2020

Yearbook photo 1969

May, 1969

After he burst into my room
Sue jumped up, split that scene
down the fire escape out back
– back to her car.

It was Thanksgiving, 1969.

Earlier
We’d gone to her parents’ home
rich suburban house
ate turkey on fine china
drank champagne from crystal.
Got asked about my career plans.

After pie, we left
Sue said, “We’re going to a play,”
but drove me home
in her Plymouth Valiant.

We sat on the bed in my room
Door closed.
We wanted privacy
never knew if the roommate
would
interrupt us.

Nashville Skyline, Bob Dylan
“To Be Alone With You”
on the portable stereo –
suitcase style record player.

Kissing, touching –
asking ourselves
“Should we?”
Sideways on the bed
bodies welded together
18-year-old virgins.

So cozy, so happy
hormones pumping
tickling tongues
warming each others’ bodies
in our own little world.

The door burst open
roommate says, “Hi guys.
“What’s happening?”
— Asshole.

Sue jumped up
buttoned her blouse
and she was gone –
She. was. gone!

I was pissed –
not at her
at him –
Mr. Annoying.

“What happened,” he said
melodrama leaking out of his face
inches from mine
“Did I scare cutie-pie away? I’m sorry.”
“You know you did, and you’re not.”
“She leave you all horny?
“I can fix that.”
I said, “Fuck you, asshole.”
“Ooh, I’d like that,” he said,
“I like assholes, don’t you?
“Does your little girl like it in the ass?”
“Huh, huh, huh?”

I said, “SHUT UP.
“Stay the hell out of my life,”
and
“ Don’t come in my room again.”

“No,” he said.
“This is my place.
“I found it, I paid the deposit.
“I invited you to share it.
“I’ll come in anytime I want
“In fact, I think I’ll come in now.”

He jumped towards me
grabbed me.
I pushed him off, hit him.
Violence is rarely the answer.
But, sometimes –

Like the day my dad hit me
one last time, years ago
slapping my head
back and forth
back and forth
back and forth.

I pushed Dad
with all my strength
knocked him down
wanted to kill him
fortunately,
he was stronger.

Dad smiled at me
he’d always told me
to stand up to my bullies
he never hit me again.

Lesson learned.

Instinctive reaction later
punching my roommate.
For a big man
he went down fast.

Crouched in a ball
whimpering:
“Mommy Mommy.”
I backed off, shocked.
I remembered then how

years earlier
he’d been raped in the shower
by high school bullies
rapists are cowards.

Lesson learned.

In the aftermath, he left.
Said he was going for the cops
– to charge me with assault.
Came back much later – no cops.
“Changed my mind,” he said.

Said he just drove around
picked somebody up,
“I like those young boys
“That long blond hair.
“We had a great time.”

“Where?” I said, a little shocked.
“In my car. Why do you think I have a big car?”
“Your parents bought it for you.” I said.
Grinning like a maniac, he said
“O, but I picked it out.”

He stuck his face in mine
“Why didn’t your parents give you one?”
“Because they don’t have any money.”
“You need money? I got money.” he said.
“I’ll give you what I gave him –
“More, if you want.”
Shocked again, I sputtered:
“You – you paid him?”
“Of course,” he said,
ugly leer on his round face
skinny mustache twitching.

I found my own place
Minimum-wage room: no kitchen.
Ate sandwiches
and fruit in jars.

Lesson learned.

The last time I saw Sue
her grandmother’s house
on the lawn
her drunken father
attacked me
grabbed my bushy hair
called me a hippie
dragged me to the ground
I wanted to hit him
but
he was Sue’s father
I couldn’t do that – to her.

Sue intervened
her father let me go
his mother pulled him away,
“Don’t make a scene.”
But, before he disappeared inside
he bellowed at me:
“Get off my property.”

Lesson learned.

Sue sent me a letter
Nude drawing of herself
in chains
”Look at me,” she wrote
“18, naive and vulnerable.”

There was a quote:
“All I want from living
is to have no chains on me.”
– lyrics, from Blood, Sweat & Tears,
My own vinyl, appropriately.

Lesson learned.

Sue’s words stuck in my head
“You are too serious,
“I don’t want to be tied down.
“It’s for the best.
and, “We are too different.”
No shit.
Me, working all day, school at night
Her, private school.

Lessons learned:
Live by yourself.
Avoid the bourgeoisie.
Stay celibate.
Trust no one.

 

Posted in 1970s, eremiticism, In front of the camera, Life, My Life, poem | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Photos 3: Another Day, Another Ditch

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on December 29, 2019

12/28/19. Rode my motorcycle to the village of Corrales. It was an amazingly cold day. There were Canadian Geese galore in the sky, and a few on the ground. Passed a few small flocks of Sandhill Cranes on my way to Corrales, but have enough photos of them already. Hiked along the ditches and the river in Corrales for three hours. I liked watching the geese circle. I did capture one solitary Sandhill Crane in flight. It’s rained a bit lately, and there was a bit of light snow falling, so there was much mud to slosh through. Saw a lot of saltcedar (Tamarisk) by the Rio Grande. It’s an invasive species from dry regions of Eurasia and Africa. The generic name originated in Latin and may refer to the Tamaris River in Hispania Tarraconensis (one of three Roman provinces in Hispania). It encompassed much of the Mediterranean coast of modern Spain along with the central plateau, but the beautiful orange/red is quite a contrast to the winter landscape. Afterwards, I ate at Hannah and Nate’s in Corrales. Good food, and I know I am dating myself, and it is wrong these days for men to comment on a woman’s looks, but the young wait staff were not only quick and competent, but all were also amazingly pretty. Really. Sorry, no photos.

But here are the photos I took of the birds and landscape and river. Click on one to view full sized, and use the arrows to scroll through them all at that size, if you’d like.

 

Posted in hiking, photography | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Photos 2: the Pino Trail

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on December 29, 2019

Hiked up a trail in the Sandia Mountains on Christmas Eve. Very overcast day. Some snow flurries, and a soft rain after a few hours. Hiked to 9200 feet above seal level. Tired afterwards, but I had a potluck dinner to attend with friends, and I had a casserole to cook, and no time to waste on a nap my body craved. Watched the Star Wars movie Solo after dinner. A very good day overall.

 

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Photos 1: Ditch Walking

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on December 29, 2019

Went walking along the ditches north of my neighborhood recently (the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque). It was December 22, so there were some festive sights. There were also huge, thick cottonwoods, and big expansive views of the mountain, and expensive homes mixed in with farms and horses, sheep and llamas. Throughout, there were migrating Canadian Geese and Sandhill Cranes. So, this post is one of three that is going to feature photos, some from this walk, some from a hike in the mountains, and some from another walk through ditches even further north of this area (Corrales).

The Mountain

Click on any photo below to view full size. Then use the arrows to scroll through.

One more:

Geese pan

Posted in Christmas, hiking, photography | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Dreams Excite Me

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on December 23, 2019

Dreamer
She said: “OK, but the nature of our relationship has to stay the same.” I asked her: “What is the nature of our relationship?” After a slight pause, she said: “Not a member of the public.” The slight pause meant she had not considered this before, but right now, she had. Her face was all smile, but with a hint of serious. That’s what happens when you begin a relationship with an intellectual. I liked her answer. I certainly wanted to be more than just a member of an adoring public with her. She meant that we could be closer, but at the same time private, and what we said or did would be: “not for publication”.

I was fine with that. She is an aphrodisiac, but more than that. She radiates self confidence, which is amatory in itself. As an educator, a writer, and a television host, she is clearly a woman of power, strong willed, and independent. She says what she thinks, even it is shocks people’s quaint notions of propriety. Her temperament is animated. With a radiant smile on her face, she can still confront, denounce, or impeach. With that same smile, she can also dynamize others, spur them into agreement with her, foment rebellion, and encourage.

She is all that. I am certainly enamored of her. Sometimes there is a hint of warmth in her voice when she speaks to me. That’s just the way she is, but I often imagined there could be more between us: an intimacy. Once, as we conversed in a public gathering, a friend of hers approached. She introduced her to me, but not me to her. So, her friend immediately asked, “And who is this?” meaning, perhaps, who is this man to you? I think she sensed that meaning, and she had to search her mind for a moment, before she told her friend my name, and added, “He’s a poet.” For after all, no one would question further why a poet would know another poet, so no more needed to be said.

But now, in this moment, as we touched, in fun, paused on the brink of some — thing, something else, something more? … Well — I was excited.

Posted in Dreams, fiction, friends, Life | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

On Impeachment

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on December 15, 2019

Impeachment It’s hard to steady my emotions, order my thoughts on this topic. I have great respect for the USA’s system of government, for free and fair elections, for equal rights under the law for every citizen. But I see that under attack in the USA. We have Republicans who wish the make the entire USA over into their own brand of idealistic political and economic purity. We have a President who leaped onto that ideological bandwagon, and used it as a bully pulpit to whip up – not support for his election campaign – but support for himself, for his own ego, for his own aggrandizement. Surprisingly, he won. He was able to tap into the movement of people dissatisfied with all government, any government, with male supremacists who believe women should not govern, with racial supremacists who hounded President Obama because it upset their view of the a society by, of and for white-skinned people, largely of European descent. He was able to tap into the mindset of Nazis who spew hatred of ethnic, racial and religious groups. He was able to tap into the mindset of paramilitary militia types who believe they, and only they know what is best for this country, and are stockpiling weapons for the ultimate fight against their enemies – other citizens of the USA who don’t look like them, speak like them or act like them. When the citizens of Virginia found themselves challenged by Unite the Right, a white supremacist, neo-Nazi rally that was conducted in Charlottesville, Virginia from August 11 to 12, 2017, they responded with a protest of their own. The participants in the Unite the Right rally were members of the far-right and included self-identified members of the alt-right, neo-Confederates, neo-fascists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and various right-wing militias. They chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans, carried weapons, Nazi and neo-Nazi symbols, Confederate Battle Flags, as well as flags and other symbols of various past and present anti-Muslim and antisemitic groups. The organizers’ stated goals included unifying the American white nationalist movement. The violence that broke out was predictable. However, President Trump stated, “You also had some very fine people on both sides.”

Now, Trump attempted to backpedal from the statement, insisting that he only meant the people who were there to oppose the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue. However, this was just a pretext for the far right to hold a rally. Unite the Right was explicitly organized and branded as a far-right, racist, and white supremacist event by far-right racist white supremacists. This was clear for months before the march actually occurred. In fact, the chair of the Charlottesville Republican Party released a statement in May, saying, “Whoever these people were, the intolerance and hatred they seek to promote is utterly disgusting and disturbing beyond words.” This is one of the posters used to promote the event:

Chalottsville

Here are some of those very fine people:

Police affidavit on the “Unite the Right” attendees:
• 150+ Alt Knights
• 250-500 Klu Klux Klan
• 500 “3% Risen”
• 200-300 Militia

Image  Image

So, Trump gets a pass on his remarks, because he claims he was only referring to the people who wanted to keep the statue of Robert E. Lee. There was no mistaking what the the rally was about, despite the pretext of keeping a statue. So this President was either supremely ignorant, self-blind to who both the police and the Republican Chair said they were, or simply unwilling to antagonize people who might be his supporters. He went on to say: “I am not putting anybody on a moral plane, what I’m saying is this: you had a group on one side and a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch, but there is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call them the left. You’ve just called them the left, that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.” So he blamed the violence on the left, which is one of the words he uses to describe Democrats in Congress.

And during that same press conference, Trump added this:

No, no. There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly, the taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee. I’m sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad people, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call ’em. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest, because you know, I don’t know if you know, but they had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit. So I only tell you this: there are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country.

“…two sides to the country.” Really, Trump? And everyone is on one side or the other?

“The night before” is referring to the Friday night torch-lit rally of August 11, where more than 200 attendees held tiki torches on the campus of the University of Virginia and chanted “Jews will not replace us” and “Blood and soil.” Whatever this event may have been, it was certainly not “people protesting very quietly.” Anti Semites are not very fine people.

 

In short, Unite the Right was organized not by individuals who, in Trump’s words, “felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee,” but by ardent white supremacists and white nationalists. On multiple occasions before Unite the Right, attendees stated that the Confederate memorial that was supposedly their purpose was actually the least of their concerns. We have their statements, their videos, their posters, and their words. We also have the transcript and video of how Trump responded. He did, indeed, refer to the people who attended Unite the Right, people who were well aware of and supportive of its messaging, as “very fine people,” and he downplayed the tiki torch parade as “people protesting very quietly.” Yeah, people shouting “Jews will not replace us”. Trumps has said that Jews are loyal to Israel. When he spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition he referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as “your prime minister.”

Trump’s executive order, saying that anti-Semitism is covered under civil rights laws that ban discrimination based on national origin, appears targeted at students protesting the actions of the Israeli government, not white supremacists. For example, anti-Semitism will now include criticism of Israel, so students could not compare contemporary Israeli policy with respect to Palestinians, to that of the Nazis with respect to Jews. Article.

Trump played into the hands of the organizers of this rally, not very fine people, but neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and white supremacists, and everyone, except for Trump, seems to know that. But his cluelessness may not be enough reason to get rid of Trump. We have all heard the indictments of Trump for soliciting dirt on his political opponents in exchange for monetary aid. That violates our very Constitution, the supreme law of this land. Before that even came out, Trump openly called for Russia to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton. The Russian internet trolls, whether or not they were aided or supported by Putin, responded, giving him what he asked for, even though it was all fake news. Since when do we allow an officer of the United States government to do that?

As President, although Trump represents the United States to the world, he violates his oath of office, he tramples on the Constitution, saying in the past, for example, that its Emoluments clause is hurting him financially.

More recently, speaking to reporters in the White House Cabinet Room, Trump dismissed as “phony” a section of the Constitution that bars federal office holders from accepting profits, or accepting gifts from foreign governments.

“You people with this phony Emoluments Clause,” he said.

President Donald Trump rejected suggestions that hosting the G-7 summit of world leaders at his resort in Doral, Florida, would have run afoul of the U.S. Constitution. He finally pulled that property out of consideration, after bipartisan criticism of his plan.

 

The President works for us, and can be removed at any time: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” It doesn’t have to be treason. Trading aid money for dope on his political rivals is bribery. Whether or not any high crimes (violations of the oath of office) were committed by the President is not the only reason for impeachment. Misdemeanors could include minor things like nepotism, which Trump is obviously guilty of. Federal law (Title 5, section 3110) generally prohibits a federal official, including a Member of Congress, from appointing, promoting, or recommending for appointment or promotion any “relative” of the official to any agency or department over which the official exercises authority or control.

Not being able to remove a President from office takes away from the very idea of “Government of the people, by the people and for the people,” which is what this country is all about, so I’d be unhappy if we cannot do that. Trump’s removal wouldn’t make me happy, but it would satisfy me that power does indeed rest with the citizens of this country, not high officials like a President. If Presidents abuse their office, they are abusing us, so it is not prudent to allow such behavior until the next election.

I can envision a scenario in which Trump whips his supporters into such a frenzy, as he does at his “rallies” that people start wearing uniforms with red MAGA hats, and marching in formation to protect him, not the country, but him in particular. And we have seen this kind of behavior before. Adolph Hitler traveled around Germany, spewing propaganda, stirring up violence and racial hatred. His supporters attacked Jews, political opponents, German communists, gays, and gypsies. He didn’t have to do anything more than spread lies, and rumors, using it as propaganda in service of his plans for invasions of other countries. Hitler also promised to improve the economy of his country, but his war spending impoverished them, just a Trump will do if he tries to extend the pre-existing wall at the southern US border. What enemies will this Trump army attack? Not actual enemies of the United Sates of America, but other citizens, our own people, for, as Trump sees anyone who opposes him, they are the enemy. Trump is openly calling for civil war if he is impeached? Is that not reason enough to impeach him, now, before it is too late?

Because of Trump’s use of Mexicans as scapegoats, we hear that about 350,000 illegal immigrants voted in the last election, something no research can prove. It is a lie, along the very lines of the “Big Lies” that Hitler told, where you just keep repeating a lie over and over until so many people have heard it they take it as truth, and people are believing it.This fuels the various groups who believe Jews, Mexicans and anyone with brown skin wants to replace the “whites”.

I have also been asked, as a citizen of New Mexico, am I ashamed of having Mexico in the state’s name. Notwithstanding that New Mexico was so named about 250 years before there was a Mexico, this type of thinking comes directly from Trump’s denouncing Mexicans as rapists and murderers, which is like saying that mass shootings in the USA mean that we are all, all of us, mass murderers. I have been asked why we don’t change the name of our state, and it is even suggested that the Federal Government should require us to change the name of our state. This is Trump’s doing. He villainizes Mexicans – illegal or legal immigrants – in the exact same way as Hitler villainized Jews, which resulted in an attempt to exterminate all Jews.

Why is this traitor to the values and ethics of all that this country stands for still in office?

Posted in current events, Human rights, madness, opinion, politics, rants | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Contemplating Death Again

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on November 27, 2019

skullOver six years ago I had a heart attack. Too much plaque in the heart artery that feeds the heart muscle itself. Problems for some time before that, something I attributed – as did my doctor – to a recurrence of my childhood asthma. Overtired on exertion, falling way behind on hikes up the mountain. Getting weaker instead of stronger. I’ve climbed up the Sandia-Manzano mountains. Sandia Crest is at 10,679 feet above sea level. Manzano Peak is at 10,098 feet. I’ve climbed in the San Mateo Mountains, specifically to the highest point, up Mt. Taylor, to 11,306 feet, and I’ve snowshoed Mt. Taylor several times. Also climbed to the nearby La Mosca lookout tower at 11,036 ft. I’ve climbed Mount Baldy, at 10,783 feet, in the Magdalena Mountains. I’ve hiked in the Jemez mountains, including snowshoeing in the Valles Caldera. At 11,253 feet in elevation, the volcanic caldera is 13-miles wide. I’ve hiked and snowshoed often in New Mexico’s mountains. 010716 SandiaCrest (8)  122211 (15)  122111 (16)

After the heart attack, not as much. I still hike, usually once a week, sometimes two times a week. Sometimes I hike a fair distance, sometimes I hike really fast for just 70 to 90 minutes, a cardio hike. I figure I’m in good enough shape for my age. My knees never bother me. Since I had the angioplasty and stent placement 6 years ago, I’ve been good. No sign of any heart problems, but you never know.

Of late, I’ve noticed myself falling behind the others I hike with, and being very winded at times, more than usual. I’m sleepy often throughout the day. I used to catnap for 15 or 20 minutes, and be completely refreshed. Often I try that now, and sleep for an hour or two. I have no trouble sleeping through the night.

But, but, but. Today, after I’d taken another short nap, I awoke to a small sharp pain in the chest, just right of center. I researched it, and it’s likely not a heart attack, but it could be leading up to one. Possibly it’s angina, a symptom of heart disease. or it could have been a spasm. Either of those can occur during sleep, and generally last 5 to 15 minutes. This one lasted two to three hours. Took some Advil and then some aspirin.

The more likely cause is a blood clot traveling to my lungs, as I had none of the heart attack symptoms I’d experienced before, nor any of the other classic symptoms. The reason for this could be that I badly sprained my right ankle a month ago. A lot of blood clotted around it, giving me bruises all around the ankle and even between my toes. I’ve been wearing a stabilizing boot since then. There is also a small (3mm) chip fracture on the talus bone of my ankle. I can walk fine with or without the boot, but the doc gave me two more weeks to keep wearing the boot. I hate it. But, it could be that the ankle injury is the source of a blood clot, if that’s what it was. Painful anyway. The pain is gone now, but it could come back. I don’t know what caused it.

I was supposed to have had a checkup with my cardiologist two weeks ago. Arrived 20 minutes early for a 3:45pm appointment. Checked in and waited. And waited. The few people there all got called in. I waited. More people showed up until there was quite a crowd. There are a lot of doctors there. At 3:45, a tall healthy-looking man checked in, saying he had a 4:00pm appointment with my doctor. He was called shortly. I waited. About 10 minutes later, I got called to the examining room, to have my vital signs read. I told the woman taking them about experiencing weakness, and sleepiness as before my heart attack six years ago. She left, said the doctor would be in shortly.

I sat there, unhappy. The reason I’d come early was hoping to get out by 4:15, as I had an important commitment at 5pm. As I sat, I could hear my doctor’s voice next door, with the man I’d seen come in 20 minutes after me. I waited. But, by 4:30, I had to leave, and I stopped at the reception desk to tell them I was leaving. Never heard back.

Now this sudden pain. I thought about making another appointment, but never got around to it. I could die any time, so I figured I’d get an online will started while I still could. Such a strange thing it is to contemplate a will!

I rent, so I have no property to leave behind. I have only the money in the bank that comes in and goes out every month. I save, but things always come up to spend it on, necessary things, like repairs to my aging car and much older motorcycle. Sometimes I have to travel to family events, and none of them live nearby. Anyway, I have little in the way of tangible assets. But, there are things I’d like to leave to family. I have way too many things, like music CDs and vinyl albums. Tons of books. Some paintings, but mostly prints. A few coins. Not really a whole lot, but I’ve been to enough estate sales to know what happens to all the stuff you think is worth something. It’s all junk, sold cheap. Some things can be worth a goodly amount, but no one knows, unless someone hires a professional appraiser. But few family ever do that, unless the deceased was extremely wealthy. As it happens, I am not. Wealthy. Or deceased, as yet.

But it sure got me thinking about who I could give my things away too. So much of it has little enough financial worth. I thought about who might enjoy this small sculpture, or that old painting, or the coins, or a keepsake from the winery I worked at for eight years before it closed. Some things I’d like to have go to family who would appreciate it. I have too much stuff, sure, and much of it can be sold off at an estate sale for whatever they can get; that’s fine. Sitting here for hours today while the pain subsided, deciding who should get what, and not wanting to slight anyone, but not having so much to give everyone something, even if they actually would want it. 1st world problems. And yet, I’d like family members I love to know I was thinking about them. I like to make people smile, especially those I love. My estate, what a joke. Cheap material goods.

What was my life? Flipping burgers. High school diploma. Working in a college physics lab, measuring x-ray wavelengths and spaces between atoms in silicon crystals, a useful thing to know later on for computer technology. But I left that lab before the computer chip revolution hit. Spent years traveling, working for a carnival, a bronze foundry. Settled down in another state 1,675 miles away as the crow flies, but I rode my bicycle there over countless miles. Poured concrete, laid concrete block, installed park benches and steel doors. Treasurer of my union local. Finally got a job back in the sciences, giving tumors to rats, and treating them with chemotherapy drugs and x-rays. I did continue in Cancer Research a bit, then worked Quality Control at a printed circuit board company for three years. Finally went back and got another job at a medical school working first with mice, and their immune system proteins, then with research machines.

I took night school classes for years until I finally got a Bachelors of Arts college degree, a dual major of English (Creative Writing) and Distributed Sciences. I had studied a lot of sciences over the years, but not enough in any one field to get a diploma in it, not even a Bachelors of Science. Never did much with the writing part of my education, but I ended up making synthetic proteins for medical research, and synthetic DNA and RNA as well later on. I could also sequence proteins, or DNA, or analyze the amino acid content of proteins, or purify proteins and DNA. I ran a lab, balanced my budget, kept database records, worked independently. Finally retired with a small pension. Then I made wine for eight years at a small winery until the vintner died, and we had to close the winery. Now I take acting lessons, hike in the mountains, work occasionally as a background actor on movies and TV shows. Still hoping to land a good speaking role, one that brings me recognition, something to show that my life had meaning.

Yeah, I had lovers as I traveled, and met someone I wanted to spend my life with, but all I got was a bit less than two years with her. Married sometime later to a great woman, but after seven years that was over too. Two stepkids I never got to spend time with again. Then I married again. Two more stepkids. That 14-year relationship was fun, but ran out of steam and died. However, I did realize that I loved my stepdaughter when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately we’ve been able to stay connected, even making wine together for those eight years at the winery. She survived after surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and more chemo. How strange to find those chemicals and x-rays I used on rats used successfully on a human being I loved.

So perhaps I did accomplish something significant after all, Perhaps my work on x-rays in silicon and germanium crystals helped create the computers to run those fancy treatment machines. Perhaps the work I did on rats helped establish correct dosages of chemotherapy drugs and x-rays. Perhaps my work helping calibrate x-ray wavelengths helped doctors calculate just how much energy was necessary to kill a tumor and not the person. All the people that work in science, even those that just run the machines, and conduct the experimental protocols, contribute, each in our own small way, to a much greater good.

And, goddamnit, my step daughter is alive and healthy. And I love her. I finally learned that love is when you truly care about someone, about their happiness, and not just your own. Love is not about having another person. It’s about loving, without expecting anything in return. That’s what I think. If I’m still alive tomorrow morning, I’m going to call the doctor’s office, get in there as soon as possible, and do what it takes to stay alive. Because I love someone, and I like that feeling.

Just realized I was writing my own obituary. Hmph. Got things to do yet.

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UPDATE: Cardiologist says the pain in my chest is just a pulled muscle. (I thought the heart was a muscle?).  Saw a gastroenterologist. Been coughing for 7 or 8 months. Having trouble swallowing, and things seem to get stuck easily. Sometimes a mouthful of water won’t go down, and when I swallow it’s mildly painful. So, I had an endoscopy – that’s where they shove a small HDTV camera down your throat, way down there. Nothing serious. Some inflammation, but mostly two constricted areas, caused by acid reflux. So they sent another device down to stretch those areas out wider. Caused a slight tear in the esophagus, but no big deal. Meanwhile my lower jaw had been sore that day, but I wasn’t allowed to take anything for pain. Went to a dentist afterwards. Pain was so bad by then I had a death grip on the dental chair. Lots of x-rays -18. Looked like a root canal infection, among other things. Regular dentists don’t do those anymore – you have to go to a root canal dentist. In the meantime, Yeah, you guessed it – bigger fees. Prescription for amoxicillin. Told me to alternate high does of Advil and Tylenol until that antibiotic kicked in, 24 to 48 hours. Took longer. But no pain now. Regular dental appointment in two days. Root canal appointment in two weeks. Expensive. This getting old is really pricey, even with insurance. But, I’m feeling better psychologically. Enjoying some reading. Digging on some good music. 

Posted in family, health, hiking, Life, My Life, Random Thoughts | Leave a Comment »

Isla in a Sea of Sand (part 1)

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on November 19, 2019

Part 1: Suddenly, Albuquerque

She came into my life accidentally, like a storm on a sunny day. I say accidentally, but I had been looking for someone like her for a long time. I’d been moving from place to place randomly, working odd jobs, making molds from wet sand/clay mixtures and filling them with molten bronze for windchimes,  KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA or working as a carnival electrician, hooking up all the rides, joints and food stands. I was on the road a lot, bicycling my way back and forth across the United States when I met her.

Although I had initially traveled alone, after my last job I had joined a group of bicyclists touring the country in the year of the Bicentennial. We made many stops along the way, staying at community centers or in people’s homes. I’d met a lot of interesting people that way. When I first arrived in the city of Albuquerque, we’d been interviewed by a couple of radio stations, and I’d met Andrea, a pretty lawyer who worked for the ACLU. We talked about S.1, the Criminal Justice Reform Act being debated in Congress to reform federal rules of criminal codes. This had application to those of us who’d been arrested protesting the Vietnam war, and so many others who‘d been arrested for possession of marijuana, a crime created by the nearly defunct FBI in the 1930s to shift the agency from policing bootlegging to policing other drugs. She offered her place as a homestay, but only for one night. I had been hoping to share her bed, horny dog that I was, but she actually left for her boyfriend’s place. I slept in a real bed for the first time in months, and conked out the second my head hit the pillow.

In the morning I had breakfast with Frank and Gladys, a friendly couple who taught at the University. Then my bicycle group had literature tables to work, to set up on campus. We were more than bicyclists. Our library was full of information on alternative lifestyles like communes, composting toilets, solar energy devices, anti-war tracts, such as Give Me Water, a Japanese booklet on the after-effects of Hiroshima, as well as other books with advice for living off grid, and ideas for creating new, peaceful, environmentally friendly ways of living. There were workshops too. My job was showing films, about nutrition, the dangers of refined sugar, the pitfalls of nuclear energy, energy alternatives, and space exploration using stable points in Earth orbit. The movie on nuclear energy problems, like transportation, leakage and waste disposal drew a crowd from the American Nuclear Society, who were all too happy to let us know how clean and safe nuclear energy really was.

The next day is when I met Isla, Isla a former journalist, Peace Corps volunteer, and currently director of a public advocacy group, who had offered her home to any of us that needed a space to crash while we visited her city. I don’t know if she’d cleared that with her husband before making that offer. He was a nice guy, a jewelry maker, but she was her own woman. There had been a list of these prearranged homestays (crash houses, I called ‘em), and I picked her place, not yet knowing whose place it was. I had dialed a number. A woman’s voice had answered. She had seemed quite happy that someone had called, and told me to come by that evening. The bicycle group had a sag wagon, an old school bus, powered by propane, and painted white. 1976  It sported a library, a folded-down wind generator, and a cook stove, but it had no bathroom or shower, and oh boy! did I need a shower. When I arrived, dinner was ready. This friendly couple welcomed me into their very small home near the zoo. I had been expecting an elderly couple, because in my experience staying in the homes of church people, years earlier, who had supported us anti-war protesters when we were far from home, they’d always been wrinkly old couples.

Isla surprised me. She was young and beautiful with dark eyes and dark hair, native to the city. Carl was tall, blond, and imposing, but very friendly. The hot meal was quite welcome, as well as the warm talk we’d shared. I’d be in town for a few more days, so this was a welcome surprise, and I felt extremely lucky, unless there was a hidden motive for having me there. It had happened before.

As it neared bedtime, Isla grabbed her stash, while Carl went off to bed. He started work in the early mornings. So Isla and I got stoned. The weed was excellent. Back then, marijuana was tamer, and simply relaxed you, putting you into a pleasant mood. These days I never touch the stuff. I lost interest, for one thing, needing every bit of my brain alert and active for work, and because the newer stuff has been hybridized, crossbred to maximize the yield of psychoactive cannabinoids. Way too potent and stupefying.

But, at the time, sitting there in Isla’s living room, talking about revolution, and politics – both sexual and liberation – I was hypnotized by this woman. Of course, I was horny; I was twenty five. But this woman had a college education, had traveled the world, worked in New York City for one of the big national news agencies, and had a laugh that warmed my soul. However, as she was married, I put those thoughts aside, and simply enjoyed her company. I was, after all, a guest of Isla and Carl, and they were openhearted and warm people, despite my having seen, while in the bathroom, a bumper sticker on the toilet, under the seat, that said “Castrate Rapists.” A bit unnerving when you’ve just lifted the seat to pee, but I understood the sentiment. Rape was a serious problem, and I’d come near to having it happen to me as well. Isla and I discussed her sticker. She was angry, incensed really, about the amount of rape in the world.

One morning, a Saturday, Carl had driven off to his shop. I found myself without any of the bicycle group events to attend, so Isla offered to take me around the city. That made me happy. I was surprised that she drove a sports car, a little green British MGB. mgb roadster Isla was a real joy, full of delightful conversation and a fountain of information about the city. She drove north through a valley full of large rich homes with huge lawns, surrounded by imposing trees – cottonwoods – which I had never seen before. I was so surprised to see such greenery in an area I’d thought of as a desert. This city seemed like an oasis. We stopped by Carl’s workplace, as there was a great local restaurant nearby where we could all have lunch together. Carl was pretty busy, and didn’t have time to join us. And it turned out the restaurant was in the middle of renovations anyway, so we drove off.

We found an old landmark restaurant not far away. It was my first introduction to enchiladas, refried beans, tortillas, and real chile. However, Isla was very disappointed by the quality of the food, especially the beans. She told me the food was too dry, and badly seasoned. She’d grown up with the real thing, and this touristy food was crap, she said. So, she suggested we leave without paying. Seeing as how I was a stranger in town, without much money, and allergic to jail, I was appalled at the very idea. I’d never even considered doing such a thing. However, Isla was a very forceful woman, with strong opinions, and very sure of herself, so we left. I felt guilty, but whenever I’d bring it up, she simply smiled, such a big warm, friendly smile, that I just had to let it go.

I didn’t see much of Isla most days, as she worked, and the bicycle group kept me busy. Besides the workshops and films, we visited a solar energy factory, met the owners, and spent hours learning about the work they did, passive versus active solar, heat sinks, and homes designed to take advantage of the sun’s position in the sky for maximum efficiency. There was plenty to do and see.

One night I invited Isla and Carl to a potluck dinner near campus, and they brought strawberry shortcake. I was loving all this: good food, friendly people, traveling with a group of supportive people, thinking we were making a difference in the world. After dinner, Isla and Carl invited me to a party. A party! All that time bicycling, pushing and pulling those pedals hour after hour, day after day, camping in the mountains, never staying more than a couple days in any one place. Of course I wanted to party.

The music was mostly reggae, extremely popular among people our age in 1976, especially after a movie called The Harder They Come had come out in 1973, featuring Jamaica and the music of Jimmy Cliff. Since I’d been mostly on the road since then, I’d not seen it. It was my first time dancing to that reggae beat, and I loved it. I didn’t know anyone there, and the women seemed to be all paired off already, so I danced with Isla. Carl was not interested in dancing, and he didn’t mind that Isla danced with me. I drank some wine, something else I rarely did. And Isla and I danced. We started flirting, or maybe continued to flirt; I don’t know, but it was fun to dance with her. Our late-night talks and pot smoking had conspired to make me feel close to her. After one long, energetic song had ended, we stepped away from the dancers. I don’t know why I did it – I’m not usually so bold – I kissed her. It was just a quick peck. I’d spent some time with her, and she’d been so nice to me. I really hadn’t expected anything more from her. She smiled so sweetly. I knew her husband was in the house somewhere, and I was thirsty after all that dancing. I thanked her for the dances, and turned to get something to drink.

She grabbed my hand, and pulled me. I followed her into the bathroom. She locked the door.

Déjà vu. Once, in high school, just after I’d gone to a couple of dances with my fourth-cousin Emily, I’d stopped to visit her one day on my way home. Her mother was busy with the other three kids, her father at work, and Emily and I had just decided it was already past time to be making out. She had motioned up stairs. I had innocently suggested the bedroom, thinking we wouldn’t be seen there, but Emily had immediately reacted with a look of horror, grabbed my hand and locked us in the bathroom. I was very nervous, worried that someone would try the door, find us there. Emily’s father was a strict no-nonsense guy. I tentatively put my arms around her, and kissed her lightly, but I couldn’t stop thinking about being caught. And, of course, I missed my chance. There was a knock on the door. It was one of her twin sisters. She yelled through the door: “Mom wants you!” Emily had the same kind of parents I did so she knew she had to go immediately. I heard her sister say she’d been waiting for the bathroom. I hid behind the shower curtain, not knowing what to do and not wanting to be seen. But the sister came in and I knew I couldn’t be in there then either, so I jumped out, said: “Boo,” and snuck down the stairs.

So, here I was again. This time, with Isla, I didn’t hesitate. We kissed, and kissed, and our hands were everywhere. I hadn’t any idea this could happen, but suddenly it was unstoppable. In the back of my mind was this complication, this image of her husband kicking the door in, big trouble, but I was too excited and happy to really care. She was so supple and warm and her lips so mmmm. Then, of course, there was the loud knock on the door, the doorknob being wiggled, and Carl asking, “Isla, are you in there?” Shit! Not again. No shower curtain, and really, that would not have helped. Isla turned off the light, which made no sense. The door was locked. The light was obvious spilling out from under the door, and through the old fashioned key hole. I turned the light back on, and opened the door, expecting hell. Carl was a big dude. He stared at me with a look of surprise, then incomprehension, which morphed into hurt, and finally anger, in the space of a second. He turned towards Isla, then spun on his heel and marched away, like a soldier ordered to about face. Isla turned to me, said, “I’ll go talk to him,” and ran after him. Not knowing what else to do, I wandered back into the living room and found someone to dance with. When the music ended, I simply leaned against a wall, wondering what I should do. I didn’t know where I was exactly, I had no money, no ride, no other place I could go to. I didn’t even know the people who owned the house.

Isla came back. She told me they were leaving, going home. It was obvious I couldn’t go with them, and she said I’d have to find a ride. I heard the car doors slam, and the car roar away. I asked around, finally found someone who would give me a ride to the University area where our support bus was. Found it, but when I got there, there was no one around. I slept on the bus floor. In the morning the trip organizer, and owner of the bus, wondered what I was doing there. I made some excuse about being at a party, having to suddenly find a place to sleep. She obviously had more questions, but she didn’t press me. The bus was parked in front of a house, and she told me I could shower in there. I put on some clean clothes after, and found something to eat on the bus. I was hanging out, quietly, thinking I should leave town early, when Isla drove up. She came right over and hugged me. She was so happy to see me. She said she wasn’t sure she’d find me. “What happened?” I blurted out. She said they’d argued all night, then decided to separate. She asked me to come with her. I went. She was driving me back to the house we’d partied at the night before. She said no one would be home, and her friends there told her we could use it. I almost said, “Use it. For…?” but the look in Isla’s eyes was enough. We’d sparked something, and a fire was smouldering.

She had a key, and opened the door. There was a small room opposite the bathroom where our spark had ignited the night before. We were kissing so much it was hard to get our clothes off. After a bit of fumbling, they were gone. O, she was so gorgeous, and she felt so good against my body. Kissing. Touching. Melting into each other. Did we fuck? Of course we fucked, the fucking where time slips away, and there is nothing else, no one, no husband, no bicyclists, nothing at all but purest pleasure.

Later, though….

Posted in 1970s, Bicycling, Life, love, madness, My Life, relationships, Writing | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

SAMHAIN in ÉIRINN

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 31, 2019

Samhain

1st published in The Daily Lobo, October, 2008

A black-faced Colm and a red-skinned Seamus met in front of the Church of Adam and Eve, a half-mile from their Dublin homes. When religion had been outlawed in Ireland in 1698, people went through a pub, called the Adam and Eve, into the back room, where they heard Mass. A church had been built on the site of the pub after the Penal Laws had been repealed in 1829. Tonight it was just a rendezvous.

Have you seen Mary yet?” Colm asked, and hastily added, “And the others?” “No, but I can hear her,” Seamus answered. “Ah, yes, that’s Mary’s voice,” Colm sighed. “I surely do love her singing.” Colm could not disguise the giddiness in his voice. He’d gotten a ring in his portion of bairin breac that very evening. A ring in your fruitcake foretold marriage. Brambrack He’d been hoping for a coin to foretell wealth, but the ring made him think of Mary. He planned to give it to her this very night.

Seamus giggled, and would have teased Colm about Mary, but he’d already received enough teasing about his bad luck at snap-apple. In snap-apple, a pair of crossed sticks were hung from the ceiling. One stick held an apple, and the other a burning candle, and the sticks were spun. Seamus had singed his eyebrows trying to bite the apple, and had ended up with black streaks across his face. He’d decided to complete the effect by blackening his face with soot, and now wore all black from toe to cap. Next year he resolved to stick with bobbing for apples. That way he’d only get wet, at the worst. Snap Apple

Colm had painted his face and arms red and wore a red cape made from an old tablecloth over his bright red shirt. Around the corner swung Mary, singing, followed by Casey and her younger brother Gerry. Casey wore her father’s rough farm clothes, and Gerry wore his sister’s white Communion dress and even her white shoes. Mary was dressed all in green – bright green socks, and dark green dress, covered by a green and white shawl that reminded Colm of a field of clover.

“Are ye ready, my fine Guisers?,” asked Mary of the group. On Halloween in Dublin, young people, known as Guisers, dressed up and painted or masked their faces. They roamed the countryside, pretending to be the returning dead or creatures of the Otherworld.   Seamus said solemnly, “Yes, Eriu Goddess of the Land. The Lord of the Dead is ready.” “We’re ready,” laughed Colm and the others.

And they had a fine time of it that night too. Colm and Seamus moved grouchy old McCann’s privy from his backyard to his front door. Mary and Casey let Mrs. McDermott’s prize bull out, and he was now with Father O’Malley’s cows. Gerry had poured water down his uncle’s chimney, and they all knocked on every door they came across, then ran away as fast as they could before the cowed inhabitants could answer.
On Samhain, summer’s end and the eve of winter, the time-stream was interrupted, allowing communications between this world and the Otherworld. The dead could return to the places where they had lived.

Food for the dead was put out ceremonially, indoors or out-of-doors. Gates and windows were left unlocked to give the dead free passage. Besides the spirits of dead humans, swarms of sidh, or fairy beings, came into the world on November Eve, but not all of these creatures were friendly. Most doors that these Dublin Guisers knocked on that night had Jack-o’-lanterns carved out of turnips next to them. turnip jackolantern These simulated spirit guardians, and were placed at doorways to keep out unwelcome visitors from the Otherworld. “I’m hungry,” Colm announced. Mary grabbed Colm’s hand and together they all left their pranks and began parading through the central part of town, asking for apples and hazelnuts, as was the custom there. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA Apples are the sacred fruit, which, eaten by the dead, bestow a blissful mortality upon them this night. Hazelnuts are symbols of wisdom, and are freely given to all who ask. hazelnuts

Pockets bulging with their loot, the group gathered around one of the great bonfires, lit for this occasion, and warmed their hands while stuffing their mouths with hazelnuts. Colm slipped the ring onto Mary’s finger. Their faces glowed in the light.

The competition between the winter-god and the summer-god (or winter and summer aspects of the same god) is almost over. On November 1st, the winter-god, who is, among other things, the Lord of the Dead, comes back into his own, and the dark cycle of the Celtic New Year begins.

Cernunnos

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Doc Silver’s Monologue

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 23, 2019

October 23, 2019

Doc Silver 3

Recently, I applied to audition for a movie. I use a site called Actor’s Access. One pays a yearly fee, or per submission. I’ve had an account there for at least two years, and I keep it updated. I receive emails notifying me of acting jobs in my area. I have never gotten a reply to any of my submissions until recently. It was an out-of-state job, and for the first time, I applied. I never had done so before, because it’s a huge waste of time and money to travel long distances for an audition. I applied, with no expectations. But, of course, this time, the production contacted me. I would have to submit a video audition.

When you are going to audition, there are two things that usually happen. Either you receive the “sides” ahead of time in order to audition with the lines memorized, or you are handed the sides when you show up at the audition – which is called a cold read.  (“Sides” are bits of the script containing your character’s lines – a whole scene or part of a scene.) In a cold read, you might have a few minutes to look it over and think about how you want to want to play it, with an optional way to play it as well. There’s no time to memorize it, and you are not expected to. However, you cannot audition looking down at a piece of paper, nor can you hold it up, as it becomes a huge distraction on camera. So you try to hold it horizontal, within range of your vision when you look down. You also cannot audition looking up and down while you’re doing the lines. Black Moth table read (3)

The trick is to know the very first line. Then you look down, get the next line in your head, and look at the reader or at a point very near the camera lens. You cannot look directly at the lens, unless they ask you to, or it’s for a commercial. Once an acting teacher told the class to look down at your lines while the other actor, in a dialogue, is speaking. No, you cannot do that. I wasted a lot of time in auditions because I did that. One thing the casting director or agent is looking for is the reaction on your face to what the other person in saying. If you’re looking for your next line, while the other person is speaking, you’ve blown your chance. Thank you for coming in today. Next!

So, what one has to do is look down just before the other person speaks or just after. You must be looking at the person while they speak, even if it’s “just a reader”. Readers in auditions speak in soft monotones. There are too close to the microphone to speak loudly. But you have to look at them. Sometimes you’ll forget the line or part of it. What I’ve learned is 1.) never apologize. 2.) Don’t stop. 3.) Look at your lines, and start the sentence over that you choked on. In movies and TV, it doesn’t matter. It takes little time to redo the line, and the blown line can be edited out. They may ask you to start over, but that can be a waste of time for busy casting directors.

All this has just been to prepare you for what happened when I was asked to prepare a video audition and submit it. No sides! They gave me nothing to work on, no lines at all. This was a first for me. I was asked to write my own scene. No preference as to monologue or dialogue. What I was given where a list of things my character was like, the things he believed in, his quirkiness, and references to similar characters we’ve all seen before. Doc Brwon

My video was to be at least two minutes, but less than three.

I got it done, after a surprising number or takes. I had one I liked best, so I uploaded it. That was a bit scary, because the submission deadline was fast approaching, and video uploads are deadly slow. However, it finished uploading in time for me to submit it, with five minutes to spare. Yeah, I should have submitted it much sooner. However, the monologue scene I wrote was too long when I was actually performing it. I had to keep modifying the lines, shortening them, cutting, doing the whole thing faster, without  rushing it. Tricky. And then I wasn’t happy with my performance, so I did it over and over until it felt right, and funny. I’m not that good at being funny. But, it made me laugh. Then again, since I wrote it, I was biased.

I never heard a thing back – par for the course. So, I can’t upload the video here, because I’d have to sign up for a pro account for a whole year to do that. And, they might object to a video that gave away something about the movie before its debut.

Doc Silver 2 However, since the writing is mine, and I created the character, I’m going to at least show you what I wrote, after a whole lot of editing to pare it to three minutes:

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Doc Silver’s lecture to his physics class, © October 10, 2019

     What do you mean you can’t find love? Our destiny is love. Listen…. Love begins as attraction. All cosmic bodies are attracted to each other. It’s not just gravity. We know a lot about the effects of gravity, but the actual force is a mystery. Why can’t we call it love?

     Look at molecular attractions. Negatively charged electrons are attracted to positively charged protons. This attraction is what holds atoms together. There are many protons in a nucleus which should repel each other because of their negative charges. But they are held together by a stronger attractive force. Why not call that force, love?

Doc Silver 1     We are made of stardust forged in the intense heat of stars. That means many things. Light travels the universe, and so can we. It’s within us, in the atoms and subatomic particles of every cell in our bodies.

Shit…. Where was I going? Yeaaah….

     Oh yeah! Soulmates. You want to find a soulmate. Yes, you do. Everything and everyone is connected. Just as atoms pair up with compatible atoms, so do we have soul connections.

     There’s electricity in our bodies, energy in our atoms. Electrons zooming this way and that. Did you know that as soon as you train an electron microscope on a structure, it changes? The energy of the ‘scope alters the energy level of the electrons, so you can never know what the structure is at any given moment.

Possibilities.

So, what’s the lesson here…? Ah, I know…. Yes. Here it is: don’t look so hard. You’ll never find love that way. Just let it be. Let it be, let it be…. Where was I? Exist! Bounce around like an electron. Change energy states. You’ll meet the ones who resonate with you.

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P.S. OK, OK, I can hear you think: I want to see the video. OK. I’ve Youtubed it:

Doc Silver’s Monologue  © October 10, 2019

 

 

 

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A Place to Come Home To

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 21, 2019

divorce     Divorce is never a good thing, at the time. It may have been necessary. It may have been your choice, or not. It may have been something you cannot accept. But it is a lonely time nevertheless. You will probably stare out the windows a lot. In winter, you will see the death-like trees swaying in the wind. It can be a time of despair, sitting alone in a still house, realizing just how much you miss the marriage, the warm body in your bed, the company, the other person there when you come home from work. It is never easy to accept what has happened, or where you find yourself.

barran    After marriage, divorce feels like death, barren, and desolate. Death is, of course, worse, but divorce hits you hard personally, like a punch in the gut, or running your head smack dab into a pole. That first night you sleep alone, when you know it’s over, and you’re on your own again – in an empty house – you notice the quiet alienness of the place where you are. Perhaps you live in the same place, and they are gone. Perhaps there are other people there, or children too, but it is just not the same. Your closest connection, your lover, your partner – gone.

There is a feeling of prison. confinement The walls confine you. You want to get out, but outside is like winter, dark and cold, and you avoid it. Inside is not much better. You can distract yourself with family, friends, TV, music, books, food. There are poems to write, full of angst and despair and self pity. You write, hoping to find some acceptance, some understanding.

You can’t go to that special person any more. Maybe you’ll hear about them, or see them around, or have to exchange kids or other pleasantries. But that connection is gone. They are like a stranger you once knew, family you don’t get along with. You ask why? But, there is no answer to that question. It’s what it is, but you keep going round and round and asking: Why, why, why? You don’t come home anymore. Home is family, and that has changed. There’s a chill cold you can’t shake, even in summer. Sharing your life for years, maybe decades, and no more.

In summer, I felt that chill through the heat, sweating in the sun, or the night, keeping the cooler on until I fell asleep. But there was no comfort in an empty bed in an empty house that made me feel like I was barely alive. At times there was an overwhelming sense of despair. Yes, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Who cares? I went over all the events that led me here, analyzing everything said or done. I thought of prior relationships, what happened then, what happened now. Over and over, and over until I just wanted to stop those thoughts forever.

That first winter alone, certainly a winter of discontent, was an adjustment. Cats are nice, but a poor substitute for actual human touch, for conversation, for making plans, and going places together. I touched base with the few people I know well, but they have lives of their own, and my life did not feel like a life. Always, in my head, I was alone. A piece of myself had been cut out and discarded. After a while, I couldn’t take it anymore. Christmas was coming. High suicide rate around holidays. Tempting, but not an option, just yet.

I decided I was going to get a tree, a nice aromatic evergreen. I decided to make a Christmas for myself, not one I could share, but just for myself anyway. I had no lights to decorate with, no ornaments for the tree. eBay. Problem solved. I found ornaments and lights, like my parents had for me, three bothers and three sisters. There are a few bad memories from back then, but so many joyful ones, like finding a bright and fragrant tree, twinkling and radiant, as we all came down the creaking stairs, holding on to the banister, so we didn’t have to worry about forgetting to take one stair at a time, or tripping over each other. Presents under the tree. Stockings full of fruit and nuts and candy hanging on the fake fireplace mantle, over fake electric logs.

On eBay, the old, thin, glass ornaments have indentations. They are known as indents, double indents, triple indents. There are glass ornaments in the shape of teardrops, small and large. There are miniature Santas, stars, pine cones, tiny little glass balls, or baseball-sized ones, and fragile, every last one. When I was young, sometimes I would press my thumb into an indent, testing it, and sure enough they broke easily. Once, my parents could forgive. But every year I was tempted all over again. Every time I broke one, I marveled at their fragility.

I couldn’t understand why things were made that could so easily be broken.

And I was terrified. But I discovered that I could drop the pieces on the floor, blame it on the dog, or cat. My parents seemed to accept that. Eventually I learned to appreciate the ornaments for what they were, for their fragility, and their beauty.

Done. After months of loneliness, despair, and longing for someone, or something, for peace, anything different from that bleak existence, walking the Bosque in winter, those lifeless trees so deathlike in their slumber, and then, months of shopping, I had dozens of ornaments from people on eBay who no longer wanted them. I wanted them. I even found some in antique shops and second-hand stores. I also found bubble lights, those fascinating multi-colored, liquid-filled tubes heated by small bulbs, bubbling away for hours on end. I bought a tall bushy green tree for them from a Christmas tree lot.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA     I tapped into memories. Music filled the house – not that Christmas schmaltz, but jazz, blues and classic rock. All was bright and colorful. I built a real fire in the fireplace. The house felt warm, over and above the heat. I felt an acceptance of where I am. This lonely space with prison walls was not so quiet. The music made me smile, and the fire popped, spit and crackled. Home. This house feels like a home now, for one person, but less fragile.

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Oh, Donald Boy, Karma, Karma is Calling

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 19, 2019

     A man on a beach. He appears to be sleeping. Could be dead. The wind blows his hair back from his forehead. He stirs. His eyes are closed, his face contorted. Perhaps he is dreaming.
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33491595 - evening light at the beach in naples, florida.     I am damned uncomfortable. Damn, it’s hot! I’m stiff, sore in parts of my body. I must be asleep, but I can’t wake up. I want this dream to end. Still, I feel a breeze, a hot breeze, as though the air conditioning is off and someone has left a window open. Enough of this. Things aren’t right. Someone will pay for this. I open my eyes to blinding light. A spotlight? Is there a TV crew in my bedroom? I can’t see anything. “Turn that damn light off,” I yell. No one answers. Impossible.

     I close my eyes, then crack them open just a little. Squinting, I know something is wrong. I yell, scream at the top of my lungs, the sound coming from deep inside of me, maybe. No one answers, no one comes. Impossible.
     I am not in my bed. I don’t know where I am. Shapes moving, wind, far away sounds. I close my eyes again. Maybe I’m still dreaming. I relax. I’ll wait a bit. My hands. There’s something in my hands, or under them? It’s dirt, or maybe sand, I don’t know. Now I feel it under my back, the ground, hard and scratchy. There might be sticks, rocks under me.
I sit up. I raise my hand to my eyes, shielding them from the light. I open my eyes slowly. Yes. That’s the sun. I must be outside. I am sitting on the ground, on dirt.
     I’m awake. My eyes are adjusting to the hot, burning sunlight. The shapes I saw are big trees, big leaves moved by wind. The wind is very hot. This is not a park, not a golf course, not the West Lawn. Looks like some piece of undeveloped land, maybe some lazy ass’s property not taken care of. There are dead trees too, with no leaves. Dead leaves on the ground. Not cleaned up. Damn lazy people! I stand up. I am barefoot. I look down. I have no pants. I feel my magnificent chest. It’s bare. I have no shirt. No clothes. I scream obscenities. I yell, “Who has done this to me? Why me! Of all people, why me?”
     Where the hell is my wife? How could she let this happen to me? Where are my security people? I’ll call…. I don’t have a phone. That’s right. No pockets. I look around, there is no sign of my clothes or my phone. It’s a nightmare; a walking nightmare. Things like this don’t happen. Not to me. A hat. I really need a hat. My head is so hot. I wipe sweat off my forehead, and I feel my hair. It feels like straw, dry, stiff. Where is my assistant. I need a comb. I need a shower. O god o god o god! What has happened to me? This is impossible. Everyone loves me. God loves me. Then why? Why why why why why. I scream again for security, for my assistant, for my damn absent wife. No answers. How can this be? I scream and scream. Nothing.
     My throat is dry now, raw, almost hoarse. I need a drink. Water, Yes. No. A beer. “Someone bring me a beer,” I shout. “Now!” I’m just rambling. There really is no one. No one to answer me, no one to call, no tweets to send. This is torture. Thirst. So damned thirsty. I have to find water, at least. I walk. I pass endless trees, but there’s no fountain, no pool, no stream. Not anything but these damn swaying trees. Am I dead? Am I in heaven? In hell? What could this be? No people. Just me. Funny, sometimes I wished for that, a world free of people, my world just for me.
     Well, maybe a few people. Smart people like me. Like me. People like me. I need to see another person, a few people, a rally. Yeah, the feeling I get when people yell my name, when they worship me, tell me they pray for me, love me. But there’s no one. No one to talk at. No one to cheer me. No one to blame. It’s not my fault. Not my fault. Not my fault. Of course it’s not. How could it be my fault?
     Enemies. They’ve kidnapped me! Dumped me some godforsaken place, in some shithole of a country. Democrats! Liberals! Even traitors in my own party! They think they can get rid of me this way? Just like them to do something this sneaky. No one points a finger at them. No one except me. How dare they? I know how to handle people. I’ll destroy them, humiliate them, destroy them all. They’ll pay! And pay and pay and pay.
     God! I am so thirsty. Water, water, waa-ter, waaa-ter, waaaa-ter. My tongue hurts. Someone bring me water, damn it! I’ll die! Look, I’ll pay anything. Anything! Name your price. That’s how it works. Yes. Name your price. I’ll dicker. We can haggle. Everyone has a price. Everyone wants money, even when they don’t deserve it.
     O god, what if it wasn’t the Liberals? What if it was terrorists? O, what’s the difference? What if I’m being held for ransom? No, no, I would have been rescued by now. I’ve been abandoned. I knew it! Everyone has turned on me.
     Water. So dry, so tired. My skin is burning. My head is so hot. I can’t take any more of this. It’s impossible. This can’t be happening. Not to me. To me, no, not never. No. Not to me, to me, not to me, to me, to me, me, me, meeeeeeee!

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A beach. Several boats landing. Military personnel jump out, walk slowly up the beach. A body lies above the sloped sand, among the trees. They advance, cautiously. They from a circle around the body, half of them look outwards, continuing to scan the area. Half look at the body. Male. Bloated or obese; it’s hard to tell. Pale, sunburned skin. Could it be? Two marines roll the body over. It is! It is. Yes. It’s the President. He’s dead. They call it in. Someone is sent to the boats for a blanket. The rest fan out, searching the island’s golf course, for something, anything to explain this. Guns are cocked. Eyes peer though filtered lenses, looking for suspects, someone, someone to explain, someone to blame.

Later, talking heads discussed his death endlessly on every news channel. A mystery. No obvious cause of death. He had only gone missing, from his bed, four days ago. Dead for two of those. Toxicology tests showed no sign of poisons or other toxins. No fluid in his lungs; he hadn’t drowned. His heart had obviously stopped beating, but no reason was found. There was no evidence of stoke. No bruising. No fingerprints on the body. Why did he have no clothes?

Speculations. There were plenty of those. Expert opinions given and endlessly debated. Accusations made. Mystery. How was it that no one knew where he was? Was he dumped here, in this spot? How was he killed? Somebody did something to him. It had to be murder. Assassination. There would be hell to pay. Maybe war. He didn’t just die, of that everyone was perfectly sure. That couldn’t happen.

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     A fiddle plays softly, mournfully at first, and then faster, louder, full of energy, becoming a jig, and feet are heard dancing. There is joyful singing.

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69 at Ten-3

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 16, 2019

It became time to write again. Happy Birthday to me. I turned 69 on October 8th. Went to the reunion of my high school class of 1969 earlier this year. In my senior year we all had orange and blue buttons that said simply: “69”. We loved it.

My step-daughter Maya’s birthday is September 26. Ever since her mother and I divorced, Maya and I have continued to celebrate holidays and birthdays together, and sometimes just do some wine tasting.

We really like blind wine tastings. I used to be pretty good at it while we were both working for a winery. Now I drink less wine, and not much grape wine, so I have a hard time identifying one dark complex red from another. But it doesn’t matter. We always have fun at those.

For some years now, we get together on a mutually-agreed-upon date somewhere in between our birthdays, or perhaps after mine, to exchange small gifts and have a good dinner with some good wine. She was pretty busy around her birthday, and also picked up a nasty cold, so she actually stayed home on her birthday. Her dad sent her a video of himself and her nephew singing happy Birthday and blowing out some candles.

Finally we got together. We rode the tram up the mountain to the new restaurant here. The tramway itself opened in 1966.

Tram

One of two new tram cars approaching Sandia Crest.

The restaurant is called Ten-3, because it’s situated on the crest of the mountain ridge at 10,300 feet above sea level.

Wonderful place. The original High Finance Restaurant had been there since 1979, and had to be replaced. It closed in 2016. It was completely demolished and a new foundation put in, but weather up there is unpredictable. Forest fires, high winds and snow hampered the work. At times workers could not even get there.  It took over two years to build the new one, and I’ve been not patiently waiting for it to open all that time. I used to hike up the mountain some early mornings and have lunch up there. A good cup of coffee, when it was chilly, or a nice beer after a long hike in the summer heat just could not be beat. Over the last two years, I watched the building slowly, slowly take shape.

It opened mid-September, instead of Spring, but hey, it’s open now! There are two sections: the bar area, and the fine dining area. Different menus for each, but the food is good no matter where you sit. We opted for dinner, so Maya and I split a smoked pork belly appetizer, and the New Mexican Paella entree. It was plenty of food for us. There are other menu items, and some are very pricey, so if you’re looking to splurge, this is the place. When you add in the cost of a bottle of wine, and taking the Tramway up, it costs quite a bit. I wanted to experience eating high above the city again, but it was really worth the cost to treat Maya. She has been my absolute joy since she recovered from four years of brain surgery, chemo and radiation to treat the tumor they discovered in 2004.

I celebrate every day that she is alive. Her tumor is gone. She fully recovered, graduated from college, and even though she has a full-time job, a daily grind like most of us, she studied and received her Master’s Degree as well. She is doing well. Even while doing all that, she and I worked for a winery for ten years until it closed after the vintner’s death.  Winery &amp; Maya

Since then we see each other less often, so it’s always a treat for me to see her smile and enjoy life. Although the experience of ascending the mountain, and experiencing those magnificent views east and west is exhilarating, there is nothing like spending time with Maya. She is intelligent but witty, hardworking but fun, runs to relieve stress, and enjoys her life and friends. She does not worry about a recurrence of cancer, or dying. She lives life now, and travels often. I am so incredibly lucky that she exists in my universe. There are times in my life when I am tired, lonely, and depressed, but just thinking about Maya always make my life worth living. I’m glad she has time for me.

I have many interests in my life, and I am sometimes busy as fuck, but a little time with Maya here and there, and I am happy. I love her. Her happiness succors me, calms me, and makes life bearable.

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In desperation did I re-assemble my electric waffle maker

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 14, 2019

Waffle Maker 1  090819 (2)
It is old and had never been properly cleaned. The latch broke years ago. The handle is falling apart. But, it works. The heating coils are built into the waffle plates. The waffle plates are screwed into the covers. The two halves are connected to each other, so even after I was able to remove the covers, I had to disconnect many of the power wires in order to separate the two and remove them. The main power lines run from inside one of the plates to a space on the outside where the power cord comes in, but that has a cover plate held in place by five screws. All of that was last week. I don’t make waffles every day, and I had to leave my house shortly after the disassembly.

Today, after I had coffee, I noticed I was hungry, and running through several options, I decided on waffles. I measured out and mixed all the ingredients from scratch, because only one restaurant in town makes buckwheat waffles, and they just don’t measure up. I like *buckwheat waffles made only from buckwheat flour, without having to add any wheat flour. If I’m lucky I find buckwheat honey for the batter: oil, vanilla, milk, honey, an egg, baking powder, and a little salt.  Buckwheat batter

I reached for the waffle maker from inside my stove and it wasn’t there. After a quick search, and questioning my intelligence, I remembered that I had placed it on the fireplace banco for reassembly “later”. So, what to do? The batter was ready. I was hungry. Could I reassemble it? How long would that take? I looked all the parts over, and decided yes, damn it, I want waffles now, and I’m putting this sucker back together. No wiring or parts diagram available.

I had to see if I could remember enough to reason my way through it. Got it done. Waffle maker 3

It has no on/off switch; it powers on by plugging it in. So the acid test: plug it in. No pussyfooting around, I grabbed the power cord and inserted it into the socket. Nothing exploded, no fires broke out, no breaker blew. The heating and cooking lights came on. Unplugged it and greased up the plates. After letting it heat through a cook cycle, I was ready for batter. Poured the dark, speckled batter on the waffle plate and closed it up. The cook light went on.

Kept my eyes on it. I still didn’t trust my intuitive reassembly. The cook light went out. Yes. Perfectly cooked, with a nice toastiness and beautiful color. Success!

Irish butter. Check. Pure maple syrup. Check.

And damn these are good. Eat your heart out pancake houses and chain restaurants with your refined wheat flour library paste: stripped of fiber, nutrients and taste. These rock.

But maybe I should get an old-fashioned stove-top waffle iron, just in case.

 

My waffle recipe:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla (more or less)
  • 2 tbsp oil (or melted butter)
  • 1 tbsp honey (or raw sugar or molasses)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup *buckwheat flour

*Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds and as a cover crop. It is not a cereal grain. Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, as it is not a grass. Grown in North America, it is used to make Japanese soba noodles. In Canada, it’s used for pancakes, or made into groats (also known as kasha). A related and bitterer species, Fagopyrum tataricum, is a domesticated food plant raised in Asia.

buckwheat  Buckwheat-Groats

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Labor Day Pool Party

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 8, 2019

Here are my photos from a party full of fun people: models, actors, photographers, artists, and at least one musician. It was also a birthday party for three of the attendees.

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Contemplating Death Again, With Photos

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 3, 2019

09/03/19
Well, six years ago I had a heart attack. Too much plaque in the heart artery that feeds the heart muscle itself. Problems for some time before that, something I attributed – as did my doctor – to a recurrence of my childhood asthma. Overtired on exertion, falling way behind on hikes up the mountain. Getting weaker instead of stronger. I’ve climbed up the Sandia-Manzano mountains. Sandia Crest is at 10,679 feet above sea level. Manzano Peak is at 10,098 feet. I’ve climbed in the San Mateo Mountains, specifically to the highest point, up Mt. Taylor, to 11,306 feet, and I’ve snowshoed Mt. Taylor several times. Also climbed to the nearby La Mosca lookout tower at 11,036 ft. I’ve climbed Mount Baldy, at 10,783 feet, in the Magdalena Mountains. I’ve hiked in the Jemez mountains, including snowshoeing in the Valles Caldera. At 11,253 feet in elevation,  the volcanic caldera is 13-miles wide. I’ve hiked and snowshoed often in New Mexico’s mountains.

After the heart attack, not as much. I still hike, usually once a week, sometimes two times a week. Sometimes I hike a fair distance, sometimes I hike really fast for just 70 to 90 minutes, a cardio hike. I figure I’m in good enough shape for my age. My knees never bother me. Since I had the angioplasty and stent placement 6 years ago, I’ve been good. No sign of any heart problems, but you never know.

Of late, I’ve noticed myself falling behind the others I hike with, and being very winded at times, more than usual. I’m sleepy often throughout the day. I used to catnap for 15 or 20 minutes, and be completely refreshed. Often I try that now, and sleep for an hour or two. I have no trouble sleeping through the night.

But, but, but. Today, after I’d taken another short nap, I awoke to a small sharp pain in the chest, just right of center. I researched it, and it’s likely not a heart attack, but it could be leading up to one. Possibly it’s angina, a symptom of heart disease. or it could have been a spasm. Either of those can occur during sleep, and generally last 5 to 15 minutes. This one lasted  two to three hours. Took some Advil and then some aspirin.

The more likely cause is a blood clot traveling to my lungs, as I had none of the heart attack symptoms I’d experienced before, nor any of the other classic symptoms. The reason for this could be that I badly sprained my right ankle a month ago. A lot of blood clotted around it, giving me bruises all around the ankle and even between my toes. I’ve been wearing a stabilizing boot since then. There is also a small (3mm) chip fracture on the talus bone of my ankle. I can walk fine with or without the boot, but the doc gave me two more weeks to keep wearing the boot. I hate it. But, it could be that the ankle injury is the source of a blood clot, if that’s what it was. Painful anyway. The pain is gone now, but it could come back. I don’t know what caused it.

I was supposed to have had a checkup with my cardiologist two weeks ago. Arrived 20 minutes early for a 3:45pm appointment. Checked in and waited. And waited. The few people there all got called in. I waited. More people showed up until there was quite a crowd. There are a lot of doctors there. At 3:45, a tall healthy-looking man checked in, saying he had a 4:00pm appointment with my doctor. He was called shortly. I waited. About 10 minutes later, I got called to the examining room, to have my vital signs read. I told the woman taking them about experiencing weakness, and sleepiness as before my heart attack six years ago. She left, said the doctor would be in shortly.

I sat there, unhappy. The reason I’d come early was hoping to get out by 4:15, as I had an important commitment at 5pm. As I sat, I could hear my doctor’s voice next door, with the man I’d seen come in 20 minutes after me. I waited. But, by 4:30, I had to leave, and I stopped at the reception desk to tell them I was leaving. Never heard back.

Now this sudden pain. I thought about making another appointment, but never got around to it. I could die any time, so I figured I’d get an online will started while I still could. Such a strange thing it is to contemplate a will!

I rent, so I have no property to leave behind. I have only the money in the bank that comes in and goes out every month. I save, but things always come up to spend it on, necessary things, like repairs to my aging car and much older motorcycle. Sometimes I have to travel to family events, and none of them live nearby. Anyway, I have little in the way of tangible assets. But, there are things I’d like to leave to family. I have way too many things, like music CDs and vinyl albums. Tons of books. Some paintings, but mostly prints. A few coins. Not really a whole lot, but I’ve been to enough estate sales to know what happens to all the stuff you think is worth something. It’s all junk, sold cheap. Some things can be worth a goodly amount, but no one knows, unless someone hires a professional appraiser. But few family ever do that, unless the deceased was extremely wealthy. As it happens, I am not. Wealthy. Or deceased, as yet.

But it sure got me thinking about who I could give my things away too. So much of it has little enough financial worth. I thought about who might enjoy this small sculpture, or that old painting, or the coins, or a keepsake from the winery I worked at for eight years before it closed. Some things I’d like to have go to family who would appreciate it. I have too much stuff, sure, and much of it can be sold off at an estate sale for whatever they can get; that’s fine. Sitting here for hours today while the pain subsided, deciding who should get what, and not wanting to slight anyone, but not having so much to give everyone something, even if they actually would want it. 1st world problems. And yet, I’d like family members I love to know I was thinking about them. I like to make people smile, especially those I love. My estate, what a joke. Cheap material goods.

What was my life? Flipping burgers. High school diploma. Working in a college physics lab, measuring x-ray wavelengths and spaces between atoms in silicon crystals, a useful thing to know later on for computer technology. But I left that lab before the computer chip revolution hit. Spent years traveling, working for a carnival, a bronze foundry. Settled down in another state 1,675 miles miles away as the crow flies, but I rode my bicycle there over countless miles. Poured concrete, laid concrete block, installed park benches and steel doors. Treasurer of my union local. Finally got a job back in the sciences, giving tumors to rats, and treating them with chemotherapy drugs and x-rays. I did continue in Cancer Research a bit, then worked Quality Control at a printed circuit board company for three years. Finally went back and got another job at a medical school working first with mice, and their immune system proteins, then with research machines.

I took night school classes for years until I finally got a Bachelors of Arts college degree, a dual major of English (Creative Writing) and Distributed Sciences. I had studied a lot of sciences over the years, but not enough in any one field to get a diploma in it, not even a Bachelors of Science. Never did much with the writing part of my education, but I ended up making synthetic proteins for medical research, and synthetic DNA and RNA as well later on. I could also sequence proteins, or DNA, or analyze the amino acid content of proteins, or purify proteins and DNA. I ran a lab, balanced my budget, kept database records, worked independently. Finally retired with a small pension. Then I made wine for eight years at a small winery until the vintner died, and we had to close the winery. Now I take acting lessons, hike in the mountains, work occasionally as a background actor on movies and TV shows. Still hoping to land a good speaking role, one that brings me recognition, something to show that my life had meaning.

Yeah, I had lovers as I traveled, and met someone I wanted to spend my life with, but all I got was a bit less than two years with her. Married sometime later to a great woman, but after seven years that was over too. Two stepkids I never got to spend time with again. Then I married again. Two more stepkids. That 14-year relationship was fun, but ran out of steam and died. However, I did realize that I loved my stepdaughter when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately we’ve been able to stay connected, even making wine together for those eight years at the winery. She survived after surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and more chemo. How strange to find those chemicals and x-rays I used on rats used successfully on a human being I loved.

So perhaps I did accomplish something significant after all, Perhaps my work on x-rays in silicon and germanium crystals helped create the computers to run those fancy treatment machines. Perhaps the work I did on rats helped establish correct dosages of chemotherapy drugs and x-rays. Perhaps my work helping calibrate x-ray wavelengths helped doctors calculate just how much energy was necessary to kill a tumor and not the person. All the people that work in science, even those that just run the machines, and conduct the experimental protocols contribute, each in our own small way, to a much greater good.

And, goddamnit, my step daughter is alive and healthy. And I love her. I finally learned that love is when you truly care about someone, about their happiness, and not just your own. Love is not about having another person. It’s about loving, without expecting anything in return. That’s what I think. If I’m still alive tomorrow morning, I’m going to call the doctor’s office, get in there as soon as possible, and do what it takes to stay alive. Because I love someone, and I like that feeling.

Just realized I was writing my own obituary. Hmph. Got things to do yet.

(09/05/19 UPDATE: The cardiologist says the pain in my chest is likely muscular, because of the lingering pain, and like a blood clot or angina. Blood pressure, however is high, so I need to monitor it twice a day for two weeks, report back).

Posted in Bicycling, death, family, health, hiking, Life, love, medical, movies, music, My Life, photography, Random Thoughts, rants, wine | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

CLIMATE CHANGES* I DON’T RECALL

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on August 19, 2019

Forget
icebergs melting
rising seas
or
more hurricanes
terrible tornadoes
flooding
drought
forest fires
crop failures
and economic disasters.

It gets worse
some like it hot –

bacteria:
Vibrio vulnificus
the flesh eater

amoeba:
Naegleria fowleri
the brain eater.

While food is scarce
or unaffordable
coastlines under water
storms apocalyptic
I sit in the rubble
of a water-logged house
surrounded by smoke
and funnel clouds.

Fortunately
my Naegleria
trumps
my Vibrio.

 

* ( https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-08-climate-florida-brain-eating-amoeba-flesh-eating.html )

Posted in current events, Dreams, eremiticism, health, madness, medical, opinion, poem, poetry, politics, Random Thoughts, World | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The One

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on August 17, 2019

Maya 071419 (1)

The One Albuquerque Housing Fund enables the public to contribute directly to housing vouchers for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. “This is about us literally taking one person at a time off the streets,” said Albuquerque’s Mayor. This 17,800 pound moveable steel sculpture, a visual point of reference for the work that is going on, was funded partially by a $14,000 gift from the Senior Games organizing committee. Another $34,000 came from the lodgers tax. Each time it is moved the cost is about $5000.

It’s a fun sculpture. The city sells t-shirts with the logo based on the sculpture, and has has so far funded housing for two people. A popular slang term for the city is ‘Burque, so you can see that it is highlighted in red, and offset to make it really stand out.

I stopped by the sculpture, taking photos with Albuquerque native Maya Trujillo, who told me about it.

Here are some more photos: (including Maya)

Also, here is one that Maya took of me:

071419 (2)

 

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Breaking Down Carnivals, Ekphrastically

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on August 1, 2019

Ekphrastic Writing – created by the Greeks

(The goal of this literary form is to make the reader envision the thing described as if it were physically present. In many cases, however, the subject never actually existed, making the ekphrastic description a demonstration of both the creative imagination and the skill of the writer. For most readers of famous Greek and Latin texts, it did not matter whether the subject was actual or imagined.)

Oil & canvas by Kyn Thurman

IN THE BETWEEN

In the Between

[Prompts: vibrance (in the air), blush (candy apple), circus (cacophony), swirly cones (vanilla & choc)]

Breaking Down Carnivals

Sometimes you immerse yourself in something and you may not understand what it is until you back up and look at it from a distant perspective. And, yes, that’s my lead-in to a story, a story about a carnival.

Now, first off, a carnival is not a circus. No live animals, no rings, no ringmaster or clowns. But, both a circus and a carnival have a vibrance in the air, a cacophony of sound, bright lights and garish colors. Both have children. Each child has a candy-apple blush on their cheeks and a dripping swirly cone. But a circus is a static experience. People tend to sit on their asses, watching, laughing and generally being entertained entirely stationary, just as one watches television. There are staged animals acts, professional acrobats, and clowns. Except for the smells, the experience is a lot like TV.
I joined a carnival when I was 23 years old. At first, I was only looking to make a few bucks by helping take everything down, in preparation for the move to the next town. I helped disassemble a Ferris wheel.

The first “Ferris” wheel, was actually called Ferris’ wheel, after George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., an engineer, part of a group charged with inspecting all the steel to be used in the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The Fair was officially called: The World’s Columbian Exposition, in honor of the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Back then, that original Ferris wheel consisted of over 100,000 parts, including an 89,320-pound axle that had to be hoisted up 140 feet onto the two support towers. Launched on June 21, 1893, it was a success. Over the next 19 weeks, more than 1.4 million people paid 50 cents for a 20-minute ride. 20 minutes! Can you imagine any carnival ride lasting twenty minutes today?

Three years later, Ferris was bankrupt and died of typhoid fever. His wheel was sold, and later dynamited for scrap metal. However, the Ferris wheel lives on, and not only because of George Ferris’ design. At the time, a carpenter named William Somers had been building 50-foot wooden wheels at Asbury Park, Atlantic City and Coney Island. He called them roundabouts, and his design was patented, long before Ferris’ wheel.
Ever since then, people have gotten used to giant spinning mechanical rides, climbing and falling, twirling, zipping, and bobbing up and down (are you getting nauseous yet?). People love the sensation of “…revolving through such a vast orbit in a bird cage,” as the reporter Robert Graves wrote in 1893.

In modern times, all those rides have pneumatic cylinders to raise the ride up off of the flatbed trucks that haul them all over the countryside. First the lights have to be disconnected, and some removed for transport. All of the “cars” people ride in have to be removed and transported in another huge trailer. More importantly though, is all of this pneumatic lifting and lowering, all those lights, and the motors driving the ride need power. Since the carnival is often set up on empty land outside of town, the carnivals provide their own electricity, in the form of generators the size of a truck trailer, or two half-sized ones per trailer. After I had finished with the Ferris wheel, I was put to work for the carnival’s electrician.

Spreading out from each generator is a vast network of power cables, connected every hundred feet to a junction box, from where another set of cables continues on from the opposite side, on to the next junction box, and so on. Each junction box has outlets for standard power outlets, for lights and small appliances. The rides, however, have to be hooked directly up to the tall terminal bolts that the power cables are already attached to via 1″ diameter crimped terminators (LUGS) held in place by a screw-on nut. In order to attach the wires from the rides, that nut must be removed from the upright bolts, the crimped ends of those wires must be placed over the power cable lugs, and the nut replaced, tightly.

My job, at the time, was to disconnect the power cables while the carnival was shutting down. Note that I said, while, not, after. For what the electrician needed were lights for everyone to see at night, which is when the carnival shuts down, as soon as the last towny leaves. There are bright towers on top of each generator truck, lighting the miniature city that is a carnival. So, I could not turn each generator off before starting to disconnect the power cables. As soon as all the rides, joints (game booths) and poppers (popcorn, corn dogs, cotton candy, etc) had been removed from the last junction box in the line, and then the next, and the next, all the way to the generator, those now useless lines had to be pulled off their terminals, hauled off and stored in yet another large truck trailer.

So, like I said, disconnect the powers cables, which, mind you, are still hot, through the metal sides of the junction box. There were holes in the sides for this purpose, each hole protected by a plastic over-ring, so that a hot cable lug would not touch the bare metal. In theory. However, as I was successfully performing this somewhat delicate operation, I unscrewed the locking nut on a terminal, removed the power cable lug, and stated pulling it slowly through the hole. It wasn’t until the lug approached the hole that I noticed the hole had no plastic ring protecting it. I tried to back the cable up before it could make contact, but it was too late. The power running through the cables was such that it could easily bridge a small gap, and that one did. Hoo boy, did it. BANG, a blinding flash, a shower of burning sparks, and the generator whined loudly before it shut down. Darkness. Pure darkness. Not only because the lights were off everywhere near me, but my eyes needed time to recover from that flash. Couldn’t see a thing.

Shortly, because something like that really attracts attention, the electrician showed up. He asked me if I was alright. I said I was, and explained that the plastic ring was missing and the cable had been torn right from my grip as it welded itself to the box, as my eyes slowly calmed down. Since there was no power yet, he reached down and yanked hard on the cable, breaking the impromptu weld. He said, “Don’t do that again,” and walked off. I got the other four cables out just before he restarted the generator. I had expected to be fired or something, but with power restored and everyone working, I just went back to work. It took me the rest of the night to remove all of the cables, and then carry them and the junction boxes to the electrical truck.

By daylight, I was exhausted, as were the carnies. I couldn’t think of myself as a carny yet. You had to spend a whole season wrapping yourself in your job, and then come back to do it all over again for another season. Would I? I didn’t know yet. I saw some people sprawled across car hoods, feet sticking out car windows, people propped against trailers. Many people had already pulled out. There were overflowing trash barrels, and scattered pieces of trash and junk everywhere. It looked like a bomb had gone off. Soon enough though, I had been paid for my work, and prepared to head off myself into the morning, happy that I had money for food. The electrician found me and asked me if I would stay on. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting that. Seeing as I had no other means of support, and no clear idea where I was going, I agreed. Much later, I found out that I had been recruited because I hadn’t died. Rumor was the last guy had. After that way-too-short rest, we were all on the road again. Sleep wouldn’t come for us until we arrived at the next location.

Once there, after a good long nap, we reversed everything we’d done the night before to get the carnival up and running again. I had to haul all of the heavy, insulated copper cables out of the truck, and get them hooked up to junction boxes. Rides, poppers and joints had to be plugged in. There was always some troubleshooting until everyone had power. All the rides had to be tested, run forwards and backwards while being inspected. Every nut and bolt had to be tightened, and every ride car checked. I still had lots to do. The generators needed oil and water. Since they were in open view, placed in the center of the midway, they also had to be cleaned, and occasionally painted as well. That was my job. Sometimes the cables needed new terminators. Sometimes the junction boxes needed new protecting rings over the access holes. Yes they did.

Once I finished all of that, after breaks for meals, it was time to shut everything down for the night. I had to wait until the townspeople were long gone, and everyone cleaned up and shuttered their equipment. Once all was done, I could shut the generators off. In the morning, I had to be up before everyone else to get the power back on. Ten days. Then we’d be off again, crisscrossing the country, selling dreams while the rides turned under bright rainbow lights, surrounded by the smells of cotton candy, corn dogs and popcorn. The marks would gamble, buying cheap toys for the price of many chances to spin a wheel, shoot out the stars, pop some balloons, or knock over some bottles.

At night there were circus-like tents full of illegal card games and crazy peep shows. Some real money changed hands there. There had to be a balance between cleaning out the marks for every dollar, and letting them win sometimes, or the cops and sheriffs could shut the whole carnival down, forcing us to move on sooner than expected. The vulgarity of the peep shows was extraordinary, and sometimes they could get raided, but most often not.

There are dreams and then there are other dreams.

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Photos: ♪ The Lusty Month of May ♫

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on June 11, 2019

051919 (297)

It’s been a while since I posted any photos. Had a photo shoot May 19, 2019 with models and other photographers. We ambled along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque. I took 372 photos. I won’t post them all. Some were crap; I deleted them. Others may be useful for the models’ portfolios or such. I found at least 21 that I liked.

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Restlessness, Vanishing, and Sidney Hall

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on February 3, 2019

rest·less·ness

Dictionary result for restlessness

/ˈres(t)ləsnəs/
noun: restlessness
  1. the inability to rest or relax as a result of anxiety or boredom.

Well, happening now, yes. A weird day. Spent 11 hours on a movie set in Santa Fe as a background actor, aka an “extra”, starting from 5:00pm yesterday evening until 4:00am today. Boring as all hell. Got home at 5:00am, fell into bed. The casting call had asked for people who had not been on the set as yet. I was interested in seeing what the movie was about. Love being on TV and movie sets. Waited all day to be used. holding Finally those of us still sitting around, about 15 people, were told they needed just five people for the next scene.
Question was who. I volunteered, as I had not been seen, which is what they had posted for. It was unclear if I would be one of the five, as five other people had volunteered. My “new” status might get me on set.

Nothing happened for a while. Finally it was time. My name was called. I was asked to bring my coat. I didn’t have one handy. The wardrobe people hadn’t had a coat to fit me, and took all of our production photos without one. When I found a coat, and actually I had one outside in my car I could have gotten, I was told that since they already had photographed me without a coat, I shouldn’t wear one. So, instead I had no coat with me, thus, they took another guy who had a coat, for a bar scene. Like it matters.

Anyway, that was the last scene they shot this morning, and we were all “wrapped” and sent home. Eleven hours. Santa Fe minimum wages: $92 for 8 hours, plus, 3 hours of overtime. All for sitting on my ass mostly. That’s the life of a background actor sometimes.
Finally dragged myself out of bed around 10:45. Fed the cats. Drank a cup of coffee. Played Microsoft’s solitaire Daily Challenges. Read email. Browsed Facebook for casting notices.  Checked my actor’s page. Ate a fried egg sandwich for brunch. Poured myself a glass of brandy (Calvados Morin Extra, from France); it’s something I picked up with an auction lot of “pantry items”, including: vegetable juice, reposado tequila, scotch whiskey, and other things like paper napkins, plastic bags, etc. The bottles had all been previously opened, but the whiskey was just less than full, so, at $5.00 for the lot, it was good deal.
Napped. Got up and made a cup of Earl Grey tea. Earl Grey is tasty black tea. It is interesting because it contains oil of bergamot, useful for kicking statin side effects. Statins, a widely used family of cholesterol-lowering drugs, can have side effects:
  • Headache.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Flushing of the skin.
  • Muscle aches, tenderness, or weakness (myalgia)
  • Drowsiness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Abdominal cramping or pain.

All of which I have experienced since I have been taking a statin drug after my heart attack 5 1/2 years ago. My bad cholesterol is half of what it used to be. So, I’m back to drinking Earl Grey again – something I had forgone for just daily coffee.

Anyway, I used two teabags for a 10-oz mug. It’s probably what has me restless. I had sat down to watch a movie I rented: The Vanishing of Sidney Hall.

Sydney Hall

It is a fascinating movie, and I’m really enjoying watching it. Sidney Hall becomes a writer after an odd childhood, but experiences angst, depression, and regret after people take his novel about life a bit too seriously. He goes on a walkabout basically, which is what I did at his age, but I used a bicycle to crisscross the USA, trying to find myself. 1976(That’s a whole other story.) Anyway, partway through I began experiencing this restlessness. So, I wrote what you just read. I’m going to go finish watching the movie now.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

It is a good story, moving along, but now I’m taking another break. I think that’s a good way to watch this movie, in sections. Instead of an intermission, there should be two intermissions. I find that this is the way I watch most movies now, like reading a book. Sometimes you can read a good short novel in one sitting, if you don’t count bathroom breaks and getting food and water. But, long novels require a couple days or three, not due to boredom, but just to have a chance to digest it in parts. Although my general restlessness – perhaps generated by depression – makes it hard for me to sit still through a two-hour movie, I like to think it’s my way of really appreciating a good story.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

Finished it. WOW. That was so good. Intense. Complex. Sad. Fun. Well done. Holy, holy crap, it’s good.

I am going to watch it again. Not tonight. I’ve sleep to catch up on. But Wednesday night, my friend Ramona and I will watch it. I was planning to return the DVD to Netflix, and since I wouldn’t be able to get another one by Wednesday, we were going to watch something else on her Netflix stream. But, I am going to have her watch this. She’ll like it a lot. Her life is changing significantly right now. She has met the love of her life, just spent a lot of time with him in Germany, returned, but is now packing, getting rid of things, saying goodbyes, as she prepares to move to Germany permanently. She is so happy. I wonder if her reaction to this movie will be way different from mine? I’ll miss the little bit of time I’ve been able to spend watching movies with her. She’s just finished up graduate school now, and she’s off. It’s been a struggle for her. Strange boyfriends, cancer, and a bat-shit crazy mother (whom I knew 40 years ago).

From the way I built this blog entry, I suppose it won’t matter if I add some more to it next week. I’ll add Ramona’s reaction to the movie. It occurs to me that I could be adding new blog entries with updates from time to time on her new life in Germany, if I hear much from her. This last bit of time she spent in Germany was different. Previously she had sent lots of Facebook updates and photos. This time, a much longer time, she was quite busy, and having the time of her life, and I had to wait until she got back to hear about most of the trip. Instead of watching this movie as we’d planned, we had just talked. It was good to catch up on our lives. Catching up, but also, beginning to say good-bye. Cementing memories of who each other is, before the moment vanishes.

 

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Before Walmart, We Got Five and Dimed – Pennsylvania Owned Retail.

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on December 24, 2018

Well, getting back to the “random writings” part of this blog, I remembered a dream from early this morning. I was in, what I later figured out to be, an empty classroom. There was a blackboard somewhere far to my left. In front of me was a bookcase. The books were all paperbacks, of a fairly uniform mass market size. The case was made of cardboard or something similar, and flexible. There were pockets for the books strung along in rows. Each pocket had multiple books in it, lying haphazardly in the pockets. One book was on the floor, and I picked it up, just to replace it in the bookshelf/pocket thing.

As I attempted to do so, I disturbed the other books, and, in trying to straighten them all up I upset the whole bookcase. It fell towards me, but only the top half came forward. It was folded over in half, so I pushed it back up to the full upright position. Most of the books were still in their pockets; just a few had fallen out. But, as I bent over to pick the fallen soldiers-of-the-printed-word up, I knocked something off the edge of the table next to the bookcase. It turned out to be an old manual pencil sharpener, with a metal frame, and a red plastic holder for the pencil shavings. Sharpener

I had a similar pencil sharpener in my attic room as a child, having shoplifted it from a Five & Dime store (Kresge’s, I think). In my dream I thought about that sharpener, trying to remember whether it had a base that screwed onto a desk, or the rubber base with a lever that caused the base to stick to a flat smooth surface. And I wasn’t sure of the actual store. In thinking about all that, however, everything began to dissolve, and realized I was waking up, and couldn’t keep the dream alive. As always, I over think everything, even in my dreams.

So I looked up Kresge’s, founded by Pennsylvanian native S.S. Kresge, who, after clerking in a hardware store, and working as a traveling salesman, had then worked for a five & dime himself, for McCrory’s. They were all actually called five-and-ten-cent stores, because that’s what everything cost. I believe that’s where the phrase to “nickel and dime” something came from, meaning to sell things very cheaply, even to sell everything off to rid oneself of excess merchandise. The stores had huge signs with the numbers: 5¢ and 10¢, aka a nickel and a dime. McCrorys 2

Later, Kresge started his own two stores with an $8000 investment. SS Kresge Over the years, Kresge, after bumping the price of goods to $1, made a fortune. In fact, he established a foundation, in 1924, The Kresge Foundation, a non-profit organization whose income he specified “to promote the well-being of mankind”. By the time of his death, Kresge had given the foundation over $60,000,000! He was also a prohibitionist, and organized the National Vigilance Committee for Prohibition Enforcement and also heavily supported the Anti-Saloon League. The S.S. Kresge chain (Kresge and Jupiter stores) later became K-Mart. I had often wondered what happened to K-Mart. More on that in a minute.

Now, I believe we had both a Kresge’s and a McCrory’s in the city I grew up in, so I’m not certain which one I purloined the sharpener from. McCrory’s was owned by another Pennsylvanian native, J.M McCrorey, who famously dropped the “e” from his last name to save money on signage for his initial five stores. At its height, McCrory’s had 1300 stores. Interestingly, S.S. Kresge had invested in the McCrory stores before opening his own.

Now, the McCrory stores are quite interesting in themselves, for the way they became involved with or swallowed up other more modern brands. Of the 1300 stores operated by the McCrory company, many were TG&Y, McLellan, H. L. Green, Silvers, G.C. Murphy, J.J. Newberry and Otasco. I’m sure you’ve shopped at some of those. McCrory’s also controlled Best & Co., Lerner Shops, and S. Klein.

On January 1, 1980, McCrory purchased the S.H. Kress & Co. chain from Genesco. You may remember the S.H. Kress & Co. when its exclusion of African-Americans from its lunch counters made Kress a target for civil rights protests during the 1960 sit-ins, along with Woolworth’s, Rexall and other national chains. S.H. Kress & Co. was established by Samuel Henry Kress, another Pennsylvanian. Kress started his first five and dime store in 1887, which became the chain known as S.H. Kress & Co. in 1896, and were called 5-10-25 Cent Stores. Kress SC Building The Kress chain was known for the architecture of its buildings. Kress envisioned his stores as works of public art that would contribute to the cityscape. A number of former Kress stores are recognized as architectural landmarks and many are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the 1913 building on Canal Street in New Orleans (now the New Orleans Ritz-Carlton) and the 1929 neoclassical store in Asheville, North Carolina.

As the economic expansion of the 1980’s progressed, so did the successes of McCrory.

McCrory purchased the Oklahoma based TG&Y Discount store chain in 1985. TG&Y stores were not profitable and drained McCrory of valuable assets. Many of the TG&Y stores were converted to the Bargain Time banner that McCrory operated, which closed as the 1980’s ended.

In 1987, McCrory Stores purchased the 76 remaining Kresge and Jupiter stores from the K Mart Corporation which had long given up on the variety stores division, reuniting the companies. All stores were converted to the McCrory banner.

S. S. Kresge Corporation – remember them? – had been renamed to Kmart Corporation in 1977. Kmart_original_logo (The first store with the Kmart name had opened in 1962.) At its peak in 2001, Kmart operated 2,171 stores including 105 Super Kmart Center locations. After declaring bankruptcy in 2002 and emerging the following year, the chain’s management purchased Sears for $11 billion in 2004, forming a new corporation under the name Sears Holdings Corporation. Sears Holdings declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 15, 2018.

In 1989, 1300 stores were operated by the McCrory company. However, as the decade turned, its fortunes decreased, and by 1992 it filed for bankruptcy. Several rounds of store closures followed, with one of the biggest coming in 1997 when McCrory’s shuttered 300 of its last 460 stores. The company also converted some stores to the Dollar Zone format of Dollar Store, but these closed in early 2002. In December 2001, McCrory Stores announced the remaining McCrory’s, TG&Y, G. C. Murphy and J.J. Newberry stores it was operating would begin liquidating and in February 2002 the company ceased operation.

Now, we have Walmart. Surprise, surprise, surprise – it wasn’t started in Pennsylvania, but in Arkansas, as another five and dime store. Walton's_Five_and_Dime

In 1945, businessman and former J. C. Penney employee Sam Walton bought a branch of the Ben Franklin stores from the Butler Brothers. Ben Franklin His primary focus was selling products at low prices to get higher-volume sales at a lower profit margin, portraying it as a crusade for the consumer. As of October 31, 2018, Walmart has 11,277 stores and clubs in 27 countries, operating under 55 different names, including Sams’ Club, Asda in the United Kingdom, as the Seiyu Group in Japan, and as Best Price in India. Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue—over US$500 billion, according to Fortune Global 500 list in 2018. For those of you watching videos online: Walmart owns video streaming company Vudu.

Walmart is the largest private employer in the world with 2.3 million employees. Walmart  faced a torrent of lawsuits and issues with regards to its workforce, involving low wages, poor working conditions, inadequate health care, and issues involving the company’s strong anti-union policies. In November 2013, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that it had found that in 13 U.S. states Wal-Mart had pressured employees not to engage in strikes on Black Friday, and had illegally disciplined workers who had engaged in strikes. Critics point to Walmart’s high turnover rate as evidence of an unhappy workforce, although other factors may be involved. Approximately 70 percent of its employees leave within the first year. Welcome to Walmart.

In 2009, Walmart announced that it was paying a combined US$933.6 million in bonuses to every full and part-time hourly worker. This was in addition to $788.8 million in profit sharing, 401(k) pension contributions, hundreds of millions of dollars in merchandise discounts, and contributions to the employees’ stock purchase plan. While the economy at large was in an ongoing recession, Walmart reported solid financial figures for the most recent fiscal year (ending January 31, 2009), with $401.2 billion in net sales, a gain of 7.2 percent from the prior year. Income from continuing operations increased 3 percent to $13.3 billion, and earnings per share rose 6 percent to $3.35.

Walmart has been subject to criticism from various groups and individuals, including labor unions, community groups, grassroots organizations, religious organizations, environmental groups, and the company’s own customers and employees. They have protested against the company’s policies and business practices, including charges of racial and gender discrimination. Other areas of criticism include internal corruption, the company’s foreign product sourcing, treatment of suppliers, employee compensation and working conditions, environmental practices, the use of public subsidies, the company’s security policies, slavery, and violations of U.S. and Mexican laws. Through years of strikes, boycotts and lawsuits, the company appears to be modifying its practices, including environmental impacts, labor practices, discrimination, nutritional quality of its food products, and other areas of criticism.

We’ve come a long way from the five and dime. Jimmy Dean

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2 Days of Poetry & Music & a Quandary

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on November 26, 2018

Good Poetry

I crossed the Rio Grande this past Saturday, not the river, but the street (Rio Grande Blvd, in Albuquerque, NM). There is a bookstore located in a small shopping center here, near my rental house. It’s a great local independent bookstore, featuring book signings by authors I like, music, poetry, and activities for kids, and even visits by comic strip artists like Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine fame. By Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine

Saturday’s event included poetry by a new poetry slam group, Burque Revolt. “Burque” is local slang for Albuquerque. The group performed hard-hitting poetry stories about race and sexism, and actually represented people of color in their lineup. They see themselves as activists and poets. Now, perhaps you’re thinking that poetry should make you feel good. Sometimes it does, sometimes it makes you listen, and think. That was the case. All of the poets, Mercedez Holtry, Dnessa McDonald, Reina Davis and Sophia Nuanez blasted us with heartfelt stories in slam poetry style. They had memorized every bit, since slam poetry is really a performance art. The poems were designed to shock, to challenge and to educate. And I think they succeeded. One of the poets, Sophia Nuanez, included references to the double helix of DNA, so I really liked that. Science and poetry should go together. I spoke with Dnessa about one of her poems. She is fairly new to this slam poetry thing, but has managed to have a poem published.

poetry slam

Despite the fact that some of the poetry slammed men in general and (a category I find myself in) white people, white men in particular, for a pattern of racism and sexism that continues to this day, I was smitten with one of the poets. Even the other poets were impressed by her beauty. As soon as I walked into the store and looked at the people waiting for the event to start, my eyes riveted on her. At my age, I’m not all that impressed by beauty of itself. I really need to know a woman to find myself interested. But once in a while I see a woman that pops the eyeballs out of my head. It’s a quandary. I guess it’s a reflex action borne of a society that prizes physical appearance more than intellectual accomplishment, and a sexist society to boot. I found a photo of her, but a two-dimensional photo doesn’t really do justice to the beauty of this woman in person, and her voice, her poetry and smile.

Reina Davis

I had a chance to meet her, confused a poem of one of the other poets with hers, and couldn’t remember what I had meant to say to her if I ever spoke to her. At one point, I had come up with a line of poetry to describe her effect on my eyeballs, but I forgot it completely when she was standing directly in front of me and listening. I couldn’t even remember her poems at that moment. Women still do that to me sometimes.

There was music then. D. B. Gomez & Felix Peralta a.k.a. Gato Malo, of Dos Gatos, performed some ranchera-inspired new music, and I felt like dancing. Years of dancing to salsa and merengue, cha-cha and rancheras inspires me to dance as soon as I hear it, Unfortunately, Reina, the queen was gone.

Well, Sunday morning came around and I went to Chatter Sunday, a regular Sunday morning venue for music of a more classical nature, and poetry, including slam poets sometimes, and Sophia Nuanez Sophia Nuanez has performed there before. It takes place at Las Puertas, meaning doors, because there are lots of them there from when the space was used to sell antique doors. There is also an espresso bar, which is such a fine way to start a Sunday (not to mention the home-made treats). The program began with the entire ensemble performing a 1986 piece: Airs from Another Planet – wind quintet and piano – reels, airs and jigs, by Judith Weir. One of the numbers from the four-part piece was called Strathspey and reel, so I had to look up strathspey: Strathspey is the area around the strath of the River Spey in Scotland. Uhh, OK. It also has some connection to shields and coats-of-arms, but that wasn’t very helpful either. What it is, is a type of dance tune, a reel played at a slightly slower tempo, with more emphasis on certain beats. Glad I cleared that up.

In the space between music sets, Rowie Shaundlin Shebala, (Diné), told the story of her Arizona grandfather seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, among other poems that gave us insight into her life as the youngest daughter of a Navajo family. She has a wonderful voice and her poetry is well represented in print and at slam competitions. Rowie

Then we went back to the music, this time from 1796, by Ludwig van Beethoven: Ludwig von Beethoven a quintet for piano and winds (op. 16). This was a much more spirited piece than the earlier airs, and the musicians really threw themselves into it this time, even standing throughout, probably to give themselves room to move about, because the energy was frenetic.

Stopped for breakfast on the way home, wecks and had a bowl of hash browns, covered with bits of sausage, bacon, one egg, and lots of green chile as well as red chile sauce, along with two corn tortillas. I was not hungry again for nine hours, which was fortunate, because I went to another rare evening Chatter performance, this time, the Cabaret at the Albuquerque Museum, and a lot of pricy food is available. I did buy a glass of a California wine, a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Joel Gott Wines, which was very tasty (“clean, complex, and elegant”, according to their web page).

The music at the museum started off with a piece from 1720, by Johann Sebastian Bach: JS Bach facial reconstruction Sonata No. 2 in D Major for Viola de Gamba and Keyboard. Fascinating, and so well-played.

That was followed by music of Philip Glass, Glass so I cringed mentally when I saw that in the program. A fifth is the interval from the first to the last of five consecutive notes in a diatonic scale. As it was explained, fifths are never played consecutively, ever, not even two or three at a time. Well, that is, that used to be the case, but Philip Glass did whatever he wanted to do, so he composed a piece built entirely of nothing but fifths. Very unusual and interesting. Ten minutes of it. I sipped my wine throughout.

After intermission we were treated to the 1921 music of Erich Wolfgang KorngoldErich_Wolfgang_Korngold, a composer of operas, and a contemporary of Richard Strauss. He is one of the founders of film music, and you’ve all heard his music. Some of the sixteen films he scored were The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, The Sea Wolf, Deception, Kings Row, and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. (As a purely irrelevant aside, my sister Mary Elizabeth is married to Sara Essex.)

Anyway, the Piano Quintet (op. 15), was delightful, and played with intense passion by the seven Chatter musicians, some local, some visiting: James Shields on clarinet, Nathan Ukens on horn, David Felberg & Ruxandra Marquardt on violins, Keith Hamm on viola, Dana Winograd on cello, and Judith Gordon on piano.

Two days of fun and music. Much to think about, much to research, and music to seek out. And fresh-roasted green chile to eat. Green chile

 

Posted in coffee, comics, food, music, My Life, poetry, race, rambling, wine | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Chatter, a Soprano, a Guitar & 2 Beers

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 10, 2018

photo inside Dialogue Brewing by Martin Ly, 10/09/2018Martin Ly photo

So, in the past I’ve written about the wonderful music I listen to on Sunday mornings, put on by ChatterABQ.org in Albuquerque. Then I drink americanos made by the espresso baristas there. Tonight, the concert was at Dialogue Brewing. They have beer. Really good beer. I had two P-Funk Porters while I listened to the music.

Such music. The guitar work by Martin Ly Martin Ly was truly exceptional. He performed El arpa y la sombra (for guitar) by Leo Brouwer, who is an award-winning Cuban composer, conductor, and classical guitarist. I felt the piece was performed by a master, but Leo Brouwer is the real master. Quite a musician. And so really also is Martin Ly. I found a YouTube video of him playing Mallorca on an acoustic guitar, but he played an electric one for the concert tonight. There were other performers as well, such as David Felberg, who makes Chatter happen every week. He played a complicated John Zorn avant-garde piece called Passagen. Quite strange to my ears, but Mr. Felberg plays the hell out of violin or viola, so he was up to the task. After that, Luke Gullickson played a piece called Nothing is Real, by Alvin Lucier, on keyboard and amplified teapot. Yes, I said teapot. He then played another piece on keyboard called Julia, by Bunita Marcus.

If I had gone and only heard the guitar work of Martin Ly, I’d have considered it a well-spent evening. The real treasure came in the second part of the program. All of the musicians performed, and were joined by Jennifer Perez, soprano. The piece they performed was Death Speaks (five parts), by David Lang. Extraordinary. I loved it, even though I try to avoid opera and musicals and such, but not anymore. Jennifer just blew me away with that incredible voice of hers. I was mesmerized by her depth and her emotion. I could listen to her powerful voice anytime, and never get enough. Really, it was like a spiritual experience. Perhaps it was enhanced by the beers, or I was influenced by her striking beauty, but I was carried away. Jennifer Perez

I hope to hear her sing again. I’d love to photograph her.

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One thing to accomplish

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 29, 2018

Carrot Seed

Most of us would like to end our lives without regret. I think one way to do that is, of course, to accomplish something. To that end, I think I’d most want to have passed along some tidbit of knowledge, something that has made someone think. It’s not that I need to be remembered, because, as I’ve looked at that, I realize I’ll be gone, dead, without any way of knowing or caring about that.

Statues mean nothing to the dead. Moving tributes mean nothing to the dead. Our dead ancestors don’t hear us, except in our heads. We carry memories of people: how they lived, what they said to us, what we said to them, how we interacted, and all of who we think they were. We can interact with those memories; they can drive our behavior in the present. We may derive some satisfaction from following in someone’s footsteps, or following their advice, or perhaps doing something for ourselves that would have shocked that person, or disappointed them or even made them angry.

So, in a real sense, they are with us, not as a physical manifestation (a visible spirit), but as a memory, which is after all, the real ghost of that person. We all carry ghosts with us, and, perhaps not just of the dead, but the living we no longer see or interact with.

What I’m attempting to get at here, is that I thought of something, something I’d like to know someone I love would remember, something that changed them, or gave them something to pass on. But, in the time I spent preparing my breakfast until sitting down to write, I’ve forgotten what it was. I can come up with many things, but can’t recall what was on my mind an hour ago. Live a full, active life? Live for today? Love for today? All seem trite, but, then again, it may just be a very small thing, but small things can make a difference.

For instance, a carrot seed. (The Carrot Seed). I read and passed along Dihedral‘s interpretation of that short wonderful story. He noticed that other people interpreted it in wholly different ways than he thought possible. Is it a story about gardening? about carrots? about a young boy? or the pointlessness of planting one seed? It is none of those things. I agree with the author on this one. Read it (linked above) and see if you do too.

So, what is that little carrot seed I could plant in the head of someone I love? I wish I knew. I’d want them to know that love is real, and real love is not about sexual attraction. So many people confuse sex with love. Notwithstanding that one can love the object of one’s sexual couplings, sex is not love, love is not sex. Leaving aside the Freudians, we do not usually desire sex with one’s parents, siblings, coworkers and friends because we love them. We do not (generally) try to have sex with every person we love. Some people feel that we should love someone before we have sex with them, but that presupposes that love is the object of the relationship. Sometimes, and often when we’re young, it is not. Hormones, loneliness, and sexual objectification can overwhelm us and actually blind us to who a person actually is. Sex is great, but it is hardly the be-all, end-all goal of life, although procreation is certainly a driving force.

I once read that love is when you care about someone without ANY anticipation of reciprocation or reward; that is real love. Infatuation? – no, you want that person, or at least sex with that person. Unrequited love (limerence)? – no, same thing, but you hope that person will feel the same way about you, and sometimes you believe it to be true, and you are hoping for your dream of being together to come true. You want your own satisfaction, you need something, and without that, you are miserable.

No, love is given freely, as trite as that idea sounds. I believe, when you love someone, you want what is best for that person, you want them to be happy, to have a full and loving life. You want that person’s success and happiness, even if you can’t be with them. Their successes make you happy, their happiness makes you smile. Their joy alone satisfies you. That is love, even if you never see that person again for the rest of your life or theirs. Many parents feel that way. Yeah, they love us, but they aren’t really expecting anything in return, in general. Some can demand your time or shows of affection. Or use their love for you as a means of control. I don’t think that is really love. Sometimes it is loneliness, and you’re handy.

But, I don’t care. By which I mean, I have discovered that I can love someone with all I’ve got to love them. I desire their happiness, their success, their joy, their zest for life, and their resilience to setbacks and hardship. And while I certainly enjoy seeing them, I can see only a photo of them smiling at an event posted on Facebook, or hugging a friend, or being on vacation somewhere in the world, or sending out a broadside message to all and every, and that gladdens me. I need nothing from them. Even if I knew nothing of their life anymore, even if they wanted nothing more to do with me, unfriended me,  ignored me, disappeared entirely – I would still love them. I know who they are, and why I love them, and well, that is not going to go away.

Friendships can be fleeting. Sexual attraction fades over time if you never see that person again, and know you never will. There’s a plenitude of people to know, and love, or have sex with, or all three. But when you discover that you love someone truly, you realize you will always love that person and that it simply cannot fade. It is not a wish or a hope, or a desire, but a reality. Something you know. You know. I cannot convince people of that, I’m sure, but, if I could convince that special person I know that: that is all they need, to love someone else, unconditionally, I will have done that one thing, passed along that one tidbit, that one carrot seed. That person they love does not need to be me, and I do not need to know it.

It certainly took me long enough in this rant to get around to it, but yeah, I’m pretty sure what went though my mind earlier was this desire to accomplish that: to leave this world having convinced someone that I love: to love, just love, and realize how wonderful that is, alone and of itself. Maybe I’m just full of myself, but I believe it.

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Autumn in Albuquerque, Make a Right

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 24, 2018

bugsbunnyquote

If Bugs Bunny was coming east from Los Angeles and the Warner Brothers Studios located therein, a left turn at Albuquerque would first take him to Santa Fe, where Chuck Jones lived for many years and was a major contributor to the Opera. But in August, going left, or north, leads to colder and colder climes. Quite cold in the northern mountains of New Mexico, very cold in Colorado, colder still in Wyoming and Montana, and then you enter the Great White North. Not only is it a very cold place to visit in winter, but you’d have to put up with Bob and Doug McKenzie 🙂 So it would likely be a better idea, near winter, to go right into Mexico, Central, and South America.

Anyway, here are some photos I took at the Rail Yards market, located in the old blacksmith shop of the former Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Rail Yards complex in Albuquerque. You know it’s Fall in New mexico when chile’s a roasting.

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Almost Autumn on the Pino and Tree Spring Trails

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 23, 2018

First off is the Pino Trail, on September 6:

Followed by the Tree Spring Trail on Sept. 13: