Thursday, January 08, 2009


Editors Note: Pocono Platypus is the adopted name of a writer who made frequent posts to a thread called “Shipwreck,” which is located at the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on the Internet. Some 180 consecutive posts are gathered here in this story and submitted to me for editing, which I have done very lightly. Most of the words are his, with a few interjection and comments from his largely female audience. As Pocono Platypus himself explained, he did not join this Tarot discussion group because of his interest in that subject, but he found a warm audience there, and so he began his thread and named it “Shipwreck.”

As the story begins, in the summer of 2005, Pocono is struggling to house himself in Anacortes, Washington.

I was going to name this Daily Drama or Help! but Shipwreck gives us quite a concrete image -- and the best part is being washed up on the beach afterwards, still breathing. Also the nautical image suits our chief guide and inspiration -- Wales Woman, who is out to sea right now and also out to see, who can accept our affection subaqueously in her water world, remembering the fabulous mud fight from Random Thoughts.

I have found a home as of yesterday, and very good sleeping it was last night. This is a brand new garden studio 12x16 feet with lots of windows, tucked away in the backyard of Madelaine's house, amid all this overgrown garden -- plus I have no obligation to tend this garden, but just to sit there and let it run riot. I believe I will sleep for a week -- it's been fourteen months in the car, on the road. The first ten months were fun, traveling the land, but the last four months I was only a couch refugee. Anyhow -- over. And tomorrow morning I will have coffee on the patio....I have house privileges of course, plus I can play the piano in the living room.

Nira sewed a button on my pants yesterday -- I can fall in love easily. She gave my trousers a pinch and a tug to see if they would fit better and she said, "This isn't too personal, is it?" She is a seamstress and I made her a trade. Can I say her real name? I think not. Next she is hemming my other pants and patching my favorite shirt..... Meanwhile Adaiah remains out of touch, very much to herself in her house at the end of a labyrinth -- this winding road. I have lived around here for decades, and this road was hidden to me the whole time, until I found her there two weeks ago.

All I can say is that it's a good thing I'm not in charge of all this.

MOONGOLD: Well, Pocono Platypus, I am glad that your ship has finally found a port. It seems like a nice harbour rather than a shipwreck but I guess that is a matter of perception.The thought of the garden running wild is a nice one. Nature has its own rhythms and will probably develop some sort of order after a while. I personally love gardens. I live not far from the Botanical Gardens here and go there usually when there are few others, when it can seem as though you are in a world of your own. I was enchanted by the fruit bats who left these gardens every day in the gloaming time and came back at dawn, chattering joyfully about the night's adventures. The authorities have now relocated them as they were slowly destroying the gardens.

Last year I used to dream about selling where I live, buying a small motor home of sorts and just taking off. I even went to have a look at some motor homes. It seemed important to do that while I was still able to do it but I realized that it was not the time. I miss Wales Woman as well and hope she is safe on her extraordinary voyage. Is there some mythical tale that her life exemplifies? Most of the classics seem to be around the lives of men. She will undoubtedly write and paint her own story when she returns.It's good that you have managed to barter some essential tasks for something else . You did not say what you gave in exchange but then it does not really matter. May you be comfortable and happy in your new home."Shipwreck." It's a good title for a thread. It is often only when you hit the rocks that you learn to navigate. That has certainly been my experience. I must go and attend to some practical affairs of daily life now while the sun is out. July has become cold and serious, as though it must take full responsibility for winter.

Note: Moongold writes from Australia, hence the winter down under. Wales Woman lives and fishes in Alaska.

A beautiful garden you don't have to tend? My idea of heaven.

Yay!! Cool, you're finally settling down, not a vagabond anymore, I was always worried as to where you might be, and was always pleased when I got your email to say you were happy and up to all sorts of mischief.

I think you like all this female attention though, Pocono, being pampered and looked after....good for you!!! Don't think you'll be able to handle seeing that garden to overgrown though will you??? that would drive me crazy I think.

It sounds as if you are firmly on the beach, having found shelter and company already.Though, I wonder when you'll find your Friday.

Beautiful post, Pocono. It just goes to show that life can be wonderful as long as we are happy with our lot. Possessions get taken for granted and people get relied on too much at times and the more we have, the more we 'need'. There is nothing more satisfying though, then just being. Most of us only get to do that for 2 weeks of a year and the rest of the time we struggle trying to be something that someone else wants us to be. A little luxury on occasions, when we aren't used to it, is appreciated so much more.'Shipwreck', sounds as though you are unwilling for this to happen, does that mean you will be moving on again?


I know that Madelaine eventually wants to occupy the studio -- she didn't say when, but I would wish to stay there for one year. I will be bold and ask her if this is possible -- I have a nice set of bedroom furniture in storage. I could make it pretty cozy..... Now, for the garden, I realize that it has achieved what is very rare -- a perfect steady state. My hand gets itchy with the pruning shears, and yet any branch that I would snip would disturb an essential harmony.... I have seen many, many gardens -- that's why I know this is rare and special. There is truly nothing to be done with it except enjoy.The Shipwreck -- it's a voyage, yes? And the Ocean/Thalassa/Womb/Death is everywhere, we sailing in fragile craft, sometimes in control, sometimes adrift, sometimes on a certain path, sometimes lost.

Later: I have read Lord of the Rings three times. My friends say it won't hurt to read Harry Potter, it won't be disloyal to Tolkien. I am in the middle of the Iliad right now -- bit of a tale there, still a good one. But I picked up the new Harry Potter and read five pages at the coffee shop before Gretchen snatched it back, saying don't you dare. This was my first read of JK Rowling. Immediately I got jealous. She can write better than I can. And then immediately after that dismal thought, I said to myself -- maybe I can learn something from her. It's a craft after all -- I will steal some of her licks.Do people at AT (the Aeclectic Tarot Forum) read Tom Robbins? He lives down the street from me in this little town. He is quite successful and rich. Before he got married eight years ago, it was common for gorgeous woman to come floating into town hoping to meet him and bed him. We used to call them Cupcake of the Month, and if they couldn't meet Tom, they might settle for one of us other guys -- so it wasn't bad all around. Anyhow he is a regular monogamist now.Years ago I asked Tom about "borrowing" something from a well-know writer. He said he himself had stolen everything but the kitchen sink. That was encouraging, and so I continued to imitate fearlessly. In fact I don't believe in "originality" at all. Going back to Homer and the Iliad -- he opens his poem by giving credit to the Muse. It was She who wrote it, and the author was merely the humble fellow who put it down on pen and paper. I think that's the way it is too, because it feels good and true. The credit for a good story belongs to the Muse.Meanwhile, as I mused (get it? Mused?) at the coffee shop about JK Rowling, Geraldine came in with her new Harry Potter. She said, if I was interested, I should start at the beginning, and that she will loan me the first one.

I worship Tom Robbins. You can tell him so. Ask him to let us know when he is due for a new cupcake. Tom is my hero, he restored my faith in literature and my interest in reading, after doing a masters in French Literature shot my patience for books all to hell forever.


Hi Pocono,peeking in on your thread...I have read all of Tom Robbins books, and am a pretty big fan (not so big that I have paid a visit to your town tho!) Reading his stories, I had gotten the sneaking suspicion that his romantic life was as varied and plentiful as you described here! He gives new meaning to the word jolly.How nice for all who were also able to ...ahem...profit from Tom's fave book of his, is Skinny Legs and All (a must read during these difficult times) and then Jitterbug Perfume....but Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates is also a pretty great tale!! (if one can wrap their head around the protagonist having pedophiliac tendencies and being a CIA agent, a tough one for me)Which is/are your favorite(s)? And, does he really party like...Terrance McKenna? (nod nod wink wink)

Completely spaced out

Tom don't party anymore, he just takes walks and his wife Alexis tends to him -- but then they are well-fixed and travel the world quite a bit. He's very fond of Africa, being such a pagan at heart. I liked Jitterbug Perfume about the end of Pan and Tom not wanting to die, but to live forever.I am so completely spaced out. I worked very hard in the heat today and then went for a swim. Afterwards I just feel like a limp rag. I swear, I've been staring at this laptop for hours -- it took me twenty minutes to type the last email.Elaine, the conservative editor from Texas, gave me a wakeup call this morning. Her honey voice sounded so good. "Where's the column?" she asked. I am committed to once a week in her paper -- which is very good. It took me six months to convince her to do this. But if I get in her paper I can get in others. I chose to work for her first because she has been real square and solid with me.This will suck me back into politics and away from AT. Like right now, for instance, I am not really here -- even though I have been here completely for several weeks -- AT first and foremost every day.Please, you must not let me slip away.

I hope you don't slip away either. I enjoy reading your observations . Somehow one feels invited to breakfast or just to sit on the terrace, participating vicariously in someone else's life.It's not voyeurism or anything like that. I have always loved letters and diaries because sometimes the warmth of the writer's personality just captivates and diverts.Of course you can't speak about politics here but there are ways and means you could speak about some of that stuff from a personal point of view. Anyway, take care and perhaps get some sleep after your ragged day.


I had two dreams last night. There are simply too many women in my imagination. Louise is always the best. I haven't seen her in ten years, it's like Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, where he loved the woman for 50 years before she came to him. Louise has always been there, since I was 18. Last night in my dream she looked so beautiful -- she had a new haircut and such a smile, walking about, looking so fresh. Maybe she's happy.... I don't like to go back, not to her. Especially I don't think it's good to look people up on Google -- it's not a true finding. You know that you run into the people you're supposed to meet. And it's okay to go looking for people in a natural way -- but not Google. Think of the karma -- are people looking for me on Google? -- I wish they wouldn't.One time my Uncle Jerry, a widower, past 80 years, asked me to find his old girl friend from World War II. He gave me her last known address from that period. I accepted this romantic task as a solemn duty -- I found the woman's sister, knocked on her door, asked her if she would convey this letter to her sister from a Gerald Cuny (Uncle Jerry) and I was told to say that Uncle Jerry would make no further inquiries if he got no response --which is what happened -- nothing. But it was sweet.The thing is that Uncle Jerry always kept this woman in his heart.

Then I had another dream

Then I had another dream. It was about politics. I swear I have never had a dream about politics in my life -- but it was real as my face and rich in detail -- but I won't tell it here, except I'm sure that it came from talking to Elaine on the phone yesterday morning..... She lives in south Texas, she publishes a very successful weekly newspaper in her community. She is a self-taught journalist, just decided to start up a newspaper and has become a local star and pillar of the community. She's my age, Catholic, conservative -- this is where the dream came in because in the dream I attended a meeting of Republicans -- her people.I met Elaine last January while I was traveling through south Texas, and I was impressed by her. I have been looking for a strong editor -- really strong, but not cold. How could I write for somebody who doesn't love me? But if they only love me it will just be mush. Anyhow I fixed on her and it took all this time -- many emails back and forth -- to get her to commit to handling me -- which is what good editors do to good writers.On top of that, Hurricane Emily is coming across the Gulf of Mexico headed towards the coast of Texas, but Elaine said it was likely to pass a good ways to the south of her town, which is called Floresville.


When I was a kid Bill Murray lived down the street from us. He was "Billy" in the neighborhood and he was a real rapscallion. He's four years younger then me. I used to hang with his older brothers, Brian and Ed. The Murrays had a big Catholic family, seven kids, and they lived in a very tiny house -- you had to fight for food and attention in that house, you had to have a sense of humor to survive. They lived right across the street from the Convent, on Elmwood Avenue.... Murray is a wonderful actor and comic, but there are little nuances in his style, little traces of attitude that I can detect and which mark him as a St. Joe's kid. That was the name of our parish -- it's a nice feeling of familiarity when I seem him in a movie..... Like the Caddy Shack. I know that Caddy Shack. That's where we hung out, where we learned to smoke cigarettes and play poker and shoot dice.....The Full Moon: It occurs to me, now that I have AT pals in other parts of the world -- that you all must be having a full moon too. That seems a little strange. Full Moon in Australia, Full Moon in the Netherlands, Full Moon in Texas. Is it really the same moon that I'm looking at here?

Full Moon

I'm living with a woman whose sun sign is in Cancer -- same as mine. I actually talked with her yesterday, after being there a week. What an emotional swamp! She is depressed, smoking too much I weed I suspect. She told me her life -- she does not actually have a bona fide problem -- good health, good house, adequate income, loving friends, etc -- but there are these heavy clouds, as in totally moody. Boy, do I know that swamp.We sat in the patio for an hour. She offered me a chair and placed the umbrella kindly so I would be in the shade. She sat opposite with the sun in her eyes..... Well, I was so comfortably placed that it was easy to listen, with only a few comments of my own. She's an attractive women, wears her grey-brown hair in a ponytail, smooth, creamy skin. She has a rangy figure, tall, squarish shoulders, moderate breasts -- coltish, I would say, when she was younger. But hips? I don't know, because she wears these depressingly ugly, baggy, dirty, polyester grey sweat pants around the house -- completely concealing what are probably a great pair of legs -- which is probably for the best, as we are roommates -- but she could she cover them with something more pleasant.
Oh, that swamp…. It's the hardest thing finding a patch of light in there.Me, I turned to Great A'tuin (from the Never Ending Story lest memory fails me) and seem to be doing better. Having plenty of distractions and hobbies helps, though I should probably focus my attention somewhat.Challenges, yes, good old fashioned challenges. That's the thing, that's just the thing. Even challenging myself to challenges - of the mind of course, finding bogs, floating bits of debris to keep me up, building me a boat with bits of string I find along the way, and as I discovered today, grass can be broken into long fibers and twirled into thread and rope. Though I have yet to see how long they last and if they're any good for anything but decoration.
One never knows with the things that are found here. But Great A'tuin is watching over my shoulder, occasionally nudging me in the right direction.I treat her kindly and she shows me the ropes. She knows this swamp so well you see. And she even helped me build a hut, with a hardwood-floor and everything. I still don't know where she got those slabs of strong mahogany, but sometimes, I think it's better not to ask.
She winked at me when I looked at her with eyes wide open from the surprise. That was, is and will be answer enough.


We Cancers have our own type of depression -- it is global, very broad, encompassing all existence, all past, present, future, every life form, completely pervasive, and for all eternity. That's the bad part. The good part is that the Cancerian depression is neither sharp nor deep -- it simply a shallow fog.I am doing more work on her garden today. She said to me several times, "Do whatever you want to do and don't do whatever you don't want to do." Thank you -- from one mush ball to another. But I will carry out this directive. She also said, "I have a plan but I am overwhelmed." Therefore I will proceed with confidence. I must not be thinking about her, but about the garden. I am not allowed to fix people, only plants.I wrote my column for Elaine today. Yesterday I wrote the scurrilous essay about Africa in which I blamed the Africans for all their problems -- I feel so much better after writing that. So today, my column, also about Africa, was sweet reason itself and the milk of human kindness.

The Heart Sutra

This translation is by Red Pine. I typed it into the computer this afternoon.The Heart SutraTranslated by Red PineThe noble Avalokiteshvera Bodhisattva,While practicing the deep practice of Prajnaparamita,Looked upon the Five SkandhasAnd seeing they were empty of self-existence,Said, “Here, Shariputra,Form is emptiness, emptiness is form;Emptiness is not separate from form, form is not separate from emptiness,Whatever is form is emptiness, whatever is emptiness is form.The same holds for sensation and perception, memory and consciousness.Here, Shariputra, all dharmas are defined by emptiness,Not birth or destruction, purity or defilement, completeness or deficiency.Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness there is no form,No sensation, no perception, no memory and no consciousness;No eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body and no mind;No shape, no sound, no smell, no taste, no feeling and no thought;No element of perception, from eye to conceptual consciousness;No causal link, from ignorance to old age and death;And no end of causal link, from ignorance to old age and death;No suffering, no source, no relief, no path;No knowledge, no attainment and no non-attainment.

Therefore, Shariputra, without attainmentBodhisattvas take refuge in PrajnaparamitaAnd live without walls of the mind.Without walls of the mind and thus without fears,They see through delusions and finally nirvana.All buddhas past, present and futureAlso take refuge in PrajnaparamitaAnd realize unexcelled, perfect enlightenment.You should therefore know the great mantra of Prajnaparamita,The mantra of great magic,The unexcelled mantra;The mantra equal to the unequalled,Which heals all suffering and is true, not false,The mantra in Prajnaparamita spoken thus:‘Gate, gate, paragate, parasangate, bodhi svaha.’”

That was yesterday

Yesterday ended this morning about 7:15 -- the full moon madness, all pretty good, but leaving me jangled and needing to re-boot.Today I'm going to the quiet. I'm going to deadhead the feverfew and get a good hamburger for lunch, and play the piano for hours, and the guitar too, and do the laundry.Tomorrow I'm going to meet JoAnn on the beach near the Edmonds ferry landing.

On the Beach

I was on the beach for a rendezvous with a lady from Kingston whom I had met online. This was very nice -- she wearing a nice straw sun hat and blue shirt and white shorts, so much better than her picture. And so good to meet on the beach where I can stretch out and stare at the sky. Honestly I cannot keep talking on and on, it's better to speak and then gape at the birds for a while and then speak again. I brought milk and apple-raisin bread because I was hungry. Later she said she was thirsty, so I said I would get her something and she asked for a Coke. We compared feet. Hers are prettier than mine. She said she would like to see me again, and then she got back on the boat, going back to Kingston. Where she lives is not near, but not too far either. Everything was favorable. I like the way I am not intoxicated or over-excited.


Every morning I log-in to Aeclectic Tarot Forum, and look forward to reading this thread. It makes my day. Funny you should compare feet, I have a 'thing' about feet and I notice other peoples instantly. I like to see nice feet, well looked after and comfortable looking. Why is it people look after their shoes, and not their feet! loveMoonbow*

A plum job

What I need is a plum gardening job, one or two thousand dollars -- something that will get me into the fall. I have been in a real slump, not wanting to work, not inspired, not working it, which is what I need to do. I have been so terribly distracted with writing....I'm getting really close to quitting my day job -- gardening, because the writing is close to taking off for me, which is wonderful...But I am not there yet, not this month, and not next month. So I need to buckle down and compartmentalize. Like today -- I will write a little, but that's it - no working on these story ideas that are buzzing around my head. No serious writing until Thursday.

Ice Creams and Dreams

Plums and plums, yellow plums and red plums, juicy plums in a sack. I ate some and picked the sack full for Madelaine and Nira.... Today I have a good start on a plum job -- she paid me and gave me an extra ten.....I went to work extra early and then took off for siesta during the heat. Woke up at 3 p.m. for a dish of almond mocha fudge ice cream --- and so I will go back to work at 5 p.m. and get another three hours in....I got this ugly, old stump out -- -- lucky me, not sweating and heaving and wrassling with tough roots -- it was so rotten that it just popped out of the ground. Nira and Fred's garden has been in ruin for years -- I have revived it. Everyone in the neighborhood is smiling -- all so relieved. Nira is a seamstress, Fred does computers. She is scatterbrained. He is mysterious.JoAnn, whom I met yesterday near the Kingston ferry, is very nice. No wonder I'm working well -- I've been nicely plumped up with attention and affection -- helps on the job, you know.She asked me to come and paint her house and she will pay me. I declined, but I said to her, "think of something else, more medium size." Such a big project -- painting a house -- we would almost be living together -- her house is two hours from mine, where would I stay? I would like to kiss her first.

Later I said I would

Early morning, writing this before I read JoAnn's email....As we left off yesterday, she had offered me the job of painting her house, which I declined. But upon reflection, later in the day I replied that I would do it, why not? So many things can go wrong -- why should I be thinking of that? Qualms, normal, as our second date approaches, of being trapped and smothered. So it's time to tell awful girl friend stories.My kids think that worst girl friend I ever had was either Rebecca or Laura. Rebecca was quite fat -- that wasn't the problem. She actually had a very nice figure with excellent proportions, it was just a great deal wider than some other ladies. I liked her figure, she was all extra. That wasn't the problem. The problem was her obsessive, neurotic need to talk about her weight, and her diet, and how she didn't look right. I was made to suffer for all the men who had abused her previously, and all I wanted to was have fun. I used to beg her, "Rebecca, can we have fun now? Do we have to talk about this?"Then I moved from the Seattle area to Boston, and Rebecca and I wrote each other (before the age of email) these wonderful, scathing, insulting letters -- such lovers we were, the letters were actually the best part. All this about 15 years ago. I spoke with her six months ago -- she is still quite a pumpkin.

Two days later

Two days later. So there was Rebecca, and I'm the first guy who ever loved her for being fat, and she wouldn't let me. After that I had an affair with a married woman who was also an alcoholic -- really smart. Of course I had a good reason -- me and Louise were both lapsed Catholics and we had to get our revenge on the Pope for s our adolescent sex lives.

I don't understand these people who are "wounded and wary." I mean these singletons who have had bad experiences in love and so must be very cautious and must make great effort to be emotionally self-sufficient. God forbid we should ever need one another -- that is the modern mantra. But I reject it entirely.I follow the commandment of love and know that we are here on earth to belong to one another. Love is wounding and sometimes fatal, yes?

Originally Posted by Pocono Platypus
me and Louise were both lapsed Catholics and we had to get our revenge on the Pope for squashing our adolescent sex lives.
hahahah! I wish other Catholics I knew could work this out in such a wonderful way

I love this thread...I hope I'm not the only one to have rated it!!Pocono, you are very sweet..... keep writing... etc

Every day is the same

Every day is the same, except the sun keeps moving. I noticed the sunrise at 6 a.m., where it comes up over Mount Baker. Two weeks ago it was rising a bit to the north of the snow-covered cone (a volcano) and it was coming up earlier.This morning I saw it like magic, coming up right behind the cone, making the cone a black silhouette with fire and rays streaming out, and then the bright light came over. It was a good start to the day -- just like yesterday.JoAnn is down there -- one hour's drive and then the ferry -- and I am up here, and we are both flopping and not seeing each other -- a fine romance! Useless old people.I remember driving the whole night, eight hours, 400 miles, sneaking away with my Dad's car, going from Chicago to Minneapolis, to see Michele. I got there early in the morning -- she was surprised to see me. That was 1965.

In 1990 I drove, in the middle of winter, from Seattle to Boston, and it was incredibly cold driving across Montana and North Dakota in January, snow blowing sideways, cold, driving, sick of drinking coffee, tired of the stupid radio stations, car filling up with fast-food debris, bleary-eyed -- all the way to freakin' Boston to see Louise.....I am so glad I did that, even though the whole affair was a train wreck.Now in 2005 I can't seem to get my rear end down the pike and over the water to see JoAnn, and she is beckoning me, but feebly.

Rising from sleep

I am now rising from a nice siesta nap. I can't tell you how much I love to sleep, even the getting up is good -- looking forward to coffee and a smoke, which I shouldn't.

Caridwen says it is rainy in the UK but in the U.S. it's hot everywhere. Cielo says it’s hot in Israel.Snowy has her baby -- but I haven't checked -- he must be fine, named after a Pharoah, was he? No doubt an excellent choice. But what about Ralph, or Larry or Bill? Names fall out of fashion. "Fred" for instance, a perfectly good name for a man child, and yet when I stop pregnant women on the street and suggest that they call their new boy Fred -- why, they are taken aback, as if I had intruded.

Dating continues. Anita sent me an email -- possibly to meet me. She lives an hour's drive from here but often comes this way. I said, in reply, if you're coming this way, then give me a ring. Still, one is old-fashioned and thinks that the gentlemen should go to meet the lady and not the other way around. It is also nice if the gentleman has a little money to spend. In my case, I barely have money for a tank of gas. Honestly, I have never been poorer in my life. That's the truth. Since birth, never this poor. Now, I have a very strong supporting community here in this magical mountainous valley, and most of my needs are met. But I am reluctant to go elsewhere without money in my pocketAnyhow, this is supposedly the modern age and the lady might come to meet the gentlemen. The lady could even, theoretically, buy him dinner, although this has never happened. They seem to go as far as Dutch treat, as we call it in the states, but no further.

Also, since I have welcomed Anita's inquiry -- that would seem to mean that I am not entirely smitten by JoAnn, who is looking forward to seeing me next week. Well, JoAnn and I are not engaged -- we have only met once. Instantly I feel monogamous. It's just my nature.But this is not being too flibberty-gibbety, is it? to make a date with Joann, and still possibly go to meet Anita? I would never compare the two ladies -- that would be odious. But at this stage, I can certainly let things sort themselves out.Who knows? And then, at the Summer-Water Festival Parade last evening, the African dancing girls came by swaying their hips -- I was totally lost. I suppose that would happen no matter what.


This is important

Last night I was throwing bricks at the raccoons who live in the redwood tree next to my garden house where I sleep. The nerve of those nasty rotters. I was mad. I don't normally throw bricks at people or at animals -- because it is wrong and because I might be caught and be punished.But last night, I came out of the cabin to take a leak on the bushes, and those nasty hoodlum raccoons were just staring at me, not six feet away. Their insolence! Their lack of respect! Any decent animal would run away and hide at my approach.The pile of bricks lays by the door. I picked one up and hurled it at the raccoon. I aimed well too. I darn near hit him, but all he did was move back again like Na-na-na-na can't catch me! I was ready to go nuclear after this. I kept hurling the bricks, one after another, about a dozen. There were bricks all over the yard. But the raccoon never moved more than six inches to get out of the way -- little creeps! I don't like raccoons. I went back in the cottage and fell asleep.

I lost my shirt

I lost my shirt. It's the white and rusty-brown summer shirt that my daughter bought for my birthday last year. It has become my favorite shirt, but I can't find it. I never lose anything. People think I am not possessive because I own so very few things. But I am very attached to the things that I have -- I like to remember where everything is, and I can't find my shirt -- my best shirt.My second best shirt is the old blue-checked long sleeve shirt, that is so old and soft from extra washing. It is a comfort rag at this point and falling apart. I gave it to Nira, the seamstress, to repair. She will turn the collar and put patches on the sleeves. This shirt is too precious to throw out, and I am really glad to have a good seamstress.

Today I am wearing my least favorite shirt. It is a vaguely blue plaid short-sleeve shirt, a cotton blended with a touch of polyester (I hate polyester). This shirt was a gift from Tony Wolffe, because I stayed at her house in Ohio last year. She loves to give people presents and she gave me this shirt. Normally I wouldn't wear anything with polyester, but Tony is a sweetheart, so her shirt is all right.My final favorite shirt is the expensive finely blue-checked Burberry that my Mom gave me in 1995. She died in 1996. This is the last shirt she gave me. I almost wore it out, but now I won't wear it. I just keep it to remember her love.

August doldrums

I talked with my kids on the phone, one hour for each one. My daughter, 26, is wondering whether to go to Chile for a three-week vacation -- or save money and only go to Mexico. She called me three times yesterday to hash out her options and I was bored with the while thing and feigned interest.Then I called my son in Boston -- long talk. He dumped a soda on his laptop -- that will cost him $500 for the repair, and his summer vacation money is gone, although he wasn't feeling too sorry for himself. You can still go to the beach, I told him. Also he got a bad grade in his first semester of graduate school. This was not interesting to me either because he always gets bad grades. He has a great mind, but the actual output is not so hot. The teacher always love him because he is such a good and interesting fellow -- so he always gets through his course with a middling grade. Nothing has changed.

It's the August doldrums. I don't care about anything. This morning at the coffee shop, they tried to serve me coffee in a glass cup. This is so wrong, although it's not actually vile. Coffee should be served in a white or light-colored cup because the white, or say a nice ivory-tone, gives a pleasing contrast to the dark, rich coffee color. But a glass cup is inherently wrong for serving coffee and there will be no discussion about this.The barista gave me a strange look, after I told her that a glass cup will not do. I fumbled an excuse -- I said, I don't like croutons in salad either.You see, I'm an easy-going guy, undemanding in so many ways -- but there's just a few things that need to be said, and it's not my personal taste, but a matter of grave importance. I do not have time to explain the wrong-ness of croutons in salad at this point. Just take my word for it.

Just wondering why anyone would put croutons in a salad...Ah, well...Did you get that coffee in a mug?

Passive - aggressive

I have lost most of my email addresses by a kind act of fate, it seems. My email program became completely erased. I loved the clear blue emptiness of the screen and the chance for a fresh start. Still, I think I had unconsciously willed it, but not openly, not courageously -- just to throw things out. Instead I let it happen. This is called being passive-aggressive and not a good thing. I mean if I had the mental strength to jinx my own computer, why don't I just use that strength consciously and deliberately. I will do what I choose to do -- this is what I am telling myself. Does this make sense?In the meantime if I could hear from Cielo, Snowy, Caridwen, Eco74, Fire Maiden, Wales Woman, Phoenix Rising, and others to get their addresses back. Either give me a PM or send direct to [email removed by moderator].I will be meeting JoAnn on Sunday. I will take the ferry over to her side. She will pick me up and show me around her part of the country. Maybe I will clam up at this point. Men tend to talk at length about women they don't know or don't care about. When it gets closer, we stop talking....Now, this is an important point. We stop talking, but we do not stop communicating. Women have this unnecessary reliance on words, when in fact words are very limiting when expressing emotional concepts. Men are actually very telepathic. When I stop talking to my pals about JoAnn, they will just switch over to the other wavelength.A bit didactic, I suppose. I slept poorly last night. It might have been the Coast Guard helicopter that kept landing and taking off in the middle of the night --some training exercise I guess.

Nervous breakdown

Madelaine is having a nervous breakdown. I have been staying in the lovely garden cottage in the back, but her gloom and depression is beginning to overwhelm the place and now it verges on paranoia. Apparently I am to blame, along with a host of other people -- we are all out to get her and make her suffer. She has asked me to leave promptly. This was hugely upsetting to me. After walking away from the house and cooling down, I have determined, at least for now, that no, I will not leave promptly, but that I will hold her to the agreement she made with me -- one month's housing in exchange for a certain amount of garden work.... I really feel that it's important for me not to be a chump. I have acted with unfailing courtesy. I have been guesting and working off my rent for more than a year with various home-owners -- all of whom were glad to have me and all of whom would welcome me back, because I earn my keep.

Madelaine needs to get a grip -- No, I will not set her house on fire. No, I will not torture her cat. I am not even dealing drugs. Of course it's true that I did not leave the soap in the soap dish as I should have, and I washed my clothes using hot water, when she says we should only use cold -- my only excuse for that, being a gardener, my clothes got awfully dirty.The alternative is that I simply leave early, that she has become too much trouble, and that I would be wasting my time and only get sucked into her dementia. Okay, I might make that my choice, but I want to make it clear that, under any circumstances, I will not be a victim, and that I have a right to be in that garden house for the agreed time because we made a deal.

Sigh -- poor Madelaine, she is suffering. Of course maybe, if she didn't stay up all night smoking pot in her bedroom, maybe if she let the sunshine in a little bit .....Well, there's plenty of good news elsewhere -- like tomorrow, going across the water to Kingston to spend the day with the fair Joann. And that Elaine, my editor, has agreed to pay me promptly and is asking me for even more work. This is good. Love to all.

On the Beach

"On the Beach" That was the great movie from the 1950's about the end of the world from nuclear explosions. It was set in Australia, starring Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire and Ava Gardner (incredibly sexy). They played Waltzing Matilda and then they all died under the radioactive clouds. It was so sweet and sad.

I only thinks of this because of so many Aussies at AT and then I spent the day on the beach yesterday. See how the mind works?I don't think the end of the world is much of a problem. My saying is "If there's no solution, then there is no problem."

Now, ahem, playing Beach Blanket Bingo with JoAnn was extra fun, our day on the beach, nuzzling like baby seals, peering at rocks, and basking in the sun. The fog came in and everyone else disappeared. We ate a picnic lunch. It was quite good all around. I found out her last name and that she is Italian.Does this mean pasta with extra special sauce? (using food as a metaphor)Okay, Okay, it's Monday morning, no more dreaming, I must to work go.

I was depressed yesterday

I was depressed yesterday. I'm sure it will be much better today.Yesterday I had to move out of Madelaine's house and go to the campground. The campground is a wonderful place and I enjoy being there. I've stayed here for weeks at a time in the past -- sleeping under the trees in a small tent. It's near the saltwater, so I can hear the fog horn at night, which is very enchanting. Everything is pleasant and quiet and I can arrange my things just as I choose -- being the master of my domain. This is all good.But, and but again, I did not decide to be in the campground. They decided that I must leave Madelaine's house since she was becoming distressed. "They" is a group of people I would not like to be friends with anymore. They have treated me too shabbily.This is a small town thing, which might be instructive to the rest of you, in that I have a permanent and secured position in this community. I belong here. I always get to be here, but I can never, never, under any circumstances change my position in the pecking order and that position is very low -- too lowly. Madelaine is simply far more important than me, and I just cannot be a part of this group anymore.The larger situation is that I have lots of friends and no money. Can I trade in some of my friends for money? I have been such a doormat. No more Mr. Nice Guy. I think I will strip down to about three friends, plus JoAnn, if she will love me.JoAnn elevates me in a big way. Woman have that ability -- to make a man smaller or bigger. She wishes to make me bigger -- quite good, I have not been able to do it by myself. I really should have more weight, so that I am not so easily swept aside.I feel so good to be able to write this. Today will be a much better day. Did Snowy Girl have her baby? Happy Baby to everybody.

So much better today

Memories fade -- the House of the Drama Queen? I scarcely remember anything about that.Last evening I spent two hours working with a 13-year-old girl in the garden. It was extraordinary. I'm actually working for Nira and Fred, installing new plants and re-building the soil. Then the daughter, Sarah, came out of the house and said she wanted to help. It is so rare and wonderful to find a young teenage girl who is interested in plants, who is willing to be a little hot and sweaty -- because there were two possible chores she could do -- pick up rocks in a bucket, or shovel mulch into the wheelbarrow. She did both with a will, although in a somewhat dainty fashion, which is understandable. I gave her the proper stance for shoveling the pile of mulch -- which is not dainty, but with feet spread a bit and firmly planted. Such a darling girl and very bright. I told her that if she picked up a few skills she could make good money gardening in her neighborhood -- more fun than babysitting!For me, I have not actually been in the company of a 13-year-old girl in many years, so it was like meeting a whole new kind of people -- pretty cool.

PoconoJust so that you don't think you are posting for nothing, I come here every day to read this. One of my favorite threads.Can I see my 14 year old helping in the garden?...... not without her ears plugged in and being picky about what she does.Moonbow*


sorry to hear about your living situation.Bravo to you for handling it so well, and with such grace. Things like that can get so ugly so fast. I hope your next abode is welcoming and safe. Some folks just cannot live with another, no matter how easy going the guest may be. Just the mere presence of someone in their home sets them off to noticing every little "problem" that the guest seems to be "creating," like the abhorrent tendency to wash clothes in hot water! What were you thinking, Pocono? Nice to hear Romance is paying you a visit. I hope Her stay is a long one.

She called

She called last night and said she was having deep thoughts. I said to her -- good!I had not been having deep thoughts when she called -- I was having very petty thoughts about all the people around me who do not appreciate what a wonderful and important fellow I am. But the timing was perfect. In an effort to overcome petty anger, I purchased a bottle of red wine, I then constructed a cheerful fire in the camp and poured myself a glass. It was getting a little better. Just exactly then is when she called. Deep thoughts. She said it was a little scary. I re-assured her.Then her deep thoughts melted my angry, petty thoughts and things smoothed out pretty good.In other news: My seamstress -- everybody should have one -- repaired my favorite blue-checked shirt. She turned the collar and put invisible patches on the sleeves. It feels so good to wear.

I love this thread, Pocono. And I heartily endorse your glass coffee mug and crouton ban.~Mercy

Why men don't go to Yoga

My yoga teacher asked me why men don't go to yoga class, because most of the time I'm the only guy in the class and otherwise it's all women. I told her, "Men don't go to Yoga class because there's no equipment and you don't keep score."And then I stopped going myself. Too many "ladies in leotards" preening and stretching. If I begin even looking at their bums -- well then there's no point in going at all -- no equanimity.Still there would be more men in the class if dunja, the teacher, did not make these belittling remarks -- bad habit of hers. She's a very bossy, very directive teacher -- that's not a problem -- you get a really good workout -- but then she spoils it with some snide remarks and then she wonders why the men don't come. So I haven't been going -- except I ran into Bob this morning and he said he was going. I'm not so busy today. I have had lots of good stretching of emotions this week -- so a yoga class would be a good way to bring it all home. Bless you all.

Dry skin

My body has metamorphed. I have dry skin, a flaky scalp, and an itchy crotch. Wherever the natural oil used to come from, it ain't coming now. This has been almost a year now. Coffee and cigarettes dehydrate me, I know that -- it may be that I can't get away with this anymore. I carry a jug of water in the car and try to drink water while I drive. I always forget to put lotion on my skin. I don't think the doctor can help me, but I shared this dry skin thing with JoAnn, the (new) girlfriend. She's interested in the problem -- although to her I only said "dry skin," I didn't say "dry skin, flaky scalp and itchy crotch." JoAnn and I are not yet at full disclosure. In fact I hope we have a long, loving relationship and never get to full disclosure, but I digress. I have dry skin and I need help. My friend Dean drinks some nasty aloe-vero liquid. I'm sure that's good for skin. Or, for $50, I could get a thorough massage with some restorative oil -- that would be great. Any ideas?

You might need more fat in your diet.

Yes, more fatty foods -- good fat like olive oil or other enhancers will do nicely As would whole milk and other non low-fat products.There are several additives available in the health-stores. Omega-3 and Castor-oil might come up as options.As the body does not store energy as well as before, it is necessary to make sure there is a supply of what is needed in the food in-take. So, no cutting off rinds, no low-fat products and no fear of adding a little extra topping on that midnight-snack. Incidentally, olive oil is a common ingredient in skin products and can be used in its raw form to make skin softer. Cheaper than those "special creams" as well.Rub some on in the shower and let the excess wash off, or (if you have the opportunity) take a nice hot bath with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil added to the water.

Just another manic Monday

This is very good to have this advice and I say Thank you. I will get more olive oil. I use it liberally for skin and hair -- even if I smell like a pizza -- or I might get sesame oil. Either way, plain, good oil cannot possibly hurt your skin or hair and certainly should help. As for diet, I have naturally low cholesterol and blood pressure -- so I generally scoop on extra mayonnaise, butter and salt with no concern........... I think it's the dehydrating effect of cigarettes and coffee that is making my skin dry. It seems that I am on a collision course with these very strong habits.... In the meantime, I am going to the doctor tomorrow to get some cortisone cream -- I know this will only relieve symptoms, but I would like to have a few days off from this irritable scratching.... I also must examine, through introspection, the psychosomatic factor -- why am I scratching myself so much? I have always had a mild head-scratching habit, just a nervous thing, just a way to stimulate the scalp and keep the thoughts moving along -- but now I have an obsessive, persistent scratching habit -- with an underlying physical cause -- but nevertheless there is a psychic root as well..... Health is a blessing. This wonderful body that I've had and used for so many years -- which has always been there for me, despite my neglect -- now it needs a little care -- it's the least I can do.


Making Plans

The days are getting shorter. The sun is going down earlier. The leaves are not falling but they are starting to look tattered and tired. I feel the cold breath of winter and the stimulation of fall. I had better make plans. This is good, because my new sweetie is a Grade A Planner -- she designed and built her own house.So if I send her my tentative, awkward plans, it's like love notes. I should say straightaway that I was not born with the planning gene. People say live for today like they should live in the moment. Well, that is no virtue for me, in fact I have a hard time being in anything but the moment. I have really overdone this thing about being spontaneous. I think it's about time that I learned to do something that has been difficult, like plan ahead.A change of seasons, the end of summer is coming, but yesterday I went skinny dipping in the River -- Whoopee!

Making more plans

I'm still making plans -- it keeps the worries off. I keep thinking about Israel and Gaza. I'm not worried about Israel, it just seems to be on my mind right now...

Also, the girl friend is looking forward to seeing me on Saturday, and I get overnights -- on the couch. In 1969 I decided that the world was going to hell and that America is a terrible place with no future -- I have lived accordingly. Maybe that's why I never made any plans. But some time last week I revised that scenario -- life is good, the world is not going to hell and America is a fine place to live. I could explain why I made this change but it would take too long.

I've read your thread and am so enthralled by the way your mind works... it's so nice to know what a man is honestly thinking for a change. I really liked that bit about when he gets very interested and stops talking about someone... LOL. Sometimes I think that is also when he stops talking to her as well because if he says too much, then she's got ammo or something she can hurt him with. Then, when he's decided things will be ok, he finally says more than the state of the weather and football scores.I think maybe men don't do yoga because it doesn't keep score, have equipment or just seems too "sissy" for "real men", tho' I can see why depreciatory comments might make any interested guys not want to get their chops busted.So is my husband's orange rain gear, fish guts up to the tops of coordinating orange rubber gloves, eau de salmon an actual aphrodisiac? Maybe for a gardener, it might be knee deep in mulch and manure with a shovel. I dunno, I've tried the sexy underwear, candlelight, soft music and had more luck with the raingear and fish guts. I never get told I'm wonderful otherwise! LOLI'm thinking it was working together and not getting seasick or moaning about "twist wrist" from dislodging gills and not complaining or getting discouraged when the fish would not bite the hooks as often as we'd have wished. Anyway, I'm sorry about the circumstances surrounding your change of residence. No matter how you rationalize you are better off away from that particular brand of neurosis, it still must suck.

It's the monsoon season and I noticed on the drive home that fall is here, summer is winding down to a crashing halt as the temperatures falls lower each evening and we aren't as hot as a week or so ago.
Hope things work out... I don't understand how anyone could not love you to bits.

Ah yes

The fishing is good. I used to fish, used to make a living at it, not so much from the catching, but from writing for a fishing magazine. That was my Dad's business -- he made the fishing magazine and I grew up that way, knowing that fishing is money. Fish is food, fish is money, that's what I know.But I quit fishing 20 years ago, I just gave up. I couldn't catch anything. I went out on the river every day for a month and I didn't catch anything, and I just quit -- took up gardening, figured I needed to give the fish a rest and repair the land and be making it better for the fish with cleaner water and all things more natural. That was my direction -- to improve the habitat with better gardening, and all the time I said that those fish of mine -- and they are mine! -- were out there in the ocean getting fat and pretty and more of them too and waiting for me to come back and catch them. So is it that time yet? Can I leave the garden now?Yes, Wales Woman, catching fish is very sexy. You catch more fish, you have more money, then you can lay around in the winter and make more babies or just have fun.

I hope you don't think I was offended by your post and what to do when fishing is over. I busted out laughing and was going to reply with, 'now it's just for fun, not making babies' and decided that was too risqué.

Years have passed since yesterday

Yesterday's post was, in psychic time, written about three years ago. I can hardly remember who that guy was who made that post. I went to see the girl friend. We had a wonderful time, walking around, looking at her garden, fixing dinner -- and then premium couch time with her and the kittens while we watched a movie.She fixed me a bed on the floor and I spent the night. In the morning she volunteered that she couldn't make love to me because she was still in love with her ex-husband. Did I just hear a woman saying No? It sounded like music. What does No mean? She didn't say No to some guy walking down the street -- but she said it to me in a very tender way. Kind of a melting No.Then she baked a blueberry coffee cake for breakfast, and I told her about the plans I'm making -- she is a very good strategic thinker.I noticed that she is energetic and a bit fiery. This is a woman who could lose her temper. Mama!

WALES WOMAN:Well darn, what a way to get a letdown. It's nice that she said it in a kind way. I thought I was in love with a guy and he was sort of the main motivation to come to Alaska in the first place. After I got here and he realized how much I was hung up on him, he told me he wasn't in love with me, tho' he did love me very much and to come to him if anyone ever hurt me and he'd beat the crap out of them. Wow, it broke my heart and made me feel wonderful at the same time. We are still great friends... 27 years later.

Well, you know.. The fact that she volunteered her thoughts on the subject means that she was thinking about it - on her own accord - without feeling pressured - even pondering it..No wonder it sounded like music. She sounds like a very good woman indeed, this girlfriend of yours.

At the end of the next post, Pocono describes his new “home” in the seine skiff perched on blocks in Jim Smith’s yard. It was an ugly, moldy old boat, but Pocono maintains a pathetically optimistic attitude about it.

Coming Down

Monday morning coming down. I'm lovesick and we had a little spat via email.I sent her a message last week that she ignored or didn't say anything about. So I reminded her that this was necessary, for her to read. She replied that she will not do anything that is "necessary."But then I pointed out that my words are like flowers. I said, "If I were to walk in your garden and crunch one of your flowers carelessly, you might glare at me."I said, "Your house is warm and inviting, but it also commands respect." It is the same with what I write -- important to me, less important than my children, but more important than anything else. So I told her that.(But it's really about sexual tension.)Now I must work on the boat. It sits on blocks in Jim Smith's yard. I am living in the cabin. It will take me about four hours to clean it up nicely and get settled. Also I am making a deal with Jim to pay $50 for use of utilities. You are probably tired of hearing about these bad housing arrangements I have made recently -- not nearly as tired as I am -- but this could actually work.

Minor spat ends

Minor spat with girlfriend has ended -- no need to discuss that. Except to say that I really love to fight and she would be a wonderful woman to fight with -- grappling, tussling.As of today, the best plan that I can come up with is to continue with what I am doing -- which is to move from house to house and scrape by with a living -- I only need to correct the false notion that I have been doing something wrong.Furthermore, this small houseboat, sitting on blocks, under the trees, in Jim Smith's yard, is just awesome cozy. Yesterday I scrubbed for hours -- all cobwebs gone, mildew areas scrubbed with vinegar water, all windows made shiny and clear. Everything smells nice. Then I gave Janet $50 cash to cover my use of her utilities -- bathroom and laundry, plus the extension cord out to the boat. I set up a little kitchen on the counter -- it's so cute. In celebration I bought myself a half-pint of Jim Beam whiskey and drank myself to sleep -- ah, bliss! It would be good to have a radio and possibly a CD player. It already has a nice rug on the floor. I fantasized launching this vessel and turning it into a real houseboat. The hull is in decent condition. I could hire somebody to pick it up on a trailer, and then acquire docking space -- making another plan

It keeps getting better

It's all these stupid rules that you read in the books of wisdom -- they always say that you can't hold on to things because it's always changing -- who made up this rule? -- I would like to know that, because things are going well for me right now and I would strongly prefer that they continue to go this well for at least a few weeks or even longer, maybe all the way until Christmas.Good work at Nira and Fred's garden. Good food and good sleeping at the houseboat under the Yew tree. Good writing for my newspaper column, and good love from my girlfriend -- last night I was writing silly love poems.And I'm not supposed to hold on to this?My lunch: two hard-boiled eggs with salt, pepper and mayonnaise, small salad with Italian dressing, soup of chicken and rice. I ate this while reading the Wall Street Journal, which had an interesting article about lobster fishing in Maine.Reading: I have the fifth Harry Potter book ready to go, but I have paused (recently reading the first four for the first time) because I need to read Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.Dry itchy skin -- reported last week -- all gone. The doctor recommended an over-the-counter cream -- that helped. Plus I doused the infected area (a fungus it was) with Vinegar. I think it's the vinegar that really helped.



Now the girl friend is getting too busy. Her job is driving her bonkers. Her family is coming to visit and she's having the house painted -- not focusing on me. I could compete for her attention or just be there when she is free. I think Time is my best friend here.
I went to Mary Hedlin's nursery to look for marigolds. Mary Hedlin is an actual, living angel in the flesh -- I'm not kidding. Turns out she had a close-out sale on marigolds, beautiful yellow ones for fifty cents. I took all 16. They will bloom well into the fall, and the deer don't like to eat them. So I drove out quickly to Nira and Fred's garden, where I am working, and put them right into the ground.


Being Pocono Platypus on AT is simply fun, but it also gives me a chance to be freer and more honest than I might be otherwise. But to drop the mask for just a moment -- I always thought my brother had the good name in the family -- Tom Owens -- "Tom" and "Owens" go together well to my ear. But "Fred" and "Owens" always seems a little bit forced. Owens is a common Welsh name. Fred is a Germanic name -- they don't mix that well. Besides that, my Dad was Fred Owens. He was the real Fred Owens in my mind. I'm the copy, the junior versionLots of authors have used pen names -- Mark Twain being the most famous. Pocono Platypus is only for AT. I wish to be more like a bird or a bear or a fish. Any suggestions?


I'm moving to a regular Blog, but I will need to post an Advert to tell you where it is...... Rushing off to work now

Well, got to say that I'll miss finding your posts here. It's been riveting.

Still here

I'm having nookie withdrawal, and I'm missing her a lot. Last weekend we spent some real quality time on the couch. That was so wonderful, arms wrapped around each other, sinking into the cushion, watching this slow easy movie, getting sleepier, little kisses... But now we're both too busy. It won't be for a couple of weeks, until we see each other.I am surprised at the depth of my feelings for her. I was figuring we'd just have fun, light and easy --and all this feeling, which is so much more than that -- where did all this feeling come from? And it hurts, in a pretty good way. Hurts in a good way, so there's nothing to fix. Like some un-exercised muscles all of a sudden getting a good work out -- this heart of mine is fairly bursting.I'm switching over to the blog sometime later today. I'm getting excited about the prospect -- because I won't be thinking about whoever reads it. Like at AT where I'm talking to some people I know. But this blog will be like the big, blank wall, and there's a fine line between art and self-indulgence. But the thing is -- the blog will surge on ahead regardless of feedback. Length, for instance.I keep my posts short because I figure that people won't read more than a few paragraphs. None of that anymore. The blog will be as long and as long and long as it needs to be. I won't be thinking about tiring people out. They can read it or not. I really hope a few AT folk can come with me to the blog -- because I really do have a lot of affection for you all.Anyhow I will post an announcement here, and then put the details, the blog address, on the Advertising section -- as our gentle AT moderators instruct us to do.

Well Pocono, I for one have read every single word you've written and I shall miss your updates, but I also understand your reasons.You've also said a few poignant remarks which I will remember because they have touched something in me, (well more than a few, but there are some special ones).Don't desert us entirely though, we still want to see you in other threads.

Too miserable to move

I am too miserable to move over to the blog. Everything is just going to hell around here. The usual problem of being broke -- what really depressed me is taking a look at my journal. I stopped writing my journal a few years ago and I never read it, but just once last week I took a quick peak at something I wrote 14 years ago. What depressed is seeing that I have the same stupid problems today that I had 14 years ago. Nothing has changed. Every effort and every struggle has served only to keep my in my present position. Goals that I had set -- never achieved. No wonder I never read my journal.Then, to sort of climax my misery, I get a phone call from Precious, my ex-wife. I haven't heard from her since early June. Her life is falling apart badly. She is from Zimbabwe. So many of her relatives have died. A phone call from her means that somebody else has died in her family -- people who were my in-laws, people I got to know very well from living with her family.So she calls. Uncle Milton is dead. Aunt Molly also died, but that was two months ago. Now Aunt Molly’s daughter, Maureen, has died too. I never liked Aunt Molly. She was a large, ugly and brutal woman, very much unloved by one and all. She made a living selling boiled cows feet at the local beer garden. She lived in a tiny room in back of her father's house. Aunt Molly, if she ever spoke to me, it was only to ask for money. But I am still very sad to hear that she passed away.Her daughter, Maureen, age about 30, was also a stocky and broad woman, but quite lovely, and did not inherit her mother's foul expression. Maureen was sweet and nice. Precious, my ex-wife, who is 39, spent many hours taking care of Maureen when Maureen was a baby. Precious did the bulk of her mothering chores when she was 7 to 12 years of age. As she said, "I carried Maureen on my back," literally. So Maureen is dead.Uncle Milton died. He was the third of four brothers. Lovemore Peter was the first-born son and Precious's father. Lovemore Peter was murdered two months ago by government thugs in some dispute over a cow -- basically Lovemore Peter had the cow and the government thugs wanted to eat it..... That was the message from a previous phone call from my ex-wife saying "My Father died, he was killed."The second son is Smiley, who I liked very much. He is healthy and doing fine as far as I know. The third son was Milton. Milton was very small and slight and almost surely he was gay. A very pleasant man who once had worked as a graphic artist, but mainly did anything he could find.It was the deterioration of Zimbabwe's economy that killed Uncle Milton. There being no work and no food in Zimbabwe. Milton traveled to Johannesburg to find work as an illegal immigrant. He lived in the Hillbrow section of Johannesburg, which is notorious for its violence. Milton was set upon by robbers and seriously injured. He lived for some time after in the hospital, but finally he died.What did Aunt Molly and Maureen die of? I learned long ago not to ask. I respect my wife's family. I would not tell them that they have a disease. It is for them to tell me. So they just died.In fact this is the truth to a large extent. Africans often just die. It's a soul sickness. They just die of their feelings. And so I am very afraid that Precious will die too, as she has been getting sicker and sicker and her voice is getting quieter, and I know she is thinking that she can join her grandfather and grandmother, and her mother and her father, and Aunt Winnie and Aunt Janet, and Maphuto and Veronica and Christopher and Ndlovu and Ndlovu's wife -- all dead.


Pocono Platypus left AT and began writing in his blog. He also left Anacortes and drove to Los Angeles to visit his brother and sister. Then he drove to Floresville, a small town in South Texas, because Elaine offered him a job at the weekly newspaper she publishes there. Now Shipwreck resumes after a hiatus of several months.

Shipwreck returns

I miss AT. I wrote a blog for several months, but, like, I'm supposed to reveal my feelings to whoever happens to read it? Not this yuppy. Then, when I was looking for a girlfriend, they would read up on my blog and be scandalized -- this was actually just as well -- if they were snoopy enough to find my blog, and shockable, then I guess they weren't for me.Anyway, I dropped the blog
I do news writing at the Wilson County News. I am still working there -- for the next 20 months, when I plan to quit -- and I can come to this cozy chat room and complain about those people with infinite detail -- because AT is a private kind of place. It's still the Internet, It's still connected to most of humanity, but it just feels private, and I think, for the most part, what we talk about here doesn't end up being read by people who shouldn't see it. There is a kind of natural editing at work here, and a natural exclusiveness.So, I re-upped my subscription after being gone for more than six months, and now I find that my Shipwreck thread is still here, so ..... I would like to say hello. I've missed you all, and you are important to me. It's good to be back.

Thursday -- at work

I have the AT screen up on my computer at work. The deep purple colors are a dead giveaway that this is not a "work" related website. Anybody who peeks their head into my windowless cubicle might notice that, especially my ultra-snoopy supervisor.But I am bold. My stories at this newspaper are getting so popular and so good -- the big people are leaving me alone. I could ask for more money, and I might do that, but I would rather leave and take some time off. This is what I am planning for after Christmas.Today, I wrote a story about the Pecan harvest. Pecan trees grow naturally in south Texas, where I live. And they plant pecan orchards.Next, I will write a story about Freddie Fender, the great Tejano singer, who died a few days ago. He was 69. My friend, Pete Talamantez, who is also 69, remembered Freddie Fender and new a lot of people who made music with him.This is a very sentimental topic.My friend, Terry, a nice lady who lives in Seguin, a town 45 miles from here, is not sending me emails today. I was being too rough with her yesterday. I was mad at the people at work, so I wrote to Terry about that. Then she sent me back a very supportive message. Then I kept being mad and it was like I was mad at her, which I wasn't, but it spilled over -- and why did she deserve that? She was just trying to help. I will apologize.Does this post seem kind of workish?

Welcome back! You've been missed!!!!

After work

I listened to the conservative talk show woman this morning on the radio. She was very shocked to report about the way teenagers dance these days, almost like they were having sex, she said. Dry humping we used to call it. Freak dancing, they call it now.I had several reactions to this. First, I too was shocked. The young people should keep their pants on and not get pregnant, and not toy with powerful sexual/emotional energy until they are older.Second, I was envious. I didn't get enough sex was I was a teenager. I was repressed, but these kids today get to do it.These two reactions were dominant. My third reaction was smaller, but generous. I was glad the kids were having all that fun.

Keep talking

I am on the phone with someone who keeps talking and talking -- she's talking about groundwater contamination caused by uranium mining here in south Texas. I agree with her that water is far more precious than any amount of energy we can obtain from uranium fuel in nuclear reactors -- which is a degree safer, I think, than going to war in the Middle East in order to secure our oil supply.But, enough of that. I went to Panna Maria today. Panna Maria -- isn't that a nice name? It's a way out in the country, really just a hamlet with a post office and a very beautiful Catholic Church. It is a famous place, if your family comes from Polish Silesia. Panna Maria is the first Polish settlement in the United States, founded in 1853. The hamlet is deeply Catholic, very tidy and quiet, with a sacred feeling. It was just wonderful to be there, on a small hill, overlooking the river valley. And everything is green and beautiful today, because we have had rain.While I was there, I visited with Elizabeth Kopecki, a woman of 81. She told me the story of her great-grandparents who came over from Poland -- such a wonderful story she told me, about her grandfather's peach orchard, and her parents, and her husband, her children, and grandchildren.

Too much

I am getting over-excited. So many good things are going on with me. I wish I knew how to turn it off. Even better -- I wish I knew how to see it coming and not let it happen.Well, it's nice to feel good, but if this keeps happening, I must learn to take only a small dose.Ted Pietras, a real estate broker in Boston, and a faithful reader of my newsletter, sent me a check for $25. So I thanked him and asked him to buy me a plane ticket to Israel. It would be so good if I could make that journey -- good for me and good for Israel. I love Israel, but I have a nice bit of detachment -- just what is needed. I have been intending to go there for 3 years now.I don't enjoy flying, but if I'm going to fly, why not go all the way to Jerusalem and back?

In a typical and fantastic move, Pocono did ask Ted for the plane fare. Ted replied that he didn’t have that kind of money. Pocono, undeterred, moves on the next dream.

Monday morning

Lots of people go to AT the first thing in the morning when they are at work. Hello out there. Susan Hodges, the editor, comes in and asks me if I remember the opinion piece we ran about saving the family farm. I said there never was such a piece and that's why you can't find it.Then, I need to get more information about the car crash Thursday morning. I got there too late to speak with the state troopers. I only got a photo of the wrecked car being hiked up on the tow truck. The tow truck driver said that a woman and a child had been hurt in the wreck. The people who live on that bend in the highway say that cars crash into their fence all the time because they are going too fast.That's the morning ramble. My psychological state is reasonably good. I am sitting in this windowless cubicle in front of a computer screen that makes a humming noise. Millions of people spend their days like this. I am not stuck at my desk all day, fortunately, because I am a reporter. I leave and head out the door all the time, with or without a purpose or destination, except to "gather news."Still, there is this illusion of "news" -- that something will happen today that hasn't already happened a thousand times before -- a truly "new" event is exceedingly rare, in my view. Mainly it is the old re-cycled in an endless, timeless spiral that makes up our day-to-day fare. So I call it the "nows" rather than the "news."

You do not know me but anyway, I read the whole thread. I found it delightful and through you I enjoyed the vicarious pleasures and the doubtful times you have experienced. I hope you don't mind. I am in Canada, have you been here yet? I am sure you probably have. What an interesting career in which to move about and even if you do find it dull at times, at least you can change venue from time to time. Wishing you many more years of interesting happenings


Been to Canada

I've been to Canada. I am part-Canadian, in fact, courtesy of living in Toronto for five years while I attended the University of Toronto, from 1964-1969.I graduated with a BA in psychology, although I have never pursued that professionally. I was at St. Michael's College at the university. I had such a good time -- it was such a warm community. Toronto was old and brown and inexpensive back then. There were moldy houses and small apartments near the campus where we rented, and taverns yellow with age -- These are all buried under 40-story stainless steel towers in the new Toronto -- but I remember weaving home drunk, back to the dorm, carousing in the cold air.Or, sometimes, in the middle of the night I would walk all the way downtown to City Hall for a personal meditation with the Archer -- Henry Moore's wonderful sculpture.Toronto is still a good place, but much more expensive

St. Michael's. When I was a girl I lived near the old St. Michael's on Bay Street. Are you talking about that one? Sutton Place is built on the site of the old Wellesley Street School that I attended. I was there before your time but I am not sure just what year they built the new St. Michael's as I was off and married by then. I used to skate in the skating rink and run along the brick walls. I spent a lot of time at U. of T. roller skating on those hills!
Wow, if we are talking of the same school, as they surely had old and decrepit buildings near by. I lived on St. Mary's St. in a property owned by the Church and next door to the Seminary that was there. Do you remember?

Same place

Clover Hill was the oldest college building. St Basil's was the church. Loretto and St Joseph's were the girls' colleges. Clover Hill is partly gone now, but the other buildings are still there. My tavern was the Bay-Bloor on Bay Street -- long gone. I had an apartment over on Church Street, Then another apartment on St. Nicholas St. Old buildings, all gone now.But if I was there in Toronto -- I could still feel it. I can feel it right now, and it's making me feel very good. That community of young scholars, drinkers, and lovers. We were the world.I have had such a miserable day -- I am so glad to get your message this evening and get me away from all this nervousness. I was praying -- how will I get away from this shattered life -- but this memory is healing.

I was too young for the bars then but I lived very close to Bay and Bloor. Just down Bay a bit. One day a while ago I did a walk about the whole area! Do you ever remember Inkerman Street? What a funny little street. Kind of just East of Yonge, below Bloor. Some night I am going to go bar hopping around there just for the heck of it. I know there is a well known bar there so am going to check it out. I just need an adventurous friend as it would be kind of silly to go alone. I used to go to the Uptown when the Ink Spots were there and Nat King Cole. They all appeared there and as far as I know it is still standing although I have not been there for a while.

I agree with you, I just loved that area a lot but thought maybe it was just my not seeing life as it was. It never looked shabby to me but I am sure it was.I am sure Ernest Hemingway prowled that area as well since he was a reporter for The Star or in those days.
Inkerman Street

Inkerman Street was peculiar.I had an apartment on Church St in 1965-66, across the street from the 24-hour store and cafe. At that time, it was the only store and cafe in the entire city that was open that late -- very unusual people would come in there late at night. I am time traveling, sitting at this desk at the newspaper office in South Texas in 2006, but imagining the life of 40 years ago.In that little apartment on Church Street, we shared the bathroom with a woman who lived across the hall. She was a barmaid/prostitute. She always brought a customer home shortly after midnight. We could hear them come up the stairs, and then he would leave 20 minutes later. This was educational for me. Also, the transvestites who lived in the downstairs apartment -- something I had not been aware of.But Toronto was so innocent. I think it is still that way. One of my college pals, Barry Byrn, lives on Yonge Street, in that same old neighborhood, in the same apartment since the 1960s -- he's still there. If you see him, tell him I said hello.

That same day

Now it is the evening. The sun has gone down. It is dark. I am not afraid.I write to you from Floresville, a small town near San Antonio, Texas. I am at the coffeehouse in the strip-mall, as we call it. This part of town is infested with Grackles. For those of you elsewhere on the planet, I will explain. One Grackle is fine. But they come in flocks, huge flocks, tens of thousands. Their call is an unpleasant sound -- hence, "grackle." And of course their scat piles up odoriferously. Grackles are a manifestation of ecological imbalance -- there are simply too many of them, whilst other bird species are in decline.It is popular to blame all this on mankind, which is probably correct, but why don't we blame the Grackles too, and some of the other species? If we are not the supreme species, then we cannot be the only ones responsible for the foul winds blowing on the planet.I talk to the animals. I didn't used to, this is a new thing for me, which began in the last year or so -- a desire to understand and communicate with animals. The real change came a few months ago, when a cricket flew into my apartment and I befriended it, keeping it as a pet for six weeks, and we had many conversations. Mainly I used to sing to the little fellow, and he would look up at me, and we both wondered what was going on.

Nervous Knees

I'm getting worse and worse. The stress of this newspaper job causes my knees to tremble. Sometimes I can hardly stand up without holding on to the wall. I am not used to being in enclosed spaces, with bright lights, and no plants, no earth, no animals, no children, no air -- I mean the office. The office is killing me. It's been one week short of an entire year -- something I have never done before for such a long time. Usually, I have worked outside, in the garden, or on the farm.I am determined to stay here until Jan. 1 -- and go camping and restore my nerves -- but today I wonder if I can last that long.

I think you should be a college professor.

Thank you

Thank you, Lark, that's a very nice thing to say.I would like to teach, but I don't know how to get there from here. I made a good effort to become a teacher 5 years ago, but it failed. Now I can review the whole failure and once again feel that bitterness of defeat -- it does make a good story -- about how I really screwed everything up in graduate school, and wrote a wonderful 120-page thesis in history, only they didn't like it because it was too much of a story, and not footnote-y, and why didn't I quote the academic journals more often (because they are too boring to read), and if I completely revised the thesis, and started all over again, and de-story-fied my story, then I would get a masters degree and become a teacher.I walked away from those people -- very angry, defeated, bitter. It took a long time to get over that. But that was then. Can I teach now? and how would that happen? it would be quite less stressful than this newspaper work.Education is really very simple. "You can teach what you know to someone who wants to learn it." Right? You can't teach it, if you don't know it. And if they don't want to learn it, they won't. All the rest is technique.

History is the wrong choice for you.English or creative writing is a much better choice.
Combine that ability to teach with your gift for telling a story and now you've got something.
I would not have enough fingers on both hands to count the people I know who want to learn to write, and write well, for all kinds of reasons...some to write a book, some just to get ahead in their job.Go camping and think about it.


I know how to write, so who wants to learn?I'm counting the days, 67 days, until the camping trip begins. The camping trip will last for months and months, if I get the weather right, starting in far South Texas in January, and going north with the season, sitting round the old campfire with my laptop on my knees.I am tempted to begin this afternoon, and right away, because my health might demand it, but if I breathe slowly and deeply, I can stick around this town until Christmas. There are so many wonderful people here, and they often tell me that they appreciate what I do at the newspaper.

Pocono intended to make a long camping trip, but when he left his job in January, 2007, he realized that all his energy was directed toward the exuberance of urban life – so he made fast tracks to Los Angeles – but we’re getting ahead of the story now.

Long nap

I went home for lunch (advantage of living in a small town). I took a 45-minute nap, not really sleeping, just dozing. I began to remember something from about 1963, when I was in high school. My parents went to Europe for several weeks, and visited London, and saw musical theater, which they loved. They returned with a vinyl record of "Oliver" -- a big hit back then, a musical rendition of Oliver Twist.I loved that record. I played it a hundred times. "Food, beautiful food," that was one of the songs. "As long as He Needs Me," -- the lead woman sang about her abusive man, Bill -- and lots of fun numbers, with rich British accents, rollicking sorts of things.It always makes me sad when I think about things like that, even good memories. Why does it make me sad? To remember something so enjoyable?I try to shake it off when I start to feel that way, not wanting to wallow in nostalgia and melancholy -- and come back to the present and get on with things.


Figs and Dates

I especially like figs, but also dates. I often buy them and eat them at my desk. I like calimyrna and mission figs equally. My fingers get sticky when I twist off the stem end before popping them in my mouth. Figs are safe -- you can eat a ton of them and not get a tummy ache, also dates. Although, one time, I ate so many dates that I got a sugar rush equal to an injection of amphetamine.That was in December, 1975. I was in Yuma, Arizona, for a winter camp -- just in time for the date harvest in the very hot desert region. But it's not hot in December. In fact, it's just right, and the Medjool dates are abundant and free for those who sneak into orchards at night, or for those who ask for the gleaning in the day light.


"I like Ike." That was the campaign slogan for Pres. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956.He ran both times against Adlai Stevenson, who had been the governor of Illinois, and whose home was in Libertyville, not far from where I grew up in Wilmette, Illinois.Adlai Stevenson's vice-presidential running mate was Senator Estes Kefauver from Tennessee.The question is: where in my brain do I keep this information stored? I have tons of this stuff lying around. What for? I have no idea.But I am just killing time here at work on Friday afternoon, waiting for the bell to ring and I get to go home. I am on salary, so I can slip out early, but I feel bad for the hourly workers, so I will stick it out until 5 p.m.

You must be a trivia King when you play! I remember that and poor old Adlai never made it. He was the underwear guy was he not? Fruit of the Loom.Kefauver was on the investigating committee for what?

The state capitol

I am in Austin, Texas, today, the state capital and the home of the University of Texas, widely known as the liberal enclave in deeply conservative Texas. I am here to visit my daughter and to see the Texas Book Festival, which is a lot of fun -- author's speeches and so forth. This morning I heard Senator Barak Obama speak. He's from Illinois, a rock star of a politician -- people waited in line for hours to hear him talk. I got up at 5:15 a.m., to get in the line by 6 a.m., in order to get the tickets to his speech. Such enthusiasm!But he talks about hope. And it wasn't really about him, it was about us -- those of us up before dawn, waiting in the cold, because hope is so important.Veering dangerously close to politics, I now change the subject.....gorgeous redhead walking down the sidewalk at this cafe where I sit -- she walks with such confidence. Let's talk about women, so fascinating, much more interesting than politics.I saw a woman this morning, after the Senator's speech, with the most beautiful feet -- not a foot guy, but -- she had toenails, unpainted, and so perfectly honed, rather too perfect, I think. She was very fashionably dressed. She (so I thought) sat down directly in front of me so that I might gaze at her. Ten minutes pass and this husband type of guy arrives carrying the drinks -- well, I didn't like her that much anyway.Yesterday, I was more genuinely disappointed in discovering that Debbie was not single, but married. Usually it's so easy to tell. I was just on the verge of asking her out, when she said she had a husband. She couldn't stand him and she had moved out of the house one year ago -- probably why I though she was single. Darn, I really liked her. She was cute and lively.Not by any means desperate, a few days ago I phoned my ex-wife, Precious, the African woman. I told her I missed her. She said she missed me too. Apart three years now. We talked about Malawi, which is her home country. Madonna had been in the news about the adopted Malawian child.I said to her, and she agreed, that everything is complicated in Malawi, even if you have a lot of money.


I went to Barton Creek this afternoon and hiked upstream for one hour in the warm. I saw a lot of poison ivy by the trail. I came back down and went swimming in Barton Springs. The water was heavenly. It wasn't really a hot day, so there were very few people swimming. After my dip, I continued reading Henri Troyat's biography of Catherine the Great, Czarina of Russia from 1762 to 1796. Troyat wrote of Catherine, "She was not a visionary, but saw things clearly."That line impressed me. Seeing things clearly is a very good quality, a quality I do not have. I see things clearly for a split second, but it's the vision that entrances me. I guess it takes all kinds.

The right place
I just realized that this coffee shop sells wine -- good red wine, in fact, and a hefty glass full for $5. So I don't need to buzz my head at 9 p.m. with caffeine. Instead, I can get mildly sloshed.The reason I don't drink red wine very often, is that I have a tendency to swill it --- not good -- fun, but not good. It can get a bit head-ache-y the next day.Important notice -- I have learned a new song to sing and play on my guitar. "Non, je ne regrette rien," the Edith Piaf anthem. It came to me two nights ago. I believe that some songs are given to me. This one is wonderful. I can sing it very well, and with a credible French accent, too.I have been singing a lot lately, since I got a guitar two months ago. On November 11, I will make my debut public singing performance at the La Gallista art gallery in San Antonio.Now, I want something sweet, some chocolate cake perhaps. Interesting people keep walking into the cafe. It's Halloween and I don't want to go home.

Coming down

Sunday morning coming down.
I was doing the structured Tarot learning threads for a while, and learning a great deal, but I became overwhelmed by true insight, and had to put the cards away for awhile.In fact, my Tarot teacher is like that. Her name is Eva, she's a full-time gardener, age of 68, mother of five, a Pisces, a friend of mine for 30 years.She is so good with Tarot, but she puts her cards away for years at a time. "I can't handle it. It drains me. They take up my whole life."Is this true of others?

Happy Halloween

It was fun going to Catholic school as a child, because All Saints Day was a holiday -- no school, but we had to go to Mass. We used to trick or treat around the neighborhood, with a lot of strategizing for picking houses with the best possible treats. I never cared about the costumes, just something I could put on so I could get a bag full of candy. We had paper bags. I never remember them breaking. But it was great fun walking around at night, in the dark, after dinner, without adult supervision -- the only time all year when we could do that.As for pranks -- we didn't do them either -- it was all about the candy.Since then I have not paid much attention to Halloween -- it's a major cool event, I agree, so I wish every one the most and best of fun, and maybe a little of this will come to me as well.Otherwise, on the platypus mood meter -- I am back on the up swing, feeling good, smooth, and happy in my clothes -- after a three-day slump. It is no wonder that I don't have a girl friend -- who could possibly put up with me?Well, Linda might be able to put up with me. I thought of her this morning and I intend to phone her tonight. We were a one-month affair this summer, then I broke it off -- mainly from feeling completely smothered from her calling me four times a day.Couldn't she tell? Did I actually have to tell her? "Don't call me all the time, I don't like it." Women seem to have such a communication problem -- you need to actually use words with them and spell it out.Men are far more intuitive -- we can actually "just tell" -- at least in terms of dealing with other men.Be that as it may, Linda is a woman, and I will attempt to actually talk with her. We found each other to be so compatible in so many ways -- it was such a natural fit.

I didn't call Linda

I didn't call Linda. I used my limited power of discernment to arrive at the conclusion of not calling. I considered that, concerning dateable type relationships with the opposite sex, there were situations that make me nervous with anticipation -- a little tingly and uncertain, trying to manage feelings, and try to NOT manage feelings. This is a good and nice way to feel. But another feeling is simply scared. I realized that I was actually scared to call Linda. She is simply too overwhelming. I asked myself -- why would I even consider being scared? What would be the point?So, I left it at that -- which turned out to be a smart move, because I drove into San Antonio last night and went to the Borders bookstore/coffee shop and set myself up with some magazines at a table -- a great cruising spot.And who should approach my table, but a vision in polka dots, in a white dress with black polka dots and a scoop neckline, very retro, a wide-brimmed black hat. She asked, could she join me at the table because there was a plug there for her laptop.How delightful! What a treat! I do so much like a woman who is just a little bit forward. I picked up the ball from there and chatted her up nicely, inserting some (honest) bragging about a story I had written for the newspaper, followed by some insightful questions and comments about her work.When I left, I gave her my card and said I would like to see her again. I asked her name and she said, "Pamela."It couldn't have been nicer.Just now, this morning, I sent an email to her place of work, and who knows what will happen next.


No response

No response from Pamela -- should I send her another email, or call, or forget it?I sent the email to her work. Maybe she didn't get it? One phone call is not too much. But tomorrow. at about 11 a.m. -- when I am quite alert.I could chicken out entirely, email is so safe, so risk-free -- but gutless, No, I have to phone. But to call somebody at work --- it's a small nonprofit business, only three people, a personal phone call would be all right. I would not press her. I would get a quick yes or no.Isn't this so much like real life?Back to the platypus mood meter. My daily journal starts with "I am not stupid," or "I am stupid, fat, pathetic, weak, sick, useless"... and any other adjective I can think of. The variations between stupid and not-stupid have been 50-50.I am excited about the American election, because my mean Republican boss will likely have her hopes crushed. When this happens, do I gloat? Risky, could lose my job. Gloat inwardly? A safe play. Respond with sympathetic kindness to her misery? Yes, but not right away.

"They were good cows"

This is a story about a man who owned and loved his cows but has to sell them. It breaks my heart. I hope it's not too long for the thread.Ray’s Dairy closes after 80 yearsEight full-time employees lose jobsRay's Dairy Farm in Fairview, in the same family since 1899, and operating as a dairy for the past 80 years, is going out of business. With over 800 cows, they were the biggest dairy in South Texas. Drought pushed them over the edge. They were looking at a feed bill of $5,000 per week this winter because their own forage crops failed.The milk truck driver, who has driven up the long, curved driveway into Ray’s Dairy for the past 32 years, won’t be stopping there anymore. In fact he has gone out of business because Ray’s was his best customer.Ray’s Dairy had eight full-time employees. They have all lost their jobs. The suppliers to Ray’s Dairy, of feed, fuel, farm equipment, veterinary services, etc., will all be losing a valuable customer.The cumulative effect of a drought, going into its second year, forced Tom Ray, the manager, to a conclusion that he did not want to face.“I could see the writing on the wall in August,” he said. “I knew what milk prices would be for the next 12 months from studying the future market.”Ray, who earned a degree in economics at Texas A&M, calculated that the dairy would be out of feed by January. “We’ve never bought forage in the past,” he said. “We’ve always grown enough to see us through the winter.”Not this year. With 800 cows to feed, Ray was looking at paying $5,000 per load of alfalfa trucked in on an 18-wheeler from the Midwest. And that truckload would only be enough for five days.
“People say we have irrigation, and wonder why don’t we have enough hay,” he said. “Heck, irrigation is just not enough, you have to have rain.” And that’s not counting the cost of diesel fuel to power the irrigation pumps. “We planted 300 acres of oat for winter forage, but they’re not coming up,” he added.So, brutal economics triumphed over a 100-year farming heritage in Wilson County. But it wasn’t just the drought, it was the long-term trend of consolidation in the dairy industry that worked against Ray’s Dairy. It may be hard to believe, but a dairy with 800 cows is too small in today’s market. And, also hard to understand, the housing market in southern California is a part of this story.
For generations, the Los Angeles area has been ringed by farms and ranches, including large dairy operations under the famed Altadena label. But the hot real estate market there has dramatically increased the value of agricultural land, and more stringent environmental regulations have increased the cost of doing business. The result is that southern California dairy farmers are selling out for very high prices, — in some cases for over $1 million per acre, according to Ray — and transferring their operations to West Texas, where land is much cheaper and operating costs are lower.Ray sold his 800 cows for cash to a southern Californian dairy farmer who is moving to Hereford, Texas, and establishing a 5,000 cow dairy. This industrial-size dairy is among many planned or already in operation in that area. They operate in a highly automated fashion with milk barns that can process hundreds of cows per hour. The cows spend their entire productive life in a feed lot and never see a pasture. The West Texas dairies, in some cases, do not own pasture or crop lands, but contract that work out to neighboring farmers.Another trend has made it possible for dairies to consolidate in areas like West Texas, even though it is far from the largest urban markets. It is a change in American eating habits. “Americans don’t drink as much fresh milk as they used, but they eat a lot more yogurt, cheese, and ice cream,” Ray explained. All of these products can be stored for varying lengths of time, and the cost of delivering cheese or yogurt is less than the cost of delivering fresh milk.
For that reason, West Texas has become an attractive site for dairy farmers.Another factor effecting Ray’s Dairy was a long-term weather disadvantage. South Texas is hotter than West Texas. “It’s those cooler nights in the summer that make a big difference in milk production,” Ray said. “Our herd average for milk production is 60 pounds of milk per day per cow in the winter, but in the summer the cows give only 45 pounds per day.” West Texas herds can maintain a 60-pound average year round thanks to those cooler nights.Ray, a man approaching middle age with a college education, a great deal of experience, and a good reputation, knows that he can make a living in some other occupation. His biggest regret is the new milk barn he built four years ago. “I have to look at it every day,” he said. It had state of the art equipment and was designed to handle up 2,500 cows, because he planned to expand his business. The building itself, built to last for generations, has no other possible use. The milking equipment was sold for “pennies on the dollar,” he said.
He is still milking 120 cows every day. They have also been sold to the new dairy in Hereford, but they had small medical problems and need treatment before they can be shipped to West Texas.For the next year and a half, Ray will be growing out a herd of 450 heifers. They will be kept until they become “heavy breeders,” that is, pregnant cows about to give birth who have never been milked. Such cows bring top dollar. Ray has had enquiries on the sales of these heifers from dairies in Mexico. The ban on selling cattle to Mexico, caused by the fear of spreading mad cow disease, has ended and that market is once again open.Ray’s family-owned land in Fairview will still be farmed for the usual crops of hay and milo and so forth, but it won’t be the same without the cows. They were good cows. The man who bought them said they were the most gentle cows he had ever seen. The cows were gentle because they were well cared for. Ray was proud of his rotating pasture system, that allowed all of his cows a chance to graze on fresh grass the year around. It won’t be like that on the new industrial dairies.


I am in such a complete slump -- six days now. I visited Joe Lopez the artist at his gallery in San Antonio. I sat on his couch and played my guitar while he did some paper work in his office. That helped. My daughter called -- she's depressed too. My son called and left a message. He said he hasn't been in touch because he has "gone inward." I couldn't interpret that remark, so I have not tried. But it seems we're all depressed.Also this thread is going nowhere. I'm not getting any feedback, although it seems that a few people are taking a look. I think the name "Shipwreck" is tiresome. Can I change the name without starting a new thread?I have never been any good at titles and headlines and that sort of thing. I know -- How about if somebody else gave it a title? This is almost standard practice in the publishing world. Please, I need help. I have been so forlorn.

New name

Our beloved moderators have agreed to change the name of this thread, just as soon as I tell them which new name I have chosen. But I am asking for help. The first word that popped into my head was "purse strings" Lord knows where that name came from. I actually need some social guidance, as AT is a social site, and I often feel like I am clumsy and butting into things.My image of AT folk is very high and humble too, and naturally natural, which is why I like to belong with you. It is not a powerful, successful, wealthy group -- using those terms in the conventional sense -- but a group of people who have a better idea of what wealth is.

Missing mother

I never hear or read anything in the media, in books, or TV, about how men feel about their mothers -- seems like a neglected subject, when it is actually huge.I have heard women say that a man needs to get over his mother so as to be able to love some other woman. Truly, I have never gotten over my mother. I moved as far away as I could get in the United States, but it didn't work -- she knew how to use the phone. She could take my firmest sense of direction, and bend it to the right or to the left, or stop it all together. I was helpless, and all it took was a phone call from her.My mother made scrambled eggs for me every morning when I was a child. She washed and ironed my clothes. She was always there, at home. She was pretty and my Dad loved her and bought her jewelry and took her out to night clubs and theater and dancing.I'm supposed to get over this? She's been dead for ten years now. I wish I could talk to her again. Men don't talk to each other about how we feel about our moms, because we don't talk about anything. Not talking is considered a male shortcoming, but it is not -- a subject for another post.Lots of people, men and women, say they have controlling mothers -- but is there any other kind? No. There are controlling mothers, and monstrously controlling mothers -- those are your two types. My mom was of the average controlling sort, even now, from beyond the grave. I miss her a lot. There is an awful, nasty right wing radio host that I listen to -- named Michael Savage -- his politics disgust me. But what I like about him, when I listen, is when he talks about his mom and about how his mom is the most important woman in his life, and he says it in the most natural way. It's true.

You need an “ed” at the end -- Shipwrecked. I like that.... it's like you are shipwrecked on an island all by yourself and you have the luxury of having nothing else to do but think over your life and talk it through out loud.
Or maybe you write it in the sand everyday and the tide washes it away, but we get to peek at it before it goes out to sea. Yes I like that are definitely shipwrecked here on AT island.

Michael Caine

In a Woody Allen movie that changed my life, called "Hannah and Her Sisters."Michael Caine cries out, "I have my answer, I have my answer." He is ecstatic because now he knows that Barbara Hersey loves him. There is a problem of course, because she is his sister-in-law -- but that give us a plot. The movie changed my life, because I liked all the characters in it and decided that I wanted to live there -- Manhattan, and hang out with people like that. I was on the West Coast at that time -- 1986. It took me a few years, but I moved there in 1990 -- not actually Manhattan, but Boston -- close enough -- the seed of this idea to move back east came from watching this movie.However, I bring it up now because Miss Larkbud has given me my answer."I have my answer," although the question was not "Does she love me?"Well, maybe Shipwreck makes sense. The island is good -- no calendars or clocks, plenty of good beach time and all that, but I am thinking about constructing a raft or something ....
Well you could always open a new thread called~Raft Building 101One of the most interesting scenes in Castaway was watching Tom Hanks build his raft.

The Raft

The Raft -- but I am not ready to leave the island. Today, it doesn't seem like such a bad place. It's true that I am alone, but I have food and a good bed and books to read, and a bit of space to stroll around in. I can see the sky in all directions -- that is very important to me, and I can watch the flying birds. Plus, I have plenty of time to think -- well, that's not such a good thing -- if I think too much.I don't know. I look around and I see the makings of a raft -- pieces of wood here and there. I begin to make a plan to build a raft, but then it gets too awesome. Isn't that just another kind of ambition? To escape from what? To arrive at some other island that could be worse? I will play a trick on myself -- there's nobody else here, so I can only fool myself. My trick is that I will build a raft, but just for a project, something to occupy my days, something to look at. I have no intention of using it.

A pickle

I was so calm and collected, until the editorial meeting this morning when my boss begins to get on my case about the story that I didn't get -- concerning a deputy sheriff who is being investigated for using excessive force. She said, the boss, that I ought to be more forceful and aggressive in my questioning. So I said sure -- so I go out and talk to the sheriff. Now -- keep this in mind -- he's a big guy and this is his territory -- here in south Texas, and I'm just an old hippy from Seattle, and I don't get paid very much, but I'm supposed to twist the sheriff's arm -- you know, lean on him a little bit, and get him to tell me the whole story.This is absolutely crazy. The sheriff was not happy. He was not leaning way back in his chair like he normally does when we are just shooting the breeze and talking about old farming days, which is what he likes to talk about, and which is what I like to talk with him about. No, now Sheriff Joe is sitting upright in his chair looking at me square in the eye, with a fairly thin smile on his face. And I'm thinking --"I don't need this job," and "What in the name of mercy am I doing in this man's office, trying to get the sheriff to tell me something he doesn't want to talk about?"It was stressful. I went home for lunch, and then I took a drive in the country and enjoyed looking at the cows.


No pickle

The crisis has passed. It is now almost time to go home for the day. I expect to pour myself a glass of red wine when I get home. I live directly across the street from the office in a 1-bedroom apartment above an unoccupied store. It is very convenient. Normally, I would watch the news at 5 p.m., but since this is Election Day, the newscasters will not actually know anything by that time -- although it will not stop them from speaking vacuous inanities.Instead, I will continue viewing episodes of the 5th season of the Sopranos, and make dinner and read a biography of Cervantes, the Spanish author, which I have been enjoying very much.At 10 p.m. I will return to the newspaper office to get the final results of the local contest for county judge. I will then grab my camera and go to the winner's party to take his picture -- there will be plenty to drink at that point. Since I very much like both candidates in this race, I am almost assured of a good time at the victory party.At that time, I will also know the results of the national election. I am hoping very much that George Bush gets seriously hosed -- I will know soon enough.


Dead, dead, dead. I did not get to stay at home last night and watch TV. Instead, I volunteered to keep an election vigil at the county courthouse -- to sit in the lobby while they counted the votes. This kept me up until 2 a.m., when they finally announced that Marvin Quinney beat Howard Berger in the race for county judge. Then I went home, and fell into a drugged sleep, rising at 8 a.m., and dragging my sorry self to work at 9 a.m.I have my usual breakfast in front of me on the desk -- a container of yogurt and a banana. I have a list of stories to work on, but I feel nothing. What might be interesting is an interview with Gary Pogue, who runs a seed company. They grow and harvest the seed that other farmers use to plant hay crops. This is a very complicated business dealing with genetics and breeding. Another item on my list simply says "armadillos." I could write a story about these cute little animals, if I knew where to start. Or Liz, the jail nurse. I could write a story about her. I talked to her a few weeks ago. She's a lively gal, and she says she has basically a two-part job. First, to discern between prisoners who are actually sick and those who are faking it in order to get privileges, and second, to treat those who are actually sick. I'm sure I would enjoy her company, but the interview would no doubt be conducted in an airless, windowless room behind locked doors, and I am very prone to claustrophobia.

Or I could interview the young Mexican men who make elaborate custom cars, with intense paint colors and lots of chrome -- this could be the most fun.The truth is, I have 55 days left until I am able to leave this job -- I am written out. I don't care. My curiosity has become dull. I am barely interested. I am pretending -- mailing it in.Next topic -- my love life. I have decided not to have one.


Days and days of despair -- not right now, now I feel all right. But it lasted for almost 2 weeks. I cannot remember being so continuously depressed since 1973, when I was working at Rockland State Hospital in the psychiatric ward, working with severely disturbed children, autistic and schizophrenic. In that case, in that year, the psych ward got to me. I never did have good emotional boundaries, so I caught a mental disease. I was almost suicidal. I quit my job -- this was right outside of New York City -- and I hitchhiked to South Padre Island in Texas, to the longest most lonesome beach in the United States and thought about killing myself. Actually, by the time I got to the beach, I was over being suicidal, but it was really lonesome out there in the sand dunes, miles from town. I shook off my mental disorder, proceeded to Austin, the capitol of Texas, renowned for being a fun, hippy town, and started a new chapter in my life.But now I feel like I have returned to familiar ground, working at this newspaper in this repressive little town in South Texas -- and getting depressed. I've been here for one whole year, and it's getting to me. It's happening again, but this time it won't be so bad.

At the beach

I was at the beach yesterday, but first, a bit of housekeeping. The infamous Shipwreck thread is about to undergo a name change -- to The Island. The name was chosen because, while I am a bit stuck right here where I am, I am still not ready to leave. Back to the beach. The great thing about South Texas is that there is no traffic -- none. I mean wide highways with no cars on them. I mean you get up to 75 mph, punch in a CD, and just sail down the road. From my house to the beach is 120 miles, passing through wide country and little hamlets, down to the Gulf of Mexico and the saltwater.Unlike city driving, which is stressful and tiring, a 2-hour drive in these conditions actually leaves you more rested than when you started -- can you imagine that as you struggle through the traffic? There is so much I have to put up with in the utter lack of culture, so please allow me to luxuriate in the spaciousness of this country.The beach itself is quite nice. In November, the oppressive heat has ended and the mosquitoes are gone. In fact, it was almost cold Saturday night, but I snuggled into my sleeping bag with extra wooly blankets, and soon I was toasty, with a fresh, cool breeze blowing across my forehead -- the only part exposed to the air.Pelicans and palm trees -- I woke up to that and made coffee, and walked for miles down the beach, then read a book, played my guitar, ate cheese and bread. After a while I packed up a left for home -- but I have reserved a beach front campsite for two nights next weekend.Immediately upon returning to Floresville, I became just as depressed as when I had left, which thought made me more depressed. However, at this point I summoned up my willpower and determined to feel better, and to feel better by doing interesting things, even if had to make myself do them.That worked. I got over being depressed.Now, to work on Monday morning --- I was greeted by my editor by her saying "awesome story," referring to the story I had submitted on Friday afternoon. "Awesome story" -- a very good way to start the week.The story was about how children, who are victims of sexual assault, are interviewed in a way to gain evidence against their offenders. I visited the nonprofit agency that does this special work, where such children are also treated for the abuse. It was an emotionally draining experience. My impression of the staff at this agency was that they were very good, very strong, and very focused -- so overall it was a good experience and an awesome story indeed.Now, I must get on to my next assignment -- armadillos. Just where are the armadillos? Fewer of them have been seen lately and we are getting worried.


Armadillos are all right. Wildlife experts say, and anecdotal evidence agrees, that the little creatures are holding their own out in nature -- their biggest problem being their inability to stay away from speeding cars.When an armadillo sees a car bearing down on him, he instinctively jumps up into the air -- that never works and that's why we see so many squashed armadillos by the side of the road of Texas, but there seems to be plenty more out there, and nothin' but cars can kill them, so the balance is kept.Last night, I dreamed of power and success, of being a king, an emperor, and a ruler. I guess I did that because what I really want is to upgrade my status and income a notch or two. Sometimes I feel so downtrodden -- I keep fighting the thought, but it keeps coming back. I tell myself that conventional success is meaningless -- but can't I have just a little of that?And then I tell myself that the high and mighty don't really have it so good. In fact, I'm sure of that. I was thinking of my friend Nancy, who works for Microsoft in Seattle and makes super big bucks. I wouldn't want her job in a million years -- such a pressure cooker she works in.But I would still like my circumstances to be better, a little more money, a little more respect -- this is sounding pathetic. The only good thing about being a writer, is that I sometimes get to spend quality time with other artists and writers and we truly dig each other.I checked the calendar. I have 47 days to go, until I give notice at this job.

The previous post

The previous post is fairly dripping with self pity. The truth is that I drank too much red wine last night, and I felt terrible this morning.But who are these people who bear their suffering with a smile? who don't bother the rest of us with complaints? They are such models of equanimity and enlightenment, immune to small and large pains.Not me, I scream at the slightest hurt. I wear it on my face. I beg for sympathy.

Best sister

Best sister called me last night from Los Angeles -- always a booster in my life.I was momentarily bummed out because my TV show, “Boston Legal,” got dropped this week, in order for them to air some weird dance special. I only have one or two shows that I like, but the TV gods don't respect that. Fortunately, I had a DVD. I watched "Dinner Rush" starring Danny Aiello -- I like him a lot. The movie takes place in a crowded, bustling Italian restaurant in Manhattan. The plot doesn't matter -- What mattered to me was a chance to be an arm chair traveler and pretend I was there. This is so often why I choose movies -- for the background and location.But I had no book to read after the movie. I forgot to go to the library after work, and by the time I remembered it was too late. I had to scrounge among my classics. The collected Works of Aristotle -- no. The I Ching -- good, but I already know how it ends. Australian aboriginal mythology -- an interesting possibility. But I chose an old favorite, one I used to love to read as a small boy. "Up Front," it is called, by Bill Maudlin, a book of cartoons and accompanying text about the American infantry soldiers in WWII. They got to dig holes and sleep out in the rain – really cool, I thought, as a 12-year-old. I very much wanted to do that myself. And, in fact, I have done just that. In my career as a vagabond, I have slept out under trying conditions many times. In my career as a landscaper, I have dug a thousand holes. I did all the cool soldier things, except for the killing and fighting. This book has been a profound influence on my life, and I still treasure it.


I am smarter today than I was yesterday -- because of the wind, a strong, cold wind that blew into South Texas last night and got my brain working in an interesting way.I talked to the sheriff's deputy this morning about the rash of thefts of farm equipment -- tractors stolen that are worth $30,000 and more, and the thieves took the last one in broad daylight. This was my first chance to use the cliché "in broad daylight," in a news story. In the follow-up, I will get to use the word "brazen" as in "brazen theft."The sheriff's deputy and I discussed how easy it is to steal a tractor, and we tried to puzzle out a story that would give people advice on how to protect their farm equipment from robbers.Then I visited the sheriff briefly in his office, but only to ask him one question -- Will the district attorney convene a grand jury to investigate the deputy accused of using excessive force on a suspect? The sheriff thought so, but now I have to call the district attorney -- a very nice man who rarely returns my phone calls. I am detached about this whole process.For lunch, I went to the cafeteria of the Sacred Heart parochial school for an early Thanksgiving dinner/lunch/fundraiser. I really like going to this place, but the food was awful.The editor just walked in my office and asked me if I would go to the Emergency Planning meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at the county courthouse, which is around the corner from my over-the-store apartment. It will be dull, but LeAnn, the emergency planning coordinator is cute, so I will imagine myself playing footsie with her during the meeting.Platypus mood meter -- steady as she goes.

Waiting for Chinese food

It is past noon, we are waiting for the Chinese food from the Lotus restaurant. The Lotus recently re-opened in a new location after a fire burned down the old place -- in rural Wilson County that was the only place to get Chinese food.So we gave the Lotus lots of publicity when they re-opened. They are returning the favor by giving us a free lunch today. But I want our lunch to come now, except you can’t complain when it's free.Two men, one an employee, the other was his brother-in-law, stole 3,000 pounds of scrap metal from the local foundry. Scrap metal is fetching a high price of late – worth stealing. The thieves overloaded the trailer, and they got a flat tire on Peach Street, not six blocks from the foundry, where the intrepid officers of our local police department confronted them. The value of 3,000 pounds of scrap metal is $500, making this a misdemeanor crime, and the one fellow who worked will doubtless be fired.A local man, a soldier, was killed in Iraq five days ago. I called the family and got details. It was his second tour of duty -- he was killed by one of those roadside bombs. He was single, age 23. We will run a short story on this today. I will write a tribute and life-story in next week's paper.I renewed my prescription for stress medicine. It's working. The pill becomes less effective after a few weeks, unless you increase the dose, which I will not do. But I have not taken the pill in a while, and this little jar will get me through the next few weeks -- a steady hand.

Wide awake

I had no possible reason for being wide awake at midnight last night. I worked with diligence all day. By 5 p.m. I was staggeringly tired. I came home, showered, and rested in bed with a book. Then I went to the grocery store to buy olive oil and salt -- there's a biblical story behind those two items -- but I needed them for a fabulous beef pepper stew that I planned for dinner.From the store, I drove to the park and ran a few laps, then returned home to cook.I had a round steak in the frig. I cubed it, chopped onions, and then took these lovely garden-fresh medium hot peppers -- someone brought them to work to give away -- chopped them up too, and sautéed the ingredients in a generous amount of olive oil, adding soy sauce. I peeled and cut up three red potatoes. I added that to the mix along with two cups of water and 1/2 cup of red wine, brought it to a boil, and then turned it down to simmer for a while. This was all in my medium-size cast iron frying pan.Oh mercy, it was wonderful, the meat was so tender, and the peppers had a nice fire on a cool autumn night. I enjoyed it with a hearty glass of red wine.Then I settled down the latest issue of Vanity Fair. That's when things changed. The magazine was filled with boring political stuff about Karl Rove, when I wanted Hollywood scandal. I resorted to television -- nothing. I tried my biography of Benjamin Franklin, but I couldn't focus. The strange thing is that I was not getting sleepier, I was getting wider awake. I began to fulminate against my nasty boss, as if the blows I absorbed during the day were coming back up to ruin my emotional digestion. I repeated conversations in my mind -- things that I wanted to say at work but, of course, could not. And no resolution, just fitful channel switching and flipping through books, until sleep overcame me much later than I expected.Forty days to go.



I am at my daughter's house in Austin, Texas. I sorted and cleaned the green beans for a casserole. She made a pecan cake. I cleaned up after her, and now she is making rolls. Later, we will go to Mateu and Paula's house for Thanksgiving dinner, just like we went last year. The weather is almost warm.I feel pretty good now, although I felt awful this morning.I sent out my Frog Hospital newsletter, and received many cheerful holiday greetings from friends. Also, Sarah, on of my co-workers just phoned to make sure I had a Thanksgiving dinner to go to -- she invited me to her house. I told her I was very glad she thought of me, but I was just fine.My son flew from Boston to Los Angeles to be with my brother and sister, which is very cool.I say a special hello to AT folk in Australia, New Zed, and GB -- we are having our wonderful holiday time today, and we warmly invite you to join in.

Fearless Friday

Nobody works on the Friday after Thanksgiving -- except us, at the newspaper, because we have a paper coming out on Monday.But, I told them, very clearly, that I would not be going to the funeral tomorrow of Sgt. Mutz, 23, who died in Iraq last week. I have already been up to my eyeballs in grief, as I visited the Mutz home last week and spoke with his mother and his brother -- I paid my respects, but no more than that. I am not part of the military life. For me, he was a young man who took his chances, as many young men do, and he was killed. This is a matter of great sorrow to his friends and family. Sorrow that is familiar to me, because such a death occurred in my own family years ago.But the whole military claptrap that goes with it -- no. Anyhow, I'm glad I held my ground on this, rather than to feign emotions I do not feel, and to hide some anger about this war -- but this would not be the time or the place. As I said, I paid my respects to the family. I won't go to the funeral, but I do sincerely wish his family every comfort.


I explained to my daughter about how parents have expectations, and how it has always been my practice to make those expectations known to her. I have heard parents say, "I don't have any expectations for my children, I just want them to be happy." But that is not believable. I don't believe it when I hear it, and I doubt that children believe it either.There is a good reason to make the claim of having no expectations -- because a good way to express unconditional love is to say – you do whatever you choose, and I will always love you.I actually want my children to do certain things and to behave in a certain way. These expectations are soft, but I make them known. I accept them as projections of my own desires. But it's honest. So that's one good reason to talk about them.The second reason to talk to children about your expectations -- again, keeping them soft, and being ready to let go of them -- is that you lay out a path for them to follow. That's good. They are as likely to not choose that path as to choose it -- but it gives them a basis for making decisions, and most children need that.


I'm tired, but in a good way. The day started with an early phone call to go out to a 2-car wreck on the highway. It was a bad one, somebody got hurt pretty badly. I parked my car and came over and took pictures, then the state trooper yelled at me to get away, but I kept taking pictures, and then the state trooper yelled at me really loud -- so I just turned around and looked at him and said, "Can I speak to you later about the details of this accident?" and he said yes.But those cops and ambulance guys get all swelled up at these accident scenes -- with their authority. I do understand the priority of someone being badly hurt and needing to be helped, but I stood up to the cop this time, because I get tired of their ego trip on me. You know, I wasn't there to have fun. I don't like taking photos of wrecks. I would rather have stayed home and finished my breakfast. Wreck photos and stories in our newspaper serve two purposes. In a small town, it let's people know who got hurt, because plenty of people will be concerned about that. The second thing it does is remind everybody, grimly, to be careful driving, because you could get hurt. So that's why I do it, and I didn't let the big, bad Texas trooper scare me off.Then, as a pleasant change of pace, I wrote a story about ducks -- rather, I edited a story about ducks that a reader had sent in, complete with delightful photos. I love ducks.

Anger management

I almost hurt my computer. It crashed three times in the past 2 hours, and I began storming about and hurling obscenities, frightening the female office staff (there is only one other man working here). It's part of my new stress release program. People here at work dump stress on me, then I dump it on whomever comes next. This is not ideal -- transcendence would be ideal -- but holding it in and becoming obsequious is worse.Okay, I'll make a deal with myself. I won't hold any of it in, but if possible, I will transcend half the stress, and the other half I will unload on the next victim. That seems like a reasonable goal -- a gradual move towards a more pleasant and peaceful world.I am feeling calm now. Kristen, the very pregnant office manager, came into my office to twiddle with my computer and suggested little things that might make it better. That helped a lot -- it's not the computer that needs attention, it's me.

In a turquoise chair

I am sitting in a turquoise chair at the Mad Hatter Cafe in San Antonio. It was very crowded when I got here. My favorite couch was taken -- by nice-looking ladies so I didn't glare at them. I'm just glad to be here. I even like the music.Have you realized that all cafes, restaurants, shops, and stores always have music on all the time? It never stops. It is never quiet. And I -- who truly love music -- am considered a nutcase, because I don't like it. But why can't I hear the lovely music of human activity? -- people talking, clattering cups, traffic noise from the street.I hope, please, that somebody out there understands what I have just said.The Mad Hatter has good music, at least. But, if they were to ask my preference, I would say, "Can we turn it off for a while?"


My daughter, Eva, 27, a Pisces, is here to visit for a few days. She needs to be in San Antonio (nearby) for four-days of computer training, so she is staying at my apartment.She complained about a lack of etiquette from her two recent dates -- namely that one fellow dropped her off at her house at night and did not wait until she got into the house before taking off in his car. The other fellow parted with her outside a restaurant in the evening and did not walk with her to her car.I said I never did things like that, because of how I was taught. Then I said, why don't you tell these two fellows ( or others ) what you expect. Well, she said, they just don't know. Yes, I said, because nobody told them, so if you tell them, they might do it. She didn't like that suggestion.I suspected something like that was going on with the young ones -- they have no idea about how they are supposed to behave. There is no agreement on what constitutes good manners -- no agreement whatsoever.

Saturday night

Saturday night. Estoy solo. I am alone. I am going to a Cajun Dance in a bit. I don't know how to do this dance. I need a little nerve to ask some lady to dance and also ask her to show me how. I pick up new dances very easily, but I still need a little nerve.I look very good. Great haircut, nice ironed pink oxford shirt, wrangler jeans, and boots -- this is confidence.

Sleepy afternoon

Monday is deadline day. Today, Tuesday, is slow. It's 4 p.m. I can barely keep myself awake. The good thing about Christmas coming is that work slacks off. More parties. More people pretending to work, but not really doing anything. I slipped out earlier, back to my apartment, for a quick nap. Then I went over to see Howard Berger, the attorney. I asked him for background on a case. One of the sheriff's deputies has been indicted for aggravated assault because he (allegedly, as we are supposed to say) beat a suspect with the butt of his gun. This is a very serious matter. It makes the sheriff very unhappy to have one of his own men accused, but the matter has to be dealt with. The lawyer told me that most likely the deputy will receive probation, but will not go to prison. Cops don't do well in prison, as you would suspect. Also, this deputy is unlikely to ever work in law enforcement again, which is good.The attorney also said that there has been no pattern of abuse in the county, going back many years -- and that the sheriff runs a pretty good department. Other people I have told me the same thing -- and I think they are right, although I have only been here one year.

It gets better

I once wrote a 14-page double spaced poem, with the recurring line -- "it gets better" -- I enjoyed that poem so much. I recorded it and listened to it over and over again. Nobody else liked it at all, which was understandable, because the poem was not .... understandable -- it was written in the shorthand of my deepest dreams, every single phrase was like a compact expression of a chapter in my life, and the poem made no attempt to explain itself -- so it meant everything to me, my whole life's story -- and meant nothing to anybody else.What if I brought it out again, and see if it still has that power? -- see if it still means my life, and find out if somebody else can hear it even a little bit.


Great weekend

Great weekend because I was not depressed, but nicely occupied. I found a good Internet cafe run by Vietnamese people with tasty noodle dishes. I signed up on a computer dating service, which is the very best, a Jewish site. I am not Jewish, nor especially seeking a Jewish woman, but I am very comfortable in that tradition.Anyhow, I cruised the site and contacted some women who seem quite delightful. One responded and invited me to her Hanukkah party, which I missed because I forgot to check my email the next day -- I'll have another chance with her.Then I wrote to a woman who said she comes from Israel/Brazil -- doesn't she sound cool? She said her interests were playing the acoustic guitar and she might like someone to play with -- Bingo! I have a guitar and play often, and likewise have been thinking of someone to play with. Also she is very interested in reading history -- double bingo. I've decided to buy a new shirt in anticipation of possibly pleasant evenings.

Leaving the island

I am going to have a serious discussion about this with my 2 grown kids at Christmas, but it might be time to leave the island -- leave this job. After all, it's what I have been planning to do for months.
Yesterday I got a Christmas bonus -- bigger than I expected, and I wrote a number of stories for this week's paper that were simply awesome -- so I was thinking -- why don't I stay a little longer -- keep the security of this island -- the routine, the paycheck, the settled lie (curious typo, I meant the "settled life").Today, I checked my blood pressure -- it's up 30 points. Before I started at this newspaper I was always a solid 120-130, and I think I gotta leave this place and get outdoors, and camp and hike, and do some landscaping, and get a part-time job washing dishes -- anything simple and non-stressful for a while. I think health trumps work, so I better be going -- but I will talk to the kids about this.

Not leaving the island

Like I'm going to make up my mind and stick to it.


I woke up this morning in tears. I've been crying a lot lately. It's about my home that I sold and left 2 and one-half years ago. When I sold it, after the divorce, I left that town and kept moving and the air felt good in my face. I kept running and running, but the grief of it has finally caught up with me. I miss that place really bad. I had to sell and get rid of the furniture -- things I wanted to keep forever. I miss the hedge of rosemary by the front door. It was a just a dumb house -- but it was mine. I guess I will keep crying until I get over it.Some good came of this -- when I sold the house, I gave my daughter enough money so that she could make a down payment on a house of her own, and she bought a very beautiful light-filled house, which is where I am sitting right now, in her kitchen, and my grown son is also here, visiting from Boston. That's a good thing, and the Christmas decorations are lovely, and when they wake up in the next hour, we will have nice presents and lots of fun.

Better now

I'm better now. I got a wonderful new camping tent from my daughter. My son gave me a watch and a book. My sister gave me binoculars. This year I actually made a list of things that I would like to get, which I broadcast freely, and, lo and behold, I got them.There is some talk of re-gifting around the house right now -- we are tolerant of this. For instance, the binoculars from my sister were clearly a re-gift.A different kind of oddball thing was that I gave my son the same thing I gave him 2 years ago, forgetting that I had done that -- kind of dumb -- clearly a sign of mental deterioration. But I gave him an alpaca wool scarf to wrap round his neck when he gets back to Boston, which he liked quite a bit.Then, later, he got mad because he gave his sister lots of gifts, but received only one from her. However, he said, the year before, it had been the other way around. Then he wondered why he had such a competitive relationship with his younger sister (who is making $65,000 per year, while he is existing on student loans until his finishes graduate school).

The water supply

We got a last minute news story about the local water supply -- how the water storage tanks in Floresville had not been inspected or cleaned in who knows how many years. The new water supervisor had them inspected and found layers of gunk more than 1-foot thick. He came over to the office with these nasty, gunky photos, which will go in next week's newspapers. Thank goodness they got it all cleaned up.I couldn't watch the news this morning -- the talk about hanging Saddam Hussein.I am going camping this three-day weekend. I don’t party on New Year’s Eve. It never was my holiday.2006 was the second-hardest year of my life. You don't even want to know about the hardest one -- 1994. But 2006 was tough enough. I did manage to get through it in one piece. And, as hard as it was, it seemed necessary. The coming year looks like easy street, and it's about time!

Should I stay or should I go?

Leave the island? But it's warm here, and I have an apartment, and I get paid every week. I could live here forever and never leave. People like me here. I could buy a small house and grow a garden, and give up the vagabond life. Chasing rainbows and dreams, righting wrongs, going on pilgrimage, seeing the sky, seeking truth.But if I had a little cottage, I could dig a small pond and have goldfish.


I'm tired of being afraid. Ever since I got a steady job, I've been afraid to lose it. It is such a trap -- security. I like to feel warm and comfortable and loving and loved. I like to feel belonging -- in a place, in a community, to the earth and the sky and to women and to men -- belonging. There is a much better thing than security -- what is it called?

Not tired

I am so glad it's raining here in Texas -- this is the end of 18 months of NO RAIN -- so awful, but now we have had days and days of sweet, gentle rain, and I am feeling VERY GOOD, so good that I am writing in CAPITAL letters.I've been on, the Jewish dating service, this past month. I have met several nice ladies, in person, on the phone, or just by email -- but it doesn't seem to be happening. No spark, no magic.... So, I will let JDate go for a while.But in my dream last night, the very beautiful and mysterious Maggie Wilder invited me to her cabin by the river and gave me a very tender embrace -- it was very special, then she whispered very softly into my ear.How close are dreams to reality? I know they are connected. The thing is Maggie Wilder is a real woman, beautiful and mysterious, and she lives in a cabin way out on the river. I have known her many years, but she has never more than smiled at my coyly and from a distance. Does the real Maggie and dream Maggie - - are they the same? Gosh, if she cared about me it would be wonderful.I don't interpret dreams. I just like having them, and this one was really cool.

All hell breaking loose

The cops got mad at me because of what I wrote in the newspaper about the dead body they found in Cibolo Creek. It’s complicated – they told me stuff about the crime and then I wrote it in the paper – but they shouldn’t have told me and then get mad because I wrote it.

I really don't like writing the crime news -- way stressful. Most of my time at the newspaper I write about farming and ranching and pleasant things -- but it is all getting to be too much. I went too the doctor. Since I started working at this newspaper 15 months ago, my blood pressure has risen steadily from 125 (excellent) to almost 160 (dangerous). That is all the information I need. I am almost sure to resign -- and leave the island and get on the raft. I wish I weren't so afraid.


The Raft

I resigned from the newspaper on Friday morning. I am now on the Raft. I have cut my moorings. I had an unexpectedly satisfying exit interview with the boss on Saturday. She drives her people hard, but it was always a square deal, so we have parted with no entanglements. This is very reassuring.I have no intention to wander. I only want to go back to my friends and family now -- to my brother and sister in Los Angeles, and then to my community in Washington. I really should not be afraid now -- except it's winter and I now have no income. I should be confident, because I gave this job my all, and I have nothing to explain to anybody. Nevertheless, this morning, this uncertain future looks scary. I wish I had more money. I do have several thousand dollars in savings, enough to get to Washington and set myself up in a place to live -- but I so strongly do not want to live alone anymore. I don't like living alone, especially eating alone. It's not healthy. If I could rent a room with a family, or a married couple, that would be so much better. A room is all I need for a necessary bit of solitude and privacy.But I really don't want to leave Texas right now. I wish I could stay until March when the weather becomes warm and lovely. In March, driving across the country to California would be a pleasure cruise. But in late January, in the cold and dark of winter, that journey will be a hard slog. I guess it can't be helped.However, I might have found a lady, someone I like quite a bit more than some of the women I have recently dated. She lives in Seattle. She might be the woman I want to drive across the country just to hold her hand.... Oh, I better not think of that too much. I need to take pleasure in the day before me. I don't like this raft I am on, but if the weather improves and I get a few days rest, now that I am not working, I might face the future with some fortitude.Hail, ye travelers, we must be a going.

Good luck on your journey...

The Raft

I am entirely too moody. Yesterday, being fatigued and the weather being gloomy, was enough to put me in the pit of despair, as this raft begins to drift.I miss the island already -- a place to go everyday, a routine, a sure thing -- solid ground.However, let's be happy this morning. It's Monday, and I am not going to work. That is so strange. This is not an actual vacation, which I have never had, where you get time off and still get paid, and return refreshed to a job that you might possibly actually like.I am an artist after all, and we don't get vacations, and we don't get to retire. That is not our lot. Our lot is to rest from time to time, and then move on to other things.Now, since I have time this morning, I can discuss one of my favorite subjects -- women. There is a woman that I am beginning to long for. She lives in Seattle, she's a therapist, her daughters are grown up and her house is empty. She is a native of New York City -- which to me is very wonderful, and she had an early career as a dancer -- which is also wonderful. Computer date -- JDate, actually, the Jewish dating service -- several emails with this lady, then one hour-long phone call, which was tons of fun. Her own future is a bit uncertain, and matched mine in a nice way.How does she look? As if that mattered -- and it certainly does matter. I don't know, the photo was fuzzy, but she adopted the pen name of "graceful"and if she was a dancer she is probably tall and lithe and has good movement and good posture.Now, it is a little odd that I am shopping for ladies on a Jewish dating service, because I am not Jewish. But Jews are odd people altogether, so they don't mind. "Graceful" didn't mind at all, in fact she said she actually preferred non-Jewish men.Complications -- I am not in Seattle, I am in Austin. Where Barbara, another date from JDate, and also a therapist (nurturing women are coming into my life) has set her cap on me. We had brunch yesterday. I like her more than some other women I have dated, but I don't feel the longing. In fact, I wish she was being less forward -- as of this morning she invited me to dinner or a movie, which I will accept -- but I will be direct with her. Me? Be direct? Mr. Passive-Aggressive? -- I'll just do my best.What I will do is have my daughter buy me cologne. She bought her brother cologne for Christmas, and it was a big hit. So she can select a scent for me -- the theory being that women who are attracted to this scent will be compatible with my daughter -- which would make my life much easier.

Adrift in Austin

Austin is about halfway between Floresville and Los Angeles -- not in terms of miles, but in terms of culture. Just the difference between Austin and Floresville is quite dramatic, Austin being the famously liberal enclave in the heart of Texas. I signed up at Kelly Services (Kelly Girl, it used to be called) in order to get temp work. This is a brilliant idea, because the same company operates in Los Angeles and Seattle, where I am bound. Temp work will give me a chance to do mindless office chores for soul-less corporations -- a dreadful thought, except for the "temp." I am hardly likely to get caught up in that world -- not from idealistic purity. No, I have tried to sell my soul for money more than once, but for some strange reason, I couldn't find any buyers -- leaving me out on the street and unencumbered.I also took a vigorous hour long walk this afternoon, and I am eating a grapefruit now -- to make up for the donut and hotdog I had for lunch -- my idea of a balanced diet.If George Bush wasn't the President, I'd almost feel sorry for him. I bet he is counting the days until he can get back to his ranch in Texas. I bet he's sick of the job. The whole situation looks very gloomy to me -- my natural optimism about America seems to be slipping away -- but we don't do politics here, so I will move on. Okay, back to the raft -- I'm in a mild current now, with a light breeze at my back, and a few puffy clouds all about. I hear the cry of the albatross far away. I open a can of sardines and eat them with crackers while I check the chart -- steady progress, no hurry.

The Raft

I woke up a little depressed and confused -- hungover, too much gin. I made a mournful assessment of my situation, which I discarded. Instead I played Santa Lucia on the guitar and hummed the melody. And “Suzanne,” the wonderful Leonard Cohen song, now I can play it well -- it's not a hard song to play, but it took me the longest time to find the right rhythm and the right key.I am dreaming about the lady in Seattle who said my last email was endearing. Wouldn't it be nice if we hit it off? Imagine how much I would enjoy being in Seattle if this were to happen.Romantic feelings are clouding my judgment -- isn't that good?I am also looking forward to being in Los Angeles in time for the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 25. Everybody has a party and watches the awards show. It's a real home town feeling, a special night for Los Angeles. I adore the movies. I have an absolute admiration for this art.Floresville, that small Texas town where I was "cast ashore" 15 months ago -- it is already a memory. It seems to have been a magical place in its own way. Even though it was so difficult for me to be there, I am so very glad that I did it. Something I will never forget and never be able to explain.It used to bug me when I had a special experience, and when I tried to explain it to somebody who wasn't there -- they just couldn't understand.When I get to Los Angeles, I won't even try to explain or talk about Floresville. And these experiences no longer frustrate me, because the experience itself I can always keep.


I listen. I can hear what you are saying, although it may seem that I am lost in thought. Perhaps I don't hear your words, but I am looking at your hands. Your hands tell me what your words do not. Or the room we are in, this cafe -- the music, the sound of the street. Why do they always have to put the music on? Because I prefer the sound of the street. And your words, and your mouth. I could be looking at your mouth, every imperfection. And then I would imagine you and how you felt this morning, when you saw those same imperfections in the mirror. And how you smelled, not now, but this morning, as you really are.Then I am still looking at you. No, I don't listen well.


Now that I am in Austin, visiting my daughter, it gives me a chance to upgrade my computer skills. Austin is a high tech center and my daughter knows all that stuff. I bought a pair of headphones, and I have learned to find music and podcasts on my laptop. Right now I am listening to Evensong from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. It is very pleasant.I am de-stressing from my newspaper job -- going for runs and walks, doing yoga, reading books, and praying. I am avoiding my usual morning habit of reading the news on the Internet -- all that conflict and violence. Instead I am reading about food and sports and gardens. And don't forget the Middle Ages. I love to read medieval history. Yesterday I was reading about the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, when Innocent III was pope -- that was a big meeting. I can read the dry details and imagine many things about that time and place -- the clothes, the food, smells and sounds, how the people looked, their sense of time. Even so, those people, hundreds of years ago, also imagined me and we are connected.My daughter is unhappy. She will be 28 next month. All her best friends have coupled up -- living together and on the way to being married. But there is no one for her. She is such a cute and attractive young woman. I have the urge to find a group of eligible young men and thrash them all soundly for neglecting her. How could they be so stupid?I can fix her house -- make repairs, and make improvements in her garden, but there is nothing I can do about the boyfriend problem. It breaks my heart to think of her feeling lonely.


I am at a hotel lobby in downtown San Antonio which has a laptop in the corridor for the use of guests where I am writing this post.This is my last night. I am packed up and leaving town tomorrow. I will be in California in a week. All that time in Texas -- 15 months, but I'm gone now, almost gone.I sent two emails to Joan in Seattle. I am making a play for her affection and I enjoy thinking about her. I told her I would call her on Tuesday, when I get to El Paso. She has not replied to my emails. Has she lost interest? Or maybe she doesn't know what to say? Or maybe she's terribly busy.Isn't it wonderful to have these nervous lover's questions? I think Joan may be someone special for me. Who knows what will happen? I am very happy to have this anticipation.I can build expectations bigger than the moon.

Pocono drove across the country in the first week in February. He camped overnight at Seminole Canyon in the Big Bend country – a million stars in the black night – other wise he just drove and drove, stopping the next night at Lordsburg, New Mexico, sleeping in a motel across the street from the Southern Pacific freightyard – the sound of cold winter trains, the deep diesel humming, he sleeping warm as in a lullaby. And he drove and drove always going west on Interstate 10 until it reaches Los Angeles.


I am in a coffee shop in Pomona, California. I still have at least a one-hour drive to my sister's home in Venice on the beach -- but the rush hour traffic is too rough. So I pulled off the freeway and found this espresso place. I'm having a very good double latte skim milk. I wish the bathroom wasn't broken because I need to pee really badly. Also, continuing with physical comfort, I was unable to shower or bathe last night. I chose to sleep at a very nice campground in the California desert, but it is the desert still and they had no shower facilities. Instead, I took a cold wet towel bath in the chilly air last evening. This is done by pouring water on one end of a large towel -- stripping to the waist, and then rub,rub, rub -- using the dry end of the towel for drying off.That kind of quick bath works -- at least it helped me to sleep comfortably, but this morning, I am feeling funky-nasty and unshaved.Continuing along these lines -- I can shave, because of my strong cordless electric shaver, and I will do that after I finish this latte. I will shave while standing around my car and then peeking into the side view mirror to see if I got all the whiskers. Shaving usually makes me feel like less of a road-bum -- which is what I am, after three days driving from Texas

On the beach

Oh dear, I have forgotten the Tarot Forum for the past four weeks -- I have been having too much fun on the beach here in Los Angeles. The weather has been warm and sunny -- yesterday I went for a swim, although the water was cold -- it felt so lovely to be in the saltwater. Of course the local people wouldn't dream of taking a dip until June when the water is properly warm -- but I didn't care -- to splash in the waves, and see so many flowers blooming in the neighborhood -- so good to be here and gone from Texas.I have been chatting up my potential girl friend now -- computer date, JDate, actually the Jewish dating service, which I trust because it only seems to be a computer dating service -- actually there is a very old, very small rabbi twisting the controls and matching people together, so the very old, very small rabbi hooked me up with Joan -- whom I could love, although I say potentially, because so far it's only the telephone, but I will meet her when I get to Seattle on April 1 -- where I will be living -- near to Joan


I am writing a book

I am writing a book now, tentatively called "Under the Locust Tree." It is a story. I have three chapters written, and I am working on the 4th. I am looking for one or two persons to read a chapter. I would email one of the three finished chapters to you, and ask for your comment. The chapters are about 5,000 words long -- it wouldn't take forever, and I would appreciate the feed back.Otherwise, I am still in LA, and spending my time on the beach in Malibu. I got a glimpse of celebrity life yesterday, having lunch with Brian Grazer, the big time movie producer -- he did the “Da Vinci Code” with Ron Howard.I admit that I am ambitious -- that I am hanging around Malibu, and not just for the fresh air, but also because I am on the make. I believe that it would simply make more sense if I had many more readers than I have now, and if I also made more money than I do now.It would just make more sense if I was 2 or 3 notches higher up -- but, in any event, life is beautiful, even though it does not make sense.In fact, that's an important theme of my book -- "what to do even though it does not make sense."

The rich and famous

I think the rich and famous have worn me out. I admit I was social climbing and ambitious -- I don't even know if that is a failing, but tomorrow I'm going to spend more time playing my guitar and less time hoping that some one returns my phone calls.

12 days

12 days, no cigarettes, and today was the worst day -- all the flavor was gone from my life. I drove aimlessly for three hours across the dreariest places in Los Angeles, unknown streets, empty warehouses.It's better now. It's almost 9 p.m. I'm drinking cognac from a half pint bottle.I give up.

13 days

It's Sunday morning. Things don't seem so bad. Later, I will go hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains with my brother and sister. In four or five days, I will pack up and leave Los Angeles, after being here 7 weeks -- it's been quite an experience.I will arrive in Seattle on or about April 1, to begin the next episode in the Legend of Pocono Platypus.

Pocono drove to San Francisco to visit his two nieces. He was there for a wonderful 24 hours, then on to Seattle.


I am feeling very rejected, because I have been rejected. My computer date, which transferred into many pleasant phone calls, while I was in Los Angeles, and she was in Seattle -- leading up to some expectations of a first actual meeting.Well, I got to Seattle, not to meet her, but because I am returning to this area to live. Then we finally met on Tuesday, and it was a train wreck. I just chalked it up to nervousness, and figured that we had gotten so comfortable on the phone, we just needed to adjust to actual presence. She, however, felt that it was pointless to continue and sent me an email saying to forget it. But this was so abrupt. I think she has completely chickened out, now that a real, live man actually showed up at her door. I did, all along, have this fear that she liked talking to me on the phone too much, as a substitute for real contact. But one always has fears. Alas and Alas -- my feelings are very tender at this moment. I do care for her. It could be that she is just having cold feet and will come around in a little bit of time. But otherwise, I guess it's a loss. So I will grieve and move on.I feel perfectly suitable for a female companion. I know I am a good man and capable of loving someone. There is not much more to say than that. Most of the people who read this will agree that love is unfathomable. And it hurts some times, and it's good to have a heart that hurts, and it's much better when it doesn't hurt.

Dumped by email

Two weeks -- my estimate of how long I will feel badly about this.Joan dumped me by email, very abruptly, patronizingly, without apology, coldly -- she said her intuition guided to her to this decision -- Jeez! What about my intuition? I don't want to hear anybody say it's for the best -- Let me arrive at that conclusion on my own schedule. However, if anybody wants to say that Joan was at least ill-mannered, I would like to hear that.Besides hurt feelings (normal, healthy, a growing experience) -- I am questioning my on judgment. I thought she was "capable of having a loving relationship" as she said so. She seemed so stable and well-adjusted, but this proved to be not true. Well, she is stable and well-adjusted -- just as long as she keeps most people out of her life and spends time with her dog and cat -- and a long life lies ahead for her, because caution and safety pay off for single women who avoid the turbulence of relationships.I am a real man, and I have loved real women. And I'll die of love before I'll die of loneliness.

"I'll die of love before I die of loneliness" is an apt sentiment. It was probably her fear of the unknown. Not everyone is able to walk into the unknown. It is a gift you possess and have learned to live with. I do follow your thread but don't want to haunt you. Wish you well.. upward and onward.

I've been reading this thread on and off for awhile now, though without comment...But I was about to say the same thing, memries...This lady, perhaps, needs an extra pair of wooly socks about now. When faced with the prospect of the actual "meet", she got a cold chill trembling her toes, Platypus. Things might change, but then...would you want them to? She has offended you by her cold email, true. Heavy-handed handling you did not expect from this person. (Haven't we ALL, however, been guilty of doing something like this?)But keep an open mind. You never know what the future may bring (regardless of the cards.)


Time heals. It is a comfort to receive these messages. I will forget this unfortunate email. I could draw up a list of fairly lame things I've done myself. If she gets over her cold feet, we could have something. If she doesn't get over her cold feet, I move on. Maybe it won't take 2 weeks -- I'm feeling better now.

Gaining perspective

But I felt love, in a good way, driving up from Los Angeles, looking forward to meeting her, and I feel love now, missing her, wishing she had not pushed me aside.I think of calling her...I might. Or maybe she will begin to miss me and decide to contact me. I don't know.Mainly, I think I am very glad to feel my love muscles working again, that kind of swooning feeling and being tender-hearted. We are all so clumsy at these things.But I am not fixated or obsessed -- which is age more than maturity. I just don't have the energy for some magnificently bad attitude. Not angry -- but I was angry for a few days -- had cause to be angry -- wanted an explanation.I got over the need for an explanation quickly -- I mean, what kind of dish is that? Because I wanted a kiss and much more. What I got was nothing, and an explanation plus nothing equals nothing.Now, for the present -- it is spring and the flowers are blooming, and I am the new man in town, fresh from adventures abroad, shimmering -- now courageous and confident, and also now afraid and shy.


Pocono gets over Joan and gets on with it, on to the next dream. Where is the source of his optimism? He only gets kicked around.


My name is Pocono Platypus, but you can just call me Poke.I am so over Joan. I just had coffee with the most delightful, unexpected woman, and I would tell you more about her, but I am almost sure she would know people on this forum.I have been corresponding with her for some time, on a literary basis. I did not conceive of her as someone I would want to know in another way, but upon meeting her this afternoon in person I found I was very attracted to her and very at ease.We had a conversation, discussing literary matters, but it was so close to being something else -- there was no boundary to it, no "let's stick to business," about it. I feel the blossoms in the spring air. I think I will ask her to dinner. What I have in mind is a nice Italian restaurant. I have wanted a good pasta dinner for some time, but had no one to go with. She has lived in Seattle for a long time and would know a good place, and I would want to dine very early, when it's quiet, and we can munch on bread. Not a table cloth place, a little bit less than that, I think. I wonder if she is also thinking along the same lines?

Calm down

Okay, Poke, calm down.I'm calming down. I just made chicken and rice. I sautéed the chicken along with bell pepper, garlic, and onion. I cooked rice. I combined everything with pasta sauce and now it is in the oven. S-L-O-W down, slowly, slowly.While it is baking, I have been out in the garden uprooting the buttercups, bit by bit, in this garden, where I have worked for years. It's not my garden, but in the lower corner, on the lower terrace, there is a swinging bench -- I'm the only one who ever sits there.

The next day

It's Wednesday morning. I'm going to work in Jeanne's garden today. Things should just be steady. Just a plain old day.I did get a phone call from my ex-wife yesterday -- She has an uncanny ability to detect my tender-hearted status. Calling from across the country, she begged for my help (with money ) and began crying -- on the phone. I gave in. I will wire her a small amount later today. Some day she will quit drinking.Next, I called her brother -- we remain friends. We, the both of us, help her as little as possible -- but a complete cut off is something I can't do, not now.


This past week I have had an intense emotional workout. First, there was Joan. "I'm going to meet her, and we'll be happy and have so much fun." But it was such a train wreck. Honestly, after many very pleasant phone calls, when we actually met at the Honey Bear bakery last Tuesday, it was a disaster. She didn't look like her photo -- not in a bad way, but different. I was very nervous and I talked too much. Two days later, she sent me the email to say that she saw no point in us continuing. This stunned me completely, especially like she was in charge of this and had made her ruling. I realized that she wasn't actually the grown up in this relationship. I reflected on some previous comments she had made -- clues -- about how quiet and carefully controlled her life was, her solitary pleasures with her dog and cat.Me actually being there just scared her too much. My feelings were hurt, and I felt stupid for not seeing this coming, and I wanted to call her -- to plead or to be angry -- but I did not call her.Instead, out of the blue, I met a very unexpected woman on Tuesday afternoon -- I shall call her Wonder Woman. The world turned, and I figured there must be love dust in the air, and I figured that somebody up there likes me. Let's keep this in mind: Although I had a very pleasant conversation with Wonder Woman verging on the personal, there is as yet no evidence of interest on her part. We are still in the realm of imagination.But how good she looked! I had imagined her -- never seeing her photo -- to be sort of a big girl with a generous figure and creamy skin, with strawberry blond hair. Instead, she was tall and lanky and very modest in how she presented herself -- it was so pleasant. Her face has strong features rather than pretty -- I like it. Her figure is -- I couldn't tell, for her loose clothing, but sensing her modesty, I felt she was concealing something very nice. Wonder Woman especially likes my writing and made some informed suggestions -- a tonic for my abused writer's ego.Wonder Woman got on my email newsletter mailing list because of a very special mutual friend, so our connection is genuine, and not computerish. She also publishes a newsletter and writes. We can get together and talk shop, preferably on a couch, while playing footsie -- but I am getting ahead of myself.I am now in consultation with my grown daughter on the "next move," which I think, is to call her at work -- I don't have her home number -- and ask her for dinner, because I would so much like to have an Italian dinner with a good-looking dame.But I'm not sure about that, because lately I have been getting very nervous in crowded noisy places, and I especially need to be in quiet places. A picnic in the park near where she lives would be great for me, because we could sit on the ground. Except it's not warm enough.Hmmm....Is it better to present a plan, such as dinner, with options? Or could I just sort of ask her out and invite her to join me in figuring out what we both might like doing?


I was going to call her yesterday, but I was in the midst of hacking at the ivy, all sweaty and dirty, and it just seemed like a funny time to call someone -- she in her office in Seattle, a quiet office, not hustling and bustling, but a nonprofit with a subdued atmosphere.Then last evening I had a chance to reflect and change my approach. The Italian dinner idea was too datish, too strong of a statement, not something I could pull off -- it would be uncomfortable.But it's good to have a plan -- they like that. Then I remembered -- she's a plant lady. Writing and gardening is what we have in common. I will invite her out for a plant walk in the afternoon -- at some garden or park. Nothing more, but we could get a bite to eat or a coffee afterward.This is just right. Now I feel confident. I mentioned all this to several confidants yesterday -- like my daughter, who said, "Dad, just call" and Jordan, at the coffee shop, who said, "Start dialing, man."But I get nervous. Like when I met her at the coffee shop on Tuesday. We sat at a table with a crystal glass chess set placed on it. I liked looking at here, but my leg was twitching when I did that -- so I kept looking at the chess pieces instead of at her.

Bad day, good day

Good news from Wonder Woman, but first the bad news. Someone smashed in the passenger side window of my beloved red Toyota last night. I was up early for a run to Walgreen’s, and as I climbed into the driver's seat, I saw the shattered blue-green glass and felt the cold air pouring in -- also shattering my early-morning fuzzy head. I keep my belongings in the back seat, clothes in a duffel bag, books, boxes of papers, and a tent -- nothing was stolen -- not the radio and CD player either -- just the smashed window to deal with. And the next thing I will do is go to the hardware store and buy a small piece of clear plexiglass to use in constructing an ugly window patch, which will have to suffice until I coordinate the repair sometime next week.Good news -- Wonder Woman accepts my invitation for a plant walk. She says it's a lovely idea and she might be free this afternoon, Saturday, or possibly Sunday -- If so, she will give me a call.I wonder if I am talking too much about this. I figured, just supposing, that she is also interested in me, and if she is chatting about this to her friends, then what could be the harm? So I am not talking too much.May be we will fall in love with each other and become fast mates. Isn't this what people do? I mean, based on her small expression of interest, I am projecting way into the future. Hopes are often dashed, but I am not afraid to hope.She is a woman of modest means -- rents, but does not own. This is a relief. I am so poor that it is difficult to find someone near to my economic level -- easier to stay even with her and share experiences. And she does not consider my writing as some kind of hobby until I get a real job. This is so appealing. Writing, in her mind, is what I do, and everything else is in support of that. Writing is that same vocation for her. We could build each other up.Or we could compete and resent each other, or she might be too attached to her cat and not have time for me, or just not care for the disturbance of a relationship....She could object to my personal habits. She could have her own weird habits, and there are a million other things than can go wrong.This makes me laugh -- but I wish for something good.

Competence rising

I have had a quick recovery from the smashed window. There is nothing so competence building as a good repair job. I went to the hardware store to get something to fix the smashed window. They advised me to buy a sheet of flexible plexiglass, which I could cut by scoring it with a razor blade knife, and then breaking off the extra part.I drew a pattern of the smashed window, all curvy, on to the plexiglass -- and expertly cut out a replacement piece. I taped it in very smoothly, with dark blue tape. I will next buy a black marker and color the tape so it blends in seamlessly. Man, the toolmaker!Next, not being a super macho guy, I busied myself by going on hands and knees all over the house to wipe the dust off the baseboards.So far, Wonder Woman has not called to schedule our plant walk together, but I am restful about this. I am listening to the baseball game on the radio, also very restful. Tonight, Mike and Nancy have invited me to their curling match. Curling is an odd sport, played on the ice, but it's like shuffleboard. It's popular in Canada, but I don't know why. Mike and Nancy have been trying to get me to go with them for years, and tonight is the night.


I'm going to meet Wonder Woman this afternoon for a plant walk, and it could be fun.She is like me in this respect -- a tireless, dedicated, and hugely unsuccessful writer, with a limited income and nothing to show for all that work. We could have a resentment party. We could indulge ourselves in self pity -- it would be so gratifying. We could make spiteful, cheap remarks about successful authors who are no better than us. We could deplore the limited taste of common folk who do not recognize and reward our immense talent.Probably not. It might just be enough to have her company.Meanwhile, I started simmering about Joan again, who dumped me ten days ago with an email. I didn't even rate a phone call. The hurt recedes into the past, but it resurfaces like a wave, and I found myself feeling angry about her as I went to sleep last night.I sent the money to my ex-wife, $75, it was the least I could do. I intended to do the least possible. She resides in Pennsylvania, which is now being battered by a late spring snow storm, and she is stranded in her apartment and can't get to work. Still, she has her beer and TV for company.
Her brother won't send her money because of the drinking. He says he won't send her money, but I'll bet he's like me and sends her a little. She's an African woman. We were married for seven years. The drinking, and then the gambling, ruined our marriage and ruined my finances.But she is from Zimbabwe, and I want to forgive her trespasses because so many members of her family have died in the last few years, of hunger, disease and violence -- due to the turmoil in that benighted land. I just can't be too harsh. After all, I'm alive.My housemates have gone to Europe for 2 weeks, so I am minding the store. They are a lesbian couple. I have known them both forever, separately when Pat was in a marriage, and Barb managed the homeless shelter, and then the two of them coming out and coming together and being a couple, and sharing this house. Pat has two almost grown daughters who live in and out of the house. So the premises were all-female before I got here -- and clean as a convent. Barb cooks a sit-down dinner every night when they are here, and cleans up afterwards -- something she would never do for a man.I expect dinner, and I have been expecting it for years. I am an unreconstructed patriarch. Despite my outward appearances and the ameliorative actions I have taken, I still have not converted to the new dispensation. I simply do not know how to behave these days.
Hold it

Hold it just a minute, Poke. Throw out the dream, dump the agenda, and ditch the plan -- we got a live one here.I had a very nice time walking with Wonder Woman yesterday afternoon. The weather obliged with sunshine although it was still cold. I looked smart in a nicely ironed pale pink shirt and khaki pants. It was very good to be outdoors with her -- I can get twitchy and nervous in a cross-table conversation at a coffee shop and restaurant.She is a long-legged strider and tended to go faster than I would have, yet we moved nicely together and with no strain. I identified several plants for her, and showed her the difference between a cedar and an arbor vitae. We discovered that she likes hydrangeas and that I do not. I clambered across some brush to pick her a sprig of lilac -- just beginning to bloom here.All quite nice, and we parted at my car which was parked near her apartment.Than I realized, last evening -- and just in time -- how necessary it is to throw out the dream when an actual woman shows up. I mean, there is nothing wrong in constructing the fantasy of a relationship before it happens -- one does have to fill idle moments. But it is completely wrong to "find woman, insert woman in to fantasy, implement plan, and achieve happiness."People are so much more important than our ideas of how they are supposed to be. Therefore today I am going through an exercise in agenda cleansing -- every thought prior to yesterday's encounter with Wonder Woman must be abandoned. Every plan, every dream -- it all goes.Let her be and let me be and we shall see.


It was a fierce wind blowing yesterday, so when I got to the garden I decided to trim the ferns because they are in a nook in the lee of the hill -- a sheltered spot.I trimmed off all the old battered fronds that had lasted through the winter, leaving only the tender curling new stalks on the ferns. It was very satisfying. This took 2 hours. Then I walked the two blocks to Cafe Culture to rest and get out of the weather. Nancy Wilbur had baked a wonderful chocolate cake for the gang, so I indulged. Gretchen runs the coffee shop in a casual way, and regular customers often bring in treats like this for everyone to share. Isn't that nice?I sat next to Nira, whom I had not seen for 18 months -- being gone from this area all that time. Nira is a darling, cheerful Jewish woman, with a very tolerant Asian husband -- she is fast friends with many of the men who hang out at this coffee shop, including me. I was so glad to see her.I was distracted, we all were, by the awful news from Virginia Tech, and we indulged in black humor about gun deaths as we kept eating the chocolate cake.I left the coffee shop and did another hour's work on the garden. After that, I drove to Target and shopped for good clothes. It pleases me to dress well these days. I found two very nice light cotton sweaters on the close out table -- ten dollars each, which I bought. One is maroon, an easy color for me, but the other is more daring -- baby blue. I am such a vigorous man, a veritable dirt magnet, wanting to get my hands on everything. I fear that a baby blue sweater will last for only one outing before I dribble pasta sauce down the front and ruin it. But it was only ten dollars.



Thursday morning -- I sent an email to Wonder Woman -- she said she doesn't like the phone. She is booked up and out of town the next 2 weekends, so I said let's see each other again and tell me a day when you can be free and we'll think of something to do..... Wonder Woman and I both descend from the Welsh -- we have such nice surnames. This Welshness, and the fact that I am still intermittently steamed at Joan for dumping me by email -- both remind me of Rebecca, or Her R-ness, a former girl friend, more than ten years ago, who is still mad at me.Rebecca comes to mind because she is also Welsh, and probably knows Wonder Woman, because they both know the same people. Rebecca is not likely to poison the well for me, she is not depraved like that, but she can be impressively miffed.My affair with Her R-ness was a wonderful months-long spat, interspersed with tenderness and lovemaking, followed by a series of delightfully insulting letters that we exchanged, and which I kept.Ten years after the affair, she called me to ask me to return her letters. I kept them because they were good letters and I like to keep letters. But I said no, I would not return them.This sounds unreasonable, but the fact is that my current wife was in the room when Rebecca called and I was not able to explain that her letters -- although I still had them -- were stored in the attic of a friend in Boston, and I was hardly going to fly across the country to retrieve them.More years passed, and I have kept moving around and now find myself in Seattle and within Rebecca's aura. She might bless my new ventures, but she might find ways to embarrass me. Oh well....Postscript: I did eventually return to Boston to retrieve my belongings, and I threw out the letters, after calling Rebecca -- she said that would be sufficient and she no longer wanted them back.


I'm going to call them nuns, and mean it as a mild put down. These are the women of my acquaintance and age who have chosen the quiet, contented life of solitude and celibacy. No one calls it celibacy, but isn't that what it is? -- with tea and friends and talk of kittens and “things to do.” True, they have not taken religious vows, and true, they might opt out of their convents at any time, and for this reason they are much happier nuns.But they are still nuns. Undisturbed. Like chickens without a rooster -- much less trouble in the hen yard without him around and his ridiculous posturing, his demands, and his slovenly habits.

Quiet, at home, reading a friend's suicide note

Later that same day. I couldn't deal with it today. I got up, but I felt weak and cold. I dressed and went out for breakfast before going to work, but I still felt bad, so I called up my gardening customer and made an excuse and came back home.Back to the couch and a good book. Then I took a 2-hour nap. Now it's 3 p.m. and I still feel kind of bad, but I hope for resting that I will feel better tomorrow. It doesn't matter. I will remain at home and on the couch until I feel better. The world can get along without me for now.I finally figured out what story to write. It's about a young man named Seth who committed a murder. Brought to trial, he admitted his guilt and was given a 38-year sentence. Three months after being sent to prison, Seth hung himself in his cell, leaving behind a suicide note. When the guards found him, he was brain dead, but still breathing, so they took him to the hospital. Sean's mother, Eva, was notified of her son's almost-complete suicide and the next day she drove the six hours to the hospital near the prison. Seth was able to spend his last hours in his mother's arms. Then she gave the doctors permission to disconnect his life support and he died.The mother is a good friend of mine. I knew Seth since he was a child and I was very shocked that he had committed this crime. Eva let me make a copy of his suicide note, which is a remarkable message. He did not apologize for what he did. He made no excuses either. He blamed no one but himself. There was no hint of despair or self pity. It was about atonement.That was seven years ago. Recent events -- the mass murder -- got me to thinking about Seth, so I dug out the suicide note and read it again. Seth was a good young man who did a very terrible thing, and for no reason. How could a good man do such a bad thing? Where was the reason? Why? Why? It was then that I finally learned that just because I had a question, doesn't mean I will get an answer. People want to derive meaning from terrible events -- but there is no meaning, and that's why they are terrible. That's hell, that's evil -- no meaning and no answer, and not ever.Seth paid for his crime. He died in peace. I believe he went to a better place.

She said all right

I called Eva last night to talk with Seth about his crime and his suicide back in the 2000 -- seven years ago. It was on my mind because of the massacre at Virginia Tech. She said it was all right if I wrote a story about Seth and if I re-printed his suicide note.What Seth did, murder that man, was a very heavy thing, and incomprehensible, and it has always weighed on my mind because I had known him since he was a child. But as time passed, I thought about it very little until two days ago. I had been watching too much news about the tragedy in Virginia -- which seems to be driving many people over the edge, and seems to be leading other people to very unnecessary conclusions -- to get rid of all the guns or, depending on who you listen to, to acquire even more guns. And the phrase "senseless murder" struck a chord -- redundant, because murder is senseless, meaningless, pointless, devoid of understanding or explanation.But the point of going back to Seth's note -- the one he wrote before he killed himself in his prison cell -- is that it had no explanation or excuse or apology -- but there was something certain about it that made it redeeming, and even uplifting, and it even makes you smile.When I brought up the episode to Seth's mother, she began to laugh -- and it was her son. The way he ended his life was a kind of grace.

The dry flu

I call it the dry flu because I haven't got any symptoms -- no cough, no congestion, but I caught a chill on Wednesday and since then I have felt weak, tired, and easily cold. I have stayed home on the couch for three days. I also wrote that heavy story about the young man who killed himself.Hopefully, I will rise today. The story is finished and sent on its way -- it might make others feel heavy, but I hope now that I will feel lighter. I also need to get back to the garden job.However, before I resort to full enthusiasm, I would like to complain that I have chosen the two worst professions in the world. One is gardening, lower paid than any craft I can think of -- like welding, plumbing, carpentry, etc. Gardening, if we ever actually enter the environmental age, will become an esteemed occupation. And surely this will happen, else we can no longer exist on this planet, but at the present time it only means that I grub for weeds on my hands and knees -- lowly and humble.My other occupation is writing. Whatever got into me to think I would be a writer? One in 500 derive any income from this effort. It seems like a curse, a sentence of misery. Will someone please fix my head so that I can count all this as a blessing? To be glad that I have a chance to work with the earth, and to play with words, and to wander to and fro? Good news -- I think Wonder Woman likes me. She flew to Los Angeles to visit her mother this weekend and she sent me a cheerful message that she would like to see me again when her schedule clears up. My intuition is that she is having a teensy thought of my being her boy friend. In response, I have scaled back my expectations.Also, it is time for me to re-up my AT subscription. I am grateful to have this space and to be among good folk. I am very glad to know all of you.

Originally Posted by Pocono Platypus
My other occupation is writing. Whatever got into me to think I would be a writer? One in 500 derive any income from this effort. It seems like a curse, a sentence of misery.
Amen to this.But you wouldn't give it up for the world, now, would you?

Stained glass

Sometimes I imagine myself having a stained glass studio -- making pictures of colored light.

Seth Anderson's Last Message

If you go to my blog, you can find the story about Seth Anderson.Go to -- I don't know how to make a hyperlink -- Again, it's froghospital911.blogspot.comIt's a pretty heavy story. I'm glad to be finished with it.

Desperate Housewives

Time to watch Desperate Housewives

Monday and things are changing

I won't be posting to this thread so often after tomorrow. Barb and Pat are returning from Europe, and my house sitting gig will end, along with this Internet connection.I am moving to an unoccupied house on Beaver Marsh Road up in the Skagit Valley -- a large ranch house with no furniture in it. I've thought it might be lonely there, but now I'm thinking it might be kind of nice -- residing quietly amid farm fields with neighbors at a distance. But the house does have a lot of emptiness in it. I will need to make a friendly acquaintance with the resident ghosts if I am to sleep well.Also, it's time to get back to work on my book, which will be easy, since I will have no TV and no Internet. I enjoy talking with all of you on AT, but you all know how compulsive it can be.In this morning's news, I read about the great life expectancy of Cubans because medical care is free, because there are so many doctors, and because -- my own conclusion, but not in the story -- Cuba doesn't rule the world.Living in the world's dominant country is stressful, to say the least. Just think: how would it be if our principle objective was simply to take care of ourselves and our land, and to be no more than a good neighbor to the rest of humanity? How sweet that would be!Or, what if our mighty ambition was directed in a more wholesome direction. I watched a movie about the Apollo space flights to the moon. We sent men to the moon in the 60s and 70s -- hardly necessary, but still it was an astounding accomplishment.That and the invasion of Viet Nam -- and we don't know any better after all this -- sending our troops to Iraq. And we had such a good beef after 9/11 that we had been harmed! We have blown it so badly. I just want to throw up my hands. This is a "move to Canada" moment -- such a nice, unassuming country. And in America, we have "greatness" and ambition.I suffer from ambition. God has done me the great favor of not granting mine. I am astounded every day at my own obscurity and humble station. Honestly, I often wonder why I am not the Governor of Washington, or a famous writer, or the director of a globally recognized think tank, or the founder of an important environmental advocacy group. It's hard for me to accept my simple circumstances as a blessing. I resent the success of others, although I try not to. I ask heaven for understanding, but this prayer is not granted.Or I might reflect on a lifetime of stupid choices. It's sad the good chances I threw away -- threw them away just for the hell of it. Someone like Eileen -- I could have married her and had a sweet home in Connecticut or California. She was pretty and smart and she loved me. That was right after college, when she came to see me at Richard's house in Brooklyn -- 1972, or thereabouts. She just came to the apartment to give her self to me, and I threw it away, treated her gift as if it were a some kind of snack from the bakery -- a moment's pleasure.But I had ambition then -- an unformed yearning for some destiny. The happy life I could have had with Eileen -- no, it had to be some higher purpose.Forty years later I remember that spurned gift.



Too much whiskey last night, but it got me over the blues. I went outside the farm house and howled at the moon -- just the thing. But today, I do not feel very good, to say the least.Kevin Paul just walked in the coffee shop. He's an Indian sculptor -- makes totem poles and smaller things, always wood chips flying over at his outside workspace, next to his small house on the reservation. The Swinomish reservation is across the channel from the town of LaConner, so Kevin comes here in the morning for coffee, comes in and tells jokes. It's 9:30 -- I am still hungover. I might just go back to the farmhouse and get a little more rest, and then put in a few hours on the stairway garden.

In the dumps

I am still in the dumps. Since I have returned to the Pacific Northwest I have been freezing my buns off. I guess I was in Texas and California for too long. I just so badly want to be warm -- I don't know what I'm doing here. And the Skagit Valley, my rural home for so many years -- it's depressing the hell out of me. I think I have to get back to the city -- Seattle or Los Angeles. I was thinking about LA especially -- it is so much about illusions. It is so much about not dealing with reality. But here I am, in the valley, having coffee with farmers at 7 a.m. -- that's reality, and I think it stinks. Reality: I don't like it and I don't need it. Reality is going to do whatever it wants to do whether I'm paying attention or not. I'll take the illusion -- that's what I liked about LA -- its exuberant denial of the way things are supposed to be. And Seattle wasn't bad, for the three weeks I was there -- it was very intelligent and there was lots going on. Somehow the cold in Seattle didn't bother me -- because I was distracted by the urban ramble.I might have to get out of this Thomas Hardy novel that I am living in -- this cold, muddy country, these stupid cows.More news, neither good nor bad -- Wonder Woman has not responded to two consecutive chatty emails. This signal means she is "not interested." So, I am thinking now about the Merry Widow. Her poor husband, a friend of mine, died two years ago. Over 500 people came to his funeral because he was well liked, and I started to become jealous about all those people coming to his funeral, but then I realized I would much rather be alive, which I am.Rebecca, the bereaved widow is also alive, and two years have passed, and she dyed her hair red. I saw her acting last week in a perfectly saucy manner, and she was so glad to see me. She reads my weekly newsletter -- but let me think for a minute of some excuse to call her or send her an email -- some plausible excuse for a conversation.The good news is that I am assembling Shipwreck into a single Word document and will make it into something. It runs about 37,000 words now and it has a story. Almost 180 posts, I have copied them one by one into the Word file, and gotten to 100 so far - not quite as tedious as it sounds.There are comments from ethereal creatures such as Fire Maiden, Moongold, Cielo, Wales Woman and others -- but mainly it is my own words. Still, Shipwreck is quite a bit different than my journal because of the angels listening in -- lovely, earthy angels, I think.Assembling and editing Shipwreck is cheering me up right now in this dismal, cold season.

The End