Sunday, January 31, 2021

Scrambled eggs, high school, 1960

I wrote this on Saturday, January 30, 2021

I got up at 6:30. The sky was clear blue and not a cloud in sight after three days of rain. I got tired of reading politics on the Internet, so I looked up sea turtles. You can find sea turtles off shore in Los Angeles and further south, but the water is not warm enough for them in Santa Barbara. We saw sea turtles when we were in Hawaii a few years ago, but now I want to visit the Caribbean and look at marine life in that warm climate. Some island paradise, on a sailboat sailing as the sun goes down. Dazzling, sparkling clear water. Warm beaches. Puffy clouds. The Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba....Yesterday I looked up websites on Parkinson's Disease because I have it, I was diagnosed two years ago.  I joined a chat room, or thread where people described their condition, how many years they had Parkinsons, was it getting worse, their exercise routine and medication. I don't like to think about it too much, but movement is difficult for me, any movement, I can feel this stiffness. Not a pain, never a pain, but always a stiffness. You don't hear about it getting better. Success is defined as not getting worse, or getting worse but slowly. My best solution is to find absorbing activities because then I don't think about it.

Having said that, it's time to think about breakfast. We 're having avocado omelettes. I just love eggs. When I was a kid in high school, my mom made me scrambled eggs every morning. Two eggs scrambled, she added a little milk when she put them in the frying pan. I ate them with no glass of milk, no toast, just the two eggs and I ate them every school day morning, sitting at the big round table in the back of the kitchen, after I walked the dog.... Freshman and sophomore years I hitchhiked to school, three miles down Lake Street. It was only a one-block walk from our white stucco house on Forest Avenue, down 17th Street, past the tall horse chestnut tree, to Lake Street, carrying my homework books. I didn't carry a lunch bag because I always ate cafeteria food. So I got to Lake Street, let's say it's a little after 8 o'clock in early November. The ground is not quite frozen and the first snow might come any day. I stand with one foot on the curb and one foot on the street. It was a black tar street, the main street out to Edens Expressway, or going the other way across the Northwestern RR tracks a mile to the beach at Lake Michigan. I can see all these details in my mind, going back to 1960 when I was a freshman. The tall elm trees and oak trees, cars going by faster, on their way to work. It was usually the same men who stopped to pick me up. It took five minutes to catch a ride. They knew I was hitching to high school. I ran to the car and hopped in, always a man by himself. Some really boring guy with a coat and tie and a friendly smile, saying hello, going to school? I stared straight ahead. These guys were so boring. Was I supposed to grow up and be like them?

My brother Tom, older by four years, was away at college, Marquette University in Milwaukee. Milwaukee was 90 miles to the north in Wisconsin, even colder than Chicago where we lived, in the suburb of Wilmette. Why would anybody want to go to college in Milwaukee? My brother had no imagination, except he had cool records -- Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley, stuff like that. He had a cute girlfriend. Her name was Betsy Wood and that's what she looked like. My brother was tall and Betsy was not. And Tom had friends. They went on a canoe and camping trip up north in the woods of Wisconsin. They stole a traffic sign and brought it home. It went in the basement and just sat there for years. Tom and I went water skiing in our boat on Lake Michigan. The boat was a 16-foot lapstrake Lyman with a forty-horse Johnson motor, which was a little under-powered, but good enough to tow a slalom skier. I was good at the slalom ski. Tom could hitch up the trailer and drive the boat down to Evanston where the launch ramp was. Picture an evening late in the summer, an August evening, hoping for a glassy-smooth flat calm -- ideal for water skiing. The lake was huge and the water was warm in August. You could run the boat for miles, clear up to Winnetka, and back to the ramp,  when it was almost dark. We had some fun. But Tom was gone from home when I started high school, the same school where he just graduated. Too bad he wasn't there. He could have gotten me socially established. I had no confidence. I was the dork of all ages.

Back at the breakfast table where this story started. It was a big kitchen, but just Mom and me at the round oak table. She might have the ironing board out. No TV, no radio. Mom was the star of my universe. My oldest sister Mary was gone from home. Tom was at college. That still left two sisters at home and my Dad. The funny thing is that I can't remember them being there, I mean in the kitchen when Mom made me scrambled eggs.


--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens

My writing blog is Frog Hospital




 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Gap. No posts from September, 2020, to January, 2021

 The Gap. No posts from September, 2020, to January, 2021

 I have not posted here for several months. I have been working with my son Eugene to establish new formats and we neglected the blog.

 I might resume posting here, but make no promises at this point.

 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

High Anxiety followed by an old story about Stealing Candy Bars


By Fred Owens

You can't even quote Woody Allen anymore but he was the master of high anxiety, defined as worrying about nothing, but worrying just the same and worrying because you're worrying. But I want to assure the readers that this is not the case for most of us right now. We are anxious about real troubles, this is not imaginary, this is not a drill. The sky is falling and the ocean is rising. Okay, that overstates it, but you can look out the window and see evidence. Evidence of bad air. Evidence becomes facts and facts have been disparaged by the right to a large degree, as you all know. The right (meaning Trump) has no use for facts, and they don't have any anxiety because they're all going to heaven. So what can we do? I'm not going to present a solution except to repeat my initial point -- your anxiety is about real problems. Please write back and share with us  -- how goes it at your house?

Seven Weeks To Go

Frog Hospital is published every Friday. There will be seven issues, including this one, until the election November 3. We are prepared for a rough ride. It could get a lot worse. The outcome is uncertain. But problems become opportunities  -- really, they do. Our selected leader Joe Biden has surprising strength and stamina. He is going the distance. He can win in November. He can overcome Trump because he is good at politics. That is his greatest strength. We at Frog Hospital have always admired our best politicians. It is the fashion to despise politicians, but why? The alternative to politics is war, dictatorship, anarchy and chaos. I'll take politics and I'll take Biden. He knows how to build a team that can get things done. His first important decision was choosing Kamala Harris as his running mate. She adds strength and character to the ticket, and she represents the beauty and power of the Golden State, which happens to be on fire right now. But do you think this fire storm will stop us or defeat us? Not on your life.

Old Story about Stealing Candy Bars when I was ten.

Where I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago in the 1950s, nothing ever changed. From year to year it was always the same, incredibly stable. I liked it that way. The trees grew and the weather changed from one season to another. No drama. Here's a story from that time, 500 words, an excerpt titled Stealing Candy Bars from a much longer autobiographical sketch titled Why Was I Born.

I don’t know where I got this idea because nobody else did it. Or nobody told me about it, but I started stealing candy bars when I was ten years old.  And not from the Drugstore. I was dimly aware not to crap in my own sweet spot and leave the Drugstore for honest candy. Besides that, the tall, grey-haired lady was always watching behind the counter.  No, I stole from the grocery store over across Lake Street. I could put a couple of Milky Ways in my pants pocket down the aisle where no one was looking and just waltz right out of the store. Free candy. I kept stealing candy bars and I never told my friends, just ate them myself.

Charlie Swanson lived two houses down from the grocery store in a tall and narrow wooden house, lived there with his older sister and his parents.  He was an altar boy with an angelic pose. He had this kind of bland personality, not too much fun. I didn’t play with him. But there he was one day just standing outside the door of the grocery store when I came out with pockets bulging with Milky Ways, and I made the mistake of bragging – that’s how you always get caught – “Charlie, look what I got, and I stole them. Just took them. Do you want some?” 

If Charlie was shocked it didn’t show on his bland, angelic face. He said, “That’s wrong. That’s stealing. You shouldn’t take candy bars like that. I’m going to tell the manager you stole them.”

I turned red as a beet and got really scared. I knew it was wrong, and now he knew, and pretty soon the manager would know and then my parents. I was scared. I ran off, around the corner to the front of the Drugstore. I ate the candy bars quickly.  I never stole candy bars again after that.

It was not like Charlie Swanson was my best friend or anything. He was just someone in my class and I went over to his house a few times. But this kind of put a strain on things. Telling on me!

Two years later, Mrs. Swanson was getting out of her bathtub. She slipped and fell, banged her head on the side of the bath tub and died, just like that. We all went to the funeral. Charlie followed his mother’s coffin with his bland, angelic face. Of course he was sorrowful but it didn’t show.  I wasn’t mad at him anymore for telling on me.

My whole life changed because of Mrs. Swanson dying in her own bathroom, a perfectly healthy mom, and then she died. I became an adventurer and risk taker. I roamed the world as a man and took my chances, some very foolish chances and all because of Mrs. Swanson -- because why play it safe? Why stay home? You could die in your bathtub.


That's all for this week, but with any encouragement I can publish more excerpts from this story in coming issues.


Fred


--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens

My writing blog is Frog Hospital




Thursday, September 10, 2020

Calypso was her name

 


By Fred Owens

Calypso was her name -- the name of Laurie's horse, an Appaloosa thoroughbred cross. Laurie got her when she was 2 and kept her until she died at 34 -- that's a long time, 32 years, and Calypso was a good horse. Laurie kept her in the backyard and hauled in the hay and feed and rode her on the beach.

Laurie always wanted a horse since she was a little girl growing up in Manhattan Beach. She and her husband, Paul, bought the house in 1976 here in Santa Barbara, a comfortable three bedroom ranch house on a half-acre lot, with room for a good-sized corral in the back. They bought Calypso the  next year for $750. Laurie says she got lucky choosing Calypso, not having the experience of owning a horse. And Calypso was "green broke," that is, not well trained. But it worked out, and Calypso and Laurie became life long friends  -- they learned together.

This part of Santa Barbara was horse country back then. Lots of people kept horses and public/private trails wandered over the hill sides and down to the beach. Now horse ownership is less common because the area has been built up and many of the trails are closed. Still, our next door neighbor Alex keeps a horse in his backyard. We can hear the horse making shuffling noises in the quiet of the night.

Calypso enjoyed good health most of her life, but had trouble with her eyes in later years, finally going almost blind. After Calypso died in 2009 Laurie decided not to have another horse. In coming issues we will be telling more about Calypso and Laurie's life as a horsewoman.

My Car Might Be Totaled. I am distracted from post-car-wreck trauma. I am handling it well and know, and truly believe, that I will get another car and it will be a good one. But here's the story, skipping the details. My car, a 2004 Nissan Sentra which I have owned for 8 years, was innocently parked on the street in front of the house. At about 9:30 on Tuesday evening, Jesus Garcia driving his Lexus for Uber, sideswiped my car causing major damage to both vehicles. Jesus is a nice man with Mercury insurance. I filed a claim yesterday and they said they will come and tow it away today and arrange a loaner. We await judgment -- will they repair it, or offer me a cash settlement? I am not worried about all this. Cars come and cars go.

Smoky Air. As of Thursday morning, we are only lightly impacted by the raging infernos sweeping across the Golden State, only a slight odor of smoky air in the morning fog. I called my brother in Sierra Madre, a nice town just east of Pasadena. There is a major blaze too near to their home. Tom said he wasn't worried and the sheriff has not yet come knocking on his door. Tom and Marti have two dogs and do not care to leave their premises. But he did say, toward the end of our conversation last night, that they had several bags packed and ready to go by the front door -- packed with documents, prescriptions, and snacks for the dogs. Marti's daughter in Playa Vista, on the beach, has a spare bedroom and the dogs are welcome. Tom says they will leave if they have to.

Garden News -- the Gopher War Continues. Laurie ended the short but sweet life of the gopher that was gnawing off the main stem of her prized tomatoes and peppers. The gopher kills the whole plant that way. We welcome all hawks and owls. Come here and hunt. We encourage Sasha the cat to come prowling for fat little rodents. I will not bore you with garden philosophy and how growing vegetable teaches us life lessons. The hell with that. Those are our tomatoes. We did all the work and we're not gonna allow these welfare-chiselling gophers to get a free lunch.

Boredom. We are not bored, as so many people report. True, we are watching more TV than we used to. And it takes longer to find something good on Netflix. But we are not getting fat, getting drunk, abusing prescription drugs or fighting with each other. Laurie and I continue to enjoy each other's company. We will never run out of good books to read. I have a half dozen Dickens novels in storage. I could easily read them a second time. As it is  right now I am reading Million Dollar Baby, a collection of short stories by boxing writer F.X. Toole. Laurie is reading a Margaret Atwood's after the Flood.

Too much news. These are uncertain times. I am writing this on Thursday morning. It will be published on Friday afternoon. Who knows what will happen next. Don't be discouraged. I saw Democratic VP candidate Kamala Harris give an interview on CNN a few days ago. She is worried about all the same things that you and I are worried about, but she is doing her best to make it whole again. She's going to do her part, and we will do our part. That's all for today. Stay safe and stay healthy.


--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens

My writing blog is Frog Hospital




Thursday, September 03, 2020

At Our House

 

By Fred Owens

At Our House. Laurie has picked over 150 pounds of Concord grapes from the solid old vine in the back garden. These grapes are for juice and jelly or just to eat fresh. We processed seven gallons of juice for the freezer, and to enjoy on special occasions throughout the year. Then Laurie posted on the Internet to sell the rest of the grapes at $2 a pound. We also expect a bountiful harvest of passion fruit in October, some hundreds are green now but will develop that ripe purple color in due time. Last year Laurie sold her passion fruit at a dollar a piece and took in over $300. The almost ancient avocado tree, which has not had much fruit in the nine years that I have been present on this hacienda, is showing hundreds of ripening fruit which will be ready for harvest in March. So, in summary, it has been a good year for grapes, passion fruit and avocados, but the reliable golden delicious apple tree is taking a well-earned year off and not yielding much fruit.... Laurie just reminded me that the apple tree had a ton of fruit just last year and made many pounds of apple sauce.

We are sad realizing that the Thanksgiving party at her brother's house in Manhattan Beach will likely be  cancelled this year. Not this year the happy house jammed with loud boisterous relatives, not the table overburdened with food, not Uncle Sam sprawling on the couch in the den watching the football game the whole time. But it will be like this for many families and we will all get by.

The Cat Caught the Rat.  Laurie's cat caught a small rat the other day and brought it into the house to play with. She let it go and ran around and caught it again, numerous times as we sat on the couch. Laurie grabbed it with a pot holder and took it outside.Sasha is 14 years old, a brown-grey tabby of a shy nature. She is not known to be a hunter, but this week she is showing us that she can hunt if she wants to. Sasha loves Laurie more than anybody else. She always wants to sit in Laurie's lap when we watch TV. She will sit in my lap if Laurie is busy, but I am clearly her second choice. Laurie got Sasha as a kitten, from a friend, who had two cats from two litters. So Laurie picked Sasha and Ripple to take home. Ripple was the same age but from the other litter. Ripple died a few years ago and Sasha's life changed in a big way when she lost her life-long buddy. She became more needy, less distant, which was understandable. If you come for a visit to Laurie's house you are not likely to meet Sasha. She will hide in the bed room until you are gone. That is her nature. Sasha loves to go down to the garden and nose around, but she almost always waits  until someone goes with her. -- well, she isn't stupid, there are big creatures out there.



What was the Little Red Book?

Quotations from Chairman Mao and chanting slogans from the Little Red Book -- In 1969 I saw a group of students from Michigan chanting these sayings when I attended the SDS convention in Chicago that summer. SDS stands for Students for a Democratic Society. Anyhow I attended for one day and as fate would have it I was seated directly behind Yippie Elder Abbie Hoffman. Now Abbie was the weirdest guy I knew at the time, but he was within established parameters. He was an All-American weirdo, you might say. Anyway, at this SDS convention, groups were competing for the chance to be super hostile to established norms. The Maoists from Michigan chanting with Little Red Books were the most extreme. Abbie Hoffman thought they were round the bend and off the chart and if Abbie Hoffman thought they were too much, then you know they were really too much. Well, he got up from his folding chair and left the meeting. So did I.

Keep in mind that in the late summer of 1969, hundreds of young American men were dying every week in Vietnam.(242 in one week, according to Wikipedia) So who was being extreme?

The question coming from a small-town conservative friend was "Are these Maoists still around?' The answer is yes, Elaine, they are still here, still active in small numbers, kind of like small pox spores in a freezer. Avoid contact.

Political comment deleted

We are proud to be publishing our first cat story, celebrating the fabulous life of Sasha, our cat. Why disturb that peaceful passage with harsh words about the political climate? I did write something about the election a couple of days ago, but I looked it over this morning and found it depressing and fearful  -- we can't have that. So I shared this gloom with Roger Barcant, my old friend in London. He is more consistently cheerful than most people. I think it comes naturally. But he made it all better, so thanks, Roger.


--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens

My writing blog is Frog Hospital




Thursday, August 27, 2020

Love with the Proper Stranger

FROG HOSPITAL -- August 28, 2020

Love with the Proper Stranger

By Fred Owens

Love with a Proper Stranger, starring Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen, 1963. This is the trailer. We watched it last week on Turner Classic Movies. Black and white, romantic drama/comedy.

She gets pregnant and finds him at work to let him know. They hardly know each other. Only one night, you see, but one night was enough. He is a musician living with Edie Adams, a dancer in a friends with benefits situation, although they did not use that term in 1963. But McQueen is willing to help Natalie find a doctor to terminate the pregnancy. They gather the $400 fee but the doctor proves contemptible and they both refuse to go through with the procedure. So, now what? Under pressure from her older brother, McQueen agrees to marry her -- to do the right thing, which is what some people did back then and some still do today. She refuses his dutiful proposal, it's not love, she says. Anyway, through this and that they actually do fall in love and he woos her with bells and banjos. Great movie. I've seen it several times. McQueen's only romantic movie. He plays a guy who is not used to traditional romance. In other words he is playing himself. She plays a young woman who wants to get away from her traditional family. Natalie Wood is the all-American girl in every way -- she reminds me of my big sister who was 24 when this movie came out and going out in the world with her own job and her own apartment and in no hurry to get married, which was a bit unusual at that time. McQueen plays it well too. He had just finished the Great Escape with the fabulous motorcycle chase and he was up to the challenge of a romantic lead -- but he is so much better than Tom Cruise in action or in romance. Natalie Wood is everyone's big sister even if you don't have one. She was just how it was supposed to be in 1963, before it all changed. She is what America looked like in 1963.

And 1963 was the last year you could say that. The civil rights movement was looming. After 1963 if the cast of a movie was still all-white, it wasn't supposed to be. You could either give Sydney Poitier a serious part or else prepare a good excuse why he wasn't included.  Integration was the goal. We were all going to mix together. It was inspiring.

Seeing to these changes was James Baldwin among other luminaries. He is shown here in a famous debate with conservative ikon William Buckley at the Oxford Union in 1965. Talk about crisp diction. These two fellows outdid each other on presentation. Buckley, and I'm being charitable, represented the brakes on the train of progress. Both of these fellows had been through this dance on other stages, using well-worn yarns and words pronounced so carefully they were almost chewed.

Baldwin made his point -- that the goal was that men like Buckely, although probably not Buckley himself, but some white men in any  case, might rise to the level of power and vision that was already in the possession of Baldwin and his fellow Negro advocates.  It was not, and Baldwin said this in a dozen different ways, an equality where he was to rise to Buckley's level, but the other way around. Such a bold stance was shocking in 1965 when Baldwin addressed the Oxford Union. Such pride and ego! And yet one can find in his writing and speeches, without too much trouble, moments of humility and the humor and smiles that come with that humility. One prayed, almost hopelessly, that Buckley might some day achieve that same humility, but he only became uncomfortable. You can see him squirm in his chair when Baldwin was speaking.

Notice the archaic language, Negro where we would say African-American. And he, where we would say he or she. It was the grammar of integration and the proper thing in 1965

Maybe this isn't useful, reviewing a movie from 1963 and a civil rights debate from 1965. It could be that I am just more comfortable with these words and these actors from times past.

Fire and Flood. Stuart Welch, the former owner of the Rexville Store in LaConner, helped me to make sense of the current disaster. We have multiple connected disasters all caused by climate change. Fire in California, flood in New Orleans, pandemic  virus globally, economic dislocation, and a President who is clearly unhinged  -- all connected and related, said Stuart in wise reflection. It is one great big problem and to know that and describe that is more than half way to a solution. so let us keep connecting the dots.

At Our House. Laurie has picked over 100 pounds of Concord grapes from the solid old vine in the back garden. These grapes are for juice and jelly or just to eat fresh. We processed seven gallons of juice for the freezer, and to enjoy on special occasions throughout the year. Then Laurie posted on the Internet to sell the rest of the grapes at $2 a pound. We also expect a bountiful harvest of passion fruit in October, some hundreds are green now but will develop that ripe purple color in due time. Last year Laurie sold her passion fruit at a dollar a piece and took in over $300. The almost ancient avocado tree, which has not had much fruit in the nine years that I have been present on this hacienda, is showing hundreds of ripening fruit which will be ready for harvest in March. So, in summary, it has been a good year for grapes, passion fruit and avocados, but the reliable golden delicious apple tree is taking a well-earned year off and not yielding much fruit.... Laurie just reminded me that the apple tree had a ton of fruit just last year and made many pounds of apple sauce.

We are sad realizing that the Thanksgiving party at her brother's house in Manhattan Beach will be cancelled this year. Not this year the happy house jammed with loud boisterous relatives, not the table overburdened with food, not Uncle Sam sprawling on the couch in the den watching the football game the whole time. But it will be like this for many families and we will all get by.
'


--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214
t
My gardening blog is  Fred Owens

My writing blog is Frog Hospital




Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Fire Next Tiime



By Fred Owens

God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!

Eugene asked me what I wanted for my birthday, June 25. I said James Baldwin. I had read several of his novels when I was a kid and I thought it might be worthwhile to read them again. So Eugene sent me Collected Essays, which includes The Fire Next time. I read a few pages as a warm up to see if my serious reading brain still worked. I often read challenging works during the sixties when I was in college, but these days I often look for something easy and I'm afraid Baldwin is not too easy. But worth the effort.

Baldwin is rich. Here is one section from Down at the Cross, written about his coming of age when he became 14.
"Negroes in this country -- and Negroes do not, strictly or legally speaking, exist in any other -- are taught really to despise themselves from the moment their eyes open on the world. This world is white and they are black. White people hold the power, which means they are superior to blacks ...." 

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, was published in 1963, about 50 pages, 2 essays. This is difficult for me to write because it is a serious book and I have never, in all my years writing, written a book review. So I'm going to ask people to work with me on this.
I asked Eugene to find a public domain photo of Baldwin that we could use to illustrate the essay. "Whatever looks good," I told him, figuring he would choose one of those deadly serious author poses so commonly placed on the back cover of a book. Instead he selected Baldwin smiling in sun glasses standing next to Marlon Brando. They were friends, it turns out. They even roomed together for a period. And Baldwin is showing a Hollywood smile with lots of teeth. Not that he had good teeth, because he didn't, but you know he had his moments when he knew he was as good as Marlon Brando. Viva Zapata was my favorite Brando film, followed by On the Waterfront. "I could have been somebody. I could have been a contender, instead of a bum, which is what I am."

I could have been somebody. I know exactly what that feels like. Brando I understand. Not James Baldwin.  I don't understand him. No, that's not right. Let me try and say it another way. Baldwin describes his life and his options as a young black man in Harlem. I know I don't understand it.  I got the book out on Monday and raced through the fifty pages in two days. It was intense. But I didn't get it, so I'm reading it again.

In 1963, that was the year of the big civil rights rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Baldwin was there, of course. Brando was there. That's when the photo was taken. It was a tragic time, August, 1963. Kennedy was assassinated in November. Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965. MLK in 1968. In 1963, when Baldwin's book was published, I was a senior in high school. I didn't have a clue. But I read his books, The Fire Next Time and Another Country and Giovanni's Room. That was a world I didn't live in.

Now I am reading a short story by James Baldwin titled Sonny's Blues. Sonny is the younger brother by seven years of the narrator. Sonny plays the drums and piano in various pick up groups at jazz clubs around Harlem, but doing heroin, which concerns the narrator who wants to help his younger brother find that thing that matters. I am on page 30 of the story which goes to 36 pages..... I don't think I have ever been to Harlem. I was at Columbia University for a Tikkun Conference in 1994 -- from the campus you can look down the hill to see Harlem, but I never went down the stairs.

I've never written about race, couldn't do it justice. We watched the 2016 documentary on the work and life of James Baldwin, titled I Am Not Your Negro. Baldwin has a very expressive face and an elaborate diction. Where am I taking this? I was in Africa for a year and married an African woman and we lived together for seven years. What did I learn? I must have learned something, just not much to write about now. I might do better writing about the time Jim Smith and I went fly fishing in Montana, right outside of Yellowstone Park, on the Madison River, full of hungry trout and easy to catch. Now I'm comfortable with that. But the Fire Next Time is not approachable. Well, Mark Twain could not write that story either. He would put Baldwin on a raft and call him Jim, but without the humor. Mark Twain would rip up draft after draft trying to write about Baldwin. He would curse a lot, puff on his cigar and give up. Norman Mailer would put Baldwin in a boxing ring fighting at the welterweight level and the result would be embarrassing. So if I screwed it up I would be in good company.

To be Continued .....



--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens

My writing blog is Frog Hospital