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Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Today I awoke to sunshine, bird song and green all over
Today I awoke to the present, the future and the past
Today is all I'll ever have
The past is gone
The future is a dream
Today is all that is real

Today I remember many yesterdays
Today I dream of many tomorrows
Today is all that is real
The past is immutable
The future only a possibility
We must all live in today

Today I woke to a fleeting moment in time
Today life whirls past me at supersonic speed
Today is fleeting
It fades into yesterday
If opens into tomorrow
I must cherish today yet let it go

Fears (Especially my own)

Fears.  We all have them.  Even those who like to pretend they fear nothing.  Some fears are very rational.  Rational fears are a good thing.  They help keep us alive long enough to reproduce and that is all Mommy Nature really cares about.  But, all of us I think, also have some irrational fears.  Well, irrational to others I guess but our fears are always rational to ourselves.

I've wondered where and how these irrational fears begin.  I'll speak of four of my own fears and the contradictions they engender.  I have guesses where they originate but would not say I'm sure where they come from.

Also, I seem to have a love/hate relationship with three of them.  The fourth would be a hate/hate relationship.

The first is death by  hanging.  I don't think we have had a legal hanging in this country for decades so the only hanging I would have to fear would be suicide or lynching.  Being Caucasian I really don't see myself in danger of lynching.  And, if you ever hear of me committing suicide by hanging myself, go to the police because it was definitely murder.

My next great fear is death by drowning and is the first of my love/hate fears.  I have fear of drowning to an unnatural degree yet also have a tremendous love of water in large quantities.  I love creeks, rivers, lakes and oceans and find the most peace I have in my life being close to them.  I enve enjoy being in them as long as the water is no more than waist deep.

The third is heights.  Another love/hate fear.  I love high places.  I love standing near the edge of a high precipice looking out over the lands revealed below.  At the same time I'm deathly afraid of falling from that high place.

Fourth is tightly enclosed places.  Claustrophobia. I love small places.  I find comfort in small rooms etc.  But, I also am requesting cremation as I just can't stand the idea of being buried underground in such a small space as a coffin for eternity.  Or, eternity til some future archaeologist digs me up to see what kind of kinky stuff people from our age buried with their dead.

Where do these fears originate?  I could understand it had I experienced any traumatic events relating to any of these fears but I have not.   I have  not nearly hanged myself, drowned, been trapped in a small place or fallen from a high place.  These fears are just in my mind.  Or, perhaps, at a deeper level in my being.

This brings me to my own theory of the origin of irrational fears.  Reincarnation.  While most people who know me well  might describe me as an atheist I am far from that.  I definitely believe in a higher power who created our universe and set our physical laws in place.  I also believe in progress of species through evolution.  Neither alone can explain, to me, all the things present in our universe now and in our universe's history.

I also believe in the existence of  a "soul".  It has been demonstrated by scientific testing on terminally ill patients (beds placed on a large scale) that at the moment of death the weight of our body decreases by a very small amount.  Something had to leave the mortal clay at that time.  What else could it be?

Some people seem to be able to recall some small or even large portions of a past existence.  A lot of these claims are pure hokum but a very few stand up to scientific scrutiny and are not easily explained away.

Transmigration of the souls is not a new or even uncommon idea.  Not just the eastern religions but a large sect of Judaism believe in that.  In fact several parts of the Old Testament make much more sense if you replace the word generation with incarnation.

So, how does this explain my, and maybe your, irrational fears?  Lingering memories from a past life or lives.  Genetic memory.  Our bodies remember things our minds are not privy to. So, I do have some guesses about past lives in relationship to my fears.

For drowning while loving the sea I must have been a sailor who  drowned in the ocean on a voyage.
The rest of them I don't know but must have been some relationship to my past lives.  Maybe some kind of outlaw for hanging.  Small enclosures and high places... I don't know.  Just conjecture might be a mountain climber who died on a climb for high places.  Small enclosures I have  no idea.  But, I do wonder, what irrational fear will this live give my next incarnation.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pies vs Pie Crusts

My mother made wonderful vanilla custard pies.  Best I've ever eaten.  Then, isn't that what everyone says about their mother's cooking?  I did love her pies.  But, what I really looked forward to was the "cuttings" where the pie crust got trimmed around the edges of the pie pan.

Once the pies were all ready to put in the oven she'd put all the left over crusts on a "cookie sheet" and bake them in the oven.  Those are what I really loved.  Even today, when I have a chance to have a pie (we don't have them often as we both love them entirely too much) I almost prefer the crust to the actual pie.

What memories I have of  helping my mother make the crusts.  Mostly at the house we lived in on Nat's Creek in the late 60s.  The old Charlie Blessing house.  My dad, who was born in 1902, said it was an old house when he was a kid.

I can remember that house from when I was a pretty small lad myself.  We would ride the passenger train from West Van Lear down to Patrick and walk the old road and paths to my grandparent's house.  Part of that path lead through the lower part of the yard just in front of that old house.

I can only remember parts and pieces of it now that I'm much older.  Very few memories.  Stories of my Uncle Jeff and Aunt Norie (or Nora?) when we passed that old home place.  Stumbling upon a "blowing viper" in the path just before we got to the barn at the Arnold Justice barn.  My dad was carrying an empty shotgun (not very usual) and had both his hand guns in a bundle of clothes, etc he had wrapped in an old bed sheet.

I stood there watching that snake as my dad searched through his bundle for one of his pistols.  Finally he found one and killed the snake and we continued on our way to my grandparent's  house.

When I was that age (between about seven and thirteen) I dearly loved to go there.  Play in the creek, crack black walnuts on a small piece of steel I'd hold in my lap and hit the nut with a hammer.  Putting the head of kitchen matches in empty .22 shells and smashing them on the concrete steps with a hammer to listen to them go "bang".

I suppose, as is usual with very old memories, I only remember the good things from those trips.  I think that is a good thing.  What purpose would it serve to recall  how tired I was after those long walks?  Or, any other less than positive things.  Though, there were few of those.

When I was young I think my grandparent's house was my favorite place to be.  I have so many memories from there.  Most of them are good.    A few of them will not get repeated.  But, most were pleasant.  And, rated "G".  

Most, at least.  :-)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Scars (The Physical Kind)

I was speaking with a dear friend this morning about some events in my childhood which had left physical scars and how those fade with time.  They do have that over emotional scars which can hide deep within and spring out at the most inopportune times.

The physical scar I will write about today is one which is on the outside of the "pointer" finger of my right hand.  It is now about one half inch long, just at the knuckle where the finger joins the hand.  I call it my "elephant eye".  If I tuck my thumb in my palm and make a fist, the pointer finger is the elephant's trunk and the scar is just where the eye would be.

The tale of how I got it is one of youthful stupidity.  I don't recall how I came to be playing with a long, narrow pole that day.  It probably was a bean pole from the garden.  It was long and slender and I was using it to poke things in the tiny creek which ran beside the road in front of  the house we rented then.

I had wandered down the road to the little, concrete bridge which spanned the creek between the road and Nola Huff's house.  Now, let me tell you this little creek was dirty.  More than one sewer line dumped into it with zero treatment.  It had to be germ heaven.  It was definitely not like the creeks around my grandparent's house.

That day I was standing on the bridge and spotted a broken pop bottle (Hey, it was pop when I was growing up.  Soda mostly now.)  I don't recall for sure what brand but an RC I would imagine as we had an RC plant in the county seat so we did not see many Pepsi products and the only place to get a Coke was at a restaurant.

The neck of the bottle was pointed up the creek away from me.  I poked my pole through the broken back and up through the neck and raised it up out of the water.  Then I raised the pole to a vertical position and, naturally enough, gravity took control and that broken end slid down that pole at high speed and gashed a long wound in my hand.

The gash was bleeding profusely and I was quite embarrassed to have done something so stupid and feared the reaction of my parents more than germs.  So, I packed the wound with dirt to stop the bleeding.  I kept repacking it with new dirt until it bled no more.

I suppose that is why it left such a prominent scar.  Had I been able to see a doctor I'm sure it would have needed several stitches to close but a doctor was rarely an option in our family at the time.

That would have been sometime around 1965 so about fifty one years ago now.  The old elephant is going  blind as that scar fades but I'm sure there will still be a visible remnant of my, shall we say, inattention to detail (like the effect of gravity on broken bottles) until they shovel dirt into my face.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Some Words on Words

I consider myself fortunate because of something most would find unfortunate.  Due to my parent's joint believe anyone I happened to come into contact with would be a "bad influence" on their little angel, I spent a lot of time alone. That lead me to discover books  and those were my best, and almost only, friends for many years.

By the fourth grade I was reading at an adult level.  I read encyclopedias and dictionaries for pleasure when I was bored at school.   I spent a LOT of time  being bored at school.  Not only did I find a love of reading I found a love of words by themselves.

There are a lot of words with similar meanings.  Some think they mean the same thing.  They don't.  Each word has its own context, its own nuances, its own "flavor".  I know (almost) everyone has heard the saying about the Eskimos having  many words for kinds of snow but no word for snow itself.

Some may think that odd but I understand it completely.  There is a vast difference in snow in big flakes floating softly in the night and tiny droplets, half snow and half ice blowing in a strong wind and swirling down and doing little.  They are both snow but just calling them snow does not really give any indication of context, of feeling, of "being there".

I believe that is what distinguishes the best of poetry and prose from the from the mediocre.  Those may have meaning, a message but they don't contain the elegance, the emotion, the feeling of "being there".  Not just reading words but being there. Seeing what the author sees, feeling what the author feels, smelling the odors, tasting the wind, living in some other place in some  other time.

I found out early on words were my ticket to everywhere and every when.  Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey took me to the old west that never was.  Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and a host took me to the starts, other planets, other galaxies.

Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Vern took me to the center of the  earth,  Lynda Suzanne Robinson took me to ancient Egypt,  Taylor Caldwell took me for many journeys through the biblical world.  Mike Hammer, Travis McGee, Spenser and many others led me through the dark alleys and elite mansions in search of truth and justice.

Many, many authors let me see the lives of people who lived decades, centuries and millennia ago.  Women, men, all over the world lived out their lives via written words through my eyes into my mind.

I feel I am also blessed in another way.  When reading for pleasure I don't see the words.  Each character, every scene are visualized in my mind.  The words come unconsciously and I am just watching a movie.  Full color, Lots of special effects.  Living inside the body and mind of the people involved.

I love words.  I love the journeys those words allow me to take.  Future, past, reality, fantasy, people who actually lived on earth, people who only lived in someone's mind have all shared their words and their worlds.  Twain on the Mississippi and across the world, I've lived the history of the world and the various histories of the world, the galaxy and the universe.

I feel sorry for those who don't love words who don't love to read, who don't fly through all worlds  real and unreal.  I do many things well but I regret I cannot do that for others.

Music and words, I love them both but I am without talent in either.  And, I tell you, the greatest gift you can give your children is the world, the universe, the past and the future and let them explore the glories of everywhere and every when.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Some Observations About Time On Earth

I was born to 'older' parents.  My father was born in 1902 and my mother in 1912.  As far as I can determine my maternal grandfather was born sometime around 1882.  My ancestry is one generation before that of my age group peers.

I suppose that may have had a great deal to do with the way my childhood unfolded.  But, I've written about those things in earlier postings.  This is not about my own trials and travails but about the course of progress of humanity in my time on this earth.

My father was born in 1902 and my mother in 1912.  Think about that.  My father came into this world in the year before the Wright brothers famous first heavier than air flight.  He passed away in 1992 at age 90.  Imagine all the changes he saw in his lifetime.

In his 90 years he lived from the time man had never flown except in lighter than air craft.  He died after he saw World War I, served in World war II and served in the time of the Korean War though he was never sent to Korea.

He lived through the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, Neil Armstrong's first step of mankind on our moon in 1969.  He watched the TV coverage of the first Gulf War.  He saw so many things his and my children only know as far off events in a boring, history class.

It has made me often wonder about myself.  Would I ever witness such leaps forward for mankind.
From pre heavier than air flight to the explorations of our solar system.  Those changes were so dramatic it seemed nothing would be so weighty in my life time.

I was born at the tail end of 1953.  I was born to "older" parents.  The kids of my age were a whole generation younger than me.  That might seem a small thing because they were still my same age but it was.  I was never completely comfortable with kids of my own age and much more comfortable with their parents.  This lack of "fitting in" had quite a few, long lasting effect on my emotional development but that is a completely different story.

Reviewing, in my mind, all the things my father witnessed, and, with a view my life did not see the same kind of historic events and changes, I have now revised my perspective.  Though the events my father lived through were more popularly dramatic than the events of my life, so far,

At the time I never thought of things as "historic" the same as today's youth will not think of the events of today as "historic".  Historic events are decided by historians living in the future and looking back on our time.

Some of my memories include the assassination of President Kennedy, Neil Armstrong's first human steps on our moon.  The first and second war in Iraq, the attack with destroyed the "twin towers" in NY, the second (and unnecessary) Iraq war,   I saw the war in Afghanistan, which was maybe justified but horribly mismanaged.    I saw the great housing bubble which resulted in the worst depression since the great depression which started in 1929.

Right now things are going on which will be history to my grandchildren and their descendants  Some of those include such things as a more detailed exploration of our own solar system.  Advances in detecting and understanding exra-solar planets.  When I grew up that seemed something our of science fiction.

We are sending robotic explorers to Mars, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and finding conditions which might allow for life beyond earth.    I have lived from paper and pencil to I-Pads and school kids not even learning to write in cursive.

I lived in a time when advanced science classes did not even allow a square rule to a time when use of a computer is universally accepted.  Even  when I attended school to become a computer programmer no one could even come close to imagining computers as they are today.  What do we fail to envision which will be computers of tomorrow?

Along about the time I was in the fourth grade I discovered Science Fiction in the works of Asaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlien, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Silverberg,  Clifford D. Simak, Andre Norton and a multitude of others.  It changed my personal world.

Because I grew up as a social outcast I relied on my books for my friends.  I think they were much better friends than the people I grew up with and around.  Those people seemed anchored in the present time and location.  My books let me live from pre-history to an a time so far in the future it was not really imaginable.  I lived in the ancient world of the Greeks, Romans, Etruscans and many others.  I experienced history from the perspective of the Bible as well as that of archaeology and a purely scientific look at the past.

To me, books are the most magical of all things.  They are time machines, star ships, transportation to everywhere, every when and all things withing the scope of human imagination.  I developed, not just an appreciation, but a love of the written word.  Not just the English language but all writings from the earliest examples of written information historians have yet discovered.

I've lived through the Trojan War, the settlement of far off planet in unseen stars, times before history was even written down.  I've lived in worlds where magic was a fact of live,  not just humans bur Dwarves, Elves and other mythological creatures were real.

But in the physical, "real" world, I have seen things proceed from a time when cancer was a 100% death sentence to a time where a lot of cancers are, if not curable, at least having treatments slow it way down.

So many things I've lived through I don't even think about which my children, grand children and beyond will go to sleep in class while their teacher drones on in  a monotone about things they feel have no bearing  on their own lives.

I think I am fortunate I have always had a love for the written word, but also, a love for history.  I am just as happy living in Troy, ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire and other time far in our past as I am in today's world.  Maybe more happy.

My first great love was Nefertiti when I saw a photo of her bust in the Encyclopedia Britannica back in the fourth grade.  I've stood with the Greeks at Thermopylae, explored the wilderness which was early America, explored the moon and distant solar systems.

I've seen things which were only fiction in my youth become today's reality. I deeply desire to see what happens tomorrow and the day after.

I think that is my only real regret with mortality.  My own death means little to me.  Everyone dies.  What means the most is all the wonders of the future I will not see.

A lot of people do not see the wonderful time in which we are living.  The advances in medical technology (though opposed by the big pharmaceutical companies which make money only for treating symptoms rather than developing cures); the developments in methods to locate extraterrestrial worlds which might even evolve into finding other worlds where live exists.

Advances in quantum theory which may develop computers of unimaginable power; breakthroughs in physics which may someday lead to an ability to cheat the light speed limit and allow us to eplore and settle far off worlds.

The lifetimes of my parents saw many amazing and historic events.  My own lifetime has seen more.  The lifetime of my children and grandchildren will see wonders which were only things of fiction in my lifetime.

I envy that.

That is my one big regret in a limited lifetime.  I will miss all those things.  I hate it.