Tag Archives: miscellany

The next big thing

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The gardens. They are in terrible shape, thanks to the way 2017 was a total bitch.

The biggest project: weeding. We did get a good number of frames set up with weedblock, but the areas along the edges and in the holes punched for the transplants need to be weeded in the worst way. Fortunately, I decided on no fall crops this year, just allowing the frames to go fallow and break down more of the composted manure they have in them. Unfortunately, I decided on no fall crops this year, and could not/did not keep up with the weeding. Luckily, we do have a winter, such as it is, and the next few months will be devoted to weeding, replacing the plastic-covered frames with weedblock and positioning the irrigation lines, and getting the sides of the frames that have bowed out back to full vertical and braced.

Now I know, in my head, that this very big project just means starting with a small corner of it and working through to get it done. But there are also those fleeting moments when I’m looking out on the mess and thinking that it’s just far too big a job – it’s the same feeling I get from looking at the narrative outline here for this book and thinking about how much crazy is in me that I presume this is something I can do.

But in those moments, I just step back, take a deep breath, and remind myself that the elephant is eaten in pieces, not in one big gulp.

Unlike the novel, which I feel like I could write in two weeks with the story so fully developed in my head, the gardens are going to take a tad longer. It’s good exercise, though, and I’ll be able to visualize the plans for spring before the seed catalogs start arriving and it’s time to place my order(s).

Get outside, people. Even if  you’re not pulling weeds or thinking of corrupt cops and drug-distributing biker gangs like I am. There’s a big, wide world out there, and you should sometimes remind yourself that your small piece of it has something – at least one thing – you are grateful for when you look out over it.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

Strange bedfellows

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The other night, I had a series of very odd (even for me) dreams.  I am an insomniac, and the folks who are trying to determine why we dream – a question that I expect will likely never have a firm answer – have done studies showing that insomnia and sleep disruption associated with it can increase dream recall, often because the sleep cycle is interrupted during REM, when dreaming occurs. Since I wake up multiple times any given night, I can often recall several dreams, in part or in full. Some seem to me to just be working out something I had been thinking over, like how one of my characters can rationalize his work for crime families. Some are not so easy to understand, and some are downright bizarre.

For instance, during the other night I mentioned before, I woke up and had been dreaming about a group of people without faces. Literally without faces: they had heads, walked and moved and talked like any regular person, but their faces were just blank ovals. I couldn’t recall what exactly had brought me to them or them to me, but I did recall that part.

The other dream recall, however, was much longer. The first part of it was someone walking up the steps to an absolutely stunning building. It turned out that building was a library (not the first time I have dreamed about libraries, and likely not the last), but there was a very tall African man near the top of the steps, and he said, “I’m terribly sorry, but women who wear glasses are not permitted in libraries in Burundi.”

Now, I have never been to Burundi. I also do not wear glasses any longer, thanks to lasik surgery some years ago. A random question popped up in the back of my head about women who do not wear glasses potentially being allowed in libraries in Burundi, but it did not come up during the dream. As it happened, he was recorded saying this, and for some reason was desperate to get the recording and destroy it. That’s where the second part of the dream came in.

It turned out to involve a high speed car chase in a not-very-Burundi setting: a heavily populated, dense modern city. New York, perhaps, or Los Angeles. There were dozens of law enforcement vehicles involved, and a ton of property destruction as all the vehicles involved ran into innocent passersby in their cars, roadside objects like light poles and mailboxes, and even into storefronts and other building at some times.

I awoke during the chase part of the dream, remembering both sections of the dream vividly, but without a clue as to how these things were generated, much less how these could help me in any way – well, perhaps the chase scene. That might make it into a story somewhere. Burundi seems much more unlikely.

Still, when I recall these dreams after waking up, I’m sure they go right back into the hopper to churn around with everything else my subconscious is working on. At some point, some of these ingredients may combine in just the right way, and my subconscious will send up a flare about a an idea worth pursuing and developing.

And who knows? maybe one of those packages may involve Burundi after all.

Lesson: if you recall your dreams, pay attention to them. Turn them over in your mind as you go about whatever routine it is you follow when you awake before letting them float away. You never know what might become of them in your day to day work of writing.


I remember

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Once upon a time, in AP English, our instructor (who had gone to the Christmas break single and came back married and with a new last name) had us in a poetry unit. I was a senior then, and already had been writing a ton of poetry for years. But we read Thomas Grey’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard and English classes (and literature classes in college) naturally revolve around getting to whatever “deeper meaning” is in a poem, as if every single poem in the world is written with Deep Inscrutable Meaning instead of being anything more mundane, like observations on a place or time or objects, or a description of an ordinary day, or how we value this thing over that other thing, or any of a million other possibilities.

At that time, after reading it, Mrs. Poole (that was her name after she married) asked us what the tone of the poem was. No one answered, and into the silence, I said, “Grave.”

I thought the reply quite funny, but did not laugh out loud, and no one else reacted at all to it. I don’t even believe Mrs. Poole even smiled at it.

That’s the down side of life: saying or writing things people don’t get, especially if it’s some off the cuff witticism that some (rather humorless) people don’t understand right away, or at all.

But I enjoyed that moment, even if no one appreciated it but me, because it isn’t often you have the perfect answer jump to your lips. Those memories should be savored, even if they are solitary ones.

Weird snippets

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The last little mini-dream I had before waking up: I was mixing Kraft’s neon orange cheese from their blue box mac and cheese into a pot of something (spaghetti?) on the stove, sprinkling it in by pinches – as one does with seasonings – while Agnus Dei played in the background. I’m certain people who assign meanings to dreams can figure out whatever significance this has. Barber’s Adagio is one of the most beautiful pieces of work ever, in my opinion. And this is one of the best renditions of Agnus Dei I’ve ever heard. Enjoy!


Thoughts on Night

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Elie Wiesel died yesterday. Unlike (apparently) a lot of people, I did not encounter Night, his nonfiction/fictional account of internment at the Auschwitz concentration camp, survival, forced march, and subsequent liberation, until a few years after high school. It was not among the required readings for any of my classes, not even AP History (nor was Anne Frank’s diary). My reading habits by that time after graduation had come to cover a range very far and quite wide, and I found myself with a particular interest in Europe post-WWI through the end of WWII. More specifically, I was fascinated by both Germany and Russia (and then the USSR) both under the spell of tyrants, with people surrounding them willing to do the unthinkable to others whose only crime was being different or having some trait – religion, education, race, ethnicity – deemed undesirable by the dictator in charge. I was also amazed by the kindness of those not blinded by hate who were willing, often at a steep price, to assist complete strangers escape the realm that held them in such disregard they may as well not have been people at all.

Wiesel, like everyone else, was not perfect, and I did not agree with him on everything, just as no one does with any other person (his balking at the Iran nuclear deal was one such instance). However, his was a large and important voice with others reminding society of just what it is capable of doing if hypernationalism, xenophobia, and hatred are combined into a toxic mix. Unfortunately, those other voices who lived to tell their stories of that period are rapidly dying off as well, and I can only hope that people, now and in the future, are willing to heed the voices of those no longer among us.

Productive, but not

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A productive day – if you don’t include writing, of which there was no production. Working with the crops, the bees, and the canning eats away at the total number of available minutes in any given day, and today was one of those days (in fact, there is another load of jars waiting their turn in the canner right now). We are heading into the heavy season, and today was the first canning day of the year. I’ll have to do some rearranging slash figure out some efficiency items in order to get everything I need to do in any given day completed. It’s a bit like the preseason of any sport: it’s the time to make adjustments to make sure the team is running as smoothly and as well as possible.

Is it time for an intervention?

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Really, Florida. I think we have reached a tipping point here. How many times in a lifetime would you expect to have reports of an alligator gnawing on a dead body? Once, perhaps, and that only posited after an evening spent telling tales and drinking icy beverages not meant for children? Twice in the span of just over a week, in real, actual life…that’s a bit beyond the pale. We should probably have a talk about crazy the rest of the year should not really be.