Dusty and Mindy Move to Colorado in a Dodge Van with Lily and Me

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“What the fuck? This isn’t our car. It smells weird. I don’t like this, I don’t like this at all. I might lie on my back and pee in the air. This is awful. I’m scared.”

“It’s OK, Dusty. She’s here. We’re all here. Our beds are here. It’s all fine.”

“How can you be so sanguine, Mindy?”

“Well, first it’s my nature. Second, I think if she’s here we’re fine. If she comes back when she leaves us, we’re fine. I don’t worry about every little thing like SOME dogs I know. She always takes care of us.”

“But?”

“It’s OK Dusty,” I tell him from the front seat. “We’re going home. You can quit pacing and breathing hard.”

“OK.”

“See? I told you, Dusty. Lily isn’t worried.”

“Yeah but she’s a wild animal. We’re pets.”

“There is that. But really, Dusty, learn to keep it under control a bit. You’ll have a happier life.”

“You’re probably right, Mindy, but when I start getting scared, it’s a fast and slippery slope all the way to terror.”

“Lie down, Dusty,” I say.

“Do what she said. I have a feeling this time home is a long ways away.” Mindy closed her soft, sweet beautiful eyes and as a model for Dusty, went to sleep.

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/20/rdp-thursday-slippery/

Can You Enforce It? (and Rambling Nonsense)

A long time ago in a faraway land (California) I wrote a novel. A neophyte novelist, I was very worried (because it was the BEST idea anyone had had for a novel anywhere) that someone would steal it. I got the forms from the Library of Congress and filled them out, registering my idea with the gubmint. Back then the Internet was in the infancy of its common usage and stuff was mailed across the surface of the earth, sped along by trucks, trains, and planes. I had learned in some class or other that all you had to do to copyright your work was mail it to someone who didn’t open the envelope so it could be proven in a court of law that the work was yours.

That was actually true — and might still be true.

I have a visible copyright claim on the front “page” of my blog. I know it amounts to little more than the FBI warning at the beginning of a video. It looks scary but would I prosecute an offender? I can’t afford it. I have $75 ($200 earlier but my electric bill and another thing just came out of my account. Feel free to donate ūüėČ ) to last me till the end of the month.

I got into an argument with the polemical husband of a good friend about this. I mostly just wanted OUT of the room, but the argument went on and on and on and on and on over a subject I don’t care about anymore. I see no point in two ignorant people getting in a heated debate about stuff they don’t know for sure and could look up. If you want to know, here is the link to US Copyright Laws.

The thing is, there is little that is truly original. As a species we take a lot of things in and then rework them as our own or push them further along. It’s human nature. A friend was telling me about Elon Musk’s new ideas and research, that rather than having to use this interface — fingers on keys (who could have imagined that back when people were horrified by the typewriter?) but total integration between the mind and the internet (that you pay for, of course) so that everything the Internet “knows” you know. I argued that in such a case, you wouldn’t really “know” anything. I argued that true knowledge is not just facts and answers, but experience acquired through time. I said that the person would only know the past and would not experience the present or move into the future (as we are supposed to do!) I didn’t make the case for uncertainty, doubt, fear,¬†and failure. All these things really upset my friend. He really doesn’t see the bright side of fuck-ups and apprehension.

“Yeah, but what a great mind!”

“I’ve already read that in science fiction, and I saw it on Star Trek.”

“Yeah, but this isn’t science fiction.”

“It’s just not a new idea. That’s all I’m saying.” I was thinking of Philip K. Dick and the woman with whom Spock fell in love who’s “dress” was a net of material that was energy and held all knowledge and the box of energy that contained the collective mentalities and knowledge through time of a whole planet.

I was thinking, too, of the comparative primitiveness of the human body. It hasn’t caught up with the change in human life OR it’s trying to tell us something. I’m not sure which. I spent YEARS happily running from (non-existent) predators. Our bodies are still designed for that life. They WANT to run away. They LIKE it. “Waaa-HOOO! I can run away!” Whether one is able still to run away, walk away, ride a bike or a wheelchair, we glory in it. I think NOT being able to run away is very scary on a primal level. I think it’s the basis for a lot of my fear during the past decade and now, when I know I cannot run away and, instead, must carry a weapon.

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I look around me and see so many people who couldn’t run away from anything and would make a long and tasty dinner for any non-human predator who came along. Deep inside I believe that this contemporary, sedentary life of comfort, safety and plenty we enjoy MIGHT be temporary, and it’s important to maintain whatever mental and physical fitness we can, so if we need to we can outrun or outsmart the sabre-toothed tiger or dire wolf.

 

 

 

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/19/wednesday-rdp-copyright/

Lamont and Dude Discuss Audience Awareness

“One of the great things about being a dinosaur in contrast to being a Smilodon was that there was no need to limit my hunting to the crepuscular hours of the day.”

“What?”

“New lecture for the museum.”

“Dude, if you come out with that they’re going to think you’re mental and you will lose your job. And ‘crepuscular’? I don’t think the kids will know what you mean.”

“It’s true though. When we were velociraptors — or even when I was bear and you were a salmon — we could hunt any time of day or night. Remember?”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean much. I mean a lot our meals were dead already.”

“There is that.”

“Dude I see your point, but you have to consider your audience. This is just a chance for you to (secretly) share your smilodon memories. I think if you go beyond that they’ll think you’re wacko.”

“And you don’t think a human dressing up in a smilodon suit and walking around on all fours isn’t a little wacko?”

“It’s pretty wacko.”

“I think they’ll think that I just did more research.”

“Not if you claim outright to have been a velociraptor. I’m sure some of those people in the audience are evolution deniers.”

“Oh, that’s true on so many levels.”

***

Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/18/rdp-tuesday-post-crepuscule/

Olden Days

I just saw this trailer for a film coming out this fall, and I want to see it.

I learned to ski on the “back” side of Pikes Peak. When I left Colorado in the mid-eighties, there were copious ski areas. The morning ski report was long. When I look at a ski area map now, it’s not like that. It shows the “mega” resorts that remain.

These ski areas weren’t resorts at all, many of them. They were places you could go in a day. Pikes Peak Ski Area was right off the Pikes Peak Highway — easy access. It was small, some rope tows, a poma and a chair lift. The snow was usually pretty good because it was on the north side of Pikes Peak — it was high, shaded and fairly well sheltered from the wind.

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Pikes Peak Ski Area

These ski areas often didn’t have many runs or amenities — no fancy hotel to spend the night, no shopping, food was often burgers cooked on the mountain on oil-drum grills and eaten standing up, but with season passes that cost $25 for a family, they made the sport accessible. The focus was on skiing.

Back then, too, there was a little reverse snobbery. Real Coloradans didn’t wear fancy ski clothes because skiing was part of who they were, an every day thing, nothing to get dressed up for. Fancy ski clothes revealed that the skier was from Chicago — or worse — Texas.¬†For a while it was popular to ski in bibbed overalls. I didn’t; but I did ski in jeans. When I started X-country skiing, I wore those clothes to the down hill ski areas because there was political contention over “skinny skiers” using downhill slopes. I had to make my point, right?

Andy and Me, A-Basin, 1982

A friend and I at Arapaho Basin, 1982. I’m wearing knickers, high wool socks and layers.

Some of the small ski areas have grown up — Arapaho Basin back in the day was smallish and funky, but now it’s expanded and appears to be more closly linked to its neighbor, Keystone. I can’t say for sure; I haven’t been back.

Right now the local ski area — Wolf Creek — is the center of a big fight between conservationists and a rich Texan who wants to develop it into a resort. A ski resort would pretty much destroy the vibe that Wolf Creek wants to maintain and that the people here are comitted to. It’s a tense and murky situation since the economy of Southern Colorado is depressed and a ski resort would help, but, at the same time, it would put “our” ski area out of the reach of most people who actually live here.

I like the idea of small, local ski mountains, but economically, I can see they stopped being viable. Climate change has made the snowfall less dependable than it was when I was a young woman. Maybe there’s no connection between thousands more people driving into the mountains every weekend from Denver to Vail, Aspen, etc. than there were thirty years ago and the fact that we have less snow. No idea.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/17/rdp-monday-copious/

Tiny Bear

Lots of unfathomable stuff goes on in the world every day. Most of it is way over my head. One of the strangest things in my life this past few months has been the effect of anesthesia from my hip surgery.

Vets often say, “I don’t like to do teeth cleaning on an older dog. Anesthesia is very hard on them. The longer they are under, the more dangerous it is.”¬†Lily almost died in a teeth cleaning. I should’ve been warned…

One of the advantages of the type of hip surgery I had is that a person doesn’t have to be under as long as with the traditional type. Still, I went very deeply under. The effects are lingering. My physical therapist said that for an older person (and I qualify) it can take eight months for the effects of anesthesia to vanish completely.

Almost every day I find something that reminds me how out of my mind I was (and perhaps still am). Yesterday I got my little pack to take to the quilt show.. It’s a hydration pack, but the bladder has long vanished. I put my water bottle in the insulated part that would hold the hydration bladder and I put my stuff in the front.

As I was digging around in a front pocket I found two new tubes of hand cream and an organza bag with Tiny Bear inside. I bought Tiny Bear from a friend’s shop in La Veta on the way up to Colorado Springs for surgery. She was made by a Native American artist of alabaster and turquoise. These little animals are meant to protect their owner.

A couple of months ago, in between my coming home from surgery and my excursion yesterday, I threw this day pack into the washer. Tiny Bear and the hand creams have enjoyed Splash Mountain and a Tide Pod. I didn’t remember putting anything in the pockets.

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/16/rdp-sunday-fathom/

When ON the Course of Human Events…

 

Yesterday I got a canister of bear spray — it’s pepper spray. The canister is a lot larger than I expected — between 10 inches and a foot — and it has a holster. I don’t see me strapping that on and going to walk the dogs at the slough. I was hoping it was a simple four-inch can of spray with a holster I could clip to my pocket or pack strap in front, but this… I don’t need it for a bear. I need for a grubby man who makes me nervous and scares Dusty.

So, last evening, as I took Dusty T. Dog and Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog for our usual walk around the hood and high school, I noticed the golf course was empty. Really empty. Two cars in front of the club house. A familiar high school golfer walking around with his bag to the holes that challenge him.

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They close next month, but right now the course is beautiful. In the beginning of the summer — May, June, most of July — it was aching from the drought like everything else was, but six weeks or so of regular rain and careful tending…

Why was it empty?

“Don’t look a gift course in the mouth,” I said to myself.

It was really good to be back. I’m pretty sure “Grizzly Man” won’t take daily walks there and as much as I love the slough, the views from it don’t compare to those from the open plain of the pasture, I mean driving range. As for animals, I’ve seen more at the golf course than at the wildlife refuge. This isn’t cold comfort at all.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/14/friday-rdp-grubby/

The Wandering Scholars

I’m reading a book written in the 20s at the moment, a kind of literary criticism and history about the Goliards. The writer — Helen Waddell — writes like a waterfall, says little (that I can use), and what she DOES often says in Latin. The writing carries you along like a raft on a river at high flow, and when you get to the end of the page, you don’t know what you read. It’s a kind of verbal feast but wow. Not helping me. Here’s a random example…

O admirabile Venus idolum

and still more significant in promise, the alba of the Vatican MS. of St. Martial of Limoges. The alba is more precious for its Provencal burden than for other merit: it still holds to Predentius, and the cry might be to waken faithful souls rather than sleeping lovers, the enemy in ambush the Enemy of souls rather than the jealous guardian. But in its own exquisit phrase,

“Dawn is near: she leans across the dark sea.”

Interestingly, she’s EXPLAINING poetry that makes more sense than she does. I’m through three of the chapters and so far the book says, Chapter One, “The Goliards (and the entire church!) was influenced by secular Latin poetry more than they like to acknowledge.” Chapter Two, “There was a transitional moment when the Church tried shaking off the sensual (if not libidinous) secular influence, but they really couldn’t do it. They got some lovely lines, though.” And Chapter Three, “A group rebelled against the church rather quietly and wrote poetry intending to mimic Church verses. Mostly this was in Latin, but after a while, they began writing in their own languages. There are some quite nice things in Middle High German.”

The most comprehensible thing to me in the first chapter were two lines of Dante in Italian. This was after a small flash flood of Latin that had left me dumbfounded, so Dante was a relief. I actually thought, “Hey, I can read that!” As the book progresses into territory I know (the Irish monks and scholars, Columbanus and Gall) I feel a lot better, but wonder why no one ever made me read Virgil? What have I missed?

The thing is, she LOVES this stuff, just plain LOVES it. She gushes like a, oh, I already said that.

She, herself, is an interesting woman, and I wish I could have known her. She was born in China; her parents missionaries. So far she has compared some lines of some poems to some lines of some poems by the Chinese poet, Pai Chuyi. I know his story and his work, so for me that was a log to hold onto in this torrent of words. She must have had incredible linguistic abilities, too.

In a way, she seems to be the Jackson Pollack of thought, but I know it was a different world in 1927 when she wrote this book. People read differently and many had a classical education. And my needs as a writer? Facts. But I know facts are scanty for life in the 10 – 13th centuries, it’s just that I have this THING of showing how NOT dark the “Dark” Ages were. Maybe they’re dark because the people and their lives are buried under time’s detritus and we (too easily?) accepted a random Italian painter’s definition of the Renaissance? (My opinion…)

The book is good exercise for my lazy brain. I keep imagining these young disenchanted clerics and their “amoral” lives, the moment they stopped writing their irreverent verses in Latin and started writing in (that bastard!) Italian and (that barbaric language) German. I imagine them going, “Fuck this!” (which I wanted to write in Latin but Google Translate is NOT helpful giving me — as Latin synonyms a range of NON-synonyms such as “Fortuna”).

But maybe it wasn’t like that…

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/12/wednesday-rdp-feast/

Souvenir

“Orange doesn’t mean anything to me.”

“What?”

“Writing prompt. ‘What does orange mean to you?‘ No meaning whatsoever. It’s a color, red and yellow mixed together and voil√°!”

“You’re grumpy. I think they mean what do you think of when you think of orange?”

“The word inspires one thought; the color inspires nothing.”

“OK what does the word inspire?”

“Oh, a terrible joke from my childhood. A knock-knock joke.”

“Oh god.”

“Yeah. Orange you glad I’m not telling it?”

“So why do you have those orange towels?”

“Those aren’t just towels.”

“Yeah, they are just towels. Kitsch towels. And why are they in the living room?”

“They protect my books from dust.”

“I mean, why do you have them?”

“A long time ago in a faraway land that was very hot (or cold) and very humid a young couple got on a boat to go down the river to a big city where they could buy cheese, mayonnaise, tuna fish and take hot showers. Because the entire place was so humid, most people slept with a towel on their pillow. For that matter, most people slept on a woven reed mat on boards because it was cooler than a mattress.”

“And THEN????”

“Oh, these towels were on the pillows on the boat. We stole them. The pagoda in the picture is the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees which was near the Guang Xiao Temple.”

“Wait, YOU were THERE???”

“36 years ago about now I got on a plane in San Francisco, bound for Hong Kong.”

“How was it?”

“You know, a big bus in the air.”

“No, I mean Hong Kong? Was that your ultimate destination?”

“No. Guangzhou was the ultimate destination. See, on the towel.”

“How was it?”

“Ah… Cold, hot, wet, crowded, roach and rat ridden, inspiring, beautiful, heart-rending, complex, challenging, uncomfortable…”

“Why are you crying?”

 

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https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/11/rdp-tuesday-prompt-orange/

There but for…

For me, the word “grace” is as abstract as they come. But if, as I do, you write about religion (and no, I cannot fully explain that) you need to understand Grace because it figures prominently in all Christian faiths. As far as I can tell it’s God’s whim, good things coming to us whether we deserve them or not.

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Medieval people had a world view that life was a game of snakes and ladders (Chutes and Ladders I played as a kid).

The only way to mitigate bad luck (or a fall from grace) was to do good deeds that would allow you to climb up a ladder taking you quickly to a higher level. The highest level would be salvation, of course, knowing with certainty that you were destined to sit beside God and Jesus in Heaven. An element of this perspective was the idea that opportunities for good deeds and calamitous falls hung on the throw of the dice — grace. Your best shot at salvation came from doing good deeds and NOT landing on snakes.

The game is filled with moral lessons and “if” statements. Good things come through a combination of luck and effort. Bad things? Well, they just happen. And then you have to recover.

I completely get this game. All this has happened to me so many times it’s laughable. I think of 2008 when I threw out the Evil X and began the effort to rebuild my life financially. Then my Aunt Martha died and left me $20k. I fixed the roof on my house and built an art shed. After all, I was earning good money (and working constantly) so I could “afford” these two things, but then 2009 came along and the market crashed. The State of CA was in terrible debt, all state employees were furloughed and my income dropped drastically, meaning, I almost lost my house.

“Should’ve saved that money,” I thought.

“How were you to know?” I answered myself.

“Good point,” I replied to me.

But that was a long, slippery snake.

I called my mortgage company and they connected me to a special counselor they’d hired to help people in this very common predicament. “I think you might qualify for Obama’s Home Affordable Modification Program. I’ll send you the paper work.”

The ladder was hard. Every month I had to send my mortgage company detailed financial reports (25 to 50 pages) about my income and expenditures. I had to go to a debt counselor. I had to teach 7 classes. I drove 100 miles/day. My mortgage payment of $1500/month was reduced to $600, and I got a new mortgage and kept my house (by the grace of?). I later learned that not a lot of people got this chance.

Protestantism is based on the idea that people achieve salvation not through good deeds but because God wants them to be saved. Medieval people truly believed good deeds (like kissing a leper) earned them Grace.

I think the game is right on. I’m not sure kissing a leper would have prevented the economic crisis, but it might have changed my perspective on my plight, because, as my grandfather was known to say, “There but for the Grace of God go I.”

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/10/rdp-monday-grace/

Care Bear

“BEAR!!!! I want to sleep!”

“I have a job to do, Aunt Lois. I need to make sure my flock is well and safe all night.”

“But you’ve woken me up four times! I’m tired! It was a long day! Fun, but long.”

“OK. I’ll go check on Mark.”

“You do that.” Lois gets up and slams her door shut, hoping that this time it latches. Martha wakes up at the sound and knows the whole story. She laughs to herself and goes back to sleep.

Morning comes. Martha’s up first. She looks in her friend’s room and sees the sheet pulled up over her face and laughs to herself again. Bear doesn’t give up. Bonded to humans rather than sheep, she is taking care of her flock. Lois and Mark are her flock and when they come back to the fold after a long absence, Bear is visibly relieved.

In the solitude and silence, Martha makes coffe and a smoothie, taking the blender to her room so she doesn’t wake Mark who’s sleeping in the semi-bedroom/studio off the kitchen with only a curtain, no door. She sits down at her laptop and with amazing tenacity continues looking for agents who might possibly represent her book,¬†The Price.¬†She does this only because it’s the right thing to do, and necessary, not because she has any hope. She doesn’t.

Lois wakes up.

“I guess Bear checked on you a few times?”

“I finally gave up keeping her out of my room.”

Later on, Mark stumbles out.

“Did Bear check on you in the night, Marky?”

“Her nose.” Mark had slept on a mattress on the floor, an easy target for Bear’s cold nose.

This is the hazard of spending the night in the same house with a tenacious livestock guardian dog who loves you.

~~~~

(Some of the conversation in this post is possible but imaginary)

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/09/rdp-sunday-tenacious/