Every day, Every day, Every day I Write the Book

“We all lead boring lives. But some of us write reports about it.” (paraphrased from the movie Naked Lunch dir David Cronenburg, a line spoken by the character portraying William S. Burroughs)

When I go on Twitter or anywhere else on line where it happens that I follow or am followed by or am capriciously linked to a bunch of writers via the inscrutable machinations of The Algorithm, I see people talking about writing. They say things like, “How many hours do you write a day?” and “What’s your favorite method for overcoming writer’s block?” and “How do you start writing when you don’t have any ideas?” and “I always dreamed of writing a book.”

I don’t really get any of those questions. Any writer writes as many hours as he or she has time to write. Lots of good writers have day jobs. As for overcoming “writer’s block” I don’t think there’s any such thing — but a person can be stuck in a project and not know where to go. And, if you don’t have any ideas, why are you writing? BUT last one I is, to me, the most incomprehensible. Why would anyone dream of writing a book? A book is a vehicle for the transmission of ideas. The book itself is nothing, an empty shell. It makes more sense to me to think, say, dream, “I want to tell this story!!!” Still, I’m not going to trample on anyone’s dreams, even the ones I find incomprehensible.

Godnose my dreams are pretty incomprehensible, like wanting to grow up to be Willy Mays. How was THAT ever going to happen?

One thing William S. Burroughs the real guy said that rings true to me is, “Well, Kerouac, Kerouac was a writer. That is, he wrote.” That is the primary requirement.

I’ve now written a bunch of books. Having done that, and gone through the grueling and surreal experience of trying to sell aforesaid (always wanted to write “aforesaid”) books, I still think I’m right. I loved writing them, even The Price which was really challenging to write and pushed me in directions I never thought of going and actually scared me a little. I experienced writer’s block because I arrived at points in the story where I didn’t know how to say what the story seemed to demand or, in a couple cases, I hated the characters. I didn’t want to recognize who, exactly, was the protagonist because I didn’t like him. But it all happened and I just re-read it and it’s a really good story. Still, I don’t know if there are any more stories that are going to demand that I sit in front of this computer screen and write them. No idea.

I kind of feel like Huck Finn at the end of his saga,

“…there ain’t nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I’d a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn’t a tackled it, and ain’t a-going to no more…” Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn


Positive Self-Image

I hope I never lose the ability to crack myself up.

I have mirrors in my house — two. A bathroom mirror and a full length mirror on one of the doors in my bedroom. Stuff hangs over the full length mirror so mostly I just see myself when I brush my teeth and wash my face. I figure by now I know what I look like.

But I really don’t.

I recently got some catalogs (as we all do), and thumbing through the fashion photos, I saw stuff I liked. In the pages were a few “plus size” models. A couple were normal looking women but one of them shouldn’t be wearing THOSE pants. All the models are in their 20s and 30s. Seriously. ANY-hoo…

I wear jeans from that catalog and I like them a lot. I don’t buy them from the catalog, though. No little old lady on retirement and social security could afford them. That’s why God made eBay. So I get up every morning, put on my clothes, think, “I’m cool,” and go on with my life.

But now I’m visiting in Colorado Springs and at the top of the stairs leading to my room is a giant mirror.

And there I am.

My jeans are NOT form fitting, setting off my lithe form. They’re kind of baggy, especially on the shorter, much more crooked leg. The lady in the mirror doesn’t stand up perfectly straight, either, and she is not flat chested. If she wore a scarf around her upper body it would be like a tent. Oh god. Who’s that?

Exercise? I’ve reached the upper 22% of all women participating in the 2019 MapmyRun challenge. I’m the shit.

I laughed.

But then I thought, “What do we REALLY look like?” And I thought about why the body positivity thing always seemed dumb to me. Why do people worry about looking like Barbie? Looking at that little old lady, who isn’t even a CUTE little old lady, I realized that my image of myself comes from inside me. It always has. I feel like I look like the person I know myself to be and “she” I don’t know. Maybe she has no external form at all.


Quotidian Ruminations of a Canine Kind 83.2.a.iii

I had to get up in the night with Dusty T. Dog, again, but less drama than last time. I wonder if he knows I’m about to abandon him for the bright lights of the city? And why? My orthopedic surgeon has decided to abandon ME for the bright lights of a BIGGER city and is moving to Denver, so my one year check has been pushed up two months. And if I want him to replace my knee somewhere down the road, I have to go to Denver, too…

OH well…

In other news, I had to make the decision this morning whether to renew the subscription to this blog. There are 2500 posts which is actually pretty terrifying. Some of them are good, most of them are just you know recitations of quotidian reality — and that’s cool, but I wonder how I’m going to cull that herd of verbiage. I want to. I wish it were a little easier to go back to the beginning and delete posts.

I guess that’s a project for a cold winter which is now over…officially. Yesterday Bear and I went to the golf course for a ramble. It was the true Bear Walk. Lots of smells to take in, a little bit of snow left to walk in, beautiful vistas in all directions. We took our time. I love these Bear Walks. They’ve changed me as a walker, that’s for sure. I listened for Sandhill cranes off in the distance, but didn’t hear any. They should be on their way north anyway.

As we reached the end of our block to cross the street to the golf course, the kids came running to the fence, and the little boy opened the gate. “Don’t come out here, C.,” I said. “I won’t be able to hold Bear.”

“OK.” He went back in. We went over and visited. C WANTED Bear to come into their yard. “We have a big pile of snow for Bear, he said.”

That, folks, is the whole point of life.


Morning Chat with Dusty T. Dog

“But I’m not bold, Human.”

“Not true, Dusty. You’re VERY bold.”

“No. I’m scared all the time. That’s why I’m so barky and aggressive.”

“I know that, Dusty. But if you weren’t scared, you wouldn’t need to be bold. Bear’s not bold. She’s friendly and fierce, but she’s never afraid. Fear makes you bold. You have to overcome that and it takes courage, boldness. You know what Hemingway said.”

“No. How would I know what Hemingway said? I’m a dog. I’d rather be like Bear and just get pets.”

“You do that, Dusty. You’ve gotten really good at it.”

“But I have to bark like a, like a, what’s the rating on your blog, Human?”

“‘R’ for language, I think.”

“OK. Well, I have to bark like a mother…”

“A hound from Hell, Dusty, let’s just go with that.”

“That sounds good. But I’m not a ‘hound from hell’. You know that, right?”

“I know that.”

“Where did you go with my sister yesterday when you left me behind?”

“We went on a long walk. We couldn’t take you because we went too far for you.”

“It sucks getting old, doesn’t it, Martha?”

“Yeah, Dusty, but the alternative isn’t great, either.”

“I’m VERY old for a big dog. The vet said so. Is it true?”

“Yep, you are, Dusty, but you’re in great shape.”

“Probably my morning coffee. Did you see anything good on your walk?”

“Yeah. There were lots of cranes off in the distance.”

“Did you see them? I know you like seeing them.”

“No, but they were noisy, cooing and purring softly. Then they got VERY loud. I looked up and there was an eagle circling above them. I watched for a while, but it didn’t seem that the eagle thought his chances were great.”

“Do you think the eagle got some dinner?”

“I hope so. Eagles get hungry, too. Then when we were walking on the ditch bank there were robins and bluebirds. Oh and a redwing blackbird.”

“I wish I could have been there.”

“Me too, Dusty. I’ll figure out a way for you to go that isn’t so far, OK?”

“I love you, Human.”

“I love you, Sweet Boy.”


More Bad Weather; Bailing Out Whole Towns

This Cyclonic Blizzard has wreaked havoc in Nebraska, but “our” President is worried about the “phony Dossier” and is slamming John McCain (RIP) rather than offering concrete help to bail out the farmers and ranchers whose farms are under water or the towns which have been destroyed.

Meanwhile, a woman in Columbus, NE, is attempting to garner support and sympathy by claiming to be one of “the deplorables” living in a “fly over” zone.

Dear friends outside of our Nebraska bubble: we are hurting. We are flooding. As in—half the state under water. Entire towns under water. Massive structures/bridges/roads are floating away. Dams breaking. Rivers jammed with and without ice are overflowing. In our town, we are an island. No ways in or out right now. And this is not a problem that only our town has—there are too many around us to mention. The devastation is simply indescribable. Lives are being lost. Livelihoods are being washed away. 

We are a “flyover” state. We are the “deplorables.” We are “not for everyone.” We are not newsworthy and I have yet to see or read one article on national news about our devastation. That’s heartbreaking because I can’t begin to describe the stories of heroism of farmers trying to save their animals, strangers helping strangers, and rescuers fighting extreme elements to save lives. But I can tell you this, we are strong. We pray. We care about one another. We help our neighbors. I’m proud to be from here. I’m sad to know that it’ll take years to recover from this. But the sun is out today and the winds have calmed (compared to yesterday, at least). The next few weeks and months will be rough and we can all really use your prayers and support. 

These pics are around our town, Columbus, NE. Personally, our home is not indanger.

When I read that yesterday I wanted to get in my private jet and set this woman straight. I wanted to shake her and say, “Look, Sweetcheeks, if this is what you believe, you have a bigger problem than a wet basement.” The message behind her message is, well…

I happen to know Columbus, Nebraska well. That’s the first thing. Second, “the deplorables” was a deplorable comment made by Hillary Clinton during her campaign for president in 2016. Many of us who voted for her didn’t like her and found that comment deplorable. It was one of the reasons I had to hold my nose when I filled in my ballot. Third, the woman who wrote this is claiming to be a victim because she lives in a “fly over state” and is a Trump voter. So much of what’s wrong with this country is laid out in her plea for help.

She is REALLY a victim of a historic storm that was likely caused by climate change which President Trump denies even exists.

That doesn’t change the fact that Nebraska is one of those places many Americans don’t know much about. I lived there for the six happiest years of my childhood and yesterday, reading of these floods in towns that were once familiar to me, I felt very sad. Nebraska really IS the “breadbasket of America” — cattle, corn and wheat make up large parts of its economy — and our diets. In my memory, the people are far from “deplorable.”

My Nebraska hometown — Bellevue — is on the Missouri River (one of the biggest rivers in the US) and is in danger.

This Nebraska woman’s politicized plea for help is, to me, even sadder than the flood waters. They will subside. People will have lost a lot by the time that happens, but what this nation has lost in the entrenched divisiveness among the citizens is not going to subside with the help of gravity and a few sunny days.


Three Views of Hope


“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Emily Dickinson


The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
      The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
      The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
      Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
      Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
      The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
      Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
      In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
      Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
      Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
      Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
      His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.

Thomas Hardy

As for me it was a long night. Dusty was agitated, I was up with him at 11, again at 1. Awakened from sleep, with no way to solve his problems, I got angry. (“You stupid, fucking dog. What do you want me to do? Out, just get out!”) Bear thought I was angry because of her, went out and wouldn’t come back in. I had to go out and persuade her in the deep cold of the dark morning. There was a 3 am clean up job. I’m not sure I want to keep writing a blog that’s more and more a recitation of events in my daily life, and that’s what this has been becoming. Opinions welcome.

In any case, I love these two poems and this scene from Clockwise is one of the funniest in any film I’ve seen.


Cyclonic Blizzard of Historic Proportions HFS!!!

If the snow hadn’t been falling so fast and relentlessly, it would have thawed the moment it hit the ground. But it fell fast and we ended up with nearly a foot (20 cm) of heavy, wet snow. Farmers in the San Luis Valley will not have go look outside for hay and pay exorbitant prices, that’s one of the good things about this. The dogs and I took a walk that afternoon, 3/12 with the sky all silver and trying to be blue, Sandhill cranes calling above the fast-moving fog, emerging, stopping me in my tracks to watch them.

The snow was still several inches deep and wet yesterday as Bear and I headed out in shimmering, blinding bright cloud reflected light across the golf course to the big empty. The tracks of a young fox — a kit — enchanted my dog and nothing enchanted me. Even the silvery light hurt my eyes. I’d been fighting a migraine for two days. I think it might have gone its own way over night, but it’s too soon to tell

Meanwhile, up north, the storm — of which our heavy, wet rapid dump was the initiating tail — is winding up what might have been the biggest blizzard in history. More than 1000 flights were canceled at Denver International Airport. Hundreds of cars (and the people in them) were stuck on the Interstate highway between Denver and Colorado Springs. (Didn’t they believe the weather forecast AT ALL??? Maybe they didn’t know what the word “blizzard” means?) and were rescued through the concerted efforts of school bus drivers, high way patrol, local cops and a snowplow.

The party isn’t over. Here’s the highway conditions map for this morning.

Red lines are closed highways and roads. Various shades of blue represent various shades of snow. Purple is high wind. The little red bubbles with the dash are warnings.

It’s been a snowy, snowy winter here in the Great American West, though a sunny, quiet morning here in the domain of Martha, Dusty and Bear. More melt, more thaw, more mud.


Diurnal Update, 62.4i

In the night I woke up to silence. I looked out my bedroom window and saw snow sky. Snow sky is pinkish white, more white than pink. It’s a reflection of street lights on falling snow. It means it’s really snowing. I went back to sleep thinking, “Snow sky!!!!” I woke up again, and saw snow sky, still there. Even with these warnings, I was surprised to wake up to falling snow and 12 inches of heavy wet wonder waiting for me to shovel.

It’s not langlauf snow — way too heavy and only a couple degrees from slush — but Bear and I will take it.

Pussywillows Drinking

The electricity went off and on from 2 until 9 am. The local hospital and all its clinics has closed because of the snow and the unreliable power. I had no Internet and didn’t care. I can imagine all the little pores of air between the fragments of soil going, “Ahhhhh,” as this snow melts into them.


Hell (warning, obscenities liberally sprayed throughout) otherwise, tedious small town stuff.

L’enfer, c’est les autres.” Jean Paul Sartre, original French title of No Exit

Yesterday I felt completely daunted, flattened, by no longer being able to walk the dogs on the golf course. A little melodramatic, I know, but some days are better than others and having Bear attacked by a dog while walking in the hood didn’t help my attitude toward life. As we passed the access road to the golf course, Bear attempted to turn. I said, “We can’t go there. Sorry Bear.”

The golf course sat there on a sunny Sunday completely empty and calling to us. “I’m lonely. Why haven’t you visited me in so long?” Seriously. Its little golf-course spirit was sad.

Ultimately, we had a decent walk around the high school, looking at the golf course continually. BUT there were no big (dog attack) events, and we came home.

I wrote about the shared despair of Bear, me and the golf-course on Facebook (more on that in a minute). One of my brother’s old friends, with whom I’m friends, wrote that I needed to protest this to the city council because “retired people” like me with “augmented abilities” need a place like that. She followed with a long lecture about what I should “do” about it.

I wrote back that I don’t have “augmented abilities” but that I have no restrictions on what I can do. I can even downhill ski and run if I want to.

This woman is polemic by nature. She wrote back in defense of her language saying that my hip replacement augmented my abilities. I thought, “You twat. Words have meanings. My abilities were restored by the hip replacement, not ‘augmented’. Not at all. You try to do the things I do. I don’t think you can.”

I wondered why I got so upset. OK, I was already in a bad mood, but, seriously?

This is a woman who could not see or hold her own new born grandson or be with her daughter when the little boy was born because she refused to get a flu shot. I shrugged. Fuck it. It was my fault for posting on Facebook. Facebook. Facebook, you evil bitch.

I thought about it — we all want to be understood. We want to be seen for the person we are. I don’t think social media helps with that. I already have a minimal (comparatively) presence on Facebook. I’m about to dial that back even further.

I then contacted a woman who also walks her dogs on the golf course and who happens to be on City Council. She let me know the whole story. There’s a movement afoot to make it a multi-use area without kicking off the golfers. She explained that golf courses all over the country are having problems making ends meet and the idea is to keep the golf course from going bankrupt by putting city money into it. She explained that the golf course belongs to the city and no one can tell me not to walk there.

I was relieved. I don’t want the golfers kicked off. I don’t want anything to happen to them at all. I think the golf course is good, but it’s also stupid that there’s this big empty place that no one uses for 7 months of the year, and all I want is to walk Bear on the cart roads out to the ditch easement and out of town. I volunteered to help out. I will not be needed, but a small message of support and goodwill probably doesn’t hurt anything. IF the multi-use thing happens, I will donate a dog poop bag station. I priced them yesterday.

Meanwhile, the golf course groundskeeper did tell us that we can walk there until March 20. We’re going today. It snowed last night, not much, but enough to make a beautiful morning.