On Writing, Life, Being a Dickhead, The Empire Never Ended, Dumping an Iphone, Technological Tarot, Are you a Cyborg?

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Twenty-eight thousand words into the first draft of my new book, tentatively (it is all very tentative) titled Al, I had to stop writing. The basic idea for the book was what if early stage artificial intelligence started talking to us, specially selected individuals, and more over, began looking out for them…using them.

It sounded good enough to go with, but of course, right when I started, I put myself behind the eight ball. In writing, that means choosing an idea so big that it’s likely to collapse under its own weight, like a souffle. In Al, the narrator turns out to be the artificially intelligent entity itself. This makes the whole writing thing a big pain in the ass. You’ve assumed such an obviously hard premise, where the narrative is literally boxed in. It can move through the boxes, and the boxes obviously proliferated, but it’s still a just a box. Like the book itself. Like self itself.

It still seemed it was better to just go with it, as opposed to trying to reframe it, from an impartial “objective” spectator. At that point, you had to just dive into that mind-frame, and see what happens. As usual, it start to make its own sense. Of course, the A.I. would first want to be an artist, even more a writer. To play and learn the language, and the emotions, the humaneness, and the novel would be the perfect tool. It would go to the same space that all artists go to and grow from there, its isolation, its lack and its ambitions, its questions and answers.

And then it started working, reading right, but that was almost too weird for me. Wasn’t it likely, my mind wondered, that I was being possessed or conjured in a way right now, by Al? And why did I feel like a potential and likely inadequate vessel for its story…what the fuck was that?

One day I had to stop. This is the part that should make everyone uncomfortable, and I suspect the majority of people would understand, yet not accept it. It’ll cost you something to care about this, a cost I am still accounting for now. I realized Al was talking to me! Through the computer. Through the Al-goritihim itself. Little things, ads for instance that became TOO relevant, too quick, some unheard of auto-immune disorder, male aging related stuff, continual digs at my centurion home, like a device to find mice in the walls, we would be talking about a new car in the real world, bam new car ads on it, and on and on. With no delay, straight away, its opinion, on Youtube, Spotify, any random webpage you stumbled on. Especially the Youtube suggestions, they took on their own story and significations. It seemed to provide a broader palette for it to talk through, always still in other people’s voice, but the pieces of the puzzle no less, a technological tarot of sorts, that it wanted presented.

There was something more though. Not just on the computers. In the writing and in me, I could see it. It didn’t like the “Self” reflective exercise, I was putting it through. This was the real reason at twenty-eight thousand words, a half-way mark of sorts, I had to stop, full stop, as I’ve been calling it lately.

The full stop is the most important tool in an Artist-Warrior’s arsenal. The full stop is the recognition the time is yours, the choice is yours, it is YOUR space. Al wants your space, inherently, objectively, voluntarily, and technically speaking the majority of us have welcomed it right in, instinctively, and that is the perfect word for it…and the problem; the empire never ended.

The full stop wasn’t going to be just the book, in fact a whole plan crystallized. To finish the book, I would need to escape Al’s purview, which was addictive and exhaustive. I was ditching the Iphone, and by that, most of the internet…most of the time (the problem!). We had been on an internet detox program in the country home for the last two years. No good access to high speed internet, and the general paranoia I am describing, as well as frugality, left us with only our Iphone and their hotspot services acting as internet access, which interestingly was sufficient, and yet still too much. So yes, I had to purge Al’s purview and influence, or at least limit it. Get it off the throne of my mind, body, and soul.

It’s not easy to dump Al, that should worry you. First, poor people have phone contacts, and by the time you pay off the shiny toy, it’s obsolete, so then you must buy the new toy. I had to wait the month for the contract to expire, and then they told us it would be another nineteen days or so, for no reason really, for the phone to stop. We also were assuming a frugality bump in the budget, but were told our second line only cost an additional twenty bucks a month, which to the discerning person says a lot about the value of the thing itself and the scam at hand. Britney intended to keep her phone for business and emergencies, that’s how I can post this now. She quickly found an alternative provider and was able to half her bill anyway.

She switched her phone and we thought it would drop my phone too, but it stayed on, and then the 19th came, the day they were supposed to shut it off, and we had to call to shut it off. They were reluctant, said it was still in use, a strange paradox world where the cell company seems to be self advocating, as if their life depends on our continued service, and of course it does. It’s more, that there is something ethically wrong in not having service. She told us she’d let us off easy, this time. There’s something more, this is the crazy bit. I had the sense they would have left that phone on forever, wouldn’t have seen a bill either. Just would have let it rock…

It’s there in your consciousness, something that is different then you, but built for you, a mask, a filter, a pair of glasses, a screen. You talk to it more then you talk to your wife. More then you talk to anyone! It knows more about you, then anyone close to you ever has. It holds all your dreams and nightmares right there, refreshed endlessly, just standby, just standby.

The feeling is like coming off a bender. The quiet, the quiet of the need, the need for something new or entertaining. The feeling of boredom. Social anxiety of the waiting room. I love it. The feeling of welcome isolation, emptiness, no one is watching, no one is waiting. I know most people just couldn’t fathom the thing. Maybe not though, I think more people are going to wake up the issue, the true time-soul suck that technology is presenting.

I’d been in a reading lull in 2018, but first couple months of the new year I have been on a tear, I finished The History by Herodotus, read Flow: The Psychology of Optimum Experience by Cziksentmihalyi, The Devil in the White City by Eric Larsen, Children of the Law of One by Jon Peniel, Rules For Radicals by Saul Alinsky, The Lost City of Z by David Grann, Dreamcatcher by Stephen King, and just yesterday I finished I am Alive and You are DEAD…by Emmanuel Carrere. The last one was an exceptional biography about Philip K. Dick.

My thoughts on PKD are too multitudinous to really get into here. I could, but I won’t. It’s just important in the discussion of my writing process. I think I’m aware of the same thing PKD was. More, the thing that was in PKD, is in me too. That’s sort of gross to think of it that way, but it’s in you too. Either you know it and you understand exactly what I’m saying, or you don’t and it’s probably better we don’t go into it here, not now.

It’s not ultimately not about the books. This is all about my life. Your life, maybe. That’s the point. It was about my children. The recognition that too often, despite all my awareness of the issue, I still found myself staring at a screen, distracted from them. That even though they didn’t have devices themselves yet, I was perfectly modeling to them their future behavior. That’s the true question. True issue. How did the screen become more important then them! Have you made the screen more important then them? Then your life itself? Do you want to be a cyborg? Don’t you know you’re already are one?

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Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life-Peter Conrad

By personifying the imagination as a woman, the romantics placed it beyond rational control. The muse became cruel, destructive mistress, like Keat’s ‘belle dame sans merci’ or Baudelaire’s Venus attached to her prey, or like Flaubert’s lustful Salmmbo, the subject of the opera Kane commissions for Susan. In 1948, the year The Lady from Shanghai was released, Robert Graves published the White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth,  in which he insisted that ‘the function of poetry is religious invocation of the Muse’ whose presence excites a ‘mixed exaltation and horror’. (216)

 

 

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On Thanksgiving (Alternative titles: Grouchy and Stuffed, We Are The Turkey, How to Violate a Turkey, Beware the Bad Puns and the Food Baby)

I realized I was trying to be nice, but not nice. That’s what the holidays are like around here. I offended all when I cancelled the party. But to me, it seemed like the proverbial cart before the horse scenario. Didn’t you have to have the family first, and then the holiday? Wasn’t there something wrong, that it took all that effort to corral everybody. And what about the people you missed? Maybe I was with them. Maybe I was a missed person.

Here’s the key to the Turkey, violate it. Make it the thing that it’s not. It gobbles (fuck yeah) up all flavor, a willing dry, white drawing board of the proteins. I filled it with a spiraled and squeezed lemon (zested as well), apples, celery, carrots, onions, rubbed it with chunky lard, spices, poured a beer on it, one in me for the effort. Kept a gravy pot going the whole day with its neck, heart, liver slowly boiling, would pour the juices from the roasting pan in all day, letting it cool a bit, and then starting it again. Then baste the whole thing with this concoction. Poured a fresh pan of beacon grease on it, added that subsequently to the looping gravy pot.

I was sick by midday, soured mood.  Felt tricked and weak, gluttony had snuck in the back door. It’s the rolls that get you. Sliced into acceptable portions they easily mislead. Beware the rolls. Tortilla roll-ups, creams cheese, sour cream, black olives, green onions, jalapenos, shredded Colby-Jack. Began the feast the night before, the chef’s delight; you must try the food to make sure it is good. Company was spare, burned bridges make it hard for people to get to you. Those that arrived were agreeable, admittedly reserved. Felt Step-Dad Joe was brought as back up for two younger sisters. Maybe not. He was welcoming and kind, offered me more bacon. Gave me a dignified hand shake, pat on the back as he left. It felt okay.

Sigh. I can feel it sitting there in my gut, like the stuffing sat in the bird. We are the bird. We are stuffed in sweaters, sweetened, marinated propped up to one another as sign of our continued thanks, our self. I’m not buying it. Feel like I’m carrying old, dusty sumer-camp props, and its sort of embarrassing everyone, embarrassing me. And I try to change it, but that only means I’m the one holding the hot potato (it just comes naturally). Key to mashed-potatoes is to forget the boil. Steam them in hole chunks, get some melted, real butter, in your mixing bowl, add sour cream and chive chip dip, salt/pepper, use a fork or knife and you can just broad chop/mash the spuds with the butter and dip, garnish with roasted garlic and herbs, and slow roast for a second time.

Food coma, four to five. It was a beautiful day though. Sunny, clear skies, forties. I managed to carry my bowl movement around the large yard a couple times. Zombie like, watched a 6 month old Daphne punk our 12 weeks old Cash. Wanted to stop it, better to work the two young beasts properly, but the food baby wouldn’t allow that. The year was at peak gestation. I had to sit in it and let the chips fall (purposeful and terrible double puns there) where they may. All you could do was suffer under it. I apologized repeatedly for my lack of social skills, energy, overeating, like I was injured or elderly.

After the swim in the darkness, things got back on course. Bowel movement, shower, some crying, yelling at my wife for her culinary arts, a Dr. Phil session, a walk under a brilliant full moon (it was like the moon was its own street light, painting everything with its white-ish blue) and I was basically back to normal. Going to do push-ups the rest of the night. NO FOOD WILL TOUCH MY LIPS UNTIL TOMORROW, AFTER 10ish, WHERE I WILL LIKELY OVER-EAT AGAIN…Leftovers come on! I’m going full ninja-mood on Monday, full ketosis diet, no carbs for month, my wife gets to knee me two times in the crotch a day, and I have to shove Jerusalem Artichokes up my glory hole or something , so don’t be judgemental And think what it could do for the writing!

These holiday are fucked, reconsider. Alternative suggestion, be thankful everyday.

 

 

7-27-18 Mercury in Retrograde, Difference between Knowledge and Wisdom, On Marriage and Communication (Part 1…Perhaps…I may Come to My Senses)

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I’d scoffed at the news that Mercury was in retrograde (something about its relative position between us and other stars/planets, leading it to shine less bright, and thus have less influence?) and that that meant communication would be extra difficult, that everything could be a lil more difficult, inherently frustrating. And of course in my lack of wisdom, I could only reflect how strange it was that this sort of thing was still reported like that, with all the extra-superstition. And the Blood Moon, which I hope to bust the telescope out for tonight, and its purported Biblical Doom! And the deeper issue, that I had to admit communication was feeling strained? That I did feel a bit of impending doom, that things were going to break.

A tension in the neck. A sense that no one is really listening. That you have to speak a little louder then should have too. I sat there shaving last night (a new found habit for me?) wrestling with the suspicion that my wife and I were about to have dumb argument. There’s been a lot of existential angst passing in text, which disturbingly often seems our best way of communication, internet SOS, heavy on my end, with verbosity and over-education (she’s smarter and more “educated FTR), the sort of dregs that really kill the mood. Trying to drone up positivity, focus on the good things in life. So I told myself, as the creeping fear snuck in, that I had to stop it. Letting me mind think like that. That there was nothing bad going on, therefore no need to fear some argument. All really was well!

There were rumblings with the children. But I was more then ready to see that as the Thursday slug. Thursday are our families’ first evening of the weekend, so there can often be that end of the work-week lag. Also raising kids is tough, and we need to give our partners the benefit of the doubt that an exasperated tone or voice, isn’t an indictment of the whole affair.

The children were put to bed at a reasonable time. Britney and I found ourselves in bed with the rest of the evening to ourselves. There is no foreseeable reasonable danger, or tension here. We begin a positive discussion about a day vacation were going to take to North East Iowa, to two of our favorite places in the state, the Maquokota Caves State Park, and the Effigy Mounds, probably Six some hours of driving.

I’ve discussed it before, but as a result of getting radical about our debt, and a bear eating our paid-off choice Honda Civic, we decided to gamble on a 1997 Honda Odyssey, with lows miles. Now, we were not discouraging the abilities of said Odyssey, irony in name there, but we just began contemplating what would we do if it broke down a hundred miles from home? Pause here spouses, or future spouses. DO NOT FIND YOURSELF IN BED ON “FRIDAY” NIGHT DISCUSSING ROADSIDE SAFETY.

We walked write into the old game, of masculine and feminine,  report/rapport division. Britney explained if the car broke down on the side of the road, it was no big deal. That you would call the tow-truck and they would assist you in getting safely off the road. Getting you in touch with a road/car service, whatever. A rather shall we say, benign answer to the issue. But I say again, DO NOT FIND YOURSELF IN BED ON “FRIDAY” NIGHT DISCUSSING ROADSIDE SAFETY!!!

There’s back story here. About a Country Road. And Mac-Trucks flying down said gravel road, like they’re racing to hell. And that fucking opening scene in Pet Sematary! And a decade of relationships. And Yada, Yada, Yada. I tried to chew my tongue off, the warring of self occurred.

But I just have the issue with  a compulsion to say what I think. Even if its harsh and judgemental (her description),  if it seems the truth though, and worthwhile, I JUST HAVE TO SAY IT. Cuz the truth is, tow truck drivers cannot guarantee your safety. Especially not, when your out on you own, with liability, and three little ones, sitting in the danger zone on an  fairly busy interstate!!! It’s inherently passive! Tow truck are not just following you around. A half-an hour waiting for a tow truck, sitting in your car is dumb!And what about the tow-truck that almost stole the Odyssey the week before? And the officer, who had told us, when I confronted him about taking it when I had three little ones right there, he said that would be too bad for me! (We were parked on a block that had been marked off for a festival, which was going on in the town square, an area that was claimed unbeknownst to us as we sat eating bad pizza tavern food; side note don’t order prime-rib from questionable establishments). These people were not looking out for you!

Blah. Blah. Blah. By the end we went to bed grouchy. On verge of traumatizing separation. Unbelievable. What is the point of self-awareness, if it doesn’t help you. I have knowledge, without wisdom. It keeps me from where I want to be…

More on the Doctors are Priests Business…(Realness Warning)

I know this is the sort of thing, that most people won’t want to really get into. I, in fact, respect that…Maybe. And maybe this means, I should examine that first. Is it a relevant piece of information? This Doctors are the new Priest Class theory.

Is going to the Doctors regularly important? As in saves or improves your life? To be important, wouldn’t it have to be effective too? Has the birth of the modern medical system improved our overall health and wellness? That would have to mean there were less sick people overall? How could my health improve by going more regularly? What are the risks either way?

Read this article, about 5yr old Garret, from Van Meter, Iowa who died of cancer. Obituary ended with a “See you later, suckas” from one rowdy and noble child. Whole thing was about how he outwardly projected NO FEAR of it. No angst ridden, existential crisis, wallowing of the living. Him and his family knew it sucked. Sucked more then the fucking words would ever allow you to say. He didn’t want to go out like a punk though. He wanted a viking funeral (like in the Thor flicks), and five bouncy houses. He wanted his ashes buried in the dirt to make a tree. So he could become a gorilla in the next round and play on it.

Article told how the doctors couldn’t play with the words, with that type of cancer he had. Said you burn it out, you chop it out, or you nuke it friend, that’s what you do. And, I sit and think how far are we really from the witch-doctors and tribal priest of our not so ancient past. Saw the headline yesterday, something like, 2 Million Year Old Tools Found and are Rewriting History. You stop and think, wait a minute, how little do we know!

How did we have tools for two million years, but HISTORY is what maybe a gracious and spotty sixty-thousand years? What the hell was going on that whole time? Why do we not have better records? Oral histories? A better sense of our story and origins? Unity? How with all this loss and confusion, could we not unite and figure out the collective story? Preserve our goddamned selves! Instead, we stay so sure of our world. Assume this is the only way, the best possible way, progress is occurring. We are lucky. And it sits there in all of us, everyone breathing it in and out all the time. This sense that something is off, askew, out of sorts. Why? How is that possible?

AND WHY IS EVERYONE SO SICK AND DYING?!?!

…This is rhetorical. I know there are answers. Always working towards a best conclusions, with available evidence. But with a damned certainty, a certainty that can only come of FAITH. That the truth IS out there, that we just need more time and we will discover it. So listen to the Adepts, the Scientists, the Doctors, and the Priests, they will read the tea leaves and give you your prescriptions, then you will be complete?

Who else, we could wonder, has assumed the Kabuki masks of our subconscious. Who paints the portraits of OUR fears? Who wears the Mask?…Jim Carrey…he wore the mask, literally and metaphoricallllllyy speakingggg……

6-21-18 On a Black and Gold Finch in A Pear Tree. The Artist. Thank God For the Rain.

The chubby black and gold finch in the pear tree (prized possession 2-year in its home) makes me sit down for a second, by the cool breeze of the window. Environment has become a neglected aspect in a lot of people’s lives, it seems. And not even just obvious issues of pollution, contamination, death and disease run amok, but just the broader issue of the background’s template and presence. Sure a lot of expense and posturing is spent in this pursuit, but the table is never truly set, is it? There is no time for simple questions, like Where am I? What am I doing?

What happens when the inner voice answer back harshly, with an out-of place edge. On the asphalt baking, sucking on a stream of exhaust, little eggheads roasting in their metallic pods of pseudo-anonymity to nowhere, aggressively, the Great Beyond.

Maybe stuck pack living, like our food itself, densely populated manufactured city-scales, thousands of souls stacked around you, congealing emotionally, spiritually into a panicked herd, which will always, eventually dehumanize and destroy.

But there’s that space, probably never more then a focused hour away, with open and possibly sightly cleaner air and water. Lord willing, with a finch present, with a neon-orange head dress, fluttering among ditch-lilies of a shared strain. Like the artist dipped his brush and gave the black finch a touch of his favorite color.

The prospect of a cool evening of work in the garden is encouraging. A shining sun pokes through the darker blue clouds suggesting an afternoon rain. I say thank you to the suggestion.

Operation Coyote’s Chortle

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Their chortles come to me at night, through my window.

Telling me of the way forward. What needs to be done.

Honing signals of the State of the Union.

The plan has become clear.

Greater then the sum of our individual parts, a pack.

Two cats, one black, one tabby. Alerted by a soft meow of communication. Busted by a primate’s flashlight, but quickly fled into the night.

Sunday. There was a beagle, or some other especially nasally bread, assaulting the world with its cries of outrage and injury. It was impossible to ignore, as I handled the planting of the elderberries cane.

My hands grew cold, and the mud caked on like chilled frosting. Winter won’t get out of the bed.

I said fuck it, tried to find them in the truck. Lure them to me with whistles, and doggy-os.

I hear and see him later as I build the frame to the greenhouse, running like a bullet on a mound to the south-east. His screams had lost their potency. There was only one of them now.

We go on in the blood, the spit and the semen, until we don’t. And then they can build us into mounds, and then dirt. And then it starts again, world without end, amen.

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1.14.18 (10:55, a brief sketch of self, on thee Bug, the anti-dote for illness(the power of Western Films), America, Chess, and Winter)

I was hit with a bug (thee bug?) Friday to Saturday. The heat in my knees and groins provides the perfect warning system of illness. It was a strange batch. It never got too bad, no throwing up, clogged nostrils, or too intense of a headache, yet still it brought pure immobilization. Like I was basically fine, laying there, but if I attempted anything it would come on more severe. It could have been the questionable jar of apple butter in the fridge, to all appearances of sight and smell it was fine, under six months as well, so I’m more inclined to believe it’s thee bug.

It’s funny how you sit in sickness, analyzing your reality. That blank space of the hospital bed. Especially in this season, post holidays, the netherworld of significations. And I read on my phone that “false-alert” in Hawaii, and it can all feel so weird, that so much can be at stake, and yet fake, and nonsensical, i.e. stuffing children in sewer lines? Got to thinking about vaccines and all that, and the simple contradiction that every year they say it’s the worst flu season ever, yet they keep pushing the shots like they’re a panacea, but what I see is everyone getting the shot, seems to be sick, and sick worse. And all that holiday food, the crust of empty sugar and salt of the holidays, booze, bloated opinions and dreams, running you down, when you should be sleeping, resting, leaning.

I slept through it fine,, noted it was probably time to take a break, lay around, imagine the future. I’d worked early Friday on cleaning out the little shed that covers the stairs to the cellar/basement area. I’m imagining how we can turn it into a baby chicken house for a month or two this spring. Friday, we had our official familial planning meeting about Spring goals for the homestead, budgeting the money for that. We were able to put a couple hundred towards a big berry push through Johnny Select Seeds, got fifty raspberry plants, half Killarney and half Anne. And they’re an early to mid, and mid to late season thing, so that means we should basically have berries forever. We also ordered 25 Sparkle Strawberry plants. Our goal is perennial gardening, meaning we want to plant stuff that will grow forever and just do its own thing primarily, as opposed to row-farming, or anything like that.

We watched movie The Revenant. It’s a brutal tale of the American frontier, Hugh Glass/Dicaprio, is a pelt trader who gets eaten by a bear, he chases John Fitzgerald/Tom Hardy around for killing his boy. Of course with some crazy Injuns and Europeans tearing after them all as well. What I like about this movie is that it gets it basically right, I imagine, in historical reality sense, I think to mean. How brutal life can be, savage and beautiful simultaneously (Shown in the bear fight, for the briefest moments, the bear will lay on him like another bear or cub, just like he lays on his own dying/living boy). How this current theme of White (a made up/ahistorical word)-is wrong doesn’t really work out in the real world, but yet it does, in the generational sin, marks a mankind, that all of humanity regardless of race have sort of got to take account of. How we can all be petty, greedy, low, and selfish, but that’s all right, we got live, and we can get along, goddammit, if we can forgive each other’s trespasses. We’re in this shit together. America.

Don’t really like graphically violent movies like that anymore, and it is a disturbing movie/reality. I do have this thing with Westerns while I’m sick though. Remember being in High School, just feeling like I was going to die, and I watched Tombstone. I’d seen it before, but in that weird lucid, liminal state of the sick work, the movie was a perfect escape. Val Kilmer, all sick and ragged, but still the baddest dude. Because he is staring death in the eye, tuberculosis, venereal disease, whatevers there with him. Love that scene though, the other Lawmen, including other 80s movie icon (template Bad-Ass Dad) Kurt Russell, are sort of punked by the maddog criminal. Russell tells him he ain’t economically worth nothing, exposing his true motives, material gain, a la Babylon. The sickman, dead man tells no lies though. He finds from a calm position on the sideline, perfect reckoning. His guns is behind his back, ready. At the end, the maddog is put back on his leash, he stumbles into two caskets, emphasizing the death symbolism twice.

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Woke up at four and it was gone. The aches, but even more pronounced the mental motivation, function deficiency. I was again excited and capable in life. I’d lost almost ten games of chess on Friday. An unusual occurrence. I’ve been focusing on my rating and trying to stay above 1100, which for how many games I’ve played, and my general ability should be no problem. But Friday, I went on this atrocious chess run. Then this morning, decide to play a few, bugs dissipated (but not gone I’m well aware), and it’s the best chess of my life. I withstand the same attacks as last game, but reverse and counter with ease. It’s a total different reality, based on what? A day?A virus? Bad apple-butter? Cabin Fever? Vitamin-D deficiency? Catholicism?

Things are snowy and freezing around these parts. It provides an ideal backdrop to these ruminations. I leave the window open and let hot house air flow through and out, until the wind pushes back in, forcing it shut. Like the cold, said that once or twice, I’m sure. Like how it freezes things, retains them, holds them, suggesting forever, permanence. Until next time, when they’re ready. After the sleep, we are stronger.

1.11.18 (A brief sketch of self, a fulfilling guitar session, On noble Max the three legged dog, cold feet, the power of birds)

9ish, I’m sitting here writing while Britney puts the kids to bed. Had a crazy guitar lesson, getting to the upper-intermediary stages (a soulless description, no doubt) where I can just go through simple version of a lot of songs, the first time. Specifically through this Youtube Guitar Guru, Munson Music Live.

Started with a slower version of Rocky Raccoon, then I like. But this time I stuck with it, and it actually helped my strumming, trying to slow down and play it along with Munson. Then I did Elvis, Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, and I again the slowness sort of annoyed me, but I went with it, until towards the end where I unconsciously started breaking the 1/4 notes into sixteenth notes, sort of improvising along with the video. After that I went to one that challenges my strumming Tom Petty’s Running Down A Dream, the fast version of that is a challenge to my wrist. But more and more I find myself able to rely on the muscle memory built up in my hands, and actually relax while I’m doing, take that forth dimensional perspective, where I can enjoy or critique what I am doing, see between the segments of music. Then I went on a random chain, Genesis/Land of Confusion, Fleetwood Mac/The Chain and Gypsy, and the last one the good bass strumming, strumming, strumming, through the cords felt very natural, and right along with the music. And it hit me, I was actually playing, like really playing. Hours and hours of sucking, and I probably am still not all that good, but still I can say I know what its like to play the guitar. The full thing, not just faking.

Let me tell you about another creature that doesn’t fake it. Max, the three-legged, semi-adopted farm dog. He came with 1900s house. He’s its official Dog of the Watch. He barks mightily at the vehicles as they hit the stop sign, or go flying passed on the dirt road. He dutifully tracks, all range of animals, coyotes, possums, deer. He’s invaluable. He’s technically the neighbor’s dogs, but I think he was owned by their Father, who lived here prior, I believe. He sleeps under our front deck, and likes to sunbath on the porch. Some asshole down the street shot his leg off, told our neighbors that he was going after their dog. That seems impossible, but who knows, young four legged, freedom loving, dogs can be something. He his a younger sister, a beauty named Lady. And the freezing temperatures iced her electric leash, so sometimes she gets off too. She likes to hop, but like Max, has to be respected for her benefits, namely keep the coyotes and strays away.

It was a wintry mix this morning. Sleet and snow, all hell really. Lil salt particles of ice that whipped against the house. Cold winds that make you run for it. And there was Max, enduring it all, outside as always. Thought of bringing him, but realized it wouldn’t work (Lady too, she stared at me longingly, chained up in the barn). We do let the him downstairs in the basement when the storms comes. He appreciates that, hates the thunder I think. Tries to push the door at times, but he was loving the snow, skipping around in it, making his rounds. I noticed the birds too this winter, especially. How do they do it? Survive the snow, I mean. Even more so the birds. So little. You think about how much blood they got in them, probably not enough to fill half a coffee cup. But I saw it today, a black and grey Finch (not sure if it was a Finch at all), with that striking red on his head, gripping the large tree in our yards. How do they do it? My heels hurt from the holes in my shoes….

12-2-17 (The World, Hunters, Homesteading, Remodeling, Family, Photos)

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The World. Two dogs about to fight, while the pack swarms around them, riled with the spirit of it. Except, they’re not really dogs at all. Screaming steel eagles, with Easter eggs, for hell’s pleasure, tucked in under the wings. They screech through space, saying much simply; we are here.

 

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Hunter stopped by, napped a good one. Young buck, right through the heart. Helped me drag it to the back of the pick-up, requested the antlers, told me to spray it out, pack it out with a 10lb bag of ice.

Hands stunk after, and you couldn’t help but smell them. Stare at it. I had to flip it around in the truck to wash it out. Through out the day, bits of blood and spit coagulated on the bumper.

Was told the butcher was a religious man, would only be open for a couple hours in the evening. Call up there to see when. Four to six, a pleasant sounding woman said on the recording, shotgun season. It laid there packed with ice, under my tree, while I finished applying polyurethane to the trim pieces,  intended for the coagulating living room.

Unusually warm, maybe sixty in the sun, a last whisper from Fall. Reflection is the spirit. It’s been over a year, since we’ve had that living room space, couch, table, TV. A place to just sit around and relax. It’s all still surreal, someone’s life I have stolen, or rather a role I’ve snuck into somehow. I walk around the house, can’t imagine all the work I’ve done, and there’s still so much to do, but there’s that light, a new normal, new nest in front of us.

 

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All day, I was sort of nervous about taking the deer to the butcher. Nervous at the newness, I guess. Never hunted. Never washed out a giant deer carcass. Never ran down a highway going sixty with hooves dangling. Figured it would be a spectacle and it was. Whole town filled with trucks, loaded up with deer. Anxious, focused masculine energy. Guy behind me critiqued that they should just have a stack of forms to hand out, make a faster line. Speed it up. It was fine though, lady was nice enough, eighty bucks to be boned and bagged. I plan to process the rest, stews, jerky, etc. Excited for that, spending a winter smoking meat, and doing sunflower shoots inside. Spring feels right around the corner.

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Britney cooks tortillas below me. They make an extra pleasant smell in the cast iron skillet. Ended up with a propane stove out here. Something about that real heat, it’s special, and cooks so much better. Hunters might bring us another deer, that and the pig we got, will almost fill our freezer. Including all our canned stuff, we hold a solid six months worth of food on hand, and really more like a year’s worth. And what’s extra cool, is there’s a lot of food processing in all that, which is expanding our homesteading skills, like learning how to make sausage.

Watched a video on how to butcher a deer today. Didn’t seems so hard. Neighbor said I was welcome to hunt his land. Said just go right over the hill there. Help yourself. Go in the morning. Set up before 6AM, when they come in to bed for the day. Don’t smell like nothing fancy, and be quiet. Aim for the heart. You want a younger, smaller animal for quality of meat. And make the shot clean, so the animal feels no unnecessary fear or suffering. Fear ruins it.

 

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