We’ll Let You Know

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Oh, but only if, you’re really interested.

Finally sharing thoughts on the Election:

“How sad are we?
And how sad have we been?
We’ll let you know
We’ll let you know
Oh, but only if, you’re really interested”

I’m tired. And sick. Far more than disappointed. I’ll spell out my weakness for anyone who’d like to take a stab, why should I care? That is precisely how life has always worked, and I don’t see why I ought to have expected differently anymore.

A female President? The kid who yelled “faggot” in school. That’s the President of life. He always was.

I was thinking of Oscar Wilde. That is how we live again now. Hide your fear with a quip. Bury your love deep from jealous hands. Hide your soul. Live inside.

That’s how it’s always been. The kind people are tired. The tired must do for themselves. The gentle bow til they break. And we sensitive faggots, well, we know how to take the punches, until we can’t.

 

“You wonder how
We’ve stayed alive ’till now
We’ll let you know
We’ll let you know
But only if, you’re really interested”

– Morrissey, Your Arsenal, 1992

Click to listen to the song: We’ll Let You Know

 

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of things I like. 

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It’s All Good

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Pictures from my kitchen porch.

I took Paul McCartney’s advice and got a home in the heart of the country.  It’s been good for the blood pressure, even though most of my life is still in boxes. This is the sort of place where a thing is done in good time if it’s done well. More haste, less speed, I guess. Actually, not even so much haste. Just the haste of the rolling of the seasons. But most often I just sit here on my porch, or in the swing under the willow by the stream, take a walk, look at stars, notice the moon phases, and stare at the goats who live across the stream in front.

Getting here was trying. Molly, my dog of 13 years, died a few weeks before the move. The previous owners had left the house abandoned for three years, and the place and land was full of their stuff and suffering from neglect. Also, my cat ran away the first day. I spent a week and a half walking around, clinking a fork to a can, shouting “WET FOOOOOD!” But one day he just turned up hungry and miserable looking, ready for snuggles, a clean litter box and wet food. Guess he just needed his Mountain Lion merit badge.

Of course, when the first day I’d be alone rolled around, I was the loneliest girl ever. But that afternoon Stan came home with a new friend, which he held up like John Cusack with a boom box.  But, even better, it was a 3 month old Border Collie pup with freckles on her white nose. We called her Abbey Road. And she was just the friend I needed. Border Collies really want to learn! She looks to me constantly for a cue as to what she should do. So, when on my first day alone with her, she learned “sit” it was “challenge accepted” for us both!

It did take some time to bargain with my love for Molly and for Abbey. But I like to think that Molly’s independent, no-nonsense, terrier spirit haunts me like Obi-wan Kenobi’s Force ghost. Maybe showing up sometimes to deliver exposition to Abbey, or to warn me of encroaching “booshit.” Molly was a great one for hunting down and destroying that. And Abbey is my little go-go Padawan. Always eager to stomp through the trees on the hill behind the house, chase the frogs in the pond, herd frisbees, and bark at the goats, of course. She’s also the biggest love-bug. And I’ve had to defend her from multiple kidnapping attempts when we go to Lowe’s, PetSmart and even from visiting friends and family!

Mr. Kitter-kat wasn’t exactly pleased to come home to “Dog 2.0,” but now they’re great friends, and play and cuddle. He has several channels of bird feeders to watch. Wet food. And he can go out on the kitchen porch whenever he wants to dream of his days as a fearsome hunter alone in the woods. He’s a happy man.

Anyhow, after going without hot water for the first few days (which gave new meaning to “icey cold spring water”), and two weeks of having public sewer pipes laid down what can only be called “the lane,” things finally started coming into focus. Stuff is getting done. I can putter. Actually, I put in some major back and elbow grease! More importantly,  I can breathe again. From locked up in an apartment surrounded by noisy people, on a busy street around the corner from a firehouse, while mourning my dog. To long walks, starry skies, noticing how many species of woodpeckers there are, playing with Abbey, and, of course, staring at goats. Cars are so rare on the road up the hill, I watch them go by.

Sure, the house is old, and nothing is straight, but it’s sturdy and good old — like the Parthenon! A few more years and the forest would have overgrown the place. It feels like a happy house to have people to love it again. And each season has a charm and rhythm of its own. Soon, we’ll move from fire rings outside, to the wood-stove inside. And we’ll all gather before it, and say “let it snow.” More importantly, I have a space of my very own where I have many places to sit with my laptop and write. I am home.

Now, I just need the big green door-shaped sign with Gandalf’s mark, so travelling wizards, dwarves and fair folk know to stop for tea or adventures! 

For more pics of Abbey, the farmhouse, and more check out my Instagram! For even more, check out  Stan’s!

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Updates “About Me”

 

Lake Redman

Catching a beautiful sunset.

It has been too long since Molly died, and I’ve moved into a for real house and got a new pup. So to break my long spell I updated my About Me page. What do you think? Any suggestions?

Check it out here.


Good Grief

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Admiral Molly loving life

 

Friday morning, Molly, my dog of thirteen years, died in my arms. Then I just sat there next to her, drank my coffee, and read about Orlando and guns on the interwebz for an hour. A dissociative episode: shock.

I knew it was coming, her death. In the last few weeks I’ve inhabited that inbetween world of weird: the frantic care, fatigue, constant foreboding, and desire to be strong that being with the terminally ill brings. Down to Molly’s doped up desires to do odd things in the middle of the night, it was flashback to the final weeks of my father’s cancer.

I’ve seen enough death to know how odd it is. One moment a living being is before you, and then they’re a stiff, cold shell that needs to be washed and cleaned up so other people can look on the dead and say “oh they look so peaceful.” And as the dead lie there, appearing to sleep, you do stuff like excuse yourself in the way you would talk to a department store mannequin you bumped into. It’s just off. They’re there, but not.

When I worked for a funeral home, I used to have to walk past Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So everyday to get coffee. I learned grief speak like a sick Monty Python parody: passed on, deceased, shuffled off this mortal coil, gone to meet their maker, joined the bleeding choir invisible.

Truth is, no one remembers those first few days after a death. People in grief are halfway to the other side themselves.  Hence all the couched terms and euphemisms. So fragile. The grieving have one foot on the other side. They want to follow the dead into the grave.

It’s not until they realize that life trundles heedlessly on that the depression and anger sets in. How dare people go about their lives as though nothing happened?! Don’t they know what I’ve lost?! Don’t you see I just can’t!?

I had Molly for 13 years. I was checking out her rather plain smooth coat JRT brothers, when this ball of white and ginger fluff tumbled down the stairs. Molly! She Bogarted herself into my heart, like the true independent and stubborn alpha gal she was.

She was my total bestie, excercise partner, fishing cheerleader, vermin killing, begging, spoiled, loving buddy who never let me down once. And this house has never been so empty. The park never so unappealing. The sun never so harsh. My favorite fishing and camping spots…all haunted by the spirit of Molly, unconquerable in death as in life.

I know it’s normal. Malaise and sadness, nausea and emptiness, anger and wroth that would make Achilles blush. All changing places, shuffling, resurfacing. The careless moment in which you call the deceased’s name. Looking for someone who you’ll never again see with mortal eyes.

My advice to folks who know others that are suffering the trauma of grief is “Chill.” Let them have their space. Don’t tell them what to think, believe, or feel. Let them come back to life in their own time, in their own way. Just remind them that you are there. There’s no substitute for being there.

And that’s very much what I tell myself and others who are grieving. Give yourself time to feel the whole mess. Don’t feel as though there is a way you should feel. Own your feelings as they are right now. You may never feel as though the pain will go away, and you may not want it to. And when it does, you will feel guilty. Feel it. Feel all of that. This is life at the marrow of the bone. Recognize it. Name it. Accept it with compassion for yourself, a poor mortal. In time, you’ll be OK with the fact that the pain will dull. But you’re nowhere near that now. Don’t push it. Just be.

It occurs to me that the entire nation has been plunged into a great momento mori yet again. We won’t always be here. But we are here now. Say Yes to all that is good and right to feel and do now. Be mad, be rash, smoke and explode, sell all your clothes… Just remember to hold your loved ones a little dearer, and most importantly, hold onto yourself. I hope, for all of us who are or have or will love and lose (i.e. all of us), that as deep as your pain goes now, that’s as high as your joy will soar…hopefully, again, someday…just not today. Today, just chill. Today, let it be.

In memoriam: Molly, 2003 – 2016

Thank you for teaching me to love all of life even a fraction as much as you did.

-JL


We All Shine On (Still)

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Man killed by gunman believes in peace.

Hope is not for the faint of heart.

I still believe that “Yes” is the answer. I still believe in Peace, Love, Rock n Roll, Star Trek and Star Wars.

I still believe in Beatles. I still believe in Lennon. I still believe in you. And me. And that we all shine on. And on.

Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead
What in the world you thinking of
Laughing in the face of love
What on earth you tryin’ to do
It’s up to you, yeah you

Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin’
Join the human race
How in the world you gonna see
Laughin’ at fools like me
Who in the hell d’you think you are
A super star
Well, right you are

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Ev’ryone come on

Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you off your feet
Better recognize your brothers
Ev’ryone you meet
Why in the world are we here
Surely not to live in pain and fear
Why on earth are you there
When you’re ev’rywhere
Come and get your share

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
Come on and on and on on on
Yeah yeah, alright, uh huh, ah

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
On and on and on on and on

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun

Instant Karma! (We All Shine On),
John Lennon, 1970

Listen.

“Make love, not war, I know you’ve heard it before.” – John Lennon, Mind Games


Making Time

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Tock-tick

Pink Floyd are bastards. You’re listening to Dark Side, get all snug and sleepy from Breathe, and then ALL THE CLOCKS IN THE WORLD wake you up for a lecture on wasting time. But they have got it right. You need both. The space to breathe and be, and that little clock in the back of your mind that reminds you time passes.

Clocks, particularly alarm clocks,  were made by monks you know. It was to help them observe the proper prayer for the time of day. So, no matter what their daily business: farming, sleeping, eating, writing, counting money, making beer or wool; the clock made certain that they took the time to greet and witness each part of the day with the proper ritual in worship of God, which was their real job. And then they approached each bit of the day and it’s work in the frame of mind of worship. They went about all this walled off and ignoring the crazy nonsense of the world.

And that’s how it works. That is how you make time. One part ritual, one part work, one part ignoring everything else.

I do a lot of dumb stuff. I do a lot of housework, cleaning, animal tending, bill-paying stuff. But I chose that. It’s the easiest stuff to do, and no one else wants to do it. That’s my in! What I do I get back? Time to think. When I’m walking dogs, cleaning the tub, doing dishes, taking a shower…my body goes into auto-pilot, and I can think. That’s when the knottiest problems get worked out. Not sitting about.

I have considered that this is a form of “mindless” living. But no! The exact the opposite. I shower in the exact same way — same steps and soap, shampoo, razor in the same place every day — so I can shower without missing any bits.  I LOVE my showers. Because the rest is automated, my brain is free! I made a routine, a ritual to make time to work. Coloring is my new favorite time-maker! How wonderful to let the mind wander to color, movement, and some music!

I do it on social media, too! Prentend every comment or response is a little exercise in thoughtful writing. I’m practicing. I also try stuff out. Oh, perhaps I’ll write like Spock with a foul mouth? Maybe Dickens with anachronistic references? I was going through a big laconic phase a short time back. Sometimes I just make stuff up. Little “words of wisdom” I just pulled out of my… brain.  Caption this picture for best effect! This is what I do. It’s free practice. It’s fun. And that’s my “social time.” Oh dear!🤓

But then, it comes Time. The Time to do the real deed of writing. Now, here again, ritual is big. It’s a habit, but it’s also a ritual. I have certain things to hand. Vaporizer, extra fluid, at least two beverages, chapstick, and music. Now I can do that part anywhere. In fact, some of my best stuff I’ve done in bed on my phone. (I have yet to determine the causal correlation there. It may be coincidence. Further research is clearly required.) But, you know what? Nine times outta ten, I gather all of the above at my little antique letter-writing desk here (which must have been made for a child or a young woman because it is the perfect height for me), and I light a tea light under a bust of Shakespeare. I shittest thou not! BUT! (big butt) all I have to do is write until the tea light burns out. I normally lose track and it’s long out before I’m done, but yeah, that’s my timer. If I do that much, I win! I can go back after a break, or not. But yeah, I work one tea candle to Shakespeare at a time. And it’s all I need. It’s just a little measurable moment I have saved up and prepared for myself.

I ignore a lot. I might be worse than the monks in that regard. They did charitable works, I presume. I have no idea what the monks did. I know what’s going on. I read the news in the morning (with the coffee, it’s a ritual). Then I forget it and go about my own business! If I’m talking to you, I really care. “I give you my most precious thing, my Time,” is what Dad used to say.

I generally decide on giving a damn status fairly quickly. I am a hermit. I talk to my animals more than actual people…or digital people. I actually only “talk” in “meat-space” to about three human beings regularly. One is my therapist. So you know, if I get out of my house for you (or let you in) I am already way out of my norm. I need like 24 hrs of Netflix to recover from large get-togethers. 😂

Oh yeah, this wasn’t about what a weirdo I am, guess that happened though. It was about making Time. But that’s part of how I do it. My area of giving a damn is really slim. And the rest is all up in the old noggin there. And in my thought-filled dog walks and showers and tub cleaning. And in the ephemeral pixels I manipulate against mortality. And the scrawl of half a page of scribbled lines…that I put into Evernote, set a timer and tag a goal and a project for…

“Far away, across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spell”

– Time, Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon, 1973

*note to self: add back-up battery for vaporizer to writing materials to avoid getting up

 


Skin a Cat

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Fish, cook, eat

OK. So I’m an avid outdoorsman and fisherman. Probably going to start a separate blog about it with a YouTube channel and the whole thing.

Anyhow, this is a question I get a lot, so here is the answer in one spot:

How to Skin & Fillet a Catfish:

First off, don’t keep a cat under 9-10 inches. Unless you’re really hungry. A lot of a catfish is the boney head and gill plates. I’ll do two fish of at least a foot each for two people.

Second, you’ll need these things:
a hammer
framing nails
a 2×4 or a tree or wall
needle nose pliers,
a rag
sharp fillet knife

OK, the fun bit.

Get Started:

1) grip the fish under the boney bits behind its gills with a rag
2) nail its head to the plank
3) cut along the boney head and gill plates just enough to split the skin
4) insert your knife in the fish’s underbelly and slit open its gut
5) pull out all its innards, cut out the heart etc. Check for roe! (Sacks of fish eggs. Usually light orange in color. Save to cook. It’s caviar!)
6) wash out the cavity

Grip and Strip

OK. So now grab ahold of the fish with your rag. Then take a corner — just under where you made your cut around the head and gill plates — of the skin in your pliers and give a good, long pull. You may need to start on each side of the head, but literally just grab the skin in the pliers and pull it off like a stocking. Pull off skin to the tail.

Let Your Knife Do the Work

Filleting any fish is all about a long, flexible, flat, sharp knife.

Hold down the tail of the fish. Lay the knife with the blade even with the base of the tail. Then just slide it up the side of the ribs with a nice fluid stroke. Don’t saw, just let the middle of the knife bend a bit under your weight and let the knife slide on up.

Finishing Up

Now repeat that on the other side of the fish, and voila! Two nice fillets! (Hopefully it will be necessary to repeat on more fish!)

Well, that’s the basics. I guess I’m obliged to do a video on this now. That’ll be for another blog and another YouTube channel.

Hope this helps. And if you’re interested in fishing, camping, outdoorsy stuff, fire starting, DIY, cooking outdoors, GoPro, vids, photography — and would be interested in sharing content for a new site, contact me or leave a comment below!

 

 


Objects in Mirror

 

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Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

I’m laying at the foot of my bed, where I’ve made camp. I balance the weight of my head on a pillow, but close enough to feel her labored breathing. My best friend is leaving me.

Last week she killed a groundhog and jumped in a river in excitement over a fish I caught. Now her little heart pounds arythmic against my ear. Her swollen belly rises and falls too fast. She struggles for breath and wakes. I dip my hand in water for her to lick.

My father died at home under hospice care. When he decided to refuse treatment, my mother raged in helpless tears. All those years. She didn’t want to accept what he had, that he was finished the fight.

Molly couldn’t tell me to let her go. I had to choose for her. But those eyes that always trusted me and looked to me, those eyes branded on my mind, they asked my permission. If I could never refuse her the last bite of a sandwich, how could I refuse her this? My puppy, my friend of thirteen years, asked me if she might retire from her long, loyal service. I could never deny her anything.

Molly, you saved me from a tarantula. Were my friend when I was friendless. You comforted me when I was sick. And after surgery, you were my physical therapist, making me get out for that walk. My drill sergeant on hikes. Fishing cheerleader and singing partner. We shot the breeze. And when I was down on myself, you were my motivational speaker. You listened when I was sad, and at my lowest point, you gave me reason to live. No matter what, you forced me to enjoy life, if only for you. I live for you, but not nearly so much as you for me.

I will stay here with you, Molly, as long as you want to stay. I’ll hold on to you forever, if that is your wish. My most devoted friend. My funny face that always makes me smile. Little pup. I’ll stay with you until you’re ready to lay down the long burden you bore with inspiring joy. Your precious, life-affirming soul. Always charging headlong into the fray, tenacious as your breed. Courageous heart. My Molly. My baby. My best friend. Thank you.


My Life Down

 

 

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…I shall lie

I’ve been preoccupied with the loss, care and protection of innocence lately. It’s not time the tale were told here, but I’ve found a lot of comfort in spending time with my cousins, and in music. So I thought I’d dedicate this song to all of us.

Morrissey often mourns the loss of innocence and desires to protect it, and the theme informs much of his work, especially with The Smiths. Below is one of my favorites. A lullaby for the child he once was, the innocence he once possessed and lost, but also a wish — fervently expressed — to save a another from the pain he knew. Sung to the jangling chime of guitar with the sonorous cello of his voice.

Listen here.

“The Hand That Rocks The Cradle”

Please don’t cry
For the ghost and the storm outside
Will not invade this sacred shrine
Nor infiltrate your mind
My life down I shall lie
If the bogey-man should try
To play tricks on your sacred mind
To tease, torment, and tantalise
Wavering shadows loom
A piano plays in an empty room
There’ll be blood on the cleaver tonight
And when darknesss lifts and the room is bright
I’ll still be by your side
For you are all that matters
And I’ll love you to till the day I die
There never need be longing in your eyes
As long as the hand that rocks the cradle is mine
Ceiling shadows shimmy by
And when the wardrobe towers like a beast of prey
There’s sadness in your beautiful eyes
Oh, your untouched, unsoiled, wonderous eyes
My life down I shall lie
Should restless spirits try
To play tricks on your sacred mind
I once had a child, and it saved my life
And I never even asked his name
I just looked into his wondrous eyes
And said: “never never never again”
And all too soon I did return
Just like a moth to a flame
So rattle my bones all over the stones
I’m only a beggar-man whom nobody owns
Oh, see how words as old as sin
Fit me like a glove
I’m here and here I’ll stay
Together we lie, together we pray
There never need be longing in your eyes
As long as the hand that rocks the cradle is mine
As long as the hand that rocks the cradle is mine
Mine
Climb up on my knee, sonny boy
Although you’re only three, sonny boy
You’re – you’re mine
And your mother she just never knew
Oh, your mother…
As long… as long… as long
I did my best for her
I did my best for her
As long… as long… as long as… as long
I did my best for her
I did my best for her
Oh…
From The Smiths, The Smiths, 1984
Photo credit: Nelleke Stallings, 2016

Per Ardua ad Astra

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Through struggle, the stars

 

I didn’t write or blog this week. I got a cold, slept and watched TNG on Netflix. I did keep waking up from cold medicine dreams to type ideas in Evernote. When the Dayquil wears off I’ll see if they’re any good.

Today I got a haircut. So I don’t look like Seasons 4-5 Daryl anymore. But it’s rainy and crap and now I’m going to take a nap. I despise unproductive weeks! It’s hard to rest now that I’m well after being sick all winter. I have so much to make up.

But seriously I’m going to take a nap. Then be up all night listening to SPQR by Mary Beard having asthma/panic attacks. Give me a few days. I’m a terminator. I’ll be back.


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