Say It Isn't So

Saturday, November 25, 2006


So many boxes. Every time that I open one of them and remove its' contents, I am unraveling history. Kind of like how digging down through a layer of earth will take us back in time, or peering through a telescope will show us the near and distant past, each box holds a multitude of memories. Some are recent and some are long ago.

When I was nearing time to graduate from high school, it was time to think about an even higher education, but I was only sixteen and did not have a clue about what I wanted to do. I liked to draw and could disappear for hours or even days perfecting a picture. I also liked the sciences, particularly any thing that had to do with geology or astronomy. My big little brother, big because he was eleven years my senior and little because he was shorter than I, recommended that I take Fine Arts because he had done the science thing after he had faced the same dilemma as I was facing then. So Fine Arts it was. To even be considered for this course, I had to take a volley of tests and deliver a portfolio of my artistic endeavors. There were 2,000 applicants and only 60 were going to be accepted. I was delighted to be one of the chosen few. As this was Fine Arts there were mandatory courses like English grammar and literature that had to be taken in league with Painting and Drawing. There was one elective allowed and I took natural science. My art teachers were like apples and oranges, worlds apart, and it would turn out that I could only get along with one of them. Mr. Gaugain did not like me, and I did not like him. It's amazing how that works out. Of course this was University and their goal was to turn me into someone who could earn a living after graduation in order to pay for this higher education. In the field of painting and drawing, this means crafting up a picture, or three, every night. I wanted to learn how to paint like Vincent Van Gogh and this was not what I was being prepped for. This was forcing me to churn out stuff that I was not happy with.

However, my other teacher did offer encouragement. He himself was a madman. He wanted his students to communicate with him about the works that they produced. He would give us a theme to work with and let us take it where we would. This was something that I could enjoy.
One day the theme was just to do something monochromatic. My colour of choice was purple. I created a picture of cubes showing only 3 sides to each cube with every side touching another side. To obtain the three dimensional effect that would actually make the objects look like boxes, each side was a different shade of purple. When you stared at these boxes you could envision that you were looking inside a box, or you could imagine that you were looking at the outside of the boxes. It was as if they were moving in and out.

I had always been fascinated by the depth of outer space. I was always fascinated by the depth of atomic structure. How all matter was composed of these atoms, and on the grand scale of things there were vast distances between the protons and those electrons that were orbiting around them. The universe is as vast within me as it is without me. Indeed it is everywhere. Moving in and out. Just like those boxes in my painting.

There were 2 little skunks that had to walk to school everyday. One was named 'In' and one was named 'Out'. They always went home for lunch. Going to school was different way back then. They were of different ages so they did not share the same classes and did not always walk home together. One day 'In' was very late getting home and Mom was worried. She told 'Out' to go find him because it was nearly time for dinner and she was concerned that he was not there yet. A short time later they both arrived back home. Mom said 'Out', how did you find him so quickly. It was easy said 'Out'. 'In' stinked!

I'll go back to the ins and outs of my unpacking now.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


The other morning as I am peering out my big picture window, sipping on my morning mug of coffee, I see a squirrel out of the corner of my eye. I have always liked squirrels. Must be the mouse in me, but they have always peaked my interest. I am also very fond of nuts of all kinds; cashews, brazils, peanuts, humans.

There is quite a bit of traffic rolling down my street during rush hour. It is normally a quiet avenue with a 25 mph speed limit, but it offers a 2 mile east-west stretch with only 1 stop sign linking 2 major north-south thoroughfares. Of course at these times, nobody pays any attention to the speed limit. They just barrel on up and down the road. Racing through their hectic days. Watching this, I feel so lucky to be able to not have to go anywhere in such a manner. At least not for the time being anyway. Once I get my house in order, a purposefully slow process because my head is still in a fog, I will look for employment.

The squirrel that I am watching starts to climb up a telephone pole. Yes, they still have telephone pole like structures here in the midwest. I am a bit puzzled as to why the squirrel would venture up this pole. Does it have a stash of nuts up there? Does it not realize that this is not a tree? There are several good sized trees in my yard. This critter steps onto the wire and heads out over the busy road to get to the other side where there is an abundance of trees. I was astounded by a level of intelligence that I was not expecting to perceive in a rodent. Then I was embarassed by my inability to see it's intent from the very onset.

As a child back in the great white north I lived in an upper level unit of a four plex. It backed onto a convent grounds where there were gardens and orchards and a plenty of squirrels. During the 4 months of the year when there was no snow on the ground I used spend a lot of time in the trees of the apple orchard munching on those delicious morsels of fruit. When not actually in the trees myself, I would often go out on the back porch with a handful of nuts and call to my squirrel friends. One would always come bounding out of a tree, over the fence, up the long wooden stairway that led to my back porch, then sit up on its' haunches and give my an inquiring look. I would give it a nut. Sometimes, I would hold the nut up above my shoulder, and the squirrel would climb me like a tree, perch on my shoulder, I'd let it have the nut and away it would go. It would never eat the treat on my back porch, but would take it all the way back over the fence to safe and hallowed ground. Did I mention that we had a dog. A black labrador retreiver whose sole mission in life was to render useless any small 4 legged critter that moved.

It came to my attention later in life, as a leader of a fire lookout tower in the San Bernardino National Forest, that squirrels frequently carry the fleas that carry the black death called the bubonic plague. The most active time of the year for these fleas is in the heat of summer. So I suppose that I have to consider myself lucky. I am still very fond of squirrels. Walt Disney has something to do with this side of me I am sure. Thank-you Walt.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


What's that famous line? Nothing is sure in life but death and taxes? Dealing with a parent's passing is one thing. You come to expect it will happen one day. Dealing with a child's passing is harder still. It doesn't even have to be your own child and it is a horrendous experience, so I can't imagine the depth of my brother's despair. Somewhere in the middle is the passing of your mate. Difficult to deal with but deal with it you do.

So now I move on. Even though I'm not actually going anywhere. He brought me to this beautiful place so I will stay and experience it to the fullest.

I bought a condo here. It's not like my old one in California. This is a brick four plex. The walls are actually plaster and the floors are all hard wood but covered in carpet; which I like because it's easier on my legs. The bathrooms are white tile all across the floor and halfway up the walls. There is a shower with a marble seat and has the same white tile but it extends all the way up the walls and across the ceiling. Marble mantles line all the window sills. It's got a basement where my laundry room is and access to my garage. It is just up the street from that temporary corporate apartment that we stayed in for 6 months. A nice area with a tremendously comfortable feeling. I can't believe my luck in being able to negotiate a purchase offer that got me into this place.

It is also so great to be surrounded by my own stuff. I know it's just stuff, but it's my stuff. Not someone else's. And it has a sentimental value far beyond anything that money could offer. And it's all, well mostly all, still in boxes, waiting for me to find the time to unpack it. The kitchen is pretty much set up and I can cook again; once I unpack the box that is full of cookbooks. The box labeled spices is empty and the spices are in the cupboard. It's amazing to think that I can now put something together using coriander, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and the wonderful turmeric. I guess I'd better dig out the cookbook box.

As I sit by my big picture window, drinking my morning coffee, watching a family of deer munch their way across my front lawn, I am at peace with the world.

Now I've got to get my butt in gear.

Well, maybe tomorrow.