Monday, December 31, 2012

The script is you and me

When I came into possession of this clock, it was wrapped in newspapers dated 1961. It is broken and does not run, and, I assume, this is why it was in a box wrapped in newspapers more than a half-century old. I have no idea how old it actually is, and it makes me wonder. I wonder how many times its tick-tock has sounded at the conclusion of an old year never to be known again, and how many times its chimes have announced the birth of a new year born with hope and anticipation of a better life .... I wonder. I wonder how many eyes have focused intently on this clock to watch it slip from one year to the next. I wonder how many shouts of "Happy New Year" it has heard. (Did you notice? We have moved from us watching it to it observing us, as if this clock were as alive as we. (Is it, in its own way?) I wonder how many lips it has witnessed kiss as a pledge of sorts to live better and faithfully and bravely into the unknown future of the coming year. I have located a horologist who will repair this rather dismal (in appearance) "creature" and make it run again. He will bring it back to life again, sort of .... I think. In a sense, those who watch time remain part of life as long as time exists; those who measure time come and go, arrive and leave, with the passing years. As for the music about time posted here today, take your pick which melody, which set of words, if either, is a reflection of you. As for today and tomorrow, make them whatever you wish them to be: The coming "happy new year" is your year to be what you make it. See you there ....

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pathways of a wandering mind

Just in case the land sinks into the seas followed by the oceans drawn up into the heavens tomorrow (the Mayan calendar, you might recall), I decided the last photograph on my page before this catastrophic event would be one of what I love best (well, sort of best) -- woodlands and water -- during the season I prefer. This photo was taken last July several minutes after sunset. Just to taunt and to tease, it was not taken in Minnesota, I might add. In fact, it was not even taken in the United States. Hmmmm .... still another mystery for you to contemplate. Although the technical quality of the photo is, of course, dismal, the view conveys my image of the Earth as it would be if the Garden of Eden actually did exist today. And, if you think it is easy, try your own hand at taking a photo in a boat moving at high speed in open water well after dusk.

Our days -- yesterday, today & tomorrow

Your new day is about to begin; my old day is about to end.

Are we any different or any better off or any worse off than we were a few hours ago? Well, I do not think that I am, anyway.

A bill came from my attorney, so I am a few dollars poorer, but not really any different.

I have been thinking about you, wondering about you. And, as you certainly must know, I also have been thinking about myself and wondering about myself.

I think that I have lived a while and have learned much and seen much and experienced much, but tomorrow a piece might fall off from an aircraft, crash through my roof and smash me like a bug. Is it an unexpected end we wait for rather than to hold hands today?

When I walk across my yard, I wonder how many bugs and ants or other forms of life I might have stepped upon and killed. Silly? Idiotic? Ridiculous? Some people believe life is not random. Some people believe this Judeo-Christian doctrine: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." (Genesis 1:26, King James version.)

Uffff .... Just stand clear from me with any plans of "dominion."

Life is random, death is random; life is, I believe, futile, except for our emotions and our feelings and our defiance toward it. There have been times I have stood in the midst of a storm -- those made by Nature and those made by man -- and screamed in defiance into it. Yes, I really have. (He said with a smile and a sense that the world was mad.) I have never felt better about living than I did in those moments when the end could have been, but was not.

I am rambling. I am not sure if this is a note to you or simply my fingers moving across a keyboard. As I have written before, every bit of knowledge I possess resides in my fingers -- not in my mind, my head, my brain. Every part of my body knows more about me and about the world around me than do my mind, my head, my brain. My mind, my head, my brain form a road which leads nowhere.

The name of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wandered through my reality a few days ago. My favorite quote from the master is this: "A man can stand anything except a succession of ordinary days."

My interpretation of those words is this: Beware the Wolf in Winter.

You said something?

I wonder who I am
I wonder where I am
I wonder who I have been
I wonder where I am going
I wonder who I will be
I wonder why I am
I wonder why I wonder
To wonder
Becomes boring after a while.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Singing our way to oblivion

While contemplating how I could best spend my final hours before the end of the world arrives on December 21, I noticed that the Minnesota Opera production of, "Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts," airs that evening on public television (PBS). What better way to witness the end of everything than by watching a musical version of an event that occurred during "the war to end all wars" -- World War I? The photograph is from an actual performance, which, I must confess, I have not seen live on stage. For those not familiar with "Silent Night," the opera was commissioned and premiered in Saint Paul a year ago (yes, really .... backwoods Minnesota), and is based on the script from the 2005 film, "Joyeux Noel." I absolutely adore this story and enjoy this film which tells it, and have mentioned them a time or two in posts. To put the story in context, British, Canadian, French and German soldiers emerged from their trenches impromptu for a few hours on Christmas Eve in 1914 to join together singing Christmas carols. Even war has its miraculous moments. To offer a guide to the quality of this production, the music from "Silent Night," composed by Kevin Puts, won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for music. So, look at your public broadcasting television schedules and, perhaps, we can be deep within our bunkers singing along with the music from the same opera on the evening the world comes to an end.

Do not say I did not warn you

I do not know about you, but I am scared straight, putting my affairs in order and on my knees praying to Quetzalcoatl every few hours.

Never mind that Quetzalcoatl was a god of the Aztecs and not of the Mayans, but since they were sort of neighbors and since I am not on a first name basis with any Mayan gods, I will hang tight with the Aztecs (or Mexicas, if you prefer). After all, divinity, real or imagined, is divinity. Not to mention that Quetzalcoatl is among my favorite gods (I love that name) and there is one theory that, in actuality, he was a Viking who tired of the cold and snow of Iceland and Newfoundland and Vineland and headed south for the winter. My kind of Viking, no doubt.

Please, do not laugh. I am serious.

And, yes, I know I am drifting and rambling and not getting to the point. What can I say? I was born a drifter, both literally and verbally.

Back on topic: I assume you do realize that the Mayan calendar ends with the arrival of December 21, 2012. I also am reasonably certain you are aware that, according to some, this amounts to a Mayan prophecy the end of you, me and the Earth will occur on December 21, 2012. Finally, I assume you are intelligent enough to know that December 21, 2012, is only six days away.

Although I am not buying it one hundred percent, I am taking no chances. Although any Mayan I have met has no clue when the end of life as we know it will arrive, I will err on the side of caution. Although my best guess is that this confusion arose simply because the Spanish conquistadors arrived and put an end to Mayan life and times and civilization before they had a chance to publish their next calendar, I will choose the conservative path.

Neither am I the least bit worried that I would not do just fine if I had to pick up, pack my bags and start all over again in Heaven or in Valhalla or in Tralfamadore or anywhere else on December 21. But, no matter, I still do plan to stay on the good side of Quetzalcoatl and to fill my underground bunker with fresh supplies to ensure survival if this is the real thing -- the real thing, but not a full-fledged cataclysmic thing. You do understand where I am coming from, do you not? Half the money in gold buried in the back yard; half the money in the bank -- in a manner of speaking. Mr. Nonchalant over here; Mr. Bunker Mentality over there.

So, I am not suggesting you build a bunker or try to get on the good side of Quetzalcoatl. I just thought I would mention that December 21 is only a few days away and there is no escaping that fact. Do what you must -- and, do not say I did not warn you ....

Monday, December 10, 2012

I think I am out of control

What do you think? About the barn, I mean. Not about me. This is my barn. It is red, but the color does not show up well because the world around it is white and gray and black. The intent of the photograph was neither technical excellence (you know me; it never is) nor to say, "Guess what? I have my own barn." It was to show my view from the window today. Eight inches of snow have fallen, and more is coming. My mood has been strange today. Usually, I whine and cry and complain about snow, but not tonight, although I have shoveled twice and probably will again in the morning. My mood is now influenced, I think, by what I have mentioned here recently: I now see a light at the end of the tunnel and have come to a realization what it means to me and for me. I have learned nothing new; I simply have remembered what I have learned before and had forgotten. Life not only is learning; it is remembering and re-learning lessons lost along the way. Now, for the music. Here is another concert from Rainbow, this event eight years later than the one I posted earlier. Joe Lynn Turner had become the Rainbow vocalist by this time. He is not my favorite singer among those who fronted for Rainbow, but he had a great voice and a couple of his songs were simply fantastic. Remember, you do not have to listen if this sort of music is too much for you, but I have been on a Rainbow and a Deep Purple kick lately. (Deep Purple + Rainbow = many great voices & many unbelievable musicians. Often, in a sense, one band with two names. The absolute best of the best.) Misspent youth, you know what I mean. Maybe, it is time to misspend a few more years. Why not? I think my life has changed in a couple of ways during the past week or two, and it might be time to rock and roll again. As the cliche goes, you only live once (or twice or three times or ....).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Germany .... 38 years ago this very day

Where & when & with whom

Some of the lyrics
from "Free Bird"
composed by Ronnie Van Zant & Allen Collins
performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now,
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see.
But, if I stayed here with you, girl,
Things just couldn't be the same.
'Cause I'm as free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change.
Oh... oh... oh... oh... oh...
And the bird you cannot change.
And this bird you cannot change.
Lord knows I can't change.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My December memory

Some people got to ....

Some of the lyrics
from "I’ve been this Way Before"
composed by Neil Diamond
performed by Sarah Brightman

Some people got to laugh
Some people got to cry
Some people got to make it through
By never wondering why

Some people got to sing
Some people got to sigh
Some people never see the light
Until the day they die

But I've been released
And I've been regained
And I've been this way before
And I'm sure to be this way again

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Deaths, dollars, destruction & disillusion

I have a thousand words to say, but, undoubtedly, will not get to all of them. In the photograph are a few Kennedy half-dollars, symbolic of some of the words in this post. These are not actual silver halves, but, never-the-less, even copper-nickel clad coins are not among those one will find in circulation these days. All Kennedy halves are hoarded. As for the music, the first song is Bon Jovi singing a piece composed by Dion DiMucci reflecting the death by murder of John Kennedy and a few others. Again, this is related to some of the words in the post. The second piece is an entire 1974 performance in California by Deep Purple. If you never have heard music like this live, I feel sorry for you. The last ten or twelve minutes, while Ritchie Blackmore destroys two or three guitars and wreaks havoc on the stage, are the best of it, I think -- in a way. Have you ever noticed the best of many things comes at the end .... hmmm ....

Just one more thing I forgot

A few weeks ago, I wrote these words in a post:

"This probably is the first year since I began my blog in which I did not mention the Marine Corps birthday (November 10) or Veterans Day (November 11). It is not because they were not on my mind; it was because my mind was not on them."

All month long, I have been feeling like there was something other than those two dates which had special meaning for me during the month of November, but I could not recall what it might be. Then, abruptly, it dawned on me. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered on November 22, 1963.

Apparently, I was not the only one to forget the date of this event this year. Did you hear a single word about it on a radio or a television station, or read a single word about it in a newspaper or a magazine or on an internet website? I absolutely did not.

I feel like expressing myself in the language of a once-upon-a-time Marine, but instead I will say it in a polite manner: I absolutely cannot believe this anniversary was forgotten, ignored and abandoned by both public and private America.

Sure, the anniversary date of the murder was the same day as Thanksgiving this year, but to use that as an excuse for neglecting JFK is, in fact, inexcusable.

I watch and read a fair amount of news daily. All week, there was propaganda for and against the arrogant, narcissistic, socialistic president of the U.S. and his lying, corrupt administration. There has been news about the events in Israel and Gaza. There has been political back and forth about the destruction and deaths at the U.S. consulate at Benghazi in Libya. There has been all manner of chatter about the impending "fiscal cliff." And, ever-present was the inane, childish fascination with Black Friday, which has now spilled over onto Thanksgiving Day itself. News, news, news -- but, not a word about the life and times and death of JFK.

Well, I am not a conspiracy buff regarding the assassination of JFK, but I do think there is more to it than the public knows today or, probably, will know tomorrow or even ever. Those words aside, I do not believe -- for a variety of reasons -- that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone shooter, although he might have been among them.

My own thoughts revolve around personal knowledge of people who were alive and present during that era: People who knew Oswald, people who were among the Cuban exiles betrayed by the Kennedy Administration at the Bay of Pigs, people such as an ex-Marine named Gerry Patrick Hemming (AKA Jerry Patrick) and his InterPen group (Intercontinental Penetration Force) and the later Alpha 66 organization.

In any event, I am just a bit ashamed and embarrassed that I literally forget the anniversary of JFK's death this year. It is no consolation to know that apparently most of the rest of the world forgot it, too. I will not forget again.

But, I sometimes do wonder why we remember anyone or anything beyond those we personally hold dear  ....  why?

Do you see what I see? I doubt it

Do you see what I see?

I was looking at three photographs yesterday of the same woman taken within a few minutes of each other, and it was difficult to be certain the photos were of the same woman. Her eyes, her mouth, her expression; there were three different people there.

I happen to know the woman reasonably well. She is more than one person in terms of her personality. Perhaps, that explains the three varied (I will not say three different) faces.

I recall a book and a film entitled, "The Three Faces of Eve." Since that time, individuals with more than one personality -- more than one subconscious individuality -- have been accepted as medical and legal realities. In a personal sense, I do not think I have multiple personalities, but I believe -- as portrayed in the theater masks of the Old Greeks -- that I have two distinct sides to my single personality which dominate my behavior at times: A left side and a right side, a yin and a yang, a Jekyll and a Hyde.

There is nothing new about this -- about what I am writing, I mean -- as there actually is nothing new under the sun, as Solomon or his son or his grandson or whoever wrote Ecclesiastes knew and whoever studies history realizes. But, it is a reminder, a demonstration, that there are more interesting aspects to life than Black Friday and Digital Monday or Cyber Monday or Whatever Monday. Pardon me, while I conjure up a futile wish that humanity will someday reach adulthood.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Could the answer be this simple?

How do I know when ....

Some of the lyrics
from "When Its Love" by Van Halen
(Edward Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony
& Sammy Hagar, on vocals)


Everybody's lookin' for somethin'
Somethin' to fill in the holes
We think a lot but don't talk much about it
'Till things get out of control, oh!

How do I know when it's love?
I can't tell you but it lasts forever, oh!
How does it feel when it's love?
It's just somethin' you feel together
When it's love

You look at every face in a crowd
Some shine and some keep you guessin'
Waiting for someone to come into focus
Teach you your final love lesson

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The end of nothing

Due to lack of creativity and just plain being lazy, today's illustration is a photograph of my current workstation looking to the north (as if that were important). Remember, this is just another one of my temporary residences, so I cannot get too comfortable -- a few computers, a few books, a few guns. So, what is missing? Tell me.

The book of our lives

 It occurred to me that most people are recorders of their lives. Some are active recorders, writing diaries or journals or, maybe, simply keeping track of personal events on a calendar. Others do not write, but simply relive their lives through memories and by keeping a firm hold on people, places or things from their pasts.

But, a few people, and I like to think I am among them, are more than recorders of their lives. They are writers of their lives. Each day, they are thinking about and planning their tomorrows. They are writing their futures. The unexpected entry of a special someone or a natural disaster or a bit of bad luck in the form of a potentially fatal illness might alter the plot those writers are creating but, barring the unforeseen, they are formulating a plan for a segment (or, maybe, more) of their lives and then proceeding to live it.

While I have been a writer of my life most of my life, I have been neither a recorder nor a writer the past few years. In essence, I have been a branch adrift on a river, a leaf blowing on a breeze, a pen without paper. Complications enter our lives to alter our hopes and plans and goals, but, I think, it is important to find a way through the  morass of complications we encounter -- most of which are our own creations through bad decisions.

I have written here before that events during recent months have evolved, and that now I actually can see a light for me at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I guess these words are a reiteration of that thought. Barring the unforeseen, the end of my current tunnel -- which is to say my current life and existence -- is only as far away as next spring. And, I am beginning to write three or four possible scenarios as to the direction the book of my life will follow after that point in (flowing, moving, drifting) time.

Some possibilities: Back to Europe for a fourth and, maybe, a final time. (Europe fascinates me, the same way America fascinates some Europeans, and I might decide to stay there.) A boat, a big boat, to cruise upon the river Alph "down to a sunless sea," until an island is found. (In the tradition of Robert Louis Stevenson).  A cabin, by a clear, blue lake deep in the mountains to forget time exists. (After the model of some Nineteenth Century American mountain men I could name.)

 A few other thoughts wander through my mind, but these seem to be leading the pack.

These thoughts aside, the main point is that I want to become a writer of my life again -- not merely a recorder and, most certainly, not a man who waits for .... for what? The end of nothing?

Missing, but not forgotten

This probably is the first year since I began my blog in which I did not mention the Marine Corps birthday (November 10) or Veterans Day (November 11).  It is not because they were not on my mind; it was because my mind was not on them.

 Do you understand the distinction?

 I mean that this year -- for some reason beyond my understanding -- these two side-by-side days did not seem as important to me as they usually do, so I more-or-less just watched as they passed me by. One does not forget those "incarnations" of his life which are imperative to his very being, but one does not always choose to speak about them in public and, sometimes, decides to hide from remembering them just a bit.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Time is standing still .... when do we leave?

"Time is standing still" and "when do we leave" not only are comments which conceivably might be made by this casual crew of seagulls gathering here, but are among the lyrics in the second song posted today. That song is "Stargazer." The music is fantastic; the performance is pure fun; the video is a tiny masterpiece. Talent is where you find it. The first song posted is "Street of Dreams." Both songs are by the band Rainbow, although the vocalist in the first is Joe Lynn Turner and the singer in the second is Ronnie James Dio. It seemed like "Street of Dreams" sort of went with what I wrote, and "Stargazer" sort of went with what I thought while I was writing what I wrote. Or thought. Or whatever.

What if tomorrow were yesterday?

Strictly speaking, there is a present. 

You know, in the sense of past, present and future.

But, by the time you finish reading these words, the present will be part of the past and gone forever.

So, is the present more or less than the blink of an eye?

I am not certain what I am trying to say beyond wondering if there actually is a present. Everything is moving too quickly for the present to exist except in an instant immeasurably impossible to realize .

I know someone who says she lives for today. I can understand that and realize that on the one hand, but, on the other hand, today only exists on a man-made clock of planetary measurements. In terms of conscious life, there is only past and future.

At the moment, I am trying to decide which one I belong to or, maybe, which one belongs to me, because the present is a dream.

If these questions are easy for you to answer, I do not wonder about you, but I do worry about you.

Then, too, I am not so sure that the past is gone forever or that the future has not already been. Remember, I belong to the "time is like a flowing river" school of thought.

A passage in the "Hovamol"
from the "Poetic Edda"
recorded for posterity by Snorri Sturluson

A little sand  has a little sea,
And small are the minds of men;
Though all men are not equal in wisdom,
Yet half-wise only are all.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A few words can mean a lot

Johnny Cash once sang a song in which the lyrics went like this:
"How high's the water, mama? Two feet high and risin';

"How high's the water, papa? Two feet high and risin'."
I might imagine these Canada Geese working their way south for the winter have been asking the same question about the Minnesota River, except it appears to be "rising in reverse," so to speak. Since the river bank normally reaches to the larger rocks and the tree line, it is evident that the level of the river was considerably higher last spring than it was when October began and this photograph was taken. Nature rules, so, "Where is the water, mama?"

The art of conducting a conversation

Speaking as a man who, until the past few years, has seldom lived alone during his life, I am not sure why anyone would choose to do so.

When I was a boy, there always were parents and grandparents present. As a young man in college, I usually lived with three or four other young men, and even with a young wife for a while. Wives and children -- along with a couple of "almost wives" -- sort of covers my adult years until 2007. Then came another divorce and, with the exception of a few months in Poland during 2010, no company for me.

Now, since I am alone, I basically talk to myself. Sometimes, there is a two-way conversation. For a while in the latter months of 2010, I found myself using profanity -- usually several words -- in virtually every sentence I spoke when I was by myself. I spoke out loud at times; to myself at other times, but profanity was always there.

As time went on, I began to speak out loud more often while talking with myself, generally employing my version of a "foreign" or American regional accent. A southern inflection or a western drawl are my favorites. Or, I might try a German or a Norwegian brogue, sounding like many "old-timers" around here do as a result of having spoken those languages in their homes as children. For the sake of political correctness, I will stop there.

More recently, I have gone to carrying on the two-way conversations rather than simply speaking out loud. Many, if not most, are in the form of a straight man and a funny man chattering back and forth. Or, I pose a situation which requires resolution and ask myself to find one.

So, the question is, when will these habits stop or, if they do not stop, what will come next? Talking out loud to myself; including much profanity while I speak to myself; carrying on two-way conversations with myself .... what could possibly come next?

Or, the other possibility, of course, is that perhaps I will find another companion -- someone to talk with, to carry on long, wonderful conversations with .... someone to keep me in line.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

No words from me, only the end of something

"Crossing the Bar"
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home!

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourn of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

No words from me, only a passing memory

"Torna ai felici di"

(Return to the Happy Days)
Roberto's aria from "Le Villi"
an opera by Giacomo Puccini


Here is her house.
O God, what a horrible night!
Weird voices pursue me.The Willis: away with them!
They are imaginings!
No, the fatal vendetta of the Wilis
Does not pursue me!
Viper of Hell!
Thou alone, remorse, dost plague me!
Viper of the poison of Hell!
My anguished thought
Returns to those happy days
When May was gay with flowers
And love blossomed for me!
Then everything was blackened
By lugubrious mysteries,
And now in my heart there is
Naught but sadness and terror!
Perhaps she still lives! I shall knock!
What a shudder ran through me!
I could not lift
My hand to her door!


Come, damned soul, make haste!


I seem to hear
A funeral dirge!
O great God! This is the end
Of my journey, of my destiny.
Let forgiveness bring me
A single moment of happiness,
Then I shall die!
I cannot pray!
Ah, cursed be the day
When I left this village!
And cursed be your beauty,
O vile courtesan!

[Editor's Note: I do not much care for tragedy, which the opera, "Le Villi," most certainly is; I always want endings to be happy. But, I greatly appreciate the artistry of Giacomo Puccini and the talent of Placido Domingo -- and, the legend of "the Willis" (the Fairies) fascinates me -- so, here they all are together. By the way, neither do I care much for comedy. No tragedy, no comedy? What else is there? Romance, of course.]

Thursday, September 13, 2012

No words from me, only a passing vision


"Save All Your Love"
by Jack Russell & Stephan John Williams

I wake in the night
to find you on my mind
Deep in a dream, you'll always be
until the end of time

I look in your eyes
They touch my soul
My love is hard to hide
I'm never alone when we're apart

I feel you by my side
And here in my heart,
where no one else will ever be
I know who you are,
so lock the door and throw away the key

Save all your love
Save your love for me
When I'm alone at night, you're all I see
I wake from a dream and see you by my side

How could I belong to someone else
when holding you feels so right?
And here in my heart
where no one else will ever be
We've made it so far,
so lock the door and throw away the key

Save all your love
Save all your love for me
When I'm alone at night, you're all I see

Save all your love
Save your love for me
Don't turn your back on me
You're all I need

(guitar solo)

I know who you are we've come so far
so baby stay with me ... yeah

Save all your love
Save your love for me
When I'm alone at night, you're all I see

Save all your love
Save your love for me
Don't turn your back on me
You're all I need

Save your love
Save your love
Save all your love
Save, save all your love

Save your love
Baby save all your love
Save all your love

Thursday, September 6, 2012

No words from me, only a passing rainbow

"Catch the Rainbow"
by Ronnie James Dio & Ritchie Blackmore

She'll run to me
Like whispered dreams
Your eyes can't see
Soft and warm
She'll touch my face
A bed of straw
Against the lace

We believed we'd catch the rainbow
Ride the wind to the sun
Sail away on ships of wonder
But life's not a wheel
With chains made of steel
So bless me come the dawn
Come the dawn

Monday, August 13, 2012

View while walking down the aisle

When one walks through the doors and enters a gun shop which he has not visited for a couple of decades (living here and there and elsewhere and everywhere during the interim), one is not exactly sure what he will find there. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I found on such an occasion last week. Those who know me here on this blog are aware that I am in love with firearms the way some men are in love with automobiles or fishing gear, and that I not only enjoy owning them and firing them, but I like to work on them and to modify them and to repair them. I went to this particular gun shop looking for parts for an antique shotgun I recently purchased. You can only imagine what a feast for my eyes this sight offered to me. Yes, this is one aisle I walked down with a great deal of pleasure and no trepidation.

Friday, August 3, 2012

View through a looking glass

Do Wind and Wave ever meet, ever merge, or do they always rush on past each other with no direction of their own, driven only by the forces of Nature to control and to guide them? It appears Claude Debussy had a musical answer to the question. Hmmmm. Moving right along, what do we have here? Another mystery photograph, it would seem, taken only a few days ago of an unknown woman on an unknown beach by an unknown sea. Is she waving? Or, is she beckoning? To borrow a few lines from the lyrics of the song, "Beyond the Sea:"

Somewhere beyond the sea,
Somewhere, waiting for me,
My lover stands on golden sands ....

It's far beyond a star,
It's near beyond the moon,
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon.

We'll meet beyond the shore,
We'll kiss just as before.
Happy we'll be beyond the sea ....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

View from a windshield at 84 mph

This ain't the German autobahn or a Montana country road, and I have heard they drive faster there. But, I am not so sure they pull a boat three or four or five times larger than the vehicle that is pulling it when they race down the road. I was slipping and sliding around eight-five miles-per-hour (mph) along the highway a few days ago when I passed this boat and the pick-up truck pulling it. Its speed would have been between seventy-five and eighty. I do not think I would care to pull a boat like that -- its name was Cindy Lou, incidentally -- at a speed like that. But, I am beginning to miss my Mustangs and my Audi and to think I need a faster car than my typically suburbanite Mercury Sable. By the way, for New Yorkers and Los Angeles-types, this is an interstate highway in Minnesota, maybe thirty miles from the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area. Do you get it? Next, the songs below feature Jon Lord, who played with a couple of bands, but is mostly known for his years with Deep Purple. Lord died last week at the age of seventy-one. If you missed out on Deep Purple and Lord because of your youthful age or your anti-rock snobbery, I feel sorry for you. But, then again, I can relate to that because I can barely handle country western, refuse to listen to rap or hip hop, and think most bands popular during the last decade should be banned from performing in public. To each, his or her own. Rock on! (But, without the cowboy hats, please.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Not a post, but sort of an ending

Open a box from your seldom-visited storage unit, and what do you find? Why, memories, of course. Four sets of swim fins, in this instance. Two pair of these U.S.Divers/Aqua Lung fins have tasted the waters of the Pacific Ocean, as well as a few bordering seas, lakes and rivers. Another pair has known Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, as well as a few less significant lakes and rivers. The fourth and final pair -- from where do these companions come; what waters have they explored? Well, not all questions are meant to be answered. A bit of mystery makes life more interesting, does it not? Oh, yes -- the music -- no mystery there. The song is part of a sunrise portrait painted for eternity within the depths of my memory of awaking on a July morning from the heat of the sun on my face as I slept on a stretch of near-white sand forming a seemingly endless Lake Superior beach. (I believe that might be the longest sentence I ever have written.) I was quickly on my feet, running up the beach. I wanted music to match my adrenalin of the moment. My Suburban of those days had six speakers within it, and the sounds of "Sunrise" and "July Morning" from Uriah Heep began rocking through the air. I sat there for a long time, on that sandy beach, staring out over The Lake to end all lakes and the woodlands bordering it. Time did not exist there. It could have been a million years ago. I could have been the only man living upon the earth. And, yes. One pair of those fins is part of that memory. About midnight the night before, I had used them to swim out and out and further out into The Lake beneath the radiance of a full moon. I should write more about that lonely swim sometime .... hmmm. There were two full moons in July that year, and I swam in The Lake beneath both of them. It was my last summer of living by The Lake -- possibly, my last summer of actually living. Rock on ....


Performed by Uriah Heep / Bernie Shaw, vocalist
Composed by Jarvis Cocker, Stephen Mackey, Nick Banks, Candida Doyle, Mark Webber & Peter Mansell

Sunrise, and the new day's breaking through.
The morning of another day without you.
And as the hours roll by
no one's there to see me cry
except the sunrise,
the sunrise and you.

Tired eyes drift across the shore.
Looking for love and nothing more.
But as the sea rolls by
no one's there to see me cry
except the sunrise,
the sunrise and you.

Sunrise, bless my eyes.
Catch my soul,
make me whole again.

Sunrise, new day heed my song.
I'm tired of fighting and fooling around.
But from now until who knows when?
My sword will be my friend.
And I'll love you for all of my time.

Sunrise, bless my eyes.
Catch my soul,
make me whole again.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Not a post, but sort of a self-portrait

I lack many things. Imagination is not among them. I had a physical examination a few days ago which included blood work. With the words, "why not?" running through my mind, I took my Blackberry from my shirt pocket. I then said to the technician that I was about to do something I would wager she had never before experienced.  She gave me a half-worried, half quizzical look, so I actually told her what I was about to do. With my right hand, I then took this photograph while blood was being drawn from my left arm. Not a photographic masterpiece, but, given the circumstances, not bad and sort of fascinating -- I think. Incidentally, I did not realize I was holding the technician's blouse until I saw the photograph.  Instinctual, I guess. She did verge on being beautiful and had a wonderful smile.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not a post, but sort of a remembrance

Four Colts, none of which require feeding or exercise, but each of which enjoy them immensely. My Colt New Frontier single-action revolver, shown at the top of the photograph, is nearly identical to the Colt Model 1873 sidearm issued to Seventh Cavalry troopers at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, which took place one hundred, thirty-six years ago today. The two pistols in the middle are variations of the Colt Model 1911, while the "little guy" at the bottom is a Colt Model 380 Mustang. Colt handguns have been intregal to the U.S. military since the company's origin in the 1830s.

Fascination or obsession

A few times here and elsewhere, I have written or said that if I had a time machine which would take me to three events in the past, one would be to the Little Bighorn River on the plains of southeastern Montana on June 25, 1876. Look at your calendar. Today is the day; only the year has changed.

This was the place and the time a few hundred troopers of the U.S. Seventh Cavalry, some Crow Indian scouts and a few civilians, including one newspaper reporter, under the command of Brevet General/Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer died at the hands of a few thousand Sioux and Cheyenne Indians. An unknown number of Sioux and Cheyenne died in the battle, as well, which came to be known as Custer's Last Stand.

Perhaps, a thousand or more books have been written about the life of Custer and the battle which took place that day. I have read many of them, have visited the battlefield and, at times, have almost(?) become obsessed with the final moments of so many men.

Not a single man among Custer's immediate command of five troops (companies) saw sunset that day. Included with Custer among the dead were two of his brothers, one of whom had won two Congressional Medals of Honor during the Civil War, a nephew and his brother-in-law. In all, nearly three hundred were killed.

I am not going to write about the event here other than to say Custer and his troopers have been both glorified beyond reason and vilified beyond logic during the one hundred, thirty-six years that have passed since then. My own opinion, from having studied the battle in a "somewhat" obsessive manner, is that there were some acts of bravery and some instances of panic and cowardice, but, by-in-large, the command followed textbook tactics of the era that day and died while facing their opponents. There are not many instances in history where a few hundred came out the winners when facing a few thousand.

The only significant, fatal error that day was Custer's usual disregard for common sense and charging head-long into a life-and-death struggle without knowing that, in effect, he was riding off the edge of a cliff into oblivion due to the sheer weight of his opponent's numbers.

I would like to know why my fascination with the Little Bighorn battle exists to the degree that it does, but that probably will always be as much of a mystery as are many of the unit and individual actions which took place within the battle itself. To see the battle, to know it, to understand it, to unravel the mysteries of each and every moment of it -- these form the reason it would be one on my list of three to reach back in time and to witness.

(Remember me? My name is not only Fram Actual, but Fram the Fortunate .... and, a few others, not the least of which is Fram the Curious. I wish to know what it was to hear the voices and to see the faces of the past; to smell the air of yesterday; to know how the sky looked when only birds possessed it; to feel the weight of an iron broadsword in my hand; to watch a midsummer night's dance .... well, to experience it all, I guess, but some things, like June 25 at the Little Bighorn, more than others.)

The Plains Indian Wars and the entire era of American Western history from about 1850 to the close of the Nineteenth Century have a firm grip on me, and a few other battles -- such as the Fetterman Fight in Wyoming and the Beecher Island Battle in Colorado -- lure me in almost as deeply. I have camped and slept overnight alone on those two battlefields, and would love to do so at the Little Bighorn if the federal government did not prohibit it. These nights have been mystical experiences.

Well, now I have marked the anniversary still one more year, as I am certain I will do for as long as I live. This time, you have been here to take note of it along with me. Thank you .... see you next year.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not a post, but sort of an invitation

"The Suicide of Lucretia," by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1666 ....

 Something to think about

The last time I stood before a Rembrandt, I was at the Royal Palace in Warsaw, Poland. A friend and I stood alone in a room with two paintings by the Dutch master. Even with the single strand of braided rope barrier, the paintings were almost near enough for me to reach and to touch. I was both amazed and thankful the Polish people allowed us to be so near to those unshielded, unprotected, priceless pieces of art.

The photograph shows a work by Rembrandt that resides in a permanent collection hardly twenty minutes from where I live, yet, I have not seen it -- so far -- but soon. It is called, "The Suicide of Lucretia," and was completed in 1666. Its home is in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. If you do not know the story of Lucretia, I will leave you to your own devices to learn it. But, I will mention that writers no less than Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare have provided their versions of the tale.

Now then, the primary purpose of these words is this: "Rembrandt in America" will open Sunday (June 24) and will continue until Sept. 16 at the Minneapolis Institute. The exhibit features more than thirty (yes, 30) of the artist's paintings, as well as another twenty or so (yes, 20) pieces once thought to be the work of Rembrandt. This ensemble will become the temporary companion of "Lucretia." This showing is billed as the largest collection of Rembrandt paintings ever assembled in the United States.

So, this is not a post. Think of it as a personal invitation. In the meanwhile, can you come up with a better way to spend a few hours on a summer's day than by meeting Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn face-to-face? If you are able, tell me. If you are not, maybe, we will find ourselves standing side-by-side, together, with one of the genuine masters in the realm of painting.

Something special ....