Sunday, January 26, 2014

Something I really want to say ....1

No, I still am gone (in more ways than one). But, I cannot resist putting up a couple of photographs of the first work being done on the Saint Paul house since the end of November. What do Minnesota boys do when cabin fever gets to them on a Saturday with the thermometer at four degrees Fahrenheit (minus sixteen Celsius) and the wind huffing and puffing around twenty miles per hour? Why, they go outdoors, go to work and make some money, of course. (Actually, it was a break from the really mean weather experienced around here during recent weeks and what the weatherman predicts is in store during the days ahead.) New, black shutters, hopefully, will go on before too much longer to add a bit of contrast, but, unfortunately, painting tasks around the house and the "barn" and patio renovation will have to wait until spring. The patio resembles an igloo -- full of ice and snow -- literally. I am proud of this crew for telling winter to go to hell. That is my attitude at the moment, too.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sort of time out

If I were to put a title on the photograph, I would call it, "Accoutrements of a Temporary City Boy." The items within it are pretty much self-explanatory, I assume. As for the videos today, the first is from the film, "Don't Come Knocking." It is among my favorites. I love the story and the symbolism behind the song, "Where is Howard?" (I usually watch it in English unless I have had too much brandy !!) Next, at this moment in time, I would declare Michelangelo Merisi -- known as Caravaggio -- to be my favorite painter and Sarah Brightman my favorite female singer in what I would call a classical and semi-classical tradition. Not to mention, I think "Figlio Perduto" is perfection in music and concept. Finally, I have been to the garden of Claude Monet at Giverny in France. That was in 2005, and I was tempted to lie down there and to go to sleep and never to wake up. He is among my favorite painters (third or fourth) -- and, obviously, viewed the world differently than did Caravaggio. (I wonder if the reason I favor them both indicates I have a split personality ??) And, as I mentioned in my last post, the "old Boston" is paramount among rock bands in my mind and Brad Delp was the premier rock singer of his era. I have wanted to include this rendition of Monet/Boston in a post since 2009, but it has been barred from embedding in the past. Is it poetic justice or poetic retribution that I find it available now, five years after I wanted it ?? Whichever, thank you, Donald Solt, for releasing your video. This piece should be shared as widely as possible, in my not so humble opinion.
He disappeared himself

Today is the anniversary of my first post on "Sort of San Francisco Fan Club." It appeared five years ago, on January 21, 2009. Implied somewhat by saying "sort of," the title of the blog was a pun, a metaphor, an inside joke.

Actually, this was not my first blog, so the first post here was not my first ever. I had started a blog about a week or ten days earlier which centered on canoeing and similar activities. It continued on for a few posts after "San Francisco" was under way, but that initial blog was over and done with and the posts deleted by the time January ended. I had decided one blog was enough.

For the record, I also have started two other blogs, one of which still exists -- unattended since late 2009 and was by invitation only -- and the other, in which all the posts were deleted after it had been around for two or three months during 2010.
So, what else originating during January has been of consequence to me?

Happy birthday, Mother, January 13 .... who lived a long, good, fortunate life.

Happy birthday, Rory, January 17 .... who never really had the chance to know life.
And, another anniversary for me, January 24 .... Semper Fi, do or die, U.S. Marine Corps.

Anyway .... anyone who has read here recently knows I am bored with winter and bored with myself. It also should be evident that I am more than bored with the drift of American society toward ever increasing decadence. I am more than bored with government leaders whose actions constantly demonstrate they have no respect for law or constitutional rule, and whose approach to governing is an incessant, pathetic barrage of self-serving lies as they struggle to fool and to corrupt the "huddled masses." History today is being written by the winds of political whimsy.

Now then, January 21, 2014 -- the fifth anniversary of the "San Francisco" -- seems like an ideal date to begin a hiatus from it. I will be back when the boredom has run its course or when I feel like I have something I really want to say or when the Red River of the North flows south -- whichever happens first .... see you then.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Now is another winter of my discontent

Scattered thoughts from a scattered mind
I am having a "strange winter." I am uncertain how else to describe it.
The last strange winter I had was a decade ago. I still was living at my "Sanctuary/Refuge." I was living alone. This winter, cold temperatures have been a problem; that winter, snow and more snow and still more snow was the problem.
I do like fast cars. I do like Suburban-type vehicles. But, in a general sense, I despise gasoline engines and would never buy a snow blower as long as I have arms and legs, and to buy a "blade" for my Suburban seemed pretty much of a waste of money to me. Label me stubborn, label me a penny-pincher, label me just plain dumb because my driveway was one-half mile long at my "Sanctuary/Refuge" and I had to clear it myself.
If there were a wind accompanying a heavy snowfall, it meant the road would be clear in places with drifts in other places. Although occasional drifts were four- or five-feet deep and might go on for ten or twelve yards at a time, such conditions were manageable for a man with a shovel to dig and a Suburban to ram his way through. But, if there were no wind so that the snow fell straight down, that was an entirely different story.
It was not unusual to have snow a foot deep over that one-half mile driveway once and a while, but that winter such snowfalls were coming nearly every week beginning at Thanksgiving. And then came a storm the final week of February that left me so much snow -- sort of knee-deep to waist-deep the entire length of the driveway -- that it took me twenty-four hours over two days to shovel myself out. There were more storms which came later, but that was the worst, and it took place after a four-month progression of snowstorms.
At the time, I recalled a passage from James Michener's masterpiece, "Centennial:"
"It was a bad winter and he (Alexander McKeag) was soon snowed under. Drifts covered him and once more he lived at the bottom of a cave. Since he had survived such entombments before, this one did not cause apprehension ...."
I have been reading this novel again, for the sixth time, I believe. I especially enjoy the segment about Pasquinel, the coureur de bois, and McKeag, who fled Scotland for the American wilderness, and have read it another three or four times independent of the rest of the book.
There are many elements to this book which offer introspection into the American psyche, such as this observation:  ".... he was afflicted by the permanent American illness. A deep depression attacked him, which he could identify but not explain, the awful malaise of loneliness."
Or, the ever-increasing reality there is a real war between those who are, in effect, determined to turn the U.S. into a vast parking lot and those who wish to keep it in its natural state as much as possible:
"That's probably the most important thing any of us can ever learn. How to take care of the land .... We need it to survive. But it doesn't need us. It's gotten along for millions of years without us .... Now the Indians, they knew how to take care of the land, how to maintain the balance. And the first white men who came here. But the men who came since, they haven't really cared about anything much except themselves, what they could take out of the land, how it could make them rich. And there's a kind of a war that's been going on for some time now. It's a war you'll be part of .... It's a war between the men to want to take care of the land, and the men who just want to take what they can out of it. The takers and the caretakers, I call it .... Only the land lives forever."
Or .... well, enough. This is not a book review. Possibly, I will write more about Michener another day because I think he might be the greatest American novelist of the Twentieth Century. He certainly was prolific, and he blended factual history with fiction with finesse. Hmmmm .... factual/fiction/finesse .... hmmmm ....
I would wish that if anyone were to read one novel this year, it would be Michener's "Centennial." But, if reading a 909-page book is not for you at the moment, there is a film adaptation which runs about twenty-six hours available on DVD. It follows the book very closely.
So, to "drift" back to winters of snow and winters of cold, the primary cause of my dislike for snow was created through often having had to commute twenty or thirty miles to work on snowy, icy roads, many times during storms and blizzards. If I do not have to commute, snow offers beauty and it is just fine. Weeks without end of sub-freezing temperatures -- much of the time with consecutive days of sub-zero temperatures -- create lengthy periods of near-hibernation and a cabin-fever mentality. That is what is getting to me this winter. Put simply, cold is more difficult to cope with .... anyway, it is for me. And, I might add, all four seasons are sweet when one lives as a coureur de bois, rather than as a refugee in the suburbs. (Can you read between the lines?)
Now, some good news: FramWinter has arrived at its MidWinter. The summit of FramWinter is reached today -- January 16 -- and, the descent into spring has begun.
By the way, notice once again there are no photographs, no art, no paintings here. When I do something once, I often want to do it twice or more. Since I had no illustration for my last post, I will have none for this one. No more resolutions, either .... at least, none for the moment .... later, maybe .... is there a deadline for making resolutions ??

Happy Full Moon ....

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

We are past, present & future

Where to begin?
The temperature is minus eight Fahrenheit (minus twenty-two Celsius) and the snow in the backyard is six inches deep. The sky is overcast; no stars to be seen.
I stood outside in this tonight as 2013 became history and 2014 was born. I was listening to music. I will not say which music. My last drink of the old year and my first drink of the new year was Benedictine. I still can taste it on my lips. Nectar of the gods.
A minute before midnight, a series of gunshots could be heard to the east. The distinct sound of a handgun. A minute after midnight, the voice of a man could be heard in the distance shouting, "Happy New Year." Twice. A minute later the sound, but not the sight, of skyrockets bursting began to the southwest.
Where to end?
Probably, by paraphrasing journalist Jimmy Breslin, who, when he was a young man, had a reputation of being a heavy drinker and was asked what his plans were for New Year's Eve. I cannot recall the exact quote, but his reply was to this effect: "I will be staying at home. We professionals leave one night a year for the amateurs."
Maybe, in 2014, I will start behaving like my own manner of professional again. Make of that what you will.
So, to continue resolutions for the New Year:
To exercise twice a day at least five days a week. It is time to get back into fighting shape. Winter might as well serve some useful purpose. (We shall see how long this one lasts.)
To cut down on my whining. Essentially, I am a lucky guy, and I should act like one.
But, by the same token, never to forget the past nor to allow it to slip away. We must be (should be) realists about our lives, about both the good and the bad which impact us. Things we did and what learned during 2013 and years past are part of what will shape us in 2014, whether we wish them to or not.

Notice, there are no photographs, no art, no paintings here. This post was not planned. While I was standing outside, I decided to write down what it was like for me tonight, and, later, further decided to post some of those feelings. And, beyond that, I believe the music speaks for itself.

I think there will be more resolutions in a few days .... to be continued, again .... Happy New Year ....

Something special ....