Friday, February 27, 2015

Happy birthday, Grandpa

I recall seeing my grandfather drive a car only once. It was during an emergency medical situation, otherwise he probably would not have done it. He did not like cars. Grandmother was the driver for the two of them. So, why a photograph of a snow-covered car today, February 27, my grandfather's birthday? Because the car and the snow are part of my life right now, just as my grandfather was, is and always will be part of my life, and my mind is drawn to him most strongly when winter winds howl in the month of February -- the month of his birth. Snow lends an element of beauty to most winter days, even to the day of this photograph, which was viciously cold. Snow might be beautiful; cold is not. (The winter camper's axiom that I learned while still a boy is this: Snow is your friend, cold is your enemy.) All right, enough of that .... the music fits my grandfather, especially "Ghost Riders in the Sky." Grandpa was a cowboy when he was a young man. He settled down when he married. He loved horses. He raised a few; he raced a few. In many ways, grandpa lived in the past. He was born a couple of generations too late in time, as some of us seem to be. My only memories of him are happy ones. Chocolate cake and ice cream this evening, if you are free and available to stop by .... anyway. A word about my former wife and her visits to the Mayo Clinic, since I mentioned them in earlier posts. I never have seen a more professional, impressive medical system in my life than that which exists at the Mayo Clinic. It is not a simple doctor/patient relationship; it is an entire team of medical professionals/patient relationship. Her current circumstances are satisfactory; her next follow-up visit will be in May. I wonder where the stars will be in May? I wonder where I will be in May? As for me now, I am off for a bit of work .... yippie yi oohhhh .... yippie yi aayyyy ....

Saturday, February 21, 2015

So, we meet again, and in more ways than one

Frederic Remington arrived at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, not long after the engagement between Sioux and Seventh Calvary troopers, therefore, his illustration of the battle is based on after-action commentary rather than on personal knowledge. His drawing, the one here, appeared in Harper's Weekly on January 24, 1891. The encounter had taken place on December 29, 1890. I will not get into the political debate of whether it was a "battle" or a "massacre." I have read a number of accounts contemporary to the event and own a number of books (including some with rare photographs), and think both words are appropriate. Anyway .... I stopped by the site on my return from the Black Hills of South Dakota to Minnesota. I have been there before, but never during winter. In many ways, it is holy ground and a place where ghosts linger. Incidentally, many of these same individuals had met before when the Seventh Cavalry encountered Sioux and Cheyenne at the Little Bighorn in Montana fourteen and one-half years earlier -- June 25, 1876. I am glad I made this brief journey, including this particular stop: It reminded me I am part of a spirit which links me to immeasurable ancestors and their memories, as well as to my own experiences. By the way, do you think the sketch/the words/the music do not fall into place together? Look again, baby ....

Because it makes me happy

I am not sure if this qualifies as a post or not, but ....
I am back in Minnnn-e-e-e-e-so-t-t-a-a-a-a ....
I ran out of ammunition and had to come home to reload. That is a joke. I am the type who has never run out of anything .... except, maybe ....
Well, to move along .... once upon a time I never ran out of ammo or forgot to carry three packs of cigarettes when I left home. Now, I never run out of ammo or forget my cell phone when I walk out the door. Pitiful, hah ??
All right .... to the point .... my former wife has a follow-up examination next week at Mayo Clinic, and I will be taking her there and spending a few days with her. After having been apart so many years, it is strange being in daily contact with her via telephone calls and actually spending so much time with her. Time twists everything, but, the good and the bad, the right and the wrong, have not changed. Nothing really has changed; we both are the same people who love each other in a sense, but cannot live together.

Anyway, after that I will be gone for a few more days doing a bit of work. Yes, I sometimes do work. (Somewhat reluctantly; I try to avoid it.) Free lance. Not journalism on this occasion, although I do that from time-to-time. When I was a policy and management analyst in corrections, I "outsourced" now and then. (Do not snitch me out to my old employer, please.) It was sort of like being a consultant (I even have a chapter in a book about the intricacies of starting a prison from scratch), and, from time-to-time, an opportunity arises to make a few bucks going into a place or a situation to analyze and to recommend and, on occasion, to finalize matters.

And, although my leg is off kilter enough yet to prevent a six-minute mile, it can manage that distance in about eight minutes (even over ice), which is good enough for this particular task. If you cannot figure out the logic of that, just smile or even laugh and give me the benefit of a doubt.

The title of this post comes from my emotional reaction whenever I hear this song. Although it is sad in nature -- even heart-breaking -- it is uplifting and promising to me. It is exquisite in so many ways, and IT MAKES ME HAPPY .... if only for a few moments.

A person, a moment, a song, a concert, a piece of work well done, even a smile from someone with a certain glance .... these things and so many others might make you cry and laugh in the same instant .... a sunset, a flight of birds, the howl of a wolf in an ice-bound camp (that is real to me, if not to you .... so imagine it.)

Listen to this song, allow yourself to drift into it and to become part of it, and you will never be the same again. At least, that is what happened to me the first time I heard it and every time since, and I am glad for it.

And, to answer a question from another, as long as there is life, it is never too late for anything .... whatever I have wished for has become reality if I really, truly, actually have wanted it .... yes, I know, I am beginning to repeat myself .... and, a few days can be more meaningful than a few years when hearts and souls meet .... but, only if the stars allow for it to be so ....

A kiss or two and a sentence or two usually reveal all there is to tell ....

As Hamlet pointed out in casual conversation:

And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

We shall see. I have made a few decisions. I hope this is me talking and not Southern Comfort, because if the ending were not a happy one, I would have to rewrite it ....

Saturday, February 7, 2015

God bless rock 'n' roll, baby

As promised, here is the Smith & Wesson Model 57 .41 caliber magnum I just purchased. I misjudged its age. It is not from the 1960s (oh, well), but, rather, from 1975. Never-the-less, look at it .... forty years old and just like new. It is breathtaking, from my point of view. Now that I have it, I am not certain I ever will fire it (he mumbled Saturday) .... hmmmm .... well, I did (he admitted Monday) .... bang, bang .... it is a masterpiece. I just might delegate it to be next to me in my home work area in case I ever need it and, in the meanwhile, look at it from time to time .... the bluing is radiant (despite not having been cleaned since I fired it) and the natural patterns/grain of the wooden grips are spectacular. It is firearms perfection personified; it functions as a weapon and it is a work of art in the same breath. By the way, freshman art theory 101: Can you visualize the revolver from the description, but without the photograph; can you visualize me admiring it lovingly ?? [Adjusted this segment a bit Monday evening, February 9, 2015, after entering "Dakota Territory."]

A few things

I will be gone for a week or two. I am reprinting part of a comment I made to Anita in case you did not see it, which should explain the situation:

My Smith & Wesson .41 magnum revolver will/did arrive on Saturday. I am restless -- and, I continue to be wired and nerved-up and strung out. I am disgusted with watching barbarism flourish around the world while Europe and America stand idly by watching it. Winter and I are no longer friends, and I need to hibernate a bit and to renew the "Zen" of shooting. I am planning on taking the .41, the .38 Super and the Browning BAR .300 WinMag to a sheltered canyon in the Dakota Black Hills where I have access to an isolated cabin.

There, for a week or two, I will be a hermit, think, dream, drink brandy, listen to rock and/or read late into the night, commune with Nature and see if my shooting eye remains true. No need to leave the cabin even; just open a window and fire off the kitchen table. Very relaxing. So, no posts after this from me for a while; if you post, though, I will see it unless I decided to leave my computer at home.

Now, another matter

I see there are a few who visit my blog frequently, but never leave a comment. And, as I often say, I am curious. If you would be so kind as to reveal yourself and to tell me why you are so often present, I would be grateful. There is nothing to lose by saying hello via a comment or an email. Right? But, if you prefer invisibility, your wish is granted.
And, there are some who seem to have wandered away from me who I still have feelings for and I miss. Before I forget the past, I would like to know that the past has not forgotten me. Does that make sense? You see? I am making decisions about my life at the moment.

The final matter (for now)

This is not the fourth of the promised February posts. That will come later, if it comes at all. The "winds of change" are sending me in another direction, I think, and I am trying to tie up a few unanswered questions (in my mind) before I try to set a course.

I also have a leg wound which still needs a bit more time to "fix" itself. You might recall a photograph a while back which included crutches. (No, I did not shoot myself in the leg playing "fast draw," so no wise cracks, please.) No more crutches, but I still am walking like Walter Brennan in old Western films.

I also have a former wife with some medical problems. I have not mentioned this except to Smareis (thank you, angel), and although my former wife and I have been divorced since 2007, I need to shelter and to protect her in any way and every way she needs, at least for a while. She is the mother of two of my three children, and "semper fidelis" is very important to me, although I live in a world where fidelity counts among fewer and fewer as each year passes.

Uffff .... even a non-post, post seems to get long ....

But .... anyway .... I finally am leaving one of my posts open for comments again .... and, again, I am curious. Under the circumstances, though, I either might not reply or there might be an interval of days before I do reply.

The title for this post comes not from me, but from the music accompanying it .... I have been listening to concerts all evening -- remembering some, thinking about others I missed, imagining what it would be like to attend concerts by some bands I yet want/hope to see .... hmmmm .... like most things, concerts are best when shared with another ....

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Three days in February .... day three

I assume most men are searching for "she" -- and, most men probably never find her, although some actually do, including the gentleman holding the dagger in the illustration. The image here is in two parts, the lower right corner being a portion of a cover from Henry Rider Haggard's work of fiction, "SHE," first published in serial form in 1886-87. The larger segment is an advertisement from a 1965 film adaption of the novel, whose cast included Ursula Andress as Ayesha and John Richardson as Leo. The sinister looking fellow between them is Christopher Lee, who portrayed Bilali, a rather evil priest. What follows is a review neither of the book nor of the film, but simply a few words alluding to an instance of everlasting or, in the least, long-lasting love. To conclude this post, I originally had another song from Boston -- three linked posts + three Boston songs -- but changed it to Queen's, "Who Wants to Live Forever," played by David Garrett. It seemed to better fit the mood.

The search for "she" .... or, the long wait 

(Editor's Note: This is the final of three related posts I plan to run this week. If there is to be a fourth, it will come later.)

Does anyone have such a companion ??

Someone to die for ....

Someone who they reveal their deepest fears to, someone who they tell their deepest dreams to, someone who they can explain each and every secret they possess to, someone who they can trust with their life? Perhaps, it is only me who has never discovered someone to be their companion who thinks enough of themselves to put elements like jealousy or envy or personal ambitions aside.

Large houses, fast cars, beautiful companions, endless beaches with white sand and blue water might be the dreams and desires of some men (even of most, and have crossed my mind in a sideways manner) -- but, a pretty face; a sweet smile; an intelligent, intellectual, curious mind; and a real lady (liberal feminist, fine; radical feminist, no way) and an "afraid of nothing" attitude is my dream girl. Do you know her ?? Then, introduce me to "she."

For the uninitiated, "SHE," is a novel written in 1886-87 by Henry Rider Haggard. The setting is the uncharted African interior. Horace Holly and Leo Vincey are searching for the ancient, lost city of Kor. "She" is Ayesha, an Arabic sorceress, who has waited more than two thousand years in Kor for the return of Kallikrates, a Greek she loved and murdered in a fit of jealous rage. Ayesha believes Leo to be the reincarnated Kallikrates. He is, in fact, a descendant. Ayesha wishes Leo/Kallikrates to join her in immortality, but she does not survive the method to accomplish this "process." As Ayesha dies, she tells Leo/Kallikrakes: "Forget me not. I shall come again!" Sorry .... if you want to know more, you will have to read the book.

It could be I am an insatiable romantic and this is my own interpretation (or imitation) of Perceval or of Galahad and my search for sort of a "holy grail."

Or not ....

It could be the reason I search for "she" is because I know she is impossible, I know she does not exist, I know that if she ever has been real, we have not been together on the same plane or in an identical time of existence. Seeking someone who never was and never will be ensures my freedom forever.

No, it is the first. I really am fool enough to hope to find her .... even possibly .... actually .... believe we will come together in the here and now.

Anyway, companionship really comes with trust and talk .... and leaves without them ....

Now, why did I write that last sentence ??

Is there an allegory here ??

With the story "SHE" ??

No, no chance of that ....

"Who waits forever anyway?"

Even for one who .... "Will come again."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Three days in February .... day two

January was not completely occupied by business -- unfinished or otherwise. I purchased two more guns. One is shown here, a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) in .300 Winchester Magnum caliber, a cartridge introduced in 1963. The caliber is popular among elk, moose, bighorn sheep and grizzly bear hunters, and among police and military snipers. Since I am none of them, why did I purchase it? Simply because I have always wanted a rifle in that caliber. Actually, it is the fourth BAR I have owned, each in a different caliber. This one was made in Belgium in 1981. The other January purchase has not arrived yet. It is a Smith & Wesson .41 magnum revolver. The caliber has been around since 1964, and this revolver was made about the same time. I have not pinpointed the exact date of manufacture yet. This is a caliber with more than a little mystique in the realm of dedicated "shooters" among the firearms community. Sort of like the .38 Super I bought last November -- calibers that draw faithful followers. As if you really are interested .... anyway .... I will, undoubtedly, photograph it for a future post. I also would suggest you learn more about firearms; I do not know about Girl Scouts, but the Boy Scout motto is, "Be Prepared." And, I try to be. As for the music, this is my second-favorite Boston piece, and, I think, the guitar work between the "two songs within a song" is the most beautiful guitar work ever, ever, ever, ever ....

Contrary to some

(Editor's Note: This is the second of three related posts [four, possibly] I plan to run this week.)

Contrary to the beliefs of some (probably most), the more I learn, the less I know.

I wonder about people who "know" they have all the answers.

By this, I do not mean people who have certain beliefs and codes and standards and a structured manner of living their lives. I think I have/do those things myself. Faith and belief, for instance, are not the same as claiming absolute knowledge.

What I do mean are people who are absolute socialists or communists or Democrats or Republicans or Nazis or Christians or atheists or Muslims or existentialists or Jungians or nihilists or .... well, I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift. How can anyone be an absolute believer -- a devotee -- to any single, narrow, unequivocal viewpoint?

I think the staff of life is personal experience, and the more experience I gain, the more these single, narrow, unequivocal viewpoints seem to reveal not a thesis for living, but an antithesis .... an excuse to stop learning/experiencing .... a desire to be "the man on the silver mountain" .... a delusion of .... yes, a delusion of being someone special, someone endowed with uncommon insight ....

 At times in my life I have idolized and read everything I could find written by people like Arthur Schopenhauer, Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Carl Jung, Will Durant, Joseph Campbell .... well, I could go on and on (sound familiar?), but, possibly, some of you get my drift.

The bottom line, to me, is that while having read endlessly at times no doubt has been beneficial and the concepts of others have served sort of as road signs and building blocks along the way, no books, no words by others no matter how brilliant or wise can replace experience. And, experience tells me the more I learn the less I know and understand about myself and about life and about those around me and about the universe in which we exist .... but, I still am searching, learning, wondering .... sometimes leaping without looking ....

Experience, give me more and more and more, which largely comes through living/working in new worlds or by adventures alone or with other individuals -- not from sight-seeing excursions or, sadly, from flights into the fiction or fantasy written by some and read by others who live lives of quiet desperation .... and, certainly not from listening to those who "absolutely know" all the answers.

And, I am beginning to think the blogs no longer serve me a purpose .... if they ever did ....

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Three days in February .... day one

I believe I can safely say there is a link between my words and the musical selection, "Peace of Mind," by Boston, but I am not so certain I could bring the photograph into the fold, so to speak. The photo is of the Guthrie Theater and its "Endless Bridge" in Minneapolis. I returned home late Saturday after having been absent more than one-half of December and one-half of January, and immediately sought a security blanket in the form of purchasing tickets for February performances of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare at the Guthrie. "Macbeth" is my favorite from the pen of our old friend, probably because it was the first of Shakespeare's plays that I read, and read while still an impressionable boy. The photo is not mine and, obviously, was taken before the arrival of winter. By the way, if you are in the mood and of the mind to impress one-hundred fifty or thereabouts of your closest friends, the "Endless Bridge" is available for hosting cocktail parties. It offers views of the Mississippi River, Saint Anthony Falls and a number of historic sites.

Peace of mind
(Editor's Note: This post is that which I had planned to run between Christmas and New Year's Day, but set aside for another. It is the first of three [or, maybe, four] which are tied together in a sense, and which I will publish this week.)

I have been a few places and done more than a few things in my life. I am pleased with occasionally saying (including in posts here) that I had done everything there was to do in one form or another, in one sense or another, by the time I was twenty-five. It is true.

There has come a point in my life where I wonder if any of it was worth it. Some people call this a mid-life crisis. Another thing I am fond of saying is that I have been experiencing mid-life crises every year since I was sixteen. Really. Sort of ....

True love, physical love: I really am not sure I ever have known the first; I have the second.

Death and destruction: In spades, so to speak. Multiple times for multiple reasons in multiple places.

Personal losses: Grandparents, parents, friends, a child, yes .... a former wife? That is one of the questions at the moment, which is a dilemma for several reasons.

Success and failure in business and work? Oh, yes. I have been at a peak a few times and fallen to the point where everyone and anyone I knew kissed me goodbye. I think, in most instances, we are alone .... completely alone in this life.

I could continue, but I think you get my point. Some people say I am too sarcastic. I suppose I am -- for them. I think, actually, I might be too realistic; I do not attempt to delude myself or others, or try to be "nice" to people simply to make them feel good about themselves. (I believe that is being a phony, and I am not among those kind, nor ever would want to be.)

I more than once have written in posts that I am looking for a woman who is attractive to me, who likes to talk/debate/argue/discuss books/films/politics/anything, but also one who is afraid of nothing and who will watch my back in any and every way you might imagine .... and never run away from anything, especially from me. (Annie Oakley, maybe ?? Joan of Arc ?? Bonnie Parker ??)

(As you finish this, remember, I wrote it more than a month ago. It might be "last call" before I disappear, in a manner of speaking.)

 Still looking, as this year ends. This might not be the most appropriate post to end the old year and to begin a new one, but, remember .... well, think about it and draw your own conclusions: One of my "names" is curious; another is confused, and, probably always will be ....

Thinking about fear, I have mentioned before that I am the type who runs toward the sound of gunfire, not away from it, but we all have fears of one sort or another, and one of mine has been an inability to be completely open and honest with my companion when I have had one.

This has been a reiteration, not an introduction ....

Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill ....

Something special ....