Friday, December 2, 2016

THINKING IN THE DARK




Now that the wintry specter of December has arrived, it gets dark incredibly early. Here in the mountainous midst of nowhere, the feeble sun sinks quickly behind trees and hilly shadows rudely snuff the light. Darkness threatens by 3:30 p.m.

A mild rain kept the temperatures up for awhile. Then the rain clouds cleared at sunset two days ago. I went out on the front porch to take some photos. The temperature was dropping rapidly and it would be a frigid night.



When I stepped back inside the power was out. Again. The wind probably had something to do with the outage this time. It was whistling through treetops and wailing around the corners of the house. 

No power meant no heat. No cooking. No.....computer. My laptop has a battery, of course, but I wasn't in the mood to mess with it. 
The oil lamps had no oil.
Kerosene isn't exactly foremost on my supply list when I drive the 2,000 miles into town to get groceries.
Slight exaggeration. It's probably only 200....
(do I receive penalties for slight exaggerations??)

I grabbed a flashlight, candles and matches, and a transistor radio that only dares to pick up one or two stations.

I captured the last golden glow of light which dramatically illuminated the windows.


I then watched the light fade to nothing
from my bedroom window. With the darkness came the bone-rattling chill. As the dark hours dragged on it became incredibly cold.

 my bedroom window

There wasn't much to do but stumble around and shiver uncontrollably, so I crawled into bed.
I left the window shade up so I could gaze out at the incredible blackness and the brilliant shimmer of stars.

The night is mercilessly dark here and infinitely lonely. Actually I'm used to this isolation and I love it. Despite the inconvenience of no power, it lends me time to think.

Silence and darkness embellished with thought. 

The wind finally dwindled and ceased. The silence seemed to thicken on this night. No coyotes, no wild dogs, no owls.

Bosco got under the covers with me as usual. Furry and heavy, with extra warmth that is welcomed. He has a slight but perpetual nasal problem and snores when he sleeps. But I'm used to it.

Trust me, I've had many bed partners who were much more annoying than Bosco...
...but that's another story for another time. 

Just to ensure that the end of this tale is a happy one - - the power went back on before dawn.

 Bosco


Note:
Ever since the new UNWANTED changes on Blogger (including the disappearance of the old "dashboard") I have been having trouble accessing blogs and finding your recent posts. I'm forced to go on unwanted scavenger hunts.

Just wanted you to know that if I haven't visited your blog lately, I still love ya.... 
...well, all except for you rude Bozos who abandoned me because you hated my anti-Hillary Clinton posts.
(should I insert a grim *smile* here?)  

 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

PAGEANTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST







I never look back on those events with undiluted fondness. Through the long distance of years I still regard them with a twinge of humiliating disdain. I'm talking about the obligatory school Christmas pageants. Where innocent children are compelled to make fools of themselves on stage in front of parents, classmates, and faculty.

The only positive aspect I can ascertain is that those childhood days were simple, uncomplicated days - - when Christ was still in Christmas, there were no heated debates about the gender or sexual orientation of Santa Claus, when front yard nativities were proudly displayed without any concern about being confiscated by the Neighborhood Fairness Commission - - when Christmas carols were sung openly without fear of offending atheists or Muslims.

It seemed to be a Norman Rockwell America.

Scene One:
Glendora, California. The Gordon Elementary School. Second Grade. I was six years old.

My teacher Mrs. Eisendise (whom I called Ice and Dice) came up with the grandiose idea of staging several scenes from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker ballet. I wasn't in the least smitten by her plan, but I did fall in love with the music. In fact, I forced my mother to buy a recording of it. A double LP album in those primitive days.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, I was chosen to be one of the waltzing flowers in (of course) the Waltz of the Flowers. My humiliation was lessened only by the fact that numerous other boys were also sentenced to being flowers in Eisendise's delusional bouquet.

 Four boys who became unwilling participants in Mrs. Eisendise's flower bouquet. I'm the one in the striped shirt.

The stage scenery was quite elaborate for a less than minor production. A serene rural backdrop with cardboard trees and shrubs. I can't exactly remember the flower costume that I wore, which - from a Freudian point of view - is probably a good thing. I certainly can't attribute it to any pansy complexes I might have acquired twenty years later.
It's a fleeting thought. Don't ponder it for too long.

The dance started out splendidly but rapidly deteriorated. The music somehow seemed to be going faster than our twirls and leaps. In time, it completely resisted our efforts. Disharmony and vertigo ensued and soon it was every flower for himself. We had completely abandoned the music and were simply fighting to stay alive. I'm not sure which flower knocked down a cardboard tree, but trees suddenly began toppling like dominoes. Petals were crushed and the curtain was mercifully pulled. We waltzing flowers were far from a success.

If nothing else, the entire ugly ordeal robbed me of any future desire to have a career on the stage.

Scene Two:
Covina, California. The Charter Oak School. Third Grade. I was seven years old.  

My teacher Mrs. Rollins was unusually weird. She had heavily dyed black hair - parted severely in the middle - thick tortoise shell glasses, a generous perpetual application of rouge, and more red lipstick than Bette Davis wore on a bad day.

Mrs. Rollins also had a very strange habit. At the end of every school day, she had the class line up by her desk and would kiss each of us goodbye. Sometimes I was able to duck out and avoid being branded by her crimson lips.

Fortunately this caused no known ill effects on my future psyche - - although to this day I still become completely impotent at the sight of tortoise shell rimmed glasses. 

Mrs. Rollin's Christmas pageant was no less unnerving than Eisendise's waltzing flowers had been. I and two other boys were chosen to sing We Three Kings (I never figured out whether we were technically kings or wise men).

Rollins handed us the lyrics and demanded that we learn them within a week. I still don't know where the hell she got those lyrics, but I'd never seen so many pages for one Christmas song in my entire life. There were at least ten choruses.

We three boys wore cardboard crowns, elaborate capes, and had to carry empty gift boxes wrapped in Christmas paper. The pageant went off without a hitch, until we began singing....

We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar...

we sang....and sang....one excruciatingly long chorus after another.....over and over.....and....over....

The audience would begin to applaud - hoping it was finally the end - and we'd suddenly sing another chorus.

It was the longest frickin' song in Christmas pageant history. I was seven years old when we started. I think I was pushing twenty-seven by the time we finally finished.

Despite trying for years to expunge the event from my mind, I can still remember every chorus and every word from that ghastly song.


Note:
I originally posted this several years ago but recently revised it for your reading pleasure (!)   Jon 

A link to my other blog:

Cabinet of Curious Treasures 
   


Sunday, November 27, 2016

DREAM WITH PIANO ACCOMPANIMENT





I've lately been plagued with horrendously frightening aura migraines. I've had three in the past two days. I first started getting them in my early 30's and they continue to enhance my sporadic panic attacks and perpetual anxiety.

My life has never been quite as idyllic as one might imagine....and never will be.

My mother suffered with aura migraines. More women (supposedly) get them than men. She suffered silently. Never complained.
In stark contrast, I am a dramatic, hypersensitive bitch.

I had an unusually vivid dream last night - during a rare doze between rampant bouts of sleeplessness. Most of my dreams are disturbing (I merely threw that in for armchair analysts to ponder) but when I wake they are quickly forgotten.
This dream dared to linger.

I was playing the piano for my mother. Ever since she died, she is merely a vague but comforting shadow in my dreams.

Ironically, I was playing the very first piano piece that I ever heard her play. She was performing at an auditorium in Covina, California when I was seven years old. I was spellbound.

In the dream I was playing my own piano transcription of the piece. I vividly saw my fingers - - and every note, every chord, cadence, and arpeggio was absolutely correct. It was extremely vivid.

I suppose the dream is significant, since I haven't touched the piano in two years. After all the problems I went through in Texas, and after the movers "lost" half of my cherished piano manuscripts, I've been reluctant to even look at a piano.

My life as a musician in California - - the concerts, rehearsals, the intense comradery of like-minded friends - - is now a thing of the distant past. 

This post will probably be of no interest to anyone but myself. I'm merely thinking out loud in front of a host of strangers.

Ironically, this piano dream happened on the exact November date when my Mom and I met the pianist Van Cliburn (now deceased). I was fifteen at the time - and I later studied piano with A. Thomas Talbert, who was a close friend of Cliburn.

Dreams, memories, disconnected connections....