Saturday, January 31, 2015

TOXIC FEAST, ITEMS MISSING, FAST DRIVE

 


I seldom get outraged (well, only about two or three times a day) but my feathers were rudely ruffled this morning while I was surfing the Internet. A glaring headline hit me: Tips for a Healthy Super Bowl Menu.
The author of this travesty of justice had the audacity to suggest that we serve carrots, celery sticks, and broccoli to our guests while watching the Super Bowl tomorrow.

The suggestion itself tells me that the author is one of those perky, health-conscious, self-righteous, tree-hugging, save-the-condor, naturalistic, non-smoking joggers - -  who wants to impose their demented vegetarian lifestyles on all of us.

Holy crap, Jon! Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, or what? You're  making enemies by the dozens.

Hey, enemy-making is one of my many specialties. It's a gift.

This is the same kind of annoying alarmist spoilsport who advises us to hand out carrots, celery, and broccoli to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. And to eat a soymeal turkey substitute on Thanksgiving.

Here's some food for thought to that electric-car-driving Bozo:
the very foundation of America is based on the unwholesome, the unethical, the unhealthy, and the unreasonable. Don't try to ruin it for us now.

I am in favor of a detrimentally toxic Super Bowl All-American feast:
greasy sloppy joes, cheap hot dogs with ingredients unknown, six-pound hoagies, heavily salted pretzels & peanuts, popcorn smothered in real butter, nachos with enough cheese to kill a herd of Tanzanian elephants. All washed down with sugary soda and gallons of beer.

And for dessert, a triple-fudge Super Bowl Sunday topped with real whipped cream.

Digest that.

Question:
Does anybody ever see humor in my inane ramblings? If not, I'm sorely missing my mark.

You're missing your mark, Jon. Among other things.

May I offer anyone a change of subject?

I am still extremely (and I mean extremely) upset at the number of things missing from the stash of stuff that the movers delivered. I appreciate all the words of optimistic encouragement from my readers (all two of you).
However, after several searches, I'm still coming up short. Among the missing items are:
My three-drawer toolbox, with ALL my important tools.
All of the piano music that belonged to my mother and grandmother.
My mother's scrapbook.
Thirty of my private, handwritten journals & diaries from California.
A box of my antique books - - some from the 17th century.

It seems bitterly ironic to me that my very favorite possessions are missing. It may sound melodramatic, but I'll never recover from this.

I'm going to search one more time today but I have zero optimism.

Yesterday I forced myself to drive into town to get groceries. I miraculously made the fifteen-mile drive home in eleven minutes. It's amazing what courage a few cans of beer can provide........


The long road home

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

HAPPILY NEVER AFTER



I was aware at a very early age that there are no happy endings. The fairy tales that we were unwittingly fed as children had altered endings with satisfactory resolutions in order to placate our fragile and yet-unsophisticated minds. Reality has a vicious bite and we weren't yet sufficiently prepared to handle it.

As a diehard realist since childhood, I was convinced that the Big Bad Wolf not only ate Granny, but Red Riding Hood as well. And the only repercussion was some slight indigestion.

Rapunzel, when she let her golden hair cascade down the side of the tower, was cited by the Neighborhood Beautification Committee and forced to get a buzz cut.

 Sleeping Beauty was snubbed by the Handsome Prince. Instead of giving Beauty a kiss that would awaken her, the Prince had his eye on a hunky farmer plowing a nearby field. The Prince galloped over to the astonished farmer, swooped him up, and they rode off into the sunset.
Whether or not they plowed together happily ever after is a matter of vigorous debate.

So what's your point, Jon?

There is no point. You simply caught me thinking out loud.

I had never expected my move to Tennessee to be absolutely perfect, because happy endings have never been part of my repertoire. Things have been going surprisingly well, but there are glitches.

What it mostly boils down to - I think - is that I'm completely exhausted, mentally and physically. The past few grueling years in Texas have finally caught up with me. And the entire harrowing process of moving has taken its toll. Being without furniture for six weeks wasn't exactly pleasant. And now that I have furniture, I don't know were the hell to put it.
Please don't give me any crude suggestions.

I love Tennessee. I love my rural location. I almost like my new house - except for the fact that it's too small. I miss the enormous amount of storage that my Texas house had.

I love the mountains & forests & snow - but somehow the bleakness and frigidity of winter has rendered me unmotivated. I have a million important things to do (I counted them) but all I really feel like doing is hibernating.
Incidentally, winter affected me the same way in Texas. Believe me, it got COLD there on the high plains.

The process of unpacking and sorting my stuff is agonizingly long and annoyingly unpleasant. I'm hesitant to open boxes because I have no place to put things. The garage is extremely damp and bitterly cold. There are hundreds of cardboard boxes and they are getting droopy with moisture.


a glimpse of my garage
 
 
Yesterday I got trapped amidst an avalanche of boxes and didn't think I'd ever get out alive. My hands were so numb from the cold that I couldn't move my fingers. My  cell phone (of course) was way over on the other side of the garage.

I eventually dug myself out and the effort wasn't pretty. I'd been working in the garage for over two hours with no coat or gloves - and it was 23 degrees. I admittedly was wearing two shirts and a sweat shirt.

Worst of all - -
It couldn't possibly get worse, Jon, could it?

I was horrified to discover that numerous items are mysteriously missing. I checked several times. I have a lot of stuff - the inventory was fifteen pages. Moving day was completely chaotic and I couldn't keep track of everything. I told the movers exactly what I wanted to take and what I wanted to leave. I trusted them.

There are two absolutes in life:
Happy endings don't exist
and
Never trust anybody.

Ironically, the missing items are things which I want the most:

My big tool box, which contains every tool that I ever owned - including many that belonged to my father.
ALL of my mother's piano music - which I cherished.
My mother's scrapbook, which contains priceless family photos.
A ten-drawer antique dresser.

and - let's have a drum roll here -
THIRTY volumes of my hand-written journals and diaries. Most of these were written in California and contain details of all of my concerts, love affairs, and adventures. It's a virtual gold mine.

I would willingly give up everything I own to have the journals and piano music back.

This blog post is too long. I'm eating breakfast as I'm writing this. After I finish my coffee I'm going back into the garage to resume my search.

If I'm not back in a couple of hours, call 911. Tell them to bring a defroster and the Jaws of Life.




Saturday, January 24, 2015

PRIVACY, PORN, PROBABLE PRECIPITATION

I took this in my back yard
with my cell phone a few minutes ago.
It's just starting to get light.

This is not going to be one of my usual blog posts - filled with wit, charm, humor, and unending interest. Instead, I'm going to ramble aimlessly in no discernible direction - saying whatever pops into my mind.

Hey, Jon - we thought that ALL your blog posts ramble aimlessly, with no discernable direction.

Well, then you haven't been reading them carefully.

First off, here's a private message to sweet Brian.
Congratulations! Your recent efforts to solve my mystery would make Hercule Poirot proud (let's keep it our secret).

I usually don't leave private messages on a public blog, but what the heck.....

Is privacy a thing of the past?

Speaking of mysteries and privacy, I recently happened to visit my Google profile - which I haven't visited in at least five years (I hate the entire concept of "profiles"). I was alarmed to see that my full name is listed. I never intended that to happen (must have been drunk or something). I was even more horrified to see that my profile has over 16,121,015 views (I'm not kidding).
This must mean that 16,121,015 people know my real name. Slightly unnerving.

Question: who the hell are these people, and why the interest in me? Heck, I can't even get ten people to read my damn blog.

Jon, you always claim that you're a very private person - and yet you have a very public blog. What gives?

Don't try to get cute with me. I'm undoubtedly an armchair exhibitionist. There's no known cure.

Yesterday, on a mere whim, I Googled my name and came up with something extraordinary.There is a gay porn star with my exact name, and he makes films in Budapest. No lie.

 Upon further research I discovered that this dude isn't Hungarian. He was born in America and is of Latin descent.
Just for the record, I don't think he's even remotely good looking. Hey, it's a matter of taste (no pun intended, of course).
And he's short. He's endowed, but he's short.

Gay porn star with my name
The name is where the similarity ends.
I'm 100% Hungarian. And, so far as I can remember, I haven't made any gay porn films. Well, none in Budapest, anyway.
 I've admittedly had chances. When I was young and hot and living in Hollywood I knew Bob Mizer. He was the pioneer in gay erotica (Google his name). 
I wrote an entire blog post about this in Lone Star Concerto but I doubt if anyone remembers. Or wants to.




Moi? Young and hot in Hollywood

Just for the record - ALL of my photos, graphics, & documents are stored on my old desktop computer - - which I haven't bothered to unpack yet (I'm still using my laptop).  I had to borrow this photo from my old blog.

Probable precipitation?
It rained all day yesterday. The cold wet weather forced me to cancel a previously planned outdoor excursion.
This morning I got up at the unwholesomely early hour of 5:00 and it was snowing. Everything is blanketed in white.
My cat Scratch - who never goes outside - ran out the front door when I opened it to see the snow. She didn't want to come back in and I had to run on a wild snowbound goose chase to get her.
The mountain life is seemingly agreeing with everyone.

 Scratch - - reluctantly back inside







Monday, January 19, 2015

SLIGHTLY OFF COURSE



This is the final installment in my series of posts about moving from Texas to Tennessee.

WARNING: it's not half as exciting as my previous post but it's just as long.



My adventures in Arkansas didn't end when I went over the cliff. There was more to come. Nothing quite as exciting in comparison to the cliff incident - but worthy of rehashing, nevertheless.

I'm sorry to disappoint those of you who were hoping I'd go over another cliff. Don't try to deny it. I know you're out there.

When I and my car were finally extracted from that Arkansas swamp, my problems were not completely over. The rain was still torrential. It was still pitch dark. And I still didn't know were the hell I was. 

The patrol car left quickly, as did the tow truck - without even waving bye-bye. Me and my car were covered in mud. My three cats were catatonic (no pun intended). I wasn't really physically hurt, but my ego was shattered and my confidence had dwindled to the size of a pimple on a flea's ass (I just made that one up).

The road was still under construction and a single lane. With no lights and no signs. I still couldn't see a darn thing.

All I kept thinking was
What if I give a repeat performance? What if I go over another cliff?
The possibility was unnervingly probable.

I drove in the company of extreme apprehension - - until I finally saw lights and an exit. The exit took me to Russellville, where I stopped at the first motel I saw. Best Western Inn, in case you really need to know.

Hopelessly disheveled and completely covered in mud, I looked like I had just been unearthed from an archaeological excavation. I attempted to explain my plight to the night clerk, who was only mildly amused.

You're dragging out the story and wasting precious time, Jon.

Yea, but I'm always damn interesting. Admit it.

I started out the next morning with wet boots and shaken cats, but I had clean clothes and an optimistic attitude. Things looked better without the rain.

Little Rock was a blur of frenzied traffic. At this point my only concern was getting to Memphis.

The sign reads Memphis Merge Left
I merge left.

After leaving Little Rock I begin to relax. There is very little traffic. The scenery is lovely. I'm occasionally wondering why the traffic is so sparse on I-40, but it doesn't really concern me.

I'm occasionally wondering why this highway doesn't exactly seem like I-40, but it doesn't concern me.

I get concerned when I see the sign HWY 67 North, St. Louis .
 I'm supposed to be heading east. Memphis.

I couldn't possibly have been driving in the wrong direction for the past hour, could I?
I'm not that stupid.

I was that stupid.
I wind up in a little town called Newport. I fill the car with gas, eat at McDonalds, then study the roadmap. Carefully.

I backtrack on HWY 67 but opt not to go all the way back to I-40. Instead I take HWY 64  to Memphis. A very pleasant rural route.

I won't bother to alarm everyone by telling about the VERY close call I had while trying to pass a slow-moving vehicle and almost hitting another car head-on. I'm not that reckless.

Memphis welcomed me with rush hour traffic. I got a glimpse of the mighty Mississippi River (it wasn't my first time). The torrential Arkansas rain followed me through Tennessee and forced me to get a motel in Fairview for the night.

My main goal was to get to Tennessee alive and I did. I'm grateful for that.








Saturday, January 17, 2015

OVER THE EDGE IN ARKANSAS



This is a continuation of my two previous posts.



The drive from Texas to Tennessee took longer than expected.

"I'll get there in two days," I bragged. "I'll only need to stay in a motel one night."

It in fact took me three and a half days, and I stayed in motels every night.

I opted to travel on I-40. It was the most simple route, even though it forced me to drive through all the big cities. I arrived in Oklahoma City during rush hour and the traffic scared the living jeeters out of me.

Got a motel room in Shawnee. This time my next door neighbors were two lesbians. They had a huge St. Bernard dog that ran into my room as I was bringing in the luggage. If my  cats weren't caged there would have been trouble.

All in all, things were going very smoothly and I was in a mellow frame of mind. Until I got to Arkansas.

I have no qualms about Arkansas. Lovely scenery. Nice people. But.....

.........rotten roads and highways. Haven't been repaired since Betsy Ross was sewing the flag. All right. I'll admit I'm being vicious.

In late afternoon the weather takes a turn for the worst. By nightfall it's pouring rain. I want to stop but there are no motels. No rest areas. No signs of life.
And no signs. Not one damn sign to let me know where the heck I am.

I don't like night driving. I have bad eyes. Night blindness. No exaggeration. I've had surgery on my eyes, but I won't go into that.

As if torrential rain and bad eyes aren't enough, major road construction begins. And detours. The highway narrows into one harrowing lane.

The deluge becomes Biblical. I don't need a vehicle. I need an ark. The rain is pounding so hard that my windshield wipers are useless.

No lights along the highway. Pitch blackness ensues. No white dividing line on the pavement. Nothing to guide me. There was a feeble smattering of reflectors along one side of the road, but suddenly they vanish.

Absolute blackness. Relentless rain. Nowhere to pull over or stop. I'm gripping the steering wheel with both hands, riding the breaks, crawling 10 MPH.
Literally driving completely blind.

You'll never make it, Jon, you're never going to make it.....

As I'm breathing these ominous words, my car is suddenly airborne. I'm flying through nothingness, like a NASCAR Peter Pan.
It's a crappy analogy, but what the hell...

It wasn't until I hit bottom that I realize I went over a cliff. Landed in a very thick swamp of mud. And water. And oozing Arkansas goo.

The impact was brutal but the mud saved my ass. And my car. And the cats - who were ruthlessly tossed in their cages. Cat food and used kitty litter is everywhere.

It takes all of my strength to push open the door against the resisting sea of mud.

Let me mention that I'm wearing a brand new pair of leather boots. Brand spanking new and beautiful. Only wore them for three days.

As soon as I squeeze out of the car, I sink up to my hips in mud. I'm immediately drenched with pouring rain.

There are times when reality is so harsh that it abandons us. Everything seems completely unreal. I'm drifting in the outer realms of the Twilight Zone.

How the hell am I gonna get outta here?
I have a cell phone, but who can I call or text? And what will I say? Hello, I just went over a cliff in Arkansas and don't know where I am.

I suddenly look up at the steep embankment and realize that the highway is at least 50 feet above me. Vehicles are zooming by, seemingly in the heavens.

I decide to abandon all sense of dignity. I start waving my arms and shouting. Can it get any worse than this? I've sunk to the lowest rung on the Ladder of Humanity.

My pathetic pleas were eventually seen and/or heard. An Arkansas patrol car is on the scene.

"Are you hurt?" he shouts down to me.

"Only my pride," I yell up at him.

And I'm thinking:
there is a God. He's punishing me for all my past sins.

"Better get back in the car, " the officer suggests. "You'll get wet."

Get wet? Is he joking?? I'm covered in mud. I look like the frickin' tar baby in Uncle Remus.

The tow truck finally arrives. The driver is like a reject from a casting call for Hee Haw.
His southern accent is so thick that I can't understand a word.

My car is soon chained to his truck and he's plying me with instructions as he performs the extraction.

"Torn th' weeel rait!"
Turn the wheel right.

"Ain seen nutin thes baid inna loong taim."
Ain't seen nothing this bad in a long time.

The crystal clarity of his pronunciation astounds me when he finally quotes the fee for the extraction.

"Three hundred dollars."

No accent at all. I understood every word perfectly.

Fortunately I had cash.
Being extracted from the depths of hell and the agony of humiliation was well worth any price.



This isn't the end of my adventures, folks. There's more to come.








Friday, January 16, 2015

INSANITY IN AMARILLO



This is a continuation of my previous post.

Before I recount my Big Adventure in Arkansas, I've decided to tell about my final night in Texas.

I embarked on my journey at 3:00 in the afternoon - -  the 100 mile trek north to Amarillo. It was already late in the day. I was so exhausted from lack of sleep and an abundance of stress that I knew I wouldn't drive any farther than Amarillo. I'd stay there for the night.

The process of moving is extremely traumatic, but once you're free - on the road - there's an immense feeling of contentment. Absolutely no ties, no worries. The past is fading with every mile. The future is non-existent. Despite all I'd been through I was feeling strangely wonderful.

The Texas scenery changes as you approach Amarillo. It's more interesting, more diverse than those hellish flatlands from whence I came. As I passed the tiny town of Happy, I thought of my mother. She always liked the name of that obscure Texas town and said she wouldn't mind living there.

Today, Happy evoked a sudden twinge of sadness....



Old, familiar Amarillo was busy and bustling as usual. After passing a few motels that had "No Pets Allowed" signs, I finally found one that welcomed pets. Or at least tolerated them. I and my three caged cats checked in.

I was far more dehydrated than hungry. I bought drinks and some snacks from a nearby convenience store. My plan was to get lots of sleep and get up very early.

I had just about dozed off, when my sleep is interrupted by thuds, thumps, loud curses, and finally screams. I thought I was dreaming. In a groggy moment I realize it is alarmingly real.

The commotion is coming from the room directly next to mine. Banging! Thumps on the wall! Muffled cries. Agonizing screams.

As I sit frozen, absorbing the chaos, I can tell that two men are fighting - -  in the throes of an enormous struggle. One man sounds more rational. The other is either drunk, drugged, or completely crazy. Both have Mexican accents.

The crazy guy is getting increasingly violent and irrational. He eventually manages to get outside and is standing right by my door. In a loud psychotic voice he babbles on about birdies and rainbows. And pain.

"The birdies are around me! The birdies are here! Look at the rainbows! Oh, Jesus, my f---king legs hurt! They're burning! Help me! Help me!"

Holy shit! The guy is completely bonkers and he's right at my door!

I'm afraid to look out the window for fear that he'll see me. I don't know whether to call the front desk. Or the police.
I decide to bravely wait it out.

Soon both men are struggling near my door, and the crazy one is shouting "I'll kill you! I got a fu--king knife! I'll slice you up!"

I'm scared as hell - - but despite my genuine fear, I can actually see a smidgen of wry humor in the ordeal. This could only happen to me. Throughout my entire life I've been a magnet for bizarre situations.
 And all I wanted is a good nights sleep.....

The crazy guy suddenly starts whimpering and saying "I can't walk! I can't walk! I'm a fu-king cripple! My legs are burning!"

I breathe a big sigh of relief.
Thank God! If the dude can't walk, I'll have a better chance of escaping when he breaks into my room.

After the agonizing span of an hour (at least) the two guys go back inside their room. The ruckus continues but eventually lessens. The crazy guy becomes more subdued, then his antics stop completely.

My imagination is rampant. Did the other guy finally manage to sedate him? Or kill him??

I finally look out the window. The motel parking lot is nearly empty. Very few people were around to witness the bizarre event.

The rest of the night is peaceful but I take no chances. I prop a large armchair up against my double-locked door. I sleep fully dressed.

And I keep telling myself that some day I'll look back at this with humor.



You can't make these things up, folks. Truth is always stranger than fiction.

On to Arkansas.....and more bizarre adventures.....


Farewell, Amarillo












Thursday, January 15, 2015

MOVING DAY HELL



Early last October, when I was in the initial process of moving from Texas to Tennessee, I promised that I'd eventually write about all my adventures en route.

Three months later, it seems like a hundred years have passed. I have a new home in TN. Texas is already a faded memory. My moving adventures no longer seem potent or pertinent.

 I now have a new blog. A few of my faithful Blogger friends have stayed with me. Others, however, have moved on. How quickly they forget...... I seem to have fewer readers than I previously did.

In keeping with my promise I've finally decided to write about some of my moving adventures (or, more aptly, misadventures).


Moving day. Wednesday, October 8.
A chaotic ordeal that I only remember in fragments. Thanks to the constantly conflicting messages from my realtors, I initially didn't know what to believe.

"Your house is sold."
"Your house isn't sold."
"We're not sure if your house is sold."

Their past incompetence gave me no reason to believe them now. I wasn't about to start packing until I was absolutely certain the house was sold.
 By the time certainty was absolute, I had less than a week to pack: a large house, two storage sheds, a very large storage room, and an attic. And I was doing everything entirely alone.

Adding to my anxiety was the fact that the people who bought my house were extremely anxious to move in. While I was in the fledgling process of packing, they were already bringing truckloads of stuff to my house - -which seriously compounded my confusion. Then they came by with food to cram into my two refrigerators.

They also made numerous impromptu visits along with the realtors- - which greatly subtracted from my valuable packing time. I did everything possible to control my temper. I didn't want to blow it, when I was so close to getting the hell out of there.

For five frenzied days and nights I worked incessantly - with very little food and almost no sleep. By moving day I was so physically and mentally exhausted that my mind was numb, actually frozen.



The night before moving day was beyond belief. Just when I thought things couldn't get worse, they did.

I suddenly noticed that my car had a flat tire. I panicked. I still had a full night of packing to do, but the car had to be out of the way in the morning so the movers could have access to the driveway.

It was already after sunset and there were no lights near my car. I quickly and haphazardly tried to change the flat in the dark. I'd been successfully changing flats since I was eighteen and didn't think anything could go wrong.

Things went dreadfully wrong. As soon as I removed the tire the jack slipped and the car crashed down on its axle.

My panic instantly elevated to new dimensions. My old cell phone wasn't working. My landline was disconnected. Nothing could save me now but Divine Intervention.

Divine Intervention came via the people who bought my house. For some inexplicable reason, they happened to be driving by.

With the help of the Mexican man (who couldn't speak a word of English) and an hour of frantic manipulations, we were able to get the car up on a block of wood and put on a temporary tire. I gave him $100 for his help.

I didn't go to sleep that night - I packed until dawn. The movers showed up very early, before 7:30. If the next seven hours weren't absolute hell, they were a very reasonable facsimile.

First off, the movers informed me that they wouldn't take anything that wasn't packed in a box. I had securely tied all of my hardbound books into bundles. These efforts were staunchly rejected. For the next hour I was frantically packing books into boxes.

The number of things I was forced to leave behind is astounding:
two vacuum cleaners, three TV sets (I'm not kidding), my electric keyboard, a brand new lawn mower, an oversized Jean Miro lithograph, my entire record collection. My father's antique safe (it was empty). A large lamp that was especially made for my parents in 1963 by a renowned Los Angeles artist. It had a gold antique finish with a bas relief of swans.

In truth, I was so frickin' tired and disgusted that I didn't give a royal shit about my possessions.

After packing books for an hour, I had to get a new tire for my car. Then I had to get a vehicle state inspection, which I had forgotten to do a month before. After that I went to the bank to get a cashiers check for the movers and close my account.

Naturally, the movers refused to accept a cashiers check, so I returned to the bank to get a certified check. WTF is the difference?

As soon as the movers left, I hurried to City Hall to close my utility account. The unfriendly lady informed me that I couldn't close my account until I brought the new owners of the house to City Hall to confirm the fact that I was actually moving.

Was she out of her frigging mind?? I was beyond trying to be congenial.

"In your dreams, bitch!" I mumbled and stormed out. I never did close my account and, frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

At this point, my only goal was to get out of Texas alive. I went back to my (former) house to get my three cats. I had them in two large cages. Scratch, my big 8 yr. old cat, was housed in a cage by herself. The two little guys, Scruffy and Bosco, shared a cage.
I crammed the cages in the back seat of my car.

At exactly 3:00 p.m. I got in the car with my trio of felines and began the 100 mile drive north to Amarillo.

This blog post was longer than expected but I had a lot to tell. The excitement is FAR from over.
Just wait until I get to Arkansas.........

Monday, January 12, 2015

LET THERE BE LIGHT



One of the ten plagues of ancient Egypt was Darkness. I think it came right after Frogs, and preceded No Toilet Paper.

Let's pause here for a moment while I clear something up:
I was not a first-hand witness to the plagues. Despite what some of you might think, I am not that old.
Well, not quite that old, anyway.

I only know about the plagues because I've read my Bible. I'm well-versed.
(don't look for any play on words)

The prospect of absolute darkness doesn't seem scary when you're reading about it with sufficient light. When you're in the midst of darkness with no light at all, it takes on a whole new perspective.

Up here in the mountains, in the proverbial middle of nowhere, darkness is profound. The sun sinks very quickly in early evening, and when nature's light is extinguished the world assumes an intimidating isolation unlike anything else.

I've written about it before, and undoubtedly over-played it, but it really can't be emphasized enough. You never know how lonely alone can be until you spend the after-dark hours in a forest on a mountaintop.


As someone who values privacy and craves solitude, this vast isolation is an absolute pleasure for me. It feeds my sense of adventure and ignites my romantic imagination.

It also, however, makes me fully appreciate the luxury of light.

Today was cold, with persistent rain and an eventual fog that extinguished my plan to drive into town. In early evening I decided to nap. My sore throat is dragging on, along with my lethargy. I snuggled under the covers, listening to the rain and the purring of my nearby cats.

It was unusually dark when I woke up: a darkness that was immediately unnerving and inspired me to jump up and turn on a light.

Power outage. Alone on a mountain with no lights.

In the course of my active imagination, I had expected something like this to eventually happen - - but not quite so soon after moving in.

I'm much more annoyed than scared.
I can't find my shoes. I lost my cell phone.
Three frantic cats are scurrying underfoot. I can't find my wallet or keys. I don't even have a flashlight. It suddenly occurs to me how ridiculously unprepared I am for rural life.

The house is an obstacle course of unpacked boxes and haphazard furniture. I'm running into things, tripping over cats. While doing a clumsy Helen Keller imitation, I finally make my way to the kitchen. In a cabinet I find matches and some candles left over from Christmas Eve.

The prospect of spending an entire night in darkness isn't pleasant. If worse comes to worse, I could always drive to my cousin's house. Given the choice of two evils, however, I'd rather spend the night in a pitch black house than try to navigate the treacherous mountain roads.

Somewhere in the hours between midnight and eternity I hear the unmistakable sound of a truck laboriously driving through the mud and gravel that leads to my house. It's a work truck with flashing red lights.

I run outside to greet the unexpected guest. The driver assures me that they're fixing the outage and lights will be on soon.
I could hardly believe that anybody would be out here at this hour, working in such cold depthless darkness.

The worker was as good as his word. Within an hour power was restored. I started making dinner at midnight - with a great appreciation for light, and respect and gratitude for the heroic power company workers.



Sunday, January 11, 2015

INTERLUDE

Final scene of Die Walkure
Wotan is igniting the magic fire

It was inevitable that my energy would finally wear out. I've moved many times before - it's no big deal to me. This time, however, the move dragged on seemingly forever and escalated into a harrowing ordeal. I wasn't settled for three months.

I finally have my new place. And my possessions. But I no longer have my stamina. I'm exhausted, worn out, unmotivated. I have a sinus infection and sore throat. This isn't the result of the pure mountain air. I had these particular maladies my entire life - no matter where I lived.

Am I complaining? Naw. Let's call it a minor case of innocuous bitching. Even sweethearts like myself have occasional foul days.

The weather is warming up. Slowly. It was in the 20's last night. In the 30's today. There are lots of birds in the nearby woods. Beautiful cardinals. Also deer and squirrels. No noticeable mountain lions or sightings of Big Foot.
 I can hear the sharp report of a hunter's rifle now and again. Sometimes a little too close for comfort - but it lends to the rural atmosphere.

I should have said "shot" instead of "report", but I wanted to sound proper and refined.

When I step out my back door and see the great threshold of a forest, I instinctively assume a Wagnerian Mode. This morning I immediately thought of Forest Murmurs from Siegfried.

Last night, in the company of my old friend Insomnia, I watched the final act of Wagner's  Die Walkure on YouTube. One of the most profoundly beautiful and moving scenes in the operatic repertoire, in my opinion.

Wotan's heartwrenching farewell to his daughter Brunnhilde. And the magnificent magic fire music.

The great angry god Wotan forfeits his daughter Brunnhilde's Valkyrie status and renders her a mere mortal - - then sentences her to eternal sleep, until she can be awaken by the kiss of any man brave enough to penetrate the protective fire that surrounds her.

.....and all this happened because Brunnhilde had rescued the hapless Sieglinde, who is pregnant with Siegfried (who will become the future rescuer of sleeping Brunnhilde), - - after Siegmund (father of the yet unborn child) has been killed because of Wotan's relentless wrath......

That's a gross simplification of the plot. I wouldn't want to confuse anyone with complicated details.

Unsuspecting novices are forewarned to drink whiskey and/or indulge in your favorite recreational drugs before attending an opera by Wagner. Extensive psychological rehabilitation may be required after attending a performance.

I jest, of course. I love Wagner's music with an unwholesome passion and can't get enough. I can sit through the entire Ring Cycle without flinching.

I didn't say rinse cycle.
I said Ring Cycle.

Hey, if you think this blog post is boring, you'd better hope I never decide to write about Nietzsche.

I'm really not sophisticated in the least. I'm just a simple country boy at heart.







Friday, January 9, 2015

ENCOUNTER WITH A MOUNTAIN LION

 



Of all the positive things about living alone in the mountains, I like the solitude best. No traffic. No neighbors. No annoyances. Only the sounds of nature which, at first, were disturbingly new to me.

In the bleak blackness of night it is admittedly unnerving to hear strange, unearthly sounds echoing through the distance - - coming from every direction, blending together in a great, haunted cacophony. Coyotes, wild dogs, wolves, owls. Even the cows and horses - which inhabit distant neighboring meadows - contribute to the great nocturnal symphony.

I've had some well-intentioned people (who've never been here) try to reassure me with unsubstantiated facts.
There are no wolves or bears in your area.
The animals indigenous to your area don't come out at night.

Don't come out at night? Are you frickin' kidding???

I'm no longer intimidated by these nightly sounds. In fact, I often go outside to listen, absorb, and ponder. Tonight is far too cold for an extended sojourn (it's 7 degrees), but I was out for a few minutes.

As I gazed towards the sightless forest, I suddenly remembered something that happened long ago in the wilderness of the Nevada mountains. I hadn't thought about it in a very long time - - but tonight I recalled it with humor.

There's a long preface to the story, but I'll try my best to condense it:

Southern California. I'm twenty-one years old and living in Hollywood. My parents, who reside in Anaheim, are having serious marital difficulties. My mother is considering getting a divorce. She left my father that summer and got an apartment in Reno, Nevada.

In September, I drove up to Reno to visit my Mom and wound up staying a few weeks. In the meantime Dad found out where she was and convinced her to come home. She reluctantly acquiesced.

Let's cut to the chase and get to the good part.

Mom and I left Reno for Southern California on a cold, early October evening. She drove her car and I followed in mine.

Somewhere along the way - in the middle of the night, in the middle of the mountainous Nevada wilderness - I had to pee. I suppressed the urge for about an hour, but finally couldn't hold it any longer.

I repeatedly blinked my headlights, signaling that I was going to stop. We pulled over to the side of the road.

"I gotta pee!" I said, and bounded off into the nearby darkness.

As I was in the very midst of blissful release, I heard my Mom yelling "Get in the car! Get in the car!"

I looked up and saw an alarmingly close pair of glowing yellow eyes. They were staring right at me.

"Mountain lion!" Mom was yelling.

Without zipping my fly or tucking in my manhood, I dashed to my car and scrambled inside. I had left my headlights on and - without a doubt - a mountain lion darted by and disappeared into the darkness.

We didn't stop again for at least fifteen miles. When we did stop, the first thing Mom said was "The mountain lion was right by you! I couldn't believe it!"

Why it didn't attack is beyond my comprehension. The possibility that I have a guardian angel is remote.

Perhaps the sight of me in the process of frantic urination was a sufficient deterrent.
All I know is, from that moment on, I've always been extremely cautious and meticulously alert when peeing in the wilderness.






Thursday, January 8, 2015

I THINK I SLEPT IN A BED LAST NIGHT

 

I'm still wondering why the moving company initially sent a huge rig (two blocks long, at least) in an attempt to deliver my furniture last Tuesday. I had explained to them that access to my remote mountain abode wasn't easy. The initial attempt failed. Miserably. They promised that success would prevail on Wednesday.

Success prevailed on Wednesday, with a much smaller truck and the mercy of Mother Nature. It was colder than a penguin's kiss (I just made that up) with heavy flurries, but the mountain roads were driveable.

Is there any way that I can kidnap Spell Check and quietly dispose of it? It questions every word I write.
I say "driveable" exists.
If it doesn't, let's pretend it does.

The driver and his two helpers arrived just after 8:00am and were finished by 11:00. They were extremely polite and the delivery of my furniture went smoothly. I'm now the proud father of all my possessions. After three long  months.

I've been without my things for so long that it's rather disconcerting to have them back. Been living out of a suitcase since October. Haven't slept in a bed since before Thanksgiving. Been wearing the same two outfits for as long as I can remember.

I think I actually slept in a bed last night. I was so damn tired I didn't really know. Two of the cats slept with me - making my embarkation to Dreamland rather unpleasant - but, heck, I didn't give a hoot. I've have worse bed partners before. Trust me on that.

Sorting through my possessions and putting everything away will be a herculean task, at best. This place has three bedrooms and two baths but it's a lot smaller than my TX house was. Storage is what I need.

An obstacle course of boxes in my garage

Right now, hundreds of boxes are piled in the garage. No exaggeration. Worst of all....

.....could it actually be worse?......

there's no door on my garage (it's a long story that I won't go into now). I had to put up a heavy tarp to protect everything. I brought the valuables inside - including many antique paintings.

My two pianos survived the moving & storage ordeal better than I expected. They are playable. I am out of practice.

Speed it up, Jon. Your blog post is getting too long.

Sure, it's long - - but my charm, wit, and likeability sustain me.

That's what you think.

The Big Cold Front (capitalized for emphasis) arrived yesterday. The daytime "high" was 16 degrees. After midnight it dropped to a teeth-chattering minus 5.
Minuses unnerve me.

I'm not feeling well at all today. Aches, pains, sore throat. The flu is rampant and I'm hoping I don't catch it. I don't feel like doing a damn thing but I have a lot to do.

At least I have a bed and two pianos to sustain me.

And three cats - - just in case I run out of food and get hungry.

Somewhere near my kitchen -
a tabletop and my boots