Thursday, March 26, 2015

HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD HAUNTED HOUSE



When I was a reckless youth roaming the midnight streets of Hollywood there were many places on the Boulevard that thoroughly intrigued me. One was the dilapidated old wooden Victorian house that belonged to the mysterious Janes Sisters.

It was located on 7021 Hollywood Boulevard, which was way up on the dreary west end, away from the centralized touristy glitz. I used to love walking past it late at night because it looked exactly like a haunted Halloween house. It seemed so out of place on the Boulevard, a curious relic stubbornly remaining from a by-gone era.

A few dim lights glowed eerily from the windows, and every once in a while one of the ancient sisters would peak out from behind curtains and glare at me. It was almost as though I could actually feel her annoyance. Annoying them was never my intention. I was merely fascinated.

I had heard a few sketchy stories about the sisters and their peculiarities. I'd even heard that the house was haunted. I didn't learn the truth until many years later. 

The only resident "ghosts" were the four siblings who lived there for many years: Mabel, Mary, Carrie, and Donald Janes. By the time I became fascinated with the house, Mary and Donald were dead. Only Carrie and Mabel remained.


The Janes House as it looks in recent years -
a far cry from the creepy haunted house that I remember.

The house was built in 1902. Herman and Mary Janes lived there - along with their four children (the aforementioned Carrie, Mabel, Mary, and Donald). In 1911, the women of the household opened a school in the house. It was known as the Misses Janes School of Hollywood. Their pupils included the children of such celebrities as Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Wallace Beery, and film producer Jesse Lasky.

After Mr. and Mrs. Janes died, the school fell upon hard times. It closed in 1926, but the four Janes siblings continued living in the house. Donald opened a gas station in the front yard, known as Janes Auto Service.



Rare interior photos

By 1964 part of the property was converted into a parking lot. That same year, Carrie's husband died (she was the only sibling who had married). Within a decade, the house fell into decay. A handyman was hired to look after the property. The two remaining sisters, Carrie and Mabel, never ventured outside.

After Mabel died in 1978, Carrie moved into the kitchen and slept in a makeshift window box bed. Carrie is the one who would peer out the window at me. In 1982 Carrie was moved to a nursing home in the valley, where she died the following year at the age of 94.

Fortunately the Janes House didn't suffer the fate of demolition, like so many other historic Hollywood buildings. It was purchased in 1985. The new owners had the entire house moved to the back lot, away from the street. After extensive renovations it was used as a Visitor Center, then it became a restaurant called Memphis, and later a nightclub. So far as I know, it's now a 1920's style speakeasy.

Although the radical transformation of the house has served varied (and mostly unsuccessful) purposes, it is at least securely preserved for posterity. The Jane sisters would certainly be amazed - and perhaps pleased.



The house is almost unrecognizable from when I knew it. It somehow looks smaller and benign, rather than like the foreboding, decaying street-side oddity that it once was.

Here's a very interesting fact - and one that had actually crossed my mind long ago:
The Janes House inspired author Harry Farrell to write a novel entitled Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? It later became a 1962 hit movie (and a cult classic) starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

The name of the main character in the book, Baby Jane Hudson, was derived from the surname of the Janes sisters - and the name of a nearby street, Hudson Avenue.

Only in Hollywood.








Tuesday, March 24, 2015

UNINTERESTING



Jon? Uninteresting?? It's a complete impossibility.

It was an annoyingly uneventful day. I did absolutely nothing - - and I did it with astounding lethargy. I'm still in merciless pain from my back and shoulder, but I have no intention of going to a doctor. They do nothing more than dispense pills and send bills (hey, it rhymes).

I'm not into pills and I don't like bills. I've survived far worse things than this without the aid of a doctor. Yea, that's probably why I'm half-dead.

Spent several morning hours administering physical and mental therapy to my computer. It's called recuperation after virus. Have you ever heard of the Health Alert virus? No, I am not kidding, it really exists. And it's terrifying. Almost more terrifying than Obamacare.

Aw, settle down. I couldn't resist.

Better not make any more jokes like that Jon, or your blog followers will disown you. All two of them.

Heck, I know what it's like to be disowned. When I had my other blog, Lone Star Concerto, I made an innocent anti-Hillary remark and three followers abandoned me in one day. No lie.  

Just concentrate on humoring us with your gay Hollywood stories and breathtaking piano videos, Jon. Everything will be all right.

By the way, Jonathan - nothing you say is ever exactly "innocent"......

(people who talk to themselves are extremely weird)

My cat Scruffy was spayed over a week ago. This afternoon I tried to remove the stitches but it was a complete impossibility. She wouldn't hold still for a second and I couldn't even locate the damn things. She bloodied my hands with her protesting claws (sounds like something out of a cheap romance novel, doesn't it?).

I'll have to bring her to the vet tomorrow. It will take half a dozen assistants wearing heavy work gloves to hold her down. And some leather restraints and probably a few sedatives.

I don't know why the vet didn't use dissolving stitches. After all, this is the twentieth century. Or the twenty-first century. Or whatever.

Today was an incredibly gorgeous day. Beautiful beyond belief. 70 degrees. Cloudless sky. Pure mountain air. Birds singing in trees. Wildflowers attempting to burgeon. Lazy wasps droning around.

It was exactly like a scene from one of those old, animated, Technicolor Disney movies. Well, all except for the droning wasps.

The sunset this evening was spectacular, with the crescent moon and Venus lingering overhead. I snapped a photo with my digital camera (sans flash). It turned out crappy but I posted it anyway.
The moon doesn't look crescent on the photo, it looks like a little wayward white blob.

The weather is warming up, all the snow has vanished, Easter is in the near future.

I think spring is here to stay.










Friday, March 20, 2015

SPRING SONG



Many thanks to those brave souls who left comments on my previous post (or long-winded confession). I've sobered up since I wrote it. I think.

A little birdie told me that today is the first day of spring. I suppose I should don a toga, run outside, and do an interpretive Spring Dance (alla Isadora Duncan) in a field of daffodils.

Unfortunately, it's cold, rainy, and there isn't a daffodil in sight. A few days ago it was sunny, the temperature was 70 degrees, and my spirits were soaring. Mother Nature must have noticed my mirth and decided to give me one final blast of winter.

I spent this first gloomy day of spring inside, wearing an extra sweater, in the company of several consecutive hot cups of tea. 

Actually, it was a lousy day. This morning my laptop computer was infected with a demon virus. I should have called an exorcist, but instead I battled the Evil Entity on my own - with the help of Avast and System Restore.

This afternoon, while attempting to make an early dinner, I accidentally left a pot of stuffing on the stove and it burned to a crisp. In fact it burned beyond a crisp. The smell was so bad that I had to open all the doors and windows. The fresh air did little to alleviate the thick smokey odor. Now the house is cold and it still stinks.

Welcome to spring!

In honor of this new season, I've decided to subject you to my interpretation of Rustle of Spring by the Norwegian composer Christian Sinding (1856-1941).

Some of you have been seen this video before. I'm posting it again just for those of you who haven't seen it.


This an old, poor quality rehearsal video that I made when I had a music studio in San Angelo. I simply propped an El Cheapo camcorder up on a bookcase while I was practicing. It was nearly 110 degrees that summer day (no lie) and I was sweltering in the Texas heat.

This video was made at least 25 years after I was a musician in California - maybe more - and I was completely out of practice (musically speaking, of course). 



Thursday, March 19, 2015

JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME


Just between you and me? What is this - -secrets? Confessions, maybe?

I've had more than a few beers, so I'll apologize in advance for whatever I'm about to say.....

 

I've had favorable responses to my recent blog posts about my youthful adventures in California - - but I'm sure a few people have been secretly saying "Jon, you're living in the past. Nobody gives a rat's ass about your ancient Hollywood history."

And my answer would inevitably be "Aw, settle down and try to enjoy it. It's free entertainment."

I could get caustic and say "My past is probably a helluva lot more interesting than your past."
But I'm a sweet, sensitive, caring guy. I wouldn't even think of saying anything like that.

I've previously mentioned (on more than a few occasions),  that I have never thought of myself as being particularly special or interesting.......until I began to ponder my past.

One day - - while in the initially unintended process of profound pondering - - I realized that I've had an unusual life. The more I thought about it, the more incidents I remembered, and the more astounded I was. 

We are all multifaceted human beings. I like to think of each one of us as an enigma in progress. For some reason, I seem to harbor more enigmas than most: an over-abundance of multifacetism.  Don't bother to Google the word - - I think I just made it up.

I'm not drunk yet. Just a little tipsy.

My life has been filled with many incredibly conflicting chapters. My inner network harbors a myriad of confusingly diverse aspects, colorful contrasts, infinite contradictions. In retrospect I sometime have difficulty knowing exactly who I am, and I very often confuse and confound myself.

So - what's special about me? (besides good looks and charm). Hey, don't snicker. I learned from bitter experience that modesty will get you nowhere.

I don't have any fancy degrees (or pedigrees) to flaunt. I don't have any children or grandchildren to talk about. The bank isn't loaded with my money. I'm not impressively intelligent. I just said that to appear humbleBut my life has been rich in diversity and adventure.

Examples! We want examples, Jon.

I survived a dysfunctional childhood, my parent's extremely turbulent marriage, and my father's relentless violence and abuse - which nearly destroyed me (something even my own relatives knew nothing about and probably would rather not know).

I survived my explosive youthful years, when I was uncontrollably wild, reckless, filled with self-hate, and solely intent on self-destruction.

I was privileged to have indulged in the very best life has to offer and damned to have wallowed in the absolute worst. 

I had a promising start.
When I was eleven I wrote and illustrated my first book. It wasn't a good book, but what the hell. When I was twelve I was the youngest artist to have my oil paintings displayed in a popular art gallery in Orange County (California). I gave my first public solo piano recital when I was fourteen.

I had the privilege of studying piano and composition with some of the most renowned teachers in the country and was acquainted with some of the finest musicians in the world. When I was fifteen, I was awarded the Albert Rosen Award for one of my piano compositions (Rosen was an Austrian conductor). I performed a piano concerto with a symphony orchestra when I was twenty. 

I was chosen to play a rare three-hundred-year-old harpsichord at the L.A. Music Center......and I later played broken down pianos in sleazy bars that catered to the lowest dregs of society.

I had more golden opportunities than anyone would ever believe and squandered more of them than I would ever want to admit. I was incredibly reckless and careless and never learned to value my own self-worth until it was too late. 

During my early years in Hollywood I knew pimps, drug dealers, and underground porn producers. And I met a very impressive assortment of famous people, including some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood. I've been on numerous movie sets and worked as an extra.

I was notoriously promiscuous - -  and willingly embarking on a one-way excursion into Sodom with no regrets - - I'm not proud. I'm just saying.

I've had a four-day sexual tryst in the Beverly Hills Hotel with a movie director. Ironically, on two other occasions I had been kicked out of the Beverly Hills Hotel - once for being drunk, once for wearing a cowboy hat in the Polo Lounge.

After the breakup of a particularly volatile love affair I went to Mexico and lived on the beach.

A wealthy, sophisticated young woman (whose father was famous) asked me to marry her ( I am not kidding - I've written about this before). ....and you thought I was exclusively gay, didn't you? After the end of that adventure, I got drunk and sailed a boat to Catalina - - solo and with almost no nautical experience. Thoughtless spontaneity was my specialty.

I was the editor of my high school newspaper and wrote for a local newspaper when I was sixteen. Years later, I had success as a widely published freelance writer. 

Then, in an extremely grim chapter of my life, I had enormous trouble and bad luck in Texas, which sapped all of creativity and forced me to abandon music and writing. This foul fluke of fate robbed me of my spirit, my soul, and my life savings. I'm still in the difficult process of recovering......

Why am I saying all this?
Because there's no doubt that I've had an  interesting life. And I haven't even revealed a fraction of it. My secrets could fill a book.......
Why keep it to myself? Some day I'll croak and no one will ever know.

Writing about my Hollywood days in this blog is a pleasant diversion and a preliminary exercise for what I plan to write (elsewhere) in the future. 

Public blogs are really no place to reveal deeply private confessions. I'm usually careful about what I post here - for many reasons. 

I sure as hell don't know everyone who's reading this blog. 


There are a lot of private lurkers - who visit regularly but never ever bother to reveal themselves. Hey, I love them, I appreciate their interest - - but their purposeful anonymity is perhaps just a little disconcerting. 

My relatives occasionally read my blog - I have to force them but I know they're here. I love them, but I don't want to shock them. Well, not too much, anyway.
I can just hear them gasping and whispering Wow, we always knew Jon was peculiar and eccentric, but we never realized he was this crazy........

And all those sweet, kind, fellow bloggers - whom I truly adore. The majority of them are innocent people who've never cruised the streets of Hollywood or sold their souls to Satan. They understand me, or at least politely tolerate me.

I've come very far from my old days and wild ways. My turbulent past is safely behind me. I'm a little older and a lot wiser.
Or perhaps a lot older and a little wiser?

Lately, the only excitement I have in my life is when I fall on the ice during unexpected blizzards, or deal with broken water pipes, or drive twenty miles one-way on perilous mountain roads to get groceries.

Okay, I'll finally admit it:
A shameless sense of exhibitionism compels me to excavate my past and resurrect these stories. It helps me get through the day. And it makes me happy to know that perhaps you enjoy reading them.

I've had too many beers and I've written FAR too much. I'm going to hate myself in the morning.

Well, it won't be the first time.










Tuesday, March 17, 2015

FOG AND WILD DOGS



Nearly every morning the mountains are shrouded with gentle fog. It lingers in the canyons and weaves listlessly among the naked branches of trees.

I lie in bed and watch it from the window, feeling peaceful and content. Fog was extremely rare in Texas, and when it did appear it held no beauty or magical ambiance. The fog here in Tennessee reminds me of Southern California fog and ignites fond memories. 

In Orange County, near the beach, the mornings always started out foggy before the sun broke through. I remember those yawning mornings when I'd get up insanely early to go to college. I had to drive past Los Alamitos Race Track and I'd often stop to watch the horses being exercised. 

After arriving on campus I'd head for the music department and climb the three flights of stairs to the rehearsal rooms. I'd get a cup of coffee and then start playing one of the pianos - - while occasionally watching the gentle somber fog weave past the windows.

So many pleasant memories from the faded past.......

Tonight, here in the mountains, I'm in the kitchen cooking an impromptu dinner. The silence is suddenly interrupted by a disturbingly loud clamor of barking and howling dogs. Wild dogs. They roam everywhere late at night, creating a ruckus and igniting bone-chilling fear. 

They are extremely close to the house this time, quite near the back porch. I have a flimsy back door and a very over-sized kitchen window. I can see about a dozen dogs scurrying by and I'm slightly unnerved.

Slightly unnerved?? Hell, I'm scared shitless.

My big cat Kitzee (also known as Scratch) jumps up on a box to watch them. I'm hoping the dogs don't make a leap for the window when they see her.

I snap a quick photo with my digital camera - just for posterity.......

Fortunately the dogs pass by very quickly. The wild ruckus fades away and soon the night is silent again.

Just an average night in the wilderness.

Kitzee, watching the wild dogs
from the kitchen window.

I plan to post another story about my sordid youthful adventures very soon. Just thought I'd mention it, to pique your interest.

Hey, Jon, it'll take more than that to pique their interest.

Heck, that's what you think.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

RABIES, ANYONE?



Have you ever lived with a cat in heat? I've lived with a relentlessly squawking Senegal parrot. I've lived with neurotic dogs and psychotic lovers. Nothing is worse than a cat in heat. 

My cat Scruffy will be a year old in less than two weeks. I should have had her spayed long ago. I'm paying dearly for my procrastination. She'd only been in heat for a week and I was already reduced to tears from her annoying antics. Meee-owing. Whining. Howling. Rolling around on the floor. It was like watching Eleonora Duse doing the death scene from Cleopatra.

I considered hiring a feline hit man, but I don't yet have very many underground connections in Tennessee. 

On Monday morning I made an appointment with the vet. Not for me. For Scruffy. I had to drive her to town yesterday afternoon. It was misty with rain and the fog was so heavy that it looked like the Hebrides. As I maneuvered the twisting, narrow mountain roads Scruffy howled at the top of her lungs. To say that my nerves were shattered is an understatement.  I did everything to restrain myself from doing a swan dive over a cliff - - a Thelma and Louise.

Fast forward. In the vet's office.

I knew I was in trouble when I saw the woman at the desk. She was utterly humorless. With a face like Marie Dressler and glasses around her neck on a chain.

"Name, sex, and birth date," she demanded.

Did she mean me or the cat?
I'll give her my name. She can probably guess my sex. But in order to get my age, she'll have to fight me at Madison Square Garden.

She meant the cat, Jon.

"What is the color?" she wants to know.

Color?? Scruffy's color is hard to describe. Sort of like a cross between a dirty dishrag and the bottom of a 100-year-old terra cotta planter.

While I'm stammering for an answer, somebody in the waiting room shouts "Calico!"

"Well, her mother was a calico," I admit.

"Did you have your rabies shot?" the woman at the desk asked.
I swear I'm not making this up. They were her exact words.

Rabies?!? To my knowledge, I've never had rabies. Or a shot. I go through a quick mental rundown of all my previous maladies.

Let's see, I've had: chicken pox, German measles, scarlet fever, the croup, pneumonia, pericarditis, sinusitis, the clap. I've had chiggers, strep throats that rendered me speechless, and anxiety attacks that would have baffled Freud.

She means the cat, Jon. Rabies shots for the cat.

"Oh, yea. All my cats had rabies shots," I tell her.

"Well, bring all the documentation with you next time you come in. I need to see written proof."

Holy shit. I'm here to get a cat spayed. I'm not here to sign the Treaty of Versailles.

It's presently Thursday morning as I write this. I have to drive into town to pick Scruffy up at 2:00 pm. I'm armed with the rabies documents. And reinforced with several cans of beer.

 I'm praying that the woman behind the desk with the glasses on a chain will be out to lunch when I get there. She scares me. I have a feeling she'd neuter me if she had half the chance.

Update:
I picked Scruffy up this afternoon. The Marie Dressler lady wasn't there so I didn't need to show the rabies documents (but I brought them nevertheless). Scruffy is now home resting comfortably. She's not allowed to eat until tomorrow.
I'm resting comfortably, too. And I'm going to eat dinner in a few minutes.


Monday, March 9, 2015

ANATOMY OF CORRUPTION





Why excavate the past, Jon?

Because the past is all we have. For better or worse, it made us what we are today. Don't ever count on the future.

I was nineteen when I first lived in Hollywood. It was a lean,wild,reckless time - - long before I went to college, or became a musician and freelance writer, or hobnobbed with the Tinseltown bigwigs. 


I loved the addictive allure of Hollywood but I was never starstruck, never desired fame or fortune. All I wanted was freedom and blessed escape. Escape from the raw brutality of reality. Escape from myself.

Despite being young and naive, I wasn't exactly thrown as a sacrificial lamb into the seedy underworld of eternal darkness. I'd been subtly preparing for it, almost unconsciously, for a long time. When I had finally broken out of my sophomoric shell I was more than willing to be corrupted.


Corruption doesn't come easily unless it's desired. By my mid-teens I was already planning the metamorphosis. I loathed my timid, nerdy, skinny, shy, self-consciousness. I yearned to shed the ghost of my pale passivity and reinvent my entire self.

Self-hatred is easily attained. All it takes is the psychological and physical manipulation of an abusive parent. My father was a master at destroying others. As with most abusers, he targeted the weakest: my mother and I. We were his physical punching bags and the recipients of his verbal humiliation for as long as I can remember. Strangely enough, to this day, I've never quite abandoned my feeling of worthlessness.

I worked diligently to assume a new image and a new attitude.  Although never remotely athletic, I forced myself to swim, surf, lift weights. Soon I had a deep California tan and my hair was bleached golden from the sun. I got contact lenses. Started to smoke and drink. Had my first sexual affair. It lasted nearly three blissful months. April through June. 

First love affairs are emotional agony for pathetically sentimental novices. When it ended, my heart was shattered. I was so devastated that I hopped a plane for New York. Spent the summer with relatives in New Jersey.

Much later, when I hit the hardcore streets of L.A., I learned to suppress sentimentality and became a master heart breaker.  I'll hurt you before you hurt me. That was a requisite for survival. And it was all part of the game.

The big turning point happened after I returned to California. The breaking point. It was inevitable. In late September, my father and I had one of our worst physical encounters ever (and believe me there had been many). 

When I was fourteen, he fractured two of my ribs. When I was sixteen he savagely attacked me with a shovel. My father's maniacal temper knew no bounds. When enraged, his sole intention was to kill - - and that's no exaggeration.

The latest incident was over a very trivial matter, as usual, but this time I wasn't passive. I dared to provoke and defy him. My father was plied with beer and blew like Krakatoa. His strength was superhuman. He had me in bear hug, forcing my head down against my chest, trying to break my neck. When I was finally able to get free I stumbled dumbly, gasping for breath. He knocked me through a glass sliding door, then choked me into unconsciousness. I was down for the count and out like a light.

Much later that night - battered, bleeding, and shaken - I found his handgun in a closet. I waited by the bedroom door until I was sure his hideous snores were deep and steady. Then I crept in, stood by the bed, pointed the cocked gun directly at his head.

That moment was an eternity. All I heard were his snores and my increasing heartbeat. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, the image of the gun became more distinct - as did the consequences of my intention.

If I killed him, I'd destroy myself (not to mention my mother). My father's life would be expunged, but so would mine. In essence he'd be the winner, as usual. I withdrew from the room and planned my escape.

I've told this story many times before: how I left the house barefooted, only clad in jeans and a T shirt, drove to Seal Beach, spent the night sleeping in the sand. How I sneaked back to the house in a few days, when my father was at work, and packed a suitcase.

I rented a cheap one-room studio apartment in Anaheim. Casa Cordova on Lincoln. It was on the second floor. From my bed I had a view of the nearby drive-in movie. Every night I'd lie there, drinking beer, watching the silent screen.....the same muted images over & over.....

I remember the night Judi came to visit. She was one of my closest friends from high school. We drank Cokes and Bacardi Rum until long after midnight. Then - on a wild whim - drove to Huntington Beach. We wadded in the water, then let the increasing breakers slosh over us. We were drenched.  

I loved being drunk. I loved the night. I loved this sense of absolute freedom and endless possibilities.

"I'm going to Hollywood!" I suddenly said.

"Hollywood? What are you going to do there? Seek fame and fortune?"

"Nope. I'm gonna immerse myself in stardusted dreams of escape."

Hollywood. In early October. 
I was young and hot, eager and unknowingly desirable. I assumed the identity of a faux cowboy. I was mysterious - shrouded in the safety of anonymity. I became streetwise, learned the ropes.

And I became deliciously corrupted as I embarked on a wild and reckless course of absolute self-destruction.


This YouTube video, which I made about a year ago, aptly captures the essence of my Hollywood nights (best watched full-screen)
it can also be found on my YouTube channel jayveesonata













Friday, March 6, 2015

HEARING VOICES

Sunshine this morning
View from my back door

This blog is turning into nothing more than a boring weather report - - the sole purpose of which is to reassure my friends and relatives that I'm still surviving
AND
to irritate those people who wish I hadn't survived.

In a valiant attempt to expunge tales of winter, I plan to post one of my exciting Hollywood stories very soon (possibly tomorrow).

I know you'll be waiting with breathless anticipation.


Trees on my property (facing north)
Beyond that is the meadow where the cows reside

Heavy snow yesterday and temperatures near zero last night. I stayed up until dawn, keeping careful watch to make sure the pipes didn't freeze again. 

The weather was crystal clear and the full moon was gorgeous. Absolute stillness was broken several times by nearby bands of howling coyotes. Just at midnight about half a dozen of them came right by my back porch. I actually enjoyed the wild excitement of it.

By dawn I was so tired that I crawled into bed for an hour of shuteye.

Fifteen minutes later I was rudely awakened by the loud voices of two men in my kitchen. I sat up startled, but positive that it had been a dream or my vivid imagination.

Then I heard them again - clearly this time. They were talking about numbers and taking measurements.

What the F***?!?

I leaped from bed and ran to the kitchen. On the table was my laptop computer, which I had forgotten to turn off and close.

On the laptop keyboard sat my two young cats Scruffy and Bosco - -  their ample asses manuevering the keys.

Somehow - - this sounds unbelievable but it's true - - they managed to access an episode of This Old House, which I think was on YouTube. Can you believe it??

They also managed to voice-activate my computer (whatever the hell that is). For the next ten minutes this annoying, unwanted voice kept blurting out instructions and finally kept demanding my password (this happened after I had exited the Internet).

It took me half an hour to finally straighten it all out. I am not computer savvy. This kind of crap unnerves me.

What really unnerved me, however, was when I'd first heard those voices in the kitchen.

I've always suspected that someday I'm going to start hearing voices and the men in white coats will come to take me away. I just didn't expect it to happen today.


Trees on my property (facing south)
Beyond that is a river 
(all photos were taken this morning)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

RAIN MUD FREEZING MISERY


The good news is that the rain is now frozen


So, Jon, how is everything going?

Let me put it this way:
have you ever seen the old 1947 movie The Egg and I? It featured Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert as a city-bred couple who attempt to start a chicken farm in a ramshackle Ozark shack. Everything that could possibly go wrong does go wrong.


Well, picture me as Fred MacMurray.
Aw, what the hell - - you can picture me as Claudette Colbert, if you like. I'm versatile.

What exactly are you trying to say, Jon?

I'm not exactly saying anything, except that here in the mud-sopped reality of the hillbilly hills, there are no happy Hollywood endings.



The title of this post aptly sums up my situation. The only thing I left out are the curse words.

Actually, the plumbing ordeal went fairly smoothly - despite the torrential freezing rain and the nearly-insurmountable obstacle of endlessly oozing, knee-deep mud.

David the plumber arrived early and unexpectedly (interrupting my breakfast). Since he recently had knee surgery and can't get around easily, I did my best to assist him (without mentioning that I'm still in pain from falling on the ice).

It's probably unnecessary to recount all the morbid details, but - in a proverbial nutshell - we were both completely drenched and covered in mud within two minutes.

Remember those new boots that were ruined when I went over the cliff in Arkansas? Well, they look even worse now......

Several pipes were leaking, but not in the location that I had initially thought. The pipes near the water heater were fine. The leaking ones were far away.

There were several other strange plumbing issues that were puzzling me (and puzzling Dave). I won't bother you with tedious details.
Eventually he figured out that I need a new water pressure valve. The old one is rusted and faulty (much like myself).

So, he fixed the broken pipes. And he will install a new pressure valve as soon as the weather improves - -

- -which might not be for several years, from what I can discern. More snow and drastically cold temperatures are expected later today. I'm terrified that the frigid pipes will give a repeat performance.

Anyway, I finally have water again, after a week and a half.
Let's say it all together: hip hip hooray!

Unfortunately, I have water in the garage, too, from the unrelenting deluge. I have to install rain gutters along the back of the house. I could provide a lot more unpleasant details, but I'm not in the mood.

My clothes kept getting so soaked with rain yesterday that I had to change them three times. I finally ran out of outfits (i.e. jeans and sweatshirts) and had to go in the wet, icy garage to look for more (most of my stuff is still packed).

Is there a positive outcome to this tale of woe?

Not a chance. After I tossed my wet clothes into the dryer, I discovered that the old three-pronged cord on my dryer isn't compatible with the new four-pronged outlet in my laundry room. Courtesy of a law enforced in 2000, in yet another attempt by the government to alter/control our lives.

I'm still trying to wrap my weary mind around the concept of those hideously bizarre, unwholesome new light bulbs that they're presently forcing us to adapt to.

I have a lot more to say, but I'm too tired to write another word. 
Stop applauding. It's rude.

It's presently 5:30 a.m. Just starting to get light. I looked out the window and.....

......it's SNOWING!!!

I plan to go out later and have a snowball fight with myself. I might win.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

IT'S NOT REAL

This isn't a real blog post - it's just a crappy update. I've been bitching about my plumbing problems so much lately that I wanted to assure everyone that help is on the way.
If you want a REAL blog post, check out my previous one. 

In desperation, I called my Tennessee realtor today and asked if he knew any reliable (or even unreliable) plumbers. He referred me to a friend of his named David and the guy showed up within twenty minutes. He checked out my pipes (don't panic, it was nothing sexual). At least one is broken and none have been winterized.

Unfortunately, David recently had knee surgery and can't crawl around under houses very well. Also, his elderly father is hospitalized in serious condition. He promised to fix the pipes ASAP. I told him to take his time and not to worry. If I survived this past week without water, another week won't kill me. Maybe.

You'll have to excuse me while I go through my annual Downton Abbey withdrawal. Season Five just ended and I'm already getting the shakes and breaking out into a cold sweat.

Has anyone ever been startled when that clock on my blog sidebar chimes? Every time it bongs it scares the living jeeters out of me. When I initially installed it I had no idea that it chimed.

I just edited the clock. Hopefully it won't chime any more. I didn't want to risk scaring someone to death.

A CRY IN THE WILDERNESS

Moon rising last night

Well, it's not exactly a cry. It's more like an incredibly loud uninhibited shriek of relentless frustration. A primal scream. My scream was so loud that birds fell out of trees two miles away and coyotes hightailed it to Kentucky.

I've been in a very foul mood for days and it ain't pretty.

That's impossible to believe, Jon. How could anyone as sweet, gentle, kind, easy-going, caring, humorous, incredibly likeable, and disarmingly charismatic as you be in a foul mood?

Aw, blow it out your *******!!!!

I've been without water for over a week and my patience is wearing thin. I've already endured 250 snowstorms this winter (slight   exaggeration) and the next one is expected by Thursday. It's so friggin' cold in this wilderness shack that I had to pad my knees to keep them from knocking together and if I run the heat constantly my utility bill will be $450,000 (slight exaggeration). My back still hurts so badly from falling on the ice that I can hardly sit, stand, or lay down (no exaggeration).

And yesterday I risked driving into town to get some desperately-needed groceries. When I got home I realized that I forgot to buy milk. There's no way in hell that I'm going to drive for half an hour on narrow, twisting, dangerous mountain roads all the way back to town for a gallon of milk.
There are plenty of cows in the meadow next to my property. I'll damn well get a bucket, climb over the fence, and start milking them.

 Did you ever try to get a plumber in a tiny rural hick town? I've been trying for over a week with no luck at all. One never answers the phone. The other never returns my messages. The third never showed up.

What is required to get their attention? Do I have to bribe them with drugs and sex? 
Hey, no need to panic. I'm living in Deliverance country......

This doesn't only happen here. I had the same frickin' problem when I lived in the small hick town in west Texas. When my furnace broke during the coldest winter in history, I couldn't get the repairman to come for two weeks. And he lived a mile away.

Mayberry RFD has a much slower-paced lifestyle than the rest of the world.

Why did you ever choose to live in the wilderness anyway, Jon? We warned you that it wouldn't be easy - especially now that you're getting older.

Hey - - one more wise crack about the "older" thing and I'm gonna personally come to your house and make you eat your social security check. I might be old, but I'm twenty years younger than you. Well, okay. Maybe ten.

When it comes to choosing between the two Rural Evils there's no contest. I'd rather be devoured by wolves in the Tennessee mountains than go back to the putrid bowels of Texas. I've always maintained that Texas is the worst place on earth and I've never changed my mind. My experiences there literally destroyed me - mentally, physically, and financially. I'll never look back.


This was my back yard in Texas
during one of the endless dust storms
(I'm still coughing dust out of my lungs)


Wicked winds, perpetual dust storms, endless droughts, relentless heat, scorpions in my boots, rattlesnakes in my back yard, nightmarish neighbors. Did I mention wicked winds?  
Not to mention those three unscrupulous realtors who crucified me for four long years and afterwards gleefully drank my blood.


This is the view from my window in Tennessee


Here in the Tennessee mountains I have peace - - something that I've been seeking my entire life.

 My only neighbors are cows and horses. And birds, owls, white-tail deer, coyotes, wolves, 'possums, squirrels. At night I hear gentle winds singing in tall trees. In the morning I watch the haunting, ever-changing mountain fog from my bedroom window.

Despite all the gross inconveniences and pioneer lifestyle - - I'LL GLADLY TAKE IT!

Nicely expressed. So, are you feeling better, Jon?

Hell, no. But I will after I have a few beers. And find a plumber.



My back yard