Wednesday, March 30, 2016

CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT




Listen to them, the children of the night.
What music they make!

Dracula
Bram Stoker

I've been nocturnal for as long as I can remember - - and when I try to sleep, I'm a hopeless insomniac.

Hungarian heritage? Possible vampirism?? It's undoubtedly something in my blood (no Dracula puns intended). Some people rise and shine with the morning sun. I don't feel alive until after dark. I'm never fully awake until midnight. I dread daybreak.

So where am I going with this subject?
Absolutely nowhere. It simply crossed my mind tonight, during a several-hours-long battle with insomnia.

I went to bed extremely early tonight - which means before midnight. My Big Plan (capitalized for emphasis) was to drive to town. This wasn't intended to be a pleasure excursion, but rather a necessary one. I need a new vacuum cleaner. Pronto.

The more I tried to sleep, the more I turned and tossed. The more I tossed and turned, the wider awake I became. The wider awake I became, the more I dreaded the agonizing prospect of piloting those excruciatingly endless winding mountain roads.

My back hurts, Big Time. I also have a monumental kink in my neck (had it for days). Probably should buy new pillows, along with the vacuum cleaner. 

Bosco was hogging all the covers. No need for alarm. Bosco's a cat. Not a lover. (just thought I'd clear that up in case you were in doubt)

Come to think of it, I probably did have a lover named Bosco somewhere along the line - - long ago during my reckless whiskey and hashish days..... Or was that Bozo?
(sometimes I like to throw in an unexpected punch, just to knock my critics for a loop) 

An owl was emitting spooky Halloweenish hoots near my bedroom window. At least I think it was an owl....

I finally got up, went into the kitchen, made a sandwich and a cup of coffee. At 3:00 a.m. 
Caffeine is the last thing I need. I'm already wired for sound.

At around 4:00 a pack of coyotes wandered in from the forest just behind the house - howling, yelping, growling, shrieking with demonic enthusiasm. 

There were a lot of them, much more than usual, and they came very close to my back door. I turned on the back porch light. When they finally moved to a safer distance, I stepped outside to have a look. They were already just a murky blur in the darkness.

When the coyotes are very close in large numbers, their presence is blood-curdling - - not to mention goose bump inducing - - but I love the excitement. There's an intoxicating satisfaction about being alone in the wilderness at night. It lends romance to nocturnality and intrigue to insomnia.

Spell Check informs me that nocturnality doesn't exist. I say bullshit! Look in the dictionary. Spel czech iz rong!!

So, where was I?

It's nearly dawn now and I'm still not sleepy. My Big Plan for Wednesday has been thwarted by insomnia. I can't go on Thursday, due to predicted Big Storms (capitalized for emphasis). The vacuum cleaner will have to wait. And I have no regrets.

I'm going back to bed.


Afterthought:
This crappy post probably shouldn't have been written. If you'd rather see pictures, check out my two previous posts.

 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

THIS ONE WON'T TAKE MUCH EFFORT




Well, Jon, what do you think your blog readers want to see for Easter?

Me - - hanging from the nearest tree. Kinda like Judas Iscariot.

Besides that.

They sure as hell don't want to absorb anything wordy or thoughtful, like my Good Friday post. It scared the jeeters out of them (there are many times when I scare myself, but that's beside the point). Many thanks Geo, for the only comment!

My readers obviously prefer mindless, inane fluff. Like beer-induced rants. Or boring photos.

Did you drink any beer lately, Jon?

No, I'm still recovering from last Wednesday. 

I'll post some inane photos. 
I wanted to take some Easter Sunday pictures of the blossoms, but there's so damn much frost at night that the blossoms are fading fast. Half of them are on respirators. They might not survive until Easter.
It's warm and sunny here during the day, but after dark the temperature plummets to minus 40. Almost.

Against my better judgement, here are an assortment of Easter-themed photos, most of which were taken a few years ago in Texas. My long-time blog readers will remember them and silently groan. 

FIRST, these are the few surviving blossoms on my property. I took these pics today (Saturday): 

 




SECOND - here are some pics I took when I lived in Texas:

  My cat Scratch devouring the Easter tulips


 


 I still have that antique pitcher - it's one of the few things the movers didn't break or lose



Scratch
encountering the Easter Bunny 

 The Easter Bunny
encountering a tumbleweed in the back yard

C


Chocolate cream-filled Easter cakes that I made myself (I can bake - - I'm not just another pretty face)

 I think these are called orange stars -
they're fairly popular in West TX during Easter



Don't laugh - he looks pretty damn good for being 105...... 
(hell, I feel 105)

 


Some vintage Easter graphics on my other blog:
http://cabinetofcurioustreasures.blogspot.com  

 

Friday, March 25, 2016

GHOSTS OF GOOD FRIDAY




 I wrote this in Texas a few years ago. It's a true story. 


There's an intense loneliness in the windswept wastelands of West Texas. Ceaseless winds sweep across the eternal tumble of open spaces - - and if you listen carefully, you can almost hear the whisper of voices from a distant past. Ghost voices that echo faded memories and the fragments of long-lost days.

When I first came to West Texas I missed the intensity of spring - - a real spring with trees, flowers, and the ripe lushness of green. In the vast nothingness that surrounded me, I took pathetic delight in scattered clusters of tiny purple and yellow wildflowers  that taunted me with the promise of Easter. They almost managed to quench the desperation of my romanticized thirst.

On this Good Friday, as I write, the wind is still sweeping over this sprawling wasteland. The day is a colorless abstraction of dust and the parched purgatory of obstinate drought...

......and I'm thinking of an Easter past, another Good Friday when I was driving solo on a weekend excursion near the Rio Grande: a particularly isolated area along the Mexican border. Almost without notice - and completely without warning - the eternal winds rose from a soothing murmur to a resounding shriek. I was caught in the midst of a dust storm, a sandstorm.

The vast desertscape was quickly shrouded in a suffocating veil of sandy dust. The setting sun was reduced to a blood-red smear on the edge of the horizon, everything was drenched in a surrealistic crimson glow.

I inched my way down the dangerously obscured highway, desperately searching for an unattainable escape. Mile after agonizing mile yielded nothing, until the eventual sight of an unpaved side road enabled me to exit the highway.

I'm not sure when I sighted the church - or was it a mission - looming like a half-hidden phantom in the smouldering twilight. I pulled near it and parked, thankful for the promise of shelter.



I entered the empty sanctuary, a blessed escape from the battering wind. I sat in the shadows of a back row pew, attempting to get my breath and regain my composure. I eventually began absorbing the serenity of my surroundings - - this ancient Mexican adobe relic in the midst of timeless desert sands.

The outside winds wailed with the uncertain lament of ghostly voices: moaning, whimpering, sometimes rising to shrieks in a taunting imitation of agony. And I was lulled into the shelter of semi-sleep, while thinking perhaps it is me who's really dead and they outside are still alive......

The power of imagination in a lonely place can do strange things.  The voices in the wind were stirring memories, rekindling a warmth within my soul that assured me we are never truly abandoned. Gentle spirits of the past are always near.

I'm not Catholic. I'm not religious. I used to be fiercely religious long ago. Long ago....in another psychological place.....before the brutal reality of life chewed me up, spit me out, and left me with a fiercely impenetrable bitterness that could only be expunged through the sweetness of sin and the illusion of love.  
Immersing myself in the fallacious shelter of hungry strangers.......quenching desperate physical needs while abandoning all semblance of emotional ones.....

Yet, in quiet moments of weakness, my wayward soul was sometimes comforted with the salvation of prayer and the thought that perhaps something far greater than our imperfect selves dares to exist.....

In that moment of abstract remembrance, I heard the distinct voice of a whisper that warmly grazed my ear - not the wandering wail of the outside wind, but rather a close clear voice that came from the intoxicating serenity of  this cloistered room: 

Los de su pasado son con usted.
  
My Spanish was rusty, yet - astonishingly and instinctively - I understood:

Those from your past are with you.
 
As I emerged from the shadowy distance of a dream, the dusky room slowly came into focus: the warmth of a glowing altar with flickering candles swimming in red cups, the distant shimmering crucifix of tarnished silver, the fragile white marble of forgotten saints frozen in eternal prayer......an ancient litany of redemption, salvation, forgiveness.........forgiveness.......

......and the soothing voices of those now dead, whom I love beyond the restrictions of mortal existence, are whispering to me -  comforting, reassuring voices that seem to be in concert with the enormous resurrecting wail of the wind.


by Jon V.
written in Texas
on Good Friday, 2014 




Wednesday, March 23, 2016

IT'S ONLY THE BEER TALKING




I'm in a dangerously foul mood and I'm plied with beer. This is fair warning. I'm ready for a rumble.

I don't think "rumble" has been in anyone's vocabulary for fifty years, but what the hell.

And if any of you blog critics still think I'm writing too much about myself, buzz off and go read a boring blog. There are plenty of hausfraus out there blogging about recipes for lemon chiffon pies. Go find one.

The term "buzz off" hasn't been used since Cher was married to Sonny. Which has nothing to do with my age.

I was going to write more Easter crap but I'm not in the mood. I'll save it for later - when I'm feeling mellow and saccharine......

....which might not be for a few months.

So why are you in a foul mood, Jon?

Actually, I'm always in a foul mood but I'm adept at covering it up. When I'm plied with beer my Faux Happy Face dissolves and my evil alter ego comes to the surface. Ready to snap, bite, and rip to shreds.

I forced myself to drive into town this morning. Only because I haven't gone shopping in a month and I was out of everything. Including litter and chow for the damn trio of felines.

Scratch, Scruffy, and Bosco.

Today is Wednesday and - for some secret hillbilly reason that I've never been able to figure out - the banks and all public offices close at noon here on Wednesdays.

So, I had to get my ass in gear and race down the mountainside before noon in order to go to the bank. And I had to pile all my trash in the car to take to the dump. There's no trash pickup here in the boonies and it's an incredible inconvenience.

After all this time I still have NEVER gotten used to the long, winding, perilous, unnerving, harrowing, annoying, incredibly dangerous ride into town.
Did I mention harrowing?

It doesn't get any easier - in fact it gets worse. But I'm used to the curves, and they get smoother and more entertaining after I've ingested a few beers.

And the first person who lectures me on the reasons not to drink and drive is going to get bitch-slapped with my dirty hanky.



I've always lived dangerously and I have no doubt that I'll die that way. Only I'll die a lot sooner here in this freaking cursed wilderness.

I spent 200 bucks on groceries and didn't get half of what I needed. The worst part of shopping is when I arrive home. I live on a steep incline (to put it very mildly). When I park the car it's on an extreme slant. It takes all my strength to shove open the door and crawl out. Then I have to unload all of the groceries and haul them up another very steep slope to the back door.

All the while I'm hauling, I'm slipping and sliding on mud, fighting wasps bees and flies, and getting bombarded with gnats that get wedged in my contact lenses and go in my mouth.

Why do the gnats go in your mouth, Jon?

Because I'm so frickin' out of breath that I'm panting like Rin Tin Tin. My nose is clogged from allergies and sinuses. If I didn't breathe through my mouth, I'd suffocate. And when I breathe through my mouth, the gnats go in.

Why did you ever move to the mountain wilderness if you don't like it, Jon?  

I moved here to get away from bastards like you who ask too many questions.

Actually I love it here. I just hate all the inconveniences. 

It's suppose to rain all day tomorrow, so I'm glad I ventured to town today.

This has been one helluva gloomy post, Jon. Do you have anything positive to say?

Yea - all my critics are presently reading other blogs about how to make lemon chiffon pies. So I don't have to worry about them bitching about my blog.

and

I'm sure as hell glad I only have cats instead of children. My poor cousin Nancy ....how shall I say this tactfully?.... is presently in....a Family Crises Mode....

and

All the spring blossoms have survived the recent frosts. I've posted some recent photos for your visual delight.

now

I'm gonna take a nap. The effects of the alcohol will eventually wear off and I'll be back to my sweet, cute, sexy, interesting, irresistible self. 

I just threw that in to piss off my critics. 


 Blossoms this morning -
they survived the frost! 

  

Saturday, March 19, 2016

EASTER BUNNY UNDERGOES ANALYSIS

Is it only my warped imagination, or do vintage Easter photos have a slightly creepy quality about them?

(I don't know if all of these photos are exactly "vintage", but what the heck - they're B&W)
 

 A consultation with Dr. Freud:
too much stress from dealing with kids and candy....

 Hare Habit

Unexpected Bunny Visit

 Funny Bunny

 Holy Shit!!
I hope that's only a carrot in his lap.... 

 Superman
vs
Puny Bunny 


Hare Sandwich

No Escape
or, Hare Sandwich Two






The Bonnet Bunny,
or the Hatter Hare
( I'm not in the mood to think up funny captions today - if you can do better, make them up yourself)
 

The Egg and I ?

Lolita, Easter Style

Friendly Bugsie
(the look on this kid's face says it all)

 It's Easter!
It's Halloween!
It's Easter!
It's Halloween!
It's......
 
 WTF?
The Bunny of Death??

...sometimes even I can't figure them out.....
Hell hath no fury like a rabbit scorned

 After the Slaughter


 Jilted?


 Chocolate Addiction


Can I keep him?

 Macabre Bunny Revue

Just a friendly reminder 


Thursday, March 17, 2016

MUSICAL INTERLUDE



Wait a minute! Don't run away! This is going to be painless. Or almost painless.

I was initially going to write something in honor of St. Patrick's Day, but suddenly realized that I'm not Irish. 

Then I was going to write an ode to welcome spring.....but I saw that the local weather forecast is predicting a frost (yes, a frost) for the first day of spring.

So, what's left?
I resorted to digging through my old YouTube videos and resurrecting a few musical selections for your torture  enjoyment.

These are two old rehearsal tapes, recorded in my Texas music studio. I simply propped a camcorder up on a bookcase above the piano and hoped for the best. I was out of practice and way past my California prime, so don't expect anything spectacular.

Some of my long-time readers have already seen these videos. I'm rehashing them for people who haven't seen them. 

Note:
Make sure your volume is turned DOWN. YouTube tends to go full blast.






Video #1
Rustle of Spring  Op.33 No.3
by Christian Sinding (1856-1941)

Video #2
Clair de Lune, from the Bergamasque Suite
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)   

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

RAINBOW AFTERNOON





"Don't you just love those rainy afternoons in New Orleans when an hour isn't just an hour - but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands - and who knows what to do with it?"

I'm saying that with my best Blanche DuBois southern accent
and I'm in a state of delectable melancholy, perpetuated by a rain-soaked afternoon in which I am selfishly languishing, accompanied by a cozy cup of steaming tea and the contented purring of several lazy cats.

Occasionally I resort to cheap theatrical tactics, in order to annoy my critics. 

Rainy afternoons were made to indulge in languishing, and today I made the most of it. The temperatures are mild, the cold bite of winter is a thing of the past. Everything outside is sprouting green and some of the trees are almost starting to bloom. I'm slowly but surely emerging from my seasonal cocoon.

I'll never get used to the infuriating clock change - which is one of the most ridiculous and annoying inconveniences ever inflicted upon mankind. It serves no discernible purpose. 

In early evening the rain stopped, the clouds parted, and a spectacular rainbow appeared in the golden light of the setting sun.

 
I pulled on my boots, grabbed my El Cheapo camera and ran outside to capture the spectacle for posterity. The rainbow was already fading over the house.  I happened to see the tail of it glowing beyond the trees in the meadow by the cow field.

Despite the mud and the strong possibility of falling on my ass (again), I bounded over to the meadow and managed to snap a few pictures before it disappeared.


 


 Unfortunately, there was no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow (believe me, I looked).



My other blog:
http://cabinetofcurioustreasures.blogspot.com