Tuesday, November 29, 2016

PAGEANTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST







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

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

It seemed to be a Norman Rockwell America.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

A link to my other blog:

Cabinet of Curious Treasures 
   


Sunday, November 27, 2016

DREAM WITH PIANO ACCOMPANIMENT





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dreams, memories, disconnected connections.... 

 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

LISTENING TO SILENCE








This Thanksgiving Day:
peaceful, quiet, delightfully mild, delicately overcast. Autumn leaves are quickly slipping away from sullen trees. The stark forest is acutely aware of its impending nakedness. Regal hawks sailing in the sky. Dozens of small birds hungrily flitting and scampering through the weedy terrain. 

I'm in a reflective mood - - neither particularly celebratory nor thankful.
Long ago I was thankful for my talents, my looks, my successes, my friends and relatives, my lovers, my health, my optimism.

Today - - my looks have faded, my health has vanished, optimism is minimal, friends have dwindled, relatives and lovers have died, life as I once knew it is slipping away as quickly as autumn leaves....

But I am here, worn and battle-scarred, yet surviving nevertheless. That's all one can do. 
I hope your Thanksgiving was peaceful, bountiful, filled with hope and all good things.

Grabbed my El Cheapo camera today and documented glimpses of my nothingness. 

 I took this pic this morning while laying in bed - extremely reluctant to get up. Bosco and Scruffy were looking out at the fog. This is a cell phone photo, which explains the blurriness. 
(I have an El Cheapo cell phone, too)

 I had initially planned to have a spiral-sliced ham today. Then I thought "What the hell for?" So I put it in the freezer to save for December. Instead I'm making Salisbury steaks and herbal potatoes.

A view today from my back porch, looking north toward the neighboring cow pasture.

The sun has been shyly peeking through the clouds this afternoon.  This tree is visible through one of my windows (how exciting!)

 I still have my little Halloween pumpkin

 Pine cones on a tree
(as if you couldn't guess)

 Same tree, different view

 I've had this antique painting in storage for years (it's one of the few things the movers didn't "lose"). Today I unwrapped it and hung it in my bedroom.

I suppose I'm cat crazy. Shoot me!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

THANKSGIVING FOOD IDEAS

Here are a few food ideas to enhance your Thanksgiving holiday.....and quite possibly eliminate your guests.


 Creamed 'possum in a can
This is an appropriate accompaniment to one of my previous posts, I Knew It 
(BTW, coon fat gravy will enhance anything)



Turkey Gravy Soda 

Thanksgiving Gum Balls
 are we supposed to stuff the turkey with these - - or load them in a peashooter and pummel the cook?

 Turkey with candy sprinkles

 Bacon-covered turkey

Thanksgiving Pizza

The Hot Dog Turkey
for weenie lovers

Rice Krispies Turkey 
with M&Ms stuffing

Islamic Thanksgiving

How about some savory side dishes -

 Sweet potato casserole

Tomato and egg aspic surprise

Baked Potato Mystery


 Baked Butternut Squash
Is it just me, or do these look like a pair of used Dutch shoes?

 ...and a heaping helping of Fish Head Pie....

Are you ready for dessert?

 An alarming array of turkey cupcakes
with leftover Halloween candy corn

 Baked apples with doughy crust and grapes

Turkey Cake...
with what appears to be a pile of dog crap in the middle

Thanksgiving Cake
Is it just my dirty mind, or does that look like a limp phallic symbol dangling in the center?
 

A perfect idea for leftovers:
chopped up turkey with a brown Jello mold and wilted lettuce

 Here's the easiest, cheapest, and best way to go


Bon appetit! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Okay, I finally corrected most of the typos....

 

 

Monday, November 21, 2016

ALL ABOUT THANKSGIVING



Note:
I wrote this several years ago and figured I'd rehash it now for those who may not have seen it.

No matter what opinion you have about Thanksgiving, I think we can all agree that the concept of the holiday is based on varying degrees of legend and hokum.

When we were innocent and gullible kids in school (at least I was innocent and gullible), we were spoon-fed the sanitized Hallmark Card version:

The kind, generous, ultra-religious Pilgrims - - out of the goodness of their hearts - - spent days preparing a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast and invited the neighboring Indians over to share the unforgettable banquet. They dined on succulent turkey, sweet potatoes, French's original green bean casserole, dinner rolls with cranberry jam, and pumpkin pie topped with Cool Whip.

They exchanged gifts and recipes. The Indians taught them about the limitless wonders of maize. They prayed together and then joined hands and sang a rousing rendition of Kumbaya.

And they all lived happily ever after in absolute unity among purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain.


In more recent years, the liberal historical revisionists have given us a grim and harrowing Thanksgiving tale of raw realism:

The Pilgrims - - an uncouth, bloodthirsty band of European white men and their skanky women - - arrived in America with ill-intent. They invaded the peaceful domain of Indian Territory - plundered the  villages, trampled the teepees, chopped down the trees, polluted the water, claimed the Indian's land, imprisoned the Indian braves, raped the squaws, and gave everyone syphilis and inferiority complexes.

Within a few short generations, the pitifully few remaining Indian tribes were confined to squalid Arizona reservations - - living in unairconditioned Airstream trailers and using their meager government subsidies to buy cheap whiskey and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Take your pick. Believe whatever version you like. But while you're chowing down that delectable Thanksgiving meal this week, just remember that  without the white man's aggression and ingenuity - you'd be wearing buffalo robes and living in teepees. And eating maize, whatever the heck that is.


Damn it, Jon, you're almost brilliant when you're drunk. Hemingway would have been proud.



Hopefully I won't be scalped by irate (humorless) readers.






So, what do I have to be thankful for this year?

You know what I really want to say, don't you? 

I'll stop gloating over the election results for a moment to mention that I lost 6 (yes SIX) blog "followers" because of my anti-Hillary posts.
One of these people was sweet Anne Marie - - who was already pissed at me because of my views on gun control. 

Bang Bang!

But I'm thankful that I recently have some new followers, who obviously have good taste and aren't easily offended.

And I'm thankful for those of you who disagree with my opinions but still have the courage to hang around. You know who you are.

Should I be thankful that I'll never have to dust my favorite antique vase again?




My cat Scruffy broke it just about an hour ago. As you can see from the photo, it's beyond repair.

I yelled so loud that I scared the coyotes. 

I'll probably do another Thanksgiving post this week. And I won't be offensive. Honest Injun.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

END OF THE WARMTH

 
Friday:
An entire week of delicious warmth  lingered like a summer embrace, intoxicating the senses and sweeping the late afternoon sky with mysterious specters that might have been clouds.

 
Saturday:
An unexpected chilling rain arrived late Friday night, drenching all remnants of summer memories and reminding idle dreamers that winter is poised in the wings with angry claws. A cutting wind and a drastic drop in temperatures rendered Saturday bone-bitingly cold.

Sometimes I'm so damned poetic that I actually admire myself.

I'm writing this post after midnight on Saturday night, and the temperature is now well below freezing. I have no intention of welcoming winter with a smile.

I took advantage of the warm weather last week. Armed with my El Cheapo camera, I clumsily trekked through the woods in my back yard and photographed the last of the autumn foliage.


With the leaves quickly shedding, I'm able to see glimpses of the neighboring mountain.

Yea, I know - - they're not exactly gigantic mountains. I've actually seen bigger tits in Beverly Hills. But here in Tennessee we call them mountains. And I like it that way.






 What's with those new "watermark" thingies on my photos?

I'm getting territorial in my old age. Not to mention paranoid. Overstep your boundaries and I'll shoot.






My cat Scruffy accompanied me on one of my walks through the woods. She's cute as hell (or maybe heck), but nearly made me trip numerous times.
And my back is still agonizingly painful, ever since I fell on the ice last winter.




 Autumn is much too brief. A fleeting sonnet of love, a sweet song of light at the edge of enormous dusk, a cherished memory in fading mists.....
I'll miss you.

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I KNEW IT

I knew that something very strange has been going on here late at night. I'm not talking about the coyotes. Or the cats. Or even the mice.

I'd be snuggled in bed reading, long after midnight (which is my usual habit on these incredibly chilly autumn nights). 
Suddenly....
I'd hear very strange noises coming from various regions of the house. I initially thought it was the cats.

But these noises weren't exactly cat noises. The kitties usually just silently creep and wander. Bosco and Scruffy sometimes race around the room, playing tag....and whatever the heck felines do to entertain themselves at ungodly hours.

These new noises involved clanging, banging, and loud scratching. Most especially in the kitchen. It was as though a phantom chef was preparing dinner.

Sometimes something unnervingly large would scurry past my bed. I kept telling myself it was one of the cats.....
......until I looked and saw that all three of the cats were sound asleep.

I assured (or semi-assured) myself that it was a large mouse.
But it must have been one helluva MEGA mouse - wearing cleats on wooden shoes.
Maybe Mickey??

Also, ALL the cat food was disappearing quickly. I always leave dry food out for the cats to nibble on. Every morning the bowls would be completely empty.

Late last night the mystery of the noises was solved. All three of my cats were congregated in the small room where I keep one of my pianos. They were intently watching something in a corner, behind a chair.

I grabbed a flashlight, which revealed that the something was round, furry, and very much alive.
It didn't take me long to know it was a 'possum.
Or an opossum, for anyone who wants to be correct. 

 Cornered

The first thing I did (after panicking slightly) was to usher all the cats out of the room.
The next thing I did was wonder how I was going to catch him (her?).

A brainstorm sent me out to the garage, where I got one of the large cages that I had put the cats in when I moved from Texas to Tennessee.

I placed the cage in front of the 'possum, cornering him by the wall and a bookcase. Not one to be fooled, he darted away and squeezed under a desk ( in a tight space of about two inches!).

Finally I got a broom and prodded him out from under the desk and back by the cage. He was shrewd and defiant, but also docile and non-aggressive. 

 Finally in the cage, trying to get out the door (that's an old beach towel on the cage)

To make a long story short (yea, I know it's too late) I eventually got him into the cage with the help of the broom. He kept trying to get out the cage door and it was difficult to lock it with my bare hands ('possums are cute - - but they can BITE BIG TIME).

The entire 'possum ordeal took over an hour.

I carried the cage outside and put it on the back porch. Then I took it a good distance away and turned the 'possum loose.
Thankfully there was a full moon so I could see what I was doing.

A happy ending for all.

 Out on the back porch

This isn't the first time a 'possum got into my house. The other one was bigger and much more aggressive. He got in through the vent to the clothes dryer hookup (I fixed that).

This one got in (I think) through a small wall opening behind the refrigerator (which I sealed today).

Note:
against my better judgement, I'm going to allow comments again. I luv all of you people (yes, even the annoying ones) - - but I did enjoy my comment-free mini vacation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

TALKING TO MYSELF




 It's sort of like freedom.....
 
My blog is still temporarily comment-free and I'm loving it. That sounds extremely selfish and antisocial but it's also liberating. I feel like I'm talking only to myself and nobody is listening.

Hey, Jon - nobody was listening even when you had comments. Don't be so damn stuck on yourself.

Don't try to ruin my Big Moment, Kemo Sabe. When I talk to myself I say exactly what I want, without the fear of ramifications.

Ramifications?

Yea, like somebody hiring a hit man to blow me away (no sexual implications, of course) - - or people putting pins in Jon voodoo dolls. There are a helluva lot of sore Hillary losers out there. Fury hath no limitations.
(I just made that one up).

Jon, most of the Hillary supporters have stopped blogging due to shock. The rest are out rioting. I think you're safe.

That's probably true, but the We Hate Trump brigade is growing like warts on a hog's ass - - and it has crossed the Big Pond and infiltrated Great Britain. Every damn Brit blogger has joined the Force.

Well, with a ninety-year-old queen they really don't have anything better to do. Speaking of "doing", what have you been doing lately?

Besides gloating? And rapidly losing blog followers? Hell, nothing much. Actually, something very exciting did happen last night - but I'll save that for my next blog post.

Did this excitement have anything to do with sex?

Well, I encountered something nocturnal, warm, furry, with sharp teeth.

You've been screwing with vampires again, haven't you?

Vampires aren't warm, Kemo Sabe. At least not until they're fed. 
I'll tell about last night tomorrow. Does that make any sense?

You seldom make sense, Jon.

I seldom drive into town, either - - but I did today. I got gas, went to the bank, paid bills, got groceries. And drank some beer before I embarked. If nothing else, it was a meaningful excursion. Not to mention an inebriated one.

Got gas??

Petrol. For the thirsty vehicle.

This has been an exciting and meaningful conversation, Jon.

You mean it's over? I was just getting warmed up. Like an over-fed vampire.

You need to get in touch with reality more often, Jon. Why don't you lift the ban on your comments and start interacting again?

When Trump becomes president, there really won't be anyone to interact with, Kemo Sabe.

What do you mean, Jon?

Well, the gays will be in concentration camps, the minorities will be back in chains, the illegals will be on the other side of the Great Wall, the old people will be in bread lines, and the women will be pregnant, barefooted, and busy in the kitchen.

Most of your readers aren't, laughing, Jon. You really know how to milk the hell out of this Trump thing, don't you?

I'm having the time of my life, Kemo Sabe. Being an antagonizing bitch is one of my many specialties. It's a gift. I'm baring my fangs - - and nobody can bite back!