The Joys of Nocturnal Barking

Coyote tracks in fresh snow.

“Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable.” ~ Albert Camus

“I’ve always thought people would find a lot more pleasure in their routines if they burst into song at significant moments.”  ~ John Barrowman

“Obscurity and a competence — that is the life that is best worth living.”  ~ Mark Twain

“Often, moreover, it is that aspect of our being that society finds eccentric, ridiculous, or disagreeable, that holds our sweet waters, our secret well of happiness, the key to our equanimity in malevolent climes.”  ~ Tom Robbins

Seems there’s no getting over this hibernation mode I’ve been in for weeks now. With all of the practice I’m getting quite good at yawning and stretching. The weather doesn’t help, unless the help I want is to be coaxed back into dreaminess each time I get feeling all ambitious and stuff. It’s quite clear by now that ambition is for some other day, somewhere down the line. There were coyote calls a short while ago, off in the distance, but not too far; barking and howling in the dark. Tis always a joy to hear them like this. There sounded to be a lot of them, maybe a half-mile away, though it’s hard to tell, since the frigid air seems somehow to distort the sound. Regardless, the sound was magical, as coyote songs almost always are. Also worthy of note: we just had a nice snow over the weekend, and more, they say, is on the way, this evening. On top of all of that lies the personal stuff. I can say that the world is starting to look different these days. I am aware of some of the contributing factor, and the details, but they don’t seem important at this time of day. That is one reason I like to get up early. Nothing seems to feel important, except for those things that can be important and silent all at once. So, why the shift in awareness? I’ve been facing up to the trauma I buried deep, after the accident in ’84. It is starting to sink in, just how much I had to deal with, in a world that made no fucking sense at all, yet I still could navigate and perform what was required of me. The trauma was all bundled up with an NDE, which likely had a lot to do with the otherworldly feelings. That’s how I got started on this shift – I decided to pursue the psychic abilities I acquired from the NDE, those abilities that I quickly learned to stash away because I was freaking people out. Turns out those abilities are still accessible. But buried with them is a ginormous amount of feelings that were just too overwhelming to allow them out into my daily, mundane existence. Trauma is as fascinating as it is torturous. There is no separating those buried feelings from the psychic stuff. And so I go forward in the company of snails. There is, you see, no hurry at all. I’m not going to go all hyperbolic on you here, k? This is certainly a spiritual endeavor, but the sheer power of trauma revealed to the light is nearly mind-numbing, for several reasons, none of which I will go into. For now I am going to publish this post then begin vibing in to the approaching storm.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

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Grinning in the Fog

“Now that you’re an adult, you might still feel a pang of guilt when you decline a dinner invitation in favor of a good book. Or maybe you like to eat alone in restaurants and could do without the pitying looks from fellow diners. Or you’re told that you’re “in your head too much”, a phrase that’s often deployed against the quiet and cerebral. Or maybe there’s another word for such people: thinkers.”  ~ Susan Cain

“I was always an unusual girl. My mother told me I had a chameleon soul, no moral compass pointing due north, no fixed personality; just an inner indecisiveness that was as wide and as wavering as the ocean.”  ~ Lana Del Rey

“Each of us is an artist of our days; the greater our integrity and awareness, the more original and creative our time will become.”  ~ John O’Donohue

Some mornings the drug in my coffee just doesn’t seem to do what it is supposed to do. Yeh, today’s the day. I’ll likely make another small pot in a few minutes, then make sure the coffee is attended to at work as well. Drinking coffee all day just cannot be healthy. Dag nab it, is it just me, or does our society really run on a legal stimulant? Social commentary aside, I’m gonna do what I have to do to get through the day. John Lennon sang “whatever gets you through the night”. He didn’t say anything about the day, but I suspect daytime can be included in that advice. What say you, Brother John? I know, I know, you’ve been dead for nearly 40 years. But you don’t get off that easy, man. I could ask Ringo instead, but he likely would just say peace and love and stuff. Never mind. Soooo, in spite of grogginess I did learn a new word this morning: pogonip. It is one of my favorite rare weather phenomena. Quite simply put, it is what I call “ice fog”. I’ve seen it a few times, and even spent a good 20-30 minutes one morning, air temperature right around 0º F, and me walking around like a nitwit grinning, wearing non-sensible shoes, camera in hand, all the while feeling fellowship with the donkeys in the pasture across the road. Nor was I wearing gloves. It all kinda sorta seemed simply real. When I went back inside I noticed that the extreme weather had not really bothered me much at all. Go figure. Hmmmm, now . . . I just noticed that it is shower time. I don’t get to go back to sleep so a shower sounds like a good second best. There I go.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

Voices on the Wind

“We wrapped our dreams in words and patterned the words so that they would live forever, unforgettable.”  ~ Neil Gaiman

“In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own. I learned who I was and who I wanted to be, what I might aspire to, and what I might dare to dream about my world and myself. More powerfully and persuasively than from the “shalt nots” of the Ten Commandments, I learned the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. A Wrinkle in Time described that evil, that wrong, existing in a different dimension from our own. But I felt that I, too, existed much of the time in a different dimension from everyone else I knew. There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books, a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but was never really a stranger. My real, true world. My perfect island.”  ~ Anna Quindlen

It’s like a winter seen, scene, whatever, at Wuthering Heights out there. The wind’s got a fair amount of a tenor roar to it. In a way it is soothing, and I very much wish I could stay home today. And the coffee is perfect, and the cat is purring profusely on my lap. She didn’t purr at length like this until her senior years arrived, sometime during the past year. I’m rather fond of it. Her brand of love brings beauty to my solitude. Rosie is good company most of the time, then at other times she makes it clear that she wants me to get my own room. Silly little beastie. Cats are more than headstrong, they are masters, maybe gods, who know exactly how/what reality is, and they generally tend to seek enforcement to make it so. That’s rather unsettling, but demands are luckily scarce. If you know what’s good for you. I can most certainly understand why the Egyptians considered cats to be divine creatures, and why/how the cats liked the idea, so they carry on to this very day. Yeh, I have a god on my lap, and I need to get up and get some more hot coffee. After I step out the be embraced by a tendril or two of this fierce and rather entertaining harsh winter wind. There are stories in that wind, voices on the wind. It will be cold out there. It will be, for a few minutes, Wuthering Heights. And the silly man who writes this blog will not be able to avoid thinking about Catherine. And a hearth. And mead? Yeh, I’m down with that. But right after I step outside I oughtta make it shower time. Hair needs a washin’, don’tcha know, and I want it to be mostly dry by the time I hafta go out and sweep the snow off the car. So for now . . .

“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. And this is one: I’m going to tell it – but take care not to smile at any part of it.”  ~ Emily Brontë

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously

A Healthy Fear of Solipsism

“You’ll stop hurting when you stop hoping.” ~ Guillaume Musso

“No man, proclaimed Donne, is an Island, and he was wrong. If we were not islands, we would be lost, drowned in each other’s tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means, literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others, by our island nature, and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. The shape does not change: there was a human being who was born, lived, and then, by some means or another, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience. As unoriginal as any other tale, as unique as any other life. Lives are snowflakes—forming patterns we have seen before, as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There’s not a chance you’d mistake one for another, after a minute’s close inspection), but still unique.”  Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn. Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story. ” ~ Neil Gaiman

This is one of those days when I could easily become a snickery cynic. It’s the know-it-all in me, the part that knows full-well that I don’t know it all, yet people seem to think that I think that I do, and I can never bring myself to get all pithy-sloguny and say that “I know that I know nothing”. . . and, well, um . . . as a writer, as I know it, I have to have a certain amount of confidence in what I am writing. That said, I am moving on with the day, slowly, surely. No, not surely. I’m still in nearly-full mammal mode, I just want to sleep, or to do that waking dozing thing, the thing that seems to take it all a few steps beyond meditation. Yeh, it’s a workday, yet it is also that gear-grinding shift from the Baby Jesus holiday retail shopping rush into the rush toward party time. I’m teetering at the edge of cynicism, I know, and I’m actually feeling kinda cute in my wordplay. Spare me the ego thing, k? I know how full of myself I can be, I’ve just yet to see it. I need for someone to point it out to me, even though they are likely wrong, and . . . well, let’s just say that I have a healthy fear of solipsism and leave it at that. And yet there is my central nervous system. Today it is complicit with some fairly strong depression, and agoraphobia about driving into Taos, and some of my usual PTSD triggers are all greased up and itching to snap. The nice part about these readied triggers is that if you see beforehand that they are so they ain’t near as likely to snap, whether you pull them or not. Therein lies my mystery for the day.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

A Lattice of Gaps

Stations of the Cross trail, San Luis, Colorado

“Go for broke. Always try and do too much. Dispense with safety nets. Take a deep breath before you begin talking. Aim for the stars. Keep grinning. Be bloody-minded. Argue with the world. And never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things–childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves–that go on slipping , like sand, through our fingers.”  ~ Salman Rushdie

“We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write.”  ~ Neil Gaiman

“Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”  ~ Stephen King

Yeh, I know it’s Christmas but I don’t feel like writing about it. The photo will have to suffice. By the way, that’s a very cool trail; worth going to see, walk, whatever, if you are in the area. Now, the clouds are rolling in. Trite phrase, I know, but I did it on purpose because this foggy mind seems to be . . . ummm, I don’t know, maybe I got too much sleep. It’s confusing. But back to the clouds . . . a steady swift flow from the south. Gray stuff with enough of a lattice of gaps to reveal the open sky to a small degree. I got a glimpse of both the Moon and Jupiter when I went out to look at the sunrise. Inspiring. So I’m watching the weather. They say a storm is coming. I’d like that. I’d also like to quit with the staccato sentences already, like I’m some kind of friggin Hemingway or something. Enough already. I’m just winging it here this morning so I know that the sentences will come out however they danged well please: short, fat, whatever. A few sentences back I mentioned a “lattice of gaps”, and I think that better describes my brain than it does the clouds, although there are similarities worth noting, none of which I care to share at this time. Feeling grumpy I am. It’s mostly from free-floating anxiety and the frustration it gives so well. The past few weeks have been emotionally grueling, the kind of stuff that reminds me of the giant Va de Graf generator they have at the Boston Museum of Science. The thing spins a belt, round and round, gathering up a static charge, then before you know it there are actual lightning bolts flying around the room! Yikes. Good thing they keep that thing in a cage. Yet tis a day of rest. I’ll have pot roast and red wine in an early dinner with a friend. That’s enough for me.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

The Solstice Fox

“If a man who can’t count finds a four leaf clover, is he lucky?” ~ Stanislaw Lem

“Philosophy begins in wonder. And at the end when philosophic thought has done its best the wonder remains.”  ~ Alfred North Whitehead

“There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better.”  ~ Tom Robbins

“When our eyes are graced with wonder, the world reveals its wonders to us. There are people who see only dullness in the world and that is because their eyes have already been dulled. So much depends on how we look at things. The quality of our looking determines what we come to see.”  ~ John O’Donohue

Isn’t the quintessential timelessness of grace and wonder the whole point of the exercise, here, smack in the middle of holiday season? Let’s put it this way instead . . . I am far too comfortably sucked-in by the chair. The chair’s sole purpose in life is to thumb it’s nose at gravity on my behalf. Yet gravity is like just about all about perseverance and stuff. I’m actually not sure that any of this makes sense to me; but I have no recollection of having at any point and place in time expected anything to make sense. In fact, I also actually kinda sorta like it this way, because when something does pop up, when something actually does make sense, I get to say “oh wow”. I think they call that a revelation. An epiphany, maybe? One can only hope, right? None of this makes sense this morning. It is a workday, the day before Christmas; the cat in her bed at my side, coffee just now gone, the Moon and clouds are in a silver dance above, roof or no roof, and I got totally too much rest yesterday. Which is a way of saying that I got a little too in deep with the natural cycles of the season. No, I didn’t sleep a lot, and I pretty much restricted any movements to stretching and not much more. Whatever. I need to immerse myself in the holiday retail crowd today because I simply can’t bring myself to rise above it at this point. I already had someone almost call me a humbug, and I just don’t need to go there again. I mean . . . ummmm, ya know . . . I just might say something. And heaven forbid it make sense. It’s just not worth the risk. I am, of course, just playing and being silly. The playful Trickster-y mode, mood, whatever, I am in started back on Friday morning when red fox ran in front of my car as I was driving by the Overland Sheepskin Company, on my way to work. Full winter coat too. Breathtaking. It is only the second fox I have seen in the 24 years I have lived here, and the other was up in the high mountains. This one was closer to home, which is where I want the symbolism to be as well. The Celts considered the fox to be a guide. There I go. But before I go I want to point out that the fox appeared on the Solstice and the Full Moon. Magic is indeed afoot in the land. The Solstice Fox is just the guide I needed; the Solstice Fox dances. I’ve witnessed in person a live coyote dancing. Never a fox. Should be fun. Onward.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

Pattern Recognition

“From where we stand the rain seems random. If we could stand somewhere else, we would see the order in it.”  ~ Tony Hillerman

“To live on a day-to-day basis is insufficient for human beings; we need to transcend, transport, escape; we need meaning, understanding, and explanation; we need to see over-all patterns in our lives. We need hope, the sense of a future. And we need freedom (or, at least, the illusion of freedom) to get beyond ourselves, whether with telescopes and microscopes and our ever-burgeoning technology, or in states of mind that allow us to travel to other worlds, to rise above our immediate surroundings. We may seek, too, a relaxing of inhibitions that makes it easier to bond with each other, or transports that make our consciousness of time and mortality easier to bear. We seek a holiday from our inner and outer restrictions, a more intense sense of the here and now, the beauty and value of the world we live in.”  ~ Oliver Sacks

“Each of us is dealt a unique hand of tastes and aptitudes, like curiosity, ambition, empathy, a thirst for novelty or for security, a comfort level with the social or the mechanical or the abstract. Some opportunities we come across click with our constitutions and set us along a path in life.” ~ Stephen Pinker

Frankly, I could put off just about anything this morning. It’s not for lack of interest. The bottom line is that I seem to have what the great Dana Carvey called “a case of the fuck-its”. It not for lack of trying. Yeh, it is what it is, right? The sheer force of the daily news is only part of what effectively bowled me over. Speaking of daily news, the best thing I have seen lately is the photos of a lake they found on Mars. (Click here). 50 miles across – 530 cubic miles of water ice. Let that sink in. Is there water on Mars? Yeh, there is. Anyway . . . intellectually speaking, today, I am all about patterns and pattern recognition. Such recognition is a skill I was born with. It was strongly reinforced in the after-effects of my NDE. And most of the time it manifests through anxiety from the friggin PTSD. But sometimes the shackles snapped on by PTSD get released through circumstances in my daily life. It happened yesterday. Full Moon, Winter Solstice; lots of magic in the air. It had to do with tall beautiful blond women. Or two of them anyway. The first woman came into the store where I work yesterday. I don’t see her all that often, but it is always a pleasure when I do. Some kind of soul connection, though I have no idea what the nature of that connection might be. There is no need to know. Mystery is good. After she left it was not even five minutes before the second one arrived. I’ve known her nearly as long as I have lived a qui en Taos. We met when we were both entering our original painting in a Chamber of Commerce show, back in 1995. She was behind me in line. I don’t recall the exact details, but one of the volunteers for the registration had occasion to talk to both of us at once, and she pretty openly assumed that we were a couple. Both of us blushing a bit, we assured her that we weren’t. The woman then said something to the effect of “Well, you certainly could be. Look at you, you’re both quite attractive”. Yeh, whatever. To this day, when we see each other, which is not often at all, it is all smiles and Light and stuff. Go figure. These two women give me a warm feeling of ‘knowing’ each time I see them. As I said, soul connections. Tis a wordless knowing I feel. To see them both within five minutes of each other was magical for me. Yeh, patterns sometimes flow together. We are connected to some people in ways that really cannot be explained logically. That’s all. Time to get to my workday. Listen, I had a hard time putting yesterday’s happenings into words. Awkward was I. My two beautiful blond friends gave me a wordless gift, an ambient feeling of warmth in my heart and soul. And it lingers today. Sweet.

Peace out, y’all, Goof gloriously.

Rags Made of Light

My dear Rosie at six months.

“A painter is someone who wipes the windowpane between the world and us with light, with a rag made of light, soaked in silence.” ~ Christian Bobin

“The secret and the sacred are sisters. When the secret is not respected, the sacred vanishes. Consequently, reflection should not shine too severe or aggressive a light on the world of the soul.”  ~ John O’Donohue

“We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won’t do harm – yes, choose a place where you won’t do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.”  ~ E. M. Forster

Once I read that the Winter Solstice is, by some, called “Birth of Light”. So mote it be. See, I’m feeling my pagan Celtic roots today. Caught the Moon setting over the hill, still carrying the silver and brass rings She had been carrying throughout Her approach toward the horizon. Yeh, yeh, I know that this season is by many devoted to the Child of Light. I’m down with that. But I’m talking about the Moon here. Moonset was awesome. That’s all I’m saying. And now I gotta go to work. Regardless, it can still be a magical day. At Solstice the Veil between the wolds is quite thin. I welcome whoever might come through. I’m not picky. Not right now, anyway. As well as being “Birth of Light”, the Solstice is also when the Shadow is at it’s peak. I’ll not go into the yin-yang Circle of Life thingy for now. Instead I will close this brief post by mentioning my homeless friend. He’s an interesting man who is clearly beaten down and burned by the elements. Dirty and smelly, yet he seems to have a couple of changes of clothes, and he sometimes even looks a little stylish. He carries a little portable radio. That’s how I met him, when he came into the hardware store to purchase some AA batteries, to keep his music going. I opened up the device for him and installed the batteries. We became friends. He was back in for more batteries a few days ago. As he was putting them into his bag I noticed that he had a well-worn trade paperback book, under which he stashed the fresh pack of batteries: J. Krishnamurti. Imagine that. Krishnamurti. If you don’t know who the fella is click on the link. Krishnamurti advocated the need for a radical change in mankind. The image of my friend sitting in the weeds, reading Krishnamurti, is rich in irony, as I see it. The dude’s plight in life may seem tragic, but there is something there in the image that shows me that the Light of the human Spirit cannot be easily doused – if at all. If at all. Alluding to the opening quote here I can honestly say that my homeless friend’s clothes are ‘rags made of Light’. Yes.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

The Field Effect and the Grudge

“When I was young, I had to choose between the life of being and the life of doing. And I leapt at the latter like a trout to a fly. But each deed you do, each act, binds you to itself and to its consequences, and makes you act again and yet again. Then very seldom do you come upon a space, a time like this, between act and act, when you may stop and simply be. Or wonder who, after all, you are.”  ~ Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore

“Mankind accepts good fortune as his due, but when bad occurs, he thinks it was aimed at him, done to him, a hex, a curse, a punishment by his deity for some transgression, as though his god were a petty storekeeper, counting up the day’s receipts.”  ~ Sheri S. Tepper

“Life had stepped into the place of theory and something quite different would work itself out in his mind.” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

This morning’s sky seems almost like a message, drab, like my mood after an unwelcome storm, and reminiscent of those flat New England skies in Winter. My own drabness is the residuals from a fairly serious situational depressive spell yesterday afternoon. One nice thing that situational depression has over it’s nasty and dark cousin clinical depression is that if you have trained your mind to discern one from the other the resulting rationality, however faint a signal it may broadcast, assures you, quite rightly, that “this too shall pass”. Clinical depression, as I experience it anyway, is having none of that; it is all gloaming against full Darkness, all the time, and the prospect of a victory by Darkness hanging over your hyper-fretful head is no more than the extortion of the soul, wedging it into believing that it is all real. All of it. The Darkness, the gloaming. The hopelessness, the powerlessness. And the anger turned inward, to where it bores down deep, causing tectonic tremors, so in the end you are not just being extorted by the gloaming, you are also fracking the soul. Ouch. I’ve done the rationality training thingy, so I know that the seemingly perpetual down is an artifact of neurotransmitters and endocrine juices, and I suspect that it also involves a serious glitch in the morphic fields, in a campaign to rob your life of any or all novelty. Imagine a life of pure unadulterated habit. Doesn’t that prospect horrify you? I think it should. Wait, what? What’s the ‘morphic fields‘ thing? Go back and click on that link. Fascinating stuff. It rings true with parts of my worldview. I’m really into fields and field effects. But there is no time to write about that now. But one thing . . . yesterday I was reminded of one of those effects in my personal life, one that has traversed the years, obviously. I saw one of my old coworkers from the natural foods supermarket. I was at work when it happened. As she walked through the door of the store I recognized her and felt a brief wave of trepidation. When she saw me, recognized me, then spoke out a greeting, she emanated frigid inconvenience, and disdain. And I was like all ‘what-ever’. Seeing her and experiencing her reaction to me was an actually welcomed validation of some serious tension I felt between us back then. Stuff like that is all too easy to pass off as paranoia. Never do that until you know. Doubt, or true skepticism, is the way to go. It fascinates me that she still has not let it go after all these years. I mean, what bugs her so much? And should I be happy about it? It’s all good, right? I’ll go with happiness. She can go pave over her own path any way she wants for all I care.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

It’s All About Story Value

“He stared up at the stars: and it seemed to him then that they were dancers, stately and graceful, performing a dance almost infinite in its complexity. He imagined he could see the very faces of the stars; pale, they were, and smiling gently, as if they had spent so much time above the world, watching the scrambling and the joy and the pain of the people below them, that they could not help being amused every time another little human believed itself the center of its world, as each of us does.”  ~ Neil Gaiman

“We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write.”  ~ Neil Gaiman

“One describes a tale best by telling the tale. You see? The way one describes a story, to oneself or to the world, is by telling the story. It is a balancing act and it is a dream. The more accurate the map, the more it resembles the territory. The most accurate map possible would be the territory, and thus would be perfectly accurate and perfectly useless. 
The tale is the map that is the territory. You must remember this.” ~ Neil Gaiman

It’s come to this. It’s 6 AM on Wednesday morning. 20º F. Quiet. The cat is on her throne. All is well. Except . . . I’m listening to bagpipe music! What’s up with that. Could be worse, I suppose, could be an accordion. Or a banjo. It is friggin 6 AM and any sensible Boomer would be listening to some urbane New Agey guitar music, or even pure classical guitar music. Whatever. I feel rattled. Yesterday had a seriously weird twist to it. I’m still recovering. All is well. Just thought I’d through in a few Gaiman quotes. I highly admire the man’s writing. Life’s story shifts. And on we go. All is well. It is all about story value, from here on, down the road.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.