Thursday, October 28, 2010

Autumn Glory

"Lord, how the day passes!  It is like a life, so quickly when we don't watch it, and so slowly if we do."-- John Steinbeck.

In the fall the air is crisp and the leaves reveal their fantastic hidden glory. As I run down the lane one tree above all others seems the most fabulous, only to be outdone the following day by its neighbor. I'd like to freeze each one in time, at its peak color but that's beyond my control. And perhaps that is why we love them more, for we know their beautiful display is temporary and must be appreciated in its own time.

The trees are not in competition, and the display is not for our benefit. They are simply part of the glorious world, and so are we. Live life with purpose and remember the timing of your display is not in your control.

I owe my awareness of the above quote to Rob Sagar, a gifted and admirable young man who was taken from us all too quickly. I dedicate this posting to Rob, his compassion, courage and achievements.

The watercolor is Autumn Lane by Ronald Pratt (and if you'd like to upgrade your reading experience, visit Kristine at Wait In The Van, who inspired me to participate in a Product of Silence.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dominoes of Revenge

"An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind." - Ghandi
So if you happened to read yesterday's entry, you might have asked yourself "What the hell would make somebody think that doing something so screwed up was acceptable?" At least that's what I said. What WOULD make somebody ride their minibike down a gravel road at dusk? Unbelievable.

But seriously, that's probably what HE said when he hit the log I left there. These things happen sometimes. And sometimes, we do stop and ask "What did I do to deserve this?"

Once when I was about 10 or 11 I went camping with a couple of friends. This is where I first learned about behavior like this. The lesson, as you will see, was indelible. After setting up camp we were starting to get bored. We decided to walk up to the store and get some candy. And there we were, walking back along that 50 mph dual-lane rural highway, chewing bubble gum with a bag full of fireballs and Bazooka Joe, against traffic. And then.

It was like it happened in slow motion. I see this guy's arm hanging out the window. He's releasing what turned out to be the inner core of a golf ball. You know, about an inch-and-a-half in diameter, hard and bouncy. Kind of like a superball. I kept my eye on the ball and took the short hop RIGHT IN THE NUTS. And let me tell you friends, at 50 mph, a one hop superball really leaves a mark.

And for the record, I was able to pull myself together long enough to get the log off the trail and avoided "paying it forward". That day. It might have taken over 30 years, but hey - that golf ball was reeeally moving!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Anger Management

instant karma's gonna get you

Hit the link above to hear John Lennon tell it like it is.
I used to be full of instant karma. It would pop up in the usual places - traffic, the grocery line, or even the time I was trying to observe this owl at dusk along a gravel road. Along comes someone riding a minibike. The owl takes off, and the minibike obliviously goes down the trail. So what do I do? Go into the woods and find the biggest log I can drag, and put it in the middle of the trail. At dusk. Nice. Yup, there's nothing like the sound of an abruptly halted minibike in the distance.
Sadly this is but one example of many less-than-proud moments in my past. For most of this "Mayhem" there are no amends possible. So I try to keep a lid on it. 
Unfortunately the other day I really got pissed off for the first time in about 7 months. Even though I was able to laugh at myself after an hour it took me until the next day to really get over it. Take it from John Lennon - Instant karma will kill you. So next time, take a deep breath. Step back from the situation and see the world whole. Play the tape all the way to the end.
And Yoko! Put that stupid blindfold back where you found it for chrissake! What are you trying to do, show everyone you can knit blindfolded? And you kids! Get off the damn shed!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cupboard Inventory

Nature or Nurture? People are pretty complicated animals. It doesn't help much that we think that we're smarter than most of the others. Can we outwit our genetic makeup? Not likely. And then there's what we learn along the way. When ingrained at an early age for whatever reason, learned traits get stored in your cupboard just as indelibly and it gets hard to tell whether they're genetic.  For example, I've never liked spiders and I'm an arrogant asshole. I'd like to think I've got a chance at fixing at least one of those.  

I've also always had an ingrained fear of failure. That generally has worked for me in individual endeavors, and so I've always looked at it as a healthy thing. But I've learned the hard way it can drive you to unhealthy extremes when an outcome will ultimately be failure and not necessarily through any fault of your own. Someone once told me there are times you have to fail, or people learn to always expect more and more even when it's unreasonable to do so. Unfortunately when plagued with this particular malady, it's hard to know when those times are.

Back to my cupboard. Wow, I see a lot of crap in there. Amidst the peanut butter, mac-n-cheese, and cereal I see expired sardines, fuzzy potatoes and of course, spiders. In other words - assets and liabilities. I know they're both in there, and I really want to get rid of those spiders. And if I can't see them, they certainly get pointed out for me now and then.

I don't mind when people ask "What's in your wallet?" necessarily, but I try not to look in other people's cupboards. It may be a lot easier, but it only distracts me from killin' my own spiders.

Oh. Yeah, I'm working on that other thing too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Crime and Punishment

Over the past few years I have taken to restoring neglected bicycles so that they may once again lead a purposeful and useful existence. I have found that a little cleaning and tuning is all that is usually required for them to be reclaimed from the Isle of Misfit Toys, and I get great satisfaction in knowing someone is out rediscovering the joy of riding a bicycle.

In a recent adventure of finding a neighbor a bicycle, I offered to repair the Mom's flat tire. I awoke the next morning to find a bike parked in front of my garage. Assuming this was her bike (and the rear tire was flat) I proceeded to remove the wheel, pull the tube, inflate and submerge it to look for the offending puncture. But there was none! So - I checked the interior of the tire for thorns or the like and the rim for spoke projections. Nothing! So I put everything back as it was, inflated the tire, adjusted the brakes and test-rode it back to the neighbor's house. No one was home so I left the bike parked in front of her garage similar to how I found it at mine.

The next day Karin comes by and asks me where her bike is. Confirming that indeed it was her bike that I "fixed", she said she'd go home and check with her son - maybe he had taken it inside the garage. And then. Karin calls to inform me the bike has been stolen. The police are on their way. I feel terrible of course but she tries to put me at ease. After all, it was not my crime. I offer to come assist in filing the report as I can of course identify the bike quite accurately.

I pull down a spare bike from the ceiling and inflate the tires. I'll offer this bike to be used until hopefully we can find her bike. I swing around the curve and see the Sheriff's cruiser parked at the curb. I pull up into the driveway and...there's the bike! Wow! They must have found it overnight and were ready to return it to the rightful owner! 

Looking next door, I see Karin AT HER HOUSE talking to the officer. I call to her and point to the bike. Hey! Look! Here's your bike! The officer simply gets in his car and drives off with no further acknowledgment. Clearly he had met his match. The lunatic Dreyfus has nothing on me.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Playing In Traffic

After playing on your side of the road for a while, I'm sorry to report that you may find your cubic foot of dirt to be...well, boring. You notice across the street the grass is much greener. However to get there you'll need to cross a very busy street and you are questionably prepared. Nonetheless you are either being called, shoved, or maybe simply following those before you.

Chances are you will look both left and right before stepping off but it matters little once in the maelstrom. I've had a few close calls. Near head-ons. Loss of control. Being towed from the side of a car at 36...37...38 MPH. What the hell was I thinking to let go at that point??? After more than a few head shots, my sense of direction returns. I'm pretty sure I'm going to make it. I have to. I have a funny feeling there will be an old lady on the other side and I want to help her back across if I can.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Product of Silence

Feigned Acceptance
Passive Aggressiveness

On the other hand, there is the CONE OF SILENCE. One of my favorite gags on Get Smart. When the Chief has something so ultra-secret to tell Max he cannot risk saying it in the open room. Enter the Cone of Silence. I think they tried it in the movie, but like so many of these campy, dated bits, they lose something in the translation or they're simply not funny the first time. But as a regular follower of Get Smart, once the gag was in place, you could wait for it, like waiting for Ziegfried to say, well anything. It comes to mind that such reminiscing (geezing) is probably like when my parents used to tell me how they would sit in front of the radio and wait for "classic" lines like "don't open the closet, McGee!" I guess you just had to be there.

While in Germany I was reading a comic strip at one of the sites I visited. It told of a tourist trying to buy postcards in some country that had no vowels in its name. Thinking it would help the merchant understand him better, he keeps raising his voice but saying the same thing (postcards!) over and over. No postcards for him. And typically, the Chief only got an aneurism from trying to use the Cone of Silence.

But in the "classic" movie Brother Orchid, Edward G. Robinson becomes revered for the quality of his garden and the money it brings to the monastery. Eventually he "comes clean" and tells his brothers he has been cheating them the entire time by paying others to do his work, and skimming the difference or some similar scam. He is truly guilt ridden and ashamed and his confession is difficult. After a few moments of silence as his confession is contemplated by the monks, he is simply accepted. Yet he cannot understand why. It is explained to him thus: 

"When one speaks from his heart, others must listen"

A Product of Silence, indeed.