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Monday, August 11, 2014



What kind of day is this? I woke up early to fog and rain, a good feeling. It seems like I hit the ground running this morning. I'd hoped to be home all day Monday, not drive to town for any reason. This morning I put the last catfood down for Caterpillar and the donkeys are close to out of carrots. On the phone to make appointments I don't want to deal with. Write checks to pay bills and drop four of them off in town, get gas, probably stop at Subway for a sub and drive home completely exhausted, flop down on the bed and sleep for four hours, wake up just as it's getting dark and think it's morning in early light, then lie in bed waiting to see if the sky goes lighter or darker. This is what I'm facing the morning of a day I wanted to stay home, write to you, sleep, read, make a little progress on an art project. A day of watching the clock when I want to forget the clock. Now I want to get this written before going to town, which will put me in town just as everybody is getting off work. Because I can't stand to go any earlier, because I'll lose the day if I go too early. I'll get this written, go to town, do what needs to be done and return in the rain and fog, carry bags of packaging and food, drop them on the kitchen table for later and take a nap, Caterpillar under foot, saying, Welcome home. But now I'm feeling pushed, rushed, scheduled, the world of money out there calling for mine. They don't just ask you for the money anymore. You get a threat with the bill warning they'll wreck your life and have a good time doing it if you don't pay NOW. I went out with carrots to see the donkeys. They were in shed out of the rain and wet. Their coats were wet, their manes wet. I took camera to get some pictures of donkeys in fog, to distract self from mind that was driving me nuts reviewing the growing list of things to do today, none of which I want to do. This is why I come home from town exhausted, a couple hours of involvement in activity that bores me out of my mind. It's a boredom similar to sitting in the laundromat for two hours looking at a People magazine that's three years old, reading every word on every page in horror that this is the world I live in where tv celebs are the focus of attention, people who, without a script, are just like the rest of us. 

vada's tattoo

Yesterday was race day, Watkins Glen, a track I'd rather hear on the radio than watch. I like all-out race on an oval track the best. The track there is a formula-one track, the reason I don't have much interest in that kind of racing. Instead of cultivated European taste, I have American redneck taste when it comes to car racing. I like to see them going 200mph where they are the same as driving on the slickest ice there is. I see the ice when one loses traction and hits the brakes. The car slides so far it is almost inevitable it will hit a wall or another car before it stops. When they go off into the grass, it seems like the grass makes them go faster. I don't glory in wrecks. The race itself is what I watch. I like to see a good race. We listened to most of it on the radio in the basement while it played on the tv upstairs. None of us cares much for the W-G track. Yet, after a big wreck that stopped the race for an hour and a half repairing destroyed guardrails, the race was on when the race began again with not many laps to go. A caution at five laps. The guys out front were itching to go. Four of them at least were determined to be number one. They were a joy to watch. The four of them actually battled it out, using every strategy and trick they knew to get around somebody and to block somebody from passing. Consider that all these drivers are really good at getting around a driver who is good at blocking, and good at blocking somebody good at passing. They were banging sides like at Martinsville. Allmandinger held onto the front, holding off the two behind him wanting to get by. He worked for his win. They all do, every time. This time, I saw him in my mind's eye attempting to push the gas pedal through the floor, standing on it, driving on ice with two wanting to pass. For somebody like me, who really likes a good race, the last laps of the race satisfied my fascination for a good race in abundance. In victory lane when Allmandinger was being interviewed, his mind was going faster than he could talk. He was revved. He spoke in phrases leaving out everything in between. It seemed like what the Chinese language must be like without verbs. 

by vada

A wreck happened so spectacular they showed it at least twenty times. It is tattooed to the inside of my skull. Neither driver, nor any others, was hurt. They crawled out of the wrecks like emerging from a barrel they'd just survived a dive over Niagara Falls in. The part that held my attention was the first car to hit the guardrail after losing traction from contact with another car. The guardrail pitched it back onto the track spinning around. Cars were getting banged up slipping around the spinning car out of control. By way of a tiny window of chance, a thousandth of a second window, the left rear wheel of the spinning car hit the right rear wheel of a passing car. The entire axle housing acted like a hammer hitting a nail. It knocked the axle housing out from under the other car the same as driving a nail. The impact threw the second car backwards into the opposite guardrail taking away the entire back half of the car, everything behind the driver gone. He crawled out his window ok. And the day before, Tony Stewart had his grave misfortune. Stewart is being judged every which way, esp the most dramatic and exciting, murder. I saw video. The guy hit the wall, was out of the race. He blamed Tony Stewart. The driver crawled out of his car on the race track, the number one no-no for drivers. Unless it's burning, they are instructed to stay in the car. It is, after all, a race track, not a good place for pedestrians. He was shaking his fist at Tony's next time around, and it looked to me like he stepped in front of Stewart, raising all kinds of hell, cussing him, the kind of behavior that gets a man killed. Whoops. This will be on Tony Stewart's name from now on in the Nascar record book. It will torment his heart the rest of his life. Kevin Ward, Jr, dead, his soul is off to the next whatever it is. He's feeling no pain. He's in bliss. Tony has a lifetime of suffering ahead of him. This is one of the reasons I pray never, by freak of chance, to kill somebody. It's hard enough for me when I run over a coon or possum or cat that ran under a tire too fast for me to respond. When I see kids playing near a road, I pay close attention, knowing how heedless kids can be from inexperience in this world.

grumpy old bastard with lollipop
by vada

Baby friend Vada charms me. I walk in the door, looking like Charles Bukowski drunk with white hair, and she ran to me, wanted me to pick her up, and we hugged and hugged. She said, Daddy said it was Melvin. I said, You were surprised, weren't you. She nodded her head. We talked about the panda on her tshirt. She wanted me to see her Scooby-doo candy dispenser. It had this little cartoon head on it. I didn't know who or what it was. It looked like a character based in a Chihuahua. I said, Is that Speedy Gonzales, knowing she had never heard of him and this toy was not him. She shook her head. Scooby-doo. I said, Hi Scooby-doo. I gave her a lollipop I'd found at a convenience store where I stopped for gas. Melvin arrived a little later, and she ran to him and wallered Melvin like she did me. Melvin with a child becomes a child. I enjoy seeing Melvin and Vada interact. Makes me want to be more spontaneous and free with a child. But if I were the same as Melvin, then I wouldn't be me. Vada wanted to use my camera I'd brought to get pictures of her with. She took several of me. I don't often look in a mirror, so when I do, it's a shock. I haven't shaved or cut my hair in weeks. I'm comfortable at home and never think of what I look like someplace else. Vada's pictures woke me up. Worse than a mirror. We look at mirrors subjectively, photos of ourselves objectively. I think of Snow White. She asks the mirror who is fairest of them all. "It's you, Snow White." In front of a mirror, we're Snow White. It's the opposite when we see photos of ourselves. I got one picture of Crystal I thought the best picture I've ever made of her. I showed it to her in the camera, saying this is the best one. She shrieked in horror. "It's AWFUL!!! I better not see this on facebook," and shook her fist in my face. I said, "Is that the best threat you've got?" It's not necessarily a "good" picture, but I like the spirit in it. She said, "What was I doing?" I said, "Saying cheese." It's what she was doing. It was kind of a mock pose like Vada will do when she's done having her picture taken and sticks out her tongue. I still like the image. Thought I'd put it here. This isn't facebook. 




  1. TJ - You expressed my feeling of grrr with business this week perfectly. I often don't want to "go to town." I've been resisting getting back into the scheduled world of school/work coming off the summer schedule of relaxing and creating. I LOVE the picture of you with the lollipop and your pic of Crystal. Thank you :)

    1. Thank you, Christine. I love it in the pic of Crystal that I caught a spontaneous facial gesture. That's where I understood where Vada got sticking her tongue out when she was done having her picture taken. From mama. I'd taken several pictures of Crystal and Vada. Crystal is a studio photographer--weddings, babies, relationship pictures---so all the time I'm photographing her she is keenly aware she's being photographed and is acting like she's not in cooperation. When she was done she came at me with CHEESE just as I snapped the pic. My camera holds the picture for a second and I was ecstatic when I saw what I got. It was as thrilling as getting a pic of Jack curling his lip like donkeys do. She gets great pictures of people. Everybody's eyes are sparkling in her photos. She does it by saying something to make them laugh. She photographs them laughing and it looks like they're smiling pretty. I was glad to get a picture of her laughing. She's taken thousands of beautiful photos of Vada from the day she was born. Vada is comfortable before a camera. Crystal takes really beautiful pics of Vada and I take pics of her at home playing. We've got Vada covered.