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Monday, October 13, 2014


air bellows rock formation

My surprise disappearance for three nights, two full days and two half days has left Caterpillar unhinged. She was shut in the house the whole time. I'd told her I'd return soon when I went out the door, just going for a doctor appointment. I always close her in the house when I leave for assurance she's safe from dogs and coyotes. It's a dangerous world around here when you're the right size for a Happy Meal and slow. She has safe places outside she likes to lie still and watch the bird activity, and the places sunlight falls different times of day. I attempted to send her messages by way of telepathy that I'm detained for a few days, but will return. First time I entered the house was for ten minutes, to change clothes, put down some food for her, put fresh water in her bowl, turn around and leave. She did not bother to come out from her hidden sleeping place to see me. Cats mourn so deeply, I've seen when I am gone too long a cat will pretend it doesn't see me, hasn't noticed I'd returned. This will go on for an hour or more. I called to Caterpillar and told her I was back. Then left. Chris Cox was reading from his new book, The Way We Say Goodbye, at the library from 10-1 Saturday. I wanted to be there, and I had four copies of an Old-Time Herald issue for him and his manuscript of the book he'd sent me to read. I felt it imperative to be there to deliver the items as Chris lives down around Asheville and doesn't get up this way a whole lot. I never drift that far from home anymore. Chris is someone I think of as a friend, though I see him so seldom, I see people I don't know at all more than Chris. We met in the mid 1980s and since then maybe we've been in touch a dozen times at most. Every time we meet, it's like last time was last week.

chris cox reads out loud

I was anxious in the back of my mind at the hospital hoping to be out of there in time to make it to Chris's reading. I'd been told I might go home Saturday morning. If not, I'd have to stay all weekend. It was a horrifying prospect at first, but after being in there a few days, I could have easily relaxed into a few more since it's a new day at the hospital in Sparta. I wanted to be back with Caterpillar, knew she was worried and lonesome. I'd asked a neighbor to keep her fed. I hoped to be out Saturday morning in time to go home, change clothes and return for Chris's reading. Without these two concerns, I'd have been happy to stay. Crystal brought my Van Gogh biography. I was fine. It was crazy-making, however, to be in a room with a tv that had 50 channels and all of it nothing. I caught a few minutes of Jimmy Fallon on Tonight. He's funny sometimes. He failed to hit my funny bone and I clicked him off. Surfing the channels, a few seconds at each one, I saw murder, killing, shooting, investigating killings, guns, pointing them rudely at others, threatening with them. People I know who watch television all complain there's nothing worth seeing on a hundred channels. I watched ten or fifteen minutes of two soccer matches. I like to see the perfect control those guys have kicking the ball. Nonetheless, I never took to sports for the main reason I saw no point in wasting energy, attention and time chasing a ball. Dogs chase balls. I can watch tv football with company, but cannot watch two minutes of it alone. Alone, I'd rather have silence. In my brief idle moments channel-surfing, it made me shake my head to see so much furious violence, so much police state activity. I understand why we have police state--just like on tv. Life imitating kitsch. Kitsch imitating life. Which is it? It's both. 

air bellows outdoor museum of contemporary art

I lay there in the hospital bed watching the images of killing by gun, one after the other, unable to watch more than three seconds each, surrealist tv, feeling sorrow for the American people. No wonder our "representatives" are so nuts. They "represent" people whose heads are full of these images continually, at work, asleep, as are their own heads. All I saw was distraction by destruction. The tv shows were distractions. The commercials were distractions. The news shows were distractions. Cell phones are distraction. I saw us a nation of people whose heads are loaded with extremely violent distractions, static. The static, itself, has become appealing, relaxing white noise. Our "representatives" operate by the television standard that only money matters. I feel sorrow for the American people when I have my periodic insight into what is happening on the television. Everything interrupted by commercials. This, I suspect rather strongly, is the source of conversation in America characterized by interrupting anecdotes with interruptable anecdotes. I do my best not to be annoyed by interruption anymore, have come to accept it's what happens, that I live in a world of people whose attention span makes a cat's attention span appear controlled. I talk with people as if an interruption were not coming soon, though when it happens, and it always happens, I am now able to shut it down easily in my mind. It's over, done, don't even attempt to get it back, just go on. I've got so rude that when I see somebody in town, stop and talk a few minutes, their cell phone goes off in whatever personal touch ring they've chosen, they go straight to the phone and start talking, I leave. I don't even say goodbye. I'm never missed. It's not even noticed I left. Once interrupted, I'm done. That's the grumpy old bastard within. This is my major problem with television, its alarming numbing effect on the people I live among anywhere in America.


I was able to make it to the library half way through Chris's reading, walked in during intermission, was directed to the snack table where I had lunch; meatballs, raw broccoli and carrot slices, in memory of Jack and Jenny I missed as much as I missed Caterpillar. Chris's reading was supreme. He read some of the humorous stories. He couldn't make it through the ones close to the heart. Chris's writing is automatically close to the heart, as he writes from the heart, just like his mountain musician grandpa, Clif Evans, made music. Chris chokes up and can't go on when it's emotional for him. One can write the memories from close to the heart much easier than one can read them publicly, even sometimes alone. Most notable for me, since I already knew his writing was music, was his ability to read in his talking rhythm. A few times I wondered if he might be telling something as an aside or actually reading. He was reading. It seemed like he was ad libing from time to time, and I remembered he writes like this. This is part of what I think of as his mastery. Good public reader. I was happy for him to see him having a good time and being received so wide open by the people there to listen. I went straight home from the library. Jack saw me drive down the road and brayed his excitement. I took some sweet grain to the donkeys as soon as I reached the house and put everything down. I let Caterpillar come to me in her own time. I put on a Warren Miller documentary of Xtreme skiing in severe mountains around the world, a visual distraction. I held Caterpiller and talked to her. She purred, I purred, relaxed and in place, telling each other how glad we are to be together again. I explained to her what happened; the doctor would not let me go home, they put me in the hospital and wouldn't let me out. I tried to send her messages by telepathy, though I don't know how. She started crying. I knew the four-leggeds cried, but did not recall ever seeing one cry before. She wept. I realized she was deeply hurt by fear I was not coming back, had nothing to go by that I would, locked in the house, food just about gone. It tore me up that Caterpillar was crying. I let her cry and comforted her, shedding some tears with her. She wants me to hold her more than ever and she stays close by. She's so comfortable now when I hold her she falls asleep and snores. A cat who has never liked to be held for very long since she was a kitten is now falling asleep in my arms and wants me holding her all the time. I don't mind. We're both in our later years, all the more precious to each other.   



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