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Friday, July 31, 2015

SEEING QUADROPHENIA THE FIRST TIME ON A BLUE MOON

judy
 
It is the night of the Blue Moon, a very early Elvis Presley song on the Sun label. It was in this time, and his recordings in 1956, that got him the name, the King. Colonel Parker latched onto his million-dollar baby, Hollywood next and the end of Elvis for me. From then on, he was a glittery spectacle of his fame. I digress. The Blue Moon made a good song. I've seen facebook posts about the Blue Moon like it's something cosmic, a once-in-a-lifetime event in the sky. It hasn't happened since three years ago. Wow. Cosmic. It is the Blue Moon, not because it's blue, but it is the second full moon in one calendar month. July had a full moon on the first and again on the thirty-first. That's it, the significance of the Blue Moon. It is not about the moon. It's about the calendar. The moon came first. The calendar we go by is not the original astrological calendar, but an overlay created by the human mind and collectively agreed upon. It's one of many, has no more significance than being the calendar we go by. It so happened this year two full moons occurred in the same month.
 
view from the deck
 
My friends, Lucas and Judy, are here. They like movies as much as I do and largely the same kinds. We watch movies together in the evenings when they visit the mountains. Both are retired now, this their first stay of a full week. They checked out several movies from the Emory library to bring along, plus my netflix movies and two they brought. Last night we put on Quadrophenia, the Who's second rock opera. We put it on not knowing what to expect. They had seen a stage performance of Tommy in New York and loved it. I had seen the film of Tommy and never connected with it. I had the album in its day, liked it, but it was a disappointment from the Who I wanted to listen to, like the Live at Leeds Who, the Who that rocked my world. None of us knew anything about Quadrophenia, except rock opera, which is no attraction for any of us. We put it on with an attitude it will probably be ok. If we don't like it, we have no lack of something else to see. It took charge of all three of us in the first minute, didn't let us go until the final scene and the credits. We sat gaping while the credits rolled wanting it not to be over.
 
 
view from the deck
 
My appreciation of Peter Townsend the artist skyrocketed while watching the story unfold. He conceived it, wrote the story, created the characters, composed the music and performed it. In my way of seeing, Townsend's is a Woody Allen kind of talent. The story involved teenage boys in London, Mods and Rockers, gangs that fought each other. The time was the Sixties, the Who playing on the radio. The soundtrack was a potpourri of Fifties and Sixties hits, like Da Doo Ron Ron Ron Da Doo Ron Ron, Louie Louie, Green Onions, the Kinks, as wide a variety as was played on the radio over the first decade of rock n roll. The characters in the story did not listen to American psychedelic rock, but bands like the Who that rock a song start to finish. The scene was pre-punk, just before punk broke loose. In the crowd of Mods, I thought I spotted Billy Idol in the role of the Bell Boy. He was ten years older than the scene, though didn't seem so, a Mod. Billy Idol was, himself, a Mod before the punk scene happened. His punk style was Mod. By the time of making the film, 1979, Billy Idol had been through the short-lived punk scene and was in New York and LA making hits, an injection of new London attitudes into American rock.
 
lucas gazes skyward
 
Not  many rock n roll movies are much as films, but this one made a dynamic rock n roll movie with a great soundtrack that was good to hear all the way through. I noticed a few humor moments, like the kid in the story had a photograph of Pete Townsend on a wall in his room, and a wall collage of nude women, and a poster of the Who. In the beginning, I was seeing one thing, a bunch of high school kids hanging out, doing what the young do. They rode about on motor scooters with a seat on the back for girlfriends. The girls were as much fun as the guys. One short girl with short blond hair could dance like she was born to dance. Others jerked about, while she was in flight. Eventually, I noticed the boys our friend whose story we're following ran with, Mods, one of them favored Roger Daltry, vocals with the Who. The one we're following favors Townsend. Another favored Entwistle, the bass player. And the fourth, Keith Moon, was characterized as their black drug dealer. Soon after I got it that these four guys were based in the guys in the band, a scene came up with the four of them gathered round talking. I wanted to give Peter Townsend a thumb-up, good story, great movie. I'd like to see it again before too long.
 
sparkles in the trees
photos by tj worthington
 
 
 
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

INDECISION THE DANCE

whistler
 
The issue of guns or not-guns has been running all my life. People go into a rage over gun riddance and people go into a rage over having guns. I'm so bored of it, it wears me out to see it still going on, louder than ever, never coming to a solution, like usual. Every time the tv features a mass shooting, gun shops sell out all over the country. Somebody who sees tv a few hours every other week sees the gun featured in cop shows and movies and all kinds of tv shows. Cop shows get more uptight and killer-minded every year. I don't think an American movie is made without a gun popping up somewhere. European films use guns frequently. In countries where people don't kill each other and themselves so much, I rarely see a gun in a film unless it has to do with military. I don't even like to see American films anymore, unless independent, for all the guns and explosions. Explosions characterize American films; loud bangs and billowing flames are more required than tits-n-ass. I dislike most about American films when the whisper scene is making me turn the volume up, I can't turn the volume down fast enough for the next predictable thing, a loud explosion and billowing orange flame. I use subtitles watching American films so I can read the whisper scene while turning the volume down for the blast of noise to follow.
 
 
whistler
 
 
Someone I know, who went to Montana and Alaska to kill big animals with a bow, exhibits a passion for ridding all Americans of their guns. He has been in high blood-pressure frustration for decades that he can't do anything about making other people stop owning guns. Then he had a debilitating stroke. Every time I saw him before, he looked like he was going to blow a gasket in front of me. He could quote statistics from now til tomorrow and make a flawless case, but nobody listened. He was about controlling everybody but himself, failed at controlling anybody and failed himself by putting so much attention on fixing everybody else. Somebody who made his life a commercial and ended up a forgotten jingle. This is another reason I don't go into the coffee shop anymore. Now that the wrong people have been weeded out and only the right people go there, I'll sit peacefully having my coffee and hear over my shoulder, So GOOD to see ya! You needta, you oughta, you gotta, you should! I sit reeling with insistent demands bouncing around in my head, one after the other, as fast as chatter can go. I pretend the best I'm able, "Yeah, I'll do that," though not very well, thinking, Who is paying you? Is this volunteer? Is being a commercial your purpose in life? Go into advertising, make big bucks, leave me out of it.
 
whistler
 
All my life, the question of whether or not the death penalty has popped up as an issue in the news periodically. In fifth grade we were required to write a paragraph to explain why or why not the death penalty. It didn't matter what kids in school thought about it then like it doesn't matter what anybody thinks about it now. It never gets settled as an issue and goes on being a question for kids in school like it's something to take seriously. Whether or not the gun, continues as an issue that never is resolved. And the war on the American people, aka the war on drugs, is never resolved to the point that the war on drugs accelerates the drug business. In earlier years, I believed the guff around varieties of issues, believed the purpose was to settle them, come to agreement, smooth out the rough place. That wasn't it. I was taught democracy like there was something to it in everyday life. The black kids in school and the Mexicans were everyday life evidence to me democracy was white only. I was listening to the black station in high school years where I could hear Slim Harpo, Muddy Waters, Big Maybelle, Bo Diddley, music I could not hear on the white station. I was aware of social differences, how black people were kept down by white people's belief in white superiority. Insufferably arrogant people toward the rest of humanity.
 
whistler
 
We had the civil rights movement and civil rights became law, the trade-off for getting rid of Kennedy. Though it didn't change anything about racism. Racism was swept under the rug of denial, black faces included on tv, and racism failed to change. Obedient press and television glossed it over, never addressing the impolite issue, which continued underground on both sides and grew. The Reagan (John Birch Society) Revolution launched hate radio and tv demonizing black people by way of code to angry white men who spend too much time in front of the television. The right-wing armchair militia is the source of the American white terrorist who shoots up schools, churches and movie theaters. In this time, wars are acts of terrorism, hitting by surprise, killing randomly, going for as many mushrooms as possible. I call this civil war. Thus I say we are in civil war. This has been the purpose of the Reagan Revolution and it is accomplished. At least all the preaching of hate in the name of God has brought  racism to the surface now, where it can be assessed as it is and be dealt with out in the open, the only place it can be worked out. Mustn't forget the most ignorant of them all, whether or not climate change. It's really bad when the obvious is up for question. In America, we don't settle issues. They just go on, underground, subjects not to talk about at the country club. Only radicals speak of such issues.  And they go on talking.
 
whistler by whistler
 
 
 
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

MEETING OLD MAN TOM PRUITT

winslow homer

Appreciation for my friends of these mountains, and the many people I know casually, has been with me mightily this week. It has been a slide show of the mind, people I have known and appreciated in the second half of my life. The first half of the life was my education, the time I learned  what I needed to appreciate the people and the culture of the mountains. About a year before I left the city for the country, I rendered a prayer from the heart that I wanted to live in a completely different culture where they speak English. Within weeks, the opportunity to go to the mountains came available. I suspected it answer to prayer, but it hadn't happened yet, and I'm not one to celebrate the light at the end of the tunnel until I'm out of the tunnel. The light might be an oncoming train. I was looking for something "real" that I never found in the city, but among a few people I knew. It wasn't until settled into my new life that I learned I'd been put into a culture very different from the one I left behind. And I said, Thank you.
 
winslow homer
 
As soon as my parachute landed me on Waterfall Road, I knew there would be no turning back. Moved in on the first of November, 1976. Some people I knew said, "You'll be back in January." Those were the ones I did not keep in touch with later. I kept in touch with the ones who said, "What a great opportunity." They were the ones that knew me. The others told me they didn't know me at all when they said I couldn't handle it. Old man Tom Pruitt, who was then exactly the age I am now, was the first person I met. Upon meeting Tom, talking with him the first time, I knew I was on my track. Sitting in his pickup, arm resting on the door, Tom in his hat, brown lines of tobacco juice ran from the corners of his lips to under the chin. He favored a ventriloquist's talking doll with those lines. He told me he'd been down at Whitehead store where somebody said they could put an A-bomb on the moon. Tom's reply, "What they want to do that for? Th'aint nothin up there. The Bible said the moon was just a light. Ye cain't land nothin on no light." That moment, I knew Tom was a God-send. I'd been looking for real people a long time. And there he was, before my eyes, a real live, true human being, somebody who thinks about things he's told and makes up his own mind.  
 
winslow homer
 
Tom also believed the earth flat and the sun went around it. It's obvious. The sun comes up in the east and goes down in the west, circles around and comes back up in the east. He said in school, he finished the 7th grade, the teacher one day explained about the world being round like a baseball. Little man Tom said, "I aint never seen narry mountain on no baseball." This was his reasoning for the rest of his life. I felt compelled, but stopped myself, to explain if the earth were shrunk to the size of a baseball it would be smoother and slicker than any ball-bearing made by the most exacting machine. On a baseball magnified to the size of the earth, the line of threads would make mountains so high they'd stick way up beyond the atmosphere. The leather wrapping on the ball would be major mountains and deep valleys. I already intuited his mind could not stretch to visualizing something he could not conceive. I never tried to explain, because I don't believe it makes a bit of difference in our everyday lives if we believe the earth flat or round. To send a small tractor to Mars requires an understanding of earth's roundness, but driving a pickup to town and back, it doesn't matter. I was enchanted, a pre-Copernican man in 1976.
 
winslow homer
 
I realized Tom's religious belief system went back to Seventeenth Century, Sixteenth, Fifteenth, back to Medieval. I felt like I was in touch with a belief system that went all the way back. He had missed the cosmology of round earth and the cosmology of evolution. That put him from two cosmologies in  Western civilization's past. My role in coming to the mountains was to learn from the mountain people. I realized after some months of working with and running with Tom's nephews on the weekends that I've got nothing on these people. Their intelligence was beyond mine. Theirs was first-hand experience intelligence. Mine was second- and third-hand by way of reading and lectures. Their knowledge was practical. Mine wasn't worth a damn out here in the world among people who live by first-hand experience. Tom had his own form of the scientific method. He never believed any of the stories about spooks and haints. He said if a man looks at a thing enough, he'll find what really happened. No acceptance, at all, of the supernatural. Tom and his nephews taught me where I am in the first year. Tom came from the world going away, whereas the nephews, my age, were from that world though influenced by new trends sweeping over the land, television, radio, cars, beer. I knew Tom the last fourteen years of his life. I listened to Tom's stories as if at the feet of the Master, learning the customs and about the people he knew, the old ways. Tom was an embodiment of the old ways. I think of him as my first teacher in the ways of these mountains.
 
winslow homer himself
 
 
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

MY FRIEND HAROLD HAYES

john singer sargent
 
My old buddy, Harold Hayes, continues in my mind after hearing him mocked for his failure at political correctness. The old boy is of a generation that doesn't even know what it is. His mind has been gone for at least ten years. He still has enough mind to drive his pickup and go to town every once in awhile to get out of the house and see some people. He's very difficult to talk with. Talking to him, he misses almost everything. When he talks, it's the same thing every time I see him. This does not bother me, I've known Harold a long time, since before his mind went away. Several times in the coffee shop, Harold has come in for a cup of coffee and to see if anyone was in there he could talk to. His head wobbles and his eyes are kind of far away, but Harold is there. Mind out of control, about all that is left is the fine human being that he is all the way to the soul. He was always welcome in the time Selma had the shop. It was in Selma's time I would see him in there. He always embarrasses me when I see him, wherever it is, Farmer's Hardware, any of the places he drops by to visit. He feels compelled to tell everyone in the place, calling their attention, to tell them what a great friend I am. He wants to tell that I took care of his closest friend in his life, Jr Maxwell, in his dying. He stumbles around with words and few know what he's talking about but me.
 
john singer sargent
 
Harold used to be a bluegrass bass player, and a guitar player. I say "used to" because he sold his bass. No point keeping it when he couldn't play it any more. For much of his adult life he made music every weekend for dances. He played bass with Jr Maxwell's band, The Green Mountain Boys, with fiddlers Art Wooten, Johnny Miller, Ernest Johnson, and some others. He learned the bass from Jr's wife, Lois, who was the band's bass player, and took her place. She taught Harold in order for him to take her place. He and Jr were probably each other's closest friends throughout the rest of their lives. In my time of taking care of Jr, which lasted about six months intensive, and a year of looking in on him twice a day and spending time with him. He was lonesome and simply needed some company. His home with nobody else in it was a void for him. Lois died of cancer, and his wife after Lois was a woman from Away who took him for having money, a farm, and left him when he didn't die soon enough. To take Jr for having money, her sights were not set very high. She ran through everything he had in twelve years and left him when he had nothing left and in debt to a degree he'd never been in his life. Then she left him and tried to take his house and his business, which, fortunately, the judge saw through. Everybody in the county abandoned her and she had to leave the county. Nobody would have to do with her. She'd speak to people she knew before, and they'd look away.
 
john singer sargent
 
Jr Maxwell was one of the better respected men in the county. Not that the people who call themselves society had anything to do with him. The people of the county, outside a closed circle of climbers in Sparta, all respected Jr for legitimate reasons, for his character. Outside Sparta, the people of the county have their own culture that interacts not at all with Sparta, but for hardware stores, groceries, gas and bank. In the world of the people of the county, everyone of his generation knew each other. Among the mountain people, they know each other for who they are, not their assets or stylish appearance. Among the mountain people, humility is regarded a virtue. Among the white suburbanites coming into the mountains and taking over, arrogance is a virtue, humility regarded stupid. Mountain people do not take to arrogance in any form or from anybody, and do not tolerate it among their own. I have a bad case of it too. Somebody comes at me from an arrogant place, I absent myself. I've found the best way to get rid of them is to drop some hillbilly grammar. The one I like best is saying them for those. Once is all it takes. They look at me askance and they're gone. I don't even have to go for a walk. Every year, Jr Maxwell would take a day and go around with his tractor to plow the gardens for the widows of Whitehead and the old people past able to do for themselves. Every snow, he took his tractor and blade around to the people of Whitehead who could not do for themselves and scraped their driveways. When Jr became unable, himself, somebody cleared his driveway.
 
john singer sargent
 
Harold Hayes was one of Jr's friends who dropped in on him periodically, sat and talked with him awhile about whatever they talked about. It wasn't a matter of what they talked as much as that they talked. Jr was Harold's closest friend. He looked up to Jr actually as if on a pedestal, regarded that well. I knew Harold before the time of Jr's inability to take care of himself. Every time he visited Jr in the time I was staying there, he made it a point to be sure I understood how much he appreciated what I was doing for Jr. A deep love ran between them, the love between friends of many years. All of Jr's friends became my friends in that time. The day his spirit left the body, one said to me, "Now Whitehead knows who you are," and another, "You get into any kind of trouble, all of Whitehead will back you up." Those were the most valuable sentences ever spoken to me in my life. I value those sentences, the people of Whitehead, the ones who said them in the core of my heart. Harold Hayes would embarrass me when he came into the coffee shop with all the praise from his heart that I'd helped his friend. It never ended when it started. His mind was gone, though his heart wide awake. I am Harold's connection with Jr now that he's gone. And likewise, when I see Harold, I see Jr. We have a bond we both value. My face automatically lights up in a big smile when I see Harold. I don't take kindly to my friend being dismissed by the people who value arrogance. It reminds me why I love the mountain people so deeply.
 
john singer sargent himself
 
 
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Monday, July 27, 2015

THE OUTSIDER

tom wesselmann
 
I've been thinking about my affection for the wrong people that I've had all my life. The other day I defined the right people as the people with more money than needed for comfort, and status. I mentioned the mountain people are the wrong people, and then there are the people that don't fit in anywhere, outsiders, some by a nerdiness they can't pretend out of, or by intent, not wanting to play the hierarchy game of money and status. I think both apply in my case, morally unable, and unwilling to play the game. I think of Colin Wilson's book, the Outsider, written when he was eighteen. It rang a chord inside at a young age. I read it again some years later and loved it more than before. Now is a good time to read it again. It is one of the books of my life, like Camus, The Stranger, that coincided with a turning point, the poems of Robinson Jeffers another. I came out of high school wanting to be an insider, climb the ladder, wear expensive clothes. I wasn't long learning I wanted nothing to do with it, took to reading and found an interest in good writing, worked in a bookstore in the time before mall bookstores.
 
tom wesselmann
 
In American television society, just the act of reading a book makes one an outsider. If not because other people take one for an outsider, but minds of readers develop quite differently from how the minds develop of people who watch tv. There comes a time the bridge is out between the two. Hence, the outsider. To take an interest in an art form, visual, music, words, automatically makes one an outsider. To pursue an interest beyond hobby is outsider behavior. Plenty of people live outside the game of honoring status and the show of money. Remembering one of the guidelines of my life from the only man I've known I call wise without hesitation, Jr Maxwell, "Stay away from important people." It is a good code to live by. I already practiced it in my own way without having it condensed into so concise a maxim. It stuck with me like another of his sayings, "Don't believe what you think." Jr, too, was an outsider, a bluegrass banjo picker, farmer, welder, sawmill operator, bulldozer operator, pronounced bull-noser, tractor mechanic. He would preface one of these sayings and others, "Like the old feller said...."
 
tom wesselmann
 
One of my favorite outsider friends comes to mind strongly, Sarah. I've known her since she was not long out of high school, a wide-awake young woman, alive, living from the heart like Sara Carter sang from the heart. She was too complex a soul to lock down in any one way of life. She needed experiences of a great variety. She dove into everything she was involved in head first and learned to swim.  Like in a Bob Marley song, all her cards are on the table. In that time she drove a powerful Chevy race car and knew how to drive it. I was struck by her wits,  her sense of humor, her intelligence, especially her ability to have her own thoughts and honor them as such. In her group of peers, she ran with the outsiders, she appeared to me a light. Every time I see Sarah, I see a light. Even when she's down and out, her light sustains her and returns. I recall seeing her a time or two when her light was dim, exhausted, though I intuited the Sarah I knew would return in her own time, on her own terms.
 


tom wesselmann
 
She seems to me a woman of a powerful soul. She doesn't receive defeat. It's not in her dictionary. She's been broken and shattered, pulled the pieces together, reconstructed herself with porcelain glue and carried on. She's been put out with the trash, walked over, used, abused, abandoned, scorned. Sarah has kept going with the healing power of love. Sarah knows what real love is, doesn't settle for half-love or three-quarters love. She's wide-open who she is, a Twin Oaks Sexton-Higgins on the physical plane. Sarah has seemed to me the whole time I've known her, at least thirty years, an advanced soul who chose the fast lane of spiritual progress, the path of suffering. Like Jr Maxwell once said of himself, "I been through it and come out the other end." This is how I feel about Sarah in this phase of her life. She's been through it and come out the other end. It seemed to me her relationships, before, drained her energy. She has a nourishing relationship now, someone she can live in love with who knows her, honors who she is, is gentle with her doll parts, loves her the only way she wants to be loved, for herself, for who she is. Last time I saw Sarah was in the Food Lion parking lot.  She's another of my hillbilly friends I value the highest, grateful she's in my world.
 
tom wesselmann himself
 
 
 
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Saturday, July 25, 2015

LESS COFFEE, MORE TEA

 
cy twombly

Ran into my only pet peeve I do not tolerate a second time. Years ago I was talking with someone who asked me a question. I started answering and he walked away. First time it ever happened to me. Hadn't been in Sparta long by then. Next time it happened, I said I'll give a second chance. Next time around same character, same thing. That day I learned they do it once, they do it a second and third time. After that one, nobody gets a second chance. Somebody talking with me of their own volition, and while I'm speaking walks away, no second chance. I do not tolerate it. It's about the only thing I can think of, besides an assault, that I don't tolerate. It happened today. I've learned it is a certain kind of person that does it, and I don't want such people in my life. At all. I've been in the mountains too long to pass off in-your-face disrespect. Disrespect gets my hillbilly back up. And I can't find any reasons for it not to. It's a matter of boundaries, personal boundaries. You disrespect me, I disrespect you. It tells me the one who does it has no respect for me, so I withdraw my respect for such individual. And I don't mean big-deal respect, but the basic human respect of presence. And when I withdraw my respect, nothing fills the void, like pulling your hand out of a bucket of water, no trace left that a hand had ever been there.
 
cy twombly
 
I went to meet somebody at the coffee shop at lunch time. I don't like going in there anymore, feel alien. When Selma had it, the air was friendly, lively, awake, fun. She passed it on to somebody who sapped the friendly, lively, awake, fun out of the place in one sweep. First thing, it was made undeniably clear to all the local people who went in there, the people I went in there to visit with, they were no longer welcome. I asked one why he never went there anymore. "She doesn't like me." Asked another, "She doesn't like me." Come in the door from Roaring Gap or High Meadows country clubs and the service is close and personal, like in the movies, doesn't get better. Just a little bit of classism going on under the pretense of liberal. I'd told Selma in the beginning, when the right people found the place, I was gone. Because she was Cuban, the right people stayed away. With present management, all the wrong people have been run off, and I see nothing in there anymore but the right people.
 
cy twombly
 
I walk the political correctness coffee house line, don't say words like nigger, fuck and shit, much, obey disapproval to everyone's heart content but my own. Disapproval in a coffee shop is worse than disapproval in church. Disapproval is the reason I stay out of church. The pretend liberal is such that it makes me not want to call myself liberal anymore. All I see liberal means in the decades of political correctness is membership in the club of the cool people quick to disapprove of words forbidden on tv. Not my set. In this time of the life, I don't have time for, or interest in, self-editing to tippie-toe around somebody's, anybody's PC disapproval. Told they don't approve of something said, I'm awfully inclined to say something like, I don't give a shit. You don't approve of it, you don't say it. I'm not responsible to your approval. Pisses them off. A time in the coffee shop I mentioned I like to watch the race and caught a smarty-pants classist remark, "That's just cars running around in a circle!" I replied, "Yes, in the most minimal way you can look at it." In French it would be her bourgeois nose shot straight up and she was out the door. I laughed on the inside until I about cried, and on the outside pretended not to notice.  
 
cy twombly
 
I have fallen into a pattern there. I take a seat at the bar, pick up the paper and occupy self with something while I wait for anyone who works there to notice somebody came in the door, and sat down. They're too busy to notice. Walk by and don't look, back and forth. Eventually someone notices. I get the coffee. Want to speak to one, forget it. And if permitted a moment of wasted time, it's with an attitude, I don't have time for this (bleep). It feels like in a state or federal government office. At any time I want the attention of anyone working there, I have to arrest their attention, make them look up annoyed, what do you want? I tell myself it's the New Sparta, get used to it, get over it or get out of it. I've got used to it, got over it, am on my way out of it. I want to do my part to support the shop, as I believe Sparta benefits with such a place, but since my friends have been run off, and I'm a working class redneck too, why am I the privileged acceptable one? Today they were mocking and laughing about an old local boy, someone I respect so high up I'd stand up  for him before anybody. I withdrew my attention, thinking, I really don't belong in this place.
 
cy twombly himself
 
 
 
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Friday, July 24, 2015

MOTHER LOVE

the wildwood flowers

After catching on that Caterpillar was miserable from relentless cold, I took her into the bed with me last night under the covers, a bit hesitant about fleas, but told self Caterpillar is worth more to me than a few flea bites. I found a way to be sure she did not fall off the bed while I was sleeping. We both slept soundly. No flea bites. She was refreshed in the morning when I put her on the floor. She went about her day in comfort. She has several sunning beds. I felt satisfied I'd found the problem and took care of it seeing her walk on her toes again. I meant it when I said I fell in love with Caterpillar all over again. I feel so much love for her today and yesterday my heart glows. I've loved her since birth, known her every day of her life. I am her mother. Her biological mother was a darling tortoise shell small cat who was feral and took up under my house the winter of 96-97 after a storm of two inches of ice on the ground for two weeks, creeks iced over, broken trees everywhere. She was desperate. I heard her crying under the house. Took her a bowl of water and some catfood every day. She would not let me see her for a month. She came into view eventually after some confidence I wasn't here to hurt her, but to help her. 

black eyed susans

Gradually, I touched her, went slowly with her, she was so frightened and so humble. Also, the cat living here at the time, Peck, did not like having another cat in her territory. Aster the black dog was with me when I took food to the cat. She became acquainted with dog along with me. There came a time she let me hold her. She came to like our visits. One day, picking her up I felt little lumps in her belly. Kittens. I thought, Oh no, more cats. I had a shed that once held chickens my first ten years living here, a flock of half a dozen banty hens and a rooster. I was using it for a shed to keep found wood and leftover wood from projects dry out of the weather. Found a cardboard box from a store in town, cut a hole in it, put hay in it and sat it in the shed with the top where I could open and close it to see and reach inside. She brought into my world three kittens, two black, one gray with black stripes. I went to see them every day, took mama cat fresh water and catfood. Every day I held the kittens wanting them accustomed to the human touch from birth, wanting mama to learn to trust me with the babies. The day their eyes opened, two weeks old, mama cat, Celina, ran under a passing car in a domino-effect chain of events so complex it eliminated blame. 

queen anne's lace

I went to the shed with Aster that morning like every morning. Celina was rubbing on Aster's legs by then. Mother's day morning I opened the door and Celina was gone. I thought I had the shed tight enough nothing could get in or out. I went looking for her. Next farm neighbor's car went down the road. Aster, knowing the car, thinking it might stop, she took off running toward the place where I park the car to meet him. I saw Celina sitting beside the road next to my car. She saw Aster running at her full speed, Aster not even aware of her. Fear startled her, she darted across the road under the car between front and back tires. She would have made it, but the differential smacked her head. My only comfort, it was fast. I had an adorable cat to bury and three kittens I didn't know what to do with. Mama cat in her final resting place, I put the kittens in a paper grocery bag and carried them to the vet. I knew I needed kitten formula only available there, and asked for tips on how to take care of them. They gave me good instruction. Vet told me my babies would not live. I felt that Southern thing, not wanting to sound like I knew more than he did about his field, chose not to say what I knew, they will live. I intended it. The vet didn't know I knew they needed mother love as much as food to make it. I could do that. 

queen anne's lace

I fixed a corner for them in the house and gave them loving attention all day, holding them, feeding them, talking to them, singing to them, watching them play. They slept most of the time, piled on top of each other. I opened my heart and fell in love with them for their survival, and wanted to, because I love my pets. Also knew I could never let any of them go to an uncertain future. As long as they lived with me, they were safe. I told the kittens I loved them every day, every time I held and spoke to them. This applied all their lives. They were so charming I couldn't help but fall in love. Even in the first weeks, each one's complete personality was there. They were uniquely individual and not the least bit alike. The first day Caterpillar walked, she hobbled over the floor like a gray and black striped furry caterpillar. She was comical. Next was Tadpole for her black wiggly nature. There came a time she let me know she wanted another name, she didn't like Tadpole. It wasn't her. I asked her about Tapo, pronounced like taco, and she liked it. Then there was TarBaby. We were already stuck together for life. And I love Sade's song, Tar Baby. Peck hated the kittens, hissed at them every time she saw them. She left home when they were a year old. I did not withdraw attention or love from her. She just went away. TarBaby and Tapo both left the body age 12, not far apart. My feeling was Tapo loved TarBaby so much she wanted to be with him. It tore me up losing them. Lost Aster age 12. I'm left with Caterpillar, a beautiful Maine Coon with wide awake eyes, age 18. I cling to her, the last of my babies, and love her with all my heart, keep her spirit in the body with mother love. 

photos by tj worthington


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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

CATERPILLAR COLD AND COLD MOUNTAIN

caterpillar sunning midst the wildwood flowers

Caterpillar has been peculiar since returning home shaved. She was obviously quite comfortable with the mat removed from her back, but still not comfortable. I thought nothing of the temperature--mid July, summer. Last night she wanted to get in bed with me. She never wants on or in the bed. She slept in her bed under an open window. She has not eaten today. I put down food I know she likes and she wouldn't touch it. Then I knew something was not right. I held her all the time watching the movie Cold Mountain this evening. I realized after awhile she was snuggling in awfully close, and I was automatically keeping both hands on her shaved body, keeping her warm. I realized if I were to take off my clothes, I'd be cold. It is 70 now and down in 60s at night. Once I caught on that she was freezing, I could see that she was miserable all night and could not find warmth anyplace all day. I took out a heavy insulated shirt I wear in winter as a jacket. I wrapped her up in it, put her on the cushion of my reading chair, warm from two hours of watching the movie. She snuggled down into it like a turtle. I've not seen her face since. By now, her own heat is keeping her warm. 

caterpillar

I'm grateful to find the problem. She can't say, I'm cold. Not eating, I wondered if she might be getting a cold from exposure. This is when the word cold dawned on me. Yes, she's freezing. She's been telling me for two days and I didn't get it. When I got it, I saw she has been in a warm coat all her life, is not acclimatized to going naked. Of course she's cold. I feel much better for her since I finally caught on. She will stay inside the jacket until her bones warm up. I know how miserable it is to be relentlessly cold. I think of the people who climb Himalayan mountains. They have to like being cold all the way to the bone with no relief for days and nights in a row, sometimes weeks. Seeing her not eat all day and appealing to me unto nuisance, is what tipped me she's not feeling well. Before realizing she was cold, I fell into a place of deep concern. I appealed to her, I don't want to lose you any time soon. I want you healthy and happy. It took me almost to tears concerned she might be going into decline. I knew I'd hit the jackpot when I wrapped her in the shirt and she snuggled in like a turtle and stayed there. She has found comfort at last. 

caterpillar in her patience

The movie I watched with her on my lap was Cold Mountain, released in 2003. I wanted to see it when it was new from loving the novel by Charles Fraser so much. New, I'd heard the film was made in the mountains of Romania, for cheap production costs. I wanted to see the Smokies, not Romania. I never want to see a movie with Nicole Kidman in it. Like Brad Pitt, I never see a movie because he is in it, though when he is in one I see, I appreciate him as an actor every time. Kidman too. My friend Pat told me when she saw it, it was a JC Crew infomercial. A few minutes into it, I already saw the infomercial. Everybody was chic in expensive clothes like Abercrombie and Fitch, 19th Century style. Her hair was always perfectly styled, even when it was messy. The production was so television it wallowed in the mystery of the obvious. The only character I cared anything about was the Goat Woman. She was almost like a person, instead of a cartoon character. I about barfed every time I saw Jude Law, who gave his character the same depth Matthew McConaughey gives his characters, zero. Kidman is at least a good actress. Very good. I have a hard time with a movie when the lead roles are vacant teen favorites playing the cool young of today modeling Civil War period dress up. 

water in a bucket struck by a drop of water

The Southern accents were pathetic. They have coaches for accents. Of course, they don't want to make it so Southern nobody outside the South can understand it without subtitles. Southern language in that time would be difficult for our ears today to tune in to. Like reading Shakespeare, it takes several pages to settle into the rhythms of the Elizabethan language. I'd guess rural Southern accents in Civil War time were widely varied by region and and so thick an outsider, like somebody from this time stepping into that time may not understand anything spoken. Belief systems were very different then from now. The film exhibited today's politically correct American belief systems.  I knew in the first scene authenticity was not a priority. The writing in the book is beautiful, though the people talking in the movie had nothing but blandness in their exchanges. Several times I thought, what have they done to Frazer's beautiful writing? Where did it go? Several times the movie put me into nausea of the mind, especially the studio sound they used for Jack White puking. It was so television I expected commercials. Kidman played her part well, while looking way too much the turn-of-the-century American blond, Beverly Hills 2000 style. Seeing it confirmed for me that I really did not want to see it.

water in a bucket struck by another drop of water

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A GOOD DAY TO SHAVE A CAT



caterpillar
by tj worthington 1998


I have fallen in love with Caterpillar all over again. She showed me herself in such a way I was impressed beyond anything I knew she had in her. Took her to have her back and belly shaved. Her fur is so long and thick it knots readily. I've kept at it with scissors and a comb, but it got beyond scissors. I bought some electric shears and they could only cut through very little of it. I told her we had an appointment to have the mess removed from her back and belly. I was afraid to work scissors or shears on her belly, the skin so soft, and sensitive. I wanted to help her, not hurt her. The day before, I told her the next day we'd remove her mess. Time to go, no Caterpillar. I called. She always comes to me when I call. No Caterpillar. I searched and couldn't find her. Eventually, she came walking up the path from the car. She has a spot in some tall grass near where I park that makes a good bed for her with plenty of sunlight. I don't know why she wants to be so close to the road, just a couple feet, with cars whizzing by. This is a new spot for her, so I wasn't aware of it to look there. 

caterpillar would rather be at home

She's not one to feel urgency about time. I see her in my mind's eye hearing me call and thinking about it. She steps up to the food bowl and stares at it for half a minute or so, like she's assessing whether or not she's really hungry. It is the same with the water bowl. She stands and looks at it awhile before she takes a drink. She goes to the door, which is always open for her to come and go, stands and looks for awhile, then steps out. In winter when I open the door to let her out, I hold it open and let her think about it. It's her nature. She's always done that. She was lying there, comfortable, listening to me call her name. I speak her name while holding her, have a little song I sing to her around her name. I gave each of the kittens a song around their names, sang it to them since they were kittens. In their grown years, the song relaxed every one of them to purring. Even today, eighteen years old, singing Caterpillar's song to her relaxes her way down and she's purring right away. Her song goes, 
Caterpillar, pretty baby, 
pretty baby, Caterpillar.
I repeat it over and over. It takes her home right now. 

caterpillar relaxed getting shaved

Caterpillar affirmed my way of raising her, gentleness. I've never hit her, never raised my voice at her, never swept her off a piece of furniture in anger. I allow her to make her own decisions, except when it's time to be stuffed into the cat carrier to go to the vet. As usual, she cried all the way in the car. Mao, Mao, Mao. It gets severely tiresome, so I sang along with her, Mao, Mao, Mao. We had a duet going. She became conscious right away of us saying Mao together. It seemed to take her mind off the crying. It was like braying with Jack. I can now set him to braying by letting out my version of a bray, Oooohhh. This morning at carrot time, I started the bray from inside the house. Jack heard it and was braying full bray before I went out the door. I've started braying to him from inside the house at carrot and grain time, and he's ready. As soon as he hears it, he starts. Making Caterpillar's crying into a song took the edge off it for me and relaxed Caterpillar. I never take charge of her physically against her will, except going in and out of the carrier. 

tammy moxley

I took her to the groomer at Twin Oaks Vet. Walked in the door and saw a table with a couple of rubber nooses hanging from a bar for holding cats that don't want their bodies manipulated. I thought: Nobody is going to put one of them on my baby. I already knew she would not need it. My hands on her keep her calm, assured she is safe. Hands have never hurt her. They have only touched her in loving, nourishing ways, held her. The procedure took two full hours. I wanted to be the one holding her, didn't want somebody holding her by the back of the neck, afraid of her, stretching her face so tight her eyes look like she had three too many facelifts. I will not put my baby through a torture chamber with somebody she does not know forcing her against her will. I never once had to hold Caterpillar down. Several times I'd lift my hands from her and she never moved. I used my hands to comfort, not to control. A few times she looked like she was taking a nap. The second hour she was a little tired of it, but her patience held, with some low growling and one good hiss. I was so impressed with Caterpillar, I didn't know what to make of it. I was impressed with Tammy clipping her, too. She handled my baby with the grace and gentleness of her own baby. Caterpillar came home a happy cat. She peed on the pillow in the carrier on the way home, only because she couldn't hold it any longer. 

caterpillar happy cat


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Monday, July 20, 2015

MICROSOFT CUSTOMER ABUSE

robert morris

Over the weekend, an update took over the computer while I was uploading a video to facebook, which I had to do again after the unwanted update nullified it. Since the update, no sound. Next, an hour of mental/emotional torment. I went to HP support in the computer and got so much confusion, words I don't understand in sentences I can't make anything of. No number to call. I went to google and found an HP support number. I'm connected with India, English as a second language. Talk with one, answer questions. Connected with another one asking the same questions. Sent to another who asked the same questions. To find model number and serial number, I have to pick the laptop up, turn it over without touching anything, get a flashlight and glasses to read the miniscule black-on-black print while holding the phone. He can help me. Fifty dollars. "I'll do without sound. Good-bye." Next, I say every cuss word I know in multiples, so frustrated I want new words. I don't know where the update came from, assuming windows. Maybe I'll call windows tech support and see if they'll fix what they unfixed. If I knew how to undo updates, I'd undo it. 

robert morris

I'm recalling in youth, entering the world of jobs, I was taught that in business you don't take anything personally. It's all about money. No room for feelings or emotions. Get over it, whatever it is. I despised this aspect of the Capitalist system since my beginning. The one thing I learn over and over, deny my feelings. I want to raise hell and fuss, but who is going to hear it? There is no accountability all the way to CEO. Frustration without recourse I learned to live with so long ago and so repeatedly, I've got it, but still don't like it. Who's going to hear it? Somebody in India. Who is going to care? Nobody. Why do I think it beneficial that somebody might care? It's not. I have to pay because a corporation too-big-to-fail screwed me over and another corporation too-big-to-fail wants to screw me again. Do I have a choice? Yes. Do without sound until I can take it to a friend who fixes computers. Maybe he'll only want twenty dollars. Maybe I'll set aside two hours for question answering in near future and call windows support to ask them to undo the last update, or tell me how. Decided to call windows. To cut it short, I asked upfront how much it's going to cost. Eighty dollars. This is how I learn to do without sound on my computer. What a bunch of shit.  

robert morris

I will make it a point to enjoy this break from sound. I give too much time to listening to a talk by Noam Chomsky, Bill Maher's political comedy, Bill Moyers interviews, Young Turks, Democracy Now interviews and music of all varieties. I'll use this opportunity to disconnect further from the world of other people's concerns. When Al Sharpton is taken for a respectable source, I don't need any more input from corporate media that presents him as if credible. Some people follow fire trucks, Al Sharpton follows tv cameras. No more Rachel Maddow. I listen to her less and less, weary of the continuous urgency in her tone of voice, appealing to me to worry, get angry. I take Don't Worry ~ Be Happy and reverse it, Worry ~ Don't Be Happy, all the answer I need. I like to listen to a Chris Hedges interview, but they most often provide the text. Hedges and Chomsky don't inspire worry. They give me credible assessments from their extensive research. They don't follow the press emotionally. I'll take this as opportunity to alter patterns of behavior toward less concern about people and events beyond my immediate interest. 

robert morris

I sent an email to microsoft tech support contact, reporting customer abuse. It's the same as nothing going nowhere, though provides a tiny speck of a glimmer of illusion of satisfaction, I got them told. Then laugh at self for so little being so important. This incident serves as an example of corporate indifference inspiring anger. Corporate government equals police state. Abuse. American cops kill a thousand impoverished citizens a year without question, like it is their right, their role, and we acquiesce. Driving, I think, why am I so paranoid, and I'm not black? Oh yeah, I forget, the land of the free, free to be beaten or killed by a cop for walking on a sidewalk, being at home when cops break down the door to the wrong house, or call the cops for help. All the more reason to stay at home, not that home is safer than anywhere else, since the Supreme Court decision a few weeks ago saying the cops don't need a reason to break down my door and blow me and my cat away. The same Supreme Court put an end to democracy fifteen years ago. Now microsoft has cut off my sound and wants eighty dollars to turn it back on.   


robert morris by robert morris

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