Letters From Montana: Hearing that Montana is the last best place to hide, we move from San Diego to a ranching community on the Rocky Mountain Front, and buy a house on Marilyn’s credit card. Here we will finally find peace far from the family lawyers seeking to take...Read More
A story of a family’s survival on the plains of Nebraska: (From the Preface:) “There was too much of everything for some, and too little for most. It’d gone on too long, seven billion barely hanging on. One day something snapped so loud everyone on earth heard it,...Read More
Marilyn & Me: A Timeless Love Story is the story of how a raw, frenzied and clueless woodcutter meets a former nun about renting a room at her boarding house in San Diego. Marilyn is teaching nursing in the Nazarene College, and Jack has just lost his axe, family and home. They sweep together the ashes of their destruction and start over in an adventure neither is ready for.Read More
Travis & Muldoon are childhood friends who team up in middle age to break out of meaningless lives and recapture the excitement and spontaneity of their youth. They buy two horses and a pack animal, and set off for Santa Fe from Kansas. Their dream is to arrive in Santa Fe...Read More
Raised By The Wind is a children’s story about a walk to the beach as a seven year old tells her grandfather why she’s decided she wants to be raised by giraffes. He suggests humorous alternatives as they poke along. Santa Fe artist Pooka Longley beautifully illustrates...Read More
and surprise the reader...
The cargo ship wreck is from around 1900, the other one with the bike in background is a galleon, maybe Portuguese or Spanish, from the 1600s.
We camped by a nearby village and biked around the flats, laundered our clothes and bodies in a sea pool, and just stood and stared at the wrecks imagining all sorts of adventures.
Never Before Mushrooms (From Marilyn & Me)
…Marilyn and I first spotted the mushrooms on a walk along the river. These were alien-looking, gray but with a greenish hue along the north side of some of the caps. I knelt to get a closer look and they were really foreign-looking. Marilyn warned me not to touch them, but I had to.
Once on a mushroom-collecting field trip in Grand Marais we found mushrooms amazing in their variety in the woods behind the high school. Some of them were like dangly white lace and delicious to eat, some blue-tinged with reddish veils around their white stalks, others like yellowish grapevines with tiny umbrellas instead of grapes, radiant orange amanitas with snowflake sprinkles, spider webby ones with dark things looking like egg sacs, and a beautiful cotton white creature that is girdling birches in the north and killing the tree with viruses that normally can’t get in. Marilyn found one so rare and complex our teacher couldn’t identify it, and he’d been mushrooming since he got back from Vietnam.
These four mushrooms looked dangerous. You know how certain things in nature carry markings of lethality? I wonder what he’d think of these clustered together and the odd markings on one, almost like stitches. You bet I touched, for these might be the only ones of their kind carried across the cosmos to fall here along the Mississippi the night before to bloom while we slept. Maybe they’d spread like a virus and take over the world. We’d be the first to die, sure, but as their discoverers: The world was overrun by an unknown fungus recently discovered by Jack and Marilyn Underhill of Fridley, Minnesota, who became the first casualties of what was being called Mortem Underhilliansus Terribilis until everyone died and there was not much need to talk about it.
The feeling of the mushroom skin was like some we’d touched in that mushroom class at the North House Folk School. The blush of green fascinated me because it was unequally distributed, like microscopic lichens clinging to one side. Some didn’t have it, though. The stalks were of unequal length but short, the caps close to the grass and growing between two partly surfaced tree roots.
Marilyn knelt to join me and we were fascinated together. I wanted to pull one up to take it home and match it up with whatever I could find on the Internet but Marilyn wasn’t keen on that. I said to touch one and feel how creepy it was and she said, “No way, not me, nope, I’m leaving.”
I said, “Hold on, hold on, we won’t touch, but let’s look some more.”
So we looked as long as we could, all bent over with our rears in the air to passing traffic. There was a father and his little daughters out in their yard, and Marilyn didn’t want to upset them by holding this pose too long right across from their house; so we left.
Next day, alone with a camera, I took lots of close-ups and lay there on my stomach admiring, still toying with taking one home, but reluctant because they were a family. Besides, maybe they were poisonous, they could be toadstools and I ought to identify that first before doing anything drastic. They seemed to have grown some since we came by, and one of them that hadn’t had the green on its odd shaped cap now did.
Green is not a color we associate with mushrooms, I think the instructor said. That’s chlorophyll, and mushrooms are not about photosynthesis. Fascinating! What would he say about these? I was excited. There was nothing like them on the fungus websites, thousands of shapes and descriptions, but that particular configuration wasn’t among them. Now I was really intrigued and dreaming of fungal fame: A couple from Fridley, Minnesota, has discovered a new variety of mushrooms that appears to be the missing link between molds, fungus, and sunlight-and-chlorophyll-dependent plants.
I showed the photos to friends and none had ever seen anything remotely like them in this area, though some had friends who had friends who knew a thing or two about such things.
We visited our find each morning and saw the green haze had spread to all four mushroom caps. I touched the biggest one and wiggled it a little to Marilyn’s horror, because the other three moved as if joined by one core root. She said I may have killed it.
A man came along, a neighbor who ran for City Council a few months before, and stoped to watch us and wonder aloud what we were doing. I told him these four mushrooms were a never-before-discovered type and we were following the life cycle. I’d been on a web search and seen thousands of pictures of mushrooms, but nothing like these. Had he ever seen them before?
He said “Yep,” and these very same ones, and he’d walked by them and never thought twice about it. “This is a teddy bear,” he said, “been here a long time in the dirt,” and he walked on.
We looked at one another. I pulled on the tallest mushroom and it came up and was attached to a body, the same body the other three were, a teddy bear body. It was a small teddy bear someone had lost under the leaves that’d sunk away into the ground over the seasons. Those things I thought looked like stitches were stitches.
The mushroom caps were the teddy bear’s feet and the green blush was algae growing in the worn damp fur.
No fame. Maybe the City Council-hopeful would keep this to himself…Read More
Fingers are servants to the entire body and universe, they scratch where the universe itches, write down the thoughts and poems of brain and soul, pick fruit and flower and lint, and point out bears and lions and heroes in the constellations of the night.
They explore the jungles of lovers, the rivers, volcanoes, laplands, and saharas of their vastnesses, opening flowers and melons and seedpod for the soul and loin.
They test for heat and cold and wet and dry and enemy and friend, tend to wounds on the body they work for and others they love, sketch the air with emotion and didactics. They cradle small living things and pieces of old life and new they find, and bring these treasures to the lips or heart or mind they give away free.
They are born to serve and bring unto us everything we can imagine, and introduce us to what we never imagined. So they are creators too, weaving us matter-of-factly into tapestries of adventure our brains are a bit too contrived to.
Fingers have ten individual souls working at the weaving rack of our lives, playing our lives like harpstrings or keyboards, our brain just the plainsong of right and wrong.
True, fingers are in service to mind and brain, but they are masters of our expressed happiness. They do what has to be done and wave away what mustn’t, they unite in prayer and ring-around-the-rosies, they slip bands of love onto others’ fingers to wear as belonging to something or someone, they slip into infant mouths as pacifiers and grown-up’s as promises.
Our toes balance the known universe with the feet, our fingers the universe of our desires with the hand. Our hands nailed Christ to the cross, but our fingers wrote his story and passed along his love.Read More
It’s early afternoon, hot, still, cloudless and peaceful. I’m coming back from a walk to the doublewide we call home, here at the Roadrunner Park.
My walking poles thump along on Walter Hagen Drive as I get into the homestretch. Our place is at the northeast corner of the park looking out at Coyote Mountain on one side, and the golf course on the other. It’s paradise.
I have to go like a racehorse, but in my haste for the comfort of home I’ve passed two restrooms, one by the tennis courts, the other back at The Springs, where high-end RVs park, overlooking a newer, more splendid golf course. Over here it’s all manufactured housing from the 70s landscaped with rock and cactus, homes loosely wrapped around the original 9 hole course from medieval times.
In the stillness I hear a sound like someone humming through paper wrapped around a comb. I know the sound but can’t place it, then notice a big roadrunner tracking me from yard to yard, dodging around smoke trees, yucca and boulders to keep up.
After six houses it’s plain he’s tracking me. He makes that strange call at each driveway, as if keeping score, or maybe asking for me to slow down. My little brother Fred used to do that. When I stop, he stops, I go, he goes, always with something between us, but never enough to hide us from one another. The bird, not Fred.
I’ve stepped up my speed, and so has he, me to get home, and him to accompany. I feel honored. He may be the one Frank chattered at a month ago, when he saw him on the fence by the Scotchman’s place across from us. Maybe it’s something Frank said back then.
I keep turning in stride to see when he lags. When he gets too far behind I slow down till he catches up. Roadrunners don’t walk at a steady pace. They walk only to get from one possible meal to the next, and that’s what makes this so surreal, unless he’s really famished, and I’m looking good.
He stops at the unit just before ours, and we sort of tip our hats as I turn into the driveway. I don’t have time for a more friendly goodbye, but I feel pretty danged special.Read More
(Sculpture ‘The Kiss’, by Auguste Rodin)
One of the nifty things about being blessed with ADHD/ADD is that we see things and ideas so quickly they don’t really get the time they need to root in our memories. In short, we get to discover life over and over on the run.
We aren’t good on reading but our book reports are highly original, if only marginally connected to what we essentially speed read, somehow finding the mother lodes intuitively and reporting on them in bizarre ways.
Most maverick artists are ADDers, across the spectrum of original creation. People despise their originality but ADDers don’t care, they’re too wrapped up in discovery and Aha! moments to really notice. And when they are discovered and praised it is a bother because it slows them down.
Before ADD was invented by child psychologists as a clinical condition to be treated, ADDers were what made the world turn. They are the poets, composers and painters and sculptors–like Rodin who had six projects going in his studio at once, moving between his models as his interest in one dimmed, working clay in one and stone in another.
His work was excoriated by the Parisians, which left him free to work as he wanted. The rich eventually patronized him when it became socially adroit, which sometimes hamstrung his freedom to create what was in his soul; Non, Monsieu Rodin, I want like you did for the Boury’s garden pool, but better.
ADD is a breath of fresh air in a crowded mortuary. Do not medicate it away. Use it, even if you have to live on the streets for a while…
(More when my flagging attention swings back here sometime)Read More
Marilyn, our chilluns, and my ’93 Volvo stationwagon are the three best things in my life. Oh, and that competition dance team at Maple Grove High School where we went to watch Alex with her group this morning.
The intercity high-school competition had been on for a couple of hours on the basketball court when we arrived, just as a team of 30 or so girls were beginning their routine. It stopped me in my tracks there on the top tier of the gym, just behind the judges. Never in my life…
The theme was factory workers of the early 1940s, the sixteen year olds dressed in the rolled-up-sleeve, red bandana’d can-do outfits we used to see on posters in the Second World War, of a determined young woman with hair swept up, showing muscle, and the logo, We Can Do It!.
The choreography was fabulous but what got me was that all the girls danced as one movement happening. It was as graceful and unified as watching a centipede’s legs move it…no, not even, besides centipedes can’t kick that high. They moved through their routine as if all 30 bodies were connected to the same basal cortex, no, that’s even more dismal. As radio signals? As The Radio City Rockettes? But these girls were better than those professional dancers, and had 50 more moves as distinct as they were, as jibed with one another with a logic and wisdom that needed all the girls’ arms, legs and torsos moving in precision to express itself visually.
No, that’s too cerebral. Let’s say that their dance was like God saying I love you so much I could burst! Or, Gosh, they were good!
I couldn’t watch them singly, it was too confusing even as unified as they were, 60 legs kicked up, out, around and to the sides, sixty arms describing the very Creation replayed, thirty smiling faces filled with gleaming teeth, every shade of skin color unified by the blue and red factory worker outfits.
I had to unfocus to see them instead of watch them, letting the single identities merge into one spectacular thing happening.
It took all my energy to focus on staying unfocussed in order to really see them, and when they finished I was clapping my hands so hard they hurt, trying to get the happiness they’d fired in me back out to them on the gym floor as they took their bows.
The crowd was one for some moments, no single identities allowed, just one heart dancing in one chest with one feeling of love. They’d done it, brought all of us in that Maple Grove world into one joy.
No one in that place would ever be the same. Same brain, sure, same cells and features, bones, memory, eye color, same personality, parents and children, but subtly repackaged. God had danced the Light Fantastic kicking the stars into the sky and today into tomorrow. It’d take a few days to fully upload this most holy Renaissance into the here and now, but we knew it would.
We watched many more dances following for an hour or two and clapped and yelled for the dancers and choreography and interpretation, but when you’ve been to Heaven your standards are hard to meet when you drop back to Earth. You need a long convalescence after such an experience to appreciate as much the good, the pretty good, the danged good, or even the excellent. An excellent love? A pretty good love? See what I mean?
We saw the Real Thing in those first moments this morning. Wish you could’ve been with us, though I guess you were in a way.Read More
Engine of Life (From Spiritual Bones For Mad Dogs)
Marilyn was just now thanking me for finding her swimsuit wrapped in a beach towel. She had been on her way to water aerobics and’d been looking all over the house for it, saying the last place she’d seen it was on her bathroom closet shelf.
So that’s where I went, and there it was, blue swimsuit wrapped in a beach towel. She couldn’t thank me enough but she was running late and off she went, heart filled with gratitude.
Hide and seek is the name of the game. It is everything from the race by the sperm to fertilize the egg, to death. It’s our favorite game as kids. As adults too, it’s people to be our wives or husbands or advisors, it’s us seeking religious truth, a warm body for a night, or peace.
We might achieve a spiritual pinnacle even, and then go looking for someone to teach it to: ‘No no no no no! Here, this is what you do, put your hand here, your feet there, elbows tucked in, eyes half closed, no no not completely, I said half-closed, that’s it, jaw slack, no no not that slack, you look like an idiot, loose but sill hinged, yeh, good good. Now you concentrate on breathing, you…’
Here you are having achieved unlimitedness by coming into synch with the Creator and you’re out looking for the lost? From Samadhi to Drill Instructor in one breath?
Hide and Seek is the game. Hide and Seek is God. Without it there’d be nothing, no impulse to take our hands from over our eyes to look around. ‘Ollie ollie oxen free!’ we call, and wait to see who will make a run for it so we can tag them before they kick the can. You’d think once they kicked the can that’d be it for them, but no, they want to go hide again and be sought. And us too.
We play this game because it’s fun, it’s the fun-dament of life, jokes, lovemaking, invention, daring, reaching. Next time someone says to settle down and pay attention to them, and we get this crazy impulse to bolt and run off laughing, it is because it’s the way we’re put together. Even God does it. Tell your mom or dad or friends this when they call you irresponsible or unreliable or flighty, or a liar or selfish or impulsive or crazy. Tell them to look for the bigger picture in you being all this…and then run.Read More