Posted by on Dec 31, 2018 in Blog | 1 comment

I was thinking how neat it’d be to die and see what happens next. I’m in my 80s so I have a vested interest. My feeling is nuthin’ ever dies, the spirit that aggravates, also inculcates, whatever that means. But, thing is this whole thing is Love, and Love means good stuff, so how could Death be bad stuff? For the people we owe, sure! But for the long haul, nope, it’s all sweetness and glory and Hallelulia! and Oh God YES! How do I know? I always knew but made believe cuz it’s cheating to have Life with there being no options other than No Life. We are forever. You. Me. That guy over there. C’mon, not him!? Yah, Him.


Posted by on Dec 30, 2018 in Blog | 1 comment

13. Santa Clara Peak

I met Marilyn in a dream on the Pacific Crest Trail, but only realized fifteen years into our marriage that I’d seen her even before then.
I had a small sawmill and firewood and fencing business out on Airport Road in Santa Fe., where I’d moved after Galisteo. Our main thing was hand-adzing trees into round roof beams we call vigas in New Mexico, or finishing saw-milled beams that we used a broad axe to shave the mill marks from. In the olden days a round tree was made square entirely by hand-adzing. We created the “illusion” of it being handcrafted by using those same ancient tools.
The best trees for this were Engelmann spruce from way high in the mountains. When they die the bark beetles and other critters don’t attack them because the cambium layer doesn’t taste good and the scaly bark clings too tightly to the wood. So the tree slow dries over the years with minimal cracking. An adzed Engelmann viga is a pleasure to look at, eight or ten of them holding up your bedroom ceiling, herringboned in between with peeled aspen or split cedar saplings. You don’t have to read to fall asleep, you just marvel at this primitive roof above you in your casa on the banks of the Acequia Madre where the Santa Fe farmers used to live.
I was driving the logging truck up the Santa Clara Peak one morning in February going for a load I’d decked earlier in the week. It was light but the sun hadn’t come over the Sangre de Cristo across the Rio Grande valley. A dusting of snow had fallen and mine were the only tracks on the dirt road.
A car came around a bend headed toward me just as the sun rose behind me, a yellow Volvo station wagon with a man and woman up front and two children in back. They waved as they passed, all smiles, beautiful people, radiant in the new sunlight. They zoomed past and I followed their tracks ahead of me, wondering what they’d been up here for. They were dressed for summer in bright colors, yet it was below freezing. Had the car broken down? That was the only explanation I came up with because this main road ended at a deep canyon fifteen miles on near Pedarnales Mesa through deep snowfields. There was a one-track, very rough road carved out of the lava, put in a century ago for horses hauling trees. The road wended down to a village that even a jeep couldn’t make it over at this point. Any other logging roads branched from the trunk road I was on.
A few miles along, I came to where their tracks ended, or began—depending on how I looked at them. There were no wide melty spots you usually see where a car’s been parked in the snow for awhile, or footprints. The tracks just appeared as if the car had touched down from flying along.
Here’s the spooky part. When I met Marilyn in 1991, I was driving the old Buick Regal. When we moved from the trailer court at Lake Morena over to Regner Road in San Diego she showed me a classified ad for a used Volvo station wagon at a good price. She suggested I sell the Buick and buy the Volvo, as there’d be more room in the station wagon for my kids.
I ran an ad and a German student came by and paid me in cash that I used to buy the Volvo. I’d never had one before, and never particularly liked their looks. I didn’t think of myself as a Volvo person, which I thought to be dependable, no-nonsense Nordic types who went for solid and honest craftsmanship in their cars, tools, and wives.
But this Volvo was different, long and sleek, with a turning radius where you could do a U-turn on a two-lane and still clear the far curb by a good margin. It was silver with black leather seats, and a reputation for running 200,000 to 300,000 miles. The car got good mileage, had abundant power, and made me smile just to sit there at the wheel, sniffing its good leathery smell and feeling safe and cozy.
The time we moved to Montana with the kids I hauled it on a flatbed trailer behind the U-Haul, and we explored the valleys and mountains aplenty in that fine car. I loved that Volvo and much later rebuilt it to give to Marilyn’s son, Jonnie, quasi-repairing all the things I’d become used to in the 100,000 miles we put on it. Maybe what I’d seen that faraway morning on Santa Clara Peak in my logging truck was a greeting from the future from a woman I’d not yet met, still busy in Owatonna raising her first family, and from my youngest children who were yet to be born, in a car that hadn’t yet been designed and built, driven by a me that I would become.

Santa Clara Peak is sacred land. The Clara pueblo Indians still drive up there for holy ceremonies in their pickups and hike back to shrines only they know of that their people have maintained for a thousand years. The time I’d found those three decks of abandoned spruce way up there I borrowed a bulldozer from Bob Gibbons in Apache Canyon, the operator he sent was Guillermo, and he hauled the dozer in to clear the trenched logging road back to the decks. He told me he used to cut wood up here back when he was a wino and smoker of weed, something he gave up when he met the woman who became his wife, and she told him, “That stuff, or me,” and meant it.
One day Guillermo saw a few pickups park and some Pueblo men walk up a slope toward the tree line. They were there a few hours before returning and driving away. He knew about their shrines they kept energized with ancient artifacts he figured he could sell to unethical collectors, so he went to rob the shrine. While climbing the slope, lightning struck out of clear sky close enough to where he could smell it and feel the heat. He waited, started again and this time the lightning struck next to him. When he came to, he tumbled down the slope running back to his truck. He told me this story in exchange for the one I’d told him about the time up there with Neil Lane when the two storm fronts collided with one another above us and dropped a tornado on our heads.
When Guillermo and I told Bob Gibbons about it, he said he and his crew were spending the night in a ranger cabin on the mountain when a storm hit with such power that when they went out in the morning the old road to the cabin was covered with blow-down debris, and a new one opened where the tornado lifted out a swatch of trees.
It was Bob who sold me his milling equipment and a Bobcat loader when he went into the adobe hacienda-building business with his mother and brother on the eve of the mass migrations of the elite from both coasts to Santa Fe. When he started his wood business he’d gotten the contract for clearing the ties of an old, narrow-gauge track line near Apache Canyon where he lived. He pulled up and loaded the nine thousand or so ties himself. He said that one time cutting trees he was driven into the ground like a spike by a hammer when a tree fell on him and has never been the same since, the main reason he’d moved on. He said he was lucky it fell on his head. He and his mother and brother started the home construction company called Rational Alternatives and were the only ones building true, adobe pueblo-style homes on four-acre lots east of Santa Fe. This part I know to be true, but his being driven into the ground by a falling tree, or the tornado cutting in a new road and covering over the old with the scything, only he knows.

After Bahia in 1990, I returned to San Diego broke and still broken. When everything goes to hell I get a backpack and find a trail, doesn’t matter where it comes from or where it’s going.
Back on the Pacific Crest Trail, I hiked for days with an eighty-pound pack from the Mexican border forty miles into the mountains on my way to Canada. A young woman came loping along and passed me, huffing gently. Then came a man, then what looked like a street person all raggedy, wearing beat-up leather shoes. Then came a few runner-type guys of the sort dropped from the womb in a starting position, then a long line of them. One said they were doing a fifty-miler. He wasn’t even breathing hard.
At the water and juice table at the Sierra Club Lodge five miles along, I stopped to ask a man about this. He said this was a running club he usually competed in but’d torn a tendon and was helping the runners by passing out drinks and slices of orange. He was over eighty.
I said, “You mean you guys run these races every weekend?”
“Yep,” and he said lots of times they ran in the city where there are plenty of trails and bike paths, “but it was good to get out into the country too.”
I said, “You mean these runners will run back to I-8 and drive back to town after covering fifty miles?”
I said, “There was a man who looked like a homeless person, long, tangled hair and beard, came by me. Is he a regular?”
“Oh, Ted, yeh, he runs with us. He’s sixty-five, I think. He won a few weeks ago, not much of a running style but he can move when he wants to.”
This unhinged me. My worldview shifted. In my youth, for a person to run five miles was, what? Well, if you were a hard-core transcontinental Indian or the Kenyan Abebe Bikila, or Roger Bannister, sure, some sort of esoterica for the gifted; but where did this sudden athletic ability among street people and octogenarians come from?
What was I doing while this was going on all these years? Did a few athletes break through some sort of impossibility standard that we took as ultimate truth when younger, and open the doors to longer, faster, heavier, and higher?
In the wood business I cut and worked trees all day long, muscling 300-pound logs onto the flatbed and chaining fifty of them down at a time. I felt I was It. Now there’s a street person in his sixties running a Sunday fifty-miler on the PCT for fun. I’m not It.
I sat cross-legged by the campfire cooking some quinoa, no sound except the popping of wood. There wasn’t much left of me. I ate and crawled into the tent, zipped the flap shut, and got into the bag, wearing my clothes. It was February in the desert mountains. I’d done ten more miles on the Pacific Crest Trail and was seriously staved in.
In my sleep I meet a woman in a white pleated gown. She is tall, broad-shouldered, her hair a brassy blonde. We aren’t communicating with words but I’m getting that she is the “Connector.” She brings people together on earth who otherwise wouldn’t meet on their own. Though she works in this dimension she is not of it.
There is no time here. She seems familiar. The eyes. It’s a face I’ve always been drawn to in women, starting with Bailey Mott’s when we were three years old in Oswego, New York. I’m trying to place this woman but there is nowhere to take it, I don’t have that kind of memory connected to me right now. We are connected through the hearts and it’s enough.
I don’t understand what she’s saying, it’s not that kind of talk, but know something is coming into me about her and our destinies. I want to fall to my knees and ask her to take me back to wherever she comes from. I don’t want to stay here. She smiles. She can’t.
She introduces me to a weasely little man with thin mustache and slicked-back black hair in a black three-piece suit. He works for her, connecting people through accident. He has started going too far, putting in more suffering than is needed to bring the people together. He has been doing this increasingly. She tells him to stop it. He says he will and then he’s gone.
She looks into me and I awaken lying flat on my back, naked with the tent door flaps pulled back and the sun directly in the middle of the entryway. I am here and still there for a while until I get my bearings. I get up, not remembering getting undressed or tying the flaps back. I eat some cold quinoa, pack and start along the trail toward Canada.
That was no dream. And who was that? I swear I’ll never forget it. By afternoon I’ve forgotten it.

I get rid of half the weight of my pack, storing it in a hole I mark with stones. I won’t come back for it but some hiker might see the duck and investigate. There’s rice and quinoa and hummus flakes. There’s some dehydrated campfire dinners. I leave some pots and pans and clothes to get the pack down to absolute survival weight. I’ve lost forty pounds over the last few months, lost a wife, kids, business, and money, along with betraying everyone close to me and everything I thought I stood for. I am unlovely meat and bones and don’t have the energy to live. Or didn’t until I met the Connector. Something happened last night but I can’t remember what. I didn’t remember what it was for months.

It started to rain the other side of Warner Springs and it rained for a week, ending a six-year drought. Higher up in the mountains above Palm Springs this was snow that closed the PCT until spring. So I called Frank and Barbara Coates from a payphone back in Warner Springs and asked them to come pick me up. I met Frank in the New York City in the early Sixties when we were wannabe actors.
We missed connections so I hitchhiked to their place in San Diego and lived on their boat “Morning Star” for two or three weeks. Down and out at the San Diego Yacht Club.

One day they said they might like to take their boat out now and then, how would I feel about that? At their house I met Tom from Texas and he told how when he came to town he was penniless and went to a roommates finder agency where they hooked him up with a divorcee in La Jolla on the beach. He became her boy toy. She gave him a new car, had his clothes tailored, they moved among the rich and famous, boated on her yacht and, when she grew tired of him, sent him off with a stipend and the car.
I went to the agency and told Joanne that was what I was looking for. She remembered Tom and the divorcee. She spoke instead of a woman in her mid-fifties in Ocean Beach who boogie-boarded, taught college, and was a home healthcare nurse.
I said I was thinking more mid-thirties over La Jolla way with a beach house. She said this gal she was talking about looked mid-thirties and did have a house on the cliffs just south of La Jolla. Ten miles south as it turned out. She was divorced, vivacious, and a whole lot of fun. She wrote down the name and address along with that of another woman renter in Lemon Grove.

I went to Lemon Grove first and arrived in the midst of an argument on the front porch between a man with two suitcases and a woman with none. She was yelling at him and pointing toward the street. He was doing shoulder shrugs with the suitcases and yelling back. She grabbed one of the suitcases from his hand and heaved it onto the lawn. He said something and she took a swing at him. He went to pick up the suitcase and she noticed me halfway out of my car and waved for me to come on over. I got back in and drove away.
The other woman whose name I’d been given was hard to connect with. I spoke with her son, Jonnie, who said she was hard to reach because she had three jobs. There went my tailored wardrobe. I left Frank’s number and went back to Morning Star. I left a message with Jonnie a few days later that I’d be by at noon the next day.
His mother was coming out the door to go to work and only had a minute to show me the room because I was late. It felt good in the house. The rental room was about six by ten with a narrow bed, small desk, and window facing west. There were two bathrooms for five people and I’d be sharing hers. We looked at a quilt on the wall created by an artist in Morgan Hill, showing a circle of seven men and women as if they’d jumped from a plane to skydive, but without parachutes. They were sewn three-dimensionally in different fabrics and one was sewn together from all the others’ personal fabrics. This was the Cristus. He was the only complete one, the others were missing limbs, and one of them his head. The artist was Barbara Baumgarten. Her conception was titled “World,” the story of humanity in one cover.

Marilyn said again she had to go on house calls and I told her I’d think about the room and call her. She later said she had to bite her tongue to tell me not to bother. Instead she said she usually took only women renters but, since Joanne had made an error in sending me, she’d let me rent the room for a month while I looked for something more permanent. She said primly that her women boarders all locked their doors at night, and I said primly that I did, too.

Didja have a good time??

Posted by on Nov 29, 2018 in Blog | 1 comment

Did Jesus Have a Good Time?

My friend Parcival Spellman tells me the missing ten years of Jesus’ life were spent in what is now Tibet and northern India. Par was born Catholic Light, aka the Episcopalian church, but true religion didn’t really grab him until the past few years.
After a few years of out-of-the-box Christianity like Science of Mind, and Engineering Principles of God Inc., he is now more a Hindu. He studies religious texts, listens to Prem Joshua chants on his tablet, attends temple and goes on retreats among monks of his particular calling. I’ve never seen him happier, altho when I see him coming….
Par tells me Christ’s insights came as a result of sitting in caves and temples during those missing years of his life with the great Seers in the Himalayas, tapping into Godhead by way of snow, meditation and chants.
Once Christ had it, he returned to Israel to share what he’d learned, knowing full well this meant his days were now numbered. Priests, merchants and rulers do not like their people getting free wisdom and insight, so someone giving it away to all takers needs to have his shop shut down. And so it was.
But…in those three years of his being a free-range Savior, Jesus had a good time. He set free the most-locked up of them all, the subsistence farmers, fishermen and harlots, the huddled masses that believed they were slaves invented to serve masters. Christ gave them God for free, and taught them how to stay in touch with Him within themselves.
When the big guys shut down Jesus’ shop, it was like absolutely guaranteeing that what he taught by example would benevolently incline humanity forever. And so it has been: a unifying principle.
It doesn’t matter much whether Jesus’ wisdom came by way of India and Tibet, or directly from God on High there in Israel, what matters is that he touched the inner God in the people of his day, and that has come down to us.
My feeling is that Jesus had a blast back then, and he is now. We got it. He sees this, & we see it. What could be better?

Nurse Sally

Posted by on Nov 23, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Nurse Sally

Nurse Sally

Sally had a peculiarity in that she only wore one shoe to Surgery. I mean she made sure it was washed and disinfected but the surgeons thought it looked bad having her limp into the Cardiac Unit. She didn’t paint the nails of the bare foot but so many years of wearing too-tight shoes had somewhat deformed, thickened and warped the toenails, so toenail polish wouldn’t’ve really helped even if Sal was to consider it. Sometimes they’d click against the operating table supports and it could be grating if you had an open heart gaping at you.

Best Thing I Ever Did…

Posted by on Nov 19, 2018 in Blog | 1 comment

Best thing I ever did in my life was have that Electrician who raises horses nearby install the stove vent here in the kitchen.

Also the best thing I ever did in my life was start up a magazine that Dusty Arrington saw one day, and got in touch.

Also the best thing I ever did in my life was hike the Pacific Crest Trail, becuz I met the woman who’d become my wife and life.

Also the best thing I ever did in my life was be the daddy of three chilluns who fill my heart and soul with shock and awe.

Also the best thing I ever did was get born so I’d have such a good friend and kids and woman and sensational stovetop fan and light.

Weave of Life

Posted by on Oct 28, 2018 in Blog | 4 comments

The People are the body of Christ.

The clay finds its potter. The potter creates its heroes and villains, its assassins and
saviors, epochs and epics, catastrophes, revolutions and redemptions through players
called into being by the people’s moods and needs.

These selected ones may think they
lead, influence and form the people, but their charter comes from a unified
consciousness. Perfection looking for its genesis.

There is One, a core consciousness that is shared by everyone and
everything. No ‘part’ is any more relevant or important than another.

The target finds its arrow, the arrow finds its bow, the bow its archer, the archer his
cause, the cause its king, the king his people, the People itself.

A La Fonda Adios

Posted by on Oct 23, 2018 in Blog | 2 comments

La Fonda SF Room 40 years later (From THE KID FROM SANTA FE to be published sometime)

It’s almost four on Sunday in La Fonda and the eight mariachis walk past us in the hallway by the patio restaurant to the Santa Fe room in back carrying guitars, guitarrón, violins and trumpet. The violinists are two women in black Charro suits with ornate silver trim and long skirts and flamenco dance shoes. Ben and Rachael have checked out everything and we are okay now, ten minutes to go.

Ben says a lot of Betty’s friends are out of town, even Wally, her closest Santa Fe friend. It turns out few of her friends show up, many have died, many others come to see Ben, my eldest son, and my brother Fred’s daughters, Rachael, Cordelia and her children, and one another. Fred, dead, is there through them, and his best friend, Mac Watson, and our mother through the lusty Mariachi music and laughter. Friends of mine wander in and everyone is happy to be together, there’s embraces and shining eyes but not much drinking going on. The hotel will refund Rachael most of her bar deposit a week later. The laughter and love and shared memories here are all pure-driven by love, music and laughter.

Outside in the hall there’s a woman I think at first is Diane Keaton, looking directly at me. There’s something about the eyes. She knows me but who is she? She laughs at my expression. Me: ‘Judy? Judy Adler?’ She: ‘Didn’t Ben tell you I was coming?’ I say ‘He did, he did, but, but…geez, Judy.’ Ben comes over to introduce his mother to some people she knew long ago when he was a baby, and I take the steps back down into the room where it’s sounding like cicadas on a hot Fiesta day. The mariachis are into Guadalajara with such passion I want to belt it out with them. Marilyn is with two women in their eighties who knew Marian when she was in her twenties, one of them the sculptor Donna, who did the History of New Mexico bronze fountain in the park next to St. Francis Basilica, and the thousand pound brass doors into the church.

Tim, the waiter from The Palace for thirty years, comes over and again it is one of those eye to eyes without recognition for about five seconds, going on for what seems ten minutes, waiting for something to jell in memory. He knows all the stories of all those who were the heart and soul of the Santa Fe Bohemian scene because he got all the renditions each night, so all he needed to do was shake them up later and let the truth bubble to the top. Betty wrote a book called My City Different that presented a condensed version of what only Tim knows the full stories of now. The New Mexico Archives people need to start debriefing this man. I tell him if he ever decides to write his memoirs, Augusta Wind Press will publish it. He suggests we wait a few more years till the rest of the main players are gone. I say I don’t want to risk him being among them. He laughs.

Later Judy returns to thank me for what Ben has become and for Betty taking Ben-of-the-Wind and rebranding him Ben de La Corazon Sacrada. I tell her all I did was ask him to come down from Portland and he took it from there, but she insists gently there was more to it, and that’s what she’s talking about. It wasn’t selfless of me, I say, I was near death myself when Marilyn came in the nick of time from Minneapolis to take over Betty’s care for a week, and then Ben arrived. Betty needed fresh life force, and Ben was it. She treated him well, they stood around the fridge gobbling vanilla ice cream at 2 in the morning, and he made her live longer through laughter and his real caring of her. Now Ben is still jigsawing where she ends and he begins.

When Judy’s said her piece there’s that flash of recognition that first brought us together in the New York City days 30 years before. We hug and she goes over to where Marilyn is dancing and joins her.

A tall, trim and casually aristocratic man standing by the bar asks, ‘Do you know me?’ He has a week’s growth of white beard and mirthful eyes. I ask how many guesses I get. He says he was five when he and his brother Mac and their parents picked us up at the train at Lamy station sixty-five years ago. He says he also came to visit me at 46 Hilárion Eslava in Madrid in 1959 when I was at the Universitária. What?!!! John Watson? John Watson?! It is. I throw my arms around him though he keeps his drink up between us. I haven’t seen him in 40 years. He has kids in their late thirties I’ve not met, we went to Wood Gormley Elementary in Santa Fe. He’s in town from Santa Monica because his father, Jack, died here a few days ago at age 100. We talk for a while and when I leave to go get some air for my soul he grabs my shoulder, nails my eyes and says, ‘Goodbye, my friend.’

I cut onto San Francisco Street and over to Cathedral Park to sit on a bench. The fountain sculpture shows five hundred years of the Spanish and Yanqui occupation of Indian New Mexico. It is a busy piece of work. For two hours I’ve moved among the hundred or so people and talked with them. I haven’t talked with that many people in my entire life. By the time I meet John Watson I am drenched, legs trembling. I’ve done it, whatever it is. A celebration of one life finished and another begun?

People in the park pass and nod my way, some of them smile as if they know me or what I am feeling. It is friendship. Imagine. Am I transparent? From the steeple Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound begins to play where the great bells tolled long ago, sometimes all day on Easter and Christmas when we were kids. It is my favorite hymn, and my theme song. I have to smile. ‘You are really something,’ I say to the treetops.

When I return to La Fonda Marilyn is coming out the door and we cut down San Francisco to Galisteo Street and back to the old Santa Fe Inn. This is how we used to meet whenever we got separated by chance and on some inner timing. She takes my hand and says ‘Oh good, I thought I was going to have to find our motel alone.’ I thought, Not anymore, not any more.

Hard Heart, Soft Soul…

Posted by on Oct 19, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Hard Heart, Soft Soul…

To Meet Mother Love…

When I took Marilyn to meet my mother in Santa Fe I’d forgotten about Marian’s jealousy. For 75 years she was desirable and witty and made people feel good when she was around. Rocking as she walked with a cane tamed her some but her laughter was still strong. And her wicked side. So here’s Marilyn the singing nun and professional nurse, and lover of children, meeting Betty Davis in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, with a drink in one hand and a sword cane in the other, a gift I’d gotten her at the Rastro in Madrid in 1960 as a wall ornament. There was a Sevilla sword hidden inside a hickory wood cane with a carved deer antler handle with a release button. Since her hip operation, one of the first in Santa Fe when St. Vincent’s was on Palace Avenue, she used it for dress-up to toddle around with.

We walked into mother and Betty’s adobe on Calle Paula out by Quail Run at five, and by 5:30 Marian is saying how very much Marilyn looks Black Irish, and how all the servants at the family mansion in Oswego when she was a child looked a lot like her, the cooks and butler and groundskeepers and chambermaids. Marilyn might not know what Black Irish means but she sure can’t miss the twist of the words. Mother prattles on about how Marilyn’s forebears had no doubt boated over during the Potato Famine, and how if her family had only known they might have had the coachman meet them at the docks and offer them jobs.

Marilyn excuses herself and goes out on the porch where I find her weeping. I’ve just told Marian to knock it off or we’re leaving, and she does her bewildered innocence look saying all she‘s doing is trying to make my Black Irish friend feel welcome and at home. I say she may as well have drawn the sword and run her through. Mother laughs gaily and toys with the flower on the bone handle shank of the cane that unlatches the blade to be drawn. She looks up at me coyly.

A few years later Marilyn and I are driving west to our home in San Diego from a visit to Minnesota and she suggests going by to see Marian and Betty. I think her admiration of their turning a local 12 page pamphlet into a five color international glossy magazine overrode her memory or good sense, or maybe she was curious as to whether she’d only caught Marian on a bad day.

It is late summer where in the afternoon a storm usually rolls in from the Pecos Wilderness over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Half the sky to the north and west is turquoise blue and the other stacked with blue-black thunderheads. When we reach the plaza a mortar barrage of lightning hit setting off burglar alarms. Indian vendors under the Governor’s Palace portal throw rugs and themselves over their stuff as straight line winds channel down Palace Avenue into the plaza streets kiting umbrellas, hats, souls, paintings and folding tables.

We’d hear the crackle of the lightning and feel the shock, big hail side-winding in and more burglar alarms coming on; and now the big siren from the fire department just behind us comes on. I’d lived in Santa Fe since 1944 and never seen anything like it.

It is over in five minutes, the sideways hail turning into a hard rain, then a downpour where we can’t see beyond the hood of the car. When it clears the streets are rivers, so we hang a right onto what is now the Palace Acequia and boat toward Albuquerque. Ten miles out of town at La Bajada the sun is out, the sky turquoise blue and the air crisp and warm; Marilyn’s been saved.

The next year we returned with my little son Zachary to spend a day. The relationship Marilyn had with my children was a part of life neither ladies’d had, my mother and Betty’s mothers crisp and cold and proper dames embarrassed by being mothers.

This time Marian isn’t tracking too well, so when she opens the front door and sees Zach she gasps, bends over before him with arms open, ‘Oh, my Johnnie, my Johnnie, they found you, they found you, it’s your mommy, I’m your mommy!!”

On the porch where the piñon firewood was stacked, where Marilyn had wept that first night from mighty hurt, my mother says to her in tears and breaking voice, ‘Thank you, Marilyn, oh thank you. I wish you’d been my mother. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, please forgive me.’ They hug and cry.


Posted by on Oct 18, 2018 in Blog | 1 comment


Jack Underhill

Hormones pretty much run my life. When they get into the bloodstream
on some order from my brain I have as much chance of holding them back from their assignments as the tides. But their assignments can be modified and redirected in specific ways that may serve me better than the monolithic
momentum of genetics. How about docking a measure of the death or aging
hormone into whatever physical or mental aspect that is killing me, say the
unabated passion to work or run or talk or hide or punish?

The sex hormones can be diverted away to an artistic or organizational passion when urges get too obsessive, the tranquilizing or anesthetic hormones, like endorphins, dispatched to painful and debilitating parts of memory or body at will, the metabolic regulators detoured to alternative viscera to slow down some functions and stimulate others, growth hormones too. For example you could shunt hormones that shut down hair follicles on your head over to your back if you are wooly, or to your legs or armpits if you’re a woman, in no way resisting the hormonal directive, just providing slightly altered work orders to the proper ductless glands or other hormone slips. What does your endocrine system know about your specific vision of yourself unless you tell it directly? It’s generically gene-oriented, has no capacity to understand style or editing.

You alone can change this, educate it, you alone have the key to the override system of the autonomic system of your hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal to incline their function to your personal conscious input; you can grow pink hair on your fingertips right now, change the color of your eyes and skin, shut down your gall bladder to let the body dissolve the stones chemically, do the same for any organ afflicted in any way by giving it a rest with conscious commands channeled through the master gland there in the home plate of your head. You can replace brain cells, the big No-no of Science, or develop certain brain areas while reducing others. (“I’m tired of being so smart, organized and responsible, I want to live!!! Let my IQ be halved.”) You are unlimited to what you can do. Give yourself 20/20 vision, dissolve cataracts while you sleep, grow bigger or smaller breasts or nipples, fingers, noses, ears, a more sensitive olfactory system, ream out your lungs of the tars of smoke and emotional stress by your decision alone, your heart of hardening, for this is your body and everything that goes on in it you know down to the last detail.

Make yourself sterile when it serves, and radiantly fertile when you’re ready. You don’t have to remember any of the details of how the trillions of interactions per nanosecond spark, you have only the power of your desire, the power of your omnipotence and imagination, your humor and daring. It comes down to, “Am I brave enough to take such command of my body, for I know I can do all this and more. But do I dare? Do I dare reassume control of my body and mind? My life would never be the same”. This is the healing that the Christ in each of us is capable of. This is the miracle. As long as we go out to the Savior we have only hope working for us, and hope is a New York City taxi driver speaking in tongues. The direction is in to find the Messiah. This is real religion. Anything else is carnival.

“What have you done to yourself?” some guy bellows at his beloved in horror, “where are your Sacaretti tattoos, what’s wrong with your eyes, did you have breast implants since breakfast, a face lift, liposuction and a skin stretch? I can’t stand it, why are you doing this to me?!”
Or, “Daddy, look, I’m as tall as you!”
Dad: “Arghhhh!!!!!!!!!!!”

Or, “Ralph, what, what…Ralph, you’re walking,, you’re looking at me, the
rheum is all gone from your eyes, is that a wig for crissakes?, you’re smiling. God, stay away, stop puckering, I won’t kiss you, back off, I, I…nooooooooooooo.”
“Mona, Mona, Mona…”

Too upsetting to conventional reality and relationships (“I think I’ll be Joseph today. No. Mary?”) to mess around with mastery of our body and mind, but it’s there and anyone can do it. It isn’t done because we don’t want to know about it.

But secretly we can come onto speaking terms with and feel affection and
Camaraderie for our hormones, for the spiritual centers of us that direct them. We can become good buddies where they want to please us and in doing so increasingly please themselves. No good ol’hormone likes to have you hate or resist it. (From “I’m just an ol’ prolactin on assignment from the hypothalamic-hypophyseal portal system, ma’m, ” to, “Heck, let’s round up an’ rope us a GHRF and see what happens here.”)

These spiritual centers are easily accessible once we fess up to it and allow
them to teach us their language. This can be done in dreams or meditation, and always with the clear understanding that each of the millions upon billions of cells in our bodies are not just poor orphans but full-on aspects of ourselves in intimate communication with one another, and everybody else, at all times. The universe of us, and everyone else, is “contained” in a single cell or any part of it, or better said, expressed. The endocrine systems are you, the center of your Universe, the hormones are you, and the effects in any combination too. You are not operated by anything except your faith in being operated by something other than you.

The world is an expression of you, whatever you are aware of is where you are in your mind at that time. You can change the world in an instant, and any part of you, that is your power, your private pilot certificate from God. But maybe you have to work up to it, replace that painful shoulder or knee joint by way of the hormone of Love growing new cartilage and sinovial fluid glands, those painful teeth by having new ones grow in ( “I didn’t get nuthin’ from the Tooth Fairy, Milly.”
“You’re 77 years old, Estes, dammit, now snap out of it!”), those painful memories that eviscerate you, or be masculinely hung the way you always wanted to be (“Oh my God, Frank, I stepped on it, are you alright?, does it hurt? I’m so sorry!”), free yourself from all dependence on other systems of thought and people and beliefs and laws and regulations and religions, just become a goddam Anarchist with love for all of what you are. And this gets around, you know, once you’re free, you feel good and people notice this and it makes them feel good and that gets around too, chain reaction. When they see your new head of hair and aquiline nose they’ll be terrified at first but in time they’ll sidle up and want to know how you did it, and they’ll try it out, and that gets around too.

Hormones are you, your ideas, your beliefs, your fears and pains. Yours. Re-
sculpt them to where they make you laugh outright with amazement. Science says it can’t be done, Religion too, everyone you know, all of historical precedent, the AMA, even the Music of the Spheres, but so what?, they’re just you on a bad day.

Today‘s totally new. Live it up.


Posted by on Oct 10, 2018 in Blog | 3 comments

I was living in Santa Barbara in 1986 before I met Winter Woman or Marilyn and was on a commuter flight down the coast to LAX to connect to a flight to Rochester, NY. On that half hour flight I sank into the peace that passeth all understanding, I was in some sort of place where everything was better than it’d ever been. I was free.

But when we walked down the steps to the tarmac and headed to the terminal the peace let me know a bomb was planted in the terminal that was set to go off as I walked by it. It wasn’t planted for me, but it was my destiny to be by it when it blew up. There was nothing I could do about it, nor did I want to. I was still too at peace to care. But I was still curious.

All senses were optimal, seeing everyone and everything in detail and scanning it all for the source of my destruction coming up. I made it to the American ticket counter to check in and sat waiting for the night flight. The peaceful part of me couldn’t calm the flesh and bones me picking up on this information of my death. When no bomb went off in the terminal I shifted expectations to a bomb onboard and falling out of the sky through freezing air from 30,000 feet at 150 miles an hour trailing a plume of smoke from scorched clothing. The peaceful part of me was amused. How do I put this…a more fundamental me didn’t care but my body sure as hell did? Yeh, that’s it. I was two aspects of awareness, one grizzled with fear and the other chuckling with tenderness and compassion.
When the safety belt signs went off I dropped into meditation. This is what I’d been about in those years, it was what blew me out of Santa Fe on a dream quest in the early 1980’s–wanting to be more than I’d been, wanting to wake up. Santa Barbara was a hotbed of this awakening thing then and all sorts of people’d been drawn by it.

Some inner source said that in the next few days something huge was gonna happen, some elemental force beyond comprehension was gonna move into me and if I was to resist it’d blow me to pieces. So, all I’d have to do was let it in. Oh, is that all? Yep, it’d be fearsome because of its immensity, but it was benign, it was coming into me because I’d asked it to. The snake at the base of the spine was about to come out of its slumber and move up my back and out the top of my skull. This would open me to what I’d now call a download of upgrades, though I didn’t have that concept then. I wouldn’t discover the personal computer till I met Marilyn and she taught me to use her Apple 2e. But I understood what was coming up, though it didn’t do much for my body with its big-time willies. Still it took heart that it’d made it through LAX terminal and most of this flight.

I shared with it my decision to open to this thing whatever it was and take my chances. Easy for you to say, my body replied. What evidence do you have that this is benevolent, it asked, it feels devil-based to us. I knew it was just the opposite. Any devil in me would be vaporized by the intensity of this thing. I think that’s what it was all about.

I checked into the Strathallen Hotel where my grandmother was putting me up for three or four days for our visit. On the last night we were meeting at the posh restaurant downstairs for a last supper before my return home. As I was sitting on the bed pulling on some shoes I suddenly knew tonight was it. When I felt it coming I’d be more frightened than I’d ever been, but here’s the thing, my soul said, it is beautiful, it is pure love and so huge you’ll feel you can’t hold it all. But you can. It is the rest of you. In your fear, feel the love. Jesus!!

Nana had a Manhattan straight up with a cherry. I wasn’t drinking since I’d started inventing the LifeTimes magazine. We ordered and she had a second drink. The dining room was full of people in suits and ties speaking in low voices, liveried waiters moving around almost invisibly. Then I felt it at the tip of my spine, a thought almost, an intention, a tiny blue flame. I sensed the invitation–Can I come in? At that I tried to leap up and run from the room over the tops of tables headed for the elevators. I can feel fragments of that panic even now, so many years later. If I could just make it there and get an elevator up maybe I could escape, but it was too late. I could not move.

The rest of it started up and something in me said Okay…but when it came I screamed in silent terror that I was only kidding, really, but it was too late. It shot into me, up my spine and exploded from the top of my head and I was in a white room without walls suspended.

There is no thing here. There is no thought. I want to say it was bliss but that’s not true, it was reference-less because I was no longer Jack, I had no history, no place, no time. I was in a vibrating, humming whiteness. I wasn’t just tapped into it, I was it.

The dining room began to fade back into the whiteness. I saw forms from thoughts taking shape, saw people redefine in detail, felt senses programming. Coming directly from forever I see with cool accuracy the world of this room form, beginning with tables around us and people eating, the murmur, a waiter gliding into frame and setting down a white plate before my grandmother with things on it, and then before me. I see the green of fresh peas, the first color I’ve seen, then the red of the cherry in her cocktail glass. A moment before I was this green and red, now I want this green and red.

Nothing’s familiar, it’s all first time. I’m taking in others’ gestures and movement, discovering my arms. My hands are learning how to pick up a fork from Nana. It’s as if I’ve dropped into body from being spirit, I’m like a baby. I have a grown body but it’s new to me. It was like that time on Rowe Mesa in that divine glade of straight piñones, me carrying an axe and chainsaw and then getting shot in the head.

Things begin to come faster now, a half century of learning life lost in a whiteout, and now jig-sawing back together in a new puzzle. I feel organs and muscles and tendons individually as pieces. I touch a fork and feel its own memory of its genesis and use and awareness of being, I pick it up and spear a pea with a tine and bring it to my mouth. I chew, muscles on automatic, tongue knowing how to work and get out of the way of the teeth, to take its part in delivering and taking away the single pea from them. I’m chewing a pea and tasting its life.

The central clearinghouse of being human is loading an astronomical number of gigabytes of hands-on information. I am not aware of it because I have no sense of lacking anything, of there being something previous to now. My mind is as simple as a screw’s. No identity, fear, wonder, just turning by some invisible loving force and being part of the carpentry of a fine cabinet from just seven billion years ago. Or was it a minute?

Now that I have the hang of some of the silverware I spear a shred of pan-blackened redfish and make an offering to my mouth, tasting it and knowing the fish through its flesh, translated by my tongue. I love this whatever is going on. I don’t know eating or that this is just one of the things we do, I could sit here forever with transfiguration of the flesh of a pea and shred of Cajun fish into first time tastes by way of nerves of every hue and cry wired to a brain to register as pleasure and amazement. Now I am feeling the food rearranging itself into energy.

My grandmother watches, there is something wrong going on here. ‘Is that all you’re going to eat?’ she asks, and I say yes, my first word ever. I have tasted God and it is enough. ‘I will never eat again,’ I tell her gently. I love the speaking, the ensemble production of all these things moving in me in harmony to make words. It is a miracle. Everything is.

What came in, what came out? I don’t know. But for a time I was at the source of life. When I flew home the next morning I was fully whoever I had been and was now again. I knew no secrets, had no more knowledge, was no more pious or understanding or easy to get along with. But one thing was different, I’d touched raw love, it had touched me, ripped me a new one and opened me bare to life. I had no way of knowing that in the next three years I’d fall in love, have two children, lose them and their mother and my magazine, and plunge into an abyss as deep as imagination into Sister Marilyn’s arms.