Wednesday, July 6, 2011

These Days When We Were Born

  Today I "celebrated" the eleventh anniversary of my forty-fifth birthday.  Yes, it is getting to the point now that I hedge on the term "celebrate".  It was on my forty-fifth that I decided it wasn't going to get any better than that (the big 45) and it turns out I was right.  It didn't really get any better and now I experience the day with some trepidation.  And, yes, I fully understand the sentiment that I should at least be happy to still be alive.  Well, I'm sorry, but being "alive" is really relative.  I am alive.  That's about all I am these days.

     And no, this is NOT a bitch-and-moan session, because in reality I am not complaining, I'm just being real as to where my life has led me, or rather where I have taken myself.  Life is actually a combination of circumstance and effort, and I am confident that I have put as much effort into my circumstance as I have been equipped to deliver, and as circumstance goes, it could be FAR worse.  So, on balance, while you will not hear me trumpet the wonders of life as an aging American Baby Boomer, you will also know that I consider myself rather lucky in the grand scheme of things.  I do not live in Somalia……is that in and of itself NOT a damn good thing?  It is a GRAND thing.

     Back there in the forties I had the insufferable habit of bragging about my genetic stock, how young I and my family looked for our ages, and how overall I was in such great shape.  However, I have learned the hard way that excellent genes will NOT save you from the depredations of your social-economic status, especially if your occupation takes it's toll on you physically.  Cigarettes killed my Mother, despite her "excellent" genetic make-up, and being a PCT this last decade and a half has done it's number on me (and all those years smoking may yet catch up with me… at 11).  OK, so I had no idea where I was headed, but here I am, and I guess I get to deal.  So I will.  Like I said, it could have been much worse.  Again…Somalia.

     What really pisses me off is my fellow Americans who have it so damn good through good providence, who think they never had to or ever will depend upon the kindness of their fellow citizens.  They conveniently forget that they will eventually be cashing in those social security checks, and that any manner of calamity could put them in a position of having to rely on those "socialist handouts" as their only means of support.  These are the same people who think the Easter Bunny laid down our highways and roads, and that Santa Claus takes away their sewage and provides for the common good and defense of this great nation.  What pisses me off even more is that a majority of the people who profess this mindset also claim to be followers of Christ, the purported Son of God.  I really wish I knew what Christ THEY were talking about, because the Catholic nuns and priests who programmed me as a child growing up never mentioned that one.  That's what has made it so easy now in my later and hopefully wiser years to discount all that religious and dangerous claptrap altogether.  I just can't imagine being such a bitter and hateful human being anymore.

     But, I would like to mention why perhaps THIS particular birthday was somewhat nicer than many of those which have passed me by.  On THIS birthday, a whole lot of people from across this nation have wished me very well, and made me feel as though perhaps it has been a good thing that I've survived this long.  These are all good people who have become good friends, even though I have yet to meet (physically) almost all of them.  I feel closer to these fine folk then I do almost all of my natural family.  Perhaps it's the distance and lack of close physical proximity that makes this possible, but I will be thankful nonetheless that I have had the privilege of getting to know these people anyway, thanks to Blogger and Facebook.  So let me say HAPPY birthday, not to myself so much, but to all of you fine folk who share good natured banter with me almost every day, and also share a more charitable nature and example as to why the term "humanity" needs not be the horrible thing it has become close to becoming.

     Happy birthday ALL of you, from your friend……..


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bob Pays a Visit.

 There he was, in his sudden, out-of-nowhere fashion, and of course my mind froze for that split second between knowing what just happened couldn't possibly happen and knowing almost simultaneously that yea, so what, it just did.  This probably resulted in the confused, annoying look on my mug which always brought a smile to his face, not in a way that suggested the smile was at my expense, but in a gentle, fun sort of way that was never threatening.

     "Bob…..dude!  I'd almost forgotten about you!  Where you been, my old imaginary friend?"

     "Where do you THINK I've been,  Michael?  Surfing the light fantastic, my friend, deep down there in your Id where all the wonderful things occur that make me glad I really DO exist.  Just thought I'd pop in (to your more visible awareness) and pay a visit.  It HAS been awhile, hasn't it?"

     Of that I had to agree.  I hadn't "seen" Bob in what seems like years, since I last posted about him in one of my old blogs.  But, just as I would have least expected him to show up, here he was.  Which provoked a momentary worry………

     "Now wait……why ARE you here right now?  I'm actually not as stressed out today as I have been these last few months, and there's no immediate threat to my well-being I'm aware of, so is there any particular reason why YOU of all………people…….decided to remind me I can dream up pretty cool hallucinations?"

     Bob turned his gentle smile away from me and gazed out over the front yard of my little acre of sand.  "Relax, Michael, as a construct goes, I am not the "harbinger" model, or some sign or symptom of mental instability.  I'm simply here as your friend, a sort of reminder that the wonder you suspect is lurking out there in that big bad universe somewhere really IS there, and as scary as it all can be, you can be commended for hanging in there and enjoying it regardless.  And I also wanted to congratulate you on having collected such a unique circle of friends on that internet connection of yours.  Each one has been contributing grandly to your state of mind these days, and believe it or not, you are returning the favor."  He leaned over conspiratorially and whispered in my ear, "And I think they really, really LIKE you!"  With that last little "Sally Fields at the Oscars" joke, he chuckled in that infective manner that only Bob could conjure up, and I laughed unabashedly right along with him, not too concerned that anybody who could see me sitting alone on my porch swing would wonder what I was laughing about.

     "Well, thanks, Bob, I guess………..yea, these people I've stumbled across ARE pretty special.  But there's one thing that really bugs me sometimes, when it comes to the friends I make online.  It's the distance that's usually involved, and the likelihood that I will never get to meet just about any of them.  I've been friends with Paul for what now seems like forever, and I'm no closer to dropping in on him in Arizona than I've ever been.  Hell, I sometimes wonder if I will even get to go anywhere further than this county line before I die…..sigh…."

     "I understand how you feel, my good fellow, and no, I can't (and probably shouldn't even if I COULD) promise you that you'll ever get to meet these good people in person, but I also know that what they give you transcends all distance and presence or you wouldn't be so concerned about it.  Remember your reunion, and how it gave you the opportunity to visit with Jules and her husband?  You never thought THAT would happen but it did.  And those few short days you spent with them was almost the best part of the entire trip, wasn't it?'  I was nodding my head in agreement  "Well, yea, you might just never get around to meeting Paul or Judy or Anne but you probably know them already in ways that perhaps most people who see them often never will.  You have all made connections that reside deeper down in the soul than what being conveniently "local" to each other might have provided.  So, enjoy them as you have them, and hey, ya never know what might happen in the future."

     "And this is ALL you're here to tell me?  You're not gonna warn me the Mayans are gonna kill us all next year?"

     "Nope", he laughed as he faded from view in that Cheshire Cat fashion of his, "they aren't any better at ending the world then the Christians are!"

     So I sat there staring at the now empty spot on the swing next to me and then laughed out loud again as I realized I had something to blog about tonight……….

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Healing, Hauling, and Hope

     Hello, there!  It's a balmy afternoon here at the Hold and your's truly, the guy who writes this blog, is in transition.  That's right, I am about to become, once again, a "working Joe", having finally been released back to full duty, having been judged by the Workman's Comp Shaman to be physically fit enough to do my job.  I won't actually start my next shift till Monday, but hey, this has been WAY overdue and I am eager to get back to doing the voodoo that I do so well, which is helping a talented group of drop-dead gorgeous nurses (and, well, yea, maybe a couple of guys too) take care of critically ill patients.  It has taken me a bit longer this time around to get over my back injury, but I'm not the young whipper snapper (just an older, wiser one...hehe) I used to be, and I really have to be more careful with these heavier patients.  Yea, I SAID guys are not getting any lighter........

     Which ALSO means I don't have to sit around the Hold anymore watching the Wife have to do all the heavy work.  Yep, it's GOOD to be back!  Now, it's NOT that I didn't do my share of the regular domestic chores around here, Lord and Lady knows I've been doing some dishwashing and cooking and laundry and what-not, but a man does like to fulfill his traditional roles of Hold maintenance and construction projects.  And it just ain't NATURAL to ask the wife to haul out the garbage.....just AIN'T done!

     Also, I would like to introduce to my fans the newest addition to our household......this 13.5 HP Murray Select 40" lawn tractor that was GIVEN (as in free of charge, they even hauled it over to the Hold in their pickup) to us by one of my ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS nurses and her TOTALLY COOL husband.

Yea, it needs a new battery, but this machine is in GREAT shape, runs like a champ, and all I need to do is find some mulching blades and a cover for the side discharge so that I can put it to work reducing the half-mile thick blanket of leaves that covers the other half acre of the Hold here.  THEN maybe I can rehabilitate the area with some grass for the goats to forage on until I can get the raised beds in that we hope we can afford to install by next growing season.

     I also am happy to report that although we had to take our little male goat Puck for an emergency visit to our local Vet, he seems to be doing better now.  We have had TERRIBLE luck when it comes to male baby goats, as they are very prone to having their convoluted little urinary tracks clogged up with stones.  The Vet actually was not sure if it was urinary or digestive distress the little guy was suffering from, but he treated him as best he could and all we could do was cross our fingers.  I also asked all my friends on Face Book to send some positive energy towards our little guy, and I can honestly say it seems to have made a difference.....THANK YOU my friends!

     There are terrible things happening all around the world, even as people are rising up everywhere in a genuine effort to improve their lives and throw off the yoke of dictatorships.  Considering the price WE already paid to enjoy the quality of life we as Americans have come to have, it really pisses me off that WE as a people have degenerated into the petty, bickering, entitled yet unabled laughingstock that we have become.  It never ceases to amaze me how we seem to becoming more and more ignorant and intolerant as a people, electing people to our congress who actually seem to be there to take away all we fought for as a progressive people and hand what little we seem to have left to those who always had more than they could ever justify having to begin with.  Then you add GOD to the equation and we seem to be damned determined to rob ourselves of all those protections to worship (or not) as we see fit given us by our constitution.  I have Catholic family members who complain about the Court ruling prayer at graduations as illegal, and I don't understand why they can't seem to remember that that Protestant Majority once would have LYNCHED a Catholic who dared tried to poison any of their pubic events with their Papist evil.  You REALLY want the MAJORITY to rule when it comes to matters of religious conscious?  REALLY?  Cousins, I love you, but you dare not know what you seek.........

     Well, It's been a month of trial and tribulation, weddings and wonderment, and somehow we've survived it.  I hope you've enjoyed surviving it with us.  Till next post.....Blessed be!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Beyond All that we Gather

     When we are born, we are introduced to this world bare naked, with nothing to our name except the love of our parent(s).  As we precede through our destinies, we begin to gather to ourselves that which will define us in many ways; our property, our belongings, our habits, our beliefs, our acts of service, as well as our selfish depredations, and our personalities which will help to shape our histories; those histories being constructed of the memories of those who knew us throughout our lives but especially in those final years.

     With more time on my hands these past weeks than I am used to, thanks to my back injury and unresolved leg pain, I have been basking in this place I have called home now for more than a decade, this odd acre of sand that has come to be known as Pendragon Hold.  I have had a love/hate relationship with this place; bemoaning it's location so deep in the hot, humid South, surrounded by your typical redneck average (for Florida) Bubbas, with a foundation of ancient sea bed white sand that on it's own will not support the growth of what many humans would take as a given, such as edible food crops and well-behaved grasses.  No, the ugliest weeds and shrubbery known to Man spent millennia evolving to eke out an existence in this nutrient-poor soil, and the heat will challenge anything else that dares to venture it's roots into this stuff.  Yes, you would think, driving around these verdant upper-class suburbs with their elegant, deep green golf courses and rich, thick lawns that this is a paradise for anything green, but you would be dead wrong.  Just peer into the undergrowth of the pine forests that line the highways and byways of Florida and you will see the TRUE champions of overcoming adversity, such as palmetto bushes with their evil spikes, and all those other heat and drought tolerant "weeds" that have never found a home in the average American landscape.  No, my friends, none of this PRETTY stuff, the fine grasses, boxwood shrubs, exotic trees and flowers, would not exist sans the TONS of artificial fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides which is dumped on them in this war on the natural world.  AND, of course, the results of all this is reflected in the increasing number of algae blooms in our rivers, the contamination of our water tables with an increasing variety of chemicals and drugs, and the red tides which come and go leaving our beaches buried in mounds of dead fish.  I have NEVER allowed any of this stuff on my property,  sticking with whatever organic and natural compliment I could come up with, but, I have neighbors, neighbors who are busy living the American dream, which does not tolerate anything less than a "fine-trimmed lawn".  All this also requires a lot of water, water being drawn out of the aquifer, which is not being replaced at any where near the rate it is being depleted.  How long do you think this can last?

     So, I do my best, as a committed Wiccan, to respect this acre of sand I have been given the privilege to steward, trying my best not to poison her, or make it a space unwelcome to the wildlife that hans't already been driven away or killed in the road.
It's not easy, especially when the results are all to obvious.  I have no lawn, only the vestiges of what can grow here without being watered or fertilized.  Yes, we do have a shade garden and a terrace garden, but we use fish emulsion or goat poop for fertilizer and we do not use any pesticides EVER.  Maybe some soap solution or some mail-order biological controls, but never the poison.  We even resort to pots for many of our outdoor plants simply because we can plant them into quality potting soil that way instead of endlessly having to amend the sand they would otherwise struggle in.  We still have a lot to learn about doing things totally organic, but the results are so much more satisfying in the end.

     But aside from what we have gathered onto ourselves here on this acre, I sometimes sit and ponder the fate of all that once WE have moved on and left this to the next stewards of this land.  I could take it for granted that we will leave this place to offspring, but in this uncertain day and age, that is not a given.  But, even though it might lay fallow for some years when we have moved on, it WILL eventually find new inhabitants, and I wonder, will the castle have succumbed to age by then and be torn down, to be replaced by some new fancy McMansion when the value of this property has gotten so much higher due to human density?  And will they bend this acre to their will with fresh assaults of fertilizers and herbicides, perhaps having to rely on newly installed water lines due to a compromised water table?  Will the sacred circle, our shade garden, not fit into their "decorator" scheme and the four sisters (the four oak trees which occupy North, East, South, and West) taken down and hauled away to landfill?  What will this place look like when the sea levels have risen and the shoreline is 20 miles closer to this redoubt than it is now?

     One can only wonder.

     But I do have this one true hope.  I hope that those who come after us gather unto THEMSELVES all these good things we have wrapped ourselves with here, and if they have to change it's name, that the name will know honor, and that in the embrace of that honor, protect it's "stewards" as this place has protected us, The Lord and Lady of this peaceful acre of sand we call Pendragon Hold.

     To all my neighbors, far and wide........Blessed be.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Ongoing Negotiations with Quality of Life (Life is Good)

     Ok, I've driven the wife to work, replenished the dog and cat food on the way back home, and now I have a couple of hours to blow while waiting to go in to gestapo headquarters to have my nerve conduction test, which Wifey gleefully describes as a "torture session".  She is SUCH a sharing person, my wife.

      So, I will take this opportunity, while I am still of sound mind, to lend another post to this august blog, which has become famous the world over for it's erstwhile obscurity as blogs go.  I am on my sixth straight day of steroid therapy, with still no apparent side effects such as AGITATION or anything that would suggest I start taking the Ativan the doctor prescribed along with this stuff.  Not that I would necessarily be AWARE that I've become a serial killer or a Republican.........

     However, along with the lack of side effects, I have so far enjoyed no apparent relief of my back pain, which is supposed to be the result of inflammation resulting in muscle spasms.  Perhaps I'm being a little impatient here, I don't know, but I would certainly be pissed if all I got out of this was an infection due to immune system suppression or a life sentence for attacking a Jehovahs Witness at my door for no apparent reason.......oh wait.....silly me; there's tons of logical reasons for doing that....hehe......

     I just finished (pardon me for my wildly wondering subject matter, but I AM being medicated here) a fantastic book downloaded from the Amazon Kindle Store, "The Dirty Life", by Kristin Kimball.  No, it's not pornographic, but it IS a nitty gritty examination of what living in close connection with land and the food it can provide can be like, blood, sweat, and tears included.  I highly recommend it, if only for her fantastic writing skills.  She started out just wanting to do research for a book about the new crop of organic small farmers and ended up marrying one.

     Speaking of organic and farms and such, we here at Pendragon Hold have hosted various incarnations of gardens; in the ground, raised beds, pots, you name it, with various success.  So far we have learned a few things about gardening in Florida.  First and foremost, especially if you want to go organic, SAND SUCKS as a growing medium.  It takes an INSANE amount of soil amending to improve this stuff, and it all ends up washing back out thru the too-well drained sand in no time at all.  We have the goats providing lots of excellent manure in easy to handle pellet form, but we've been short on many of the other ingredients necessary to create good compost, since our acre has been pretty much buried in leaves, severely cutting back on our grass and weed growth this year especially.  Secondly, it is friggin' HOT here in the summer and the plants require almost constant watering since it either evaporates in the heat and humidity or soaks straight down through the sand.  So, if we are going to have any good shot at growing a few heat tolerant veggies here at the  Hold, it's going to require extensive use of raised beds filled with REAL dirt that veggies won't laugh at.  I never imagined the cost involved in finding and transporting genuine DIRT, of all things, but it's a genuine cost consideration.  However, once I get some grass and stuff growing out there on the barren half of the Hold again (the goats decimated our acre before I got them properly fenced off), we can try to tackle the compost issue again, or even try some "lasagna gardening".  Whatever we end up doing, it's going to require hard work, because we refuse to bow to using pesticides or herbicides, which means weeding and and all out war on pests using natural methods, including just picking them off the plants.

     But first I need to get fixed.  And in the spirit of positive thinking I invested in a nice large tub dump-wagon which will make it easier to move dirt and leaves and other such loose items around the property without promoting more bodily abuse.  I also want to get work started on our chicken coop so I can rest a little easier about the meat we put in our bodies.  I just have to make a point of not lending my chickens names when I get them.  I have problems killing and eating life forms with personalities, but I also know that these creatures were bred by humans to give us eggs and meat, the supermarket doesn't grow those breasts in the back in a frankenstein lab (although scientists ARE working on that).  

     Meanwhile, in the continuing saga of the COOL things that happen to me, a nurse friend of mine is GIVING me a perfectly serviceable riding lawnmower, I just simply have to get it here, which is taking awhile to coordinate, as I have no truck, and theirs is one of those jacked- up- in- the- sky- jobbers so high off the ground you can't get anything sizable up into it.  Now, it seems that the alternator in the tractor isn't working, because her husband has to jump the tractor from his car to start it up, but hey, for free, I can afford to fix it.  I just need something I can mulch up this half-acre worth of leaves with so I can encourage some grass/weed growth.  Plus, it could probably pull my new wagon around on a hot summer's day.........

     So far, the two new spring additions to Pendragon Hold are doing well, stout young Puck, the male, and our prima-donna little black girl, Flip-Flop.  They have learned from their parents how to complain loudly to be FED whenever they hear the car pull up in front of the house.  As always, though, I remained concerned that this oppressively hot weather will take it's toll on our young ones and visit upon them the same malady that took our sweet baby Thor from us last year.  I will remain vigilant this time for symptoms, but this "summer pneumonia" is a rapid killer.  I can only ask the Green Man to keep them safe for me.

     AND, while my mood is in such good shape considering everything, I want to send out some heartfelt appreciation to all of those fellow sapiens of mine who have enriched my life by sharing your own.  Each and every one of you have brought your own unique perspectives to dealing with life into my home and helped me ignore the worst aspects of my own by making me laugh and lending me moral support when I really needed it.  I wish I could give back even HALF of the value received from knowing you.  I hope our relationships can grow and strengthen in the years to come, whatever comes our way, raptures included.  We less-than-perfect children of the Gods need to stick

     So, blessed be to you, Anne, Judy, Cheryl, Sharon, Paul, Mike, Donn, Jules,  Annie, Darby, Jamie, John, Paul, George, and Ringo............

     And that's the news from this hot, humid, homey little acre of sand on the outskirts of Redneck suburbia, where buzzards are well-fed on road kill and the popularity of Tea party governors plummet when the chickens come home to roost.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Gift that just keeps on Giving........

     Finally, the drama leading up to this wedding has past, and things can settle down to something resembling normal here at Pendragon Hold.  Of course, normal includes the continuing saga of my back injury, things breaking down, and whatever aggravating thing pops up out of nowhere which is the spice of life down here in the swamps of the "new" middle class.  In the old middle class, you traded your car in every 4 years for the latest thing from detroit.  In the NEW middle class, you run old Nelly Bell into the ground and THEN you pray you can come up with a way to finance a newer "pre-owned" car, preferably with some sort of extended warranty, which you will pay dearly for.  I now have about a third of what I think the Credit Union is going to demand for a down payment, and old Nelly Bell is starting to wheeze........

     We here at the Hold are looking forward to yet ANOTHER ending of the world, an event that has been happening with some regularity for the last thirty years or so, or at least according to the Christians of various denominations.  Now, what's really halarious/infuriating about these characters is how they cherry-pick their precious scriptures to back up all their wild assertions about this or that, completely ignoring the many other references in that SAME testament that go contrary to how they behave and what they try to get you to accept as "gospel" truth.  The latest (again) assertion, biblically proven, no less, is that the world will be ending (just how many times can a world come to an end anyway?) here in three days, or at least the rapture that is said to occur before the long-drawn out ending of the Book of Revelations.  And THIS time the preacher warning that the sky is falling is POSITIVE that he's got it right this time, again, despite the plain-as-day admonition in scripture that states that NO ONE will EVER know the date or time of the return of the Son of God.  But, like most fundamentalists I know, this man disrespects his almighty God SO much he feels he can second-guess him, speak for him, and do whatever it seems that the Lord God of Hosts can't seem to do himself.  That is just one of the many reasons I moved on and found a much more gentle, loving, and damn sight more logical spirituality know as Wicca.  The "Busy God"  (as Anne Johnson describes him) got to be a wee bit to lazy, angry, violent, psychotic, illogical, jealous, and downright pathological for me to even believe in, much less worship.  He LOVES me?  Fine, then quit, in his name, trying to oppress or kill me and we will get along a LOT better.  Till then, my fundy friends, I consider you about as safe to turn my back on as the Taliban.

     Now, you ask, what am I going to do if suddenly people start disappearing into thin air on this very day?  Will I throw myself on the ground in prostrate anguish, begging the Lord to please don't "leave me behind"?  HELL NO.  First off, as far as I am concerned, we have a major problem with physics, to say the least, and if this horrid creature really DOES exist, then he and me have a problem.  No, I will not bow down before a being who behaves even worse than the evil satanic devil that he blames all of our problems on.  No, I will NOT be worshipping Satan just because I can't get with this GOD character, because, c'mon, why would any DECENT person in their right mind go running to kiss the ass of someone so famous for screwing with man for all these millennia?  What, just because we disown ONE kind of evil we then HAVE to embrace ANOTHER kind?  Bullshit!  NONE of these cosmic crackpots get my loyalty, thank you very much.  You can't make me love or worship you with threats of damnation.  I never asked you to be created in the first place.

     Which, in the end, make it so much easier to go with common sense and not believe in these looney-tunes stories to begin with.  Come Sunday, I will once again roll my eyes and hope that for ONCE, the proof is self-evident, and these idiots will just put down their cosmic calculators and just shut up about it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Night Before a Wedding

Greetings and welcome to another long-awaited edition of “This Wonderment”, the bi-annual blog that begs the question, “What was the question again?”  I’m your host, editor, writer, photo editor and all-around blogging fool, Alex Pendragon, which, of course, is not my real name.

Yes, I know, the very fact that I have posted a few more than a couple of posts to this blog this year alone belies the claim of it being a “Bi-anual” blog, but the claim is accurate insomuch as it’s only made to cover my ass when it takes me so long to getting around to posting.  I only promised you two posts, period, so you’ve nothing to complain about.  Thus, rejoice, as I regale you with yet another bonus post to this award winning publication.  I wish these awards weren’t sent in the mail because mine is taking FOREVER to get here….sheesh…..

It has been very busy around here lately, as we plan for the wedding of the local twin, the one who isn’t already married.  They were hand-fasted here at the Hold a year and a day ago, and now have convinced themselves that they can stand each other’s presence for even more years to come.  So now they will “tie the knot” for good here again, with our local Witch, High Priestess, and Queen of the Hold performing the ceremony.  She can do this because she has a note from somewhere out there saying she’s Wiccan Clergy.  
Anyway, the Hold is full of family tonight, and tommorrow will be overrun with friends as well.  Two people will pronounce their vows in the presence of their Gods and their fellow sojourners.  This is their time.  These are the days of our lives.

Blessed Be.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Miss You, Michele


 This is one of the most bittersweet days of the year for me. In 1998, after years of declining health due to a lifetime of smoking, I lost my Mom to COPD and emphysema.  I had rescued her from her younger husband who due to his own issues had never been able to really take care of her, and she lived with me the remaining years of her life. I eventually becoming the "parent", until finally the day came when the Wife and I could no longer trust her alone while we were at work, and had to place her in a nursing home.  Up until that point she had had a fierce independence (as much as one could who relied on others to pay for food and rent) and a lust for life that only a gifted artist and gypsy at heart could have.  But like a balloon which had suffered one prick to many, going to the home deflated her spirit and she gave up there and then.  With nothing else I could do, and knowing her lungs would soon enough not be able to keep her going, I nonetheless suffered so much guilt, even though if truth be told, I gave my Mother back much more than she had given me beyond birthing me.  She didn't raise me; the Mississippi Welfare Department did.
     It wasn't really her fault; it all came down to a conspiracy of irresponsibility, passing the buck, hurtful blame, and a bastard of a sperm-donar.  It wasn't until I was sixteen that I finally met her, and even then I had barely a couple of years before she split with her then-boyfriend (whom I had mistakenly thought was her husband) and I was, having turned eighteen the summer before my senior year, on my own.  With no home and no options, I joined the Navy and I've been having it out with life ever since, only on MY terms and not those of a loveless bureaucracy. 
     Yet, from the moment we met, I fell in love with that woman, and no woman has loved me the way she has since, always proud of me for what I accomplished on my own, never judging me for being young, naive, and infused with the same lust for life that had kept her going thru a very rough life.  I was both amazed and envious of her artistic talent, thinking she had passed nothing on to me that I could be equally proud of, talent wise.  Matter of fact, it wasn't until blogging came along and I took to writing on a regular basis did I feel that maybe SOMEthing of her talent maybe HAD rubbed off on me.  So, despite my exasperation at her innocent, irresponsible hyjinks throughout the years (like burning through money I left her while on deployment for rent and food, or packing a lid of grass in her carry-on luggage when she flew down to visit), I never felt as though she'd ever had to EARN the worry and care I afforded her as she grew older and I matured.  I used to think I was such a lucky guy to have such a fox of a Mom, who always looked young enough to be my sister.  
     My Mom was the first born of my many Aunts and Uncles and became the black sheep of the family, and by extension, I suffered some fallout for her estrangement. Even now, the oldest of 20-odd cousins, and the one only child, I have taken over the mantle of being the odd-one out, the pagan, the one far removed from the others with the exception of one with whom I shared a very special relationship.  But, I am who I am, and I dare say that Mom would be proud of me, even in these dark days when I seem to be able to see the end of days, and my own future seems under constant threat, as the clouds of uncertainty surround me and I face my own mortality.  I look at her picture and she smiles back at me and I feel her love even all these years later.

      Had to take a break there........

     Anyway, I have one thing to say to people with children.  Please don't assume that just because you bring them into the world, they really owe you anything. Remember, they didn't ask you too, and what they think of you in the long run is going to depend on whether or not your love for them was selfish or selfless.  You'd be amazed at what they can forgive you for, but NEVER take their love for granted.  I hated my Mother the day before I met her.  I thank the Gods I couldn't once I met her.  And I thank the Gods for taking over for me in the Summerlands.  I miss her so much.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


     I love Facebook, I really do.......but only so far.  Unlike most of my "friends", I have not friended 5389 strangers and "liked" 3893 pages which will take a year each day to try and keep up with.  Nope, I am somewhat selective in who I allow onto the hallowed page of my "Pendragon" site.  I also keep this FB page separate from my "Family" FB account.  Believe me, you don't want to know this family and I don't really want to share with them the things I post here.  I'm estranged enough as it is, I don't need to let a little hard-core honesty TOTALLY burn my remaining bridges; that's just a bridge to far.  I mean, I love these people, but they try me as a group.  Except for one lone cousin whom I will describe as "special", I am the only pagan out of more than 20 odd cousins.  Most of them are fundamentalist Catholics or an odd variety of other protestant religions, each one more narrow and exclusive than the next.  It's a wonder half these people will even admit to being related to the other.
     As for my "secular" FB page, I have friended people I have met blogging, people I know at work, and people who I have connected with via other friends.  Sometimes one particular blogger/FB acquaintance can be a magnet for other people whom I would dearly love to meet.  Some of my best friends, as sad as this sounds, are friends of other friends who knew someone who commented on a blog of a blogger who followed my blog.  Now, here we have to qualify exactly what I mean by "friends", because, like I said, I tend to be much more selective than most appear to be.  I have even gone so far as to "de-friend" those who on first blush APPEARED to be sane but since went off the deep end as far as belief systems go, religious, political or otherwise.  I can only stand so much bullshit, even from my own family.  Which brings me back to them.
     I had issues awhile back, during a period when I was sick, depressed, injured, and all-around not a nice person to be around.  During that time I decided I didn't need the fury and irritation that some of what my family posted on the "family FB" could bring out in me, only adding to my already on-the-edge angst.  You see, even though many in my family don't understand that it's NOT all about them, that their opinions and pronouncements can be extremely disrespectful to others who don't share their philosophy, it doesn't stop them from going out of their way to post something that all told should best be kept to themselves or shared with family and friends in a less confrontational manner.  Me, even though I am Pagan and am diametrically opposed to most of their belief systems and how they share them, I myself have bit my tongue and have not stirred the pot, believing that family is supposed to be more important than always being right about things that might only be right for the individual and not everybody else.  So, in the grips of my depression, I got rid of the family FB account altogether and then started from scratch, re-friending only a select few I figured I could stomach more than the others simply to remain connected in case another one of us toppled over dead and we had another funeral to attend (which is what actually brought us altogether on one FB page to begin with).
     In the interim, I have had one after another of the cousins send me new friend requests, most of which I have not responded to.  I haven't because then I would be right back where I started and I don't want to go there, not while these people I love so much are so busy being so righteous.  But what I am REALLY tempted to do is write them back and ask one simple question in regards to friending them......WHY?  Yea, I know, I can imagine how taken aback they would be, and I imagine the best reaction I could expect from THAT is perhaps a nice, heated little "well, the HELL with YOU" in response.  Well, you see, I know how it sounds but I think it's an honest question when you consider that none of these cousins, while I WAS connected to them, ever addressed me directly and asked a simple little question like "how are you doing", or even "have a nice day".  Nope, all they ever brought to the party was how glorious their Lord and Savior was, and that if I wasn't too "ashamed" to, I should repost that fact on my own page.  Really?  Sure, I'll get right with that.......sheesh!
     Make no mistake, these are otherwise very nice people, people I still love regardless, but if it's really important to them to make a connection with me as a cousin and not simply another tea-party clone, then yes, the question really IS relevant....Why?
     I admit, MOST people I have friended on my Pendragon site either pretty much share my political and/or spiritual sensibilities or they have the respect not to harp about them to the detriment of our "friendship".  I can sit down and have a beer with  ANYBODY so long as that person respects me as a valued human being who has their own closely held beliefs, and I can be more than happy to return the favor.  Discussion is all-American; flat out judgement and condemnation of others you don't even know is NOT.
     So, my new "Family" FB will remain a much quieter place than it used to be.  I've decided to simply check on it regularly without comment just to keep tabs; I don't have the inclination to start any wars.  They can pretty much do that better than I can.
     As for the rest of you back here face-booking with "Alex"?  Think of yourselves as belonging to a VERY exclusive club.  I know I experience every day why the relative few of you belong on MY page.  You are very good people.  I am privileged to have met you!   Blessed be you all!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Point Being..........

Welcome back to "This Wonderment".  I'm your host, Alex Pendragon.  Today I will be describing in painfully acute detail what it's like to be a Male Cancerian Patient Care Technician inflicted with house-husbandry, animal husbandry, health related issues, and back issues you may have missed having been reading blogs much more interesting than mine.  I don't blame you for that last part because, quite frankly, I have been doing much the same thing.  I used to be a RABID fan of my own blogs until I realized that I was the one most responsible for my hit counter exceeding one digit.  That's kinda like self-publishing your own novel and buying them all up for yourself.  I'd even autograph them but my handwriting sucks.  I also have one of those signatures that a person can actually understand.  It's not just this insane scrawl that doctors especially are famous for (I think they do that for plausible denial purposes); you can actually read my name, because my signature actually spells it out, like any half-way decent signature should.  I mean, unless your name is SLarph, why are you spelling it SLarph?
The point I'm trying to eventually arrive at here is that it's not always the point that's important, but often times the journey towards it is.  Kinda like a love affair gone nowhere; you may not be there and might never have been meant to be there, but the trip towards it can certainly put a spring in your step.  Someone is always saying "it was meant to be" as though no matter how hopeless it seems that it ever WILL "be", it will end up "being" because it was written down in God's little playbook somewhere, only they never seem to be able to track down that one particular page and show it to you.  Thus when your sneaking suspicion that something isn't really going to "be" and probably never was meant to, it's no really big surprise.  Me, I don't really like surprises, because they include the nasty as well as the cool things that can happen to you, and I prefer to see especially bad shit headed my way, on the off-chance I can duck just in time.  The very worst of times in MY time here on this ball of toxic dirt have been surprises, things I never would have seen coming had I not gotten into the habit of expecting them.  That part of your life spent expecting while it doesn't really happen is especially sweet.  Unless of course it's that something you really, really wanted to happen.  Then, well, it can be somewhat excruciating, deep down inside were it gnaws at you in that special, secret way.
So, back to the point I was heading towards but got detoured away from.  Sometimes I don't have anything especially read-worthy to write about.  By read-worthy, I'm not talking about those particularly brilliant pieces I write on occasion (like this one) that I so enjoy creating, but those rare moments in blog history when everyone who stumbles across a singular post which grabs their interest like a blue crab and causes them to involuntarily "follow" you from that day forward, after which they will continually try to explain to people they know and respect why they seem so devoted to this one blog.  That's because they honestly don't KNOW why they are, so, in an attempt to seem a little bit less insane, they never bring up the subject in polite conversation again, much like the abduction victim learns to quit courting the rubber room with insistences that they damn well KNOW what an alien looks like, tyvm!  So if you HAVE to keep your love of my blog a secret.....I understand.  I try not to tell anyone but you that I write it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rise against the Machine

As I await with some trepidation my next (and supposedly/hopefully) final physical evaluation by the company doc in order to return to full duty, I am taking it easy with the physical aspects of trying to help keep up with the chores that never seem to all get done here around Pendragon Hold.  The floors have been swept, cleaned, and shined after some neglect, clothes and dishes have been washed, and five hungry goats tended to, as well as "Greyson", this ancient cat belonging to neighbors visiting England that I agreed to look in on.  The trepidation arises from the fact that a sore spot continues to plague me right in the middle of my back along my spine that seems separate from the shoulder injury I sustained and from which I am recovering.  Thus, I move through the day in a paranoid sort of way, trying VERY hard to rest it and not doing anything that I think would aggravate it.  Each day it SEEMS to get better but I need it to get better by Thursday to the point that I don't have to fear injuring myself again if maximum progress has been judged to have been made.
In that vein I have been performing one chore in a fashion I NEVER thought I'd do if I could reasonably avoid it........washing dishes by hand.  We DO have a dishwasher, which works reasonably well, although it's as old as this house.  It's just that the machine is of late been leaving these white deposits all over the dishes no matter what detergent I use and even occurs with the use of a rinse aid.  So, in frustration I've begun to wash them in the sink much like we all did back in the day when a dish washing machine was a newfangled and very expensive luxury that most people couldn't afford.  As a result, in return for a small investment of TIME, I get dishes much cleaner than the machine has been able to produce, without those ghastly white smears on the glasses and silverware, and I get a few moments of peaceful, slow time to spend listening to music, watching the back forty of Pendragon Hold through the portal of my kitchen window, and enjoying my time much like in meditation, without tying myself into a knot and trying to block out the myriad distractions this modern world produces.  It's like moments of Zen I always had available to me and just was living to fast to notice.
I AM using a little more hot water, I think, than the machine was using, but that's been more than offset by the amount of electricity this monster sucks down to do it's a job, a job it more often than not has done badly.  PLUS, I have the added bonus of not having to curse under my breath each time I have to go back in and reshuffle the dishes after theWife has loaded them in ways physics INSURES they cannot come out clean.  And yes, darling wives, we husbands know full well that those of you who absolutely refuse to load a dish washing machine properly, no matter HOW many times we try to explain the rationale behind it, do it simply that way to get US to do it ourselves.  Not all of your reverse psychological warfare is that opaque.....hehe.......
If someone gave me a brand new fancy-dancy machine absolutely guaranteed to produce squeaky-clean, spotless and streak-free dishes, would I use it?  Funny, but in light of these newly discovered moments at my kitchen window, I'm not so sure I would.  Go figure........

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Haunting of Martha

The walls of our home have to be the busiest you've ever seen.  Here at Pendragon Hold, a blank piece of wall is an invitation to put something on it.  If I wanted to drive Martha Stewart stark raving mad, I'd invite her to dinner.  We have calendars, a Beatles shrine of art posters, various as-sundry works of art (the term "art" being questionable, in some cases, I know), Native American artifacts, bulletin boards, base relief pottery plagues, some of my late Mother's paintings and sketches…… name it, we probably have an example of it fighting for it's share of wall space.

Yes, most of the nice, tidy suburban homes I have visited couldn't be more stark in comparison.  One entire will host a tiny little painting by some artist everybody should know but nobody does, costing as much as a good used car.  Another wall might host a very tasteful mirror, not purchased at Wally World or Big Lots, but at The World Market if the inhabitants are (in their minds) value conscious.  You know they are REALLY rocking if there is framed music concert art print from 1967 you know they are too damned young to have personally gone to.  However, the theme is the same; tasteful minimalism, perhaps to be cycled through and disposed of every 9 months when the owners get bored and think their walls need "freshening up".  The end product is a house that does not say anything to a visitor about the hosts other than………perhaps tasteful restraint.  Total control.  Adventure and the personal whim totally buried beneath what the neighbors might think.

Those of you living in these houses might take affront to this observation.  Please don't.  If the above rocks your world, then by all means enjoy it.  To each his own.  But for the Gods sake, people, if you own it, then OWN it!  Make it your own, design class down at the Y be damned!  Give yourself and your visitors a genuine visual experience that says "This is me, take it or leave it, enjoy your screwdriver."  Walls were meant to peek out from behind what your life has been all about over the years, assuring you that it's there for you if you need to put a fist thru it.  They will never take it personally.  What, a little sheetrock?  We can get down with that!

This is Alex Pendragon, this is Pendragon Hold, and you invited to dinner anytime you get bored with safety of blank sheetrock.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Writing in the Shower

Hello and welcome to yet ANOTHER blog, in an era where blogs are becoming yesterday's child, and even Face Book is demanding way to much of our precious time and energy.  My "name" is Alex Pendragon, and here you will be gifted with the truth as only I can reveal it.  First off, I would like to invite you to stop snickering at the name; it is FAR more inspiring and interesting than my real one, and it sure beats something as downright dumbed down as Bubba, or even DUBYA, since I'm sure it has occurred to most intelligent human beings that the letter W does not have to be spelled out.  I may not always be right about everything I examine, but that's why we get to stick around as long as we find out why.

I have written numerous other blogs, tossing each one to the side when it seemed to me to be getting stale as a literary or journalistic construct, leaping into the next incarnation with equal vigor until that one too has served it's purpose (and suffered enough from it's inevitable decline in actively participating readership).  Back then I was a comment junky, suffering the envy of other blogs so much more well written than my own that could average 35 comments on a BAD day, while mine struggled to achieve a dozen on an EXCELLENT one.  Then I got religion, in which my new savior was simply not giving a damn, since after all, I was accomplishing the one thing I loved doing more than anything (ok, well, that's another story), and no dearth of accolades from relative strangers was going to change that.  It's a lot like Karaoke when the singer is not deluding him/herself into thinking they can survive the first cut of American Idol, just because the acoustics of their shower hides so many sonic sins.  You just do it, even all alone in your living room with your cat cowering in the closet.  It feels good; 'nuff said.

 So today I will start you off with something light and witty, tinged with the kind of clueless arrogance you will come to know and love about me.  Or not.  Go back and read this again.  There, now, wasn't that fun?  

Till next time.........another self-described "writer" signing off........