Friday, December 03, 2010

True Wisdom and Beauty in The Faces Of Children

Sometimes I see the most amazing beauty and wisdom in the faces of our greatest gift, Children. Praise Baby Jebus for these gifts which we are about to receive, and pass the steak sauce, hallelujah!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

My Father

To say he was intense would be gross understatement. He was 50 when I was born, and restless and full of what he called "piss and vinegar". He was what I'd call a human dynamo. He worked a ton of different jobs in his life, from house painter to building the Alk-Can Highway during World War 2, to owning a string of small businesses ranging from Surplus Furniture to a giant Supper Club/Ballroom with my mother that would not book a wedding with less than 500 people at it. In the 1960's in heavily Catholic Wisconsin, that was not a large wedding.
He lived for two things, Hunting, (mostly bow hunting for bear and deer) and Fishing, although being the hardest worker on earth also seemed like a really important thing to him. I remember him in his late 60's working guys half his age into exhaustion doing roofing at the summer camp he was a caretaker for.
No work was beneath him, it was all just work. When he owned the Supper Club he tended bar and washed dishes, when you worked on one of his crews all he cared about was how much work got done.
He was famous for being a safety last kind of guy, though. He'd bark at you to "get on the stick" or say "get off your dead ass and let's go" or "dambitt, I don't care about how hard you're working, all I care about is production". He went to his grave a physically broken man, with joints that barely could move, missing one and a half fingers, with a metal plate in his hip. The only thing that slowed him down was cancer, and as you'd expect, he got that from working with asbestos in a shipyard during World War 2.
He retired in his late 60's. Only to go back to work at once being a logger, dragging a chainsaw through knee deep snow all winter, dropping trees that the crew following behind him cut into logs. I spent two winters working on that crew, and I was in my early 20's, and even in the best shape I was ever in, he was damn hard to keep up with.
He shot 19 black bear in his life with a bow and arrow. Every year he'd shoot at least four deer, we'd buy tags and fill the freezers. More than once we skipped the tags. We ate everything he shot, aside from racoons and rodents. I grew to really hate greasy bear roast.
I think I was the luckiest of my siblings when it came to him. He'd worn down a lot of his restless anger and agression by the time I was in my teens, and mostly he left me alone unless I fucked up, and I usually was sneaky enough not to get caught.
I think he never knew quite what to do with his oddball youngest kid, but by the time I dropped out of college and went to work for him, we had moved beyond the old father/child weirdness that's endemic in our culture to a strange but rewarding sort of respect for each other. When he died, I was in Alaska, for which I'm glad. I hate hospitals and the whole sick motions our society does when somebody's leaving the human fun ride, and I figured out later we were watching Grizzly bears right about the time of his death in Denali national park.
I still remember his last words to me as I was saying good bye. I walked into the living room, said, "Hey! Peter! I'm going to Alaska for three weeks, you going to be here when I get back?"
At that point you had to use his first name, he rarely responded to dad or Pa. He was done with that job, I suspect, all his kids grown up.
He looked at me, looked out the window, saw his dump truck being driven to the dump by one of the guys at the summe camp without current tags and said "that damn Kenny's using my dump truck without plates again, if he gets a ticket, he's paying for it", took another look at me and said, "what?, oh, goodbye".
Seems about right for the last conversation to have with your dad. And about the least dramatic one we ever had. And in the years after he died, although I loved him, I felt an odd sense of freedom come over me, that I could be whomever I wanted to be at last.
It felt strange, not having this huge personality around, like everything was two sizes bigger and a lot more comfortable.
I missed the funeral, but when I got back from Alaska, we fed his ashes to the fish in his favorite spot, which is another whole story that has a lot of Big Lebowski elements to it. It's on my list of things to write about, along with the day my dad Dropped a Tree on the Truck. Or got arrested after a low speed chase for poaching, or the day he and Russel killed an injured deer with a hammer, or how he smuggled a live bear cub back from Canada and kept it in the basement for six months.
When I look back on how I grew up, I really do think I grew up in a John Irving novel.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Found in the Garden

Sometimes if you get close enough to the ground, you see amazing creatures.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Baby Beauty, Once again.

Children are the bestest and most perfect creatures on earth, and I am honored to be able to document the stunning elegance they embody.
We should all have babies, starting NOW. I'll take mine with the honey chipotle BBQ sauce.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Motorhome trip from HELL, Albeit a Minor Hell..

The motorhome from hell looked nice...
And when we left, it was running nice. Yeah. right.
Last winter I offered to drive my pal Owen out to DC when he wanted to move there.
He's damn sexy and damn smart, two good attributes in a road trip partner.
So I decided to to the first road trip with my newly rebuilt motorhome with him, with Kori meeting me for the ride home. A vacation!
Owen and I pulled out of Madison the weekend before the fourth of july around noon, after loading almost all he owned into the motorhome. The tiny little motor in it, tired from hauling around a ton of useless crap built into it by the morons in Indiana took a long time to get rolling. He didn't have all that much stuff, but a dozen boxes of ancient greek language textbooks gets heavy.
The day was grey, muggy and we hit the interstate headed for DC at a steady 54 mph, not being in a hurry. Not that you can be in something as boxy as our little Toyota truck based SeaBreeze.
The first problem popped up somewhere near the Illinois border. I don't care much for Illinois, it's flat, boring and mostly in my way just about any time I want to go somewhere.
We had filled the RV up here in Madison, but wanting to take a break for nature and to avoid the Cook County gas tax, we decided to gas up before we hit the mess that is Chicago. For reasons that escape me, they put a 13 gallon tank in a vehicle that gets 14 mpg on a good day, making the gas gauge drop like a rock.
So, we hop out, hit the pump with a cash card and start pumping. The first gallon went quickly. Then, click, pump,click, pump, what the hell? Why is it only taking four cents at a time?
So, out comes the cell phone, we call Kori. She checks the Toyota motorhome forum, and it's revealed that the filler lines can and do often get gas in them. So, we climb under the rolling disaster in the works and shake the fuel filler line until the gas breather line clears.
Weird, I think, but at least this sucker's running well on it's first trip.
Ha! Yeah, right.
We drove on through the July afternoon, cruising through the bypass around the Windy City on a quiet Sunday. It cooled down as the sun set, and we drove across the flat lands of Indiana.
I hate Indiana. It's more boring than Kansas and Southern Illinois combined, and filled with giant people driving listing Chrysler minivans that sag and smoke as much as they do. The waysides are afterthoughts filled with junk food, and everywhere you turn there's a bible slammer or a hardcore Christian bumper sticker or a church van full of people I suspect would have had me stoned a few centuries ago. Or if I lived in your average hardcore Muslim nation.
We stopped for the night at one of those so called Oasis, parked the four wheeled albatross in between a few huge semi trucks and slept for a few hours. We were still shaking the fuel hose every 15o miles or so to fill up again.
Around 10 am in central Pennsylvania the trouble really started to hit. Going up long, sloping hills on the turnpike we started losing power, which in a tired little motorhome really sucks.
We were running on 3 cylinders, barely keeping up with the slowest traffic, the heavily laden semis.
Soon, the most we could manage was about 43 mph, and we were almost in Baltimore traffic, driving on the shoulder most of the time with the flashers on. People on the east coast are nuts, and a good many of them are either suicidal or simply dumber than a box of broken hammers.
It was also getting very, very hot, and without air conditioning, miserable and nerve wracking. We made it down to the Cockeysville exit, limped off and got as far as Amy's joint.
But we still had to get Owen and all of his stuff down to DC, to an indoor storage unit. And I hate to think of how we'd have unloaded in downtown DC, since we could not drive that RV into the building.
We dropped Owen off at the metro station, and an hour or so later he was with his sweetie. It took two trains for him to get there, but driving would have taken almost as long.
The next day Amy and I loaded up Owen's stuff, cruised down to the storage unit and unloaded, said goodbye and hit a great Mexican restaurant, then cruised home.
It was 101 degrees that week in the DC/Baltimore area. It sucked. We got a shadetree mechanic pal of Amy's to fix the albatross, it was a fuel injector, we tied up the fuel line and things seemed to be running great, although at that point the starter started to go south, and about every third time you started up the motor you had to hit it with a tire iron. But that was ok, we were still shaking the gas line half the time and were already under the beast.
Kori took the Amtrak train out from Chicago, showed up a few days later. We had a fine time playing dirty hippie and other music with the east coast crowd, thankfully after the heat wave broke for a few days. We hit the Amish market, got some fine junk food, went to Andy Nelson's BBQ joint and greased up good, then rolled out of Cockeysville mid morning on a Sunday. It was gonna be a nice, slow drive home with a few side trips. To Gettysburg, maybe a few other spots. Turns out it was the busiest weekend in a long time at Gettysburg, jammed with people. Too crowded to stay, so we moved on.
Then things went pear shaped. Ugly, for a long time. The heat came back. It got muggier. The wind came up, a strong one out of the west, pushing the albatross around like a giant paper airplane in a cyclone.
We went up a large hill an hour or so outside Gettysburg. The albatross started to overheat. We pulled over, let it cool and thought, damn, that was barely a hill and we're empty.
So we got back on the interstate for a while. We stop for gas, while I'm inside paying I notice that the exhaust pipe had broken loose behind the muffler and was sticking out six feet past the rear bumper.
Ok, that sucks, where's the bungee cords? Strapped up to the back bumper, we pull out to keep cruising west. I'm thinking, geez, fuel line, starter, fuel injector, so far this trip is not Much Fun.
Then, in eastern Indiana, it started missing again. Ok, I think, I can keep it at 50 or so, I'll just keep going, since it's the 4th of July and I don't want to have to find a mechanic on a holiday.
We sputtered our way to a wayside around midnight somewhere an hour or two outside Indianapolis, tried to sleep in the heat. Woke up at sunrise, ate some lukewarm fruit and hit the road.
The wind was still blowing us all over the road, traffic on the holiday Sunday was terrible, but we made it around Indianapolis without a problem. About 3o miles outside of it, on the way up to Chicago, I turned the wheel over to Kori. She hates to drive, but I was wiped out. I got into the passenger seat and fell right asleep, hoping to get an hour or so in before taking the wheel again.
It was hard sleeping, the pavement was thumping like crazy, it was hot, windy and sponge bath wet. Then the thumping got really loud, and a giant whack noise like a huge rubber paddle slapping woke me up.
We had a blowout on the front driver side tire. All of the tread came off, trashing the mirror, the rocker panel, part of the front fender and it tore loose the driver's side of the bumper.
Meanwhile, traffic kept flying by us at 75 mph or more, and we had to change a flat in that mess.
We had the tools, but the moron who rotated our tires and test drove it before our trip not only missed the failing tire, he used an impact wrench set on full smoke. And we'd have pulled off the freeway at the exit just down the interstate, but there was a dead semi between us and it.
So Kori got out the jack, the breaker bar, and I waved traffic over when I could, and she had to jump up and down with all of her weight, muscles and at that point fear of death to break them loose. We got the spare on about a half hour later and got back on the road.
In the meantime, between the wind and the slowly dying motor, we'd gotten to the point where we could maybe, with luck, cruise at 43 mph. On the interstate with our flashers. Like the white trash we feared we looked like in our ancient rolling mess.
We hit backroads around the south side of Chicago, wanting to stay off the interstate there, and about 4 hours later, totally blown out, we pulled into the driveway. And it was still hot. And we were still stressed out from driving across three states with a sick vehicle.
Kori's been working on the pile of crap ever since, but until this week she seemed to be enjoying it, she's pulled the head off and replaced the head gasket, pulled it apart again to replace the timing chain, then had to pull it apart again because the timing chain cover cracked.

And it's still not running right. I suspect the #1 cylinder fuel injector has gone bad again.
Lesson the first: Motorhomes suck. Lesson two: Next time build a travel trailer from scratch, the way you want it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bigger heads

I didn't stop carving heads this year. But I did embrace chainsaws and bigger chunks of wood.
Here's three from August. I have another dozen done with salvaged cedar fenceposts I still need to take photos of. And Kori and I set up an etsy store, although it's going to take a while before we get enough mental clarity and sanity and wits to do that.
One of these days I fear: my sanity and wits, they will all vanish. I promise.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy days ahead!

We're headed for some seriously ugly shit. Saying this makes one unpopular, or at least makes people who don't or can't think ahead squirm.

We have a mostly useless hopey-changey President who is rapidly moving further to the right, regardless of how much the hate mongers and big money manipulators scream he's a socialist.

A guy who put the people who inflated the real estate bubble and broke our system and scammed trillions for the banking and finance industry in charge of fixing it.

We have a government about to start running the money printing presses full time, priming the pump for inflation while ignoring basic infrastructure and cutting taxes.

We have a growing population of people with their heads up their wrinkly middle aged pink assholes denying anything not right out of the John Birch Society instruction manual.

We have a new state Governor and GOP majority determined to destroy future possibilities of rail travel and dedicated to keeping the road building companies backing them rich. Just like the good old Tommy Thompson days, when he made his pals filthy rich.

We have a new Senator who is, as far as I can tell, a moron flat earther totally unprepared for the job thrust into it by idiots with Fox News and bibles as guiding lights.
And we have a goofy climate change happening, the price of oil is starting to zoom back up, and we're still in two wars and itching to start a third with Mexico or Iran or ______?
And don't bullshit me by saying we're out of Iraq. We're still there. Shit, we're still keeping troops all over the world in places we bombed the shit out of. German, Japan, many more.

We're on the edge of a big, messy and slow moving train wreck, where reality meets obtuse fantasy, that fantasy being we're exceptional as a nation, when all we had were a lot of resources that we've sucked a good way down to not much.
So, aside from fucking off here on the Internet, Sweetie and I have actually started to do something about it.

We've started growing more food, and have been stocking up about six month's worth of basics, and are making sure we use all the dental and health insurance benefits we need. Because I really don't think we're going to have much of that by the end of next year.

We've also built that ugly ass motor home into a fairly nice bug out vehicle, with only a few repairs left to do. So even if we hit the financial iceberg, we have life boat of sorts. We've picked up a little honda motorcycle that gets about 98 mpg that fits on the back of the motorhome, and I've bought some new tools, a gas and an electric chainsaw and we're rebuilding the generator from the motorhome as a back up power source.

We've been using our costco membership to buy a stock of dried and canned goods, bought a few rifles for small game and deer hunting, and I've been making sauerkraut and canning salsa and bought a hundred pounds of potatoes from a potato farm, and we've got a pile of squash in the basement from the garden. We've also been making things like pumpkin butter from leftover uncarved Halloween pumpkins. Stuff that would have been thrown out.

The way prices have been going up, and with added world demand all over for more meat products, there's no way the price of the long term storage food is going to go down, so we're ahead even if I turn out to be just another wrong Annie Apocalypse or Debbie Doom. Or come across that way to people who don't want to listen.

I guess thinking ahead like this does not come under the category of happy thoughts, for sure, but I sure as hell don't want to be hungry and homeless any time soon. I really suggest any of you reading this who can think your way past the business as usual mode start considering where and what you could do when the rest of the global financial chickens come home to roost. You're going to need to find a new normal, and soon, and build up your tribe. Because as far as I can tell, it's where you're going to find the resources you need. You sure as hell aren't going to get them from the broken government, filled with people who think the unemployed are losers and that the biggest threat we face is voter fraud or illegal immigrants or the scary LBGT agenda.

More often than not, my pals and circle of humans I interact with just shrug when I talk about this stuff. Or they run away. Too bad, because I'd rather be acting to make a future, even if it has some tense aspects than freaking out and reacting when things get rough. And they're getting rougher every day.

But it's not all bad. If I feel neglected and untouched, or even like having a thrill, the government has said they'd be glad to hold me. Wearing sanitary blue gloves at the airport when they check the junk in my trunk before I get on one of those soon to be extinct flying sardine cans.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wow, that was a long freakin' break....

A year and some change later, it occurs to me that Facebook is amusing but too limited and I stopped posting here.

A year that had two bouts of the flu, another incredibly bad ear infection, and a whole bunch of stuff ranging from Croakerfest to The Motorhome Trip From Hell, filled with unwritten observations and a lack of good rants on my part.

But I'm back, for now anyway, with more missives about our crumbling world and rotting motorhomes and stupid and hopefully amusing band shit.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dark Dreams on Repeat

Some dreams stick around all day. Some of them make you question reality. You wake up and think, "where did I bury that body?" or "somebody's gonna find them and think I killed them".

Your whole day turns into one of those creepy fugue states where you start to question reality, wondering if you're another one of those creepy rural serial killers/grave robbers until about five o'clock in the afternoon before you come back to what you're pretty sure is your reality.

I used to live in a big, ugly ranch house on Highway 45 up in northern Wisconsin, and for a few months when my two house mates were gone off to rehab, it got creepy at night, the rumble of cars and trucks keeping my brain stirred up enough that I'd drift in and out of a deep dream state, often waking up just enough to start the same dream cycle over again, the creepifying and morbid dreams picking up all over again.

Sometimes I'd get up and move around the house, read a while and try and shake off the dreams, but too often they'd start right up again, my brain rebooting the near nightmare until I let it run all the way through.

I'm pretty sure that's why the dreams were so vivid, and why they made the day seem so disjointed. I still sometimes get anxious dreams that I have to let run out to the end, but they're not about hiding bodies anymore.

I think it's because it's so much easier being different these days than it was back in the ugly 1980's. I think hiding a part of yourself to a lot of the world makes you feel like you are hiding a body, one's own.It's just easier being one's queer self now, in spite of all the frothing right wingers screaming about how dangerous us queers are.

Oddly enough, me and Sweetie are dangerous in a sort of a "don't fuck with us, because we're a combined 400 pounds of strong and easily angered mammals". We're the sort of pacifist who shoots back, the kind of folks who don't start a fight but usually make sure that it's finished one way or another.

Now I write songs about hiding bodies, getting pushed down wells or junkyard lovers instead of dreaming about them. It's more fun than dreaming about it.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

More Cyclops Head Carvings

Got a show coming up at EVP coffee soon. Here's some of what's going up later this week.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Pain in Maine

It seems the majority of Maine voters are much like the majority of Wisconsin voters, thick minded homophobes who talk about freedom and how great we are as a country, but can't stand the idea of icky folks like Kori and I having equal rights.

To that 52 percent of Maine voters, I say, in the words of Dick Cheney, Go Fuck Yourself. But I'd add, please do it with a shovel handle wrapped in barb wire.
To the folks who actually believe everybody deserves to be equal and who got out and voted, thanks, and sooner or later the pig headed creeps who voted against us will lose, die off or give up.
I read somewhere on the web that the college age voters on Maine's biggest campus voted over 80 percent in favor of us queers being equal. It's just a matter of time until the American Taliban, the Mormons and the professional soul suckers and child abusers known as The Catholic church become a tiny, shrieking minority that give up and die off.
I never expected we'd be as far as we are in this country with LBGT rights. Thirty or forty years ago they still would have locked up folks for being queer in a mental institute. Now we're arguing over gay marriage.
That's an amazing amount of progress in just my lifetime, considering that most of humanity seems obtuse, dumb or distracted, or in the case of the 30 percent of this country that has teabagger/hard right rethuglican brain pans, many of whom are barking mad, violent jerks.
Things are getting better in some ways, for sure. I know I've gone from having an uneasy and creepy feeling about most of humanity to feeling like only about half of the earthlings around me are dumb as a box of hammers and just plain mean spirited.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

HyVee Vs. Woodman's

This is not a photo of the meat department at Woodman's.
I went to the new HyVee grocery store today. I was out to shave some big monkeys at Menard's, the home of obnoxious ads, cheap crappy lumber and odd semi-worthless crap and decided to hang a right into the giant parking lot in front of the new store that used to be K-Mart.
It's impressive. But sort of the way a beached whale is the first few days it's on the beach. In a year or so, if the economy keeps going the way it has been, it's going to be more like a whale that's been on the beach in the hot sun for a few weeks.
The store has giant aisles, huge bright lights everywhere, incredibly tall ceilings, the joint reminds me of an over lit NFL stadium with grocery aisles in it.
It's jammed with premade everything, from chopped up fresh fruit to a deli counter that wraps around half the store along the outside wall. All of it pretty spendy compared to Costco or Woodman's.

Four bucks for a chicken salad sandwich, though? I know they were two for one today, but damn, it wasn't a four dollar sandwich, and it looked a lot better than it tasted.
Everybody there was big smiles, helpful to the point of irritating. I didn't even make eye contact, because after the third or fourth person gave me a big smile and a "may I help you", I wanted to run screaming from the store. I think they were pumping aerosol Prozac into the joint, or maybe spiking the staff coffee with meth and lorazapam.
Or maybe everybody there was grimly happy to have a job. Not a lot of them going around in this jobless recovery.
And it was jammed packed, sort of like opening day at an amusement park, full of people shuffling around like freshly dead zombies, picking up 8 dollar a pound cheese, scarfing up samples of stuff like hungry dogs.
I hated it. It was pretentious, too big, and too full of crap. Since when to Kettle Chips belong in the freakin' health food section? And damn, I don't know many folks who can afford the high priced deli and salad bar. At 6 bucks a pound, no less.
In short, it was the kind of joint that makes my low rent, cook from scratch/eat less processed food mentality weep for the future. Who the hell buys pre-popped popcorn? Not my income bracket.
I prefer Woodman's dingy, crowded under lit mosh pit. They sell weirder brands of food, offer stuff in bulk, everybody on staff but the deli and checkout folks ignore you, a plus when you're not in the mood for happy face clerks, and the whole vibe makes me feel like I'm in the first Resident Evil movie, the one where it's filmed in the basement of Raccoon City and you have to fight off hordes of angry fast zombies. It's a giant freak show with low ceilings, a multi ethnic crew working the joint, and a much cheaper bill at the end of it. And nobody beats Woodman's liquor store for sheer entertainment and cheap prices.

In the long run, both Woodman's and HyVee are still stores selling tons of crap, unsustainable stores that would be 1/4 the size they are if people actually started cooking most of their food instead of eating processed food products. I bet if you took the corn syrup and corn products and salt and additives from the food in either joint and piled them up, you'd have about two thirds of the contents of both places. There's something to be said for cool ranch Doritos and a bottle of Jolt, but the levels of sheer junk in both places are a stupidly high, and it's no wonder we have a fucked up society when you look at the garbage we shove down out gullets that didn't even exist in my grandparent's diets.

Monday, November 02, 2009

52 Vs. 32

Random Thought of the day:

The difference between reading apocalyptic fiction when you're fifty two and when you're 32 is that you realize that you've gotten old enough to be one of those geezers who croaks off from some unexpected stroke or heart attack, or you're just too old and physically worn out to do as much work as it would take to survive.
But I think I'd want to stick around as long as it was a societal collapse and not an asteroid/nuke war/nanotech accident, at least as long as the booze, bullets, beans,bong hits and ibuprofen lasted.
Do we get to choose what messy end we get? I vote for something less messy than a zombie war or mushroom clouds if we do.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Elly with Flower

If I wasn't already grown up, I'd want to be this amazing when I grew up.
Ellyn with flower, on her parent's land near Sparta in September.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Isn't Family A Wonderful Thing?

Not my actual family. But pretty close.

My mother's oldest child somehow got the impression he's an only child. He's a prickly curmudgeon with an undercurrent of contempt and disdain for the rest of us. A 62 year old little boy who drinks, smokes, rides his fancy Harley Davidson around with an aging boomer crowd of contractors and other middle class creeps up in the Fox Valley.
There's something in the water up there that makes people homophobic-Jesus loving-John Birch Society-Racists. Not all of them, but a lot of them. He's soaked in it, a republican thug who sneers like Dick Cheney, sputters out buzz words like "Chappaquiddick" or "Nancy Pelosi Liberal Values" like they mean something. When the subject of how fucked up Iraq is comes up,, he sputters out "Saddam was a Bad Man!" like it's supposed to justify mass murder and destruction.

He's a thug. He's been one his whole life. And for the last 40 years, on some level, I craved a connection with him, mostly because I grew up with the mistaken concept that blood family means something. It does for my Mother. She's got an amazing connection to her siblings to this day. They see each other all the time, laugh, have dinner, hang out all the time. It's what I saw growing up and thought was the norm.
But it's not the norm. And it's taken me years to realize that I will never be connected to my brother. Mom used to tell me to stop in and see him on the way to see her further north. When I did, he'd spit coffee on my shoes, insult me and I wrote it off to the family penchant for being smart asses. I remember when I was in my late teens, something I said pissed him off and he wound up slamming me against a wall. I should have known then there was something broken in him. But you're supposed to love your family and forgive, I was told.

But today I decided to stop that cycle of bullshit, to stop being a part of it, although I suspect Mom will be very hurt that I didn't go to my sister's 60th birthday party. I told them I was sick. And I did feel sick. Not just the tail end of this flu bug I've had, though. Sick to my stomach that I felt like one more thing out of big brother's mouth and I'd smash him in the head and kick him off the 19th story balcony at my sister's condo.
Our family would never admit it, but we have a lot of rage and anger and a history of violence. I suspect we're not uncommon, but denying the existence of a violent streak is a truly human habit. My long dead father got in a fistfight with my Uncle Richard who I never met before I was born and they didn't talk again for another 40 or so years.
My dad was a screamer and a laughter and lived large, mixing intensity with a sense of humor. But my eldest sibling somehow lost a lot of the old man's laughing side. Or maybe he's not a thoughtless and subtle homophobic creep, and among his pals and the "normal" folks he's a charming sweet guy.
Yeah, right. Never mind.
I have noticed that Sweetie and I do push a lot of buttons in folks with our brand of queer, although making other people comfortable by not being yourself is a way to madness, illness and an early death.
But I feel like there are some lakes of shit you have to stop swimming in if you want to be happy, or at least want to overcome feeling the family rage and anger.
It's never easy walking away from family, but it's harder to cling to the idea that after a lifetime of having coffee spit on your shoes, being dismissed for being weird, and just being around the angry spite filled bozo radiation that comes from old white baby boomer guys that anything is going to change.
I will never understand why my dead cousin, my dead uncles and my brother are so mad. They got it all, power, money, control over their lives and the right to marry who they want, and to not be given the beat down for being queer or of color. In a lot of ways, they own the world, but still they hate, spit on and hold nothing but anger and disgust for folks not like them. Why so often I feel like they just wait to pick a fight with somebody, often me.
And guess what, fucking Thanksgiving is just three weeks down the road!
I get to go to my nephew's house and guess who's going to be there?
Big Brother!
I am for sure leaving axe handles and my very large pistol at home. And I'm sort of glad that my nephew only has a two story house without a balcony, because I doubt I'll be full of warm fuzzy feelings. For Mom's sake I'll try and be civil. But I still carry around the same family anger issues. And I will fucking stomp any more bullshit like a roach, or leave.
Holidays are such piles of expectation, but with family they're more often steaming piles of shit.
Sometimes so much shit the happier family members feel compelled to dig through the pile to find the pony.
Good times ahead!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Late October

There's something about a grey late October day filled with rain and mud that really tweaks my moods. The way the daylight shrinks, that blizzard of leaves and the rustling wind blowing the last skeletons of my garden around, the sound of the tarp covering our nightmare motor home project flapping in the wind, (and I swear, I can hear that pile of shit yearning to start rotting again where I've repaired it...) all of it brings up a sense of bleak frustration and a low grade numbing of the soul.

It starts to remind me of my seven winters in Seattle cleaning toilets and watching mold grow on everything, pampering the egos of rich old ladies and cleaning toilets for lawyers and Microsoft geeks. Feeling like my brain was about to jump out of my skull and start scampering around the walls leaving streaks of blood and grey matter.
Living in a city still sometimes feels weird. Growing up in the north woods with a caretaker family meant that fall was a time of closing down the summer camp, tending to the herd of horses we kept of trail rides, stacking wood and the yearly ritual of butchering deer and all the bustling of deer hunters, taking out the piers and propping the roofs up to keep the snow from caving in the old buildings like the chapel and dining hall.
These days, living in Madison, getting ready for winter just means putting plastic over the windows and buying a few tubes of salt. No rituals, no hard outdoor work besides raking leaves, nothing to make you feel connected to the place you live.

I miss those fall rituals, although in all the years I went hunting with the family, I never put bullets in the Winchester after I had one misfire while unloading it. I realized that I had no interest in actually killing a deer, just in being outdoors and connected.
The world's changed a lot since my youth. We push buttons to warm up the house, buy meat from the grocery store that tastes like shrink wrapped misery and chemicals, and even in these times of financial disaster dine on stuff flown from the other side of the world.
We stopped making clothes, fixing our cars, buy most things premade and traded a connection with where we were for a facebook account where we post pointless shit to stay connected to people who we left behind long ago, usually ignoring the fact that things in the past were left there for a reason.

It bugs me, although there's a shitload of things about life now that are a hell of a lot better, and I have no desire to go back or spend time bitching about how everything's no damn good these days.

Everybody works too hard at things that leave them exhausted, stressed out and too often, worn out from sitting in front of glowing boxes. I feel like we lost our sense of balance, that we've been sold a bill of goods that says it's more important to own a house than have a home, to have a nuclear family than a tribe, and that we've lost something when everybody's more worried about having a job than a life. Things weren't as crazy that way 30 years ago. Somewhere along the line it seems most folks started reacting instead of acting on their lives, and we started letting corporations and marketing do our thinking for us.

Our society sure seems bent into something weird to me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sick Bitch

I got the swine flu. It sucks. It takes three weeks to get over the worst of it, and it leaves you feeling like you ran a marathon for six months while living on canned corn and speed while a fat man sits on your chest and a tiny midget has taken up residence in your skull, used a heat gun to cook your eyes into hard boiled eggs, then plants both feet on the back of your eyes as he shits two gallons of snot a day into your sinuses.
It ate my October. And my September was so unremarkable I can't remember a thing we did during it worth mentioning. And Kori's work was so busy that we didn't get to go camping, although we were both sick enough that it just seemed like too much work to go anywhere.
It's been a depressing few months, that's for sure. August was insane, barking mad morons marching and complaining all over the country without a clue, bad news leaking out all over the place like a septic tank vent, and our nice articulate President turns out to be a hack in bed with big Pharma and the financial industry, who has no intention of changing anything about what the hell went wrong with our country the last ten years.
Two wars goin' on? Yup. Bailing out bankers without regulating? Check! Acting like the advocate for gay rights like he said he would? Nope. Pushing for active enforcement of regulations by government agencies? Nope.
Too much suck all around. And I keep having this feeling that it's all going to turn for the worse, the economy, the climate and the culture, a sense of dread that tells me we're headed for a bigger crash.
But hey, if you hang out on Facebook, you'd never know we were headed for a world of shit. To them, it's all good. I wish I could be that myopic. Maybe I just need a lobotomy.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Carved Heads

Tired of working on the motorhome, I returned to carving heads and did my first head with a torso included.
Many people ask me why I like to carve cyclops and pinhead figures.
Some surmise it's a deep internal weirdness, others think because my twin sister had multiple birth defects, I am obsessed.
Others offer conjecture that that traumatic childhood event with the Jehovah's Witness Circus clown with one eye and 12 toes warped me for life.
But they're wrong. It's because I have a four inch disc grinder, and it's hard to make two eyeballs fit when you can only carve a four inch eye on a six inch wide slab of wood.
Plus, a pinhead cyclops can be dead sexy. Oooo la la!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cabbage, Savoy, Rocks.

I picked this a week and a half ago, and it was damn tasty.
My cabbages are really, really happy this year.
My tomatoes are too, although they're coming on slow.
My potato towers look great too, I hope they work out. You're supposed to be able to grow 30 to 40 pounds in one three foot round by three foot tall wire tower, and it sure looks like it's working.
Might be a record year for hops and grapes, too. And last weekend, Kori and I picked a five gallon bucket full of cherries at our lovely pal Shannon's house, pitted them all and froze them. All but the gallon or so we gave away at EVP after picking them.
Next up, kale, garlic ramps and grapes.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Baby Photo of Gollum

A rare baby photo of the young Gollum, before he went on to infamy, shame, wretched despair and death.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Summer with a hole in it

For the first time in a long time, this summer seems boring, hot and sort of empty.
Maybe I need a new crop of musician pals, a lot of the old ones are moving on. But it seems like a lot of work and I think it might be time to take a break from it. We ended the MF7 on a high note at least, although I suspect we'd have had a good long run if Michael wasn't being pulled west.
Fry and I might work something up, but for the first time in a long time I don't feel like there's any heartbeat left in my musical mojo. And I miss Bess's fiddle playing, a lot. She's taken up gutiar playing and pretty much stopped playing fiddle. I miss the energy she pumped out of that violin when we were on. I'm happy she's found a new interest, but wish it hadn't pushed out so much of what we were doing I grooved on.
Everything else is marching onward, my two gardens are going great, the motorhome is about half done, and even though it's been hellish hot for a while, I still have AC in the bedroom and the workshop, and Kori's still got a regular paycheck, and we might even get a month this fall to hit the road if it works out for her work schedule. We're both healthy and got no major issues.
But I sure am missing our usual crew and the music we did, and Sunday dinners and my art /music mob. They're all much busier or loaded down with kids who take an insane amount of energy and time. Or they've drifted away as friends do. One thing you learn after fifty years or so is that nobody stays where you found them or is where you left them.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Burn Notice, TV that doesn't suck

I want to be Fiona when I grow up. Really.

I tend to find most TV pretty stupefying. I never loved Raymond, no matter how much they said everybody did, and never found much to connect with with Sienfield, and missed whole decades of pop culture references after I ditched my cable and started wasting huge chunks of my time on the internet or playing sloppy music on my noisy guitar.
But I tried out an episode of Burn Notice a few months ago from Netflix, and it's a fun ride. Good writing, a lot of sexy as hell adult actors over thirty, and clever writing make it worth checking out. They're doing good things with the story arcs the actors are gliding through, and I am a sucker for anything with Bruce Campbell in it.
I just hovered down most of season two in a week, and it's worth watching. I even love the minor characters like Barry the money launderer, Seymore the arms dealer and the regulars playing the long suffering FBI agents. And I want to be Fiona, the trigger happy ex girlfriend when I grow up, even if I'm feeling like I'm old enough to be the Sharon Gless, the former Cagney and Lacey actress who plays Michael Weston's mom.
It's worth checking out if just for the McGyver style action and the whip smart voice overs.
Think Travis McGee meets James Bond meets Jason Bourne with some B movie chins and you've got the picture.
I've been sort of lost since Deadwood, Battlestar Glactica and Carnivale when off the air when it comes to having my brain riveted down and sucked out by the boob tube. This one's fun.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What to do while waiting for the collapse, Via Club Orlov

Things are getting weird. Anybody paying attention sees it. There are a lot of people out there in the media blowing smoke up our collective asses, saying the green shoots of a new growth in the old economy are on the way.
But record numbers of people are losing their jobs each month, the auto manufacturer's wave of shit has yet to really hit, and California's about to go bankrupt, yet still we bail out the IMF and Europe's banks and all the crooks in our own banking system.

So here's a bit of wisdom to consider from kollapsnik at Club Orlov, go read the rest if you want a new perspective.

So what are we to do in the meantime, while we wait for collapse, followed by good things? It's no use wasting your energy, running yourself ragged and ageing prematurely, so get plenty of rest, and try to live a slow and measured life.
One of the ways industrial society dominates us is through the use of the factory whistle: few of us work in factories, but we are still expected to work a shift. If you can avoid doing that, you will be ahead.
Maintain your freedom to decide what to do at each moment, so that you can do each thing at the most opportune time. Specifically try to give yourself as many options as you can, so that if any one thing doesn't seem to be working out, you can switch to another. The future is unpredictable, so try to plan so as to be able to change your plans at any time. Learn to ignore all the people who earn their money by telling you lies.
Thanks to them, the world is full of very bad ideas that are accepted as conventional wisdom, so watch out for them and come to your own conclusions.

Lastly, people who lack a sense of humour are going to be in for a very hard time, and can drag down those around them. Plus, they are just not that funny. So avoid people who aren't funny, and look for those who can laugh at the world no matter what happens

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Last MF7 Gig

We really did tear the roof off and burn it down to the waterline.
The club is sort of lame, a former Mexican Restaurant made into a generic lounge, bad acoustics and an indifferent crowd of regulars, but I got 22 of my pals to show up for our last blowout.
Mikey hit it hard right out of the first song, his amp and his head cranked up. We didn't slow down until the third set, and even that set, played to a rapidly emptying bar was pretty wild.
There were lots of vocals shouted through megaphones, plenty of his stylish manic preacher rants and half the time the songs didn't end where they usually do, instead oozing into another song or rap pulled from his monkeybrain.
Fry and Jonathan were pretty damn solid and more than a little on fire, too. It was sad thinking this might be the last time we all played together, and I don't think anybody held back anything all night.
I love Jonathan's drumming, he's got a great ability to morph one song into another seamlessly, and Fry's right there on his throb, solid as hell and fun as hell to watch, the pole we all do our dance on.
I blew myself out, wrecked for two days afterward. Michael hurt his knee, and I still haven't heard from Fry since we kicked him out of the house at four am on Sunday morning.
At one point in the evening I found myself jumping around and tripping over my guitar cord, disconnecting Michael's amp and nearly falling head first into the wall.
Thanks to everybody who bought me beers, shots and came out to The lazy oaf. It meant a lot to me to see you guys, and that bar is in one ugly ass stretch of nothing, across eight lanes of busy road, both East Washington and Hwy 151. Not an easy place to bike to, but a lot of you guys did. You all rock, my pretties.

Fourteen Years Ago Today I Fell In Love

Me n' Sweetie riding the Ferry to Bremerton a few months after we met. Some days I miss Seattle. In that photo I look like a cross between Janis Joplin, Ozzy Osborne and a demented elf. Kori looks like a red haired goddess with a dash of Joni Mitchell thrown in.
She walked into a room full of people, sat down behind me and that was all she wrote. Quiet, long red hair, strong and with a low voice, she really struck me as a wild creature and sucked me right in.
After the meeting was over, I asked her if she wanted to go get a burger, she said yes. We walked over to a Kidd Valley burger joint, and I talked at her for three hours in that plastic seated, brightly lit fast food joint.
I walked her back to her car, got her number, gave her a hug and headed home. About five miles in the wrong direction later I realized I'd hit the edge of the Puget Sound and headed back east towards my shithole basement room north of Green Lake.
We went on two more dates, on the second of those I jumped her bones, and we've never spent another night apart since unless we were in different towns.
And we've never gotten in a fight in 14 years.
How damn lucky can one get?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sick, a short film by my Michael my bandmate

Mikey showed me this the other day. He's a sick fucker, in the best sort of way one can be twisted. Watch it, my pretties.
And come to our gig this Saturday, or I'll never make you another sandwich again, or fix your piece of crap guitar for free again, as I will tear out my Mr.Nice Girl roots and pour salt and cesium on them and become a full time curmudgeon capitalist money grubbing every body's gotta pay and the world owes me sort of creep instead of the gruff yet nurturing asshole I am.
Note: Living in Canada, being off in California, being pregnant or having some other lame ass party plan is not an acceptable excuse. Show up, or nice girl gets two in the chest and one in the head, old school Soprano gangster style.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Self Portrait, because it's my blog and I can

Not bad for a fifty one year old.
Yesterday whilst buying parts for the RV project at Menards, a cute little girl of about eight with her dad looked at me and said, "Daddy, she's strong".
I found this amusing, and almost accurate.
Speaking of the motorhome, I need to stop muckin' about here and get back to it.
'nuff said for now.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tips on how to be an asshole

Some fine tips here on how to be a creep and a jerk.
While I don't pretend to be a first rate asshole, I do enjoy someone who is good at it. Until they're better at it than me, anyway.

Be prepared to face the consequences. Someone might punch you or you might have to go looking for another job. Always be ready. The life of an asshole is always interesting with higher highs and lower lows than the life of the wuss.
Practice your laugh. You need to be able to both smirk and cackle obnoxiously without coming off like a B-movie villain or the fat kid from the Simpsons. This is very important. You don't want to be a gloomy miserable asshole who never smiles, but a happy asshole who loves being better than everyone else.
Pick your targets. Don't be an asshole to your grandmother or to small children. Don't be too much of an asshole to people you have actual power over. The best people to use your full range of asshole skills on are your bosses and attractive young women.
Have standard go-to lines. Here an example of a great line with a good story behind it: If you're going to be a dog, be a Rottweiler. If you're going to be a bitch, wear a skirt. Don't necessarily steal that one, but have a few like that which can be called upon in a variety of situations.
Be proactive. If someone denies you a favor, reacting with insults just makes you look like resentful loser. Be an asshole before you ask them for the favor, and if they deny it continue acting the same way you did before.
Be confident. You want people to know that you're an asshole because you're so great that you can get away with it. Confidence is key. Without confidence you look like an angry basement-dwelling loser who might as well be an asshole because no one ever liked you in the first place anyway.
Confuse and confound. Directly and openly state extreme things to get people off-balance. If asked who you voted for in an election, say you did not vote because you oppose democracy. People are used to supporters of other parties and know how to react to them; they are not used to those who despise all political parties.
Escalate. Many people are comfortable trading barbs, especially indirect and subtle ones, but will be cowed by anything direct and blunt.
Practice, practice, practice. Take every opportunity to say inappropriate things for little reason - tell dirty jokes around women, mock short people etc. That will make it far easier when you need to tell your boss something he really doesn't want to hear.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Our Last MF7 Gig This Weekend

Too soon our musical freakshow is ending, with our combo's gristly beating musical heart motoring off to San Diego next month. But we have one more gig this Saturday at The Lazy Oaf up on Stoughton Road near East Washington.
Michael, Fry, Jonathan and I have had a short but insane and throbbing time, making a four backed musical beast that has left me amazed at what can happen when four people who listen to each other get into a monster creative groove.
There will be blood, sweat and tears as we bash out our last set with all four of us. That's our body fluids I'm talking about, not the moldy oldies band, by the way.

I'd love it if a lot of you showed up to give our band a good send off, since I suspect we'll be pulling out all the stops (and the megaphone and all the oddly stylish hats)for the last show.
And I doubt I'll ever have such an amazingly good bunch of folks with this much energy to play with again any time soon. I hope we can be what Michael tells me every time I ask him what he wants me to play on any of his songs we do:
"be brilliant"
We're playing three full sets, starting around nine thirty as far as I know right now, and there's no cover.
Here's a link with a map.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Pregnant Women Are Smug

Pregnant Women are Smug from Erika Lindhome on Vimeo.

Somebody else thinks almost the same thing as I do.

But babies are wonderful!

So is composted manure, though.

Hint of Dementia

"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." Ralph Waldo Emerson