Category Archives: Relationships

These damned ego-warts

Hi readers. 

Although most of you probably figure I’m just a quiet, well-adjusted old hermit living out in the boondocks with all the ups and downs of life fairly settled quietly into my guts, I’ve revealed parts of my life here to suggest otherwise.  I’ve lived through enough emotional storms and shed enough skins to force me out of a lot of the usual hideyholes, to hold things up into the light and examine them.

But some things still come out in the dark of night.  Some things are still damned difficult to accept.  Pride, ego, and self-worth are powerful forces.

Around this time in 1992, I left a 25 year marriage and a 20 year career behind, along with dozens of long-time friends, pals, hunting partners, acquaintances, and both sides of a joint-family.  I began a new career in Santa Fe, a new life.  All secure in the knowledge the extended family and friends remaining behind were part of my life in which I’d been and remained, important.

All of which I eventually discovered was an illusion.  For 2.5 decades I’d believed I was a vital part of those interactions and relationships.  Kids, young adult nephews and neices  I’d coddled and bounced on my knee peeled out of my life like layers of an onion.  Most I never heard from again.

I was a long time realizing I’d merely been tolerated, been a piece of furniture in their lives.  Tolerated because of my proximity to my ex-wife.

Even for a confident human being such as myself, it was a tough pill to swallow.  I gradually rebuilt my life with a far deeper skepticism than I’d previously enjoyed concerning my own worth and my place in the lives of others.

Which resulted in my becoming a hermit.  Or at least, contributed to my becoming a hermit.  I no longer assume I’m important in the lives of other human beings and get my satisfaction in knowing I’m at least important to the cats.  Because cats, though sometimes dishonest, aren’t capable of the depth and duration of dishonesty humans indulge constantly.

For me, all of this distilled emerges as a statement I spent at least 25 years of a 70 year live being insignificant in the lives of others.  And a painful awareness that life is entirely too important and too short to be wasted in insignificance.  A determination in the direction of significance measured in teaspoons of reality, as opposed to 55-gallon drums of  dishonesty and self-delusion.

Teaspoons measured in contracts with cats not equipped to lie.  Teaspoons, I find, don’t spill away as much life in the discovery when they’re found to be just another ego-wart of pride and self-importance.

Old Jules

The Runaways – 1947

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I wrote this post a year-or-two ago, but never posted it because it was overly long.  But because the nightmare post below seems to lead here, and the only news I have is Tabby-news, I’ll post it despite the length. 

The Runaways 1947

Causey, New Mexico, was a dot in the road.  Pavement from nowhere to nowhere running between a scattering of frame houses, a small roadside store and gas station.  A rock schoolhouse, a church, and a few rusting hulks of worn out farm machinery in the weeds.

Our cottage was on the same side of the road as the schoolhouse.  Most of the village was on the other side, including the windmill across the road from our house where my sister and I went for water and carrying the bucket between us to tote it home. 

To my tiny, four-year-old mind, the center of town was the store, diagonally across the road, to the left of the windmill.  Everything of importance happened there.  Cars from other places stopped for gas.  The store had Milk Nickles.  Ice cream on a stick, covered with chocolate.  Pure heaven that didn’t come often.

If the store was heaven, behind our house was hell.  The toilet.  A ramshackle tower with dust flecks floating in the shafts of light that came through the cracks between the boards, light coming through underneath where the ground had caved away from the wall.  Home of black widow spiders and the occasional rattlesnake.  The place was a chamber of terrors for me.  I was always certain I’d fall through the hole to the horrors beneath when I used it.

Our little cottage had two rooms.  A sort of kitchen, living area in front also had a little counter where my mom tried to operate a little variety store.  Keychains, trinkets, a handkerchief or two.  Things that wouldn’t be found across the street at the store. 

She was also a seamstress.  Most of my memories of that time include her huddled over a treddle sewing machine working on the felt curtains she was making for the stage of the school auditorium.  Mom was a woman twice divorced.  In 1947, that was no small thing.  In that time and place broken marriage was considered to be the fault of an untrained, unskilled, unwise, probably immoral woman.  Two divorces, three children, and no resources made my mother the subject of mistrust by the woman of the community, and disdain by the men.

Memories have probably faded and altered with the half century since all this happened.  The perspectives of a child plagued with fears and insecurities seem real in my recollections, but they, too, have probably been twisted with the turns and circles the planet has made around the sun; with the endless webs of human interactions, relationships formed and ended.

My sisters went to school in that village.  Frances, my sister who died a few years ago, must have been in the second grade.  Becky, maybe in the 5th.  I hung around doing whatever preschoolers do in that environment when everyone else is busy.  I have flashing memories of standing by the road throwing rocks at cars; trying to get the little girl down the road to show me her ‘wet-thing’. 
 
I remember being lonely; of wishing aloud my mom would give me a little brother to play with.  “I wish I could,” she’d reply, “but you tore me up so much when you were born, I can’t have any more kids.”

That trauma of my birth was a favorite theme of my mom.  She was fond of telling me how the doctors were long arriving when I was ready to be born;  how a nurse and my dad held her legs down so I couldn’t emerge until the proper people were there.  How it damaged her insides and caused her to have to undergo all kinds of surgery later.

I recall I felt pretty badly about that. 

During harvest season it seemed to me the entire community turned out to work in the fields.  We’d all gather in the pre-dawn at the store, then ride together to the cotton fields in the back of an open truck.  Mom and the girls were all there, along with the neighbors and some of their kids.  Two of the kids were about my age:  Wayne and Sharon Landrum.

In retrospect I doubt we pre-schoolers helped much.  My mom had put a strap on a pillowcase and promised a Milk-Nickle every time it was filled.  This was probably more to keep me busy and out of trouble than it was to pay for the ice cream bar.  I can’t imagine that a pillowcase would have held the ten pounds of cotton it would have taken to pay a nickle.

The lure of sweets weren’t sufficient to occupy smaller kids, I suppose.  There came a time when Wayne, Sharon, and I wandered off from the field.  At first it was just to take a walk, but the road was long and we must have made some turns.  Before too long we’d gotten so far from the farm we didn’t know the way back.  We were frightened and kept moving.

In the end we found the lights of a farmhouse sometime after dark.  The family brought us inside and fed us something.  We sat around a stove trying to keep warm until some of the searchers came and picked us up. 

In the morning at the store all those field workers who’d had to lose part of a day of wages wanted vivid descriptions of the spankings we got.  They wanted to make sure.

That was my first experience with running away, at least on my own part.  My mom had done some of it, running away from my dad and her second husband.  My dad had done some of it, letting his kids go off, first to Arizona into the shelter of a brutal, drunken step-dad, then into the shack in Causey.

Afterthought, July 9, 2013

Reading through it this morning I find it difficult to create a context for this anecdote that isn’t submerged and overwhelmed by 21st Century value judgements and popular perspectives created by generations of affluence and ease for the general population of the US. 

This isn’t a tale of ‘oh shit, we had it hard’, ‘oh damn, life is sure tough’, whining and complaining or just bragging.  It’s a statement of perspective.  In 1947 things were a lot different in a lot of ways. 

Every adult had been alive through the Great Depression.  Hardship was no stranger to most of them, and the yardsticks for measuring hardship would have all placed what happened with our tiny family as ‘challenging’.  Not easy, but certainly not ‘hard’.

What our little capsule of humanity went through wasn’t poverty.  And what’s measured today as poverty sure as hell wouldn’t have qualified, by any standard that existed at that time.  Compared to the conditions a huge part of humanity was enduring in 1947 we could as accurately been called wealthy, as poor.

Old Jules

The nightmares of acceptance

high water

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Probably I was four years old, must have been 1947, I was a kid with a recurring nightmare.  I was walking along a raised roadway with my mom, my granddad, and my two sisters.  A deep gravel pit reached alongside the road and my feet slipped, I fell and began sliding into the pit screaming for help.  None of them looked around, none paused, they all just kept walking and I kept sliding and screaming until I’d wake.

With all these decades of hindsight I find that dream of a four-year-old amazing.  I had no business knowing that much about people, about life, about my particular gene-pool at that age. 

At the time my mom was between marriages and we were living in Causey, New Mexico in a two-room shack with no running water, an outdoor toilet, maybe no electricity, though we might have had electricity.  I can’t recall.  My granddad’s presence in the area was the only thing to draw us there.  My mom was doing anything, seamstress work, pulling cotton, trying to operate a miniscule variety store in the house to earn a living. 

A deeply troubled young woman with three kids and almost certainly more nightmares of her own to keep her company than anyone purely needs.  Her financial woes gradually improved when she married again, but my thought is her mental processes turned concurrently to lies and manipulation.  Maybe they’d never been otherwise.

Such a woman!  I don’t believe my sisters ever recovered from the experience of having her for a mother, of always being caught in the vice of ‘love your mother’ and that mother being a destructive, master manipulative sociopath.  I believe I did recover, but it’s just me believing it.  I do know that when she died a couple of years back and I heard the news I felt nothing but a sense of deep relief, of peace.

I suppose it was the neighbor got me thinking of this.  He came down bringing a cup of expensive coffee before dusk.  As we sat he told me about some trial in Florida of a man who killed someone who was beating him up in a parking lot.  An angry tale of violence and racial politics and justice.

As he described it to me I remembered something else he’d told me a while back, off-hand and matter-of-fact, about how his father had murdered two, maybe three people he [the neighbor] knew of.  One a whiskey salesman who didn’t get his purchases for the bar he operated delivered.  Beat him to death on the sidewalk in front of his bar.  Another salesman he beat badly might have lived, might have died.  I can’t recall for certain because when I heard the story I was still digesting the first salesman.

The next homicide by his father he was sure of involved a Mexican [or at least a Hispanic] who did farm work.  Evidently screwed up a switch on an irrigation pump.  That night the neighbor says the father took his .22 pistol and went out somewhere.  The next day the Mexican farm worker was found dead on the railroad tracks shot nine times with a .22, then run over by a train.

The jokes around town proclaimed it to be the most elaborate suicide ever.

When he told me this story it didn’t include any value judgements, no overtones, no repudiation, no anger of the sort contained in the story of the trial in Florida.

I suppose an infinite number of monkeys pounding an infinite number of typewriters will indeed eventually write the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, as someone claimed.  I’ve seen enough families and enough parenting this lifetime to accept that some families and some parenting must fall within the ‘normal’ part of the bell-shaped curve.

But to go a step further and suggest there’s enough ‘normal’ floating around among the father and mother components to celebrate seems to me to be a possible overstatement.  I count myself lucky my nightmares were only my own.  When Bobby Dylan’s song offered to let me be in his dream if I’d let him be in mine I was never tempted.  Still ain’t.

Old Jules

Learning to trust dishonesty

liberty

Me:  “Okay Tabby.  This has gone on long enough.   Time we had a heart-to-heart about whatever’s bothering you.”

 Tabby:  “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Me:  “That’s obvious enough.  But the fact is, I’m holding all the cards.  We’re going to work this out, or you’re going to find yourself out of a job.”

Tabby:  “I knew it was going to come to that.  You’ve never liked me.”

Me:  “Well, it’s true I didn’t pick you to be part of the clan.  You’ve never been one I’d have deliberately selected.  But I’ve tried my best to be dishonest about it consistently and not show it.”

Tabby:  “The other cats have never liked me, never accepted me.”

Me:  “Yeah, you’ve bullied them and they’ve bullied you.  I’ve had to pull you off Niaid, and I’ve had to pull Hydrox off you.  I’ve tried not to show a preference.  I even used to have to pull you off Shiva, your own mother. 

“But I’ve also held you upside down, sweet talked you, petted you, treated you as affectionately as all the rest of them were treated anytime you’d allow it.  You quit allowing it.  I didn’t quit trying.”

Tabby: That’s because I finally realized you’re a liar.  That you were being dishonest.  That you really don’t like me at all.”

Me:  “Yeah, but I’ve been consistently dishonest.  I’ve tried to hide the fact I don’t like you much during those times I didn’t and I worked hard at liking you.  If you want to stay around here and be a part of the ‘us’, Hydrox, Niaid, you and me, you’re going to have to trust me to keep on being dishonest.”

Tabby“I’m not sure I can do that.”

Me: If you can’t you stand a good shot at me starting to be honest.  I’m an old Jellicle cat man from ‘way back.  You’re a Tabby.  I learned to love your mom, even though she’s a Tabby.  I’ll keep working at it, and meanwhile I’ll keep being dishonest.  But don’t push it too far.  The clock’s running.”

Christmas morning assumptions to all

Old Sol

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I assume all of you are responding to the Universe in whatever ways suit you best this morning, and I wish that on you with profound enthusiasm and cheer.

For those of you who haven’t noticed, things have changed a lot here on earth since last Christmas.  For instance, the barycenters of earth and moon:

                                   Earth                                 
    
                     Barycentric Equatorial Positions                    
                    Mean Equator and Equinox of J2000.0                  
    
   Date        Time               X                Y                Z  
        (UT1) 
             h  m   s             AU               AU               AU
2012 Dec 25 00:00:00.0    –  0.059985055   +  0.898520188   +  0.389478777

                                   Earth                                 
    
                     Barycentric Equatorial Positions                    
                    Mean Equator and Equinox of J2000.0                  
    
   Date        Time               X                Y                Z  
        (UT1) 
             h  m   s             AU               AU               AU
2011 Dec 25 00:00:00.0    –  0.048871098   +  0.900279920   +  0.390286717

                                   Moon                                  
    
                     Barycentric Equatorial Positions                    
                    Mean Equator and Equinox of J2000.0                  
    
   Date        Time               X                Y                Z
        (UT1) 
             h  m   s             AU               AU               AU
2012 Dec 25 00:00:00.0    –  0.058478965   +  0.900591248   +  0.390372982

                                   Moon                                  
    
                     Barycentric Equatorial Positions                    
                    Mean Equator and Equinox of J2000.0                  
    
   Date        Time               X                Y                Z
        (UT1) 
             h  m   s             AU               AU               AU
2011 Dec 25 00:00:00.0    –  0.048617062   +  0.897988672   +  0.389385589

Nothing to be alarmed about, at least not yet, but still something to keep in mind.  I’m a lot more concerned about Old Sol and that Frosty The Snowman carrot he’s got for a nose at the moment.  That can’t bode well for any of us.

However, on a more cheerful note.  Or less ominous, anyway.

I just got around to opening my latest Hawaii KONATE bulletin from December 19, expecting to find out what time it was somewhere sometime.  Instead, I got this:

human clock

time greetings

I’m not certain what to make of it.  The time might be ten minutes until twelve somewhere, or  what?  Ten pm?

Then there’s this thing declaring time is valuable and what I ought to do with mine.  What the hell do these people know about time?  If it’s so valuable, what the hell are they doing lying around pretending to be a clock?

Here I was wanting to know what time it was in Hamburg sometime last week and might be in Peking day-after-tomorrow.  Last thing I wanted Christmas morning was a lot of cryptic meaning telling me what to do with my time and people lying around somewhere sometime on an upside-down clock.

But I hope you’ll all respond to it in whatever barycentric way you choose.

The New Old Jules and the Enlightened Cats

La Cantina

Hi readers.

La Cantina Entry

A man who reads this blog sent me an email a while back offering to allow me to hook up and park mi casa where he lives in far-west Texas a night, or more if we found ourselves simpatico.  So after the WalMart parking lot in Midland, we trucked up there and said hello.

La Cantina bar

Eddie and Val, their names are.  Fine, fine, fine people.  The Coincidence Coordinators blessed me once again with an unexpected shot of reminder I’m the luckiest man alive.

I’ll digress a moment and suggest you notice the birdnests on the vigas and the droppings on the orno below.  This is the entryway into the section of their home Eddie built where they evidently spend most of their time and entertain guests.

La Cantina Fireplace

I spent a few days parked in their yard, hours of every day submerged in conversation with Eddie, Val, various relatives and neighbors, digesting my life, the flood of new learning I was doing, and a lot else, thanks mainly to Val, who was forever worrying whether I could drink some more coffee, eat some more of the fare she constantly provided, putting more wood on the fire.

La Cantina deer head

Val’s an ex-school teacher, biologist, and interesting lady.  Eddie’s an electrical engineer who spent much of his lifetime travelling all over the planet, first as a private contractor, then in a corporate capacity, then decided screw-it.  I ain’t doing this no more.

La Cantina hatrack

I met a lot of interesting people, heard a lot of intriguing world-views in that cantina while the wind howled outdoors.  I’ll be telling you more of that later.

But one question I was asked over and over during my stay.  “What the hell are you doing here?”

Soaking it up,” is the only answer comes immediately to mind.

Maybe I’m working up to continuing wossname, John Ernesto Hemingway Steinbeck, Travels With Charlie – The Brave New World For Whom The Bell Tolls.

The New Old Jules

The Burden of Guilt – “When It Rains It Pours”

when it rains

Hi again readers.

One of the things I like least about Christmas is the fact it brings out so much dialogue about how we ought to devote ourselves to making it better for those less fortunate than ourselves.  Got an email just a minute ago someone posted somewhere talking about it again.

I agree entirely with the sentiment, but it’s a killer for a man [the only one] such as myself.  I’m the most fortunate man on the planet.

So how the hell am I supposed to go about doing it? 

Everyone on the planet is less fortunate than me.  Should I start by figuring out a way to make life better for wossname, Donald Trump?  The Dallas Cowboys and those who watch them?  The American Association of Non-RV Owners?  The Federation of Human Beings Alienated From Cats?

I ain’t giving what few cats I have left to someone, no matter how unfortunate they might be.  Okay, I’m a stingyguts, but there you are.

I’m at a complete loss here, and the guilt is overwhelming.

Old Jules – Headed for the finish line