Simply Enchanting, Of Rainy Days and Melancholy

melancholy tracks

There’s something about days like today- cold, heavily overcast, with torrential rain, that makes me wish I could stay home in bed.  When I was working out this morning and had done my laps in the pool, I didn’t want to leave the hot tub.  For a fleeting moment I thought about how nice it would be to say screw it all and just plain not do anything today- or do what I want to on my own time. Until I remembered all the crap I absolutely have to do today that can’t just be blown off, that is.

This picture reminds me of the times I spent wandering the railroad tracks that went past my grandparents’ house.  Technically we kids were not supposed to go anywhere near the railroad tracks, as they were live and in use until they were pulled up some time in 1983 or so, but there were two irresistable lures that made the tracks worth the possibility of encountering an oncoming train, and/or being eaten alive by the local insect life.   As far as oncoming trains, one could generally hear and see them in more than sufficient time to get clear.  The bugs were another story. The ground around the tracks was swampy and there were plenty of sources of stagnant water for mosquitos to breed in.   The open sewage creek that ran a few yards south down in the ditch alongside the tracks could be a source of foul odor in high summer, and it was positively rancid when the water levels in the creek got low and the wind blew in the wrong direction.  There was a reason why Dad freaked out when he found us floating paper boats in the creek. We had already figured out we were floating our boats in an open air toilet when we saw the dookie floating in in the creek.  Sometimes there was toilet paper and feminine hygiene items too.   He didn’t have to warn us “not to touch the water.”   Sometimes the dookie made it downstream faster than the boats.

Railroad spikes were worth fifty cents apiece to the right buyer, (if you could find one who didn’t ask questions as to how you got railroad spikes to begin with) which was a small fortune for a kid back then.  There were bushels and bushels of black raspberries to be had (in season) and they were well within reach.  Even so, while picking berries, one still had to be wary of both poison ivy and bugs.

spikesThese were actually worth some money in 1974- don’t know if they’re worth anything today.

Probably the one time I can remember getting a good thrashing from Dad instead of just having to deal with Mom breaking wooden paddles on my ill-fated fanny, was when my sister and I (not the sadistic one) decided to take a big gym bag down to the tracks and fill it up with spikes.  Never mind she was six, I was five, and we were both small for our respective ages.  We loaded this gym bag down until we could barely carry it with all the spikes in it.  It was a good eighth of a mile from the tracks to our house, and in order to get to the house from the tracks we had to wander by the whole neighborhood lugging this thing.

Dad’s friends had spotted us, and he had gotten numerous phone calls before we were even close to getting home.  Back then a kid couldn’t cut a popcorn fart without the whole neighborhood knowing about it.  He was waiting to tan our hides the minute we dragged the spikes in the door.

Back in the day no one would hesitate to narc on other people’s kids, and there was no mollycoddling – or mercy- when it came time for the punishment.  When punishment was administered, the neighbors didn’t hear a thing.  If nothing was broken or bleeding and they couldn’t discern any flaming injuries when your parents were done with you, they figured justice had been served and that was the end of it.

black-raspberriesWe generally got away with the raspberries, though.

The raspberries went when the railroad pulled up the tracks.  It seems as if all the weeds and garbage have come back to over grow the track bed, but the last time I went wandering where the tracks used to be it was rather frightening even in broad daylight.  I spotted plenty of trash, used syringes (not the ones used for insulin, either,) used condoms, had a near-death encounter with some redneck’s pit bull, and all sorts of nastiness, but no berry bushes.

I don’t like going to where my grandparents used to live.  It’s creepy knowing there are strange people living in their house.  It’s never been a particularly nice neighborhood (although when the tracks were pulled up, the city tiled over the sewage creek, which was a bit of an improvement) but it went from ‘po folks to dangerous folks.

I can’t fault anyone for having dogs, but when I bring Clara with me (partially because she likes to explore, and partially for protection) I don’t need someone’s pit bull coming at her as if it were going to tear out her throat.  Clara is formidable (she’s half Malinois, after all) but if a pit bull really wanted to get aggressive with Clara it would be ugly, and it would break my heart to see either her or another dog injured unnecessarily.  One of the most important tasks of a dog owner is to teach good socialization skills and appropriate behavior with other dogs.  Protection breeds are more prone to dog-aggression than most, so I try to keep all my dogs’ encounters with other dogs as positive ones.  Clara is particularly well mannered with other dogs and I want to keep her that way.  Should she have a bad encounter with another dog, it would be harmful to her physical well-being as well as her mindset toward other dogs.

pit-bull-dog-pI have mulled over the possibility of getting a pittie- though I am more familiar with the herding breed mentality.

I don’t have a problem with pit bulls- or any other dog breed- when the dog is handled responsibly.  A well trained and properly socialized pittie can be a fantastic, gentle, intelligent dog, but even an ankle biter can be dangerous if it’s ill-treated and improperly trained.  A pit bull can be deadly in the wrong hands, just as a GSD, Malinois, Doberman, Rottie,  and just about any other breed, etc. can be as well.  No dog is born aggressive or dangerous.  He / she has to be made that way.

Today I’m just trying to keep my mind off the rain and the funk and the dreariness.

basketball

Then I remember the damned basketball tournament is going to be all over TruTV, and I hope and pray I DVRd a whole lot of episodes of Top Gear and the bizarre 90’s cartoons I love so well.  Mmm, three middle aged Brits playing with cars, Cow and Chicken and 2 Stupid Dogs.  I guess that will have to be intellectual enough for me.

2stupiddogs

Beyond the Void, Someone to Talk To, and Miscellaneous Tidbits

hell_is_realI know where this sign is.  You can see it on southbound I-71, somewhere in Madison County- between Columbus and Cincinnati.

I don’t like to think about that most terrible place I think of as simply the void, but I was reminded of it in of all places in church this week.  It’s that bone chilling, thought shattering, crushing experience of being everywhere and nowhere and immersed in grinding, mind-blowing pain that is brought on by extreme trauma, whether it be emotional or physical.  Stephen King sort of describes it in his short story, “The Jaunt.”  What I mean by the void is a sort of airless, timeless limbo that is between time and space (if that’s possible to comprehend.)  It’s the moment in which you are hit with unspeakably horrific, life-shattering news and the grief and disbelief and shock hit you like a tidal wave- and worse.

In “The Jaunt,” the entry into the void was a bit different.  A scientist discovered that teleporting things almost instantly across space was possible, but that live animals and humans only made it through “the jaunt” if they were anesthetized.  Live animals came through the process aged and weak and died shortly after arriving at their destination- and the few humans that attempted it came out on the other side certifiably insane.

insane

Maybe King’s story isn’t the best analogy, but it’s the closest reference I can find to those times in which the wind is knocked out of you, you are transported to an airless, breathless, motionless state, and your world falls apart.  It’s infinity in there.  And not in a good way.  It’s what I would imagine to be a tiny sampling of hell- and no I’m not referring to the BMV.  I have to go there soon enough for the dreaded driver’s license mug shot, for which no matter what I do it will turn out positively frightening and should say “Correctional Institute Inmate” on the picture somewhere, because yes, my driver’s license pics have always been That Bad.  Even so, I’d gladly take an hour at the BMV waiting on having a shitty picture taken vs. one millisecond of the void.  Believe that.

mclovin-oldMy driver’s license is valid, but the pic is just as bad.

I don’t like to be reminded of the void or of the times I’ve been there.

Hell_LavaPit1

However, as far as psychological pain goes, I am almost always a delayed reactor.  I can only think of one time that I completely fell apart instantaneously, and that is when I got the news about my four year old niece being killed, which was completely unforeseen.  It seems that in order for me to fall apart I have to be caught off guard.

For years I dealt with- (and at times, still do deal with) post traumatic stress, which is the gift that keeps on giving, those brief illogical terrors that show up unbidden and in the least likely of places for the most bizarre reasons.  One of the most memorable unbidden episodes was back when I was working a really crappy job.  The only thing that kept me from going nuts in that place was that they sent me out to run titles from time to time.  It’s not rocket science but it does give you a lot of time to yourself.  You find the title offices of surrounding counties and turn in the paperwork so people who just bought cars get their titles registered and all that crud.  Most of the time back then, title offices were in the courthouse in whatever county seat so I got to investigate some really cool old 19th century courthouses.  Today public buildings might as well be prisons, but back in the day architects built things not only to last, but for their aesthetic value.  That part of the title running thing was almost fun.

courthouseThis is the courthouse in Marion County.  I hope that the powers that be don’t decide to tear this one down too.

I had to go to Union County, which was only about a half an hour out.  The title office had temporarily been moved to the old high school which was slated for demolition, while the new county building was being built.  So I find my way through the vestibule and follow the arrow upstairs.  The staircases were well-worn and crumbling, but the metal framework beneath them was holding fast.  I had a really strange feeling in that building, as if I were violating someone, or something’s space.  I found the temporary title office, completed the transfers, and as I was leaving, a huge framed glass and gold leaf memorial caught my eye.

world_war_one_memorial059

I don’t have a pic of the Union County memorial that was in that high school, but this memorial displays a similar concept.

It was a memorial of WWI veterans who came from that school.  There were at least fifty names on that memorial, and I believe eight of those names had stars next to them, indicating that they had been killed in action. I wasn’t able to linger there long.  For such a small, rural town to lose that many was sad, but the fact that the memorial was in a high school sort of struck me.  These weren’t old men.  This wasn’t a picture of grinning old men reminiscing over old times at the bar in the VFW.  These were kids just out of high school- boys who either came home jaded and scarred, or never came home at all.   I don’t know how to describe the wave of emptiness and profound grief that washed over me that day, but I had to run back to the car as fast as I could, and for some reason I was overcome with sadness and rage and I don’t know what else.  I wept over strange young men who I had never met, who had experienced terrors beyond anything I could imagine, and to this day I have no idea why.

On a brighter note, I remembered that I haven’t put up any pics of my newest kitty, Jezebel.  Jezebel was one of the feral kittens Jerry trapped back on the shop lot the week before Halloween.  The other three went to the owner of the body shop’s horse barn to keep the vermin away from the horses.  I wasn’t planning on another cat, but Jezebel, well, she’s all black.  All black cats don’t fare well in feral or outdoor settings, so we made her a house cat.  The first week or so she had to be handled with a welding glove (this is sort of normal with feral kittens.)  Now she is very social and fond of human attention, Isabel (and she looks just like a mini-Isabel) and really isn’t fazed by much of anything, including dogs.    The key to socializing cats is getting them before the socialization window more or less closes at 12 weeks.  These kittens were about 6 or 7 weeks when we found them, which is the perfect age to socialize them.  They can eat solid food and live OK without Mommy, so the mortality rate is low, but they can still learn to get along with humans, other cats and dogs.

Jezebel instantly gravitated to Isabel, (who is also all black) which we are grateful for because Miz Izz loves other cats and has always been good at schooling youngsters.  So now I have a 14 week or so old kitten who is going to have to be spayed here in the next few weeks.  But Jezebel is already a really good cat.  No welding gloves are currently required.

366Jezebel- “Mini-Izz”

The End of the World, Take # 479, Pragmatism Has Its Advantages

goodinbed

I was fortunate enough this weekend to pretty much not have to do squat.  So I didn’t.  It was lovely.  I missed seeing my granddaughter, but I had such a horrific headache yesterday that it was good for me to simply stay in bed.  After awhile I felt better and figured since I pay for premium cable (mostly because Jerry has to have all those stinking sports channels I don’t watch) I might as well watch TV.  The only thing that sucked is that it seems right now everything on TV is all centered on the same theme- that 12-21-12 is going to be the end of the world.  Never mind that the Mayans, while technologically advanced, were superstitious enough to pull beating hearts out of live humans, to sacrifice to demons.

sacrifice

I really want to trust my apocalyptic timing to guys like that.  I think that the whole Mayan calendar thing is sort of the same concept as going through the calendar on my cell phone and coming to the conclusion that the world must end on December 31, 9999 because no programmer thought it necessary for there to be a provision for a five-digit year. Never mind that by the time the year 10,000 rolls around either a.) all the humans will be dead, or b.) if there are humans they will be using different technologies than we use today.

People have been trying to set a date for the end of the world for forever.  Odds are they’re wrong this time, just like they were back on May 21, 2011.  And all those other times too.

the-end-of-the-worldIs this the End of the World- or just Detroit?

Let’s face it, the odds are against the date setters, and if I were God (good thing I’m NOT) I wouldn’t let them have the satisfaction.  I’d pick a day and a time that’s completely off the radar and surprise everyone which is exactly how God said He’s going to do it:

(Jesus said-) “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” – Matthew 24:42-44 (NIV)

I don’t know when the End of Days is going to be, and I’m not really that worried about it, because it’s one of those things I can’t change, but I could almost bet it won’t be on December 21.  Maybe whenever it is, it will be at the end of February when the world (at least Central Ohio’s portion of it) is at its most dark, dreary and depressing.

There are, however, websites devoted to Doomsday 2012  who claim true believers with all the credibility of Britney Spears.  Yeah, the crazy chick who went nuts and shaved her head.  I’ll believe it when Ozzy endorses it.

ozzy

Ozzy Rocks!  Never mind he’s the same age as my Dad.

I just don’t see too many believable authorities giving the 12-21-12 doomsday theory much credence. Unless proven otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, the doomsday sayers are simply modern-day Millerites.  We’ve all heard that noise before. NASA has pretty much shot down most of that hoo-hah.  I figure if these guys could send people to the moon and get them back then they probably know a thing or two about stuff that’s going on- or not going on- in outer space.

Speaking of outer space, you really don’t hear much about UFOs anymore.  I mean, they’re sort of in the same category as Bigfoot.  I’ll believe there’s such a thing as Bigfoot when someone can either capture a live one or find a carcass.  How can a giant ape live in the forest without ever leaving a dead body or even scat?  I mean, bears live in the forest and they leave carcasses and scat.  People catch live bears too.  It would be as if someone is alleging the existence of redneck men but can’t provide evidence of beer cans, Hershey splatters in the toilet bowl, and a trail of cigarette cellophanes and dirty clothes behind them.  Redneck men exist.  Even should they try to hide, we can prove the existence of the redneck male by virtue of all the PBR and Natty Lite cans and Slim-Jim wrappers they leave behind, as well as all the fudgy whitey-tighties.

rednecktatooUnfortunately, most rednecks are not shy.  Even when they should be.

I think I should have some sort of celebratory “The World’s Still Here” party on December 22.  Then again, that’s the day I will probably be at CVS around midnight, buying all the candy my sisters don’t want my nieces and nephews to have.  This year I am really only bothering to buy the good stuff for my granddaughter.  Steve-o has already gotten a high dollar pair of shoes and a car seat to put in his car- early- so I’m not getting him anything else.  I got Mom a velour sweater that isn’t fugly, and I got Dad a gag calendar (so far) that has Toilets of the World on it.  I’ll probably also get him some socks and some long johns or something.  It’s hard to buy for the man who has a taxidermied squirrel on a skateboard.

toilets-of-the-world-calendar-2013-5239-0-1345046806000At least Dad appreciates my humor.