Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winter's Time

Calhoun’s Cannons for Dec 18, 2012

The winter storm was warm and tropical.  In the yard the grapevine finally turned red and started to settle into its long winter’s nap only to have a sudden burst of summer heat arrive.  It’s now pushed out new green leaves thinking it is spring again, a dangerous mistake when the winter frosts finally arrive.

If they ever do. After all, a whole lot of people believe the world will end promptly at midnight Friday, which has got to have the gentle Maya wandering around their Yucatan corn fields snickering. “Silly Gringos.  Too many Apocalypses.  They must be in love with death.”

Well, grapevines and world endings, it has been another season out of sorts.  The country, too, has spent a few years upended and in the confusion failed to look around to see what it had become  -- a brave new world filled with women, Hispanics, African Americans, a whole lot of ticked off  newly un-prosperous working 47%ers and a new cohort of  the young, all of whom now form a glorious new rainbow majority of World Class Moochers.  Their political ascendancy was aided by a grand old party that also failed to look around and so descended into comic and massively funded irrelevancy.  Like the grapevine, the GOP mistook a permanent change for an anomaly.

Time is out of sorts for me, too.  I’m beginning to lose all sense of it.  Recently, a friend and I were discussing a project we had started together and I was shocked into silence to realize that we had been on that journey for six years.  Six?  I had absolutely lost all connection with the usual signposts of continuity and progression – this happened, then that happened, then this.  Instead, I no longer had a sense of when we had started and so had no real feeling for where we were now.  Six.  One.  Three.  It was all the same size.  She might have well reminded me we had been working together 40 years for all the difference it would have made.

It’s that same time compression I see when I look into the face of The Mighty Finn McCool. In my mind, he’s a gangly greyhound puppy, so it always brings me up short to see his face getting whiter, his step slower, the gimpy lurch of joints getting stiff and old. The same shock occurs when I look in the mirror and wonder, “Who is that woman and how did she get into my house?” As for the rest, my life has become a blur interrupted by a flash of illuminations, all of them disconnected from any sense of linear time -- a life turned into a snapshot album.

The normal process of aging, I suppose.  All the boring stuff falls away and what remains are sharp, out-of-time tableaux.  I suspect this transformation explains why it was so easy to erase my life this summer when I gleefully cleaned out closets, purged file cabinets, dumped old photos, childhood mementos, souvenirs, slides, letters and paintings.  Out!  Out! They were no longer precious, sentimental items, things vitally connected to me, a part of my history.  Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, they had become dust-catchers and fodder for the silverfish. Out!

Far from being a depressing activity, this broom-sweeping effort was liberating and when I was done, I immediately thought of that lovely scene in “Harold and Maude,” when Harold gives Maude a sweet token of his affection and she promptly tosses it into the ocean.  Outraged, he asks why she did that and she calmly replies, “That’s so I’ll always know where it is.” 

And so it is with me.  The mementos and memories I want to save are already inside my head.  No need for so many hard copies. And when I can no longer remember even the few I have nestled in my brain, then it really will be time to go.

And so time slips by while we aren’t looking.  The darkness arrives and the winter stars wheel again into view.  We have made a hash of the natural world and it will exact its revenge on us.  Best to take our medicine stoically as we try to heal its wounds, for our children’s sake.

And for our own sakes as well, to keep living the message of love from a small child born in a stable.  Or the command of peace from a merchant who spoke to God in a cave. Or a young prince who sat under a Bodhi tree. Or to all the sages and wisdom-givers who remind us, if only once a year, that we are full of possibilities and light.  We only have to pay attention to see it gleaming, even on the darkest nights at the end of the world.



Anne R. Allen said...

Great piece. I envy you for finally getting to weed out of all those old papers and "mementos". I must make time to do that this year. And that old woman hanging out in the mirror--she's sneaking around my house too. LOL.

Anonymous said...

December 21, 2012

Theory #4: The Republicans and Democrats are going to actually agree to something regarding the fiscal cliff thingy. The combined collective sigh of relief from the US as well is the collective inhale of shock from the rest of the world, will set the Earth off its axis which will cause it to wobble out of orbit and off into space.

I’m waiting until December 22 to begin Christmas shopping!

Ann Bonestell said...

Thank you, Ann. <3

Ellen said...

Having gone through all of my things a few months ago, I know the good feeling of getting rid of things I once thought so precious, things I felt obligated to hold onto. It was as if I was preparing for death.....for new beginnings.

mom said...

i loved this, First Best Friend.


Churadogs said...

Anon 1:16. Saaaaayyyy, now there's a plan. I mean, why spend all that money when, ker-poof! all your wonderful presents (and the people you bought them for) go up in smoke at midnight Dec 21. Now, if the next Whoever-it-is (Aztecs, Zoroastrians,your Bible-thumping Uncle Fred) who predicts some more End-of-Worlds would only set it for Dec 25th. Think of the after-Christmas SALEs you could hit up when the day dawned the the world was still here! Woo!

And Anne: Yeah, that weird lady is apparently creeping around behind the mirrors in many homes. Unnerving, isn't she.

Ellen: Yes, it's a kind of death, but for me it sorta started in reverse: All this old stuff suddenly "died" of meaning for no particular reason I could see, and so became little more than an empty carcass in need of dumping. So it wasn't some kind of traumatic letting go, but rather just another form of of dusting. But liberating all the same.

Yo, FBF Donna. Any Christmas snow in Okla? And please, please, please, restart your Chigger Lake Blog. I wanna read about what the grasshoppers are doing and did you replant that cottonwood?

Churadogs said...

And Ann, you're welcome. Glad you enjoyed it.

Alon Perlman said...

That Vine has spent half its life confused by the crazy global winter (Summer?)
Letting those possessions go... memories fading too. Tolosa’s loss. That was good audience, but this is well worthy of a larger.

It was nice to see a tithing of my possessions make money for a good cause. Two more tithings buried at the top of the hill called cold canyon. Another tithing had just escaped the landfill to freely find new possessors.
And as most of those price tag worthy dispersed off to their new homes, and I was about to leave the Los Osos Gateway, a minor miracle of nostalgia…Was it over two years ago at a pre- Christmas Osos wide garage sale, that I picked up (was gifted by a friend who saw me hesitate on the bridge of ownership) a dark green footlocker, large letters inside the top. Penciled on the pale light green. First Last Middle. Oh what stories it could tell- if it would.
Was she its first owner? Where has it been to? Out of continent, out of state? Sea to shining sea, did it take to the air, did it ever sway on waves? It’s first summer camp? Semi retired to the spare room? A second life for dog toys or last year’s new tree ornaments… I lift the lid up and down, but it won’t even squeak.
So how about… –just how old is it? Though a fuller provenance would be cool.

Anonymous said...

Nobody cares Alon.

Anonymous said...

I do Alon. I do care about what you say and even when I am at times perplexed about how you say what you say, I still enjoy it. I enjoy it because it is unique and different from how I think or say what i say. Diversity appreciated and welcome.

Anonymous said...

Alon has no life except in his head. I believe that's his message.

Alon Perlman said...

Thank you, 2:41 for your kind words; concise, precise and carrying a universal message about diversity.
And thank you too, John Barnes from Korea, for following my comment with the praise; “I am surе this piеce of writіng has touchеd аll the internеt visitors”.

But I am not in competition for any California coast journalism awards.
And I don’t write in this comment section of Ann’s blog for all potential internet visitors or for an army of nobodies or even for specific obviously caring nobodies two from Morro Bay and Los Osos.

Frankly, if I just wrote ” Ann, how old is that footlocker you donated to the SBCC Garage sale, 2 years ago” I’d bore myself silly, and it would not really relate to her story about letting go of property and memories. And there are one or two who are occasionally entertained by figuring out what my more obfuscatory writing refers to. Many times specific allusions to past obscure Osos events and evolutions, where names and specifics have been omitted to protect the guileless/gullible or guilty.

So I do care that, you specifically, not be over-perplexed. But understand that while I’d like to excel in fully reaching you in communications, and appreciate specific honest feedback, I have other stylistic commitments and outcomes to consider.

Anonymous said...

Nobody cares Alon.

Anonymous said...

Several of us care. Rock on, Alon!

Anonymous said...

Nobody cares Alon.

Churadogs said...

Alon sez:"Was she its first owner? Where has it been to? Out of continent, out of state? Sea to shining sea, did it take to the air, did it ever sway on waves? It’s first summer camp? Semi retired to the spare room? A second life for dog toys or last year’s new tree ornaments… I lift the lid up and down, but it won’t even squeak.
So how about… –just how old is it? Though a fuller provenance would be cool."

I suspect the trunk likely was purchased in Minnesota and packed with my parents stuff when they moved to CA in 1943. It's possible it belonged to my Mom and might have gone to Europe with her in the late '20's ? 30's? for her "tour" but that might have been another trunk. Or maybe not. She saved all her money as a school teacher so her "european" trip was a frugal one so maybe it didn't involve a trunk, more likely a few suitcases, long since lost. It spent most of its life in the garage, then was used to store all my childhood crap (school papers, mementos,hence my name in the lid, while my sister had her name in the lid of her trunk full of childhood crap.) then I used it to store Christmas wrapping, etc. Then, out the door and into the world for more adventures. Tale of the trunk.

And, sigh, I see the ridiculous children are back. Pathetic doesn't begin to touch on what they are.

Alon Perlman said...

I changed "Midland sea of grain" and "Garage" to "spare room", so there's an argument against editing. The generosity of our mutual friend on 11th St. will have to be my memory, not to fade too soon.

Anonymous said...

Nobody cares Alon.

Dave Samuelson said...

When did you finally succumb to the "internet machine" as Rachel Maddow calls it? I didn't notice last year when I was still recovering from lung surgery.

Your posts are delicious and (still) reminiscent of E.B. White.

Dr. S

Dave Samuelson said...

When did you succumb to what Rachel Maddow likes to call "the internet machine"? I probably didn't notice last Christmas when I was still recovering from lung surgery (double lobectomy), but I still love your columns. As your one-time instructor, I feel proud to have helped you become a West Coast E.B. White.

Professor S

Dave Samuelson said...

Apparently I can't delete or edit my original post. So it goes.

Churadogs said...

Dear Professor S_______

Hey, great to hear from you. Welcome to Blogville!

I've had the blog for quite a few years now, after I stopped writing for the Bay News. Started posting the Can(n)ons plus other stuff. How the heck did you stumble on it? I'll send you my e-mail and if you'd like, I can put you on my email "notice" list when I post a Can(n)on, if you'd like.

As for deleting your posts, did the little trash can icon work? This blog is set up so weirdly that as a certified Luddite I have trouble figuring it out. Plus, Google "improved" the site. Right. "improved. Uh-huh. Sure.

Well, welcome to the club. If you check in with the comment sections you'll begin to meet some of the "anonymice," folks I call the "Sewer Crazies." They're a fascinating aspect of "the internet machine."

E.B. White? Woa. Thank you. As my favorite Professor, you were indeed indespensible to my becoming a scribbler. It was your class journal-keeping requirement that started it all.

Had no idea you had been ill. Will drop you a note. Hope all is well! Meantime, welcome to Blogville.

Anonymous said...

One of the sewer crazies is Ann. She's an old bitch obstructionist who ruined the town and sold them up the river and bankrupted the community!!!

Anonymous said...

Oops, someone is stirring the pot! 9:52 is a fraud and trying to pretend they are something they are not! There is no reason to even make that negative nelly statement. Probably the same person that doesn't care about Alon. If it isn't, then stop it anyway - completely unnecessary and time to let it go, move forward and time to clean your own house.

Anonymous said...


Churadogs said...

Dear Professor S ___. See? Anon 9:52 is a perfect example.

O.K. Anon 9:52, time to move along or Mother Calhoun will start dumping you. and, Yes, Anon 11:31, "completely unnecessary" is right. Curious why people waste their time contributing nothing. I have to wonder, do they really think that their postings have any impact, except to cause sane people to roll their eyes?

Anonymous said...

Really sad.

People spend their holidays cursing each other anonymously on the Internet and speculating on who's who. Christmas is celebrated for a reason. Get over yourselves and have fun with your family.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas to you, too, Judas, I mean Judith 9:52 AM, December 24, 2012!!!!