Friday, June 28, 2013

Shamelessly Pandering to My Readers

I know a very fine young man originally from the Sichuan Province of China who sometimes reads my blog. He is always complimentary of it. Of course positive responses are welcomed regardless of the source, but when a person who speaks English as a second language claims to enjoy my ordinary chronicles, that compliment carries some value. It certainly carries more value than my son's opinion of his mom's "lame stories", for example.

I recently had the chance to ask my friend from whence he hailed in China, or as we say out here in the backwater of America,"Where ya fruuum originally?" Translated that means "Where were you born and raised?"

Since I know very little about the Sichuan Province of China I did what any citizen of the world would do and googled "Szechwan" - because that is how it is spelled on the menu in every Chinese restaurant I have ever been in. (Some of us on Planet Earth have never had the opportunity to travel far from home.)

While reading about the Sichuan Province of China I discovered this map:

It startled me. The outline of China resembles a distorted outline of the United States. Sichuan Province roughly occupies the central part of China the way Kansas sits in the heart of the USA:

When I saw this similarity, I wondered if there are Sichuan equivalents to the more colorful characters of Kansas. Did a Sichuan man spend his life collecting a thousand miles of string into a ball that his town later enshrined as a tourist attraction? Did an artist build a giant plate-steel meat cleaver, paint it lime green then display it on the corner in Chengdu? Is there a crazy Sichuan man who dances exuberantly on street corners with a table lamp, complete with the electric cord and light bulb but minus the shade?

I am going to go out on a limb and guess yes, there are crazy, quirky people and funny, unfathomable things in Sichuan, too, but maybe nothing as horrible as this:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Is Sixty the New Thirty?

I spent a lot of time in the company of my dear grandmother Mattie Fern when I was growing up.  I was allowed to just be - the good, the bad and the ugly.  And as far as I can recall, I was rarely bad, if ever.  The flood of memories of her old farm house exceeds even those of my own family.  Grandma was way cool before I ever heard that term! 

Though everyone had electricity and televisions by the time I came along, the old time hucksters and snake oil salesmen were still thriving thanks to advertising in little weekly newspapers and a steady avalanche of fantastic offers for miraculous and amazing items of medicine, tools, plants, lotteries, and assorted grand ideas that arrived via the United States Postal Service.  The little newspapers went into the wood burning stoves as fire starters but the bulk mailings went into a single drawer in the old chrome and enameled kitchen table.  These were the "important papers" and any child was welcome to sort through them, draw on them, cut them up, or otherwise spend unsupervised time with them.  (This may have foreshadowed my cube farming career...)

The reason I recall the "important papers" (and therefore my grandmother) this morning is because I just signed on to Face Book and was assailed with the same hucksters and snake oil salesmen of bulk mailings from sixty years ago!  There was an amazing secret that will take 30 years from my face - just click here - beckoning beneath a headline:  Is Sixty the New Thirty?

Well boys, let me answer that for you.  Absofuckinglutely NOT!

If you are rich like Cher and Joan Rivers, and not opposed to constant suffering and pain and have the best makeup artists money can buy, you might be able to sometimes give the illusion that you are an attractive, in a pickled sort of way, timelessly mature beauty.  But inside you would not be thirty years old.  I was still somewhat innocent of the ways of the world when I was thirty!  (Yes, I had been around the block a time or two by that age but some things about my fellow man still shocked and upset me.)  How aged you look depends on so much more than the wrinkles and freckles and baggy eyes.  Frankly, I would hate to still behave as if I were thirty at my present age of sixty.  Did I not learn anything in the last three decades?  It better be showing up on my face!

Now, if they really wanted to sell me some snake oil, they should talk to me when I am ninety - ask me then if ninety is the new sixty.  I might be willing to fall for it by then.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Unicorn Meat and Some Other Stuff

In the grocery store last evening I noticed a "special" on filet mignon for a mere $22.99 per pound.  Wow.  I pointed to the tray and said "That must be unicorn meat."  The unexpectedly handsome butcher smiled and confirmed that yes, yes it was unicorn meat.  (Oh, handsome and a good sense of humor!)  I bought two pounds of hamburger.

My nephew recently wrote a letter to me.  Bless his heart, he is a smart kid with many talents but spelling is not one of them.  He needed to write the word "shih tzu".  Going straight to the point, he wrote "shit shoe" and then asked me how I liked his spelling, which made me laugh.  Of course, I had to google the correct spelling to write about it now.  He inadvertently gave me a new best insult.  I used it last night when I discovered the UPS delivery sitting in my driveway, where it could have been stolen, ravaged by Jake, and rained on!  Shit shoe just naturally rolled off my tongue when I saw the expensive delivery sitting in the dirt, as in :  "What is wrong with that shit shoe just leaving my package sitting in the road?!"  It felt good.

It set me to thinking, pondering the small things in my life that are simple and good.  Every day there are brief, fleeting moments that feel good all the way through.  I apologize for belaboring a point because not everyone worships in the House of Dylan, but his 2012 CD, published at the tender age of 71, is a grand good moment every day.  His old voice is all but gone, but that is beside the point.  It is new music from the Old Man and he still has it.  Whenever I hear something in his music that matches the way I think or feel or understand, it feels good all the way through.  Sometimes in his work an entire concept is expressed in the turn of a phrase, the exact emotion thrumming through the melody.  And behind it all is his biting, bemused humor.  He takes none of it seriously, either.  There is no one else like him and I am thankful he is still making music.  I need something to listen to on the way to work.

As my son often says, "It's all good, Mom."

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Were Cave Men More Ignorant than Modern Americans?

I once believed in the possibility of Big Foot's existence. It did not seem entirely outrageous for a few large, intelligent animals to remain hidden from human beings given the right terrain. I do not believe in the possibility of Big Foot any more. People see Big Foot everywhere so I know it cannot exist. If there were Big Foot creatures everywhere people claim to see them, there would be photos, DNA and other irrefutable proof. I wish Big Foot was real - like I wish Santa Claus and unicorns and beautiful vampires who live forever were real.

I read an article recently about a man somewhere in the United States of America who called 911 to say he had killed a Big Foot, and for the authorities to come right away to view the body. Investigation only revealed bear tracks. I hope that fool did not shoot an innocent bear. For that matter, I hope he did not shoot an innocent Big Foot.

Human beings have always conjured myths and creatures to believe in. We like to think our ancestor were ignorant, superstitious and living in fear. I do not believe our ancestors were more ignorant than we are.

I watched a "reality" program on television chronicling a group of Big Foot hunters in Oklahoma. Let us assume for one moment that there is a genuine possibility of a large bipedal primate, so highly intelligent that it has remained hidden from human discovery even into present time. The "highly intelligent" crowd of human hunters were in the woods at night with bright lights, vehicles, bull-horns, loud voices, and an array of electrical equipment. They became frightened and fired their guns - at nothing.

I was thinking, "Yes, that is exactly how cave men would hunt elusive, intelligent and secretive beasts."

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Flint Hills - Photography - Dylan

Within two miles of my home, accompanied by Bob Dylan's wonderfully ruined voice, I snapped over two hundred photos of my beloved prairie landscape last night.  This is where my spirit belongs.  As a newborn I was brought home to the Big Blue Stem and buffalo wallows.  No where on earth suits me better.

Taken earlier this week in my driveway.  I continue to see snakes searching for the lost Million Mouse Buffet!
True to form, I saw the snakes several days before I saw the first turtle in the road.

Take me home...

Beauty Untended

The Wealth of Water

First Turtle Day

This guy must remember my "helpful" assistance to the other side of the road on other First Turtle Days.  He turned and
high-tailed it back south!
The Proverbial Dickcissel on a Wire

Better than butter, better than gold.

Wild Turkey Strut

Living Sunlight
Going Home