Archive for the ‘procrastination’ Category

Ahem. . .Anyone still out there?

December 28, 2009

I’ve been flirting with getting back to this log for some time, and I always put it off for another day. But here I am.

I suppose I’m here at least in part because of a certain renewed confidence in my ability to manage computers. I defeated Microsoft’s attempts to squash me today (at least so far), and I feel a little rhapsodic.

I bought a new computer. I’ve been putting it off for years because I didn’t want to deal with Vista and it really fried me to contemplate paying extra money to have someone “downgrade” my computer to an OS that worked. But then Windows 7 was released, got pretty good press, and I couldn’t stand it anymore. The machine wasn’t supposed to come until January, but Dell cut their assembly time in half (or else they got a shipment of parts early) and Fed-Ex cut their delivery time in half, and my new machine arrived midday on Christmas Eve, a gift from Santa.

Last night I was wishing I had stood it a little longer.  As is my wont, I leaped in with little regard to manuals, instructions, pre-planning, and so forth. So I spent a couple of hours backing up old files to CD for transfer, fingers crossed the whole time. I dealt with file protection issues and waded through them. Then I booted my new machine and went through the setup and stuff only to discover that I couldn’t just load my files from CD. I suspect it has something to do with the shift from a 32-bit OS to a 64-bit OS. So I started over, actually following the instructions from Windows 7 on moving files.

It was less arduous that I was afraid of.

Then I got surprise number 2. There’s no e-mail program on Windows 7. So, fingers crossed, I loaded an old version of Outlook and–voila!–my contacts and e-mail archive appeared exactly as they had before I ran them through Windows 7’s little file transfer utility.

But I had a few permissions problems. MS has done a good job of trying to hide from Joe User anything that might be of any use to anyone, but I ferreted out the files I needed, gave the system permission to let me screw with them, and my problems went away. At least for now. All in all a satisfying evening.

So here we are coming up on 2010, and I haven’t posted anything since mid-2008. There are lots of reasons for that, some of which may appear in subsequent posts. But there appear to be a few stalwarts still looking for me to speak, so as the New Year approaches, I’m going to resolve to try to do a little better this year.

Here’s the Cliff notes version of 2009:

In February (pretty much on my birthday) I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. I got to spend several months poisoning my body with yew extract and a platinum compound. Then I got to spend several more months letting my body recover from the abuse. If the truth be told, it’s still recovering. As I read somewhere recently, chemotherapy is useful, but it’s highly toxic.

On the plus side, I just got a clean bill of health at my 6-month post-chemo checkup. If I can maintain that condition for only 2.5 more years, I’ll be considered officially cured. This oddball apparently comes right back or it doesn’t come back at all.

In June I published my first book. That was pretty exciting. I spent the late summer and fall doing a variety of readings at some fairly prestigious venues (did you know people actually pay other people to come and read to a third group of people?). The book has been well received, so I’m working on a second collection.

Those two things pretty well ate up 2009. I can’t say too much about the second half of 2008 except that I think my brother’s death hit me a little harder than I thought it did.

But at any rate, I’m going to try to write here a little more often. And I have to type another sentence or two because my “word count” on this just hit 666 and I don’t want to leave it there. . .

Happy New Year to all, and the best to you in 2010.

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This business of dying is a strange business

February 22, 2008

Yesterday was Tom’s 50th birthday. Lisa decorated the house beautifully (Tom, a helicopter nut, said the streamers from the ceiging reminded him of standing under a Huey, and he really like them), bought and wrapped a present, and got up to share it with him at the best part of his day, early morning after a night’s sleep. She got him a cake and I got him a cake.

She said he seemed really excited about the fuss being made over his birthday. “You don’t suppose he thought we’d just let it pass by unnoticed, do you?” she asked me.

It’s hard to know what to think. Tom is on that roller coaster that goes with deteriorating health, down, then up again, but never quite as up as he was before, then down, and almost up again, and so on. He is essentially blind now, so most of the things he sees are hallucinatory. But the worst part of it for him is that he’s losing conversation. He tries, but it’s increasingly hard for him to pull out the word he’s looking for.

This morning I fixed him a scrambled egg (he ate a whole one with enthusiasm yesterday) and he asked where the ketchup was. I rummaged around til I found it and brought it to the table. I asked him how much he wanted and he started shaking his head in a horrified manner. Turned out that what he wanted was a Kleenex, another K word, not ketchup at all.

Yesterday he did seem excited. We ate chocolate cake with raspberry filling and ganache icing with our fingers (it’s easiest that way when you can’t see a fork). I cleaned the dropped chocolate from their white carpeting after he laid down again, and I think I did a passable job of it. I cooked him a birthday dinner of baked chicken and asparagus and biscuits that only Lisa and I could enjoy.

Today he was semi-comatose.

Last night he got up from a very deep nap to see the lunar eclipse with which the universe had honored his 50th birthday. I don’t think he could see it at all, frankly, but he pretended that he did, and he seemed excited about it, even chastising me for not bringing my telescope when I came to his house. It never even occurred to me to do so.

I lost a good friend about six months ago after a very long illness. Fred was nearly 80 years old and had been battling emphysema for some time. His actual dying was long and dragged out, miserable for him.

But like Tom, Fred retained his sense of humor. It was very hard to lose him even knowing how difficult living had become for him.

It is the same with my brother. I hate, hate, hate seeing him suffer like this, waking with excruciating headaches that are relieved only somewhat by the same drugs that produce the hallucinations that frustrate, frighten, or confuse him. It shouldn’t be this hard to die.

On the other hand, I know that when he is gone he will leave a void in my life. He’s much too young to be dying (he calls it “taking a shortcut to where we’re all going in the end”). In the natural order of the universe, he should be around to mourn me when my time comes. This is backward.

I have a sibling or two who won’t come to visit. One of them said she was unable to deal with the “emotional issues raised at times like these.” I understand her view, but I keep hearing the hospice nurse saying, “You will never regret the time you’ve spent with your brother during these weeks.” And I know she’s right.

I’m not sure where I am going with this, so I will say only that when I die, I want to just simply fall over dead (unless I can die in my sleep with no previous warning). I haven’t been afraid of death since a near-death experience when I was about 25 years old. But I am afraid of being maimed, incapacitated, unable to care for myself, dependent on the kindnesses of others no matter how much they love me or I love them.

Just let it be fast when it comes at last.

Storm watch

December 1, 2007

I can hardly believe I’m about to write about the weather again. The simple fact is, this time of year we get a lot of it.

Whether it’s global warming, 20-year cycles, or other strange phenomena, this forecast is just plain weird. Possibility of snow tonight. We generally get a little each winter, but this seems very early. But it’s Sunday’s forecast that really boggled my mind.

The weather scrutinizers are predicting that the first ever cyclone/hurricane warning is about to be issued for the forest where I live.

It seems the two recent typhoons in Asia have combined to send a monster storm headed right at Oregon–sustained winds in the 90-100 mph range with pelting rains and flooding. So we can anticipate power out, trees down, roads impassable, and other fine stuff. None of this affects us too much (except I’ll probably lose my DSL until they get the emergency generator up and running at the repeater). We’ve always got a couple of weeks worth of food around, plenty of gas for the generator (and chain saws), and today Ben refilled all the firewood racks in various places in and around the house.

Also, I got about nine new books today, a new New Yorker, and two newspapers. I also replenished the wine and Scotch supply, so I think we’re set. We could run a little short on meat and milk, but I’ve plenty of beans, rice, nuts, flour, and yeast, a fair amount of butter and evaporated milk, some fresh and dried fruits and vegetables, and almost all of last summers canned goods, onions, and winter squash.

Let it snow, rain, blast away, I say. With a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, a good book, and hours of indoor stuff that needs doing, it’s probably a good thing.

I’m supposed to go to Portland Monday morning for a series of medical appointments–nothing serious, just the annual routine. It took great effort to get them all booked on the same day, then they had to be changed once, and now this.

So, if the storm materializes, I may just declare myself healthy this year and put all this off a bit longer. I’m very good at that.

Besides, we’ve got three new Wii games that need playing.

Random thoughts on a Wednesday evening

November 1, 2007

I hardly know where to start. I won’t as Alice suggested, begin at the beginning and move forward from there, because the truth of the matter is I’m not sure where the beginning is.

“In the beginning. . .”–there have been so many beginnings, and forks in the roads, and restarts, and stalls. So I’ll just take off, and we’ll see where we go from here.

Full disclosure: I’m completely sated from a low-stress evening. It should be a high-stress evening. I’m leaving tomorrow for a four-day trip to a writers’ conference in Bend. I had a long to-do list this morning that included washing my car, washing my hair, getting packed in advance, finding some books I wanted to take along, and so on.

I did get my truck washed. I’ve also packed up enough food and drink to last for three or four days. “Be prepared for whatever you might encounter,” Ben says. That’s good advice, I know. I’m headed out over the mountains on the first of November. The weather is good, but who knows what will happen by Sunday.

I’m picking up my friend Ruth tomorrow morning, and we’ll head out on an adventure. I know we won’t get stuck, and it seems a shame. I’ve packed up mocha frappucinos, cranberry juice, bottled water, leftover Halloween chocolate, cheese popcorm from the cans I bought to get the cans knowing we’d never eat the popcorn (so I’m struggling to find good homes for it), salted mixed nuts, protein-rich Kashi TLC bars, and other assorted stuff. Oh, and three bottles of wine, some assorted teas, my favorite wine glasses (no stems, just heavy bases that are hard to tip over), and my favorite tea cups. If we actually make it to Bend, we can live well there without ever doing anything else, although we have a lot of things planned.

But in the meantime, stuff happens. Maybe it’s the leftover pot-roast soup and fresh baked bread I finished a little while ago, or maybe it’s the position of the stars, or maybe it’s just Wednesday evening.

But I’m mellow. And happy to be that way.

A fellow writer in a writing workshop I’m taking wrote that he had been a “bad” and “nosy” boy and googled me. Then he said some nice things about the poetry he found in various places. I realized how long it had been since I googled myself. I think I’m just not narcissistic enough. So I remedied that, and when I did, I discovered my daughter has a new blog. I am blown away. She writes circles around me.

I’m not surprised to find her writing, although I suppose I am a little bit. She wrote her first short stories in crayon at age 5. I still have them. She would have them, except a couple of times I’ve found them in the garbage and rescued them, so I’m saving them. If I’m surprised it’s because she has so many other things going on. I’m guessing she also has a Facebook page and My Space page (I know she has other blogs), but I’ll probably not go looking for them because I spend too much time at this stupid screen as it is and anyway, I think she’s entitled to some privacy.

But she writes circles around me. If I could wave a magic wand I’d send her off somewhere to be a writer. Maybe she’ll get there on her own, or maybe she’ll get there herself. But whatever she does, I know it will be fine.

As I look back over a rather long life, there’s this: The thing I am proudest of having accomplished is having raised this marvelous young woman. Admittedly I had a little help from her dad, but the truth of the matter is, she’s the one thing I can point to that I have helped create that I know is making the world a better place to be.

A long rant about something, or perhaps nothing

August 25, 2007

Once upon a time, I was president of the state poetry society, and I discovered that herding poets is a lot like herding cats.

By their natures, poets are not organized people. And they don’t respond well to those who would like them to be organized.

I find myself lately with my true poetic nature coming to the fore.

God bless those of you who keep checking this space in hopes that something new has happened. My sincere apologies for the long absence. But the truth of the matter is, I just haven’t felt like writing. Anything.

Then tonight I sat down and penned a couple of pretty good poems, one a rewrite of a fragment penned earlier that will probably be called “Why the Sky in August Sometimes Looks Sulky” and the other something brand new: “I Want to Be Jack Kerouac.” That’s when I thought perhaps I could add an update here.

Part of the problem is summer. Here’s what my pantry looks like now after all of the old stuff has been cleaned out: sauerkraut, canned blueberries and blueberry butter, canned pie cherries, canned Royal Annes, canned plums and plum sauce, canned apples and applesauce, dill pickles, bread-and-butter pickles, canned green beans, pickled green beans (very interesting these–I didn’t have the dried red peppers the recipe called for so I used Chalula powder–ground up garlic roasted with hot red peppers–instead), pickled beets. The corn and tomatoes are just coming on. I was beginning to despair of them ripening with all of the rain, but they seem to be doing so anyway.

I have a very sore gum, the result of a really bad tooth brought on by some very bad dentistry some years back. It’s better tonight. I’m trying to avoid a trip to a dentist by using a peroxide mouthwash and scotch as a painkiller. On a scale of 1-10, going to the dentist is about a 15 for me. So far, so good.

My flower beds and herbs have been attacked. We think we found the culprit tonight–a packrat running around. He likes parsley and sage but not oregano, and he really likes trimming the begonias, although he doesn’t seem to eat them, just clips off the leaves and leave them in a pile. His days are numbered. We’ll catch him in a live trap, but then he’ll probably get a swimming lesson in the river.

The coyote who likes the Italian prunes has been foiled. He broke the tree off a couple of years ago, but it’s put up a new vertical shoot (that he can’t climb), and the shoot is fruiting.

I went crazy in town yesterday and bought some veal, so we’re having weinerschnitzel very soon.

That’s it for life in the country this evening.

Two successes

July 29, 2007

I went off to town Friday in search of a few groceries, to make a bank deposit, and to do assorted miscellaneous errands. I had originally planned to do laundry as well, but it’s amazing what you can put off if you set your mind to it. One of the benefits of my former consumerist lifestyle is a surfeit of linens (both bedroom and kitchen), underwear, levis, sweats, and all those necessary things. And it does seem a shame to only put 22 lbs. of laundry in a 40 lb. washer, so I’m sure I made the right decision.

Newport is a pain in the butt to get around in, so I had carefully planned my route and sequence of errands (if I’m starting to sound anal, sorry, but I do these things now–too little to worry about, I suspect). The main coast highway runs right through the middle of town, and in the summer turning left except at a left-turn light can be a challenge. I haven’t dented a fender in several decades, and I’l like to keep it that way (part of my bank deposit was a couple of refunds from our insurance company for being such good drivers).

But I got to town a few minutes earlier than the first store I wanted to visit opened. All the way into town I’d be thinking about (fantasizing, really) a truly fine SMALL cast-iron skillet. Good new cast-iron cookware is almost non-existent. The stuff I like was made by Griswold and Wagner, and neither company is still around selling new stuff, as far as I can determine.

The cast iron made in Asia is chancy for cooking–the Asians seems to have a different attitude toward embedded petroleum products in recycled iron than I do. And the new stuff made in the U. S., like Lodge, is hopeless. I have no desire to spend the first two weeks I own something polishing it out to the needed smooth and glossy bottom. So I look for the good old pans that somehow didn’t get totally wrecked.

Being a few minutes early, I thought, what the heck, I’ll go over to the antique barn and see if they have any Pyrex cookware worth buying.

They didn’t, but what I did find was a #5 (about 7″ diameter) Griswold cast-iron skillet in nearly perfect condition for about $12. (When I brought it home, Ben guessed I’d paid about $20). It’s in fine enough condition to be an egg skillet, so I spent partof this morning giving it a good cleaning with steel wool and reseasoning it with olive oil. It’s a fine piece of cookware. I can hardly wait to try it out as an omelet pan. It’s that well preserved.

Last evening I went with a friend to a writers’ meeting up Shot Pouch Creek. The group that sponsored it, the Springcreek Project, maintains a retreat there for people who want to escape and write. They do many other things there as well, including multi-disciplinary projects combining art and science.

Last night was, I think, their “hooray, we’ve survived another year” meeting. They furnished a wonderful salad bar from a local catering company (including a chicken salad that I would have been proud to have claimed), and they asked attendees to provide either an oeur d’ouvre (if I spelled that right it’s purely accidental) or a dessert.

At this point, you may be remembering how many berries I’m trying to deal with, so dessert was a natural. But I’m tired of baking tarts, and frankly it’s been too bloody hot to fire up the woodstove and bake anything. But I did have some very good heavy cream, and in anticipation of this event, I bought a sliced poundcake while I was in town. I had some very good golden sherry, and what my brain settled on (reviewing the options) was what I am henceforth calling a “lazy cook’s trifle.”

It got a 5-star rating from participants (she noted modestly), and although I took what I thought was enough for twice as many people as the 30 or so there, I didn’t bring any home.

For all you adventuresome folks, here’s all it takes:

  •  
    • A whole bunch of good berries
    • Some fairly dry cake of some sort, like my pound cake
    • A whole bunch of lightly whipped cream
    • A little sherry
    • A little bit of sugar (for tossing with the berries if needed)

Layer in a big-enough pan to hold everything. Forget the “Make it beautiful in a clear glass bowl, footed ideally” thing. It tastes just as good without worrying about that. Start with the poundcake, add berries (my first fruit layer was blueberries that I had tossed with a tiny bit of sugar and a few drops of lemon juice in a moderately warm skillet just until the berries were wonderfully dark and swollen with juice), cover with lightly whipped heavy cream (don’t whip it to stiff peaks, almost butter, because it tastes so much better if it’s soft) with just a smidge of sugar to sweeten the cream added right before it’s ready.

Then lay down another layer of pound cake, sprinkle it with some good sherry (light-handedness is everything here–I doubt that I used more than 2 ozs. of sherry for my 3-qt. or so dessert) and top with another layer of berries (for my second layer I used some really ripe strawberries that I had cut up and tossed with a little sugar to free up the juice.

Then top with more cream and some fruit that you cleverly reserved for a garnish–a few dozen of those very dark and rich blueberries and some strawberry halves with the stems intact.

At the risk of sounding even more immodest than I already have, I must say that it was wonderful. I might even do it again.

But now I have to go off to e-Bay, where I’m fooling with some Pyrex (I only buy cast iron I can see).

Summer on the back 40

July 26, 2007

This probably comes under the heading of “Be careful what you wish for.”

Gardening in coastal Oregon is an interesting endeavor. You prep the soil, plant things, watch the weather, try to second-guess what’s going on, pull the undesirables, water, and watch as things struggle with the early spring conditions you struggled with trying to get an early garden. Then, Nature waves a magic wand and things explode.

Today I picked blueberries, zucchini, the first pickling cucumbers, and enough green beans for dinner. I was very excited to be out here for the whole growing season. But I hadn’t planned on being laid up for two weeks in the height of activity.

God bless Ralph. He’s watered and weeded while I was limping around feeling sorry for myself. I don’t deal well with idleness. Much as I enjoy a good read or a good puzzle, sitting in a chair for long periods of time just makes my sciatic nerve act up.

But Ralph and Brenda left today for 2-3 weeks of family stuff out of state, and now it’s mine again. And there is suddenly more food coming out of the garden than we can possibly eat. I’ve given a lot of it away, will give away much more.

But I’m getting around pretty well, was able to water everything today with only minor twinges. I slept in my bed (instead of one of the LaZBoys) last night for the first time since my fall, and it worked. But I’ve got enough cucumbers for the first quart of pickles, and behold, there are exactly three dill heads (the appropriate amount) ready to be picked. So tomorrow I will pack the first quart of pickles.

The upside is that I’ve had a lot of time to think, and that means a lot of time to hear the music of poetry running around in my head, so I’ve got some pretty terrific new work. Maybe the cracked ribs were someone’s way of saying “Slow down. Listen.”

The other thing I have in incredible quantities is fresh basil. A couple of nights ago we had what I can only call an experimental dinner. I had a little leftover medium-hot green sauce from the enchiladas. I used it to marinate a pork loin which I then stuffed with garlic and threw on the barbecue. Yummy.

To go with it, I cooked some linguini, drained it and set it aside. Then, in a fortuitous accident, I grabbed the wrong oil bottle and had several tablespoons of sesame oil in my skillet before I realized it was the wrong color, grabbed my designer olive oil to augment it, sauteed some garlic in the combination, and when the garlic was ready, added the pasta, a couple of cups of chopped roma tomatoes and a couple of cups of fresh chopped basil, and got everything to hot. Then it just took a liberal sprinkling of good Parmesan to make a heavenly pasta. When I was prepping it, I almost panicked. I realized I had enough pasta for 12 people. But the four of us cleaned it up.

This year I again planted what for me is a favorite corn variety–Bodacious. I’m not totally sure whether I like it for its flavor and robustness (plenty of both) or because I’m a big fan of Hank Williams, Jr., and the name always invokes rowdiness in my brain. But today I noticed that some of the stalks have started as many as four ears each (normally two). All that bullshit makes a difference.

The blueberries are slowing a bit, thank God, but the raspberries are just gathering their second wind and the whole late summer crop is coming on. And here I am bitching when I should feel so blessed. . . 

A few quick thoughts about writing and manuscripts

June 15, 2007

I know a couple of you have written and I haven’t responded. I promise to do so shortly. But tonight I’m really, really tired, and I don’t have the energy to go figure out who I have and haven’t answered.

But something interesting happened today.

This morning I cranked out a biography, publishing credits and table of contents for a poetry manuscript of some 70+ pages. Then I drove to the post office to make sure it got postmarked within the competition deadline.

I chatted briefly with the nice woman behind the counter of my small local post office, explaining my concerns about the postmark. She told me how she would ensure that it was readable, and blah, blah, blah.

Then she looked at the address and said, “Oh, you’re a writer?” I admitted I was guilty as charged.

“That’s really exciting!” she said. And I didn’t know how to respond. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it in those terms. Mostly, writing is hard work interrupted by feelings of immense satisfaction. She saw the blank look on my face, I’m sure, and added, “At least, I think it’s really exciting.”

Some years ago, a friend of mine who writes really terrible poetry (I can say that because I know she’ll never see this) said, “Well, you may be an author because you have a published book, but you’re a writer because you write.” I thought that was an interesting distinction. And true.

I hope I made some appropriate remark to the post office lady, but to tell you the truth, I was so taken aback by her enthusiasm that I have no idea what I said. But I do think that I’ll keep going to the little post office to mail my stuff in the future. I want to share her excitement in my poor publishing efforts.

At any rate, the manuscript, as they say, is in the mail, with an appropriate postmark. I have let the universe know that I’d really like to win this competition, and in about 10 weeks I should know how well the universe listened. Maybe it’s like the old saw: God answers every prayer; you just may not like the answer.

There’s much more to say, about berries and gardens and birds and far more important things than poetry manuscripts, but it will have to wait for another day.

Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, and serendipity

June 7, 2007

OK, I did it. I managed to find another of those tasks that sucks up time without a real movement forward, so I’m still, I suppose, procrastinating. But I started in trying to tidy things up in a few places and found myself falling down the rabbit hole of free association once again.

Our house has a “library,” a necessity when you have thousands (not an exaggeration–my current estimate is about 5,000, I quit counting a thousand or so ago) books. But more accurately, it has multiple libraries.

The main library room has most of the fiction, all of Ben’s strange collection of medical, legal, and historical stuff, a ton of biography, and a couple of encyclopedias (children: this is what the world’s collection of knowledge used to be kept in before Wikipedia). The videos, most of the CDs, and even some cassette tapes are filed in what is called (for unknown reasons) “the African gun room,” a separate room off the main library that was originally intended (by Ben) to be a third spare bedroom before we realized how silly that was for a household of two dozens of miles from anywhere.

But my little “office,” originally our daughter’s bedroom here (she is now grown and on her own although she still, I think, prefers her old room to our more sumptuous guest suite when she comes to visit), has its own “library.” These are my books. They are a collection of “high” literary fiction, poetry, literary criticism, cultural and sociological studies, religious studies, and dozens of dictionaries. It also houses needlework and gardening books (the cookbooks are in a separate set of shelves in the kitchen) and my collection of audio and video lectures from The Teaching Company on topics as diverse as Nietzsche, Toqueville, quantum physics, astronomy, geology, and the origins of language.

OK, I hear the question: “You promised to talk about Kesey, Leary, and serendipity, and here you are rambling on about your bookshelves. What gives?”

The procrastinating task I found myself involved in today was trying to determine what on the bookshelves in my office could be dispensed with. This isn’t as stupid a task as it sounds, because the edges of the stairway from the kitchen to our bedroom are lined with books waiting to be put away. If the house caught fire with things as they are now, we’d probably both break our necks just trying to get downstairs in the dark, and the fire problem would be moot.

So I’m sorting away and I come across an old (2002) edition of Tin House, a literary magazine to which I used to subscribe. I start to put it in the reject pile when a cover headline catches my eye: “Ken Kesey’s Last Interview.”

This wouldn’t be so remarkable except that within the last two weeks my friend Carla told me how pleased she was that the interview she did with Ken Kesey, his last, was to be included in this publication’s anniversary anthology. I opened the magazine up, and sure enough, here’s Ken Kesey talking to Carla P****.  This comes out of the reject pile immediately. . .

In her interview, Kesey quotes the I Ching: “The best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good.” Amen.

Kesey is one of my heroes, a kind and gentle person who was capable of great love. He recognized the dangers of the milieu in which he was dealing and did what he could to ameliorate them. I don’t feel the same way about Timothy Leary, who seemed to believe that the hazards of drug experimentation were what would separate the weak from the strong, and the weak be damned.

If there is any confusion at this point about how I feel about drugs, let me clear things up once and for all: I’m “agin” them, sort of. Here’s what I mean by that.

I’ve said elsewhere that marijuana is not for me. I realized that about 30 years ago when I woke up on a Monday morning realizing that the effects of the pot I had smoked on Saturday night were still present in my brain. I didn’t like that.

I have since watched two friends self-destruct on that “friendly” drug, men whose brains I greatly admired who lost the ability to reason when smoking. They ultimately lost it altogether.

There are NO friendly drugs. Alcohol does damage to your body. I accept this, and I try to balance the pleasure and the damage. Cigarettes help destroy your health. I’ve finally reached the point where the negatives aren’t worth the positives, and so I’m struggling with that addiction. Even lowly aspirin has both positive and negative effects.

But to those who would say “Cannabis is good, it promotes good health,” I can only answer, “Sorry, but in my experience it just isn’t true.” All drugs modify the way we perceive the world. So does an over-reliance on technology. So does buying into the current corporate/governmental mantra of “We know what is best for you.”

As a poet, my first job is to see things clearly. My second job is to try to communicate that vision to those who want to listen.

So listen up, guys. Pay attention to what the world around you is saying. If you have to escape, escape, but don’t try to justify it on the basis of “this is good for me.” It just isn’t true. Ken Kesey knew that; Timothy Leary didn’t.

Loose lips sink. . .TV producers? Laugh of the day

June 6, 2007

I’ll paraphrase this item from Tuesday’s “The Edge” column in the Oregonian. It left me rolling on the floor (although it didn’t leave me feeling safer and well cared for by Uncle S.):

A TV producer was detained for five hours by airport security at LAX after announcing he was there to “shoot a pilot.”

I am well and truly procrastinating now, with a major deadline looming for a manuscript. A dear friend just sent me one of those “answer these 30 questions so I’ll know all about you” things, and I’m even contemplating responding to it instead of continuing to gather and edit and arrange work. So far today, I’ve put away most of the laundry I did yesterday, cooked assorted meals and snacks for the two guys, found a place to store some high-tech stuff I’ve been tripping over for months and climbed the ladder to stash it, made more hummingbird food, done up a rather large quantity of dishes, read the Sunday Styles section of the NY Times (how else would I know what not to care about?), checked my summer savory seed (still not sprouted), moved a few books, and pointedly ignored the stack of poems waiting for me to say yes, no, or maybe.

I may write more later, but I’ve about run out of reasons not to do what I need to be doing. I’ve tried to think of something incredibly complicated to cook for dinner that will take me the rest of the day to assemble and prepare, but I’m drawing a blank. So I guess I’ll have to go stare at some poems.