“There was only one thing emptier than having lived without love, and that was having lived without pain.”
Nesbo, Jo. The Redeemer (A Harry Hole Novel) (p. 389). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
Ruth often asks me to write more about my grandchildren. In her comments to the last issue of T&T, my daughter in law Ann-Marie sent the following update on their activities:
“First, I love the pic of you in the hat. Yes very handsome, and no, not like a broken mirror in a garbage dump… Just antiquated a bit. People really enjoy & cherish antique things you know.
Second, I’m still giggling about the commentary on Hayden wrestling, Metallica, etc. Very cute. Be worried, very worried. Haha. Then again, Anthony & Aaron have radically changed their ideas of what they wanted to be when they grew up. Anthony wanted to be a lawyer like his papa Joe, a pro baseball player or a historian. Go figure.
Aaron wanted to be a football player, now he’s a chef with ideas of opening a bar or restaurant. Athena was going to be a ballerina and a doctor. Now she’s going to be a welder who teaches yoga, and guitar to make extra cash to support her art passion.”
Hmm… antique or antiquated? I’m not sure I feel pleased by either one.
My granddaughter Amanda, is in Japan with her mom and should be returning this week.
C. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
This morning I am happy. It is the first day of school, I have just dropped HRM off and I am sitting in Bella Bru Cafe sipping a café latte and munching on a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese. My emotions, I suspect, are similar those all mothers of pre-adolescent children who are not wealthy enough to afford paid help or childcare must feel this day, relief. For a short time the day is yours, at least until the school day ends. After breakfast I plan to get back into my exercise regime, catch up on some reading and enjoy an uninterrupted nap.
Funny, after writing the above, I suddenly feel at loose ends. Now that I think about it, I really do not know what to do with my time. Maybe I’ll go to the man-cave, smoke a cigar, drink lemonade and watch an old movie.
D. TRAVEL PLANS:
For those to whom this may be of interest, I plan to return to Thailand for a month at the beginning of October. I will be spending my 75th birthday there. Someones 75th birthday it seems to me to be an important milestone in life. One should spend those milestones with those with whom they had shared a portion of it, friends and family. Unfortunately, I will not be able to do so. I’m sure, however, LM will knit me a scarf. Maybe I’ll buy myself a birthday cake.
Anyway, after leaving Thailand I will return through Italy, hopefully meeting up with my sister who may attend a conference in Rome. I plan to travel with her and her husband George to Sicily for a week or so. Then to NY and perhaps DC to spend a day or two with my daughter before returning to SF.
As has been the case for five years now planning for a trip like this a month and a half ahead usually means it will not happen quite as hoped.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Red Sails in the Sunset
It was Autumn in Paris. We walked down Rue de Grenelle on the left bank, my arm around her shoulders. She wore a long checkered coat. We stopped to look into the window of a shop selling antique playing and tarot cards. I pulled her towards me. We kissed. We were very much in love. We stood there arms entwined gazing at one another. She was very very beautiful.
That was the point when, last night, I realized I had been dreaming. I could feel myself being pulled away into wakefulness. My dream me cried out. I, however, felt no tears. I lay there in bed the rest of the night unable to get back to sleep. It had been like a reverse nightmare, waking up was the horror.
The whole thing reminded me of a poem I had written many years ago when I was much younger and living in Rome. I fancied myself a poet then (more a lifestyle than a profession). I lived in a small pensione on the top floor of a building on a side street just off via Nationale across from St Paul’s within the Walls, the major American Protestant Church in Rome. In the evenings I would sit in my room by the open window and listen to the then love of my life, practice on the piano in the church rectory where she lived having been sent there by her exceedingly wealthy Danish parents (Maersk – Moller) to study music at The National Academy of St. Cecilia in Rome. She was exceptionally beautiful, an accomplished musician, a doper and a bit of a groupie, especially attracted to bass fiddle jazz musicians with lots of hair. Eventually her family felt she was spending too much time with a certain Italian-American drifter and called her back from Rome to marry someone more appropriate. She is now Chairman of the Board of a major Maersk subsidiary. Sic transit gloria.
I hung out with a group of ex-pat would be poets none of whom ever made it as poets (one became a high school teacher in Santa Rosa) and a few con-man who also to my knowledge never made whatever it was they were hoping to make. In ex-pat communities world over, there are always a lot of those on the con. How much less interesting would the world be if there were no con and no grifters to fashion them. Movies often tend to make the grifters happy-go-lucky sociopaths, sometimes even with a heart of gold. Although they smiled a lot, most of the sociopaths I knew were anything but happy go lucky and as for their hearts, it was far more likely they were lined with lead.
The poem was part of a lengthy piece most of which I no longer recall. It was lost many years ago along with all my other attempts at turning doggerel if not into gold at least into something useful like molybdenum. Pretentious imagist drivel, it went like this:
The wanderer travels not by hook
But sprawled upon the empty tides of fairy world and real
And the sham cult darkness lie that was
Yet will not be
Marks its passage on nothing
The entire poem ended with perhaps one of the more tragic images in all of literature, “red sails returning.”
Tristan, before embarking from Cornwall on his latest war in Ireland, promised his beloved Isolde that upon his ships’ return, if he were still alive, he would unfurl his white sails but had he died his men would put up red ones. Upon word of the ship’s approach to the harbor, Isolde sent her handmaid to the top of the tower to report what she sees. Tristan, still alive, orders his men to unfurl the white sails. Unfortunately the sun was setting at just that moment causing the sails to blaze a bright red. Upon the maid’s return from the tower Isolde asked her the color of the sails. “Red” she answered not knowing the significance of her response. So, in sorrow and despair Isolde killed herself as did Tristan when he discovered his beloved’s body.*
I always envied Tristan. As far as I know, there have been very few people who longed for my return after I left the room.
* It should be noted, that there are several versions of the Tristan tale many of them that differ substantially from what I have described. First of all, in a lot of them Isolde waiting in the castle in Cornwall was not the beloved Isolde, but Isolde of the White Hands, T’s wife.
It seems that while T and the beloved Isolde were playing hide the salami, she was married to Mark the King who was also T’s boss. Eventually the lovers agreed T would go away because, in part, they both liked Mark the King and felt bad about what they were doing, but mostly because Mark the King was the King and if he found out what they were doing he would cut off their heads as well as other important parts of their body. So T left and married the white-handed Isolde because he liked her name and she had a castle near the water. Frankly, when T returned from his slaughter of his Irish kinsmen and found white-handed Isolde dead due to a mistaken perception, he was not too broken up about it.
There are also many versions of how T died. Some have him poisoned, probably by a jealous husband and others have him chopped to bits in the midst of one of his ethnic cleansing jobs. I, on the other hand, believe he died in a bar fight with some bikers in Pocatello Idaho.
However it was that he died, I am not particularly jealous of this version of T. He seems to just be like a lot of men – completely fucked in the head.
A. Testosterone Chronicles, Female Version:
Boudicca, the original Braveheart. After the death of her father the king, the Romans flogged Boudicca, raped her daughters, and, to add insult to injury, the financiers back in Rome called in their loans to the deceased monarch. This last probably really fried her bacon. Bat-shit with anger, she then led her tribe of British Celts in a bloody, and ultimately doomed, rebellion against their Roman occupiers. She took no prisoners and slaughtered all the Romans in the cities she conquered. As the town that was to become London burned, she had the breasts of the noblest women cut off and sewn into their own mouths before impaling them on spikes.
Tomoe Gozen, one of Japan’s few known female warriors, who fought in the 12th century Genpei War. Described as a peerless swords-woman, horsewoman and archer, she had a taste for beheading her enemies.
Mai Bhago, the 18th-Century Sikh Joan of Arc. Appalled to see Sikh men desert their Guru in the face of Mughal invaders, she shamed them into returning to battle, defeated the enemy, became the Guru’s bodyguard and later retired to devote herself to meditation.
Maria Bochkareva, a Russian peasant who fought in World War I. She formed the terrifyingly named Women’s Battalion of Death and won several honors, only to be executed by the Bolsheviks in 1920. (Contrary to the belief of some of my commenters, she did not become a Russian mail order bride.)
Nancy Wake, the New Zealand-born British agent commanded more than 7,000 resistance fighters during the Nazis’ occupation of France in World War II. She killed a SS sentry with her bare hands to prevent him from raising the alarm during a raid. She became the Gestapo’s most wanted person, and the Allies’ most decorated servicewoman. After the war she refused offers of decorations from Australia, saying: “The last time there was a suggestion of that I told the government they could stick their medals where the monkey stuck his nuts.”
B. More from Eric Spang (Jimmy Buffett “Boat Drink” Lyrics):
This morning I shot six holes in my freezer.
I think I got cabin fever
Somebody sound the alarm.
I’d like to go where the pace of life’s slow.
C. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:
1. Auction or flea market:
Stevie points out an error in my previous edition of T&T:
“In return for that nice birthday shout-out I will concur that the hat is a fine addition to your wardrobe but must correct you on its provenance: that ain’t no FLEA MARKET – that’s THE AUCTION.
When I was a kid livestock was auctioned from a relatively small corral across the street from where the produce, Amish baked goods, and miscellaneous new but weird items could be bought on Saturday mornings. Jimboys got its start at a mobile taco stand at THE AUCTION. Sometime in the 1960s it became DENIO’s AUCTION and you could separate the natives from the newcomers by whether they went to THE AUCTION or to DENIO’s. About the same time THE AUCTION started operating on Sunday as well as Saturday.
The DENIO’s had two daughters – one a year older than I who was a solid citizen (at least for a Roseville teenager) and the other a bit younger who was less so, proving the point by taking my renegade brother to myriad formal affairs in which he would ordinarily have had no interest. They were both hovering around 6 feet in height and Kathy was as gorgeous as Buddy was handsome, making a striking couple in those dance photos my mother loved to save. Fortunately for the young lady and her family the romance did not long flourish.
Before we hit junior high we’d go to Diamond National with my dad on Saturday mornings, and the manager would frequently hire us and our neighborhood pals to put advertising flyers on the windshields of all the cars overflowing the huge dirt and gravel parking lots surrounding THE AUCTION – a job that paid well but left us covered in dust.
In fairness, I haven’t been there in decades so it may have become a flea market, for all I know, but if it is, it’s a flea market at THE AUCTION as far as I’m concerned.”
I stand corrected and apologize to all, including the Denio family – especially tall, gorgeous Kathy. (Is she still tall, gorgeous and looking for trouble?)
2. Apology to the Good/Bad David:
David I am extremely sorry for the photograph and comments below, but I just could not resist. I hope you are still willing to talk to me.
”The last refuge of scoundrels is not patriotism but the claim that no one could see it coming.
Most very wealthy individuals are scoundrels, only very few admit it and they usually do so from jail.”
This handsome devil is my friend the Good/Bad David in his coat of many colors at his graduation from university. In addition to excelling in sports, especially basketball, and spending time as a professional drummer in a band, David won that year’s Richard Pryor award for the best imitation afro by a white man from South Dakota.