Posts and Perspectives

Who Am I?

I’ve never been one to haul out the old memories from my dusty cupboards no matter how many “romantic” light beams leak through the worn cracks of my life.  Day to day I have looked to the future while treating the past like some worrisome laggard that refuses to leave me alone.  But this day was different. While traipsing through my attic I took a path slightly different from the familiar one; only to stub my toe on a dusty old metal box.  As I cursed upon it the fleeing dust revealed a name; seemingly fading in and out in the sparkling haze.  A critter took it’s opportunity to bolt between the rafters drawing my attention and stealing a heartbeat or two, for just a moment.  Then I looked down at the box and read the name out loud; “Matilda”.  A somewhat uncommon name but since it was my grandma’s name I wondered how long this single item had remained in the house I chose to live in; purly for financial expediency I would add.   When my grandfather passed, the house came to me and being the type of person that I was; raised to be practical before emotional I jumped at the opportunity to live there.  It was not about family inasmuch about a good financial step to my future.  Grandpa was not the type to disagree with my motives.  He instilled them in me with his swedish inflections as my parents relied upon his presence to keep me occupied while they worked.  His love often bordered on indifference because it was necessary to keep order, plan ahead, and be ready for the next thing life brings.  His family, refugees of the “Storsvagåret” famine, made great sacrifices to immigrate and get settled in the U.S., and through the Great Depression; all his lessons and methods were clear.   Yet, with a simple phone call he would fetch me home from school when I was sick, speak to me softly in a graveled tone, as he covered me in a blanket on the old couch, and then fetch me a small cup of orange soda. I was slow to marry for reasons that were rooted in the lessons grandpa taught me even though he never meant to teach them to me at all.  He never seemed to need, or to give any trust to women other than maybe my mother.  So I guess I somehow picked up on that.  Yet, there was one lady that caught my attention and seemed willing to love me beyond all sensible standards.   Taking Anne as my bride seemed quite “necessary” for some reason. The box was nothing special in terms of ornate features.  It was solid, secure and thick enough to hold a great deal of things.  I placed my flashlight upon a nearby rafter and sat upon the splintering tongue & groove floorboards.  The box seemed to beckon me in simple terms to open it; as if grandpa were there to chastise me for being the least bit hesitant.  Grandpa was married for a very short time but long enough to have a daughter; my mother.  After my grandma passed he never married again.  My perception was, he seemed to think his duties were full enough without taking on another soul to feed.  When grandma ebbed away he was quiet but never quite seemed sad. When she was gone his next steps always seemed to have a pragmatic purpose.  He kept the house next to the Yaquina Bay and ignored the new folks moving in around him.  He kept to himself, even around me as I grew up. I wiped the latch of the box and proceeded to open it.  A springwell of dust and musty smells danced lazily into my senses.  Inside were letters; tattered and frail.  I opened the first one and read it as if it were a simple historical document… but; when I finished, it was clear I had discovered a portal.  One that would unlock a mystery I could never have imagined; not in my wildest dreams.  I read the second letter and then the third; and then a few more.  I read until I came to a writing that stunned me with a questioning of all the moments I had ever spent with my grandpa.   “My dearest, I am pregnant, and I’m not sure, but I think you are the father.  My husband does not know yet…” These letters were love letters by my grandmother but they were not to my grandfather.  She had a lover and after reading several more it was clear my grandfather had only discovered these letters after her death.  How he came to have possession of them was not clear but in my dismay I could not ponder on anything beyond the obvious questions. Why did grandpa keep these letters, and why did he keep my mother and me as if we were his own? Then I thought… “Who am I?” Anne called from below.  She has not been feeling well and she rests upon that old couch in the living room.  I crawled down the attic ladder, spoke to her softly and I fetched her a small cup of orange soda.   db 4/24/2021

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The telling of the Tempest

Last night I dreamt I was in a boat on the high seas looking at a horizon pinched between building swells and blackened clouds.  Sheets of rain breaking against my face.  A dread of lost loved ones washing up with the next swell.  My hands frozen to the batten as the sails were aback in squalls of uncertainty.  Remembering my tears, I centered the rudder, waiting on the luffing sails. In water too deep for any anchor, too far out for any certainty,  I looked back for an answer. On a tepid beach under clearing skies I wade in from the shipwreck.  I see a shadow sitting just beyond the break.  As I approach he seems somewhat amused, almost giddy.  His forehead glistening and crinkled as he maintained a grin.   “Well, it’s about time my lad.  That storm was one for the books.. Or even a play maybe?” “I’m sorry… who are you?” I asked. “William…” he said.  “… and you will have to excuse me but I’m a little out of my vernacular… but, this is in fact, your dream, so being able to understand what I’m saying is probably the point.” “I don’t understand” He dipped one eyebrow and said… “Young man that wasn’t what I was going for at all” …he finished with a chuckle.  I shook my head and pushed back my hair… “I’m sorry, just who are you again?” “I told you William… playwright, poet, and actor… at your service sir.  I understand you are looking for answers… maybe even some justice.” “Wait, you’re Shakespeare?” He chuckled a bit, “What’s important my boy is that you think I’m Shakespeare.  I’m not the one here looking for answers.  Like I just said, it’s your dream” I knelt down in front of him and just then a wave broke swamping  us both in cool water.  His laughter was contagious and he blurted out – “Isn’t this marvelous my boy?” As the water found its way around us back into the sea his eyebrow dipped again as he looked deep into my eyes. “So my lad, what do you know of rage?” The question was stabbing and concise.  It took me back to the only place I could go.  I trembled as I tried to say the words. “I have seen rage as a little boy.  I cried because that was all I could do.  Witnessing rage of no more worth than that of a spoiled little boy; but in a grown man’s body.” “So you understand the difference between monsters and men?” My head dropped… “There is very little difference…  He hurt my mom.” William pulled his knees up and wrapped his arms around them. “But there is a monster you’re still afraid of isn’t there?” I picked up a handful of sand and clenched it with my fist… “I have my father’s temper.” I whispered. “The Tempest.”  William said with a smile as he pointed to the fading dark horizon. “…that storm, “ he popped his lips, “…you spend all your efforts to evade it and yet, it is the reason you are here.” He paused and laughed… “Young man I did not bring anything to this conversation that you have not already felt.  Maybe you should try confessing to a priest or something, or maybe your wife… Do you have a dog that seems sympathetic?” I stared blankly as William looked at the horizon. “You know something lad, there is no single person in this world that has cried for justice without a bit of shame.  When you think about it, … it’s quite comical actually.  We all want things to be fair and just but our own selfish nature gets in the way.  There is no magical way to uncover hope because it lies in depth, within our own self determination.  But, still, — we are doomed to look for magic because that is the tragic comedy that people do.” William looked up at the sun and dug his feet a bit further into the sand. “So, young man, where have you seen hope?” It took a moment for me to find an image in my mind. “I was in India once.  A place as foreign to me as anything I had ever experienced.  There was color and joy.  There were smells pungent and occasionally putrid.  There was maniacal, purposeful chaos pulsing through the streets.  And just as you turn a corner, there was poverty and squalor.” William glanced up… “But where was the hope?” “Well, this particular day was Guruprab; the birthday celebration of an important guru.  So there were these random parades mixed with intense traffic in the streets. I guess a parade was simply a matter of will.” William burst out laughing “Yes of course, much like a play is a matter of William” With a trailing chuckle he apologized…”Sorry… Please young man… continue” I closed my eyes and continued… “I remember tractors pulling large, colorfully decorated trailers loaded with children dressed in brightly colored clothing.  Women walked along behind smiling in pleasant conversation… Younger men kept together wearing bright colored turbans while older men sported beards and mustaches so thick, they seem to be carved deeply into their faces.  Music and prayer chants blared out on speaker systems pushed well beyond their limits.” William interrupted… “Wait, what is a tractor?  …What is a blared out speaker system?” I looked back up at his eyes in a bit of a scowl… “William, I admit this is pretty cool, you psychoanalyzing me here – on a beach – in a dream but – I gotta say you’re killing the mood right now.”  William smiled… “Sorry” he said spreading his arms like an angel;   “Actor… Tragic comedian” I closed my eyes again… “There were cars, tuk tuks, motorbikes,  all jostling and edging around them — and so were we when we came up next to one and stopped for a moment.  Suddenly I was locked within the gaze of a dozen or so children. They of course were transfixed on me, the pale guy in a cowboy hat.  So many large, dark, beautiful eyes and delicate faces, surrounded in bright swaths of color.” William’s face took on an intense stare.   …”I smiled and gave them a wink.  Some of them smiled back.  Then their heads bobbed slightly as their tractor began to move again. Suddenly, with the honk of our horn and an engine rev we were gone from each other’s world.… It was just just a moment in a strange and crazy world…” I paused and took a deep breath.  “But It was a moment I shall never forget.” William smiled and thought for a moment.  He picked up an agate he found next to him and threw it into a wave back lit by the setting sun.  As the wave broke there was just the faintest spark of light as the water and stone were relinquished in turmoil.  Like tension breaking into peaceful reflection before the next wave comes.  “So that is what you saw” said William “… a glimmer” He chuckled until he was in a full belly laugh… “A glimmer of hope?”  I failed to see the humor as I sat there with my heart flailed out in the sand.  William eventually became quiet as he stretched his legs straight out, his toes pointing skyward.   “Young man, you have learned to live with rage and you can see hope.  And it seems you might even have the ability to describe it.  There may be perfect people who never know the tempest but, those make for boring stories… You have to describe the storm in order to define the hope…” William raised his arms, widened his eyes and shrugged his his shoulders.  “…I ask you lad.  What is the tragedy in that?” Just then another wave broke over us and suddenly William was no more than a handful of sand slipping through my fingers.  And as I watched the grains slip into the outgoing rush of water… I awoke.   My phone pinged me with an incoming text.  I wiped my eyes and leaned over to the nightstand.  It was a message from my granddaughter… “Good morning Papa… it’s a bright and sunny day” Every storm gives way. Every story goes on. In the telling of the Tempest.  —  For my dear friend Mitchell Peterson© db 11/20/2020

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In the words of Steve

Recently Suzanne and I watched the movie “Yesterday” …at the very direct insistence of my old high school friend Steve.  I had heard wonderful things about the movie but somehow, I lost the notion to watch it.  While it’s true there has been a lot going on these days you would think it would have come up in a streaming binge or two.   But, if not for my good friend it might have slipped away; forever.   Which, as it turns out, is kind of the point of the movie.  If you haven’t seen it I will try not to spoil it but, it’s about a struggling musician played by Himesh Patel, who simply has a wonderful and comfortable singing voice; crap I’ll just say it, you should watch it for no reason than to hear this man play and sing.   So it is a movie about desire, songwriting, The Beetles, desire, song stealing, The Beetles, guilt, desire, success, The Beetles, more guilt, some stuff you need to see the movie for, and then preservation. Oh, and you’ll sing… of course you’ll sing.   Ok, so;  In the words of Steve… “You MUST watch this movie”. So, one scene I have to give away.  I mean, I’m trying to tell a story here and frankly if you haven’t seen the movie by now I have to tell you; you’re sucking wind behind the lamest movie watching dude < (this word is about to be important) for like… EVER! That would be me.  Not the dude, or any semblance of a dude.  So, this musician blinks into a word without The Beetles (among a few other things) and quickly realizes all those great songs don’t exist today. It’s a bit of a read if I bothered to spell it out for you so I’ll just sum up that this young man writes down every song he can remember and starts playing them; and ends up in a rather posh recording studio with Ed Sheehan, of all people, trying to record “Hey Jude” (A great song he is feeling guilty that he didn’t write) when Ed, of all people; I mean he would be the last person, … suggested a change; Especially this change.   “Hey Dude” So I enjoyed the movie and that was a funny moment.  So since watching it,  the past week or so my back, shoulder and neck (another long story) has been competing for my attention as I try to do what used to be normal stuff (for me), and it often leaves me exhausted with my muscles in knots by the end of a day.  So my newly retired nurse and lovely wife has been giving me wax treatments using a combination of very warm wax, cloth strips and sort of a paintbrush.   (Point of clarification: This is not the kind of waxing that ends with screaming) Mio Amore has always taken very good care of me.   So there I am laying face down with towels and blankets snuggling the warm wax against my back and neck, my eyes buckling into slumber, as a final clearing breath gives way to a pause in my mind…  “Hey Jude…” Suddenly I’m laying there with a song going through my head; which is not the least bit uncommon for me but, at least this is a great song – and so I drifted through it.  And as is often the case, I even experienced the grand delusion of a possible Bozo Brothers version of it for my band. (The Bozo Brothers is my band… doesn’t everyone have a band?) And then so,  My brain started working on that.   Another personal note:  It was only a few short years ago when I realized my attention span involved a massive amount of distractions that I was able to organize, or ignore outright,as a younger man but now, hell, even a hot wax session turns out to be a project these days.   So as I worked out the arrangements in my head I suddenly recalled a back story I heard once in an interview with Paul McCarthy many years ago. Paul wrote the song for Julian Lennon, John’s 5 year old son at the time.  It was a sweet thing to do for a little boy who was experiencing the breakup of his parents.  Paul originally called the song “Hey Jules”.  The story goes that John was very touched with the song but being a consummate song writer himself, suggested Paul change it to “Jude” – simply because the “D” sounded better.   …And so as I laid there it suddenly dawned on me, the sneaky inside joke in this movie with a ridiculous storyline.  Someone, and in this case a very good songwriter in Ed Sheeran suggested adding another “D”.   Ridiculous and absolutely brilliant.   “Hey Dude” Well anyway, “In the words of Steve”.   db10/27/2020

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The Battle of Neowise

So, I thought I would venture out this evening to witness an astrological wonder. I walked to the top of my driveway and sat in the grass… looking to the north. I did manage to see the whispy outline of the Neowise Comet just above the horizon. I leaned back in the cool evening breeze that often graces our ridge line above our property; And as I gazed at the dark star lined sky’s above I feel a familiar sting. I was apparently sitting next to a yellow jacket nest. Good thing was, at this time of night, they were not eager to come out and greet me in a more significant fashion. So, the sting started really stinging… and I thought I should maybe get some Benadryl or something. I walk down my long driveway approaching the street light next to my barn. All of a sudden there is a gopher trying to cross my driveway. I stopped and look down at him. He stops and looks up at me. One of us will be ended this night.. I cocked my leg in true praying mantis fashion. My kick snap was as good as it ever was, but the varmint was still looking at me in disdain as my slipper disappeared into the night… somewhere on my neighbors property. Yes, ninja moves and slippers are not particularly feasible, especially at night. Now for you folks that are live and let live, and I get it, I’m mostly a pacifist, but that thing hissed at me like l wasn’t still armed with one last slipper. And it was headed to an apple tree I planted for my mom. So I proceeded to beat a gopher to death with my remaining slipper. When the battle was over I cast its carcass out into my neighbors field as a morning snack for anything that won’t try to eat or sting me in the process. Which brings me to the final glorious moment having to climb over the neighbors fence barefooted to go looking for my slipper. For whatever reason, I did not step on a hornets nest. I found the slipper. As for the comet, Good grief. Db 7-15-2020

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The Yard

A hummingbird circledAs I sat on our benchA dragonfly hoversOver a rippled reflectionIn my mother’s pond A breeze rustles the treesAnd tickles my hairPapas tire tree swingMoves back and forthGently keeping time. Not a stone left unnoticedNot a window frame ignoredAs I plant with my pencilI sketch out what I loveWhile sitting in the yard. For ConradLove Papa 7-17-2020

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Smiles with the Wind

Tory the fast racerSmiles as the windRaces through her hairA laugh bellies upShe tucks in her legsAnd sails into her lifeWith reckless abandonAnd purely simple joyAnd her parent’s worryAs they watch in aweHow Tory the fast racerSmiles with the Wind. For my precious AstoriaOn her 2nd Birthday8/1/2020 Love Papa

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Undefeated

In an age of monsters and tyrantsA small boy looks for a heroAnd he finds words that would seemLike answers in an ancient battle Screams of epic defianceDarkness pushed backIn a cool song with a good beatWith swords and tattoos And then this boy wakes upTo see a familiar shapeWho kisses his forehead“Are you alright little buddy?” As he drifts back to sleepThe boy now realizesHe has a wondrous heroWho is undefeated. For ConradFrom Papa7-16-2020

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Cherries are in!

Despite our best efforts the Cherries are in and the birds have arrived with their bibs on. To our ever loyal Co-op’s, come and get them.

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When I look up at the Sky

When I look up at the skyAnd the clouds are grayI close my eyes for raindropsThat might not come. When I look to the skyand it seems as a paintingI look to the edges of cloudsFor the whisps of truth When I look to the skyThe sun feels warm as it burnswell into the evening I feel itAs the evening wind chills me When I look up to the skyI see the edges of my dreamsThe brilliance of hope in a windAnd a fragile conclusion in the sunset. For MishaLove PapaJune 21, 2020

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A thing of Canter Lane

A wise young lady entered Canter LaneThe eldest of the elders spied her “Do you have a thing?” She asked.The young lady stared back silently “A thing?” The young lady finally asked“A thing… a thing of this place” said the elder The gammer tilted her head slowly in dismayAs she faced an abandoned colloquy. “Wait, I have a thing” the young woman saidThe sage looked up from her dismay “I have the warmth from their hearts”…“The wisdom from their stories” The old shaman slowly gazed up at herCracking an unlikely smile from her brittle face “And my dear,…” “…you have what a bright one deserves”“You have our love and best wishes” In your travels may you keep this thingA thing from all of us on Canter Lane. For JustineA citizen in good standingOf Canter LaneJune, 2020

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Rain

This continuous eclipse of sunMisty ghosts grasping treesTapping of raindrops all aboutDrowning my sullied tears Feeling naked I begin to shiverAs moisture soaks my bonesLonging for glowing embers A hot cup of steaming brothAnd a book that knows me Shelter from the rain For Misha. Love PapaJune 15, 2020

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The False Summit

You’ve waited for this special momentLike those who went beforeAnd you counted on the gloryExpectations and so much more As you climbed your mountainYou could see it so clearlyThe peak was just right thereThe moment you held so dearly Every climber knows the contemptA false summit seems to holdHaving come so far to seeYour path must be your own Be strong little one for pride is nearWe all know what you have doneAnd if you just turn aroundYou can see how far you’ve come For My Little Bug MishaGraduating from 6th Grade6/8/2020Papa couldn’t be prouder.

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