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A misty cool morning with distant thunder-boomers wandering about randomly dropping rain and lightning strikes. An all-day rainy day. We love those now. They are so rare.
Snookums comes into the studio bearing that first cup of hot coffee from the brewer. Kippur slowly warms up to the rainy day routine. And I with sleep swollen fingers sit down to work the gentle ache away.
Too soon it will be time to mix up some waffle batter and maybe some turkey sausage to go with it. But for the moment, I can feel a wee bit sinful in sitting here in pj’s and letting the day unfold.
This is a fix the icemaker day. I can just feel it in my bones. And maybe *sob!*, it is treasure sorting day, sorting the clutter that surrounds me. I am a hoarder, and being separated from my treasures causes me great angst. No telling when I might need an appointment reminder for last July, or an empty packet of dental floss. But the rule is, if it wasn’t needed during the past year, it probably will never be needed.
But all that is hours down the road. For the nonce, just me and thee, and a cup of coffee …
Well, nurse Ratched at the Cardiac Rehabilition Unit wasn’t so bad. A sweet, trim and fit blond and two other young ladies met me as I wandered into the door.
Turns out that nurse Ratched’s name is Morgan, and she is my Exercise Physiologist. Arrayed around us was a plethora of geezers chained to recumbent bikes and treadmills, all with a pink and sweaty faces. It was a bit like slave galley’s on Viking ships. I suppose that the machines were hooked up to generate power for the hospital.
“Do you know why you are here, Mr Armor?”
“Because I have been a bad boy?” Maybe the cardiologist did write “LAZY” on the assessment.
“No. Not at all. Lots of people need a bit of help after surgery. You have quite a history, Mr. Armor.”
“It was a set up. I wasn’t in those states when it went down”
Blank look. Well, so much for my Broderick Crawford routine. These well-scrubbed sprites have never heard of Broderick Crawford, nor of his award winning performance of On the Waterfront.
“We will be doing a lot of testing these next few days. You will have 38 sessions, most of which will require a little exertion. If you cannot make an appointment, call us, and we will reschedule it. You won’t lose a session, we will just pick up from where you canceled.”
“You really aren’t going to let me out of this, are you.”
“No. As we go through each test, we will ask you what your Borg is.”
“Will I be assimilated?”
I saw from the looks of the three young women that they had no clue, so they sort of tittered, and tried to not give the geezer a blank look.
“You’ve never seen Star Trek, have you.”
One said: “I watched a couple of them at my aunt’s house. I don’t remember any one asking what their Borg was, though.”
“Borg lets us know how you are feeling on a scale of 6 through 20. If you are feeling uncomfortable, we want to know. Do you carry Nitro tablets with you?”
“Will I need them?”
“We just like to have them here with you, even though our resident Cardiologists are just down the hall and we can get you up to the Cardiac unit very quickly.”
“I feel very comforted by that.”
“Good! Let’s get you wired up, and we are going to do a six minute walk to bet a benchmark.”
“I haven’t left a mark on a bench since high school.”
They pretended they didn’t hear that.
Anyway, I did ok with the walk, and they sent me home, chirping: “See you Monday!”.
“… and Wednesday and Friday” I mumbled as I stumbled out the door …
“Cardiac Rehab, Bruinhilda speaking!”
“Good morning! This is Russell Armor, and I need to cancel my appointment this morning. I am having some … ah … physical problems.”
“No problem. We can reschedule you for Thursday! Do you want an eight am or ten am appointment?”
“OK! See you then!”
Sunday dawns with a sunny, luxurious quietness, a plush silence pervades the house even though Snookums is up and about. She is a woman of order and routine and heaven help the man or dog who interrupts that natural order of things.
At dawn she arises, waiting dogs arrayed around her like petals on a flower. Slipping into her robe she makes the morning rounds of hitting the brew button, opening the blinds in several rooms, every third day putting in a shallow dish of bathing water for Kippur the budgie, then disappearing into the master bathroom for what seem to the mutts an interminable amount of time.
She rewards herself for assiduously brushing her teeth with that first cup of coffee, then dons her morning attire. Usually ragged pangs, t-shirt, socks and shoes. While she does this, it is a signal to the mutts to start rough-housing. Soon, she will go to a special cabinet that contains a treasury of tennis balls, some disgustingly groady, some brand new. One for each mutt is the rule, though occasionally one will manage to get all three balls into her mouth.
Then out the door for fifteen minutes of ball chasing, then each one returns to the house with their ball, and awaits their pay for returning the ball. We don’t pay them a lot. One biscuit per ball is the rule. But once in awhile a ball will disappear into the tall grass for a day or two, then mysteriously return to be traded in for an extra treat.
Then it is half an hour on the treadmill, before sitting down to cool off while checking the emails and facebook offerings.
The stalwart king of the house meanwhile, has just managed to fill his own cup of coffee, and stagger bleary eyed to his studio to read the emails, look wistfully out the window into the pasture outside, get scolded by the parakeet, and type “Sunday dawns with a sunny, luxurious quietness.”
Soon, Passover will be here, and the woman of valor as Proverbs call her, will start cleaning. Leaven has to go. Closets need cleaning. Stoves and refrigerators need to be pulled out, cleaned behind and pushed back just so. Drawers need arranging, carpets shampooed, stoops swept and all put in order in case this is the year Elijah decides to celebrate Passover with us.
It is a terrifying time for men and dogs, but all are expected to participate. *grunt!*. Me male. Me move heavy thing. *grunt!*
But for the moment, there is me, you, coffee and peace on earth.
This morning I was reading posts from a facebook® faith group that I subscribe to, and it was dotted with various exposé of heretical preachers, rabbis and doctrines that surround the unwary. Yeah, faith is a minefield, and these self-same accusers are accused of heresy and error by the ones being accused. Sometimes, my inability to follow a Guru serves me well in this trudge toward spiritual truth.
Not that I haven’t tried. I have sat at the feet of Swami’s and medicine men, rabbi’s and preachers, agnostics and atheists, mystics and frauds. I have attended ancient rites, both hidden and revealed, worn cassocks and masks, swords and wands, venerated icons and idols, but in the end, I walked away in mild embarrassment for my gullibility.
And I have explored mysterious kabbalah, with its gematria and PaRDEs, the ensof of all that is visible.
But inevitably, one discovers that the true sage live in the p’shat. The simple meaning. The father, the Yodh·He·Waw·He, YHWH, Yah, is above. We are below. We mirror the above. Ergo there is warfare in heaven. There is warfare below. One side is his side, the other side isn’t. I cannot comprehend the forces arrayed against me. I am a chip on a vast sea of turmoil, moved this way and that way by heaves and billows.
Yet a chip floats above the turmoil, half emerged and half above. Sometimes inundated, yet always reemerging from the turmoil. A curious metaphor. A faith with an invisible foundation guides me unerringly toward a hidden shore. You ask me how I know? I can’t tell you. I put on a sappy grin and say; “I know”.
“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” — Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
Time is running out to enter the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest where they put the WWW into writing.
“I’m sure I must have sounded like a fool and a borderline psychotic most of that year, when I talked to people who thought they knew who and where they were at the time … but looking back, I see that if I wasn’t Right, at least I wasn’t Wrong, and in that context I was forced to learn from my confusion … which took awhile, and there’s still no proof that what I finally learned was Right, but there’s not a hell of a lot of evidence to show that I’m Wrong either.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist, 1968-1976
I was carrying a bucket of oats to a back pasture, but had to cross two adjacent pastures with mean bulls in them. I remember reasoning that I would walk along the fence line, and if the bull charged, I could hop across the fence to the other pasture. I was a little frightened, but not so terror stricken that I could not cross. I managed to traverse the fields without incident.
In the back pasture, there were three non-descript horses, and for some odd reason, I was frightened. But being a farm boy, I was not going to let a damned horse scare me, and I determinedly walk to a feed trough under a cottonwood tree to dump the bucket of oats. The horses were a few feet beyond the trough, and as I neared them, they turned their backs to me to kick me. I panicked, dropped the feed bucket and ran to the safety of the other pasture.
One of the horses looked back at me and said menacingly: “Don’t ever try that again!”
I woke with a pounding heart. Ben, the medicine man, was off on a toot, and I was alone in our camp in the sagebrush. Dawn was just breaking, and my soul was not quiet. The night before, I had received a warning from another Brujo to not go to Denver. That was odd, because I had no such plan in mind, so I just dismissed it.
I fanned the fire back into life just as the sun broke over Magic Mountain, a name that some of the locals had given to the Mountain behind the Taos Pueblo. Artisans felt that it had some pull on them, and perhaps it did. I know that most of us believed we wouldn’t leave until the mountain dismissed us. With the passing of years, I believe that was true, but that I had another calling other than Brujo, and the two callings were at war with each other.
One path had all the comforts of knowledge and power, albeit a bit dusty comfort, and the other was a walk into sere, friendless landscape. I thought I had chosen the life of a Brujo, but the Fates had moved my thread in the Tapistry of Life, and three weeks later I woke on Lawrence Street in Denver, broke and not knowing how I had made the seven hour trip.
A rose colored neon cross flashed “Jesus Saves” above me. A place of refuge on a mean street. I needed a place to sleep where I wouldn’t get my head kicked in. Father Woody sat up on what had once been a stage, reading. People were sleeping in the aisles and wooden pews. I found an empty spot in a pew near the front, and went to sleep in my new land.
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