Messages from dreamland

After the puppy’s 5:30 a.m. constitutional, I lay down on the sofa in the basement to catch a little extra sleep before starting the day. While fading to sleep and then dreaming, I remember several thoughts and ideas occurring to me that made me wish I’d brought pen and paper along.

But I was too comfortable. I remember concluding that the ideas likely would bubble up from my consciousness again when they were ready, if I’m just patient enough and keep thinking and writing.

I’ll never know if that’s true, of course, because now I forget what those thoughts and ideas were. My only evidence and reason for optimism is the frequency with which I put down an idea only to discover later that I’d already written that years ago.

From time to time I’ll wake in the night and jot something down, then go back to sleep, only to find in the morning that the note is incomprehensible I didn’t write enough. “The Memphis frog”? Really?

Our subconscious mind is full of messages from dreamland, waiting to be tapped when the time is right.


Saturday night and not a creature is stirring — Summer is out like a light but within stroking distance should I want to pet a puppy. The wind chimes are chiming up a storm outside the window; it’s not storming, but the wind is blowing and so — music!

Part of me is thinking, after 575 consecutive days of posting something on the blog, shouldn’t I have a plan by now, shouldn’t I know what I’m going to post a little sooner than 140 minutes before it goes live? All the fancy “how to blog” blogs tell you to have a mission statement and a schedule and a reason for people to come back again and again. And by a schedule, they mean something more than a commitment to post something-anything-whatever by 12:01 a.m. every day.

Another part of me is thinking, for 67 years and 5 months and change, I wanted to be a Writer, not “just” a community journalist but someone who wrote for the love of writing, every day, all the time, and I did a lot of Writing but could never sustain the habit. And so, saying something in one place for 575 days in a row is a triumph, whether I pack the queue for six weeks ahead of time or write a Great American Novel one blog post at a time or whether I sit down on Saturday night after laughing and loving the latest two episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, look at the clock and say holy crap I haven’t written anything for the blog.

Mrs. Maisel, by the way, is one of the most delightful TV shows of recent years. Once upon a time I would say it’s one of the best shows on the air, but TV shows aren’t necessarily ON the air anymore, are they?

Am I the last person on Earth to realize that they don’t make Triumph sports cars anymore? If I can believe Wikipedia, the brand name was retired in 1984.

Have I ever told the story of how I passed up my one chance (so far) to drive a Studebaker Golden Hawk, my favorite car design? Maybe I’ll tell it the next time I find myself banging out a last-minute blog two hours before midnight.

While I was typing, Summer got up and explored the rest of the house for a while, but she’s back by my side and fixing to curl up for the long haul. That’s probably my cue to wrap this up, post it, and sail my way into La La Land myself. Thanks for stopping by, and see you tomorrow, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

Ebeneezer Scrooge as role model

As I come within spitting distance of my 70th birthday, now 13 months away, I increasingly am convinced that the ruling class of this world, like all sociopathic criminals, is always looking for ways to decrease the surplus population.

The phrase is from Ebeneezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Representatives of a charity approach Scrooge, saying, “a few of us are endeavoring to buy the poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth” for the holidays. The then-miser asks if the prisons, workhouses and Poor Laws have been shut down.

“I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there,” Scrooge said.

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Much as our political betters have decided Nineteen Eighty-Four has a happy ending — Winston Smith finally loved Big Brother, after all — I think they also forget that Ebeneezer Scrooge was in need of reform, and in fact becomes a good man in the end. They seem hellbent on decreasing the surplus population as fast as they can.

Weapons of mass destruction, gain-of-function viruses, and sketchy vaccines and magic pills proliferate in the hands of not very subtle bullies who manipulate people into believing the most amazing lies, the biggest lie being that their top priority is protection of the people.

When we left Scrooge, he had become “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old City knew, or any other good old city, town or borough in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them, for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed, and that was quite enough for him.”

We should aim to be more like the reformed Ebeneezer Scrooge, who “lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle ever afterward; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us.”

In seeking more information about what might be described as “the Total Abstinence Principle” in 1843, I mostly found commentators who concluded Dickens was making a pun on Scrooge having “no further intercourse with Spirits” (get it? Spirits? Abstinence?), but I did find one site,, a “bank of knowledge,” that suggested the Total Abstinence Principle might refer to “abstinence from being bitter, mean-spirited, angry, dour, greedy, grasping, self-centered and unforgiving.” 

That’s a Total Abstinence Principle I could get behind.

Overcoming Self

Green Sky © Chayanan Phumsukwisit |

Emerald skies (wait, how do you have emerald skies? I’ll have to research what gases have to be in the atmosphere for skies to be emerald) greeted him in the morning as he stepped outside. His (what would you call a motorcycle-type vehicle that doesn’t touch the ground, like in Star Wars?) floater beckoned.

He wanted to hit the road (wait, why would there be roads if vehicles don’t touch the ground?)

Are you going to let me tell the story or second-guess every word I try to write? (BWAA HA HAHA HA HAHAHA ha ha ha ha ha!) What? (I pulled you away from imagining a guy taking a ride on his floater under emerald skies.) Damn you, Self-Editor, you nailed me before he was barely out of bed. Can I get on with the story? (No, I’ve driven it out of your mind. BWA HA ha ha.)

So, you see, class, you have to put your Self-Editor in handcuffs, lock them in a trunk, and walk to the other side of the house where you can’t hear them screaming how they can’t breathe. Because when your Self-Editor is in the house, you can’t breathe. (That’s funny, I hit the wrong key somewhere and autocorrect changed “breathe” into “create.” How appropriate.)

He wondered whether he should get a cup of coffee before he started. He could almost taste the bitter jolt of woe-up, the hot liquid easing down his throat to break up the morning frog, the comfort of being warmed up from the inside, but he wasn’t ready to be comforted yet. The days had slipped by one, two, three, and he was three days closer to the day when it would be too late.

He knew — intellectually — that the day was inevitable, it comes to everyone, but he couldn’t muster the required sense of urgency. He tried slapping himself figuratively and he tried slapping himself literally, and still he remained calm in the face of the literal deadline.

“Maybe,” he told the mirror, “calm is acceptance. Maybe some days just slip by, and the more you beat yourself up about it, the less you get on with living.”

“Yep,” said the man in the mirror, “it’s what you call a vicious circle.”

“Everyone calls it a vicious circle, not just me,” he said.

“Don’t get me started,” the mirror replied.

“You talking to me?”

“Oh, stop, that’s a cliche by now.”

Oh, deer!

I’m thinking I should take the dogs out in the backyard for some midwinter frolicking in the sun, when I look out and see the white-tailed deer strolling across the field next door toward our bird feeders. The dogs can frolic later.

I was about to compose a few lines about living in a place where wild animals go strolling on a Sunday afternoon, when I realized, “Wait, a deer at the feeder?” and grabbed the camera.

A few dozen shots later, I sat down to write about the awesome beauty of this common-but-not-everyday encounter, and a couple sentences later I peeked out the window again, to see her gone.

There is a time to write, and a time to grab a camera, and most of all there is a time just to soak in the beauty and enjoy the life all around.

Cliff’s Notes Novel

The journey was epic, but the Woodywacs finally made it from one place to another.

The reason for the journey is lost to the ages. Were they leaving their ancestral home to find a new homeland, or were they returning home? No one knows. They just know that the epic journey was made and the Woodywacs have called Woodywacacia home for the ensuing centuries.

Would they ever leave Woodywacacia again? The Woodywacs would tell you there was no need — the land is fertile and generous, so only a catastrophe could make them move.

Enter Katastrofee, goddess of malice. She swooped in one day and burned the crops and earthquaked half the village to rubble.

But the Woodywacs gathered round and drove her away, if not forever, then for the foreseeable future, and they lived happily ever after although ever vigilant for the return of Katastrofee.

All the books, all the memories

My blue journaling chair faces bookshelves, and every so often, searching for a topic, my eyes scan the titles, many of them provoking fond memories — Cyrano de Bergerac — Oh, what a rush that was , rushing through Rostand’s story like a hungry beast, gobbling up the poetry and the poignancy and the love of words, laughing out loud at the scene where Cyrano comes up with 20 better insults than poor Valvert can muster — the depth of his love for Roxanne expressed through the letters he writes for de Neuvillette — and the heartbreaking final scene where Roxanne realizes her true love has been her dear friend all along. To this day my tears well up at the words “My white plume!”

Ah, there’s Dandelion Wine and The Martian Chronicles and I’m falling in love with Ray Bradbury all over again — 100 Selected Poems of E.E. Cummings and oh how words can across the page in unexpected turns dance so! — the biography of Gandhi that opened my mind to nonviolent civil disobedience and love — The Scarlet Letter and the unexpected delight of an English class assignment becoming a page-turner — and again with Wuthering Heights — there’s a line of Harlan Ellison books and oh-so-late-in-life Edgar Rice Burroughs —

What a magnificent symphony words can make in the hands of masters.