Sunrise Hall of fame

Sunrise Hall of fame
Just another sunrise?

The pond

The pond
Filled at last

Hurray for da bees!

Hurray for da bees!
HappyDay Farms bees.

Iria and Daffy-bff. Who'd a thunk it?

Iria and Daffy-bff.  Who'd a thunk it?
My good friend, Iris and Daffy.

At the wharf in San Francisco

At the wharf in San Francisco
Mark and Annie

Blue Rock

Blue Rock
One day last winter...

My Shrine to baseball

My Shrine to baseball
Bring on the Dodgers. We're in a bad mood!

Biggee Fats gets patriotic and joins the army.

Biggee Fats gets patriotic and joins the army.
Private Fats, Biggee, reporting for duty, Sir! Can you direct me to the mess hall?

The mustache...

The mustache...
Be careful what you wish for...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Anything but Water

Anything but Water

I am embarrassed to admit that I am a recent convert to the religion of water, it having taken me more than sixty years into my life’s journey, to discover what so many others already know: Water is not just important-water is essential.

It astounds me that I could have had so little awareness of the needs of my body, that I would have ignored water for so long. I mean, if I was thirsty-really thirsty-I would chug the stuff. Otherwise, I preferred in no particular order, coffee, diet soda, apple juice, sports drinks, almond milk, bottled iced teas, mocha coffees, whatever I could find that would satiate my thirst that did not involve drinking water.

I remember explaining to Annie once that water gave me indigestion. I have no idea from what perspective I was coming. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact I routinely use water when I find a headache coming on, when I get any kind of unhealthy craving, or when I think I am hungry, when it has only been a couple of hours since I had a normal meal.

I start my day inordinately early, generally between two and three in the A of M. I sip one piping hot cup of coffee slowly, savoring it, and then I down 18 ounces of room temperature water, fresh from our spring. I used to be abhorred by the idea of drinking water so early, but that is because I never tried it and I never realized how much benefit I derive from it. I then indulge in a second cup of coffee, but that’s it-two cups.

I drink a minimum of six liters of water per day-never less than that. For so long I repelled the idea of following this course of action because I was afraid I might as well take up permanent residence in the bathroom. A good night for me is only three trips to use the facilities. A bad night sees me up once an hour.

Any thought I had to going the six-liters-per-day route, was tempered by the knowledge that I would pay the price that night. Unfortunately, that “knowledge” was erroneous. The way it works is that one’s body develops accordingly, expanding the bladder to accommodate the additional liquid, and allowing me to seek sleep without the kind of repetitive trips to the bathroom that I had feared.

I have, however, found a direct connection between those frequent trips to the bathroom at night, and the amount of coffee that I drink. Coffee stays inside me and creates that need to get up hourly, if I have three of fours cups or add a latte on top of a couple of cups. The less coffee I drink, the fewer times I need to get up at night.

Now I drink nothing but my two cups of coffee in the morning and vast unlimited quantities of water. I have never been much of a beef-eater, because I have always had difficulty digesting it. Well, duh. If one does not consume enough water, one’s digestive system is going to encounter technical difficulties, as a matter of course. Elementary, My dear Watson, except that if it isn’t elementary, how do you find out? 

Guess and by golly, I suppose, as it took me more than sixty years. The funny thing is, though, that now I have reached this stage, I will never go back to the other stuff. I mean, diet soda? That stuff is so toxic, you can use it to clean your toilet bowl. And the sugar from much of the other stuff is laden with toxic components, if you care at all what you put into your body.

Water makes the world go round, and a lot of other things too. I am late to the party but I figure better late than never.

Think about it-how much water do you drink every day, and when do you drink your first glass?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Greed: It's the American Way

Greed: It's the American Way

Social media has been inundated with images of the 32-year old wretch who found it within his capacity to first purchase the rights to a specific medication, and then raise the price per pill from $13.50 to $753.00.

I will not name him because he represents only one in a lengthy list of individuals who has demonstrated the ability to traipse through life in the same manner that a Sherman Tank “traipses” through life, and with a comparable indifference.

I gave much thought to which specific label I would attach to this wretch, because there are so many choice examples from which to choose. He is a wretched example of a human being and I am ashamed to live in a country which glorifies the almighty dollar and raises it to such dizzying heights, as to make this even possible.

The concept of capitalism, in and of itself more than acceptable, becomes murky when society takes the time to examine transactions like the above-mentioned abomination. The notion that an individual would make a conscious business decision to profit from the illness and misery of others, is unthinkable.

However, when I do ponder the act and the defiance of the same individual when confronted by an angry nation, I see nothing short of perversion. His smugness is comparable to a sex pervert masturbating over the corpse of the victim he has just murdered, getting his kicks from the suffering of others.

If the reader finds the image revolting, then I have achieved my goal. Perversion comes in more than one form, and though it may be performed by men in white shirts and ties, it is no less reprehensible than the acts of a sexual sociopath. 

For one to set his own financial gain over the tears and misery of others, his soul must be set in concrete.  To trample over the lives and souls of those who suffer, and then smile smugly for the cameras, sets this one wretch apart from the others.

He now has a name and he now has a face. And he has a special fate waiting for him from a good friend of mine, Karma. She may take her time but she will get in the last word. 

Of that you may be certain. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Maybe Heaven Isn't That Perfect

Maybe Heaven Isn’t That Perfect

“My God’s better than your god” is a game I choose not to play. It tends to produce nothing but tension, if you call most of humankind’s conflicts “tension.” Religious differences have accounted for the vast majority of these occurrences, blood shed in the name of God.

That being said I have much respect for folks whose lives include organized religion, of any denomination, because it is part of the human experience to try and make some sense of it all. You know, the biggee: Why are we here? 

It matters not whether one derives comfort from being one of many like-minded individuals meeting every Saturday [Sunday...Thursday...], or whether you just like that notion of going to heaven, where your team wins the world series every year, and your golf game...well, maybe heaven isn’t that perfect.

The bottom line is that life is filled with surprises, some of them spontaneous and joyful and some of them awful. That’s the way it works and when stuff gets piled up, one negative thing on top of another, you just want to go some place where you pay a dime to call someone who actually gives a heck.

My take on organized religion is that is is a win/win proposition for those who embrace it, and no one can take that away from an individual-no one. For myself, who chooses a more solitary path, neither more nor less “spiritual” than the average church-goer, I might suggest that my religion consists of confronting those issues I encounter on my journey through life, and evaluating my response to those situations that would be classified as “awful.”

I mean, it’s easy to be on top of your game when everything is coming up roses, but how about when those same roses rip the stuffing out of the inside of your arm, when you get careless and get snagged by a thorn? One of those jagged four-inch-long rips because you were in a hurry?

OK, so a scratch is not exactly Death Valley on the Life’s Timeline but you get my drift. Part of it is simply coping with hardships, but a lot of it has to do with rising above life’s dilemmas, and carrying on with as positive of a front as as humanly possible. I derive much spiritual comfort from evaluating my conduct and finding it acceptable.

Lest I come across as smug, it being most convenient that I am the one evaluating my own conduct, I am quite hard on myself if I come up short in my behavior. Let’s face it, I am not comparing my behavior with that of others-only with that which I find appropriate.

Heaven? I find the concept, though more palatable, just as unrealistic as hell, the place I was doomed to inhabit from early on. There were just too many absurd rules in the religion I was indoctrinated into, for me to ever hang onto it once I hit the age of reason.

Call me an existentialist, call me a heathen, or call me a human being. Or better still, call me Mark. And when I finally close my eyes for the first good “night’s sleep” I have had since age ten, it will also be my last. 


Thursday, September 17, 2015

"Normal" Is a Setting on a washing Machine

“Normal” Is a Setting on a Washing Machine
Have you seen the post on face/book which features the little girl asking her mother what “normal” is? Mommy responds, “‘Normal’ is a setting on a washing machine.”

The analogy works for me, as a guy whom many would find to be anything but normal. Being incapable of sleeping much more than three or four hours at any given attempt, I find myself functioning nightly in a world of muted sound and light, unless the sound is coming at me through my headphones, and the light is blinding me from the halogen-bright bulb inside my brain.

I wonder if that explains why it is that my mind is anything but muted during these expeditions into “normalcy.” I give little thought to what it would be like to go to sleep at night, secure in the knowledge that what will awaken me in the morning is the shrillest alarm clock that money could buy.

Alarm clock? What is this thing of which I speak so blithely?

I generally make an effort to remain in bed for at least six hours, which means somewhere around two in the A of M, I surface. I nurse a couple of cups of coffee, gulp eighteen ounces of water, and have another cup of coffee. 

I devote those several hours to any one of a number of endeavors, all involving components of the right side of my brain. This region of my cranium, heretofore locked up and unknown, was recently unleashed when I managed to finally escape the prison of my own mental morass, with its panic attack syndrome and the subsequent diagnosis of my having a mood spectrum disorder.

This brings me to a second f/b post, one that sums matters up, clear as mud. “I hate being bi-polar; it’s awesome!” The truth of the matter is, I embrace my newly discovered side and cherish it, despite the inconvenience of functioning on half the sleep that “normal” people get.

When I asked that nice Dr. Mulligan at the Veterans Clinic in Ukiah for something to help me sleep, she was very understanding-empathetic even-but nonetheless implacably firm in her refusal to grant my request. She informed me that it was not in my best interest to take that fork in the road.

“People get by on four hours of sleep quite regularly,” she said, “and quite well, I might add. Sleep is overrated.” I do see the value of her logic because I am opposed to putting anything into my body that originates in Corporate ‘Merica’s pharmaceutical factories. 

I prefer that which originates in my own backyard, guided through its glorious journey from April through October, by none other than myself. When I need it I have it. When I have it I can cope.

It’s those long early AM hours that keep raising the question of normalcy in the first place. Music through my headphones sets the tone for my artistic forays, music which is still reasonably new to me and captivates my imagination as no other has ever done.

With my mind already suffused with the vibrancy of what I am hearing, I write, I fiddle with my photography, and I allow myself the luxury of pursuing any intellectually stimulating path that floats my boat. Hours later, when the rest of the world starts to surface, and I have a cup of fresh coffee waiting for Annie, reality returns, and I go back to the other “Normal.”

Since I have no choice in the matter, I am here to tell you, quite emphatically, 

“I hate getting no sleep-it’s awesome!”

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Growing Older Faster Than Growing Up

Growing Older Faster Than Growing Up

Not to steal Jimmy Buffet’s line, but I am growing older faster than I am growing up. Growing up means assuming the mantle of one’s age and acting like, well, a grownup. I want to act my age but that would mean I would have to act like a 63-year-old, and that is just not going to happen-yet.

If I were going to act as though I were 63, I would have told Lito to shove his construction project instead of going on over to serve as sawyer for the rafters. I am an excellent sawyer and know exactly how much shy to cut a board, if I am given a measurement of 71-and-a-half inches, light.

I also know precisely how much a c**t-hair is (one thirty-second of an inch), when instructed to remove that amount from a board which has already been sent up on the roof. In last Thursday’s gig there were no returns from the roof because, let’s face it, it’s just not that much fun to convince twenty-foot-long, two-by-ten-inch, green Douglas fir rafters to assume their position on the roof and then return to the ground.

Put another way, they come down a lot faster than they go up, if we are not careful. Laugh out loud. Silly me, I said “we.”

I do not do rafters. I cut them-I don’t actually do the moving. So in this instance, I can act my age.

If I were really 63, wouldn’t I rock a crewcut and a neatly trimmed, bristly mustache, with a three-day growth of white whiskers, instead of a musteard, my two braids which extend down from my chin, a foot or so? I mean, how juvenile can one get?

Actually, I’m not sure I should say this, but I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

I have always said that I wish to age gracefully, but in lieu of that, I will settle for aging memorably. Instead of retiring to my front porch in a rocking chair, I will chain that rocking chair to the front end of somebody’s 4-wheel-drive vehicle, so I can still go where the action is.

With me in the chair or inside the vehicle, whichever suits my mood.

I waited until this summer to go to Reggae on the River, so now I must make up for lost time. I am going to Hawaii with Annie this coming February, in an effort to gather as many of my siblings together in one place as possible. 

I am not responsible for getting the whole thing organized, but I am sure going to take advantage of the opportunity to go on a real vacation, something that has never been very high on my list of goals and objectives.

I started wearing sandals a few summers ago, but took a huge stride forward this summer: I ditched the socks...

Everyone ought to have something he or she does well that can be presented to the world. I emerged from a 48-year-long mental morass of confusion in 2010 and I no longer have any fear of making a fool of myself. 

In fact, World, I am getting pretty good at it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fork Kills Another Innocent Child!

Fork Kills Another Innocent Child!

They say the one who is calmest in any debate is the one who is in control, and that kind of scares me when it comes to dialogue concerning gun control. Without exception the issue produces spontaneous combustion from Second Amendment  rights advocates who just barely stop short of frothing at the mouth in their unwavering-nay, undying-need to share with one and all how we will have to pry their cold, dead fingers away from their “guns.” Those who do not agree with this stance seem to be able to retain their equanimity while dialoguing. 

Oh, that it were the reverse.

I wish we could bypass the drama and simply rationally discuss gun violence in this country, compared to gun violence in ANY other civilized (hmmmm) nation on earth, and have both sides show up.

Those who favor gun control can repeat calmly that we do not want to take away your “guns,” until our vocal cords bleed, for all the good it will do. There is no hearing us or our questions, only the bleating that, “No. I will not give in. My protection is my right. My beliefs are my right. And my second amendment is my right. Guns are not the problem.”

It’s that last sentence that is a real attention-getter. Funny that guns are not the problem. I know. Spoons and forks make you fat and pencils misspell words, so let’s ban them too. The only difference that I can see in the analogy is that forks, spoons and pencils, when misused, do not result in instant death.

If that is too esoteric of a difference for you to wrap your mind around, then try this: One child overeating does not kill another innocent child, when his fork accidentally goes off and kills her.

Please, stop inundating me with your rights, and talk to me about the rights of the innocents who get blown away because some jerk insisted on fulfilling his or her rights to the Second Amendment.

Never has one concept been twisted so pervertedly as that of the Second Amendment. Yet I politely respond again and again just to let these otherwise wonderful human beings know, that there is still a sense of civilization out there, even if they would have it otherwise.

Human right to life takes precedence over the preposterous extension of the Second Amendment rights in this country by gun enthusiasts, perpetrated and paid for by the NRA.

If I’m wrong, take me out and have me shot. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I Smell A Rat

I Smell A Rat

A wise person once advised me to never talk politics or religion with loved ones because they would not stay loved ones long. It is therefore with great trepidation that I wade into the murky waters of the political arena, boxing gloves on, to accuse Dick Cheney of treason, and write about it.

In case you have never attempted it, writing with boxing gloves on is fiendishly challenging to do, but when I hear of atrocities performed by wealthy men, in the name of capitalism, and profits made on the backs of veterans, men and women who shouldered the burden of enriching the coffers of Halliburton, I feel I have a responsibility to share my views.

I do participate in the election process, having voted in every election since I filled out my absentee ballot the first year I was eligible in 1972, from 7,000 miles away in The Land of the Morning Calm, South Korea. The 26th Amendment was passed on March 23, 1971, lowering the voting age to eighteen and I was drafted nine months later at age nineteen, the last year a draft was ever held.

In case there is any confusion, had I any choice in the matter, I would never have gone into the service. The notion repulsed me at the time and that view has never wavered. If I had possessed the necessary cajones to have avoided it, I would have fled to Canada.

I took the path of least resistance, and subjected myself to the total control of a system run by individuals who had not the least interest in my well-being. I was simply an instrument of control, educated in the art of killing.

Of course, we were taught all of the tactics employed during WWII, which the drill sergeants assured us would do us no good in Vietnam, but what’s new with that? Soldiers do not question why; there’s is but to do and die.

I mention this simply because I have earned the right to speak about my country’s status, without being lambasted by individuals who have not paid their dues. By paying their dues, I mean that they have not donated a two-year chunk of their lives, with an additional four years of having a dagger hanging over one’s head. 

This dagger came in the form of inactive duty, with the caveat being that until a total six years was up, I was subject to the whim of the US Government. If that’s six years more than you have logged in, then the best you can do in contesting what I am saying, is to state your piece and withdraw.

I respect all opinions, of course, and would never think less of someone for disagreeing with me. I simply will not expend the energy to argue my point if we are not on the same plane. You are welcome to have and state your opinion, and I am welcome to state mine.

Here’s my rant:

Succinctly, the third definition of the word “treason” at is the betrayal of a trust or confidence, breach of faith, or treachery. I posted a classic face/book blurb yesterday which stated, “I hereby nominate Dick Cheney and Halliburton to pay the unemployment benefits of the 285,000 veterans that the GOP has turned their (sic) backs on, from the 39.5 billion dollars the company made from the Iraq War.”

It was a simple black and white post, with red letters across the bottom imploring those in favor to say, “Aye.” I cannot verify the numbers; I have no idea how many veterans were involved, and how much plunder was racked up in the coffers of the perpetrators, but I know a rat when I smell it, and the stench is deafening.

I am repulsed, I am angry and I am ashamed. I demand that men and women who first donated their time (no draftees, these people), their energy and their lives to a superficial entity such as Halliburton, and then were shunted aside, be compensated out of the profits of this immoral capitalist enterprise.

I demand that those responsible for a scandal so gratuitously self-centered as to defy comprehension ($39.5 billion with a b), be held accountable for their insidious actions. These soulless vessels have betrayed the American public, besmirched our country’s reputation, filled their pockets so full with gold that it can’t be concealed any longer, and then they defiled my brothers and sisters who served as nothing more than lackeys.

Contemporarily speaking, our vets served as Halliburton’s bitches.

I cannot put it any more crudely than that and that is exactly my point. Crudeness begets crudeness, and I have lowered myself to the same level as Dick Cheney because I think to do anything else is to never get his attention. 

People like Cheney do not have the capacity to see anything but the sides of the cavernous cement septic tank in which they dwell. They have no concept of what it means to live outside that impenetrable concrete vault that houses them and their greed. 

The rest of us, the 99% of us, have no concept of what it is like to live in a septic tank and we don’t want to learn.

We just want to see a modicum of accountability for those who violate the principles upon which our country was founded, and who trample over others with impunity.

We want to see Dick Cheney brought to justice.