Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: the last photo shoot. He was the best dog on the planet.

Tomato Madness

Tomato Madness
The author of Mark's Work

Hollyhocks and zinnias

Hollyhocks and zinnias
Why I grow flowers

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast
Love is the greatest power.

Tomatoes are us.

Tomatoes are us.
Smoked paprika catsup, here at HappyDay Farms

Packing some heat...

Packing some heat...
These peppers know how to party!

Halloween fun

Halloween fun
Lito and Keelee

Our house

Our house
The snow season approaches...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Out of the [Broom] Closet


Out of the [Broom] Closet

October 31st, having arrived after an eternity, I can finally come out of my [broom] closet and admit that I am not a fan.  When I was a kid, it was all good.  There were a whole bunch of us in my family, who would go out in home-made costumes,  tame by today’s standards, but go out we did.

However, upon returning to the house, the ritual required that we gather around the more than spacious kitchen table and empty our bags of treats out in one gigantic pile.  Then Mama would begin the classifying and sorting of the goodies, including a share for Papa, who had a yen for chocolate, and piles for the “little kids” who were still too small to trick-or-treat.

Though it may have  seemed an old-fashioned concept at the time, no one balked at seeing that the final portion that was received, was smaller than that which was brought back from the outing.  It’s just the we did things.

So what happened to dampen my enthusiasm?  Maybe it was the razor blades that started appearing in the apples, or the fact that anything that was “home-made” took on a slightly ominous note.  If it wasn’t store-wrapped, it was suspicious.

More likely, it has to do with a lifetime of anxiety when it come to scary films.  Having been terrified into any number of panic attacks by the “Twilight Zone,” or films such as “Tales from the Crypt” I am more than happy to ignore the whole day.

I think back to a time, a couple of years after I got out of the army, when I had a fine head of hair, and a flaming-red beard that went down to the middle of my chest.  It was enough to make people approaching me, side-step to the other side of the road.  I didn’t care, because those who knew me, still greeted me with a hug and a howdy.

However, when I was invited to a costume party at the home of a fellow employee of the auto-parts house, I decided to take the extreme step of shaving both my beard and my head.  I donned a conservative outfit, and went as a “reformed hippie.” 

Lo and behold, there were a lot of people at this party, only a dozen or so who knew me.  The net result was basically, “Hey, look at the goofy guy who did not dress up for the party.”  Big sigh.  The best laid plans of mice and men.

Later, as an educator, I, together with the man with whom I team-taught, hosted the annual Halloween party at the middle school.  My biggest problem then was the fact that the kids who chose to wear masks, had a certain element of anonymity, which, as you may guess, does not really work on a middle school campus, when the mood was already off the charts.

How does a teacher maintain a modicum of appropriate behavior, when he knows not, who the clown is who is running roughshod over the rest of the kids?

Living on a mountain, and not having had trick-or-treaters since the eighties, when my own small sons would invite local neighbors (all three of them) to stop by and trick-or-treat, I am relieved of this responsibility.  The time will come, I feel certain, when grandchildren will force me to further adjust my attitude, but for now, I am content to let the whole holiday slip past, while the inexorable march of time brings me closer to what I really consider a holiday: Thanksgiving and her big sister Christmas.

Yes, I saw a Christmas advertisement on the television the other night, but instead of groaning, I was grinning.  What can I say?  The only person in costume is Santa, and he evokes sweet dreams, not nightmares.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Am I Lonesome Tonight?


Am I Lonesome Tonight?

Of all the disheartening possibilities in life, loneliness is not the worst; many people suffer far more debilitating lifestyles than spending time by themselves.  However, acknowledging that illness or death in the family can be infinitely worse, does not remove the fact that for me, living by myself is by far the most unpleasant existence I have ever encountered.

The single time I have embarked on this course of action in my lifetime,was a four-week period back in 1979, when I took a living situation in an apartment in Milpitas, a small city down in the Bay Area.  My first marriage had come shockingly to an end, and I was uninterested in pursuing any kind of romantic connection.  I was distantly acquainted with an member of the firm that employed me, and learned that she was interested in a roommate, to help defray the cost of an apartment.

I only saw her once during that period, because she spent all of her time with her boyfriend.  The only clear memory of that month was the World Series between the victorious Pirates (“We Are Family”) and the Orioles.  The rest of the time I was mired in my own misery.

Why that would be the case, I do not know.  My two closest younger siblings both profess to revel in the feeling of solitude, finding that the time spent alone, allows for the creative juices to flow abundantly.  We all originated in a household that eventually contained eleven of us, nine kids and the parents.  Chaos reigned and harmony ensued.

That would certainly explain my siblings’ desire for solitude, but also accounts for my own reticence when it comes to being by my lonesome.  I hate the sound of silence, even if our English bulldog’s resounding snoring resonates in the immediacy of my bed.  It’s just not the same.

Companionship is what I seek and I am not ashamed to admit it.  I am a social creature and crave an environment which includes others.  Maybe social is misleading, because I am not particularly interested in going out, and pursuing the nightlife; I just mean that having people around makes the world proceed less chaotically for me.  Not even the pleasures of intimacy attract me as much as knowing that someone will be there at dinnertime, to share a meal.  I make a mean chicken cacciatore.

I must tread cautiously at this juncture in time, because I do not want to incur the wrath of my sweetest of Apple Blossoms, who has taken a course of action that does not include me.  I can only imagine what being diagnosed with cancer must be like, and then having surgery to remove a kidney.  The fact that Annie has chosen to relocate to Willits, an hour south of here, so as to be able to have more access to her doctors, really has nothing to do with me.

I can only sit back and accept her decision.  Well, that’s not completely true; I could alter my lifestyle and join the social set, and move on.  Obviously, that is not my intent.  So I will be lonesome tonight.

Monday, October 15, 2012

All That Matters


All That Matters

Technology being the wonderful tool that it is, I can now stop beating my head against a tree, because my friend Eric has put me back on track.  Blogger changed my format (though not of anyone else with whom I have communicated) and I have been stymied since September 19th, unable to access any aspect of my blog, except the writing itself.

I could not check my comments, stats or post a new piece of writing.  Eric stopped by to watch a football game, and I brought up the subject of my tech woes, hesitatingly, because I hate to bother people.  He spent a total of thirty seconds, before he said, “There, it looks different, but this should solve your problem.  Sure enough, it was all there.  When I asked what he had done, he said, “You were just off by one link.”

Oh.  Well if I was only off by one link, then everything must be OK.  What’s a link?  However, when all is said and done, I really don’t care, just so that I can occasionally record a few thoughts, for anyone who chooses to revisit my site.  I have undergone a few changes in the past month, the first of which was to shave my head of every vestige of covering that I could remove.

Why?  I think those mustache tails proved to be the bane of my existence.  It appears as though all of my issues seemed to emerge the longer those tails extended down past my chin.  At first I credited my mustache with the Giants’ success in 2010.  The winning of the World Series had to be due to the flowing nature of that ‘stache.  However, when the Giants faltered in 2011, that shot that theory down, and then things got macabre.

However, bipolarism isn’t a death sentence; it may be a “normal” life de-railer, but it is up to the engineer to put the train back on track.  So I have struggled.  I resisted the meds experience, with Annie’s support, and it is one of the of the only decisions of my life that I genuinely rue.  Why didn’t I accept the fact that millions of successful-at-life people have gone this route, and emerged as strong as ever?

Be that as it may, I am almost a month into that process and must assume that things will improve.  I have had only two side-effects of note: an inability to sleep more than a couple hours at any time (including total removal of my ability to nap during the day) and a severe loss of appetite.  I have dropped more than twenty pounds since September 21st.

Additionally, I have stopped an adult lifetime of indulgence in marijuana, with ridiculous ease.  For quite some time now, I have referred to reefer as my “mood stabilizer.”  Now that I have a legitimate, corporate-American-made mood stabilizer, I figured I didn’t need two.  Besides, reefer didn’t do anything to alleviate my bipolar issues, so that reinforced my decision.

And while I was at it, I also cut caffeine completely out of my life.  Again, a substance with which I got well-acquainted in high school, has vacated the premises.  Astonishing, actually, how easy it was.  Forever it seems, I have heard of the menacing headaches that are supposed to accompany this action, but experienced none of it.  To be honest, I had reduced my intake months ago to only one or two very small cups per morning, and that may have facilitated matters, but suffice to say, I am a happy camper.

Having eliminated alcohol (I have never been much of an imbiber) early this recent summer, I now feel that my mood-altering indulgences have slipped gently into the back current of my life.  I do not miss any of the three.  Has it made a difference in my bipolarism?  I can’t tell you, because I was never aware that my actions were anything different than they have been my whole life.  You would have to ask someone who lives with me.  That being impossible, because I live by myself, I will just have to wait.

I will leave matters at that, for the moment.  Know though, that I have three options: I can remain on this mountain in the state of the hermit; I can reenter the social world, or I can bide my time and pursue my relationship with Annie, whose time-frame on getting a handle on her own illness (she has taken a living situation in Willits, an hour away) has no timeline.  I have chosen to pursue my relationship with Annie, even though it means an undetermined amount of time, living by myself.  I hate every moment of every day, being by myself, but that is the price I pay.  If it gets too tough, then my direction will change.  

For now I mark time, every day on the calendar, with my Sharpie.  One x per day, marking both the consumption of one minute bit of medication, and the passage of one more day.

I love her and that’s all that matters.