Dozer, the bulldog

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

Bonding

Bonding
The author of Mark's Work with Ellie Mae

Guess who's coming for dinner

Guess who's coming for dinner
Blue heron, sitting on the dock of our pond

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

BFF's forever

BFF's forever
Margie and Ellie Mae

Tomatoes and peppers are us.

Tomatoes and peppers are us.
Spicy salsa with roasted peppers, here at HappyDay Farms

Much love, John-Bryan

Much love, John-Bryan
Eric at 26 on the left, and John-Bryan in January of 1973.

Halloween fun

Halloween fun
SmallBoy and Dancing Girl

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, 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. 

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.






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.