Halloween has crawled out of the grave for another year.
At a local Starbucks, Freddie doesn’t have to bone up on store policy, customer relations, or how to work the register. He hands out coffee and keeps his mouth shut because he rattles when he talks. This morning his fellow employees have a close hold on him and their cell phones, and, right now, are as dead to their employer as he is.
Mostly, these days, people are hooked up with their cell phones, deader to the world than even Freddie.and you can’t communicate with them unless you call them.
The boneyard, I glean from this morning’s Starbuck’s experience, is closer than I’d like to be and Halloween is definitely near.
Rubbing elbows with skeletons is not my usual cup of tea, but, in here, we don’t get to choose who we have drinks with.
What I really want to know is whether Freddy drinks Starbuck’s coffee ,when no one is looking, who is he dating in here, and what kind of golfer he is?
When he finally called me back he told me about his hospital stay, about the nurses, the food, the Doctors, the medications, the weather.
” It’s all that smoke in the air, ” he explained as his reason for being in the hospital, maintaining that smoke from California and Colorado wildfires had attacked his breathing, but he was doing fine and when was I coming up for a visit.
My next phone call to Dave was never returned.
Dave’s ex called and gave me bad news.
” Dave, ” she told me, ” passed away.”
The bad news about Dave is still bad, weeks later.
What I hold to are memories. I have photos from a Mazatlan trip Dave and my brother Alan and I took, as well as several trips to Padre Island, Texas. Dave hates Texas and told me often about his last drive out of Texas pulling his Air stream with the Mad KGB Russian Vera telling him, all the way, that he was ” Crazy. ”
” There won’t be a church service, ” Kathy told me, ” but we will have a get together. ”
For those of us left behind, not forgetting Dave is the sweetest thing we can do.
We follow our hiking trail early this morning ,before gnats wake up to bother us, both of us turning and twisting, pushing past granite boulders, cactus, and junipers to take ourselves further up a sandy, small arroyo up into a little canyon in the Sandia mountains.
It is Saturday and most hikers are still not out of bed yet.
Charlie and I follow our small arroyo up into the canyon and finally stop. This is as far as we are going and gnats are are already diving into my ears.
On the way back down, moving more easily than going up,we meet a stranger playing with his miniature, battery powered ATV, a small Suburban that he runs up and over rocks and around obstacles.He holds the Suburban’s controls loosely in his hands, like a surgeon holding a scalpel, and he turns his body gently to match the direction his vehicle goes.
” There’s plenty of power with these guys, ” Rigo tells us as he works his controls. ” I can get parts on the internet. ”
” Nothing to them, ” Charlie adds, looking closer at the engine that is just a battery pack with a computer chip for brains.
” I belong to an off road club, ” Rigo volunteers. ” We are going to have a national competition here in a couple of weeks. ”
We admire his hobby and then continue our hike back to the parking lot.
What catches my eye,further down the trail, is another enthusiast flying his civilian drone.
Surveillance and weapons have become a bigger part of our future than I want to admit and the man flying this little baby doesn’t seem in full possession of his wits. Having watched the Jack Ryan series on Netflix has shown me drones in action, the next war weaponry to come to our neighborhoods.
This little hobbyist’s drone is so far up I can hear it but can’t see it. It is still capable of watching me, filming my movements, even if it isn’t fitted to eliminate me in a quick explosion.
This is how rabbits must feel every day of their life.
Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. Radiometric dating and other evidence say the planet was formed some 4.5 billion years ago. The world population is currently 7.53 billion people. give or take a few million.
Other currently accepted facts are:
1) Earth was once believed to be the center of the universe. 2) Earth is the only planet not named after a mythological God or Goddess. 3) Earth is the most dense planet in our solar system. 4) The gravity between the Earth and the Moon causes the tides. 5) The rotation of the Earth is slowing down. 6) Earth’s atmosphere is 78% nitrogen . 7) The large amount of oxygen on Earth comes from our plant life’s consumption of carbon dioxide. 8) Earth has a very powerful magnetic field. 9) The Earth has an ozone layer which protects us from harmful solar radiation. 10) 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. 11) The first life on Earth started in the oceans. 12) Earth’s water was initially trapped within the planet. 13) Earth has relatively few visible impact craters. 14) The highest point on Earth is Mount Everest. 15) The lowest point on the planet is called the Challenger Deep. 16) Earth has one of the most circular orbits of all the eight planets. 17) A year on Earth is 365 days.
For 7.53 billion people, Earth is much the same in general, but very different specifically. An Amazon headhunter and a Wall Street stockbroker both have to hunt but their tools and techniques couldn’t be more different.
As far as we know, our planet is not stable and spins in space like a Christmas ornament blown by mysterious winds.
As far as we know, what happens to us might be of our own making.
As far as we know, facts are true until they are proven otherwise.
On Saturday mornings, the New Mexico Jazz Workshop jam is in order.
Open cases are spread on the floor, Real Books rest on stands,metal folding chairs have been unfolded, coffee is okay outside the rehearsal room, guitarists plug in amps, sax players suck on reeds, trumpets move their fingers over three keys and look to the Gods for good chops.
We sit in a big circle and any person can call a tune out that they want the group to play.
” Satin Doll, ” : Maiden Voyage, ” : Stella by Starlight, ” Out of Nowhere, ” ” Blue Bossa, ” ” I Remember April, ” are some of the standards. Some tunes we can play well, some we can play, some we just pretend. Some of us have practiced, some haven’t. Some play for fun, others have axes to grind. After playing the head twice, the caller of the tune solos first and then the spotlight moves to the next person around the circle, sometimes clockwise, sometimes counterclockwise. After everyone solos that wants to, the group plays the head twice and we wrap the tune up with a long fermata.
In the kitchen area of the New Mexico Jazz Workshop, by the frig and coffee maker, hangs a distinctive framed pencil drawing.
Jazz is about feeling but feeling doesn’t push the keys, blow air across a reed to make sound, provide air support to keep a true tone.
Feeling is huge, but, without chops, it isn’t going far.
This morning, in the rough, I don’t look for my errant drive. One of our foursome’s little dog, Winston, was bit by a rattler and died on another course a few weeks ago. A golf ball,even a new one, is not worth coming face to face with a poisonous viper.
Winston 1 never barked while we were putting though he sometimes ran up to the cup and looked down inside it to see what we were all looking at, then gave us a funny look when he didn’t see anything.
We all miss Winston 1, but Gary has already found Winston 2, a little bigger than his predecessor, looking much the same, but with a different personality..
Winston 2 spends most of his time, on the golf course,sleeping in his carry cage and exploring only when Gary lets him out on a leash.There are plenty of predators on a golf course and some of them have two legs.
This yard used to be dirt, stones, brush, debris, unused patio bricks, dead leaves and trash. There were overgrown vines, broken trellises and shrubs in need of water. A small tree was removed, litter raked and stuffed into trash cans, earth leveled and turned over. Flower beds were reconstructed. After new desert plants were tucked in, sod was brought from Home Depot. Mr. Porter, a neighbor, loaned me his wheelbarrow and twenty strips of sod were wheeled back and laid down,knitted together by hand.
Closeups reveal these mushrooms to be delicate, white with streaks of purple. Against the green grass, still moist from last night’s rain, they are very much alive.They clump like clouds and the edges of their circles, almost transparent, look like nipples.
After a day, these squatters are turning brown.
Tomorrow I will cut them down with a weed eater.
I don’t want them to take over the yard.
If I wanted them here I would have issued them Passports.
These mountains are a cold hard skeleton and life is the green coat draped over their jagged bones.
Long spindly leaves of desert plants move lightly in the wind. Granite boulders have lichen waiting for raindrops to make their color more vibrant and further up arroyos, in the canyons between mountain fingers, are mule deer, hiding in plain sight.
I touch restless leaves, run my hand through their hair. Their long razor thin leaves pull at my hand and cut at my fingers.
Nature, when you reach for it, shows its defenses.
These old fashioned lawn chairs, made from steel with curved welded parts assembled in some long closed Iowa factory, have moved several times from their original homestead, on Bellamah Street. They used to sit in our childhood back yard under a cherry tree that grew tart cherries for Mom’s pies.Their final stop finds them in my townhouse front yard under a shade tree.
These two used to be a factory sprayed green,but, in succeeding years ,were hand painted white to match changing decors.They used to share back yards with green swing sets but now are the only surviving outdoor furniture from our elementary and preschool days..
Moments ago a freak summer hailstorm blew into Albuquerque and this photograph, just after the storm, is ghost like.
I can see my parents sitting in these ghost chairs, mom sketching and dad reading the newspaper.
I too will be gobbled up by time.
Till then I enjoy reclining in one of these chairs on warm evenings, watching the stars late at night when they are the brightest, listening to the wind rustle leaves above my head.
I’m planning on stripping off their paint, down to the metal, re-priming and re-painting them green.
Putting things back the way they were has been on my mind a lot lately.