May 25th, 2017

Uvlaasatkun !! (“Good Morning” in Iñupiaq, which is an Eskimo-Aluet language spoken in parts of Alaska.)

“What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000!” a toothsome Hugh Romney (aka Wavy Gravy) greeted the soggy Woodstock audience in 1969. As a boy took, Hugh walks around the block with Albert Einstein. He was founding member of Phurst Church of Phun, comedians and clowns against the war in Viet Nam. He often participated in protests against the war dressed as a clown because cops were less likely to arrest clowns. Wavy turned 81 this week.

I am reading a rather interesting book by Lev Grossman called, “The Magicians”. It has been made into a popular TV series which I have also enjoyed in the sort of way that you do enjoy good writing and acting even though you are mostly muddled about the plot because you started in the middle kind of way. But in the book, the characters are learning magic and about the magical world. The story includes the many ways we mere mortals bump into magic and discount it. And at one point there is what I thought a rather poignant message as it describes these young magicians fears now that they have discovered the true nature of the world. I feel like that most days. If I don’t keep stretching myself, I am afraid that will find out that the life I have lead was a blank and empty world. I feel I must continue to kick up the cosmic dust and make eddies to keep from being eaten alive or dying before I am dead. I have read millions of words in thousands of books and was truly shocked to read such an apt description of my greatest fear embedded in this interesting story. I do not want to die before I am dead, that is to say I want to live every second without regret till there are no seconds left. I believe we generate our own magic.

We got the Living Trust signed and set this week. Whew! That was a lot of uncomfortable moments talking about what do when we can’t do what we would normally do … like incapacitated or dead. Who will speak for us? What instructions do we leave for them? What provisions do we put in place to protect them from our love and giving? I am glad we did it and that is done but I wouldn’t want to do it again.

This week I learned some stuff:

• I learned turning down the flame on the barbecue is not the same as turning it all the way off. Anyone want some organic charcoal that used to be ribs?
• I learned to find the courage to take on transplanting my old bonsai’s. I have had a few of these plants for over 10years and they are doing well but it really is bad plant daddy behavior not to do root pruning and other maintenance. So this week I am going to be taking on those tasks.
• If I was smart, I would just do wood working all the time. There is some sort of Zen zone I slip into when I am doing anything with wood. I love the sanding, smells, the smoothness of the wood just before I begin to stain or varnish or paint. I get such joy beginning with one thing and ending with a whole new thing. There is a simple beauty just doing it that kind of connects me all the builders, craftsman and carvers across time.

Website Update
• Week 2 for the new Vocabulary Quiz!!!
• This week I also added the lyrics for “One ” written by U2 and “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak for your sing-a-long pleasure.
• Added the quote from my Diddybag the site by Henry David Thoreau from, “On Walden Pond”.
• I organized our Kitchen Drawer a bit more this week and added a new slot for Interesting Humans. Do you know an Interesting Human? Feel free to plug in anyone you find note worthy in your travels and tell us a bit about why you feel that way. I initiated the new category with blurbs about Mr. Gravy (above) and our old friend Mr. Kris Kristofferson. Take a look you might find something you didn’t know.

Writing and Painting Update:
• I started two new paintings this week. One is a portrait and the other is a still life. I also worked on some others that I have had kicking around.

• Last night my wife dreamed that I was yelling in my sleep so she woke me up telling me, “It’s OK”. But I wasn’t yelling …. or maybe I just dreamed it 🙂
• I am a pain in the butt to buy presents for. Its true. My birthday and Father’s day are a week apart each year. My family has always kind struggled with picking gifts for me. I am not a huge fan of jewelry, clothes, or normal stuff. Books, scotch and stogies are always appreciated but I have what I want mostly at any given time. Making to another one of these events seems to be present enough but I struggle with making suggestions because it makes me feel like I am saying I will be disappointed in what they decide on.. ah the trials of being old.
• Speaking of weird, how can a super privileged bozo like Trump, whine about being miss treated?? I do not get it. People are suffering, many without homes or reliable healthcare or access to educations needed to compete or even food and Mr. Trump feels put upon because people are beginning to hold him accountable for his words and deeds? I cannot understand anyone who would invest anything in solving his problem other than offer up guidance on resignation.
• Do you remember your dreams? Sometimes I do, vividly when I wake up – thats where some of the images I need to paint or write find me… Sometimes I am left with just a fuzzy sense of something that I might have lost. This morning I woke remembering my Dittybag. When you go to bootcamp at least in the Navy, they essentially, take everything away from you and give you back stuff to fill in the holes left. They give you clothes, training (not like high school), purpose, healthcare, a redefinition of “normal” and a Dittybag. In bootcamp, we all had exactly the same Dittybag – a canvas-like cloth bag with a thin cord cinch to close it with about the size of your moms clothes pin bag she hung on the wash line. When they handed it to us, it was filled with our new stuff – toothbrush, paste, disposable razors, floss, shampoo, soap and soapbox. To that you added, your wallet, photos, keys and any jewelry. When you leave bootcamp, your Diddybag was the last thing you put into your seabag. After you got back into the world, your Diddybag often changed. In February 1971, my first voyage on the Vogie took us to GITMO for refresher training. I was 19years old and learning all about the differences between bootcamp Navy and the other one. When usable stuff is no longer needed by a ship or command it gets shipped off (via paperwork of approximately the same dimensions and weight as the items themselves) to “Salvage”. Each major base has a Salvage and any command can go there and get whatever they can use for no charge (except for the paperwork). Anyway, it was in GITMOs Salvage that I found my grown up “Diddybag”. It was originally intended for some sort of card filling system ( DD-1250-2 forms). We were searching for tools, or valves or anything that might help a bunch of snipes make a vintage destroyer boiler room more supportable or survivable for free. I found this empty box on top of a big pile of other junk and decided it was going to be my new Diddybag. It was about a cassette tape and half wide and deep and would fit in my locker sideways – Perfect. Refresher training was a grueling schedule of non-stop engineering and ship wide drills simulating battle and other casualties under the blistering Caribbean sun around Cuba. It was weeks after we returned to Norfolk before I could transform my arey box into a true 1970s sailor Diddybag. I had to sand it and then paint it complete with quotes from Henry David Thoreau and the Grateful Dead carefully painted on the top and sides. I pretty sure it was stolen with all the other memorabilia of our family at the 13mile and Diquinder Cheap Sleep hotel in Detroit in 1985. I woke up this morning wondering what those thieves thought while sorting through our stuff when they came across that box with all the careful letters of young man wisdom painted there.

Music Update:
This week’s UJT Radio selections feature some new people for me that I wanted to share with you:
• Dire Straits — Down to the Waterline — My Pandora joy busted out all over everywhere when this one came up on my radio. Mark Knopfler is just such a clean player. This one comes from their 1978 debut album, “Dire Straits”.
• U2 — One — There is something so soulfully moving about what U2 does with their music. This one is from their seminal classic album, “Actung Baby”.
• Rolling Stones — Under My Thumb — From their, “Aftermath” released in 1966. This is fairly weird Stones record especially considering the context of peace and love in 1966. It added to their batboys contrast to the Beatles. The guitar work is special but you got to listen.
• Ten Years After — I’d Love to Change the World — Alvin Lee putting out some of his sweet guitar voodoo for you all. This one goes back to 1971 from their, “Space and Time” album. We lost Alvin in 2013 due to complications during a surgical procedure. He was 68 years old. I saw them in concert more than once and never ceased to be amazed at his ability to make his guitar sing, cry or scream with such soulful phrasing.
• Soundgarden — Black Hole Sun — There is just no good news coming out of Detroit these days!! This Seattle band really add the texture to the music coming out of the northwest for a long time. Their lead singer, Chris Cornell committed suicide this week in Detroit. I always thought of Chris as a more refined Steve Perry kind of singer.
• Eric Clapton and Friends — Magnolia (feat. John Mayer) — This one comes from. “The Breeze: An Appreciation for JJ Cale. This is one of my favorite JJ Cale tunes. I think John does a great job of channeling his inner JJ on this tune.
• Chris Isaak — Wicked Game — Chris is an interesting guy. He has done a lot of acting on TV, movies and even had his own show for a few years but this was his greatest musical hit by far. This version is from the remastered Best of Chris Isaak album. I like Chris’s rockabilly singing but for me, James Calvin Wilsey’s guitar made this song the hit it was.
• James Wilsey — Insomnia — This is an nice guitar instrumental with just James, a guy doing a 6 string bass and a snare in the back. This one was release on James’ 2008 solo album, “El Dorado”. Pretty nice 🙂

That’s it… Do the best you can; Laugh every chance you get; And always remember … The best is yet to come!

As always, thank you for being my friend!

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