Ask and Ye Shall Receive

author in the sunshine

iPhone 6s Plus shot using Argentum B&W app and Ansel Adams filter, tweaked in Photoshop

It’s been my impression that most people think dreams are a hot mess. My own experience is different. The unconscious speaks in symbols, but speak it does, especially if you’re dealing with an existential question. Symbols aren’t easy to handle, since what they denote isn’t necessarily as relevant as the roles they play, and you have to trust the mystery. This all occurs outside of time as well. Some dreams I had twenty years ago are only now as obvious as boulders falling on my head.

Here’s a segment of one I had last night. It’s the only part I still recall:

There was a wooden desk in front of me. One of those small tables with a drawer, actually. The wood was blonde, like pine. It wasn’t anything special. There was a present for someone—I don’t remember whom or what—in a shallow white cardboard box, the kind of container a store might put a scarf or sweater in. I’d placed it in the drawer some time ago. In the dream, I went back to the drawer to find it, but it wasn’t there. The drawer held only bits and pieces of what might have been the original box and scraps of wood. The rest of the dream was me running around looking for the gift, but of course I couldn’t find it.

I need the lesson very much, and look, it got delivered! (That’s the most important point.) It has to do with why I’m out here in New Mexico and what the years I have left mean to me and anyone who loves me. As parables go, it’s brutal. A glorious kick in the ass. Thank you, someone, God, whatever. This is how it works, and everyone is free to pay attention.

Get It While You Can

winter scene in northern Taos County

Feb. 3, 7:45 a.m., about seven degrees

I have a new way of dealing with frost on the truck windows. On the few mornings I drive down to the gas station on the main road (the former “triple murder Mustang”) to buy the Santa Fe New Mexican because the paper carrier won’t deliver to this address, I no longer scrape. Especially since I always take the Queen o’ the Mountains, my beloved ’01 Dakota, and I’ve seen what years of scraping ice off dusty windows has done to the Vibe. Now I just use the windshield washer squirter until I can see out a little bit, roll both windows halfway down, even in single-digit cold, and blast the heat inside the cab. By the time I get down to the highway, the windshield is clear, but I still have to lower the windows to pull out from the mini-mart on the way back. You can tell my wife is on the sofa in her bathrobe, right?

Not sure what we’re up to now, not sure at all. Today I shoveled the sloping gravel driveway after the howling horizontal snow on Wednesday buried it again, so the new wood guy I haven’t met yet won’t get stuck. It was beautiful outside, about 25 degrees (-4°C) in full sun with a modest breeze. I used a broom to sweep the snow off both vehicles to let the sun in through the glass and melt the ice around the edges. What was left of the woodpile was covered with snow. No way to make that go away, so I pulled the piñon out of the drift two pieces at a time, clonked them together to knock off the snow, and restacked the lot. Brilliant! I like to make a difference in my environment, plus I had the boots, the gloves, and wasn’t really cold. But this snow thing takes up so much time. That’s part of what I’m not sure of any more. It’s also dangerous to walk outside with all the freaking ice. I think about the co-pay on a broken leg and watch my step. What if I die before we work this out?

Learn what happy is, that’s what.

Woodpile Black Hole Blues


Landfill bins (recycling) in the background

The immaculate fall of the splitting maul. The ineffable release. The way the kindling flies apart, one half landing in the mud, the other off in drifted snow…

My wood guy just ran out of wood. They all do, it’s endemic. Now I’ll have to call up half a dozen strangers in hopes of keeping warm. This happens every winter in this place we haven’t left yet since I don’t know where to go or how to get there. Tonight my wife asked, “Where do we want to be?” and then apologized for making trouble. “No, no,” I told her, “perfectly valid question!” But let us be light-hearted. I just renewed the passports, after all. Self-driving man, I tell you. Sometimes I just sit there, staring at the scratches on the windshield. What I think we’d really like is to go home.

Missed Her Chance

Missed Her Chance post image

iPhone 6s Plus shot using Argentum B&W app and Ansel Adams filter

Callie the Wonder Cat didn’t quite make the deadline for the Apple “Shot on iPhone” contest. That’s because I took this one a few hours after, before I’d even heard of the thing, much less read the rules. It’s a good one, though, so I thought I’d post it.

Thirty-Eight Years

Taos snow scene

Yesterday just out the door

We were married in front of our wonderful friends in Chestertown, Maryland on January 16, 1981. There’s a photo of everyone taken on the courthouse steps I’ll no doubt find when we move, which can’t come soon enough, either. We only had to walk about a block and a half from our apartment in the small Eastern Shore town. My wife wore a beautiful vintage hat and a perfect raccoon coat. I was in tails and a derby, oh my.

I know I’ve told the story before…but afterwards everyone came back to our apartment and got drunk on champagne. By that time it had started to snow. Our landlord’s wife, one of the guests, needed a ride home to their house in the country with a promise of dinner. The roads were slippery as hell as the light started to fade. When I came to the edge of town and turned left heading for Worton, my ’67 Saab started spinning counter-clockwise in the snow, directly in front of oncoming traffic, yet nobody panicked or screamed. I remember feeling calm and relaxed as the car slid slowly around in a circle and ended up pointing down the road where we wanted to go, perfectly placed on the right side of the road. I motored on through the gloom as if nothing had happened. We were invincible.

In a few months, we’ll have been twenty years here in New Mexico. We don’t own a home, I have credit card debt, and the last few years have been harder than most. All the losses and dyings, my God, who knew? All I ever wanted to do is live with my darlin’ and be a real man. Since I seem to be real and the lady’s still here, there’s nothing to prove in the end. That this is it has also sunk in, in a good way, I hope. The eternal boy is a chastened old man with the heart of a lad and the soul of a thief, ambitious as ever and still shedding doubt. It’s never over, you know. We go till we stop.

She says when she first met me, she knew. I wasn’t that sure but fell like a monster and never once wanted to leave. Happy anniversary, babe! It was all meant to be. I owe you my life, and I’m yours.


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