Orion: A Constellation; A Memory Made; A Celestial Wonder With a Message for a Defective Man

When I woke up this morning it was still dark. I got the coffee going and woke up my kids. I stepped out the back door with my son with the dual intentions of feeding the dog and figuring out whether or not today was a short or long pants day (short pants were fine) and noticed that Orion was visible right over my garage.

I called for my daughters and, when they had stepped out and shut the back door (it was nearly dawn and the light from the laundry room was enough to blind us to the stars) I pointed out his belt and the four stars that insinuate his feet and hands. They couldn’t see it in its entirety. My middle child only saw his belt. I think they might have been having trouble connecting such unreachable dots. Either way, though, I was proud. It felt good to share something like that with them. I stood there staring at Orion long after they’d lost interest and I suddenly remembered that the North Star is part of one of the constellations. But which one? I simply cannot remember. Is it the bright star at the bottom of Orion that denotes his left foot? Or is it part of the Big Dipper?

Thinking about this took me back to basic training and all the times during our land navigation courses that I disappointed my Drill Sergeants (not to mention my Battle Buddies who trudged through the woods behind me in the exact wrong direction) to the point of nearly giving up on me. They never actually quit trying to teach me, but they were certainly frustrated that, hundreds of push-ups later, I still couldn’t sufficiently navigate my way out of an MRE bag when given a map, a compass and a block of instruction.

Then I thought about all the times in my civilian life when, trying to back-track some road-trip route, I swore up and down that I needed to go left when I actually should’ve gone right.  I don’t tend to give in to the fact that I’ve taken wrong turns, and, though suspicions are sneaking up on me, I continue making wrong turns until the web of wrong turns is so convoluted that I can’t even reverse the wrong turn route to get back to the first wrong turn I took. I’ve ended up turning around in so many private drives with no trespassing signs posted that I’m surprised my back bumper isn’t riddled with bird shot. I’m also surprised my wife has never actually thrown up all over the car. She gets car sick, especially when a twisty-turny route is combined with the stress of knowing she’s lost with an idiot who won’t admit he’s lost. She’s a real trooper. Thank God she didn’t know me in my Army days when my poor direction finding could’ve landed our necks under the blade of some radical’s machete. (They never gave me the map in a combat zone, by the way. I made it perfectly clear that doing so would mean certain death.)

As I thought about all these things this morning, staring up at the sky with my children chirping at the periphery of my hearing that we needed to go inside and eat breakfast, I realized I’m a defective man. I don’t have whatever it is they say men have that help them find directions. I don’t have a genetic compass, and for a moment I felt cheated. I mentally shook my fist at Orion for bringing on this realization.

We finally went inside to get ready for school and as my daughters ate granola bars and my son dumped peanuts from the jar to a bowl and back again for some reason, I realized, no matter what I may be missing in my own genes, I have my children. I have my wife. We have a house and food, jobs, cars, our vision and hearing and health. We have hope for the future and a contented complacency in the present.

I may be a defective man, I realized, but I’m perfectly OK with that. Thank you, Orion. Thank you for speaking to me simply by sitting in the morning sky. I mentally unshake my fist at you, you big celestial dude, you.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…step outside in the dark now and then and let the stars speak to you. You never know what they might say.

A don’t…forget what you do have when you’re bummed out by what you don’t have. What you do have is probably pretty great. You might just need to take a few quiet minutes to realize it.

Advertisements

Mothman: Another Misunderstood Monster

As far as I can tell from all the Mothman stories I’ve read and that one movie I watched, Mothman, although menacing in appearance, was after nothing so substantial as our very souls.

I’ll explain. I read no accounts of disemboweled animals. No eviscerated owls or exsanguinated cattle were ever found that I know of. Simply humans. Frightened horrified humans. And what is one thing that all humans, especially suburbanites in the 50’s, have in common?

They have clothes on. Right? No one that I read about was out for a nude stroll when Mothman confronted them. They were out with their families having completely G-rated (and in the case of the teens that saw him/her/it no more than PG, it was 50’s conservative suburbia, for crying out loud). They were wearing clothes!

Moths eat clothes. Men wear clothes. Mothman was either hungry or ashamed of his nudity. He didn’t want to horrify folks. He wanted to eat their Sunday best. He didn’t want to scare them. He couldn’t help that, by nature, he was scary. He wanted to either eat or wear their clothes and he hesitated. He never killed anyone because he just couldn’t decide which clothes looked tasty and which looked fashionable and I think, deep down, he didn’t want to kill anyone anyway. Otherwise, he would’ve.

Now, about that bridge collapse and the idea that Mothman prophesied it. Perhaps he truly did. But I think, in his innocent monster way, he didn’t show up to warn people about it. I don’t think he truly realized that people were dying. I think he simply thought “CLOTHES BUFFET!” And all the carnage was lost on him because it all had this decadent stagnant water sauce on it and he didn’t even stop to think about the terror that had been wrought on the small community he’d been terrorizing. He was, after all, a monster. A hungry, naked, confused monster.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…wear clothes, even though it might attract mothman.

A don’t…stroll nude to repel him. The police are much more prevalent than mothmen and much more likely to complicate your life should they find you unclothed in public.

End of the World Prophecies End, The World Survives; A Possible Solution to the Age-old Conundrum

Perhaps you’ve heard the most recent Doomsday report that claims the world will end Saturday. If you haven’t, the end of the world has been predicted for Saturday, September 23, 2017. Get ready.

Or don’t bother. We all know that it won’t happen (not all of us, I guess. Most of us). The Mayans were wrong. Perhaps more fairly put, the people who “interpreted” an ancient calendar with no surviving users were wrong. Nostradamus was wrong, (I’m no expert on Nostradamus but surely he’s prophesied on this) web bots were wrong. Biblical scholars, Jewish scholars and crack-pot prognosticators have all been wrong. It isn’t because they are stupid or uneducated. Perhaps it is simply because the world has already ended and we are already in some sort of after-life.

It’s very simple to throw out theories like this. Rest assured, I have substantial evidence to back my claim.

Let’s consider technology. High-end tech labs continue to churn out products at a pace that is nearly as unbelievable as the products themselves. I heard on the radio the other day about a phone security app that gives access to you only after scanning your face to be sure you are an authorized user. Apparently this even adjusts itself over time so that it continues to recognize you even as your face droops with age. Amazing! Slightly scary. Fraught with bugs? We should know the answer to that in about ten or twenty years. I also heard about a pair of pants that will vibrate one leg or the other to notify you that you need make a turn as you progress toward your destination. That’ll be off the market as soon as someone allows their pants to lead them into the path on an oncoming train. Maybe the pants are smart enough to detect trains. At the very least you could call someone smarty pants and literally be correct. It’s about time. Thank you, techno geeks. But I digress.

The unbelievable nature of these products and the speedy  jumps of technological history could be attributed to the fact that the world has already ended. This would go a long way to explaining why these unrealities are realities. They could simply be mass hallucinations inspired by something in the atmosphere we believe we are breathing in.

If we were already in an after-life setting this would also explain Bigfoot, UFOS, ghosts, ESP and every other new-age idea and supernatural experience. People don’t die, they just leave behind their “body” and become invisible.( Or maybe there’s some after- life after the after-life. I hadn’t considered that until just now.) Some people have really seen Bigfoot. Some people have actually been abducted by aliens. People can really read minds and make the Statue of Liberty disappear and keep their teeth white and do any other unbelievable thing because the science we profess to understand doesn’t apply here like it did before the world ended.

Anyway, just food for thought.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…think about it.

A don’t…overthink it.

Perhaps Sasquatch Misunderstands Us More So Than We Him

I’ve had a fascination with Sasquatch/Bigfoot/Skunk-Ape type creatures ever since I read a book about them in third grade. That book left me a horrified mass of slimy flesh quivering under a blanket unable to sleep. I wasn’t even able to roll over because I was convinced that Bigfoot’s big face would be right there at the window waiting for me to roll over so he could, I suppose, scare me more than he already had. I realized that night how polite Bigfoot can be. He didn’t tap on the window or howl or crash through and get me. He just waited for me to roll over, which I never did because I knew he was there but somehow, unless I actually saw him, he wasn’t dangerous. Ah, to have the mind of a nine year old again…

This incident has had me thinking, subconsciously for the most part, ever since. Recently, though, I’ve had some very conscious thoughts about the creature/legend/whatever. I think what sparked it is the Bigfoot tree ornament I bought yesterday. He’s sparkly and smiling and looks rather friendly sitting on a shelf, waiting for Christmas. It just so happened that yesterday I also watched a documentary type show that followed some people on a hunt for a living creature. I was a little disappointed in it. Most of the show followed them on the trip out to Bigfoot territory, which, although not a candidate for statehood, looked every bit as wild and wooly as did Arizona Territory in the frontier days.

Upon reaching said territory, the adventurers simply drove around, stopping at any spot deemed likely by the expert in the passenger seat, to scream at Bigfoot. My wife (who is not opposed to watching Bigfoot documentaries, which raises her lovability levels much higher than the level she has already attained simply by being a wonderful wife/person/companion), and I began a dialogue about the possibility that Bigfoot was about to come out and say hi before people started screaming at him. We discussed the possibility that Bigfoot, being a creature that, at least physically, more closely resembles man than many other creatures, might also have some sort of language. Obviously, if he exists and has a language, we don’t understand it. Unfortunately no one has yet found any sort of Yeti Rosetta Stone. All we really know is that some people have heard some sounds they assume to be Bigfoot and so they replicate these in an attempt to attract Bigfoot.

Does it not then logically follow that, assuming the sounds that have been heard were actually made by Bigfoot, we could’ve misunderstood these sounds? Are we, by replicating them, annoying or offending Bigfoot into hiding? What if the sounds that I heard replicated on T.V. last night were originally made by an unfortunate Bigfoot yelling at his tramp of a wife whom he’d just caught with an Abominable Snowman? What if they came from a Bigfoot who had just been accosted by a large bear and the screams we now use to attract the Sasquatch actually mean “If you come over here I’ll kill you?” Certainly not conducive to a visit, especially if Bigfoot is the polite and kind creature I contend that he is based upon my third grade experience.

Better yet, what if the sounds we use were simply the rantings of a grumpy Bigfoot annoyed by the trespasses of some little Bigfeet? What if, when we howl at Bigfoot in the night, we are actually uttering some horrific Ape-Man insults. Like “Get your skunk smellin’ little Bigfoot butt out of my territory?”

What if we can’t find Bigfoot because we’ve mistakenly insulted him so much that he finds us unworthy of spending his time with?

Just a thought.

Maybe it is all our fault.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…continue to search for Bigfoot if you’re so inclined. It would be nice to be able to redeem our species in his eyes.

A don’t…holler things at him if you don’t know what they mean.

Living Jack-O-Lanterns; In Answer to Why I Say Why Not.

The picture above is of a budding pumpkin. It is the first to have appeared in my garden and is of a variety that boasts the ability to grow to upwards of half a ton if properly cultivated. I don’t hold any misconceptions about my first attempt being successful at growing it to maximum size, but my research shows that this variety of pumpkin consistently produces fruits that weigh a few hundred pounds. If I can successfully grow just an average pumpkin of this variety, which I now realize I haven’t mentioned is called Dill’s Atlantic Giant, it should be sufficient to satisfy my goals.

Goal one is to make a living Jack-O-Lantern. I’ll hollow it, carve it, coat the inside with something to control the slime factor, then place my kids inside with flashlights. Not only will I have the first ever (as far as I’m aware, anyway) living Jack-O-Lantern with the potential for responsive lighting, I’ll also have the first Jack-O-Lantern that I know of with intuitive sound effects. I think that the kids will enjoy this greatly. They can pop out and scare people and just have a generally entertaining Halloween experience.

Goal two is to figure out what to do with the pumpkin shell after the holiday. I need an idea that doesn’t involve carrying it anywhere. So far I’ve entertained a few ideas for using it as a planter. I could either coat it with some sort of resin and attempt to make a permanent pot or just fill it with dirt and let it serve as a planter that will also provide some food to the plant I plant in it as it rots away.

Perhaps, if my neighbors don’t begin to complain, I can turn it into some sort of time lapse art project. Or it could serve as a combination bird bath/street side urinal for the homeless. This is the least desirable of all, so I hope one of the other ideas will work.

I likely wont have to worry about any of this at all because my green thumb is more brown with a greenish tinge.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…try new things even if you expect only very limited success.

A don’t…pee in my pumpkin if I am somehow successful.

Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Got Us Killed; A Story in Seven Parts

Part 7

An Ending And Almost Many Endings

Finally!

I’m as ready for this recounting to be over as anyone who has been following the story. Let me tell you the story of how I almost died. And almost killed my wife. And our car. And possibly a few other people. And then drove well under the limit for about twenty miles so that any witnesses would pass me and put many miles between us.

We vacated our hotel room and found the outside ambience to be quite pleasant and we took comfort in that. We were hobbits (by this I mean we were “off home”) and if we had to go back home, me to my horrible job and her to having to live with me after coming home from my horrible job, at least we could drive home under partially cloudy skies with a beautiful breeze and no rainy looking stuff on the horizon.

We encountered something much worse than weather. Our gps. Apparently it had no idea there was construction going on and every time we turned off to follow the detours it would become huffy and demand that we turn left through those orange and white barrier things they set up to prevent you turning left. Then it would recalculate and order us to U-turn or perform some other illegal traffic maneuver. If you’ve ever used a gps you’ll likely understand. It just goes to reinforce my opinion that we’ve become too dependent upon technology, but I won’t preach about that.

When we finally got out onto a highway we remembered we just shut the thing off and drove. It was a repeat of the trip out with the radio and talking and pointing out things we’d missed on the initial trip. We stopped again in the town in which we’d encountered the country roughers from the first trip post. There was an intriguing sign we’d seen for a place called Hidden Hollow and we had determined to stop on the way back. So we did. And it was all we expected. A hollow not visible from the roadway, hence the name, with a gazebo and a statue carved from a standing tree stump and winding paths that led around these things and back into a wooded area that ended in a small pool that disappeared, or perhaps exuded from, underneath a large outcropping of rock. There were several fry visible in the water and a blue dragonfly seemed to be leading us to the end of the path. It would fly ahead of us, alight upon a branch and then take off again as we got closer. Just a bit of nature that happened to coincide with our approach, surely, but in the serene surroundings it felt like a bit more than it was. The photo attached is one my wife took and I’ve long held the belief that she should sell postcards. If you agree please let me know. I know this is a lot to ask, you not knowing of more than a single piece of her work, but if you at least like this one it’ll make her day to know about it.

We stayed for fifteen minutes or so, just long enough to break up any blood clots that may have been forming during our long sit in the car, then got back in the car and were once again hobbits. The gps tried to put us on a toll road and in the midst of our trying to avoid that we somehow missed a turn and ended up taking a very very back way home. At one point we were at a stop sign and the gps said slight left onto whatever road we needed to be on. I didn’t see that the slight left was across the highway. I also didn’t see the “DO NOT ENTER” and “ONE WAY” signs. The things were fifty feet down the highway! Not right at the intersection! I didn’t see the other roadway across from it! I turned the wrong way down a one way only 65 mph highway! And didn’t notice it until my wife began screaming and pounding the dashboard. I suddenly saw the signs, which by then were quite visible, and pulled off into the median. I considered just driving through it, but that’s illegal, so I just waited out the traffic and did a U-turn and performed the actions described in the first paragraph. I was paranoid the rest of the way home that the Highway Patrol was tracking me from town to town. I perspired from my arm pits the rest of the trip and again almost killed my wife with the foul odor of stress sweat.

Thankfully we made it home, alive and well-ish and our dogs were quite happy and so far we’ve lived happily ever after.

I bid you Adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…let me know if you like my wife’s picture.

A don’t…tell the Highway Patrol that it was me.

Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Got Us Killed: A Story in Seven Parts

Part 3

Of Flamingo Fights, Indecent Apes and a Charming Bird

The Sedgewick County Zoo in Wichita KS is quite a place. It stands out over all the other zoos I’ve ever visited in terms of convenience for the visitor as well as quality of habitats for the animals that live there. We felt a bit silly at first due to our being at the zoo without children, however in a very short time we encountered several other childless couples and an older man with a very expensive camera. Our fears of judgement allayed we proceeded into the depths of the zoo and had a wonderful time.

We first happened upon a beautiful lagoon full of flamingos. My wife loves flamingos and as she readied her phone to photograph the birds, they began to emit a horrendous cacophony the likes of which I wouldn’t have expected from such elegant creatures. As we watched, two flamingos began to smack their necks together and they tangled together in ways that appeared most uncomfortable. They looked quite comical when they faced each other and, chest to chest, each extended his (or her?) neck and pecked the other’s back. A few feathers were plucked free and sashayed down to add flecks of brightness to the drab greenish surface of the water. Soon thereafter, from the far end of the lagoon, a lone flamingo screeched and spread its wings. It ran toward the fighters waving its wings and I suppose it was the boss flamingo because the fighting stopped and tranquility again lay over Flamingo Lagoon. Unfortunately we were unable to get a video of this. It was quite entertaining.

We next visited the petting zoo because it was the next stop on the path and, as you may know if you’ve read some of my previous posts, I’m a bit partial to goats. Quite a regal goat (regal for a goat, anyway) stood on a bench chewing his cud and watching over the others. I stepped through the gate and was immediately approached by a small goat who, I can only assume, thought I was Bart Simpson. He attempted to eat my shorts.

The chimpanzees were next and they were a putrid lot that day. They were having blatant relations right out in the open causing one young mother (human mother) to drop her Gatorade and exclaim “The monkeys are doin’ it!” and then promptly abandon her beverage and escort her children to some more civilized habitat. My wife and I laughed and hung around a bit. Not because we are fans of monkey love but because we are fans of monkeys. My wife waved at one and he lifted his hand and smiled. I found this charming so I waved as well and the very same animal who’d honored my wife with a response dropped his grin and scratched his forehead with his middle finger! I don’t know if some louse with nothing better to do than corrupt monkeys has visited the zoo or if it was just coincidence, but it bothered me. It bothered me for several reasons. Firstly, if he smiled at my wife but flipped me the bird does that indicate he recognizes the human sexes? If so, was he attracted to my wife or simply indicating his heterosexuality? You may believe me when I say I’m sure it was a male, but I won’t go into why. Secondly, if it had nothing to do with sexuality, what on earth is wrong with me? I’m at least as nice as my wife. What had I done to offend the gentlemonkey? I could go on for a while but the implications still play through my mind nearly a week later.

After this I insisted we vacate the enclosure forthwith and leave  the uncouth creature to offend the people behind us. We were off to visit a more classy breed of wildlife. This turned out to be the most charming bird I’ve ever seen. It didn’t talk. It chirped, but it was a run of the mill type of chirp. It sounded like a bird, to put it quite bluntly. What charmed us was its Hollywood demeanor. This bird would’ve fit right in amongst the preening red carpet posers of Famousville, and while I’d normally be repulsed by such behavior this was still merely a bird. She (or he?) strutted to the fence and stood sideways to us, staring at us with one eye. It slowly cocked its head, chirped to be sure we were watching, then, I’ll say fwipped for lack of a better word, its head in such a way as to put shampoo commercial models to shame. My wife and I laughed and the bird strutted off only to turn and, upon seeing that it still had us enchanted, strut back and do it all again. Four times it did this and the fourth we were able to record. I can’t post a video with my current settings, however, believe me when I say it was the best part of a very good day and enjoy a picture of him/her instead.

I bid you Adieu…and A don’t

Adieu…take the time to try and interact with animals. Sometimes they can surprise you.

A don’t…corrupt monkeys. For crying out loud, they’re obtuse enough as it is.