Adventures With Cars – Part II

I would tell it from the beginning, but the beginning is rapidly losing itself in an ongoing saga. But, best shot here: the Beginning was when the engine light came on in my Volt. Diagnosis showed the battery was overheating. Headed to Bravo Chevy in Las Cruces where there is a resident Volt tech – a true rara avis of mechanic breed. Chevrolet Central has twice sent them the wrong battery. I believe they use short-armed men from China to row these over because it’s been just about a month, now.

That was early February. They gave me an innocuous loaner, a Malibu, which I describe a bit in my prior post. What I didn’t mention there was that the second time I drove the Malibu, headed out of town to visit a friend whose sole connection to the grid is a shared telephone line, the Malibu’s engine light came on. It was 4:45

This conversation ensued:

Me: Ray, the engine light just came on in the Malibu!

Ray: Oh no, Miss Borsello. Just stop driving it!

Me: Ray, I’m halfway up a hill heading south out of town, and…

Ray: No, no! get it to a dealer right away.

Me: Well, it’s the “stabilitrak” light that came on, with a little wrench beside it. Are you sure I can’t just keep driving?

Ray: NO, no! The car will start going 30 miles per hour because the engine light is on.

Me: We have one dealer in town – Whitehead Chevy – the ones without a Volt tech. Ok, I’ll turn around & bring it there.

Ray: give them my card, we will take care of everything, no worries.

Me: Y’know, dear, I’m not so much worried as getting a little excited about the fact that I need a reliable car right now.

So I tuned around, drove 30 mph to Whitehead & hitched a ride home. The next day, I waited until about 4 to call them. Was it THAT serious, it took all day? Was I going to have a car at all? WC said they had had an exciting day; their service manager’s last day was two days ago & they are really catching up on things…so they just forgot to call me. They would come out right away to get me. The did. The Malibu needed to have something beeped at it to turn off the light. There was nothing wrong.

I overran the Malibu’s 500 mile allowance, but the next car – the Impala – was a dream &, like all dreams, it has faded already into something expensive & pensive both. You see, they were giving me 500 miles per loaner vehicle. But most loaners go to folks living in town. They don’t have 200 miles used of that 500 allowance just getting back/forth to the dealership. I need a large reserve which is difficult since some of my jobs are 60 miles round-trip from where I live. Or 20. Plus regular back & forth here to friends. I drove like Danica getting the Impala back to the dealer before their 5:30 closure time. I had to thread in & out of legal traffic with two Texans who ignored the speed limit like it was a noncommittal fantasy…Now there are two theories that go with this risky business on my heavily-patrolled highway: One is that if both in front pass the trooper, they will scout him or her out, lights flashing, sirens playing Doppler – while I get to slow down behind. Two is that I’m the last one of the three & I get the Statie on MY tail as (s)lowest fruit hanging. But I was game. I made it to the agency at 5:18.

Ray got me over to the Hertz agency where I waited for others to finish sobbing their stories about not enough on their debit cards to rent anything. (Not a joke this, b/c there’s a $200 deposit & a car might cost $238+tax for four-five days…) The young feller finally turned to me. I handed over my license, insurance card & a $50 bill. That was my day’s pay. YF slipped the $50 right back, gazing up innocently from under his billed cap to say, “We don’t take cash here.” I handed over my debit card instead (rent due tomorrow & I have $3 over the rent in the bank, O Lord)… I refuse to worry. Spirit has my back on this, I can only hope they have my wallet as well. I noticed a sign placed high above a door, clear out of sight for most customers, that said: “You fill it, $2.39/gallon. WE fill it, $9.99/gallon.” I shuddered & took a mental picture. “Good, I thought, “everyone must fill them before bringing them back. I’ll do that, too.”

After “topping off” the Impala with $30 in gas (remember, I only earned $50), I asked him for an economy car, but not a subcompact. Most drivers in NM drive F150’s if they don’t have vans or SUV’s that scrape 15’ high road signs. I want something that will at least show if it gets tangled in their wheel wells.

Now, YF had asked me if I wanted insurance. I innocently replied, “Well what’s the coverage?” He said, “Full warranty, bumper to bumper.” I said, “That sounds like enough.” He reached again for my debit card saying, “OK, it’s only $21.99 per day.” I gripped his hand with my massage-hardened fingers & slipped the debit card from under it in a smooth movement, hissing, “Can’t you see the notches in this already? I meant what’s YOUR coverage?!” He replied, “Your insurance.” I said, “OK, good enough.”

He said, “I’ll drive it to the front of the hotel, just go out that way.” So I did.

Another gent was waiting outside while his wife arranged for their room. We talked about the wind picking up, the dark closing down, the huge full moon. When I spotted a cute little silver minnow cutting around the portico, I inadvertently murmured, “Lord, I guess they didn’t have any whole cars to give me.” The kid tossed me the keys, reluctantly came back when I asked how to open the gas cover (which has been a challenge in each & every car)… He pushed a button, flashed a grin & sped through the heavy glass doors of the building. The kind gent helped me turn the lights on (embarrassed to say I didn’t remember how to do this as I’ve had a car for three years & loaners for a month which had lights on with ignition.)

Then I adjusted the seat so my nose was a bit above the horn, turned it on (a key? Really, you use a KEY?), drove ten feet into nearest parking space & looked around in wonder at this darling miniature vehicle. I found controls for the windows and the mirrors. I guessed that the eight buttons on the steering wheel had to do with cruise & some other things. I gingerly pushed every button in the car since it was blowing heat from the third ring of the Inferno out all available ice-cream-cone-shaped vents. Maybe YF was trying to overtake the bad perfume of the last driver permeating the vehicle. Turning on the a/c slowed the engine alarmingly. I heard the hamsters under the hood exchanging cowboy boots for Keds with tiny squeals. I pushed the defroster button & two or three of them started chanting: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Fortunately, we don’t have moisture enough to need a defroster in NM, so I turned that one off as well.

I mounted Betty Lou, my faithful Garmin GPS unit on the dashboard. I realized it took up a good quarter of the available window space, so moved it lower by the gearshift. I wanted to get to Olive Garden for some salad before hitting the road – something between breakfast & home right now would be good; it was 7 p.m.

I hoped that since half the Nissan is “Missan” (I will only apologize once for the bad puns this car has induced in me, so here it is.), I’d get good mileage. It had some pep. We made it to the light for my left turn to I-10. Across the street from the intersection, a train horn was rising in volume. All traffic was stopped on red lights as the arms floated down. I watched in jaw-dropped amazement as one of those F-150’s NAILED the accelerator to the floor, making it around the corner & over the tracks as the arms struck sparks from his truck bed & the burnt rubber rose about him in a demonic shadow. I even timidly backed up a little in case anyone else wanted to perform any similar maneuvers. I counted 110 train cars & two more red lights before I got an arrow, but believe you me, I was not about to move until I got that.

I was unsurprised to find Sirius radio available & happily spun the dial looking for Classic Vinyl, Deep Tracks, Bluegrass or Classic Rewind. I hit on Tom Petty station & noted the screen wasn’t even big enough to put up all the letters. “It’s Good To Be K” said the screen, by “Tom Petty & the Hea.” Ok. Economy, I get it.

When my sneakers began to smell of burning rubber, I figured it was time to locate the heat button to turn it down. That took a couple of miles. Olive Garden was well in the rearview mirror as I just wanted to go home now. “Home, where the h” by “Simon & Garf” was playing. It made me sentimental.

Once well onto the highway, with only 60 miles of pretty empty road, I lowered my right arm onto the .. the … what? No hump there in the middle to rest my arm? I could hang it so my hand fit into the tiny cupholder (no jumbo drinks in here, Ma’am). Back to ten to two position. Just nail the sucker & go home for God’s sake.

One thing YF said that I did hear loud & clear was “Unlimited Mileage” so I took advantage of the fact to plan a drive to Socorro to my favorite market today. (Socorro is about 70 miles north.) I turned on the car and an engine light came on. (No, I am not kidding.) Fortunately, this one was simple. I drove to Whitehead & got the guys to adjust tire pressure. Then I hit I-25 & headed north, did my shopping, got some lunch & headed home. I had found a wonderful relaxation CD for 25 cents at the thrift & plugged that in, humming softly.

About 35 miles out of Socorro, where there are no towns whatsoever & no services to be had, the cute little gas pump light came on. I called Hertz. I asked the Other Young Feller on for the day if they tank up the cars when they release them. “It all depends on the car,” he hedged. I said, “At $10/gallon, you don’t take advantage & refill the cars?” “As I said, Ma’am, it depends on…” at which point I cut him off to rumble, “It depends on how much you want to weasel out of this call, you coward.”

I hung up & hung onto the wheel. Now what? I have AAA. I was not worried. I had food to eat if it took until full moonrise to get a truck to me. I was thinking of how to make room in the glove compartment for a peeler & a can opener. I read each sign avidly – T or C, 41 miles, San Marcial one mile. (San Marcial is a farm.) I found out that turning up the relaxation CD to full volume does nothing for relaxation. And then a blue sign with a gas pump on it. OMG. My angels are on overtime & I will gladly put feathers in their tanks on demand! This is the ONLY gas between T or C & Socorro & I [literally] stumbled into it.

The gas station had two pumps, just tagged for pickup by the Smithsonian (or the hoarders, whichever arrived first.) See photos below. I believe there are two burros underground hoofing a tight circle to actually pump gas into these antiques. We aren’t talking including the “M” of Modern here, just the “o dern!” But it was gas in the desert. I waited for the septuagenarian at the pump ahead of me to move her truck from dead center of the two available pumps, which she kindly did & returned to filling up her eight red gas cans. I charged into the store & paid $15. The gal said, you need to move to the other pump because the one you’re at isn’t working. Now, there are only two pumps here with three hoses each, two sides of each pump. And the dance continued. After four tries & with the help of two others, I got gas into the car.

I’m home; the groceries are stashed, the blog is written, the photos mounted. Later, I need to drop off some picked-up items to a friend. If you hear a loud boom in a bit, it’s because an engine light came on when I started it up. You might want to cover your ears.





Whoo-Wee, Now That’s A Car!


Listen up, now boys’n’girls, I have a tale to tell. It is the beginning, middle & one of the truest endings of the American Dream. And it’s all about a car.

I never, in my most crazy-assed dreams, thought I could feel this way about a vehicle. Cars belong to the practical means of achieving an end: getting from one place to another. Basic, yeh? Other than earnestly desiring a plum Challenger in my earliest married years, I cannot recall paying much attention to the auto industry.

I’ve had any number of cars & all have been memorable. From the second-year Honda hatchback from the days when they came only in gray & maroon & the guy I asked to check the oil opened the hood said, “Hey! This engine’s sideways!” I have not attempted to stay afloat in the sea of car fashion. I’m a firm contestant in the dog-paddle Olympics of Intramural Car Ownership. So, you get it, right? Economy, fun-drive, limited but sporty, serviceable…a landau roof being the big splurge on decorative touches.

But my Chevy Volt is in the shop. And it needs special handling. I think there’s about maybe three techs in NM certified in Volt repair. Something about the battery containing the energetic potential pulse of a nuclear reactor & the battery light is what came on. They need someone gloved, aproned, safety-spectacled, etc. The Volt tech at Bravo Chevy in Las Cruces must be in big demand. I’ll lay odds he wears a cape to work & his button-up blues have a big, red, triangular ‘S’ on the back.

Well, while I miss my li’l Sparkle Plenty, topaz blue, four-stroke, low-to-the-ground baby, I have achieved the playoffs of driving here. First, they loaned me a new Malibu. It was so silver-grey, it disappeared in full daylight. At night, it was a gleam with red lights in the rear. The doors opened so widely my short arms wouldn’t reach, I had to undo the seatbelt, lean out, grab the door & apply some bicep to close it. (You may scoff at this, but my passenger had to do the same thing.) I tell you Truth. The Malibu had a lot of class, some great features, one of which being a back-up camera I couldn’t decipher ‘cause the lines made it look to me like checking the end zone for a touchdown run…backwards. Good car, but of limited comfort for staid little ole me.

The guy at the agency hadn’t pointed out the 500-mile limit on the contract. So, when I called a week later to check status on my car, he asked if I was close to that. I ran outside to check, and yes, I was within 71 miles. (The agency is 83.3 miles door-to-door from my home, & I wasn’t at home.)

He said, “BRING IT BACK! We’ll get you into another loaner!” Now, to me, there’s something eco-unfriendly about driving 83.3 miles on a mileage allowance I’ve already inadvertently exceeded, to get into another car where I get a second shot at 500 miles. Don’t they have a fax machine? In New Mexico, everything of any high brand name quality (Natural Grocers, anything other than “Wonder” or “Ferdinand” as movie of the week, Staples, Lowes – you get the picture) is 70 miles one way. It’s not like I wasted the miles I was given. But there was that one joyride with my girlfriend when we went to Las Cruces as she needed a jeweler other than Walmart to assess a collector’s item. In my defense, I didn’t know about that 500-mile clause then.

Yesterday, I picked up my favorite passenger & headed for the stadium lights. Car sales is as much of a sports contest as any NFL game, so the wattage seems appropriate. It was late in the day when we left. We planned a dinner out of town & a stop at aforesaid Natural Grocers.

My service rep, with whom I am developing quite the relationship, cheerfully calls me “Miss Borsello,” causing me to look over my shoulder for someone else – I’ve been “Yo! Carol!” for a long time now.) Anyway, he put me into a brand-new, nipple-hardening bright white, 8-cylinder Impala. We’re talking top of the line here. I felt my canines growing immediately upon adjusting the seat so I could see out the windshield & over the steering wheel. Then it got more serious as my right foot developed a lead coating & I think a penis started to sprout somewhere down below. (Sorry for the sex analogies, but I am talking such a sensuous experience with driving this car, it was one of huge proportion for my Life Without Hormones since the 80’s (when I went through menopause three times while withdrawing from HRT.)

I do believe any American between sixteen & eighteen years of age will tell you the same, with perhaps more forceful language. There is utterly nothing in my life that got to me like driving this car at this time & I’ve been married thrice. My friend said, “Carol, I think we passed the turn for that Italian restaurant two streets back – you need to get into the left lane.” I was in the third lane over at the time from left-most. I smiled, said, “No prob!” And goosed my new “John White” on the green light…we made the next left. Lead can be worth more than gold sometimes, yeh?

Coming home, the Sirius radio offered us some, like, polka from Japan, so we listened to comedy. I’m annoyingly picky about music. I hate Steely Dan, can’t tolerate Frank Sinatra, & set fire to EZ listening CDs for kicks. We listened to comedy which we carefully turned down while going through the Border Checkpoint 20 miles out of town, lest we unintentionally smile.

But after I dropped my friend off at the meet-up parking lot & checked out the stations, I found Pink Floyd. I was GONE. I felt like I was in my personal jet en route to some island. I turned it up beyond ear-splitting (OMG! Actual volume without winding it up to a max 32!) I pinned the volume button, applied my right foot & passed my friend who was already tooling down the highway before I began my research. I think her car spun around a couple of times. A languid wave of a lifted hand, a murmured “Hey” & was at the exit for town in a blink. Going 40 after getting off I-25 allowed me to find a few more stations. By the time I pulled up in front of my apartment, I sealed the windows, closed my eyes, tried unsuccessfully for even more volume & blissed out on “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys” as the car & I vibrated happily together.

This morning when I woke, I thought to walk to our regular Wednesday Coffee Klatsch at B’s house. Then I went outside. My salivary glands overflowed, my canines extended over my bottom lip, my hand involuntarily flickered over the remote fob. Devoid of conscious volition, I pushed the ‘unlock’ button. John White responded with a flirtatious flicker of the lights & walking was suddenly stupid. Who needs exercise?

We coasted down the hill. What a shame B only lives 1.5 miles away. I was ready to take a serious bite out of that 500. Parking demurely, still humming “Locomotive Breath,” I stroked his flank as I left the car, went inside, had my coffee, chatted up friends on topical stuff & left. All RIGHT! Let’s go to the library (sadly, even closer than 1.5.) I forgot my library bag, & when I realized I hadn’t returned my movies, I immediately drove home, turned around & took them back. Don’t want to be late on returning them, right? I only had 13 more days until due, after all.

I love my apartment. I love my little car. I love my life. I just have this fantastic Grand Opportunity at the Publisher’s Clearinghouse of cars in my immediate future. Who am I to argue such a present? I don’t know about looking a gift horse in the mouth, but, baby, I ain’t even opening the hood on this one!



Look Both Ways

At the two ends of my days, I still my mind & whisper inside it, “Thank You!”

The mornings sing with promise & the evenings with premise. When I have slept & awaken to the expectation of another day, I choose to have it be orderly & full of life. When I lie down to sleep, I breathe in the now-deflated activities to bestir them once more. In that minute, I can see the what & how of my day’s deeds. Usually I achieve clarity on situations which set of the railroad crossing arms, clanging internal bells, & bringing down barriers in the moments they unfold.

This is where the proverbial “shoulda/coulda/woulda/if” dragon rears to flicker its tongue inside the brain. The witty reply you should have made, the idea you could have brought forth, the best possible behavior you would have taken to settle all once & future doubt…we don’t even have to consider the “if” because you have already experienced it as you’ve mentally closed out this sentence.

A recent example of this is a fella I met who told me he felt the people he met here in T or C did not get when he was being “jocular” (his word.) My midnight consideration of this pronouncement brought up his continual smile. Do you assume someone is joking when they only smile? Is that accurate? Perhaps as accurate as his feeling we were all too serious. My midnight consideration put together many later facts that emerged: He grows marijuana & makes a living selling it. The rapid speech, the soft voice, the simple grin were probably all indications of his being under the influence. Am I wrong? I could be; but this made the most sense to me in my retrospective of the situation. I have little respect at this point of my life for dope dealers. They interfere with life.

The shadow & the light are at play right now, as in some cosmic tennis match. We are served illusion & disinformation as a matter of course. I keep hearing that I should be discerning, but I’ve lost the meaning of the word. Each time I tune into something in which to believe, an equal, opposite case is made. So, I reserve judgment, observe my perception of reality & live by my truth.

In the movie, “What The [Bleep] Do We Know”, Joe Dispenza introduces his idea of creating your day. Here’s a link to a transcript: “I Create My Day” (Joe Dispenza)

If you don’t care to read all the words, a video interview is available: Interview with Joe on topic.

Singer/songwriter Peter Mayer says, “the gift is to realize that everything is a gift.” This is neither simple nor easy to do. It takes a suspension of current events (kind of similar to what it feels to smoke marijuana), to reinvent the world into Divine Order. Or it takes simple faith. Faith can be impossible until you are no longer hungry in body, mind & spirit. Hunger in any of these inhibits that cosmic flow we are to go with.

It seems that society itself is “jumping the shark” – a phrase I had to look up today online as I was not familiar with its true meaning. It means a kind of exaggeration to the point of losing the point. As soon as I read the definition, I realized it was familiar: I used to call it “bringing in the dinosaurs.” When the story line ran out of plausible situations, dinosaurs were written in & it was time to surrender the series to rightful oblivion.

Don’t let the dinosaurs get to you. Don’t let situations become so unstable & ridiculous that you are squeezed out of your own reality. Have that faith in what you have created. Investigate the causes of your emotional switchbacks along the mountain. Observe your thoughts. Did you think these before? Are these what you surround yourself with daily? You may be living yesterday today & offering up your tomorrow to the same discomfort.

Break the routine of being yourself once in a while. It pays off…and if the new becomes more fulfilling, you’ve won big.

I try to do this though I love my comfort zone like Wimpy loved hamburgers. (Remember his line: “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”?)

I highly recommend the video “Stroke of Insight” on YouTube as an example of a singular, incredible example into change.

Let’s go for the new thoughts together & re-create this old world into the reality most satisfying to ourselves, most productive for all, most protective of that which is precious & most loving in sheer gratitude for what it can be, as we make that what is.

A Blessing:

“For food in a world where many walk in hunger

For friends in a world where many walk alone

For faith in a world where many walk in fear”

And so it is.



Cast in Stone (No Rewrites)

Times are, when no one believes in me; I cease to exist. I become invisible to the naked eye, such a marathon of years mapped across my face, no one sees me clearly. Or if they do, they take in the gray-blonde sand of my hair & wander away from greeting. I’ve said it before: to go gray (as a female) is to go stealth in life.

“Another old woman; another useless eater,” I almost hear the thought. No longer fecund of body, no longer generating taxes for a ravenous System, I am a bean in the bean-counter’s world. Into the slot of disposables I go, but still being alive, I vociferously protest the disregard.  

If you’re going to dismiss me, you’ll have to put me in the red bucket, the one with the radioactive syringes, the impossibles, the distortions in the fabric. Put me with the zippers that won’t close, the dress with crooked sleeves & a pulled hem. I’ll never fit your mold.

I cannot sit with a TV remote in my hand, watching dreams in which I have no place, no time, no empowering feelings. I don’t have a favorite show anymore. My internet radio features some two dozen channels I wander among. My values are invaluable & unsettling to the crowd. Everyone looks quizzical when I announce my decisions. Many ask for explanations I cannot give, for my value system is not theirs.

Some reach out to fondly pat my hand. One accused me of having a non-working brain, which so hurt I snapped immediate walls up against her. Many friends melt into a landscape where I can walk no longer; somehow discernment has barred my path. My hours are no longer stolen from financial productivity. But I’m not like B, walking her dog seven times a day because she’s forgotten she walked the beast as he manipulatively pants by the back door. I’m not like G, who sits smoking on her porch among the refilled oxygen tanks. I’m not like R & K & C who work every day for earnings, putting dreams on a ticking blinker hold. They may never take the call, and this frightens me for them.

I’ve answered too many calls! I’ve moved too many times, I’ve worried too much about how I can do things just before I did them because the worry was so fractious to my heart. I’ve run out of money & watched as sometimes it flooded back & sometimes trickled, but there has always been enough.

I no longer expect understanding. I’m patient in the face of others’ doubts about me. No one else is walking the miles in my shoes, finding my opportunities, holding the pens I write with. Feeling lonely is redundant when I am society’s answer to becoming obsolete. I am no longer useful in the worldly ways I once was. I support no one, believe in an omniscient range of possibilities at which others roll their eyes just before launching into a list of why these are actually impossibilities.

But I’m not ossified or moribund. I’m not helpless in the face of change. If one thing does not suit, I’m on to the next with a blink & a nod to circumstance. In a world frozen in place, I bring the sun that cracks open the ice & frees the fish to swim. In a sky gray with worry & layered separations, I peek through a ray of the only light there may be that day. I ride the beam in delight & blessing.

There’s no question for me anymore about all this. I am not one to surrender & simply sink into a chair. I love to be a part of it all, but only on my own terms. If this is my definition, rewrite the damn dictionary.

My life energy is mine to spend. My coin is not of this realm & whether I am right or not about that remains to be accounted. Others can sing “My Way,” but I have a legitimate claim to the phrase, & the ability to write an explanation in fifty words or less. I don’t do shades of gray! My life is vivid with color, light, sound, fullness, creation & walking time around like a crow on my shoulder. It repeats, it requests, it demands, it prays.

What I collect cannot be pressed into books or slipped into glassine envelopes. I am who I am with an expectation of being more in every moment. So it may seem to the casual observer that I’m doing little, while I am actually rolling full steam ahead on so many levels.

Even with all this, people argue me: you have to charge for this, you shouldn’t think about that; you’ve got to love [fill in the blank], find a man, find a life, find a lost city of gold in the Peruvian rain forest & taste the fresh ayhuasca.

Leave it! Just take me as I am or put me aside for the next good deed you want to accomplish. Not much is gonna change here. I’ll never be a specimen you can pin down or predict.

But I’ll never be bitter, resentful, hateful or unmystified by all that/about all that life offers. I’ll always share the humor in any moment of blessing.

I’m tired of being disapproved, tired of being criticized & ostracized. It would be nice if someone else were in charge, but there’s only me in this life. I don’t know about the rest of you. Where would I begin to find out? But I can extrapolate how people have lived by what they’ve left behind. Just check the secondhand stores if you want to find out about that. Pretty few surprises here, but always something useful…no way to know if it’s the people or the stuff that smells so musty. Very likely both.


Owl Morning

I squint like a mouse

When I am the twitching tail of the cat set to hunt it.

I gaze at my life with a pauper’s hunger

While I live as a queen within it.

I have light, food, cash tucked in a blue sock

While I rattle the pig-bank to gauge my wealth.

This sums up what it is to be human

To live duality, even breathing in & out.

I cannot claim silence while music leaps from my pen

I cannot fear the words will disappear as they burble over the cookpot.

 There are horns from afar summoning me to war

Yet this has been a hard-fought peace to choose.

Let the winds of change breeze my bird’s nest hair

For all I have not done, more rises to accomplish.

As every day leads to every night

I gather up my life & wander on.


The owl wakes me again this darkling morning. She must have found my window alluring, yet there are no trees behind me at all. She sits, perhaps, on the crest of the warehouse roof, or upon a rung of the antenna tower. Her call is soft but urgent.

I protest: it’s too early! But I shift in my narrow bed & stretch my toes out straight. Would I climb with them to her perch if I could?

She has been silent up till now. She has eaten the mice in the storage yard; whence her eye fixed on my window to whoo-whoo to. She is calm, insistent, steady in her calls for me to waken.

But what will I do with such a cold morning? Too dark it is for even a streamer of dawn bringing light. I want to keep my eyes closed, listening. I cannot regather the shreds of sleep for wishing a dream. I rise & tuck my chill into a shawl.

I pad downstairs to a silent kitchen, flick on a nightlight. I pull everything out of the cabinets & begin to rearrange the contents by its sparse illumination. First, all the sauces are put together, the tuna stacked up. I take inventory to attend to restocking later: two cans of mismatched beans, a package of stiff spaghetti. I seek a pen & pad to make a list.

Dropping the emptied, crackling bags into the trash, I return to the counter to use up the last of my empty honey jars, a medium for the Farro, a small for the Panko, a large for the unsalted pistachios (how can everything end in an “o” this morning?)

I open boxes of teabags to place these into the big jug on the lazy susan. I pull out the frozen chicken to have it defrost by Sunday dinner.

I wet the sponge & blot the spills of grain. The coffee is ready now, its aromatic heat a blessing to a half-waked brain.

Last night I washed my laundry late. Returning upstairs, I fold & sort & in the sleepy darkness, put away the clothes. The dreams of my neighbors brush up against my silent walls. I feel their steady breaths over my feet, along the floor.

My house is tidy, tucked up & softly gleaming in the streetlamp’s outside glow. The owl has gone quiet, has her morning winged away?

I’ve made the bed but eye it in longing. As a meal unfinished, that last dream awaits.




When I left my room in Hillsboro, I predicted being left to my own devices; I did not realize this meant no devices…

Half-January & I am out of data minutes on my phone. A fit of craving momentarily seizes my frontal lobe. No! Back to writing with a pen! After speeding all over the keyboard, after being reduced to pecking with a stylus at tiny buttons on my phone…I am wading out of the river of data in which I so recently immersed to a dry & sandy shore where the water is just a wash of noise behind me. From the swift whitewater current of following a dozen blogs & vlogs, to the shallows of a few daily emails (with occasional swirls of enabled research), to this dry stretch of a scratching pen on real paper. O, Lord!

My home is ultra-quiet. The heater turning on is a rumble above which I quickly subdue, turning down heat & reaching for a jacket. I moved here in the primal drive of having heat over the winter; however, the temps have been so mild as to almost preclude the need for this miracle My 40-watt bulb blinks in a Morse Code, telling me it is a refrigerator light & not a real bulb…and in its tiny filament of estimation, I’ve had the fridge door open far too long for it to sustain all 40 watts. There is such a thing as over-saving, perhaps? But all the times I was snide about the cranky words flung at me  “I’m on a fixed budget” are crabbing at me now, pincers clicking brightly, pinching on the checkbook.

Scribing on in the dark is easy; I’ve written in semi-darkness for years as the drive continues when the light changes in either direction.  For if the Muse is pushing me to take it all down, I pay no attention to ambient light.

It sounds relaxing. Yes, it bestills me to be in this way isolate. This original habit was overtaken by tech, like driving after walking. With walking, though, more details come into view. I yearn to fly on the keyboard instead of this careful forming each letter, almost drawing them one by one. There, I use profane abbreviations – “n” for and, “tho” for though…I leave words half-formed & uncooked. By hand, I cannot bear this untidiness. It becomes the omission of parts of a recipe. A pinch of salt ignored may mean the bread will be lumpy.

Sadly, January 15th sees me with a phone to be used as only a phone (here an old lament rises, I hardly ever get calls); a laptop to be used as a typewriter only. None of the connections so benevolently granted by utility companies are affordable right now on my budget (as I’ve said, consisting of one lightbulb burning at a time.) I even bought a battery-operated lantern at a yard sale. It is more reliable than my refrigerator bulb straining to fulfill the function of a real light.

All this, and the world breathless with change, my alternative news sources screaming from the cusp of Great Transformation, pension funds refusing to invest in oil (what a predictive indicator), indictments vibrating in pouches of process servers, big-name politicos wearing camouflage orthopedic boots supposedly covering their GPS trackers.) I am news-less, praying friends will notify me when it is time to plant good seeds, check my account for the prosperity funds, release thoughts of nuclear fission powering the grid, bombs & chaos landing ‘pon the heads of my fellow world denizens. It is somehow fitting to my fate that I am learning to release tech at a time when it is releasing its severity of need to us. For indeed, two steps back from the brink can never be enough. We need to turn our backs & seek peace, love, & compassionate living in the most human of ways, simple touch, divine regard.

So, my descent into handwriting is more of a hand-made handicraft than a cybercrime sin. The flowers of an over-perfumed garden have devolved into a dandelion seeding a field.

Tech is convenient, seductive. Even though its blue light hurts my waking eyes, I was drawn to its 6 a.m. crystal gaze. What I lose in quantity, I gain in quality. Vocabulary assumes importance, thoughtfulness chivies reaction right out of the ring, squeezing it through the ropes with a “pop!”

The river well behind me now, I click the top of the pen, just as final a move as closing the laptop clamshell. I re-shelve the journal as I eagerly stuff the computer into its black carry-case.

I’m on my way to the computer lab, ostensibly to volunteer – a thin excuse to re-entering the seductive world I am missing with every written word. Back online, submerged in a room marinated by the radiation of fifteen-plus computers, a WIFI box in the cabinet, a server steadily lub-dubbing its beat on a desk.

Addicted, after all my fine words of freedom.

Twelve steps closer to my world…




Were runes the first secret alphabet of mankind? I associate runes with Vikings & what with Norse being a difficult language, they likely kept secrets in runes quite well.

If we think of runes as letters carved on tiny, flat rocks, it must’ve taken a Viking shipload to put together a note. Not to mention trying to glue these to the fridge.

Therefore, runes became symbolic – like using a heart icon to say like/love/dearie, etc. Runic shorthand is quite fun & was revolutionary in language learning, jumping the Norse ahead of the Chinese who scribed long before their northlander cousins, but used up much ink & wore down brushes, necessitating frequent trips to the pig bristle hut.

Runic tools lasted. Hammers & chisels hardly fit into pencil cases & must have been difficult for the children to carry to school.  While the Norse might stop along a coastline, it was mostly to steal sheep & hardly ever to replenish rune-writing supplies.

Many aboriginal cultures never codified words in writing. They used clicking & guttural sounds to speak. These conveyed meaning, carried through jungle undergrowth & cut tribal noise barriers in the villages. It must have been hard to whisper, though.

Runes & other symbols have gone through a difficult time lately. Witness the evolution of the dire warning of skull & crossbones indicating “poison!” into Halloween candy. Since runes dropped from favor & parchment plus bird-feather nibs have also eroded their market share, we have wound up with computers and spell-check. It is obvious that spell-check cannot spell, yet we continue to use it to mix homonyms into a language evocative of illiteracy plus one. This, plus people’s advanced inability to spell on their own has rendered written language somewhat comedic. Mixing words like “there” & “their” obscures meanings effectively. Is AI trying to divide & conquer or are we all so lacking in English skills now?

As to the spoken word, there are far too many verbal Tourette’s tics in conversation, like “y’know?” “got that?” [the ubiquitous] “like” & the ever-present, “um.”

Not me! I learned English at the end of a bladed 12” ruler wielded by a woman who wore rosary beads as ornamentation, probably had headphones blasting AC/DC under her wimple, purchased on my Catholic School March of Dimes money. The nuns I knew collected teeth for misspellings, cut off ears for talking in class & used arcane ritual in curing them to string under the habits. It’s been recently revealed on the Internet that they maintained the purity of the language through threat & the all-effective follow-through of nightly detention. The only thing worse than school all day was school all night, too. In all, what they DID achieve was a kind of immortality of race memory in a group of kids already burdened with confession, confirmation, & breathing chalk dust from clapping erasers.

So, while Vikings used rocks as language – cairns meaning, take a left at the fir tree forest to find more sheep, the Chinese rolled their Gone With Mist Wind manuscripts into thick scrolls & tied them with facial hair. Americans used to be fancy, but now we scribble/scrawl with the best of them. We use language carelessly, ignoring actual definitions, making up more words to misspell & randomizing spelling in general. I won’t even approach gratuitous besmirching of rules of grammar here.

Even as we attempt to simplify language, it becomes more complex. Imagine your average Norseman disembarking his elaborately carven boat to order a pumpkin mocha with turmeric… It was a different time to communicate for sure.

Now I must pull my tongue out of my cheek & I hope you will do so as well. I had to get this off my, um, chest.

Thank you.