U: Utah

U: Utah

Unknown

Arches National Park

In 2011 I visited Butte MT to see family and visit with old friends. I met and had dinner with several friends. It was fun to see people I had known since grade school or high school and to breathe that famous clear Montana air. They say that half the fun is getting there but in my case getting there was more of a challenge than I anticipated.

Q: Do you know why a man sends so many sperm on a mission to fertilize one egg? A: Not of them will stop and ask for directions.

The flight from Fresno to Salt Lake was challenging for my asthma so I mentioned to the stewardess that I was having some trouble. She and I agreed it would be wise to have a wheelchair ready for me when I landed in SLC. There was a communication glitch because my wheelchair never arrived. It’s a long walk from the gate to the Delta hub when you’re having trouble getting air. If only…I had taken a few minutes to assess my situation! What I did was get a cup of coffee and some food and rest in the hub. A few hours later I was on a plane to Butte and then picked up a rental car.

Going from 300+ feet elevation to 5,000+ is a change but the air is soooo clear. Whatever, I had some issues with getting my energy and oxygen back so the first day was to rest and plan. By the time I was ready to fly home I had made some decisions. When I got to SLC I didn’t feel good and TOLD someone at the Delta counter I needed help. A young man pushed my wheelchair to Starbucks but before I could get that drink I said, “I’m having an asthma attack, I need help!” Then I rebounded with my emergency air puffer. A few minutes later a medical team had me on a gurney and were pumping Albuterol into me, and offering to take me to the hospital. When I recovered Delta assigned the young man to be at the ready for me until my lane left for Fresno. They gave me 2 meal vouchers so I could have a good meal at a restaurant I never would have found on my own. Good meal, good glass of wine, nice atmosphere, all thanks to Delta.

When I flew to Butte in 2013 I stayed overnight in Salt Lake each way. No Asthma issues at all, but then I had my albuterol handy and a battle plan in place.

Zionth

 Bryce Canyon National Park

My point? I have a unique knowledge of great places to get sick on a vacation. The EMT’s in Salt Lake’s airport are courteous, helpful and know their stuff. If you are at the Grand Canyon they have as superb clinic with cheerful nurses and doctors. They treated my asthma attack there so well we sent them a box of Dewars Chews.

In the 1980’s we visited Bryce Canyon and Zion and etched those places on our bucket list.

I have fond memories of our visits to and through Salt Lake—nice folks. They are as nice as the land is beautiful.

th-1

Canyon de Chelle National Park

T: Truth Took a hit

July 2013 I was stopped speeding in Butte, MT but let was off with a warning. The officer was very professional, signaled me back inside when I started to get out of the car, checked my background and then told me how I had screwed up. I was angry with myself for speeding and concerned about how much this was gong to cost me. At no time did I worry about being arrested, harassed or racially profiled—I’m a 69 year old white guy. The chief lesson I take away from the disaster in Ferguson is how pervasive and well founded is the fear of African Americans when they are stopped by a white police officer. I knew that, but now the understanding is more visceral, more in my bones.

Truth took a hit thanks to how incompetently the Ferguson police and DA handled everything they touched. 1) Crime scene photos were not taken because the person doing that had a dead battery in the camera. [Nobody had a cell phone?] 2) Details like where blood spatter happened was not measured in relation to the police car, 3) Officer Wilson’s initial interview was not recorded, and the officer doing the interview, “had other thing,” on his mind, 4) Instead of using a less intimidating presence the police brought in armored personnel vehicles, riot gear, pointed loaded guns at the protesters and reminded me of the worst days of the 60’s, 5) Six weeks after the event Wilson gave his official statement, 6) The grand jury leaked like a rumor in junior high, 7) The DA postponed the announcement of the grand jury decision until 8:00 PM assuring that there would be trouble and the darkness would make it harder for the authorities to contain, 8) The decision to dump every scrap of evidence on the non-sequestered grand jury was highly unusual even for this DA, 9) His announcement had so much detail it was hard to follow, especially knowing that all hell was breaking loose in Ferguson and other cities, 10) My criticism here is only part of the criticism made by professionals.

Darrell Wilson could have stayed in his car and waited 90 seconds for the backup to arrive since he was in fear for his life. Hell, he could have hit the gas and gotten Mike Brown to let go of his gun and/or arm that way.

The great tragedy is that Mike Brown died; the details and fallout are forever mired in so much unprofessional handling of the incident that people will argue about what it means and how it happened for years, with no resolution. Lack of evidence and poor procedure keeps me from proving that either Brown or Wilson was more at fault, but I blame the officer who had a series of options before he got out of his car and emptied his gun into a man he feared.

Michael Brown, and therefore Darrell Wilson have not received a fair judgment of what happened that day. This is an American tragedy and will affect every officer when he/she makes a traffic stop, or drug bust for some time to come. It will also affect the person being stopped.

S: Stripper

eye-chart-for-adult-male1

S: Stripper

 When I did Q for Vision I ran across this eye chart that caught my eye but hesitated to include it in the essay. I have revised that opinion (see prior blog) and include it here. Primal awareness attends the playful revelation of flesh by a lover, an entertainer or oneself. To be without clothes leaves a person vulnerable, a nuance on the word exposed. Marilyn Monroe lives on my computer in digital images.

IMG_0737

Until I moved to California I had never seen a stripper in the flesh (bad pun.) Being in California, so foreign from where I had lived was a major culture shock and that long-forgotten entertainer is perhaps a symbol of the move from a kind of innocence to adulthood and much needed maturity.

A story from childhood lingers. I must have been 8-10 and the girls a year or two older older. One summer evening a group, maybe half a dozen girls gathered in a vacant lot between two houses and took off their clothes. Then they ran around the block startling a few people before dashing back to their clothes. One of those girls told me about the incident giving credibility to what I had imagined. Before they undressed another boy and myself were driven away by threats and dirty looks. When we ventured back we saw the girls already dressed, one girl I recall tying her shoes. They cursed us again and threatened bodily harm if we stayed around. We ran. My imagination suggests it would have been wickedly fun to steal some of their clothes, but fear of bodily harm kept us away.

Entertainers before the Black Drape
Stripper 1
Clothed in nightfall, mist and sequins,
she treads slowly
amid the smoke and loud music.
In choreographed steps and glides,
smiles and rubs, inviting–
then off-putting.
Catching a hem of skirt she flashes leg
and then hesitates–waiting for the
calls to show more.
In the neon glow, she slowly
un-
buttttttttttttt-
onnnnnnnnnnnnn s.

Then elevates the skirt to display thigh and nylon promise.

She plays with the skirt–
pulling, twisting, waving,
twirling, smoothing, feeling,
petting, and then
un-
lac-
ing.
In black bra and petticoats, a filly prances, neighing kisses to the hooting men.
In a single move she lifts the petticoats overhead,
& turns from the voyeurs–
while she stares at black altar drape, jaw set in bleak smile.
Hands cupping chest, she jiggles delight to a blushing boy in the second row
and then dances free, and all see the swinging breasts above flat belly
and taut nylon
In lurid g-string, she offers it all to yahoos of her world; at last she

s
t
r
i
p
s
off the g-string and throws it to the almost-innocent in row 2.
Then coyly, covers loins and chest and greets the darkness of obscurity.
Stripper 2 had frosted hair, blue panties, no bra, the smile was forfeited in sweat and dread.
Stripper 3 had yellow panties and long ago stopped praying to either drape or darkness.
Stripper 4 looked scared and alone…
Stripper 5 wore pink and white, talked to herself, and moved a beat ahead of the music.
Stripper 6 focused on the red-faced man in row 1, gave him her underthings and memories of a night on a foreign town. her grin was waxen and depraved.
Stripper 7 began as i left …. she may have danced before.
Terry Redman © 1995, 2014

Think back to the first time your lover undressed for you, and you undressed for him or her. Is it still exciting? Strip poker, strip tease, losing a bet and having to…. This is all embedded in our psyche.

R: Revision, Recast, and Reflection

creative writing

Revision: do over, make better, spend time and watch it grow.

My introduction to writing for college involved either cursive on lined paper or awkward efforts on a typewriter. A college roommate earned a good income typing papers. He was efficient, able to edit the grammar and mechanics as he rolled through page after page. My typing was painfully slow and prone to errors. When I make a mistake (as I often do here) I can simply delete it and fix the line. With a handwritten page or typed page it means a wholesale do over.

Problem: the student writes a draft and the teacher marks it up. “Here, go fix these errors.” The poor kid realizes he has to write the whole damn paper over because of 3 errant sentences. Solution: “Good paper, so rewrite these 3 sentences at the bottom of the page and I’ll take it.

In the mid nineties when computers were gaining critical mass in the high school district we learned that 90% plus of the incoming freshpersons one year had computers. This changed how we could teach writing and research. Revisions were less a trauma than in the dark old days of the 1980’s.

worlds-most-creative-statues-6

Revision = seeing again. Memories, names and dates the details of what was said; all these are subject to revision. I now casually accept that I often remember events in great detail but very little accuracy. Wisdom tells me that when my wife corrects me go with her version of events because she’s more accurate. Wisdom seeks harmony. Some things are not worth remembering and some memories need revision fact-free; remember I am a writer.

Reflection: this is the gift I find in these blogs—the need to reflect on what matters and not, what I value and what I see as play. What have I learned? Reflection is how I grow and how I learn who I am.

Thinker

This blog challenge is forces reflection. People write about their travels, observations about life and people in their lives and what matters. I can’t always come up with a theme for the letter of the day, but tangential issues swirl around in my imagination all the time. Facing the page and forcing myself to write is not a lost moment in time, it is life itself. Yes, I have revised and recast this blog a few times. Do you revise and rework your blogs here. Why do you read the blogs? Why are you a part of this challenge? Really. And now I see where I’d like to do some more Revision. Grin.

Q: …..

Vision (blame the small print)

“Read the chart on the wall: number one or number two….”

dino chart

Vision, the issue I can never ignore. Glasses have been a part of my appearance since I was 4. During my grade school years I managed to break a pair each year and recall several times when the frame was bent beyond recognition. “Lazy eye,” is what the doctor called it but he neglected to tell me why this happened. By college I knew that the optic nerve was not carrying the image correctly from the right eye to the brain so actually the glasses were to treat my left eye, the good eye. I can’t recall anyone telling me what the prescription for the left eye corrected, just that I needed to wear spectacles all the time.

Left eye with glasses = 40/20 and the right eye a steady 400/20.

Tests at the DMV had drama all their own. “Cover your right eye,” I would do a pretty good job on the chart as long as I had the glasses on. Examiner, “Cover your left eye.”

Me, “I can see the chart and dark lines that may be an E.” Examiner, “Has it always been like this?”

Me. “Yes, since birth.” Examiner, “You need to wear glasses all the time.”

This year I had cataract surgery for the left eye and got a lens that corrects for astigmatism. I need reading glasses to read, write and use the computer but I don’t need glasses for much else. Yesterday I asked the doctor what the vision is in my left eye. He said, “20/20.” My response, “Wow!”

The One-Eyed Photo-Artist

Having glanced at (accomplished) photo artists

I hesitate

to display my digital efforts

and be exposed the…………….amateur.

Like stripping for a stranger

inviting others to view my images, my heart,

is laced with uncertainty & risk…a thrill,

a new unwrapping of this artist’s

self.

Good writing means eliminating

debris

until words embrace the reader

and thrill my soul.

Photography: spirit dance

finding beauty amid

commonplace.

Digital, I understand, but

baffled by film

and darkrooms

and odd smells.

This world needs a one-eyed photo-artist

so I applied and got

the job.

If EmilyDickenson.com had seen her therapist

the world would have lost

a singular & inspired view.

What the hell, it sounds like fun!

Terry Redman © 2006, 2014

Zodiac

P: PNEU: Greek, literally ‘that which is breathed or blown.’

P: PNEU: Greek, literally ‘that which is breathed or blown.’

 th

My dad was a committed Camels smoker for most of his life; heart surgery and a couple of lung diseases stopped that. It was the smoking that eventually killed him as the cancer moved from his lungs into his bones. How did he quit smoking? The day after his heart surgery my mother asked him, “Well, you have to quit smoking so when do you plan to do it?” My dad said, “I think I’ll finish this pack, it’s half gone anyway.” A few minutes later a nun walked into the room and looked at him. “Enjoy that one, it’s your last,” she said as she grabbed the cigarettes and lighter. He never smoked again. I took in a lot of second-hand smoke as a kid.

Around 2007 I learned I had asthma and most likely had been experiencing it for several years. It had been a strange few months leading up to the diagnosis. I bought groceries and when I got home I had to sit down and get my breath before I could bring them in from the car. Everything made me cough—food, water, walking across the room and even cleaning the house or doing the dishes. I was thrilled to find out what the problem was and spent the next year learning to cope, get the right medicines and how to deal with the condition. The learning goes on. In 2012 we drove to The Grand Canyon en route to Phoenix. I had a couple of asthma attacks and learned what I could not do. Never go to 8,000’ above sea level, never get too close to widespread wildfires (Colorado was having major fires that year) and ALWAYS have the right medicines handy. It turns out that The Grand Canyon has a great clinic and they deal with people short of breath all the time. We cancelled our trip to Phoenix and armed with the meds I should have brought we drove back to Bakersfield. A few months later we drove to Phoenix. A test drive to find my ceiling showed I don’t do well above 6,000.’

When my sister-in-law died a few months after our visit we drove out for the memorial service. Lots of dust crossing the desert but I had my meds. Then in the middle of the night I had to wake my brother up to take me to the hospital—I was having an attack from the damn dust we’d driven through that day.

This weekend we are having terrible air this week. I am in the category they call, “at risk,” and warn us to stay indoors. Air quality is the index I check in the weather section, even during the Bakersfield summers. Up to 80 AQI is not bad and I am OK. Above 100 I have problems. Today will be at least 150+. Last night Miles Muzio said it was 250 at 10 PM. The rest of the weekend is just as troubling.

Experience, the right meds and timely counsel from my wife help me cope. Today I will obey Miles Muzio and stay indoors, use my nebulizer and relax. Keep calm and keep breathing, a winning strategy.

Ahhhhh! That felt good.

th-1

O: Old age, opportunity for reflection on my blessings

Viking series

So, it turns out that the gel injection I got in my right knee lasted for 6 months. The doc said, “Six to nine months,” and he was spot on. April 22 to early October is six months. I saw him this morning, just as the knee is getting worse. “And it’s swollen,” is what he saw when he looked at it. When one knee is sore the weight shifts to the other leg causing problems in the “good leg.” He has requested insurance to authorize the injection and then I will be going in for my shot. While it’s a nuisance to have a bum knee, it is far better to have insurance, canes and my handicapped-parking card. This pain is temporary and not all that bad. Below is a poem I wrote 20 years ago during a hard time with the knee. Today is not even close to that, thank God.

The Pain

I fear and loathe the pain I bear

In consternation, dismay, apprehension, hesitancy and panic

I greet the burning in my knee.

In slow feeble steps, watching, and sitting

I’ve lost a portion of my dignity

To this damn distress, and joined a battle I gladly should have missed.

My pride’s been ripped from these strong legs and replaced by stiff timidity.

Yes, I fear and loathe the pain I bear.

Terry Redman (c) 2014

A few more poems to raise my spirits:

nano mug

i wish to stop time

re-gather my energies and be ready

when the next blow, challenge, or disappointment arrives.

i wish to stop time so,

i could go back and undo the pain and harm i’ve caused.

to know I had worth and talents

when cruel taunts stung my heart and

see the insecurity of my tormenters.

i wish to stop time

and have another talk with parents now dead

and friends no longer in my life

and to do more good for them than i did then

and see them all with older, wiser eyes and heart.

i wish to stop time

and let my story germinate, feel the kiss of poetry

dripping from my soul onto digital keys.

to read ideas so unlike my own and

hear the voices of other times (then and yet to come.)

i wish to stop time

and open door after door, to rooms of different civilizations

to dwell with alien and ancestor

when the world was less computerized, more silent.

i wish to stop time and treasure today

before it passes into faded memory.

Terry Redman © 2013

flapper

Plunge

Muse’s laugh echoes across marble walls,

through dark forests sprung from red clay,

filled with people—the residents of my imagination.

“write, boy,” she says.” “make dramas in distant galaxies,

passionate poems, and thoughtful essays.”

held by Obligation i mutter, “so many gotta-do’s.

pop-up appointments and other baggage.”

barefoot, Muse hangs her dress on a limb, and edges toward the water

“life is….”

“i know. it happens while we’re….”

she blows me a kiss. “no. life is now, this moment, this day, this thought.”

Today, now, we swim in the pool of creativity.

IMG_0737

N: Nurses, doctors and respect for science

Nurses: nurses and doctors are on the front line in this battle with Ebola so we should listen to them when they talk about treatment and policy. Doctors Without Borders (DWB) and The World Health Organization (WHO) have been dealing with this virus for years and have learned more than the media and politicians have in in just a few weeks. A nurse who has been directly handling the ill, dying and dead proved she is not afraid to stand up to the governors of New York and New Jersey. She has science and experience on her side. One possible positive outcome of the Ebola situation is that more people will recognize science does not take sides in a political battle. Refreshing, at least we can hope.

Nurses leave for work each day aware the unknown is waiting on their shift. The nurses in Dallas did not know they would face Ebola a month ago. Some of those nurses talked on 60 Minutes a few days ago. Each of them volunteered to work with America’s first patient, two of their friends got sick and recovered. Along the way they the public and health organizations learned on the job. The doctors and nurses who have volunteered to fly to West Africa to help the people most in need know what they are facing and what precautions are necessary.

Naturally politicians are tripping over themselves to wrap their arms around the problem. Image trumped science and prudence as the election nears. As the list of states imposing quarantines grows and the CDC and NIH update their recommendations we are in a state of flux. Bit it will get better.

The nurses who actually treated the patient in Dallas focused on the patient. They said the protective protocol and clothing got better as time went on.

Like the sign said, “If you are alive, thank a nurse.”

M: Motivated

10645242_921078457919476_1821540327387666258_n

The topic was “Commit to Writing,” and that’s the reason we show up at the meetings—to recharge the commitment. Wendy Hornsby talked about the non-glamorous reality that to be a writer is to be committed to the craft. Treat writing like a job, schedule when you write, budget time to get it done.The meetings at Writers of Kern are like pulling into the gas station. We stop to get fuel and then go on.

The Reasons why I was motivated by the WOK meeting on 10/25/14

I have not been as committed to a daily word count but now plan to set a #

I need to list and eliminate distractions during my writing time

Hey, I need to set a writing time

Budgeting my time is something I did all the time when I was working but have let the habit grow cold

People ask me when my next book will be done, now I can say I’m working against a deadline

Before I can focus on poetry I need to finish the memoir and get it published

The idea of spending a day with a character sound intriguing; I hope they like coffee houses

When I first joined WOK I did write out the first draft longhand but now I’m more comfortable using the computer

The mystery lingers…what will my finished memoir look like?

This is the talk I needed today.

I have already completed NaNoWriMo once and have the mug to prove it so I can focus on other goals

So what did you write down when Wendy Hornsby was talking?

What is your takeaway?

I earned and paid for this mug in NaNoWriMo

nano mug

L: Lessons, Loss, and Love

th

My tribute to a dog I miss still.

Othello, a dog who died too young

 All you ever asked was love.

     You did your part of the bargain

         You were warm and soft,

              You loved me,

                   You didn’t bark much.

          You learned so fast to be a gentleman.

     You endured the car, and shots.

 Had to go to California; work you see.

     Had to drive a thousand miles.

         You’d never approve the trip.

               Then, the cost of finding you a place

 I cried and sought a better way.

I cry now, miss your eyes.

I gave you to the vet–to kill,

               I went home, had a drink.

 Of all my sins, I cannot repair the crime I did to you.

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