Monday, October 18, 2010

Bar-b-que Marbles

The big flagstone bar-b-que at the Petit Street house comes up to my chin. John and I have worked some of the mortar loose and have punched a hole through to the interior. It's black in there. You can't see anything. It smells musty. I poke a finger or three into it, then think "Black Widow" and pull my hand out. The hole is big enough to drop marbles into. I drop a marble in. A marble that seemed huge in my small hand. I hear a distant sharp clank--the big, round glass beast has landed in its tomb-- the marble rolls awhile, collides with something there in the dark, and is finally still. Only then do I realize that I can't get it back. The marble is gone forever.

I want to believe my marble is still there, inside the bar-b-que you built on the patio at the Petit Street house. The adult in me knows the bar-b-que marble mausoleum was broken into dust years ago by its new owners. My marble, along with buckets of stone and cement, was hauled to the dump and buried. The marble is there now hidden in a landfill, incorruptible, waiting for some archeologist in the mid-thirtieth century.

"A remarkable example of mid 20th century marble technology, a purie or a cat's eye I suspect" (Ah ego. Of course my marble will be found again! I guess that explains why folks discover they are reincarnated kings, rather than peasants.)

But the kid in me says jump a plane for L. A., go to Encino, find our old house, sledgehammer that great bar-b-que open, crack the flagstones and sift the rubble finding my marble, a dusty, smooth, round, perfect vault of memories. And it would still seem big in my hand.

Yeah, Dennis has lost his marbles.


Dad, I hope this correspondence helps me find 'em again. This burst of writing I'm sharing with you should heft all the marbles I've won up to now, all the memories, the seeds that grow into clear surprising images. By writing this, I'm rediscovering the 'puries' of my life, and sharing them with you.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Keeping an old dog alive

This morning I found a stone path under my own back yard.

A dinosaur spine hidden just below the dirt, waiting for me

Lomi the dog is ranging the gully
alive to the moment
he helps me slow down and just be

I channeled my dad and had to work the rock a bit

scraping away the first layer of sticks and dead weeds
seeing a staircase under the soil to the gully bottom
knowing that I will make these steps appear


if I just give myself the time

Lomi limps up the hill peeing and grinning.

We're both old dogs

lots of juice left
aware that time is a trick

waiting in the morning mist
pee scrape stone from the earth

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Memorial for Sergeant Dennis Kenneth O'Connor

I got an email today that set me to remembering a special day so long ago.

Dear Mr O'Connor,

My name is Logan Leedham and I am a junior at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. All the AP English 3 classes are doing a project in remembrance of soldiers who died in the Vietnam war. I am making a memorial for Dennis Kenneth O'Connor. The project is to make a slideshow or movie in honor of their life and service. The school has been doing this project for about 4 years and there's been quite a database collected. You can see it at I read what you posted on and if you knew him or his family I was wondering if you would mind sharing with me any pictures or information about  Sergeant Dennis O'Connor. I would really appreciate it. Please know that I want to respect and honor this brave man, and I'm going to do the best I can for his tribute.

Sincerely, Logan Leedham

Here's what I wrote back to Logan:


You are doing a fine thing.  I didn't know Sergeant O'Connor, but I remember when he died.  I was a young college kid, about 20 or 21.  I got a call from my mom.  She was crying.  She'd heard a radio report about Dennis O'Connor dying in Viet Nam.  She couldn't help but feel, for a moment, what a mother feels a son had been killed.  

Mom and I had a good talk that day.

Later after the wall had been constructed,  I found his spot on the memorial.  I remember running my fingertips over my name... his name, and being  thankful for the life I had and so sad for the life lost to the war.

Now, every time I go to Washington DC I visit the wall and remember my namesake. 

I hope this little story helps you.  I hope your slide show is done with Powerpoint!  If so, I'd love to see a copy.  I'll post it on one of my blogs.  Regardless, I'll link to your project online!
Good luck with your work!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dogs in the backyard @ Stardust

The big backyard of our new home in the country is a great place for dogs. Recently the our terrific young landscape architect, Mark Southern, came by with his Boston Terrier puppy, Clive.

Clive and Brindle played nip and chase for several hours. Then they just relaxed and got weird with some very odd humpy dog games. It's great that they can wear each other out. 

I posted this on YouTube:  Keywords "dufus bulldog".  At the moment we own the top spot for that term on Google. 8-)

Here's the video:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Crazy Hiram's Used Computer Emporium

Would you buy a computer education from this guy?

After a couple of years working in corporate computing I knew it was time to bust out of the rut and do something different.  The idea for a calendar about computing was proposed  by Wolf Kohtz.  The idea for Hiram Access the computer guru was born.  I contracted with a cartoonist/mail carrier who created a series of 12 panels that became a calender that never saw a mass market.

The closest I got to a deal was standing in line to talk with the computer columnist John Divorak.  I showed his the calender and got a one word review: "Cute."    It was a one word review that executed the idea.

I still use the illustrations, seen here as a way to make my blog go viral!

Hiram learned to concentrate so completely that the propeller on his beanie would spin to the point of lift-off.

Back up is essential. Imagine the despair. Imagine the lost creative electrons authors failed to back up. It's the digital equivalent of scattered pages on the wind. How many times have I written just the right reply, hit post, and seen the screen freeze?

Getting Zapped means different things to different people.  Some think of the splat of an unexpected paint-ball right in the kisser.  Others remember sparking up the Norwegian wood above the tree line in the High Sierras. Or maybe you remember that foggy day in San Francisco when you stumbled into a file box of R. Crumb wonders in a dingy thrift store? What's real when it comes to memory?

Was Hiram a leader or a follower?  You wake up in the morning with the words in your head. How to make a momentary reality out of the images floating across the lens of your memory? Just write it dude and let the images tell the silly story of an imaginative desperation. 

Chant today with Hiram Access!

So why not wiggle like so many blissfull salmon fulfilling their destiny in the ragged creeks of Marin county? I remember climbing under the sheets wiggling in the subconcious hoping to merge with a desperate group of questing wierdos. Hey let's chant to the computer gods and put the ideas out there on electronic space. Who'll know after all except me and you?

Friday, January 22, 2010

A history subject to invention

I had the habit of working until I could save a thousand dollars then hitting the trail.

One summer I hitch-hiked up to Canada to go climbing in the central ranges of British Columbia.  I traveled under an alias.  That summer I was Big Jake. Having a new name and a history subject to invention was as freeing as hanging my life on any number of mountain ledges.

It's hard to imagine now the gift of time I gave myself. An entire summer on the road, wondering and wandering into whatever the road delivered.  The time spent well off the road was the most memorable.

I was doing some craft work then too. Making leather belts and carving hash pipes out of deer antler. Up in a barn in Ashland Oregon I got to work over a 50 gallon drum of deer heads. The buzzing flies, blank eyes and protruding black tongues made it real. Hauling the heads out of the drums, cutting the horns down close to the skull to save the crenellated buttons that made such good pipe bowls took some sawing and carving skills.

A few days later I was fishing for hallucinatory salmon on the Rogue River. Casting from the shore into the swift midstream waters hoping that the fish were there. I imagined the huge fish struggling upstream getting angry enough to hit my lure.

The sun worked on my forehead and built a thirst kindled by vague desire and sunburn.  After an afternoon of nothing but casting, a 50 pound king salmon broke the water right in front of me. Perseverating through the swift air above the roaring river, four, five, six leaps and disappearing below the water for ever. Did I really seen what I remember?


I can remember wondering if I'd ever regret all the time spent solo in the mountains.  I can answer that question now.  I'm glad for every second spent with a pack on my back and the open trail waiting.

The days I spent reading Russian novels by the campfire are still with me.

The hours spent singing in the canons still resonate.

Night sky pressed galaxies into my eyes. Home was a ledge at 12000 feet. 

Recalling these moments let's me to change the now just enough to make life sweet.