The scariest beastie of them all...

Steve Irwin (I miss Steve Irwin) once said in an interview that he found animals very predictable and it is in fact humans who are scary because they are so unpredictable. I never forgot that because it is so true. A friendly and generous person can turn on a dime and become quite vicious without warning. A dog will growl, bark or pin it's ears back giving you fair warning before it takes a bite. All animals show signs before they attack. Humans don't always.

We have quite the menagerie and have learned a few things about the feathered and the furry.  Animals don't lie to others or themselves, they are present and incapable of putting on airs. Animals don't keep score and they don't dwell. They can be bullies though and I have seen animals bully other animals, survival of the fittest? A human bully is an insecure invidual, not the fittest human.

A neurotic animal is the result of a neurotic human not nature. Animals are able to read us, livestock especially, they can practically read our minds. If I could do that, I wonder how many smiling faces I'd find with less than smiley intentions. Not knowing what another person's real intentions are can be something to be afraid of. Just think of all  risks we are taking on a daily basis.

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My favorite Dennis Hopper film will always be Night Tide.

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Paramount Summer Series Movies: Splendor in the Grass and The River






























I watched Splendor in the Grass and The River, starring Montgomery Cliff, as a double feature last night at the Paramount.

The River was an excellent film that I have never seen nor heard of before. It is all about the Tennessee Valley Authority and how it affected those with land along the flood ways. Jo Van Fleet was exceptionally awesome in this film.












As always, Splendor in the Grass left me dwelling on the ending for hours. There is Natalie Wood as Deanie Loomis, all excited about seeing her ex and trying to look her very best for that moment when she would prove to him and herself that she is over him and can face him as an adult woman and show him that gone is the sycophant teen she once was only a few years before.

When she arrives there  is, "Oh, Bud", a poor rancher, married with a son and baby on the way. This final scene is my most favorite of any movie I have ever watched.  The body language and the gestures that supplement the verbal interactions between Deanie, Bud and Angelina fascinate me because they can be read in so many ways.

"That though the radiance which was once so bright be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower. We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind. "
~ William Wordsworth

Though the movie focuses on both Deanie and Bud, the story seems to be more about Deanie, to me. As she struggles to read the lines from Ode: Intimations of Immortality", she is already forced to leave her juvenile ideals of love (the result of Bud finding "glory in the flower") and enters the adult world by way of madness. The movie ends with her treating her parents as if they are the children now. She has been through more in her short time as an adult than they have in their entire lives. Or so it seems. The movie ends with her reciting the lines with a  new knowledge of what they are about.

I often ask people, who have watched the movie, what their take on the ending is and it often leads to conversation that lingers on much longer than expected.

Does Bud just marry Angelina because she was there and took care of him and fed him during a dark period of his life? Poor Angelina, is she loved dearly by Bud or does Bud remain forever a spoiled child incapable of not loving anyone really but himself?  When Deanie is playing with Bud's son, the looks on Angelina and Bud's faces are telling us what?

Was Deanie embarrassed and feeling silly that she had tried so hard to look luxe to meet Bud now that she sees where and how he is living...what? What does it mean when she picks at her lapel and shakes her head as she walks out of Bud and Angelina's kitchen?  Did her white dress represent that through everything she was always honest and emerges clean whereas Bud is drowning in regret and maybe out of touch with himself? Or does the fact that Deanie's ensemble includes white gloves (that she never takes off), keeping her from actually really touching anything in Bud's new world hint at a class distinction? Deanie's mother always wanted her to marry well and she is engaged to a doctor who we are told is doing well. Or does it hint at her recovery not being entirely complete as she is still hiding behind gloves and not actually feeling what she touches?

I always feel bad for Angelina. At the beginning of the scene she seems content (there are flowers on the refrigerator) then her life is interrupted by her husband's past and she is left looking sad at the doorway. She nearly cries when he asks when do they eat. But he kisses her and things seem to continue as they did before Deanie's visit. Rather, I assume they do.

But are Deanie and Bud really happy with what has become of their lives? Are they really?

Note: I was so in love with the dress Natalie Wood wore to the dance that I designed my prom dress around it and had it made. The red satin was an inspiration. I'll show you one day when I am more comfortable with my big 80's hair and "claw".

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Quiet, adults are talking.

When I was growing up, no one ever had to say to me, "Quiet, adults are talking".  I can recall a few holiday parties, my mother's Tupperware parties and a few children's birthday parties when I walked up to where my mother was sitting, put my arm around her neck and listened because the adults were talking. I enjoyed watching the expressions the adults would make as they spoke. I liked how they would switch from English to Spanish in conversation constantly. I liked hearing the stories and it was comforting to me to just be around the voices. I didn't always understand everything and I remember how that felt. I also remember the topics that had a lasting impression on me and what would sometimes go through my head when they were mentioned.Most of all I remember hearing of Watergate, Vietnam, Freddie Fender, Patty Hearst and Karen Ann Quinlan.

Whenever Watergate was mentioned in my mind would appear the image of the irrigation ditches we'd see on our walks. Once my mom had pointed out a strong current that flowed over the water gate. That image was satisfactory enough. Watergate was somewhere near the fig trees.

I did understand Vietnam, it was a war and our cousin died and it was far away. I do remember being confused and not really being able to distinguish between news of Vietnam and the television show M.A.S.H. Once that was clear it wasn't until I was ten or so that I realized M.A.S.H wasn't about Vietnam. I didn't watch an entire episode of M.A.S.H. until that time.

I did understand Freddie Fender, he was just like us, spoke English and Spanish. He sang one of my favorite songs at the time, "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights". The lyrics went over my head. and I thought Freddie Fender was living in Del Rio and a good friend of the family because he was mentioned so often. I wondered why he never came to visit.

Talk of Patty Hearst resulted in me finally asking what brain washing was all about. I would think of the girl on television every evening having to endure showers of icy water and how terrible that was indeed but wondering what that had to do with her being in a war. I thought she had something to do with Vietnam.

It was years before I found out the Karen Ann Quinlan was not a girl from Del Rio at the Val Verde Memorial Hospital. I remember driving past the hospital and thinking that poor Karen Ann was in there. She was mentioned at church and we would pray for her. I remember starting kindergarten and hearing her name mentioned and how we should pray for her.

It's rare these days to catch the scent of Jean Nate but when I have it is like time travel. My mother wore Jean Nate throughout my childhood. When I'd walk into the room where the adults were and put my arm around her neck, her curly hair would fall just above my arm and as she spoke her curls would bounce and tickle me. The whole time her perfume was helping commit all that I was hearing, seeing, feeling and thinking to memory.

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Minutiae



















I was just going to list 365 Mexico as a website to visit. I don't know why I never discovered it before. When you are stuck in your cube, the fabric lined box, and bored out of your mind, it helps to view sites like this and have your mind fed all sorts of little creative inspirations.

Mexico 365 is not the usual travel blog. It's  filled with information, personal accounts and photos of Mexico through the eyes of two tourists who sincerely love the country, customs, food and the people. Spending time in their world quickly makes me forget I'm a wage slave.  I suddenly find my tired eyes are once again bright and open, happily focused on the monitor and I'm shot out of my super stupor.

Warning, do not check out this website if you only have a fifteen minute break. It steals a good hour (or more) out of your workday and we all know how terrible that is, tsk, tsk.

I noticed the logo for the website (seen above) was done by J.D. King. I first came across J.D. King's work in an issue of Kitchen Sink's Twist sometime in the 90's.  He had a comic called The Beastniks that I loved. His clean designs and ability to convey movement and emotions with few lines is what sold me. I just dicovered that he keeps a blog where he lists The Modern Lovers, Duke Ellington, Nico, Mazzy Star, Francoise Hardy, The Small Faces, Lotte Lenya and The Left Banke, Kenneth Anger and Ray Ban among other things we love. I like this J.D. King. Preparing to read Metaphors: A Novel.

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Photo by Tina Modotti

"These people were unmistakably Indians and were not at all like the Pedros and Panchos of silly civilized American lore – they had high cheekbones, and slanted eyes, and soft ways; they were not fools, they were not clowns; they were great, grave Indians and they were the source of mankind and the fathers of it. The waves are Chinese, but the earth is an Indian thing. As essential as rocks in the desert are they in the desert of ‘history.' And they knew this when we passed, ostensibly self-important moneybag Americans on a lark in their land; they knew who was the father and who was the son of antique life on earth, and made no comment.”
 ~ excerpt from On the Road by Jack Kerouac

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Car Phones 1984

Sixteen Candles

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Car Phones 1979

Rock and Roll High School

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Did it count?

Recently I've spent more time that I would like filling out census forms. We received three census forms to fill out over the course of three months and I filled them out each time. They were all legal, not scams, they just got lost in the mail?  To complete our 2010 census experience we were finally visited by a census worker in the middle of a small get together at our home. I told her I had filled out three forms and sent them in and then asked her if and when this counting business would finally be over for us.  Our session took awhile because she was hard of hearing and would put down incorrect information. I wanted our names spelled right and the other information to be correct but she wouldn't let me fill it out myself.

In 1930 a census worker visited my Grandfather's home in Bracketville, Texas. I am able to view what Mrs. Maude O'Mara, the census worker,  wrote down for the household.  Most of the information is incorrect. From what is written and what I know I can just about see and hear what might have transpired between my great-grandmother Juana and Mrs. Maude O'Mara. My great-grandmother, tired of repeating the correct pronunciation or spelling of her name or attempting to speed things up gave the name of Jennie. She is listed as 38 years old, same age I was when I filled out the first two census forms. Her husband and children are listed but a few of their names are wrong. Some mistakes are Gilberto is listed as Alberto. But the name that really puts the scene in my head is Atanacio, age 3 written as Itawasir. This made an impression on me because with her Spanish accent or in broken English I can hear how the letter A could be pronounced or understood as the letter I and so on. Our census taker would begin to write something down that made no sense at all and I wondered why until I noticed the hearing aid in her ear. I spoke louder.

The modest wood frame house my Grandfather called home in 1930 still stands as it has for almost 100 years now.  We used to visit my great-aunt when she lived there and she'd point out several locations where the memories of their childhood have continually played over and over.  It helped me develop an idea of who my Grandfather was as a child, something that was very important to me as a child myself. When I was kid, I wanted to know how everyone in my family was as a kid and would ask so many questions and beg to look into photo boxes and always appreciated whatever relics were generously handed down to me.  Seeing him written down as six years old in the census record makes me wonder what he was doing while his mother spoke with Mrs. Maude O'Mara. Was he right by her side or out in the yard playing with the pack of stray dogs he'd collect daily?

I once asked my Grandfather what sort of toys he had to play with when he was a little boy and he told me just the ones he would make himself or his father would make for him. He went on describe sling shots and wooden toy guns that shot rubber bands, swings and ropes hanging from trees and kits made of butcher paper. The following weekend my Grandfather made my brother and I each a sling shot made from an old tire and a sturdy limb he had cut from one of the pecan trees in the yard. He then gave us a toy wooden gun he made from some pieces of old wood he had around the shed and the gun shot rubber bands when the trigger made from a wooden clothespin was pressed. That summer I remember all we wanted to do was go to my Grandparents house to shoot at tin cans with our sling shots and toy gun. Eventually our Grandfather had to make us another toy gun because we weren't good at sharing the first. He also gave us each a kite made from brown paper bags, and sticks. They were attached to long balls of string he had been collecting and they both had tails made from rags cut into thin strips.  We played with our kites all day and my Grandfather stayed outside with us for hours and hours while we ran and had fun.

We always played with our toys until they broke. The last time I visited my Grandparents I saw in a wood pile a piece of broken wood with a clothespin attached to it. It had been outside in that pile for over twenty years and there was nothing left of it to save. Being one for tangible relics I felt a bit sad about not having been able to save that perfect Y shaped sling shot or any of the toys that were made for us.  I went inside and mentioned that summer to my Grandfather who was able to recall making the toys and the entire summer of fun and my brother shooting at squirrels and our fights over the rubber band gun and how our kites went so high when we flew them that one afternoon. I went looking out at his front yard and there were the memories playing out over and over under the shade of the pecan trees.

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Champagne Hour

We popped open a bottle of champagne this afternoon for no particular reason and sat down to finger sandwiches, goat brie and Spanish membrillo. I love membrillo it is so yummy and I really could devour the entire 12 oz all by myself.

Today reminded  me of a time we stayed home from work back when we had just started dating. William used to pick me up at my apartment and we'd drive into work together. One morning he picked me up and we went to his house where he had a wonderful brunch set up. There was champagne and cheeses, crackers, breads and fruit. I called into work and said I was taking a vacation day.

Every now and then he'll bring out the champagne for no particular reason. I love that.

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Mona was Lonely

Cactus Blooms

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may Old time is still a-flying,
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
~ English poet Robert Herrick (1591-1674)












This is quite true of these cactus flowers. They bloom once a year for one day. I have never seen a cactus bloom. My friend was so lucky to see this and sent me photos. She said that the sight of the cactus blooms lifted her spirits.

To some I might seem totally unambitious but the truth is I am absolutely ambitious in my pursuit of leisure and a stress free life. I don't have a career and I don't want one. The day job I keep is good enough. The company I keep is wonderful. I surround myself with people who are happy to just linger in the moment, no rush and understand what is really important in life.

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