NO BONES ABOUT IT

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NO BONES ABOUT IT

In the performance of one’s own work, the artist is given a glimpse from the Other Side and must be left free to choose all the components which seem to best interpret that rare instant.

Only the artist can be accountable for the expression of that creative moment in time.

Only the artist can be assumed to be sufficiently competent to make whatever choices would hopefully best portray that rare moment.

The words, the lilt, the carriage and yes, the costumery are among the many choices that must be left to the artist.

The antithesis of creativity is conformity.

If others must choose then please, consider the supposed neutrality of nudity. Would the audience best  remember The Speak or The Streak?

A friend of mine told me the other day that he hadn’t a creative bone in his body. I requested he not make fun of his skull and reminded him that at 6 months old his creative bone was actively engaged in a new idea every second of every waking minute as he crawled around on his knee bones.

 

 

Return to Sulphur

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Return to Sulphur
From Lee Broom’s memoirs Referencing October 1976

(Oodles and Lovie are Lee’s Mother and Father in that order)

 

When Oodles died last year I was unable to be there until after the funeral. Lovie and I had our typical Lovie and Lee talk. We walked mostly. Every few minutes one of us would speak up. And then we were back at the house. We sat on the front porch of this old home in the sleepy little former resort town of Sulphur Oklahoma and the five-minute interludes became ten.

As we sat there a squirrel came down from the oak tree by the entrance to the driveway. Halfway down the trunk the squirrel froze. Ears atwitch and head darting left to right, the reason for the rodent’s wary demeanor became evident as a creeping yellow furred miniature lioness stalked her prey. 

Lovie went into the house, returning quickly with a Smith and Wesson .38 revolver. The cat was still creeping. The squirrel was frozen in place. Not a twitch or flick of an eyelid to give it away. The kitty was not fooled; she had just begun to crouch when Father took aim and fired at exactly the same time that the ferocious feline made her leap. As she hit the tree, as her claws dug into the bark, the bullet missed its mark and as it buried itself in the tree a spray of tree bark morsels splattered into the face of the would be assailant. Miss Kitty yowled and leaped to the ground and on to the gravelled path to the garage. She leaped the fence into the back yard with me racing behind her and Lovie limping after me. The yellow speed demon ran headlong into the concrete wall at the back of the property (she must be bind, I thought), ricocheted off and back toward the garage, again running head on into the second building and fell dead.

But that was then and this was now. It was believed or so I was told, that Lovie had experienced an Alzheimer-like set of symptoms over a very short period of time, probably from twenty years of well-managed Parkinson ’s disease. I hurried back home.

Lovie was no longer Lovie to anyone but me. Oodles was gone, brother Bill was not a feelings kind of guy and his new wife was now in charge of the family home and apparently the family purse as Father’s persona withered.

A year or so earlier Lovie had asked me for permission to remarry and I said yes, of course. He immediately walked across the street and asked Clara the widow of four previous husbands for her hand in marriage. At the wedding one of her favorite topics of conversation was her nephew who had inherited or acquired the only remaining drive-in restaurant in Oklahoma City. It was still a popular place to have a hotdog and a malted with dinner being served by young women in short skirts and shapely bodies and who delivered the meals on a tray by scooting across the pavement on roller skates.

The other subject was those four men she had buried.

I picked up Clarabelle and we went to the nursing home to say hello or goodbye whichever the case where I was introduced to a father I barely recognized.

His only garment was a swaddling, thickly padded diaper and his personality seemed the exact age for such raiment. As we began to chat, the others left the room. As Lovie and I found ourselves alone I was at once inspired by a need which was triggered by an observation about my father’s seemingly scripted demeanor. If he was the two-year old child that he seemed to be, having lost all subsequent memories, how was it that he knew me? And I needed to talk.

I asked my father if he could come back to his normal self for a few minutes so we could talk. With the recent memory of my first father’s demise and his reaction to the letter I had sent him it occurred to me that this might be my last opportunity to make amends. I did not think he was putting on an act. But I did realize that there were probably random bits of surviving memories to tap into.

Sure, said Lovie; let’s talk. And we did. After listing some of my behaviors and attitudes that o regretted, I confessed that I had a drinking problem. I know, said Lovie.

He had my attention.

He described an event that I remembered very well, that occurred when I was about five or six years old. I had been sick with measles, laying in bed reading. Lovie had just come in from work and was inquiring about my status, How was I feeling? He felt my forehead. What had Oodles been doing for me? I described a horrible liquid concoction containing soda and lemon and water that most certainly came from the sewer because it smelled like rotten eggs. Lovie had said to me, Lee, what you need is a hot toddy.

What’s a hot toddy, Lovie?

A few minutes later my thoughtful papa handed me a drink in a short glass. It was sweet. There was something in it that seemed vaguely familiar. I knew right away that the familiar something was also in mother’s homemade grape jelly.

It didn’t last long. By the time I had emptied the glass Father was changing into some from his double-breasted suit into a pair of chinos and house shoes. When I yelled for more Lovie came back into my room as he loosened his tie and asked how I liked the medicine. Did I feel a little better? Yes I did. May I have another? The answer was No but as time drug on (probably no more than five minutes) my body demanded more and my voice insisted for seconds. When Father returned with another hot toddy, it looked the same; it was sweet like the first one but whatever it was that made Oodles’ jelly and Lovie’s earlier Hot Toddy so desirable, was missing. And I suffered.

Lovie went on to tell me that when I was eleven years old they had come home from work to discover me lying on my grandmother’s bed, smelling like whiskey. He told me that when he went to his hiding place that it took five years for me to discover, his quick inspection had determined that  though the bottle of bourbon was at the same level as before and had the same coloring as usual, it tasted as though it had been watered down. He added that in the kitchen the package of food coloring had been tampered with.

We chuckled together over this story and Lovie suggested that I do something about my problem and to not waste time; that my natural mother was an alcoholic and that she was drinking while pregnant with me. As he finished his statement I could hear Lovie’s brother, my Uncle Turner, coming down the hall toward this room where we were talking. And before my eyes I witnessed another transformation as my father returned to the child I had met minutes before. He asked if I wanted to play with his toys; they were scattered about the room. I said No, gave him a hug, kissed his forehead and left. He died the following day.

I was never notified of a reading of the will nor did I make inquiries. Within a few years, the restaurant with the skating waitresses had developed into a national chain.

 

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The Tire Iron and the Tamale

Justin Horner                     sent to me by Morris Scott

During this past year I’ve had three instances of car trouble: a blowout on a freeway, a bunch of blown fuses and an out-of-gas situation. They all happened while I was driving other people’s cars, which for some reason makes it worse on an emotional level. And on a practical level as well, what with the fact that I carry things like a jack and extra fuses in my own car, and know enough not to park on a steep incline with less than a gallon of fuel.

Each time, when these things happened, I was disgusted with the way people didn’t bother to help. I was stuck on the side of the freeway hoping my friend’s roadside service would show, just watching tow trucks cruise past me. The people at the gas stations where I asked for a gas can told me that they couldn’t lend them out “for safety reasons,” but that I could buy a really crappy one-gallon can, with no cap, for $15. It was enough to make me say stuff like “this country is going to hell in a handbasket,” which I actually said.

But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke any English.

One of those guys stopped to help me with the blowout even though he had his whole family of four in tow. I was on the side of the road for close to three hours with my friend’s big Jeep. I put signs in the windows, big signs that said, “NEED A JACK,” and offered money. Nothing. Right as I was about to give up and start hitching, a van pulled over, and the guy bounded out.

He sized up the situation and called for his daughter, who spoke English. He conveyed through her that he had a jack but that it was too small for the Jeep, so we would need to brace it. Then he got a saw from the van and cut a section out of a big log on the side of the road. We rolled it over, put his jack on top and we were in business.

I started taking the wheel off, and then, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones, and I wasn’t careful, and I snapped the head clean off. Damn. No worries: he ran to the van and handed it to his wife, and she was gone in a flash down the road to buy a new tire iron. She was back in 15 minutes. We finished the job with a little sweat and cussing (the log started to give), and I was a very happy man.

The two of us were filthy and sweaty. His wife produced a large water jug for us to wash our hands in. I tried to put a 20 in the man’s hand, but he wouldn’t take it, so instead I went up to the van and gave it to his wife as quietly as I could. I thanked them up one side and down the other. I asked the little girl where they lived, thinking maybe I’d send them a gift for being so awesome. She said they lived in Mexico. They were in Oregon so Mommy and Daddy could pick cherries for the next few weeks. Then they were going to pick peaches, then go back home.

After I said my goodbyes and started walking back to the Jeep, the girl called out and asked if I’d had lunch. When I told her no, she ran up and handed me a tamale.

This family, undoubtedly poorer than just about everyone else on that stretch of highway, working on a seasonal basis where time is money, took a couple of hours out of their day to help a strange guy on the side of the road while people in tow trucks were just passing him by.

But we weren’t done yet. I thanked them again and walked back to my car and opened the foil on the tamale (I was starving by this point), and what did I find inside? My $20 bill! I whirled around and ran to the van and the guy rolled down his window. He saw the $20 in my hand and just started shaking his head no. All I could think to say was, “Por favor, por favor, por favor,” with my hands out. The guy just smiled and, with what looked like great concentration, said in English: “Today you, tomorrow me.”

Then he rolled up his window and drove away, with his daughter waving to me from the back. I sat in my car eating the best tamale I’ve ever had, and I just started to cry. It had been a rough year; nothing seemed to break my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn’t handle it.

In the several months since then I’ve changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and once drove 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won’t accept money. But every time I’m able to help, I feel as if I’m putting something in the bank.

March 4, 2011 New York Times Magazine Justin Horner is a graphic designer living in Portland,

Time: The Memory of Past and Future Events

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Predicting versus discovery of future events.

Imagining: the tool of para-communication.

 

When considering the truth of ideas which cannot truly be tested, it may still be possible to subject’ these ideas to known truths (beliefs). One can mentally remove the variables and work with whatever is left.

Consider this question: Is there a future? To believe that there is a future is to accept the notion that the future can be manipulated. If the future is viewable and the viewer experiences personal change with every experience then the viewers perception of the future no longer exists.

Note that the term “future” is relative to the term “present”; which reveals that “future” is a measurement  however vague, of time. This observation requires that we accept that “time” exists. But having discovered that any attempt to manipulate “time” must change “time”, then apparently “time” does not exist except to give meaning to our questions about Self. If I am correct in my guess, reading the future or remembering the past would employ identical brain activity.

Para Normal Communication however, appears to be measurable, if not dependably quantifiable. Though thought itself defies measurement, my own experience with ESP over the last 36 years leads me to believe that imagination has more to do with delivery of an idea or message than say, “sending”; imagining a conversation with someone occurs on a lower, “day-dreaming” level of consciousness and in my case I have discovered many times that the person I pretended to be speaking with, responded.

It is always a surprise since intention is never a part of this type of  event. I might add that in every case I can think of, the respondent believed themselves to be the initiator of whatever the subject may have been,

I can only remember one parapsychological event where I deliberately initiated a message to another and received a reply. I created a message and wrote it down. I then imagined myself as the other person. I “reshaped my face”, I imagined my new face with typical “other person” expressions and then holding those images in mind I began reading the message repeatedly. As I finished the fifth repetition, the phone rang. My friend made it very clear that the message had gotten through.

My message: “Call me before 7 am.” We were both late sleepers.

The reply: “Are you okay? I just had a dream that you were going to be in great danger at 7:00 am. Are you okay?”

lee_broom
L
ee Broom

Gimme that stick.

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Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Seuss

 

The Curious among us are the Discoverers, the Scientists, the Artists and the Inventors. These are the Nonconformists, the Loners whose lives would reveal nothing new if held to the rigid view of the Rule- Makers the inner voices of the curious drowned out by the Voice of Dissension.

We also have among us the Anti Conformists who have little if anything to do with Conformity or the lack thereof. These people struggle against everything society has to offer. We call them Rebels Without a Cause.

And the Rule Makers…these are the voice of society; they want to be Leaders but they are generally the best of the Followers, ever “mindful” of jagged rocks and stony crags. “If it works, don’t fix it” they cry. =; if we followed their advice we would still be riding in a horse-drawn buggy or worse; we could still be afoot.

The Rule Makers bind themselves and others by stopping progress when the safety of all appears to be greatly improved by the  Discoveries of the Non Conformists.

And now…

If this handful of words encourages you to decide to which group you want to belong, then grab a stick, close your eyes and ans start swinging at Life’s  Pinata. You will soon break something (a rule?) or change nothing (settle for the current level of safety) or  hang on to that stick and strike occasionally at something or if your safe place suddenly becomes dangerous and you fall and hurt yourself, then use that stick to rise above it all and use it as an aid to moving forward until another opportunity to change, presents itself. ” ‘Urrah”.

So…

Is it wise to get the most important information that life has to offer by repeating the voice of the Discoverers? Or would we learn best  what the Discoverers have to offer by becoming Discoverers ourselves?   Gimme that stick.

lee_broom
Lee Broom

 

GIMME A BREAK

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If you spend too much time looking for your next big break, you’ll be stealing your opportunity to do your best work.
Seth Godin’s Blog on marketing, tribes and respect.

Thank you Seth.

As a writer I consider my work as that of a stenographer. I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go. I’m not referring to electronic gadgetry but a spiral notebook; it’s always in my shirt pocket or the hip pocket of my britches when clad in jeans and tee. That is in fact how I became a writer; the egg came first.

An idea arrived in my you brain once, an idea that I believed was a good one.  I was probably in my fifth or sixth year and  at my request for a sled my father suggested we make one from scraps of lumber; and so we did.

Building the sled was my father’s idea and when the homemade contrivance failed to perform like the factory made version the ideas started coming and by late afternoon I was standing at the bottom of Glen Ellen Hill, still erect after having slid down that slippery slope on homemade skis of my own design, wondering why nobody noticed.

By that time the man who had inspired me listened as I told him how I had gotten a great idea, how I had lost it and eventually remembered it and how I had gone from wooden runners on our sled with wooden runners to one with metal and from there,  to skis that slid slowly but without ever once falling down.

And Lovey (that’s what we called my father) suggested that I begin writing things down, As he talked to me about  opportunity he searched through his desk drawer, eventually producing a sheet of paper, size 8×11, folded it down to fit in my shirt pocket and handed it to me with a pencil and told me that I would now be ready when opportunity presented itself no matter what I was doing or where I was while doing it.

Ideas come from everywhere. As individual thinkers we stink at creating new ideas; however…

If we are prepared the ideas will come; it matters not the source. The  Break may or may not make us financially successful but will always help us to grow not only as individuals but as members of a growing community.

lee_broom
Lee Broom

Paper Plates

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I enjoy working in my kitchen (notice the sincere SMILE).

 

There was a time when my meals involved lots of planning, researching the inventories of local supermarkets, gourmet shops and specialty food stores.

Today I live alone and entertain less. Food is still the theme around which social activities revolve, though menus are simpler, ingredients fewer. Changing palettes and a greater knowledge of nutrition guides me in my selections as does my awareness of the thicker torsos and roomier derrieres which though once was a sign of old age, today is placing the youngest members of my family in harm’s way.

Scouring the aisles of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods is not enough; the requirement of a constantly changing awareness of food sources has led me to newer ideas, noodling on the Internet, scouring the stacks in community libraries and bookstores, discovering in this process, a whole world of information that even at my advanced age is tempting me to learn still more.

The result of these changing awarenesses in my own life has helped me to eliminate the symptoms of IBS, lowered my glucose level and brought me back to the a thinner waistline; the devilish gift of vanity is gradually being replaced by a goal of improved health and a greater lifespan, as the prevailing motive, which guides me down the produce aisle and instills me with gratitude. And, on most Saturday mornings at &:30 AM, I fill two large, book bags with locally grown produce from the food co-op of Bountiful Basket.

My number one restriction is animal products; if it doesn’t have roots when growing it is not to be allowed in my digestive track. I do cheat a little; I occasionally add a few crumbs of bleu cheese or its cousins and always within arm’s reach, broken bits of walnut. I eat squash and root veggies and I make some truly unbelievable salads. The only prepared food that I use is a line of salsas, which carry the Safeway label; I use them as bases for soups and occasionally add them to other dishes. Their greatest gift is that the containers are made of glass. I own several dozen of these wonderful containers; they hold basic food stores and are great for leftovers.

But that’s enough about the food part of this article. The title identifies a subject which is nutritionally attractive to no one except perhaps goats. I share with you now, my enthusiasm for paper plates:

Paper plates are the bane of good cooks everywhere. What better way to insult guests than by placing the results of two hours of carefully prepared ingredients on a white disk of shaped and dried squirts of trashy wood pulp?

But use them I do. On an average day of food preparation for one individual, I estimate that my paper plate consumption exceeds a dozen, though never do I allow a finished product to touch their surface.

I noticed one day that the dishes from which I ate, occupied a mere third of a full dishwasher the rest was from the messy chores of food preparation. And then it struck me that the paper plate was a natural for preparing food.

Yeah, so……

When using a knife I protect the cutting block with a paper plate. When in need of a funnel I make a cone from a paper plate; with kitchen scissors I cut of a portion of the plate to the desired size. Being right-handed, I curl what’s left of the circus blanca with my left hand and with the right, pour whatever ingredients go into whatever container. On those rare occasions when I use the microwave, perhaps to soften a dab of butter or a crust of bread, I reach for a paper plate. And, when I spill crumbs on the kitchen floor, half a paper plate becomes a dustpan.

When preparations are complete and the tension gathers among my guests, I make another paper plate cone and bring the small end to my lips and announce “Dinner is served.”

(I also do this when no one is around.)