Pena Blanca by Michael Meredith
December 8, 2009
I wrote this book for my boys, on this date, exactly 23 years after a peculiar event that changed my whole life, and, indirectly perhaps, brought them into existence….
In 1986 I went on a trip through South America. I crossed over eight
national boundaries over a period of fourteen months, traveling by bus, and
occasionally in the back of a truck. On the way back, I only saw five
countries. It was a long bus trip.
I started out in a thick blizzard (and a failed relationship) in the
Pacific Northwest, stopped in the tropical breezes of Puerto Rico and
Venezuela, and ended up in Peru for seven months.
Sick with hepatitis, I stayed at a Scottish friends house for a few
months, in the deforested jungle, down the hill from Machu Pichu. He was an old
devout Catholic, and I was an old bohemian, age 33, caught up in the need
to see new places. I met him while paying the tab at a restaurant, and he was
having a beer. He said, “Where are you from”. Completely bored with hearing
that question so often in Peru. I answered him, “From all over”. He laughed at
that, and invited me to stay at his house, which I did, right after I got out
of the hospital for hepatitis.
I thought he and his family praying in front of a statue of the Virgin
Mary a bit odd. But when he handed me a prayer sheet, I gave it a try. It was
comical at times, due to my bad Spanish. At one point it seemed to me that I
was imploring the mother to laugh for us fisherman, and knew that was wrong. I
found out later that it actually meant pray for us sinners. Of course, I didn’t
know what a sinner was at that time, so it was just as well.
Soon after that, I had a dream. A possessed madman was throwing fifty-
pound rocks at me from a hillside, then an evil man on a motorcycle tried to
run me down, on a bridge.
I pulled up the
asphalt, just like in a cartoon, and escaped under it, right into a worse
A frightening, demonic black panther was trying to get me. I went into a
closet sized room, and closed the door, but it was a hollow door, and that
animal could come right through it. I was incapable of moving, as you are when
you are dreaming and just waking up. He was right outside.
I screamed, "Mother", and woke up, horrified.
To this day, I believe that I was calling out to mother Mary.
These are two of
the four dreams that I can remember, since I woke up sobbing, in fear and pain.
My friend went off to Chile, and came back with some good stories, of
the people, the country, the elegant buses, and, the rather odd sounding
apparition of the Virgin Mary that he had gone all the way there to see. I
thought the photo of the kid with a "miraculous" out of focus white
thing (the host) in his mouth was weird.
Since I was fed up with Peru, and going back to the states via Chile,
Argentina, and Brazil appealed to me, I made plans and left.
Crossing the border into Chile was quite an experience, due to the fact
that a border guard on the Bolivian border had given me an improper visa four
months before. I got to see the inside workings of the Peruvian police, and
exactly why they can be driving big suv's, on a salary that would not pay even
for a clunker. One of them even took me out to an expensive restaurant, which
shows you that laying heavy guilt trips on the Police does sometimes work. I ate cebice’, a raw fish specialty in Peru.
I was officially under arrest, and unofficially their guest at the jail. They actually
threw me in there one night (into the hallway leading into the jail, after one
detective put on a power-trip). It is a pit. I bought the guys some bread when
I got out.
While in the border
crossing, officially under arrest, I couldn’t help but notice that this was the
cleanest public place in Peru. In this way I knew that they were only trying to
keep up with the Chileans, and that Chile must be very clean compared to Peru.
Since I was there already, and virtually unattended, I thought I would make my
escape. I took up my backpacks, and walked out the door. Of course, it was at
night in a desert, and no local transport, so I did the natural, and stuck my
thumb out. Within ten minutes a car full of Peruvians was stopping for me, including the man who I was in custody
with. He was relieved to get me back, and in the long run, it was better for
me, as re-entering the country later (not in the plans at that time), would
have been quite a problem.
Pena Blanca is a small town in Chile, near to the ocean, with a
small city or two nearby. It was the apparition site.
In South America, everyone travels by bus, as few can afford a car. On
national holidays, such as this one, December 8, the Immaculate Conception of
the Virgin Mary, the buses would all be full, the bus depots crowded.
I had taken a bit of time, and several thousand miles of bus travel, to get to the apparition site.
Traveling on a bus through the driest desert in the world was an
experience. The bus was just as nice as Len had said, in stark contrast to
Peru. The drivers’ helper was like a matre-de at a fancy restaurant, offering
pillows and soft drinks.
I had stayed in a nice coastal town, seen a strange forest in a
desert area, watered only with sea mist, walked through orchards and
neighborhoods, and was getting familiar with Chile. The Chilean people were
different, more dynamic. You could see it when they were dancing, very
energetic. By contrast, in Peru, the people dance as if they were walking.
Being a good dancer myself, I believe there is a lot you can find out about people
by watching them dance.
I went up the hill to Pena Blanca not knowing what I would find, and
what I found was a church picnic, complete with a guy who sang/prayed, very off
key, through a loudspeaker. It was actually quite boring, so I left.
Now, you might ask yourself, even as I did, why come so far to see
something, and not stick around for the show? Well, I thought the same thing,
but had been there for a several hours, and it didn't seem like much.
So, I walked back down the hill, feeling somewhat guilty. It was about a
mile to the train station.
When I got there, it was closed. That was rather odd, and no one else
knew why, either.
I was having for-bodings, then my backpack strap broke. Yes, it was a
heavy backpack, but I had carried it for so long, why would it break right
there? I fixed it, and hopped in a bus, to connect to another bus, to take me
to Santiago, the capitol, and then onwards.
The bus station, a bus station in a major city, with perhaps fifty bus
companies operating out of it, was closed! I mean, all of the businesses were
closed, and there was hardly anybody there. It was amazing, like maybe walking
around in Washington, D.C. for three hours, and not seeing a single car. I
could hardly believe it.
My idea of God at the time had very little to do with what you might find
in the old or the new testament. None the less, I went outside, reached my
hands up high, and said, "OK, God, you got me", figuring that
for some reason my destiny was in Pena Blanca.
Before leaving for the trip back, I bought myself a large chocolate bar,
by way of consolation. At $1, this was a major luxury to a guy traveling
through South America on $7 to $10 a day. This was enough to pay for bus
travel, restaurants, and even hotels, nice ones being only $2 or so. It also
helped that people took me in, sometimes for weeks or months, and I rented
places sometimes. In Santiago, Chile, I had a room in a nice apartment for $25
a month. It was near to the disco/prostitute area, and they were always inviting
me. My girlfriend didn’t like that, but she really had nothing to fear.
The people in Peru……
Oil Spot Glaze on the Tarmac, <<<<<<< Diary
,, Michales’ Experience of the Mysterious Universe…..
Sometimes, I am just walking along, and see something that interests me….now, this is how artists often come to be regarded as unusual…..so , I am crossing the street, the landscape is snow, and the paths are nary. Standing upon the traffic island I do spy an oil sheen, Yeah, this reminds me of so many ceramics art works of great beauty (called, significantly, oil spot glazes). So, trusty pocket camera in hand, I do battle with the forces of beauty, quantifying, analyzing, magnifying . I
IIIIIII,,,,IIIIII,,, < that is I times many…
buttons,,,, take what I want,,,,,
oppressing the savage universe,
twisting it to my ways,,,,I ,
squatting down in the mystery river,,,
,believing I am the owner here….the fly-bys in cars not even taking notice,,,,nor spoiling my holiday/addiction,,,,,I spice the boring daily routine tomake me
anewer mystery, unlocking forces,
playing them out, and , lo,,,,it has happened….
Meanwhile, many cars have zoomed by me, the view is bleak, I make a study of the traffic patterns, Blam,,it is on film,,,blam, blam, I shoot the lights out of it. Little do these travelers on the road to workday even realize the sequence that is happening beneathe their
Battling the snow, poor angel am I,,,thrusting into sorrow, the commonplace chill breeze. Today, tomorrow, it all fails. Lift me up, oh gentle sun, take me on a summers’ breeze, free from the oppressive cold, enclosure, deep snow to prevent these veteran feet their just due of good woods stomping.
Oh, cast me away uncouth snowshoe, ski, and ddeeeppp snow. Bitch you are to return in such fury,,,,,deprive me not my just due,,,spring to spring oh gentle ocean of summer winds and sun,, oh ,,,Sun,,, of my life,,,take me home with you….deprive me not of your kind carresss,,,,and ,,,,,,,,if,,,,,,,,,, you can keep,;;;;;;;;the baking, humid air and buggy, buzzing torment out of MY))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))0
0 summer, or , failing,,,( out of)…. my dreams, ,
,,remembering you in such swweett purity, I might entreat myself
to your deepest remembrance
Does Zero Equal Infinity…
0 = infinity, doesn’t it; ,,,,what is 0, if not nothing?
If it is nothing , then, is it not also, all things, and I , so Am I ,,,,,I , the black sheep……
If nothing cannot be something, and , absent your birth would then your you be more than the primordial something that all primordial yous’ springs from
Holy Shit, do I believe this, reminice it, feel it, or just like to trouble my troubled mind with more trouble?
Seems interesting to read, anyway…..
Yeah, though I walked verily, brothers, passing the gentle creek , in its throes of snow, stepping lightly the white stuff covered trail, in avoidance of the cold shock water frozen jolt to my skinfeet;;;;;;;well, so welll done to take me, this old bag of blood, skin, bones, and, not grey, but, wiggling red, quivering, fat, yes, fat stuff up there( cholesterol me), doing all this, some say, in proof, (they say) show me the animals that can do this stuff ( like write, photography, and talk), they doignore the well developed brains around the animal kingdom, but do note well the absence og skyscrapers in their dwelling places…..
……………..yes, the skyscraper test,,,,who can really say that any type of being is well worth preserving ( or as intelligent as me) in absence of skyscrapers? I mean , they have to be capable of building them, or , well ,they just fail the test, and enslavement, or total destruction…..who needs non-skyscraper types anyway, so , this is the bottom line test for desirability, and longetivity,,,Skyscrapers….. for
….so few, and yet so many,,,,thoughts, …as I pursue the path to the auto mechanic who will free me from the foot travel, and bring me to the grocery store, with its built in marvels and treats….
Yum, fresh pineapple,,,,the bottom has some mold on it, its ready, the lower leaves come out easily,,,,ditto,,,,,,sqeeze, should not be too firm….eat it? No, please, do carve it first…..get yourself a big, sharp , knife,,,,hold at a low angle to the bottom of a coffee cup, or other similar whetstone, rotate smoothly, grinding away some steel where you don’t wish it….
Slice off the top, cast away, or plant it,,,,,bottom , too, but it wont grow( maybe),,,
Now, spiral slice the skin off one cm, or, in AM/English ( that’s’ amera-english to you), ¼ inch thick, don’t leave too much of those little spiney parts of this cactus family member
Now, piral slice the , or what have you
Don’t forget to throw away the core, munching what is desirable off it…
Now, slushy drink mix, acid raw fruit, cooked into elegance, yogurttted with some other treats, you can go ahead and enjoy******************
IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII…………….THAT’S IT……IT.IT.IT iii I I I ttt TTT IIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTITITOUT
That sort of meant the end, so the following is a reminder from our producer, to the studio audience…..
I don’t merely ask you to write all over this book (and any other book that it should so please yiu), I beg you to,,,,,to explore,,,to open new horizons,,,,,,to massage that big fatty device attached to the neck muscle……..that is life, exploration, what is in, what is outttttt……what is in , and what is out anyway?
What I mean is, write on the margins, not on the photos and the writing……………I often do that, and put some great ideas into the book overleafs,,,,fold over the page corners and underline passages that seem interesting, butcher magazines for the great photos……
What I mean is, if you see something cool here, then follow the threwad, write, photograph, and/or whatever,,,,and theres lots of free space here for it….
OOORRRR, conversely what I means is that there is no difference between the inside and the outtttt
It is all one happy universee…..ooohohohho, cliché me….
OK, I wanted to get real serious here, amateur mathematician and all…..does zero equal infinity…??..
Seems to me that zero is an imaginary number, as it doesn’t really exist.
I looked around for zero, searched for years, overturning every stone, and lo, it could not be found (a slight exaggeration, of course, but so what?).
Now, since it cannot be found, does it exist?
Ok, well , the negative numbers, too, where are they? Exactly….
Now, in all our math, which underlies virtually all our science, we must have zero, and the negative numbers, or it all falls apart, I thinkkkk…
So, is our science founded upon the imagination?
Well, I’ve been asking myself this question for quite some time,,,,and really, the fundamental part of it seems to be, “ Is zero equal to infinity?”.
For, if zero is nothing, it then speeds itself down a deep pit, a vacuum, a nothing,,,,so, something is not equal to nothing,,,maybe zero is not the infinity, since it is the absence of all things,,,but it does seem to me that it would then convolute itself, to expand out into infinity again, as infinity does not pre-suppose anything, it just goes on and on forever…
So, ok , zany kooks and mathematicians out there,, Does Zero equal Infinity?
were a bit unusual. With time to think about it, I came to the conclusion that
their all starch diet caused a lot of mental retardation. I mean, I would often
hear someone call out in a stupid voice, “Hello Teacher, one two three”. Seems
odd doesn’t it. Of course he would laugh, and that was all the English he knew,
but a lot of the people there really are retarded. Fed up with them thinking a
poor boy such as myself was rich (they all did), I told a lady in the market
that in my country, you only had to bend down, and pluck a rock from the
street, and, as it was a gold rock, you were all set for money.
She really did
believe that. A lot of them would.
The market ladies would also offer me their children to “take
back to my country with me”, and would want me to give them my pretty blue
The most beautiful
place I saw in Peru, and perhaps in my whole journey, was the mountain valley,
in which sits the town of Juarez. I often rode on top of the mini buses to get
to town. Up the long valley, surrounded on all sides by the most beautiful
mountains, on one side all snow-capped. The people thought I was crazy, as I
did them, for missing out on such a sight.
For each and every
dip and wind in the road, one would lose sight of the majestic mountains, only to
re-gain it again as the bus rose up from a different angle. It was thrilling. Also, I got lost on a
glacier there, and kept myself alive for sheer will power, finding out how
important is every moment of life, despite the suffering one may be going
through, and how it is worth fighting for.
mountains of Equador, covered in forest, are also quite beautiful. A young
fellow there explained to me that people thought, as I had long hair and a long
beard, that I was a certain kind of German missionary, who dressed this way.
This helped explain why two men in a bus station asked me, “Where is your
mission”. I thought they could see that I was a guy who had major projects of
discovery going, and tried to explain. Right after the kid told me that, I saw
one of those missionaries in a car, advertising their new micro loan system
through a loudspeaker. I checked him out curiously, while he eyeballed me
As I walked back up the hill to Pena Blanca, "La Cometa
Halley" joined me. A young, pleasant man, slightly crazy, who only wanted
to talk about Halleys' comet; which was visiting our solar system at the time.
Everyone called him Cometa Halley, and he rather liked the distinction. I saw
him one day, months later, on the streets of Santiago.
It was a sunny day, and I was happy. I figured I would camp there for
I talked to a few people at the top, and as it was turning into evening,
collected some stray newspapers for a fire to boil water, and make up a
dehydrated soup. Two women and a man were in my line of travel, and we began to
Sitting down, one of them showed me her hands, very dirty from camping
out, and with some blood in the cracks. Since the cracks, with the blood,
formed almost perfect M's, we joked. Carmen, Erikas’ cousin, said that stood
for Mother Mary.
I was laughing, and said, "Michael Meredith."
Little did I realize at that moment how prophetic I was, for this small
woman sitting in front of me was to be my companion and wife for the next 22
Since there was no water at the top, and I always carried some with me,
I poured it over her hands, and the blood disappeared, never to return, though
the M's stayed. She says they weren't there before. One of my sons also has M's.
I didn’t wake them early the next mourning, so they could catch the
early bus, preferring to let them sleep. Because of this, unknown to me until
years later, they arrived late in Santiago, and Erika had time to go home
first, since she was already late to work, so what was another few hours
anyway. If I had awoken them, who knows what would have followed?
So, she took me home with her, and I had the first shower in two weeks (ice
cold, it made me scream, to the amusement of the household), after camping out
for so long (I must have been quite a sight, and smell, too).
In this way, I stayed in a small townhouse, in a bad neighborhood, with
Erika, her mom, her sister, and her sisters’ two children. Little did I know
that as the years rolled by I would come to look at this as home, and the
mommie as my mom, and the people as my family.
In the south of Chile there is an active seismic region, with active
volcanoes, steaming natural hot baths, and ox carts right out of Fred
Erika was off for the summer from her school teaching job, and decided to go with me.
Those kids of hers wanted me to translate every Spanish word into
English; they were all so sweet. Erica bought those poor kids the first
icecream in their lives. I guess that doesn't sound like much, if you
do not know what is poverty. I was impressed. She didn't have much
money herself. School teachers in Chile live on a pittance.
One place we stayed in the south was in an unoccupied classroom, at the foot of the smoking Volcan (Volcano) Villarica.
There was also a lovely lake near-by.
We met a Chilean lady
visiting her parents from Norway, and hung out with her and her husband
for a while. Her dad gave us a ride down to the thermal baths where we
stayed for a week. It was very nice to soak in hot tubs several times a
day. We stayed in a barn there. Hey, it was a clean barn! Then we had
to leave because some military guys were coming.
After that we paid a visit to an
Indian witches house.
I had to drag her out of there.
She thinks they drugged her.
The place was a dump. and I wasn't going to stay there. I remember sitting out in the woods, and seeing a falcon, while I resolved to go elsewhere.
along a little, we talked to a wood- cutter, who invited us to stay with
They were so nice. They took the mattress off their bed, and
gave it to us, to sleep on their living room floor. I mean, I was there
for a few days before I peeked into their bedroom, they were sleeping
on bare wood slats, for us.
They also fed us, and asked nothing in return. The money they made, it being in Chile, was quite small.
was a steam engine from another century powering the sawmill operation.
It left boards of unequal thickness, and provided work for five or six
guys. They skidded logs around with oxen, but cut the trees with
While at the thermals, Erika and I had a big
fight. She screamed gross stuff at me in Spanish, and I did my best to
imitate her in English. Actually, I had a rather good vocabulary of my
It's interesting how little things can help to cement a relationship.
I mean, because i kind of knew what she was saying, but not really,
there was no emotional impact from insults, it was just pure release of
anger. She told me later that she felt the same way. Humorous, but true.
wood-cuttter family would wake up to the Mate, a type of tea that gets
passed around, and sucked up through a straw with a filter at the end.
We also ate their oven- baked bread with hot sauce on it for
breakfast. Or, I did , anyway, not the Kika, she doesn't like hot stuff..
went back to Santiago after a while, and to the beach. We had our own
private cove to bathe in, as pretty as they come in that mountainous
area, so reminiscent of Big Sur in California, and the Oregon coast..
stayed in my new tent, playing cards till late at night, as happy as
can be, to just be together. Bernarda, the mother of a woman that Erika
had met on the bus trip to the beach, fed us some really big meals (her
husband was a butcher, and her son a fisherman). She was a really
loving woman, who would maybe love just about anyone, and take them
into her home, treating them as if they were her own children. There
are many like that in Chile, so different from my home place.
I had been in Santiago for two weeks, at Kikas’ house (Kika is the
nickname for Erikas in Chile), I headed out to Argentina. It was a
short bus trip, then a long walk, and hitchhike to get to the top. The
way was up through the Andes Mountains; close to one of the tallest
peaks in the whole range. This was a ski area in our summer, their
winter. Indeed, I was invited to sleep on top of a pile of styrofoam
insulation, at the top, and a good sleep it was. The tradesmen were heating coffee over a warming fire in the chilly mourning, dead summer, but alpine.
This was in a ski lodge under
construction, at the top of the hill.
19,000 feet tall and close to the coast, this was not a gradual rise up from sea level like the Himalayas.
The road up wound so much that it is called caracol, the snail, because of the wiggly tracks a snail sometimes makes. Or was the town called Caracol?
When we got back from the beach, Ericas' mom threw me out of the house.
She was mad that I cut a lemon on the table, or, really, because I was
living with her unmarried daughter, and what would people say. So, I
went and got a room in an apartment downtown, and traveled back to
Kikas' neighborhood every day, to see her and also to work on my solar
concentrating collector invention, at a welder friends' nearby. An
artist friend found me the room.
So , what kind are you…
If you want to understand the artistic mind then first, go out in the street with the dirtiest clothes you have, or, the best, but, unshaven, with the bag of goods, and hang out with some homeless people. Just sit there, and talk if they want to, don’t make a show….a show is like, I will feed you, and be important….
So, I am walking up to the bank, or , rather, I was walking out to the bank , as my wife aptly points out ( she is an apt lady) , mentioning that the bank closes at 2:00, doesn’t it, call them and see…..NonoNoo , I’ll go for the walk, and to the bank tomorrow, too much to caal 9 and to get someone on the phone, usually).
So , I march on past the passing cars, in the street mostly, because of the snow, lost in the reverie of daydreams which are my own sad spaced ot lottt…
……..if a mann puts his waste back, and a pile of vegetable matter, will one thousand square feet of a well kept garden keep/feed him???..
….so maybe you
don’t much care about this sort of thing, but that’s the sort of thing that goes through my mind, and sometimes makes things more interesting… because before that I was playing around with the camera, looking for a new angle on my art collection, not just to please someone else, but just for me…
bigsculpture.org……all the old, studgy photos…..
I rounded the bend, fully expecting to find deep snow….. it was clear that it was clear…..in fact it looked pretty good, so I shot some shots with my trusty side-kick camera ( these stories are how I get a good laugh, by the way, so just bear with me )…
Well th is one I adjusted with frame and fabric, so put it in, too
So I ended up making the typical rounds of the woods, minus a part with deep snow, and came on back
Ok, I admit it, I made this movie/journal/page all up, I mean, I planned it, it is non-spontaneous,,I took the photos, planning to come back here and weave them together with wordssss…..ssss…..sssss….sss………
Almost home again, I am writing a book, or, my mind is spinning a story, a man asks me if I ever hallucinate, and I tell him that I am hallucinating him, and that if he wants to understand the artistic mind, he has to forget success, and go hang out with the un-driven. Without the absolute conviction that material siccess is real success, one can proceed to have a meaningful life, or , as it were, to find real meaning in life. The one precludes the other by occupying bandwidth , errr , brain space. And that’s all you really have, a meager body, that brain capacity that god gave to you at birth, you are what you thinkor, as Krishnamurti might say ( if he were still alive to say it), the consciousness is the object of the consciousness…..consciousness. Sounds kind of better that way for psychologists, physicists, and other respectable beings…its another way to say , you are what you think…
I have been woking with fabrics these past few years, no, not making dollies! Or, yes, really, making dollies, very large dollies, in fact, as tall as a three story building.. That’s pretty tall, and it’s a tall order (forgive me) to make all that fabric, so I have done the immersion thing, surrounding myself with fabrics, looking at womens’ pictures in magazines ( no, not that type of magazines!),,,,, oh god isn’t humor so stupid!111
So, anyway my wife gives me this nice shirt, and dresses, etc. to hang up and look at, and I spend lots of time at the interior invention table figuring out how to make a durable, waterproof fabric that will last 100 years,,,,, doesn’t sound so easy, does it….I’ve been at it five years and am still not completely satisfied,,,,,, I painted jar lids copper, to make scaled up buttons, and it looks pretty good….
After all that hard work getting to the top, I was crestfallen to find
that the Argentine authorities required a visa from their embassy in
Santiago. I mean, I did all that walking just to save a little money,
and had my hopes all tied up in the journey.
They put me on a bus headed for Santiago, and it took an Argentine woman to explain it to me.
They didn't like England or America there, since England had recently
beat them in the war over the Falklands, and good old Ronald Reagan
(oh, how I disliked that guy for almost getting us into a nuclear war)
had the uncommon bad common sense to have to stand right up and say,
yo, England, we're on your side. As if they really needed the help
Anyway, If I had not returned to Santiago, and if
Erika had not been on summer vacation and had not, further, decided to
come with me on a trip to the south, yeah, it is likely that that would
have been the last we would have seen of each other. And, hey, where
would my boys be now?
So that got us to the south, to the beach, and me in an apartment in Santiago doing scientific research work.
I did return to Pena Blanca once. I was trying to be a true believer.
Even when that teenage boy wandered around like he was completely
dazed, ate dirt, and pointed at the sun, for all to see the miracle
there. I was trying very hard, but, what the hell, my eyes burnt like
hell from the sun, and all of those so called "Miracle" photos looked
like pure bunk to me. So, to this day, I haven't really figured that
place out, as there appear to be some real miracles that came out of it.
I finally did leave Chile, after five months there. Money was low, and I knew exactly how much I needed to get back.
Since it would cost the same to either fly, or to take the bus back, I
opted for the latter, as there was no hurry, and some
very pretty scenery, old friends, and undiscovered places between
Santiago, and Washington, D.C.
I knew after the first four months in Chile that I was going to marry her, she was so in love, and so was I .Hey sometimes it just happens that way. So taking off was no lullaby. Christian, Kikas’ nephew, was all upset, and wouldn't even accompany me to the bus. Maybe I was a father figure to him, all of ten years old, and his dad never came by.
. Nandy his mom did, but I don’t remember if Paula did.
Erica was wearing a heavy white sweater (summer had turned into fall). She had traded for it in the south, with the Norwegian/Chilean woman. Tears were in her eyes, and the skies were grey as the bus pulled away.
It was a long trip back.
On the trip I had lots of time to think, in fact, my imagination rolled............
If I came back to Chile with some money, and bought a small farm (oh, how I had always wanted to be a farmer!), well, i would have to deal with Pinochet maybe. This man was famous the word over for people disappearing, torture, and driving millions of Chileans into exile. In fact, his was the first and only military takeover in the country( paid for by the cia).
So, I am thinking, I am in Chile, on the farm, they come for the KIka, and I go get them (too many movies , right!).
As an extension of the ice cream machine gun, a way to inoculate logs with frozen shitake mushroom spawn, I invented a weapon, to protect Erica from Pinochet (and his minions). OK, the imagination is rambling on, even as the rubber rolls over the highway in endless miles, and there are some good conclusions.
Logic being what it is, I decided to not move back to Chile.
Some time after that, traveling through Europe, living in a large converted van, and selling crafts.....well, the ideas developed and developed. But first I had to get back, make some money, and pay off some debts from traveling.
This was all done in the endless desert in the north of Chile, called the Atacama, so dry that it snowed one inch there 12 years later, and the country celebrated. It only rains there once in a century.
Knowing this, you can imagine how I felt the first time through. I mean, it was three days in a bus moving fast, and I saw not a tree, not a shrub, nay, brothers, not even a blade of grass. It was quite a shock to my virgin eyes.
When I was on my way to Venezuela, I still had some issues to resolve. Maurice had not treated me very well, so I planned to just get the money and things that I had left off there, and be on my way.
An odd thing happened, while at his house, and we were getting along fairly well, I looked again at a sculpture he had on a garden wall. It was of the Virgin Mary. How odd, I thought, when I was here before, that was a medusas' head, what in theworld…
When i was there the first time, it was so apparent to me that these had some rich attitudes, over the fence they only rent, the draft is for the others, not us, we can buy our
way out of anything. So maybe my mind made me see a Medusa' head, when in fact it was the Virgin Mary. You never know, but a few times in my life I have felt that an angel was telling me something, and I didn’t obey. At least with Christianity, one can see better what an angel is, and why one might want to take the advise. The medusas' head, Maurices' lover, the rich talk, the lethargy to take me to the promised adobe house on the hill, or around the town even, all this led to me leaving Caracas, getting to the border with Columbia, crossing it, and not coming back for a year and a half. So, Maurice got me to South America intentionally, and onto the bus for the rest of the trip quite unintentionally. Interesting, and ironic, isn't it? He wanted me to be around to have a friend,
didn't know enough about me , or himself to know this would happen. Didn't he know that some in his family would hate me for a hippie, and others for a moocher/hanger on (they have a word for that down there). Of course, it's not easy being a rich man. An old saying goes that it is better to be a poor man in a rich country, than to be a rich man in a poor country. Considering the kidnappings down there, it's easy to see that saying.
Leaving for my South American voyage from Portland, I was struck by joy.
In a minor, frozen outside stopover in Atlanta, despite lack of sleep from an
overnighter, I was dancing. Oh, it had been a while since I had danced out of
joy, or from the need to do martial arts, but I was happy. Guess I knew that it
was all done With Lynn, that that utterly complicated part of my life was over,
only, I wish that my unconscious mind had told my conscious mind that, because
when I finally burned Lynns' old love letters, it was in the shack I was
renting in Juanchaco.
Mainly, it was a much anticipated trip, the suffering of the dark
winters, which I only was finding out about a year later, and not until 10
years later did I really hear that I was suffering from Seasonal Disorder
Syndrome. At that time, there wasn't even any published research on it. Let's
just say, that, sitting with my luggage in the San Juan airport, relaxing
comfortably in front of some double open doors, the tropical breeze opening
onto palm trees, I thought that I was in heaven.
The town of Cuenca in Equador is just lovely, all colonial architecture,
colorful indian dress, cobblestones. My traveling companion was Swiss, and a
photographer. I had to wait while he took shots of a butterfly. He says people
ask how was your trip? You have to say, I don't know yet, i haven't developed
the pictures yet. Hey, with digital cameras, the humor of that comment will
soon be lost.
We stopped for thermal baths, but I don’t remember the name of the town.
It took some convincing, but he did say that he enjoyed it. He wrote me a
letter once, asking me how it was "In Gods’ own country". The guy was a
A bus driver robbed a camera from a woman on our bus, we made a big fuss,
but nothing happened.
It was nice to see Peru again. I had lived in Huanchaco for three
months, and the people were so friendly there.
In Huanchaco, fishermen go out on reed boats into the ice- cold water.
I once saw one of these boats ( caballitos, or little horses) on top of a
truck. A Japanese person was buying it to ship back home. Museum or wall
decoration, I do not know. I remember the tour bus letting off at the beach....
they all looked afraid.....of..natives...disease...I don't really know, but
they all kept together. Funny how tourists can think of themselves as
travellers, isn't it?
on my first trip through Columbia, a really nice woman led me from the
bus to a bank that would buy a small gold item I had, them on to the gold
museum, repository of many small gold sculptures that had escaped the Spanish
meltdown activities. Oh, it was so lovely, I spent some time there, absorbing
Since we are now in Venezuela, sort of, i'ld like to add a little of the
goings on in Pena Blanca. What I mean is, I haven't told Erikas' side of the
Working some really long hours as a school teacher, she would
naturally sleep in weekends, and her mommi would give her breakfast in bed. The
light comes in her window in the mourning, but never that early, and , hey, it
wouldn't wake her up anyway (lots of late hours grading papers).
She was a fallen away Catholic for twenty years. Her dad died when she
was twelve, hit by a drunk driver, while getting on his bike, from teaching
illiterate adults how to read at night.
She naturally thought, "How can a kind God let a good man be
killed, while the culprit gets away unharmed?" Such thinking is very
common. In any case, she didn't hold much stock in Carmens' conviction that
Pena Blanca was a miracle, and had no intention of going there, despite Carmen
inviting her often.
The plot thickens (sorry, I couldn't help myself).
Erika wakes up early, before dawn really, she says a bright light was
shining in her face, and , for some reason, she got right out of bed.
She says it was more like a glowing sphere in front of her head, but she
was half asleep, so who knows what that was.
She dressed and left, trying to find someone who knew about the bus,
then got on the metro to Carmens'.
Carmen was entering her local station, while Kika was coming out of it.
They saw each other, but, as you know, a few seconds late, and Carmen would be
on the train, and it's hard to see people in a crowd anyway, then they left for
They camped out there for three days, staying with a friendly shop owner. There
were lots of little, temporary shops and resaurants up there. i slept in one
myself the second time up there.
Erica is in the Chapel at the top of the hill praying, and feels the
urge to pray for a man (odd for her, she is attractive, and has men all over
her). She says, he doesn't have to be rich, just a good, honest man, and
wonders why she is saying this..
I stayed at Maurice's hotel under construction , on the island of
Margarita. Margarita is very nice, though it is a tourist area. Porlamar is the
name of the town (I think). There were lots of sailboats there, i almost got a
ride back to Florida. It seems a guy on a boat cannot sleep well, if he is
alone, so they will take inexperienced people just for a night watch.
Just going out to the boats was cool. i mean, the stainless steel rigging, the
way everything was made, so practical, so efficient, and yet, so
Instead , I flew to Miami, and hitched rides back to Virginia, yes, I
was broke. The longest ride I had was a guy with a big dog; he didn't bite, or
bark, and practically didn't shit. He backed right up to a tree to deposit his
monster loads right where no-one would step in them. That is a perfect dog, and
, you know, it was a 200 lb. pit bull. i would never have know, he was so
Just then, she felt an earthquake, Chile is earthquake country, and they
can be quite dangerous, she had been through several, and has some stories to
tell. She says that noone else seemed to feel the earthquake, though she
herself moved to the doorway.
Well, you can see that I like flowers. Once upon a time, I was a vegetables only sort of a gardener, and, Yuk, who needs flowers. I mean, if you can’t eat it, then what good is it? Now, I like to grow them, and to look at them, and I can understand why so many others like them, too………………………………………………….. This is under a bridge, near to my house. It does frame a picture nicely……………………………………………………….. This A little ugly at this point in its’ development, perhaps, this is the big sculpture. It is thirty feet tall, just look at the five foot high face sculpture next to it………………………………………………………… Old town Alexandria sure is interesting. Lots of people go there to walk around, see the shops (including some first rate art galleries), and to hear the street musicians. One guy there (my friend Jamie Turner) plays the wine glasses. It is really a fine sounding instrument;,,,,the water harp, I think it is called…………………………………………………………. Aren’t mushrooms beautiful? You really have to get down to there level if you wish to capture them on pixels (well, how do you say film, in computereze?)…………………………………………..
She saw a very unkept foreign man coming up the hill, and it was like
cupids dart had stuck her. She said to herself, "I could marry that
man." Meanwhile she was thinking how crazy that was, and how that poor man
looked sick, and she wanted to heal him.
A musical interlude with Rocia Traore.................http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrMHo6u5vQc&feature=quicklist&playnext=12&playnext_from=QL
Due to a breakdown in the van we were in, it was several days getting up
to Springfield. When we were in sight, I saw high- rise buildings near to the
freeway. "High-rises in Springfield?", I said to myself, or out loud,
probably the latter, since I talk to myself a lot anyway. I only
remembered a few of the side roads, the rest were a total loss, even
though I grew up there. i am convinced that there is a certain part of the
brain associated with maps, and moving to so many different areas in the
previous three years had completely filled and re-wiped those areas many times.
I any case, i had to re-learn all of the roads I had grown up with, and my
friends , too, but that's another story.
Erika, the woman who saw mainly well-dressed men, and had them following
her, now tried to talk to this stranger. It was hard to get his attention, as
he animatedly spoke to one person after another. After following the guy around
for three hours, She enlisted her cousin, and finally sat down and talked. He
gave her an over the hill avacado, some bread, and she made a sandwich. He
gave her some water, and she washed her dirty hands. The blood oozing out from
cracks in her hands came away, and was completely cleansed. The blood had
formed "M's", and the m's remained in the lines of her hands. The
cracks also went away. She thought, how peculiar, as she had not noticed that
They talked late into the night, and took a bus to Santiago in the
I got a job as a drywall finisher after taking off some time to visit
friends and family. Actually, my parents were the only family in the area, and
I was staying with them, but I had lots of old friends, not having seen them in
eight years or more.
Since I had been making five dollars a day in Peru (good for Peru), and
was now making $25 or $30 an hour (triple that for a 2009 equivalent), with
lots of work, i was in hog heaven (actually, drywall is no heaven, but if you
move fast, you get paid well). I made enough in just a few months to buy a
truck, tools, travel expenses for two (to bring Erika with me), and a few
hundred to send to Chile to fix up the house for the wedding, etc.
When Erika got off the airplane, and into the car, she looked out
the window excitedly, and said, "Where are the mountains?"
When you spend you whole life in the shadow of the Andes, you notice
that they are not there.
I had always wanted to go to South America, and my friend Maurice from
California kept inviting me, so I took the belongings that I had, and went to
stay with my friend Fritz, a logger, and farmer.
He had a big (really big) shed that he had build long before, and didn't mind me
storing some stuff there.
He had an interest in alternative energy, and is my only subscriber to
lifetime updates regarding my solar energy work.
Fritz lived in Wilamina, Oregon, close to Salem, and two hours out from
He died a few years back from colon cancer, not too long after his dad
died, at the age of 98.
I stayed with Fritz a week or two, before going my merry way. I got to
drive the bulldozer, be a choker setter, eat his butter fried shitake
mushrooms. We did some solar design work together (he was an inventor, you may
have seen a wrist exerciser gyroscope), and, of course, we talked.
So, we now celebrate three wedding anniversaries, or just choose one. The civil
ceremony in Chile, the wedding in a church a year later, and, certainly, the
day we met. Let me tell you about the ceremony in Chile....
We were all dressed up, I mean, the old suit my dad gave me was
not good enough , she said, I got a new one. She spent lots of time buying a
suitable dress (not white, but blue, and very pretty). Oh, I had to pay for
..well, it was a good party, and another party after that too.
With the whole assembled family packed into the office, the civil servant read
an outdated list of stuff that was important...the wife would follow the
husband wherever, and so on...we stifled a laugh...then, he had to ask me, he
said, if I knew what was going on here. He said; you know, some times the
Chilean women trick the gringos, well he didn't say gringos. He says that the
poor innocent estranjeros (foreigners) simply don't know what was happening,
and since a wedding is serious business....
...I was so deeply tempted, but they all would have killed me, and, government
workers so seldom have a sense of humor, so maybe we wouldn't have been married
.. so I did not say that I thought this was the theater, and when did the show
The cake made by a German guy was the best I ever had, Chile also has
the best barbeque, an excellent meat and corn soufflé (a national dish), and,
actually, the best pizza I have ever tasted.
The wine is about the best you can find, and was $1 a liter when i was
there. Even poor Chileans eat better than rich Americans, because they cook
well, and do not eat processed foods (although McDonalds is becoming more
Seems that Europeans have been moving to Chile for quite some time.
Erikas family has a French aristocrat ancestor (who gave the family
hemophilia). There are towns in the south that still speak German. Lots more
natural blondes than here, more beautiful women, too, yes, i carried out some
sociological research on that subject, once alerted to it. It made a great
little study project.
The weather is Mediterranean, just like California, but cooler. When it
gets to 90 degrees they complain about the heat, yet it is very dry and
comfortable. To them, the humidity of Argentina is unbearable.
It is really a very nice country to live in, and we thought about it. In
fact, she did not renounce her job, just took a break from it, because we
didn't know where we were going to live.
For some reason, the airplane ride back was real rough going over the
Andes. I slept through it; good for me. They had to fasten my seat belt, and to pack pillows around me, to
keep me from bouncing against the ceiling. They were giving away drinks free,
to calm the passengers. One stewardess was hysterical .An experienced
traveler said he had never seen anything like this before. I'm glad we made it.
In Seattle, and in Orcas, part of the San Juan Island group, the weather was
cold. They kept telling me how nice and balmy it usually was, but I didn't see
it. The snow was deep. We had a wood stove on Orcas, and a fairly nice house,
lots of space for Lynn, and all of her ceramics work, and, you know, all those
tables, shelves, and a kiln do take up a lot of room. I got a garage to do the
solar experiments, though I got back into ceramics art sometimes, just helping
Lynn with glazes and firing, and by making strange ceramic objects. Lynn really
liked the "Big Ones", they were as tall as could fit into the kiln,
and shrunk tooo much, I thought. They were tall , thin cups, and Lynn mainly
made coffee cups, with some very time consuming incised decorations.
Trusty Camera In Hand, I Wander Off Into The Futrure
This is from inside my room. It is the hardy kiwi I planted years ago, and now overruns so many things (think I oughta prune those big guys?).
Mom at the Beach< I am always trying to get a better shot of. Since I don’t have the space, the poster of the beach is wrapped around a wall, and onto the ceiling, so the whole thing is not nearly what I had wanted (Oh, Sigh).
The kids from the “Never Enough Flowers” statue come out different with this change of lighting…..
Furture?,,,well, I don’t really know what the future is, either….
Lots of times I’ll go walking around the lake that so conveniently materialized so near to my house. This is a great little walk, for the love of nature, and I do get some exercise from it. Though I try, I find it hard to go to the extra work of running. And, I try to get back into the karate dancing/tai-chi stuff, too, but I’m basically a muffin (another starch, a type of a sweet potatoe…)….
The lake is great, and it is so much fun to shoot off what we used to call film. Now, I shoot too many shots, and spend more time deleting, and sorting; but, the shooting is sooo much fun, that it is worth it….
Especially when my neck was in a brace, after a nearly fatal accident, the lake trail made me go, keep up my strength, and, you know, after about half an hour of being where my ambitions of accomplishment cannot follow….inner voices talk to meeee……
…..I sing out loud sometimes ( sometimes people don’t even mind, with the occasional kind word..)….
Just to be out looking at the natural world, feeling the energy of the trees, dancing light from over the waters, deer on the trail, to see kit foxes playing together, like puppies do; well, it does add substantially to the feeling of well being….
The blue and the white herons are common here, and once, I saw some eagles on the lake,,,,,,some time before that, I saw their nest, in a secluded part of the forest surrounding it.
For a long time, I wanted to represent god as a sort of a wave, oh, I had plans for a tremendous glass statue, like an ice cave. Then, I wanted to use the ripples from a rainstorm, in a puddle..
….so , here I have thrown some pebbles into the lake, and am trying to get it on film, handy trick, no doubt, in absence of a tripod, or any other special equipment….
This one is pretty wild, I think. It is, guess what? A Paint Bucket! Yeah, and you can see my fingers splayed out in the reflection….
……Art is where you look for it….
the big mom
Fed up with contractors cheating me, i started my own business, in the dead
of winter, recently married, shows what anger can do for you sometimes. it
saved my marriage, drywall is so boring, I would have quit. The job, and maybe
the marriage, too.
The remodeling business was fine, I learned so many things, read the
"Fine Home Building" magazines, they turned the humdrum into an art.
Building is an art, actually, in France , the call us craftsmen, and I can not
see much difference from any other craft work( and most art work), just
misplaced status maybe.
I got to do some custom wood carvings for stair rails, and was making
applique wood sculptures at home, with a new band saw and beltsander. It was
lots of fun, Erika wanted me to watch movies with her, but, as much as i like
them, i would much rather have some art work or another to show for my time,
than just a memory of a movie.
The Oregon country fair is a bout the best party I've even been to. Lots
of Lynn's old friends were there. There was top- notch crafts, and really good
We were outside, looking in, trying to find a way to get in on limited
funds, when a woman came out the front gate.
She had a parrot on her head, and was wearing a skirt, but nothing more.
It stopped us all in our tracks.
I mean, it was rather exotic, and she was good looking, even Lynn stared;
maybe it was just the parrot?
Well, when she is about twenty feet from us, and still strolling along,
Lynn callls out her name, and runs up to embrace her. Seems that they were old
travelling friends from around the pacific northwest
The other fellow and I really double- taked it then…..
The business picked up some, and we moved into a nice townhouse. i was still
building solar collectors, and the head of that branch at Sandia Laboratories
was interested in my work. He was going to get a contractor to build a large
model. Well, a big aerospace outfit got wind of it, and when I called back, he
said there was no money for that now. That's how i figure it anyhow.
I remember there was a freak ice storm in April I had to go through to
get to that solar conference. Some of the leaders there were very anti-friendly.
It was odd.
Oh, I forgot the little one,,,hhmmm...
For the culturally impaired folk at the soils group....see what you really
think of this story....this is a test....
..... (oh , God, sometimes I just have to laugh)..............
At the fair, early in the mourning, a group of eight of us are sitting
on a dock, very pleasant balmy air, calm, lucid water, night and imagination lit up by stars, talking and laughing.
It is the early dawn, there is a tiny bit of light warming the horizon,
illuminating the waters and foliage, birds start their early morning calls;;;;;; it is worderful.
Now, a woman says, look at that star, it is getting closer. We all look,
and, you know, it is getting closer, its getting real close, we comment on it,
a bit concerned. Time goes by, and in a pause, the college professor in the
group says, " I sure hope that it's not getting closer, because that is the planet
Oh, that guy got us good, didn't he?
The little one is Patrick, as cute a new-born as you could ever find..
If I keep on going this way, coming forwards in time from Pena Blanca, and
going backwards in time from the first visit to Venezuela, we will meet the
present, at the same time we meet the past, with me at the age of 13 ( I wonder
how much ggod stuff ican remember from back then to actually write a book about?
Well, adding the soils group comments in here would take it from another
direction, directly into the present, but I must behave, don’t go into war mode,
keep it simple (the mind I mean, keep it simple)....
It is interesting to see the mourning rush hour backed up in front of my
house, while I am unloading rough planks from the top of my van, thinking about
what I have written here.
Like, I thought, Photos, I am fairly good at them, click on any photo to
enlarge,,, so would that fit in a book of this sort ( what sort id=s (is)this,
anyway?) I mean, I leave all these typos, and how the computer lays out the
script, because it looks cool.. Sometimes there are great freudian slips,,,, I
wonder if my computer reads freud?
Well , here is fun, but I have to bee going off to work, the daily grind,
release from boredom, Money( Hey, thats' food, and life itttself, no wonder it
is so much loved,,,, well, sex is ttooo, I mean, sex is life
, too,,,,think about it, your parents dont have sex, bingo , you are not
Patrick was born on a cold day, very cold, for us. He was a cesarian
section, but we didn't know, and were trying to be all natural. Not a good
choice for a woman with such a small pelvis.
She suffered a lot (off the pain chart), before we decided to get the
So, I suited up, and held her hand
A hauntingly pretty song by Nokia
When I was in Washington state, I also went with Lynn to some barter
fairs, or, parties, with stuff for sale or trade, a drunken Reggae singer,
barbeque, and me learning to barter..these were campouts that lasted for
It was something I had no experience at, I mean, shades of world war two
movies, they had her guts all cut up, and were reaching around inside!
I was traumatized for some time after that..........they need to show
movies to people to explain these things beforehand, give some options, and so
Lynn's dad was dying of lung cancer, it came upon him suddenly, and took
him by storm. He could not even speak to his only daughter, that is sad. We
stayed in the hospital with him, I was glad to accompany that good man on his
final voyage. It seemed fitting to read the book, "Issi", while he
passed. It is about the last wild indian in the U.S., and how he faired in San
Francisco in 1903, and what he taught people. It seemed fitting because
Green was a hunter, and the Issi book was filled with
hunting. I wished him on to the happy hunting grounds.
I just had to cry while writing this. Sorry if the happy hunting ground
seems too corny for you, it is, how I felt at the time
We went on down to Greens' salmon fishing buddies, and they took us out
free of charge. We went out onto the ocean where Green had spent so much time,
and deposited his ashes into the sea. i don't know if anyone said anything, but
I can tell you, it was meaningful for all of us.
The baby was a joy, lots of work, but a joy. i changed his first
He soon began to eat, and gained weight. At six months or so, he was already a
crafty fellow. Heading full steam into the kitchen, as we had left the baby
gate open, he took one look at me, and patted the wall, "Hey, Dad, I'm just
checking this out", pretty smart for a baby.
He turned around, and headed back into the living room, but out of the corner
of my eye, I could see that he was watching me, to see if he would get another
wouldn't you know that that kid would give me trouble as a teenager?
Cats and pots in Santa Clara.............
We were living between Lake Tahoe, and Santa Clara, I had a good job in Santa
Clara, so we stayed there a while.
I was getting quite good at setting up potting sheds
ceramics, I mean, not gardening.
The kiln was the big thing, thankfully, I knew a little about electrical
Three black kitties were getting bigger, and they were cute
We had moved up to lake tahoe on a lark, living in a camper shell on my truck,
at a campground, where we had snow flurries in September. It was hard to find
work without a phone.
We were glad to get out of california finally, by moving up the coast.
We went back to Chile several times, I went down alone after her mothers'
stroke, singing to her in the nursing home.
The other ladies loved it, they said (sadly) our own children won't come across
town to visit us, and here this man comes from so far
I loved the mommy, she was a good woman.
I knew I was taking away her meal ticket, so sent her money when I could, and
sometimes when I couldn't
We were good friends after the lemon incident had vanished into history, and
she knew that this was not just another foreigner who would steal a ladies
heart, and never come back.
All the people in Chile had the malfeasance to say that to Erika when i was
The least they could have done is to have kept their little mouths shut
Well, you know, most trips, both great and small, start at home. So, here I decided to go to the National Zoo, all by myself, because no-one would go with me,,,,sniff……………………………………………………… Between a curious anteater, and a well- made octopus, the zoo is full of delights……………………………………………………….. The zoo has maybe the best aquarium in the D.C. area in it, and also the regular cast of elephants, birds, small animals, a panda, and lots of other good stuff………………………………………………………… The monkey rock has a waterfall.
Back home, the big hand is taking shape…………………………………………………………… It goes on the big statue. Here, I have the three sisters together, for a rare family re-union……and one of them is almost standing. No, it is not booze, she is just having some trouble materializing…, at thirty feet tall…………….………………………………………….. Pretty good- looking lady, eh? And that hairdo, well, it took me months to make, so don’t trouble me with your talk of $300 hairdos………………………………… I lived in the area all my life, and finally went out to the Maryland side of Great falls, hearing that it was prettier there, and it was…………………………………………………… At Great Falls, the whole of the Potomac River passes through a narrow gorge about 100 feet wide, meanwhile it drops about 100 feet. This, of course, makes us a fine display…………………………………………………. There are canals on the Md. side, relics of another age……………………………………………………………… Some of the rock formations are stupendous, even the lichens on them, and the reflections,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Don’t tread on me…
She was very sad when I was gone
I wonder what they thought when i came back?
Not long after we had just met, Lynn and I took a long hike in to a hot
springs area in the Las Padres National Park.
70% or more of Ventura county is National Park area. In Ojai, where I
lived for four years, you could get a good hiking trail ten minutes from the
center of town, and lots more just a little farther.
The beach was just twenty minutes by car
Is this a paid advertisement to live in Ventura California?
Well, santa Barbara was fun town, too, and not far, I used to go over there
for Dance Away, a dj powered dance hall
We had some good dances in Ojai, too, people had to make events there, as it
was really a sleepy little town
I was living in a small trailer when Lynn arrived, and we turned the barn into
a potting shed for her ( with the kiln still parked at her friends house).
Many times i have moved unbaked pottery, and have seldom, if ever, broken
We knew it was coming, it was in the air, grandma had sold her house in
Santa Clara for more than we could imagine, uncle Peter in Seattle had died,
and there was more money there than anyone really needed.
Mutti (grandma) started by giving large portions to her children
My dad was infatuated, it is what he had always wanted.
We were more circumspect, and thought that a large gift would deprive us of the
feeling of fulfillment of having done it ourselves.
When we were all seated in a restaurant one night, we were breathless for
a moment, at the offer of $120,000 free money, to buy a house. 2009 money
Of course, we thought it over for a while, talked to others, and thought,
This was Mutti's idea, and some money. Not enough, said mom, (Mutti was living
in 1950's dollars), and kicked in a lions share.
We searched around, and single families in that price range (as a down payment,
and an affordable monthly on a loan) were pretty crummy, best described as
lower middle class biker neighborhoods.
The townhouses were ok; but, we were tired of nosy neighbors, hearing them
flush, and insufficient parking.
It was a stretch of the old family budget, but I figured, just one drywall
repair per month will pay the difference, and we bought a real nice
house,,,,,or, as they say, real nice with sweat equity, lots of it....oddly, it
was right in the neighborhood where i grew up
Lynn came to Ojai to visit friends, I met her, then she went back to Alaska.
She had a real hard time there, and would have leapt from a bridge, if my love
letters had not saved her. That's why she came to stay with me.
When i came to Ojai, it was for an entirely different reason
We moved into the new house, literally, on Earth Day 1990. I mean, they were
celebrating it big, it was all over the museum grounds in dc, real big.
I couldn’t go, couldn’t go to see the solar stuff, i had to move in.
When I came to Ojai, it was to be near, to work at, the Krishnamurti school.
Krishnamurti was a philosopher; I had been involved in his work for a long
time. It started in High School, when I also became acquainted with Mahatma
I came across country with a camper on my truck. I had been living in it all
summer, it was now winter, and a trip to India had left me with a full treasure
chest of silk sari's (dresses), carved bone and ivory (just one) items, and lots
of little jemstones.
Seems I wasn't so good at selling stuff, but in the end, I at least got my
money back, and had a neat time looking at, and showing, all that stuff.
Is it fitting that the first earth either of us had ever owned became ours on
The trip cross- country to california was eventful. Of course, i saw lots of
countryside, but how could I tell you about all of the little things, the
In Lubbock, Texas, a dry and dusty desert, so grey, that when they made a
movie of it (the last picture show) they went ahead, and did it in black and
white. In Lubbock, I saw a fair damsel, well, she was going into a department
store about 200 feet away, and I was parked out in the parking lot, with, shall
we say, mechanical difficulties.
Actually, I didn’t just see her, i was staring at her ,she looked really nice.
Well, I am near-sighted, maybe she wasn’t beautiful, but it seemed so to me.
She was facing the other way, yet, with the uncanny ability people often have,
she knew that someone was looking at her.
She turned fully around, to see me looking at her, before summarily entering
Odd thing to recount here, but I always wondered, had I stayed there another
night, If she would have come back.
Even that won’t fit too good, until I tell you about a nightmare (oh, previously
I said i could only remember 4 dreams, since then i found a few more in the old
Well, the nightmare later, and the psychic girl in Taos, first, let me say
I had forebodings, the desperation with which I wanted this trip, the love of
my home country (virginia), and then, this breakdown.
The sequence of the analysis of the electrical problem that had left me
stranded, left me wondering, was this a higher power trying to tell me not to
go? Oh, I wish I were not quite so bull headed, once I have decided to do
Sometimes I actually think that I should have gone to Florida to study art as I
had planned, instead of going away to India.
There I may have met Erika, who had been planning to come to Florida to study.
Yeah, you never really know, but I didn’t know this at that time,
only that i had forbodings,
and that was a pretty woman
The day we moved into the house was lovely, the doors were left open, a
man walked right in for directions.
It was so homey that many people stopped here, just because it seemed more
comfortable than all the other houses on this busy, subdivision road.
I had a real deja-vu , it was just like a dream I had had,
We both felt that the house was welcoming us. It was happy to have us here.
It was livable, but we started right away tearing out filthy carpets, replacing
windows, painting, and covering over old wall- paper.
It is 19 years now, and we are still working on it, but just small things now.
In Taos I met a girl who said I shouldn't go to california. Her mom said that
she sometimes knew things. Maybe I should have stayed?
I saw these sort of little flickers of light around her as she was saying this
to me. I don't know what they are, I just see them sometimes. They appear when
important things are happening. i have seen it before , and since, it is
always very nice and relaxing. Sometimes I think it is an angel talking to me,
and i do truely believe that california was not the place for me, though it
would take a whole book to explain exactly why.
To see more of these psychic connections, I wrote about the ice cave in the
Peruvian glacier already, it’s in the back of the book. The vision that I had at
Maurices’ place in Porlemar is coming up, but the mind chant, "Home",
I think you should hear about...
When Len was off at the apparition in Chile, I was getting better, and
took off for a trip in the jungle.
I was two weeks walking around, and staying with settlers there.
It was like the settling of America, clearing land, growing crops.
Maybe I was just homesick, or i just really needed a home. i was moving around
I began to think of home.
I planned to sail down the mighty Amazon on a balsa Raft (lots of balsa logs
on the river bank).
I started repeating, "Home, Home". It was a kind of recurring
Fortunately, the river rose higher, and boats could not get through, so that
So , I went back to Lens' house in the bald jungle, in Quillabamba, Peru.
Peter and the Coxes..............
Baba Maal, till the end....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfi8b2b5u8M&feature=quicklist
Some really interesting art, the art of painting hands....http://www.guidodaniele.com/mani01.htm.
Peter, and the Coxes, occupied a fairly large part of my life. Peter was my
older sisters boyfriend. I was 16 when I met him, and he 21.
When I left for California, I was staying at his wood shop the other side of
Leesburg, I was making carved wood sculptures, and wood applique’ sculptures. He
was making built in furniture, custom moldings, and I was loving his shop, so
many giant tools for my use. Far from being ignorant habubs, the workers
there actually liked my abstract wood- carvings; Peter says he still has the
applique wood art that I gave him before I left.
Th Coxes were farmers. My best friend of the bunch was John, often called the
Mystic, or just, the Hague (similar to his last name). He was into studying
philosophy and such, and worked on the Coxes farm, and other jobs he could get.
Those guys all (practically all) lived in an old farm house they had grown up
in, just outside of Herndon, which is now a big city, but back then, was mainly
farmland and country. So, I knew those guys from 1972 till 1979, and was over
there alot from 1976 onwards. Petey stopped in to see me in California once, on
his way to New Zealand, My sister did the same thing, but she stayed longer.
I bought a 1961 Mercedes 190d from Rufus, for $600, in 1976. It was a diesel,
igot used to the sound and smell.
It was fun to drive, and a very safe, well built car.
I took Rufus over to his girlfriends once (he married her later), we got into a
tailspin(we both new that I was travelling too fast for that slushy(icey) road.
So, what was remarkable about it was that the car just took ittself right out,
I mean, my hands were hardly on the wheeel ( that's what it felt like sliding
through my hands, "Wheeel"), the car self-corrected ittself, I wish
all cars could do that.
Those old designs were spacious, too, considering the size.
The trunk was also very large. I think it had to do with the rounded shape.
I wish I had gone to Mexico in it (one plan).
I didn't know about me and winter, and would have been a lot happier in a sunny
place where people are friendly to you.
So, what I think about "home", ending up at Lens' (why was he
in there when i was?), repeating, "laugh for us fisherman", the Pena
Blanca experience, turned back from Argentina, and every other single
"co-incidence" that befell my lot, is that it is all too much to
believe to be an accident, once all lined up in a row, and looked at
objectively (don't say that to my uncle J.G., though, if it cannot be found in
a scientific book of some sort, he won't believe it (unless the years have
They say that professional card players never believe in luck.
So all of that was to get me home, to take me back to my birthplace, and to
give me a family, which kept me here (you have no idea how hard it has been to
control the wander-lust).
OK, it is all right to ask me if I think God wanted me to do something. My best
answer is that if it wasn't him, then he just delegated responsibility.
Of course, exactly what he wanted me to do is an entirely different question…..
Mutti died a few years after that. She was all worn out. Of course, her desire
to live was absent when Dick, her husband, died. She just didn’t see any other
purpose, nothing you could say would dissuade her; Dick was everything to her.
Her brute stubbornness is what kept her alive for another fourteen years.
I used to visit her a lot, when i was living in Ojai, 400 miles away. It was a
nice trip up the Big Sur coastline, and I got real familiar with it.
I even stopped in for hot tubs at Esalen, and had a girlfriend there for a
Mutti was quite intelligent. She said'" Mike”,, (she had a way of stretching
out the "I"),
miiiiike , she said, every generation thinks that it has
Not bad for a seventy year old.
She also told me, that as the years pass on by, twenty years doesn't seem like
so much time anymore.
I was twenty- six, and it wasn't until i was fifty that those words came
back to me with such a powerful voice.
Mutti died at her daughters’ house, surrounded by her family, the grandchildren
happily playing, unaware.
While still speaking of "Home", I'd like to tell you some more about
Lynn, another creature of wanderings (I told you how we lived in five
different places together, didn't I?). She started out from an island outside
of Seattle, selling her art works in the Pikes' Place market (at that time a
hippie hang-out, despised by the local govt).
With some Jimmie Carter Art money, a guy with an art store in New York bought
some of her pieces, and invited her out for a show.
So she loaded up "Freddy", her beloved truck with camper that I never
saw, and headed cross country (at some point in her travels she also had her
kiln with her, which is actually a rather large, and delicate, piece of
equipment, but I don't know if she started out with it)>
Thus began the saga of traveling Lynn, who wandered from one end of the
country to the other, was some time in texas, where she says, the people were
less macho as regards womans’ rights than in california.
Instead of being"an experiment", I think the mention of
"For the culturally impaired folk at the soils group....see what you
really think of this story....this is a test..."
Maybe just shut them up, so they participated only involuntarily
Hey, do you think this fits in my book?
I have become quite addicted to it, and am now writing at least six hours a
I mean. I wake up early, jump out of bed, and write, usually, I just lay there
for the longest time.
I ignore responsibilities also, but have always done that, in pursuit of
So, the best thing that I did for old Lynn, besides saving her life, was
to get her home.
She didn't belong in california, either.
Sorry for the digression, so now we have a home, i am working at my
remodeling business (michaelsremodeling.com) hey, hey, got to get a plug in
there for some free advertising, don't I ,,he, he
Oh, yeah, she got pregnant again(howdthathappenIdontknowanythingabouthatstuff).
Now, my mother has the brilliant idea to bring Ericas'
(erika just corrected me, and she spells her name with a c not a k, so , I
should go on back and change all those Erika's to Erica's, but I dont' think i
will, do you think she will get mad at me?)
mother up, to help with the new baby, which is really a great idea, since we
know she will have another cesarian, and she was so out of it before, that I
had to literally carry her up the stairs.
That is one reason we bought a single level house, and also, she said, when we
get old, not having stairs will be easier.
When i die, they can just bury me out back, and plant a tree over me, imagine
that, the grandkids munching down on a "Grandpa" apple.
OH, I think that Iwill look down inn joy from heaven to see that.
Having the mommie here was great, and four years later, we brought her
up again, along with Tia Nonga (her sister, Ericas' aunt, who she had lived with
when going to college)), and Kako, a local kid doing good on the international
Well, at that time old Len came by from California (he had also been back to
So we had a full house.
The Coxes farm was interesting, I helped Erik spread out a huge plastic
sheet on a frozen pond, for making a greenhouse.
He had gone off to agriculture school, and learned all kinds of different
This was an inflatable greenhouse. Of course, you needed a blower, and if that
failed, you were sol, but you also needed just some simple wooden frames, and you
had a very large greenhouse, for very little investment.
Those farmers were the most economical people I knew.
It was great watching them, with all their machinery.
I was all organic farming (had read lots about it), and they were 100% pure
chemical farmers, but I didn't argue with them about it, I left that to Peter,
with considerably better, vocal skillls than I , and he didn't get anywhere
with them. Either.
They still do vegetables, chemically..
........chemically speaking, that's a lot of chemicals, all over, and in the
air, of our suburbs, and cities, and ,,,,, agricultural over-spray kills a
lot of farm workers.
An old roommate of mine was working a job, holding up a line marker for crop
He said he liked the job, but they cancelled his life insurance because of it.
Those boys sure know how to assess risk.
They did the same thing to nuclear power plants, too
Woman's rights in california were considerably impaired. We worked together for
a year and a half, and it was seldom that a man would hire a woman. It was the
cause of great sorrow, and many mean things were said by small- minded males.
Que Sera, I guess things are getting better.
Lynn finally got set up on Orcas, doing ceramics art. I know this because I was
inventing greenhouses for a while here in the mid 90's, and called a guy who
makes them on Orcas, and asked him about her, too.
We had a succession of cars, the old pick-up was dying, so we got
another $400 car, a wagon, as a stop-gap measure, turned out I liked it better
for my work than the pick up, though I got flack for it from other tradesmen.
We also had a red wagon I had bought for Erica while still in the townhouse.
When the rates lowered, I got a re-finance, that left me paying only a little
more, paid off in 15 years, instead of 30 ( hey , Patrick will be entering
college then, and not having a monthly to pay will really help), and some money
to buy another car.
I found a low mileage, babied Pontiac wagon, that was pretty enough to clear
out the construction debris, and drive the old grandma around. It lasted for
quite some time, then , I discovered Toyotas.
Peter had a log cabin in the mountains near to Harpers' Ferry, West
Climbing well up past the cabin, one arrives at a great look-out point, where
the buzzards roost, well, at least I spooked some once, and saw them flying
away, so I guess they lived there.
It gave a tremendous view up and down the valley, and on a clear day (cough,
cough, when’s a clear day?), you could see the next mountain range over, 20 miles
Confederate soldiers used this as a lookout point, to keep their eyes on the
yanks, since Harpers' Ferry was a major train junction in the civil war (the
war between the states for civil war buffs).
I re-chinked logs, helped install a septic system, based on a large tank, and
tried to make a garden in that all chicken sized rock, perennial vine infested
hillside, it wasn’t easy, and the weeds ate it.
Of course, indoor plumbing was quite a technical achievement, and quite nice on
cold mornings as well.
I wonder if that old outhouse is still there?
One winters day, with the snow 18 inches deep, unable to get his four-wheeler up
that long and cart path-like driveway (and steep, too), old Petey made the
majestic gesture of relieving the Mikeys' hunger (and the coming starvation),
by hiking in a big bag of groceries, held high on the shoulder.
We heated with wood, and that was sure a lot of work, especially out here, with
so many leaks, and holes, in that old cabin.
One summer, I awoke from an afternoon nap, or, i wasn't awake really, and
thought I had dreamed a snake over my head, I mean, right over my head. I got
to thinking about it, and black snakes lived in the logs, so he was just
stretching out, and I scared him.
In the wintertime, the place was over-run with the most brazen mice, they even
ran across my chest while sleeping.
In the summer, the sleek, black reptiles, skinny enough to follow a mouse
anywhere, left the place absolutely mouse free, or, at least they kept their
heads down , so you couldn't see them.
When I got back from Venezuela, I rode out with Jack White, my old High
school companion, to his place in Luray. He had a lot of old Jaguars, that he
sold parts from, and was living in a tent at the time. He said that the purchase
of a large trailer was a godsend, and true luxury compared to the tent.
That is the same as i found out in the slide in camper (like a small trailer),
that I lived in for 5 years.
it was nice to be seated at the sofa, and to be able to reach right into the
fridge and get a beer.
In California, I took out the furnace, preferring the space for books.
In Ojai, it never went below 40 anyway, and I soon got tired, arrived in
the winter, of saying how nice a day it was (70 to 84 every day, and sunny too,
maybe 50 on a "cold", overcast day, and you could drive an hour up
the hill to throw snowballs).
So, I didn't have mid-winter depression in the sunny land, and healed from it,
Jack got married to his sweetheart at the tender age of 45, and had a baby some
If this is sounding like a collection of old memories ( past , present, and
future, well, it is, and it’s fun writing it, though I don't do too well in the
future, just a lot of imagination, sometimes fear, mostly just dreams).
I'm kind of tired of this for the morning, I think I'll take a break.
Lynn Gillespie went through two windshields when she was a pretty 17 year old.
Her dad, a ww111 vet, vomited when he saw the remains of his daughter on the
operating table. They wouldn't let anyone eslse in to see her (soory about the
typos, hard to see the keyboard through the tears).
Her mom founded the local branch of Mothers against Drunk Drivers (Madd).
She went through lots of surgeries (painful)
What partly healed the body, could not heal the heart.
Lynn Gillespie would be talking to a new person, and say, "See this face,
this is not my face, it was put together from parts, my dad vomitted when he
saw the original"
You'ld have to say that she was abit complicated.
I don't know why I've had so many friends and lovers with so many traumatic
The words " My face looked like hamburger. The only one they would let in
to see me was my dad, a WW11 veteran, and he vomitted when he saw me", got
repeated so often in the 2 years that I knew her, that it plowed an irreparable
furrow in my mind.
Erika was hit in the head with a rock thrown over the fence at her school by a
drug dealer (probably).
She was in a coma for three days.
She remembers hearing "Erica, come back", gently repeated.
It was the doctor, as she awakened
She didn't want to come back
It was so lovely there, covered with miraculous colors that you never see, a
perfect, euphoric state, without a care, and hardly a thought.
No worries, or thoughts about family, or anything
She said, it was like a tunnel she (floated?) through, at the end was an
angelic being, beaconing with hearty emanation.
She didn't want to come back
off to take a hot bath (stinky)
I bet you thought I was going to talk about the Statue of Motherhood, here, no
way, you have to wait for that one
It was a lot of hard work to raise up some young children, even harder work
just to stay married.
90% of all new businesses fail in the first three months.
Running a business, in terms of difficulty, runs a distant third, though it did
take me several years to get the hang of it
and I am still getting the hang of it
Those are the three hardest things i have done in my life (and the most
I used to hitch hike around a lot.
After high school, I went to Puerto Rico with a friend, and my two sisters
It was fun traveling around down there, and camping in the Virgin islands
I best remember a little octopus, escaping me finally, and camoflaging himself
perfectly on several steps along the way, and the beautiful corals.....I also
remember the rum drinks, rum being so cheap (cruz bay rum $1.50 a litre) that
they put more of it in the drinks than they put fruit (fruit was expensive).
I hitched straight out from springfield, and stopped to see my girlfriend in
the shenandoah valley. it was quite an experience thumbing rides.
I had a goose down sleeping bag, and a parka, and had done winter camping, but
...In the high mountains west of Denver
Richard Bona...................fine music..............http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbUsNlo7ylc&feature=related
There was cold and snow in september. A guy dropped me off at a gas station. It
was bleak. Survival is important. I slept in a heated bathroom. In the
mourning, an angry man awoke me, but couldn't get in, so I had time to pack up
my stuff, maybe even wash up.
On the other side of the Rocky Mountains, the change is miraculous. All of the
area of the country east of them is green, most of the way through them, it is
Now, coming down the west slope, it gets rapidly more brown, in several hours
(or so) it is desert.
So, here I am standing in Grand Junction, just down the hill, as dry a desert
as one could ever want, it looking ever bleaker for getting a ride.
It is all sand, , and I am used to green, the sun is baking down. I have
survived the alpine snow, the baking desert, and now...
....a car comes flying by at 100 miles an hour,
just a hair in front of me, he slams on the brakes, I mean he skiddddds,
dragging rubber. …
thought it might be a lunatic
He finally comes to a stop about 100 feet in front of me, swerving strongly,
and loosing a hubcap
( maybe that hubcap part is artistic licence, I really can't remember)
It is just me and him, and i am curious, i am glad he didn’t crash
This guy is going to L.A. and wants someone to help him drive.
I figured it out that we averaged 100 miles an hour from Grand Junction to L.A.
We did lots of road at 120 mph, and had to slow down to 60 for road
construction and so on. I don't remember if we even ate
In the dead of night, I saw some lights on the horizon.
Stopping to pee, the starry lightshow was amazing.
The lights were the city of Las Vegas, from fifty(?) miles away, and they kept getting closer. We would
go behind a rise, and then they re-appeared, larger, and strangely beautiful. This happened many times..it was exotic..
As we got closer it was even more of a sight. I mean, in the town, the lights
separated into parts, from farther out they made a whole. Lots of things are
like that right?
I kind of forgot the Zany's, well have you heard of the Zany's?
Living up at Peteys’, in the cold, lonely cabin, with only books and mice for
companions ( and Peter occasionally chasing me around with a fire axe, or
burning my beard for me with a cigarette lighter ( we are a bit wild in
Peter had a big party at the cabin, And I met the Zany's, about as friendly
, and supportive a group of folks you could ever meet.
They all lived in a big house together, and got started as a group on a bus
trip through Europe, and North Africa.
A tall man with long blond hair and beard says to me, reaching out his hand for
a shake, " Hi, I'm Dr. Dilly, what's your name"
We got along just fine after that.
There was about twenty of them, and most people at the party stayed the night.
I knew the Zany's for about three or four years, was even inducted into their
tax loophole church of the whole.
They were crazy, but had some good parties. Everyone danced, it was great fun.
I got so drunk at one party that Patch told me it is good that i was among
OK, that was the only time in my life that I got so drunk that I couldn't
remember what I did.
I could barely recognize my own sister.
I don't suggest you ever start drinking beer in a summer afternoon volleyball
game, then drink nothing but beer into the early mourning.
Or you will here some embarrassing stories afterwards
I bought some big plastic containers for Kika to store toys and such in.
Then I came home one day, and the kids were tucked down into them, with a
blanket around each one, and she was feeding them treats.
It was so cute, i ran to get the camera
We went out a lot with kids in strollers, to museums, events, restaurants. i
kept taking them to the zoo, and to the museums as time went by.
A great education can be found in those places.
We finally felled a few trees, and flattened the back yard with a backhoe,
those things are fun to run, for the first day anyway, then the steady throb
and noise begin to get you.
I had hoped to grow some vegetables, and the whole of my yard was so dark from
trees, that only ornamental plants will grow here.
The california coast is one of the most amazing creations. Starting out in
L.A., I had lots of standing time to see what was around me, and the fly by
time in the cars was not too bad either.
I hitched, and camped, with a guy. He had a dog, and we must have gotten mainly
They are best anyway, for the view.
We slept on a grassey sand dune, and talked of wild imaginations
I honestly don't remember if I took the coast highway, through Big Sur, on that
What a shame if I didn't!
Some of those Zanys came up to the cabin to film a short movie "The Perils
We had a big old (and sharp!) crosscut saw, that just filled the bill for a
pair of northwoodsmen, fighting over the Pretty Girl.
The cabin helped, too
One of the parties up at the cabin awakened a dormant bat.
When I turned off the light, he would fly. When I turned it on again, he stayed
He was not afraid of me, so I got real close, close enough to see the hair
patterns around his face.
God, it was beautiful!
The tiny sworls, the intricate detail, on such a tiny beast.
Don't ever let anyone tell you that they are ugly.
Unfortunately, he would not re-hibernate, so probably died.
One time Petey had some friends up, through the snow.
We went to drop them off at the main road, and saw some unusual lights, they
thought it was a ufo, but it looked like lights to me.
The pretty artist lady wanted to drag me to the car to tell me something.
I don't know why I didn’t let her.
Sorry to be so late with the vision at Maurices' place in Margarita.
It was in a hotel under construction, as you know, no windows, wide open to the
I used to stare at the waves a lot , the reflections making a stunning lightshow,
the ever- changing play of light entrancing.
I saw a vision, no I wasn't asleep, I saw Jesus on the cross, and somehow knew
that I was supposed to stay in Virginia, a place that I didn't like because of
Well, I never could move out of Virginia, no matter how hard I tried,
And the rest of it took me even longer to figure out.
We always had a little swimming pool for the kids, which they enjoyed
The wife (T.H.E. Wife) would feed them little treats, and ringing a bell first,
call out,"Pool Service".
After a while, the neighbors kids came over , too, and we had two kiddie pools
in the yard.
I hitch hiked cross country about four times, using a variety of roads, for
different reasons, it was fun mostly, to see new places, to meet new people
with each car that stopped. Also, it got me from the east coast to the west.
My friend from Ojai, Andres, one of the seven best conga players in the world,
and homeless, and alchoholic, says he hitched through the south at one time.
Andres is half black, half Puerto Rican, short, and plump.
He got picked up in the deep south (in the early 70's) by a white redneck who
called him boy. Andres was also a comedian, he had a way to stretch out the word,
"Boy",,, guy was funny, he talked about the kind of forks that
cannibals eat with once, it was a show stopper.
He got on stage once, to play
with a drummer friend. The people called out "Andres!". It must have
been good. They only wanted to hear the drumming, so Taj Mahal, whose show it
was, was upset at being upstaged.
So this redneck takes this black guy home with him (Andres is good at
He stays with them for three weeks, taking care of the children ,
cooking ( he was an excellent chef), and doing what else , i don't know, but he
was traveling around just to see the place.
Once I was out in Santa Fe, and a woman I met had a free phone card to use, so i called a friend in Virginia. He told me that Baba Ram Das was going to be in Taos, so I should go to see him. Well, I went over there, and Taos is a neat town, it was nice and sunny, not too hot. Ram Dass( or Rum Dum) , didnt show up for a while, so I met some people, settled in, even had a job offer.
The old adobe houses there were nice.
I wonder if you all want to hear about the adobe church, the one that was lit up like a motion picture.
I was hitching around the town, and a nice young lady picked me up, her name was michael, too, she was indian, from the taos pueblo. She gave me an old Indian bead, which I still have…. Her roommate was even nicer, i had some coffee, and they told me about this place.
They were leaving soon, would I like to come.
I really didn't get it in the car, what it was.
First, i saw a lot of people, they were milling around, there were taco stands, the people were nice.
Then I saw the end side of an old adobe church, real old, and illuminated.
There wasn’t any perceivable light source, but it was like a movie, though at any given time, two people would see something different, though the same subject matter. They felt that this was a gift from God for the people there praying, and living right.
What I saw was Jesus, the Devil, a fellow dressed in renaissance costume, and lots of stuff like that, for quite a long time.
Ram Dass, poor old phony, why did you tolerate people worshipping you (messed up that guys head, heard much later that he, the shrink, had to do some shrink time himself, he should have listened to me).
I came back to Springfield, still in the summer, but cooler, and somewhat moist at night. I walked around in the early mourning hours before dawn, and heard a bird, with such a loud and lovely call, singing in that unlikely hour
Ok, Hey, I started the 70's at the tender age of 15, and ended them at 25. I don’t know if I want to go back further, meanwhile the other track continues into the future, but I'll give it a try.
After a succession of neighbors, the house next store became occupied by a family, and we became friends. They'd come over, and eat, would reciprocate, we'd drink some wine, and play cards. It was great fun, I never knew there were so many kinds of poker games.
ok, maybe coming up into the future is no good either, maybe this is enough book, and I should quit.
You know, I started this book on December *8 , 2009 to let my kids know where they came from, if all this had not happened, then they wouldn't be here, same as when my granddad was offered a job with a major Japanese company after WW11, if he had taken it, I wouldn't be here. He would have been rich, but I wouldn’t be here, and I made him happy………………..
Also, people over the years, responding to the Pena Blanca story, have said many things, that we must have some responsibility, that this is maybe for (who knows what) maybe to raise soma children ( who knows what they will do in there lives), or, I like to think, it kept me stuck in one place to accomplish some useful work, it gave us both children, and both of us maybe wouldn't have had children without each other.
So this is why I originally wrote this story, and then it toook off, I got absorbed in the act of writing, I got all this feedback that i write well (where-as, previously my novel writing ability was somewhat sub-par).....
.....anyway, this is the end for now.......
Travels in Peru,,,,,,,,,,,aka ,,,,,,,,,, Thieves of Peru
About This Book
I started writing this book while traveling in South America, starting in January 1986.
It was originally titled, “Travels in Peru”, or “Thieves of Peru”.
I didn’t mention yet that I was robbed quite often in Peru (lots of thieves there), and only once in Chile, for being lax
I wrote often, from the beginning. Erika remembers me writing a lot when we first met…
It has been enlightening to read all the notes I made at that time, about all kinds of stuff. So many forgotten details! So many private thoughts, so much time to write, and, well, just so much imagination, I have so many notebooks.
I will be adding to the book, as the need strikes me.
A friend from Venezuela said he had a nice house I could live in, as long as I liked .We stayed in touch, even as Lynn and I went from one place to another, up the pacific coast of North America.
And it was nice, it would have been perfect for me. When I finally got there, after passing across the length of the continent, I could see that it was good for me. It had space to grow things, a stunning view of the city of Caracas, which we saw there at night, all lit up, and, a day view of the ocean, with even a cable car going down there, for a day trip.
Of course, I was now at the end of a trip, my resources, badly in debt, and wanted to go home.
This part of the book I wrote while actually in South America. Well, most of it, anyway. I re-wrote some of it, added to all of it, and had to re-create some stories, as they appear to be, well, misplaced (at the moment).
Traveling there was the best thing I had done for myself, up to that point; to be immersed in a culture so different, so accepting, so sociable, to see so many new things (I just love the markets), to pass through so many unusual incidents, and find the inner resources to deal with them, and, you know, I got a wife, a home, a family, two children who love me, life ain’t that bad.
So, this story is a love story, both the traditional kind, and of a man in love with life, and what it can teach him. Yes, I laugh, love, cry, am angry, all of it, right here, as best as I can put it, without insulting the guilty too much, revealing too many embarrassing moments, or by writing a romance novel, filled with passionate scenes.
So, I hope you can enjoy it, exactly as I have written.
Fame and Fortune
For years I have dreamed about Venezuela; a beautiful, tropical land, humanistic government, European people. It’s been years since Maurice and I sat up at night conversing, watching the fire and looking out to the sea, but the image has not left me. Indeed, it has developed into a first class escape fantasy. As I struggle to find and keep work, am mistreated by people and pushed about by the tides of fate, the image increases until I can just taste it. But the conditions which help to create the image also manage to keep it at arms length.
The cold, the snow, the sun so low on the horizon it is rarely visible; the winter depression, Lynn treating me bad, roommates and employers treating me bad……then, two weeks in Puerto Rico, a tropical paradise. All of this led up to my arrival in Venezuela.
The first night in Caracas I am jubilant. The hotel is luxurious and cheap, and the food in the outdoor restaurants very nice. I walk the streets to see people celebrating for valentines’ day. As the night turns into early mourning I walk these valleys created by tall buildings, peering occasionally to see what these shops have for sale, singing loudly, the imagination running, the king returned.
Two weeks later I am in San Cristobal, near to the Columbian border. A bus driver almost convinces me to return to Caracas. I don’t know what to do. I came to Venezuela, originally, to live in the house of Maurice, to study and work on solar products. A man who cannot talk works out a pantomime, the others interpret it into a language I cannot speak. I am so tired I could collapse. But what this dumb man is saying to me is that I must go to Cucuta, Columbia, which is what I do the next mourning. And I am still not tooo sure why I did that…..
The Venezuela myth was in the act of evaporating my first night there. Wealthy people stepping out of their discotecs into Mercedes sports cars. Women decked out in the latest Paris fashions so that I could just laugh, looking at me as if I wasn’t there. Yes that arrogant, haughty look of the wealthy sizing you up by their own measure is at once deeply disturbing and laughable.
Four hours after I arrive at his house in Caracas, Maurice and I are off on foot. At a traffic intersection close by his house, my millionaire playboy friend takes the wheel of the car from his latest girlfriend and kisses her on the mouth in a fervent manner, reminiscent of school children. He asks me, “ Michael, aren’t Venezuelan women beautiful?”. I notice she has beautiful eyes, but, even without a common tongue, I can see very shortly that she is an airhead, despite her university studies.
We drive through the city, a small pueblo, and the countryside, drinking cold wine out of paper containers, smoking Columbian pot re-stuffed into cigarette wrappers, and though I’m happy to be there, I’m beginning to have my doubts.
We arrive at Colina and Anna Marias’ apartment. It is large and beautiful, with the polished marble floors so popular in Venezuela.
These people are artists, studied in England, and made some interesting short films. When we arrive there, they are playing some recently shot footage on the video, intending to edit it to go with Colinas’ music.
Maurices’ girlfriend, dressed as a mermaid, can do little more than flop around in the surf, and roll down the sand dunes. Besides being pudgy, she is also very clumsy.
They were hoping to get Maurice to ante up some production money with her participation, but now they would have to re-shoot it all,,,,,,,,,,, should have used Anna Maria, she is quite lovely.
They say they shot the movie in an isolated area of the country, and camped out for two weeks…..a very beautiful spot….
Colina is famous in Venezuela. Teenage girls fight at the stage door to tear his clothes; his wife protects him. When we are driving to the studio one morning, a school bus filled with children practically capsizes as they all move to one side to see him pass.
The famous are overly pre-occupied with them-selves.
The rich are overly pre-occupied with money.
I never made it to Maurices’ mountain retreat……
On the plane trip from Georgia, I paid the $2 to listen to the soundtrack of a karate spy movie, and a tape of Woodie Guthrie music mixed with his life story, a little less whitewashed than the normal. Woodie Guthrie after all was more of a communist than they would like you to believe, at a time in American history when the labor unions were forming, and fighting the capitalists for needed reforms. When I say fight, that is what I mean, people were starving, the richies cared not, there were gun battles, and various assaults. Lots of people died and suffered, so you cannot say there wasn’t good reason for folks to turn to communism. I wonder who gets the books made, so that the important stuff like this is left out?
Over the show I heard that we are having an emergency and should not panic (always makes you want to panic, right?). We are way high in the sky, and I can’t do a thing about it anyway, so I just sit back and listen to the music. Nobody else is doing anything so I think that maybe I hallucinated it, that I didn’t get enough sleep from Seattle to Georgia, so I don’t ask anyone about it.
Two weeks later I find out that we were within a hundred miles of the space ship challenger when it blew up. The instructions from the maker of the motor were to never expose them to temperatures below 40 degrees F. On the videotape you can see men hosing the motor down to remove the ice, the woman told me, and that she could see a puff of fire coming out of the side of the missile before exploding. In Atlanta, Georgia that mourning, a bit to the north of Cape Kennedy, it was 0 degrees F., very unusual for the deep south, even in January. Seems like the water made a crack in the fragile, high temperature rocket motor housing. The official commission came to a different conclusion. Could it have been to protect the president who was rushing them to launch it?
Miguel de Merida
Actually the reason that I left Venezuela, land of my dreams, went like this:
One mourning, after two weeks at Maurices’ house in Caracas, I decided to go on up to the mountainside home, overlooking the sea on one side, and the city on the other, laden with fruits and flowers, a paradise.
Tired of waiting on Maurice, I was going to go up there alone, so I had to squeeze a map out of him. He told me to wait, he’d drive me to the road at the base of the hill, and I’d have to walk up to the house, two or three hours by foot.
Experience indicated that this could mean another two weeks of waiting so I went to the bus stop near the house.
Once there, it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen anything of the country, camped out at Maurices’ mansion, so I told some of the people there that I wanted to see Venezuela. They, of course, told me that Venezuela is a big place, which part of it did I want to go to?
Pulling out a colorful map of the Caribbean region, which I had with me; I studied Venezuela. Already impressed by the Province of Merida, seen in a tourist folder Maurice had sent me, I told them I wanted to go to Merida. They told me how to get to the bus terminal.
While traveling through Merida on the bus, fantasies are turning. The tree- covered mountains, mingled with lush pastures excite me. I can see solar zeppelins rising from secret factories in the hills. I toy with the idea of changing my name to “Miguel de Merida”. As time goes on, and I find that people cannot pronounce “Meredith”, especially the “Th”, that’s exactly what I do.
After passing over high, frozen mountains, verdant jungles, and deserts, I am in San Cristobal, near to the Columbian border.
Seattle or The Turkey
After months of wanting to get out of Seattle an opportunity presents itself, and we are living on a beautiful, small island near to Canada. It is very remote here, and the house large and comfortable, with space for a ceramic workshop, and a huge kitchen with a woodstove. As it turns out, the opportunity falls through, as so many have in the two years Lyn and I have been together. I must return to Seattle for work, and make the weekly visit to Orcas Island, which is nearly a days’ work to get there by car and ferry boat. It is beautiful to come out here and work at pottery, and an occasional construction job, but winter is coming on, with more hours of darkness, and perhaps just three hours of sun per week.
A freak snowstorm has struck the northwest. Mounting snow chains on the trusty Datsun pick-up, I drive with my relief cargo of turkey, dressing, and a case of wine out to Orcas. So much snow has fallen that filmstrips of Eastsound are on the news shows. I am hoping that I can make pass through these snow drifts with my thoroughly frozen cargo……
A Whorehouse in Columbia
____________ _________ _________ __
Michael, which part of Venezuela do you live in?
I must have you confused with someone else in the group who has a blog, and he was riding a tractor, on his farm in Maryland.
I was in Venezuela for some time (20 yrs ago). I was planning to live there, but the travel bug got me, and I took a 1.5 yr. bus trip around South America.
My friend offered an adobe house in the mountains, for me to use as long as I wanted.
Celine Dion........ .....http: //www.youtube. com/watch? v=WfjM6QyOuDs& feature=quicklis t&playnext= 5&playnext_ from=QL.
A Whorehouse in Columbia
By Michael Meredith c. 1987
Looking bored and disinterested, short, fat and un-attractive, the black Puerto Rican
prostitute comes to our table. My companion is obviously excited as we sit, drinking
beers. He thinks that I will pay for this woman for him. I am already quite drunk, and
after a while, I leave this place without saying good-by.
I met this man at my hotel, in the afternoon. He was searching the hotel registers for
suspicious characters and people without visas. About as mean and snake-like an
immigration officer as you are likely to find anywhere. I go with them, since my visa is
not in order, and his assistant tells me that I am in real trouble. This seems like regular
beaurocratic horse- shit to me, until I realize that I’m in Columbia, and the stories in the
back of my mind start churning. After drinking a beer to soothe my nerves, I conjure the
idea that these people will treat me a little better if they are drunk.
In a restaurant, I insist on paying for the entire table, including a meal for the assistant.
It’s working, they seem to be warming to me. As he gets drunker, the border cop tells me
about his previous job machine gunning terrorists, tch, tch, ch, ch.
It’s beginning to dawn on me, really hard, that this man could have me thrown in jail for nothing, and what would the loss of one more gringo be to Columbia?
At the immigration office I am told that it’s fine, you can go home. I realize a little late
that I’m being taken for a minor con game, which in the end costs me about $5.00, and
my peace of mind.
The new information doesn’t relieve me of the immediate danger, as this cop is sticking
to me like glue. We wind up in the whorehouse.
Considering how drunk I am, I make it from the whorehouse to my hotel in record
time. If it wasn’t for stopping to eat a bowl of soup, it is doubtful if I could have walked
with my heavy backpack on. Leaving the hotel rapidly, I take a taxi back to Venezuela,
pulling my hat down over my face lest the cop should see me.
After checking into a hotel, I take a walk, and come to a large recreation center. Everyone there wants to buy me a beer, find out where I’m from, etc. They are really all so sweet. It’s a different world from that which I so recently left.
Dear old hometown Venezuela.
SOLAR ZEPPELIN DRAWINGS…….