Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Singing out against the waterfall

I did take a brief trip with the family up to Central California the last few days. Escaping heat here that in our absence only increased, it was a pleasure to walk about in 60-degrees and wisps of fog. Coming back, two hours going up the Grapevine at a crawl in 105-degree heat due to a brushfire being contained at the summit did not raise my spirits. But a great meal of pollo encebellado--the bistec tempted but we're all (?) -- post-Leo's return from Minnesota State Fair with Uncle Richard where Leo softened at animals to be slaughtered-- trying not to eat four-foots...Niall did have a burger, at Tita's in Buttonwillow ("Cotton Center of California") founded 1895. The meal did merit Layne's raves and those of her Chowhound informants.

My patient wife assured me that if my dream came true and I actually could live somehow in such climes free of job (at least one requiring a commute in smog, crowds of teeming masses, and noise all about as the three houses rise around ours, the neighbors remodel, and that lot next door that was refused us to buy by greedy landowner--that price downturn nationally does perhaps like Pandora's box keep Hope quivering inside still, not flying away yet) rich of pocket (for such is the real estate) and relocated as if by magic to such a demesne, well, I would be cold. As in, when winter hits here, the basement where I type this is so icy to me that my fingers freeze and no manner of space heater or blanket or sweater (I wear one as Jimmy Carter requested in his fireside chats about energy-fueled OPEC malaise, in my youth) can warm them.

Still, I liked the cooler weather. My three used CDs at Logos show my tastes these days well: Hawkwind Live at the BBC 1972; Espers II; Songs of the Travelling People [artists formerly known as tinkers, England/Scotland/Wales; Margaret Barry's on some tracks; books were otherwise unobtainable Brit imports: Historical Maps of Ireland; The Famine {National Library of Ireland]: AVisual Documentary by Noel Kissane-- both of these kind of skimpy but you never know when they will provide the detail needed years later in research, so... and similarly a slim remainder, a London published copy with Jamie O'Neill clumsily imitative preface of Flann O'Brien's Cruiskeen Lawn columns on the clichés of Keats & Chapman and the short essay on "The Brother," which is not available in the US, much to my relief after I checked after buying hesitantly this and the Hawkwind, a band often duplicated and anthologized beyond recognition like The Fall, purchases].

If I had known prior to running back to the meter with a minute to spare that another used record store was on Pacific Avenue I would have allowed time to check it out, but such is the lack of loos due to the press of street people, speaking of Travellers in another guise/ time/ place that I had to run to SC Bookstore to use theirs. One sign by sink begged us not to vandalize. Toilet had seat cracked off, with sign: use at your own risk. Borders, first time I had ever darkened SC chainstore doors, had no restroom facilities for poor wayfarers. So I will never have to cross its threshhold again. Surprisingly, lots of corporate stores downtown, in one of the places that I thought would have held out. But Chris explained that locals do not patronize them; and if locals were in front of them or in them (as can be observed at Starbucks), they are not the paying types, so to speak. Thus in my search for respite I was propelled back albeit briefly to Bridget Mongan my great g-mother who was apparently one of the band of wanderers along East Mayo's borderlands.

Speaking of on the road, I saw upended at the strenously neo-hippie trustafarian (jealous, moi?) Big Sur Bakery at which Layne had to stop for what seemed an hour, Jack Kerouac's eponymous account in Penguin; as opposed to Henry Miller's with that Bosch-oranges title before BS, New Directions 'paperbook' as the spines used to say, bought at UCLA's LuValle Commons when she and I returned from our very first trip to Cambria (and perhaps my only one until now--there we talked to Emil White neé Weiss via Vienna who was back then in fall '88 the elderly caretaker of the Miller manse by the highway, CNN-TV blinking away and probably cats too as he puttered about the dishevelled wares and we bought four postcards of his local paintings of Bixby Creek Bridge and the like as souvenirs?) and the same Sea Otter Inn. This time, a great room 111 at the end of the hall. Niall and I were mad-dogged by two Euro-looking young men, perhaps a couple, who did not speak audibly but looked to me German but Layne who had also heard them thought Irish. They later were again right behind us as we returned from the Sea Chest. Leo had to face his veggie ambitions as he did not like fish and had to eat the only other offering that he did not like, same as his father, salad, until rescued by, same as his father in other situations where fish did not frolic onto my plate, a plate o' pasta. As opposed to 'plate o' shrimp' in Repo Man, out on DVD now. Good Edna Valley (local) chardonnay, which I never drink usually, followed by walk along boardwalk and lack of sidewalk while kids watched MTV and Layne reclined to read George Saunders' newest collection. An author we both actually like. Even have his previous two books autographed by him; we had to miss the reading this tour since Niall had a Dodger game or someone was sick or something.

There at the Sea Otter, I left Niall's Dodger lunchbox, with a beer for me and two drinks and a ice-chunk portable sack, in the hotel fridge. I only realized this when 150 miles away, and felt dejected. But, he took it well and will get another one at the next Dodger game he attends. My best sight that I wanted to commemorate to spark memory (and as I don't carry a camera or a cellphone) was Niall swimming in Zayante Creek where it meets Bean Creek, at the waterfall fed by a spring near Mt Hermon (non-Palestinian, the large Christian youth camp there for a century having given said site its portentous name;I wish I had my camera, all I can find is this mounthermon.org snapshot on Google as a poor pale memorial): about 6 p.m., as the reflected water shimmered on the rock face above the creek, he in yellow swimtrunks threw rocks in baseball fashion and looked, in trunks and pale white skin, as the sun bounced about and around his illuminated figure, like the proverbial angel. So the biblical nomenclature proved fitting even if my creed differed from the owners of the beauty spot.

And, let history chronicle how Leo trekked down the trail a mile or so to bring Niall a towel. He can be a good brother, although I think he required a 'smores kit in return for the generosity from Chris & Bob. I read on Bob's recommendation some John Donne in an attempt to deal with my thanatophobia, but it helped little; still a great line was found in one poem that I must retrieve and put down here, perhaps in revision. Chris as usual was a great source of local lore, although telling them both the little I knew about Holy City and finding out (thanks to Wikipedia) about its stereotypical Californian crazy cultish founder and head honcho (like some Mormon polygamist, very long lived), was a new joy for us all. Other tome of weekend: in Frank Mitchell & Mitchell Ryan's Reading the Irish Landscape, the post-rocks, prehistoric onwards parts I read, therefore 2/3 of weighty book, since it was on the shelf, Ireland around 4370 BCE encountered agriculture, a man ate 6 lbs. ( I have read elsewhere 10) per diem of praties (in Conamara 'fataí') , and bogs preserve butter due to their anaerobic condition. Often monks and those on the land ate nothing but white food, that is milk and dairy, for much of the year, causing me to wonder the effect on digestion.

Bob mentioned that when Siringe came to where Niall romped earlier with her two fellow Tibetan friends; the three women stood at the foot of the waterfall and sang out, since their tradition was to sing against or over the noise of a waterfall.

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