Mental Meanderings—A Look-Back at Yesterday (Saturday–022523)

Family and I spent most of yesterday afternoon working at the restaurant installing metal siding over the deteriorating cedar boards. It looks much better and will shed water much better than the old.

The heavy steel firewood racks were a chore to move out of the way. But, with chain and Jeremy’s truck, we did it.

Yesterday, I also pondered a decision to focus these mental meanderings to my daily novel writing, including screenshots with thoughts I had the prior day while drafting my current work-in-progress. My hope would be to encourage others to commit to the daily slog of eating an elephant one bite at a time.

Mental Meanderings—A Look-Back at Yesterday (Friday–022423)

Yesterday we moved the carryall it had been sitting on the ground beside the box trailer for well over a year I really dont know how long im not sure it needed to be moved what was the purpose it wasn’t in the way and the platform is built out of steel and treated lumber. By the way, I’m freewriting and dont’ reall ycare to tell you who the we is. Obviously it includes me

And I’ll start a new paragraph here. I was glad we didn’t have to air up the right rear of the old john deere tractor. Snead ag, actually that’s the name of thee company back in 2010 when we built the runway and rented equipment, like a bulldozier and a giant eight wheel tractor pulling pans

I found a pallet and dragged it to the edge of the woods, along the same line as our other equipment including a disc, some call it a cutting harrow I think, there’s also a box blade and a boon, an old inoperable bushhog, the newest one is behind the box trailer which is before we move it beside the carryall. We intend to set the carryall onto the pallet to keep it off the ground.

It takes several minutes to hook the tractor to the carryall. You have to align things just right. Once it is set on the pallet we disconnect the two lower arms and then the top arm. The carryall leans forward with me in between the rear of the tractor and the front, or back, according to your view, of the carryall, thankfully I wasn’t hurt. I have jon stand along the back edge to balance it. We obviously have not centered the carryall on the pallet. It’s off by a little less than jon’s weight. I make my way out of the bind and move the tractor forward a few feet. I walk to the fire ring further east of the farm equipment and grab two pieces of firewood and insert under the front, or back, according to your view, of the carryall. This provides the needed balance and the job is complete.
I return the tractor to the barn and now don’t remember what I was thinking, nor do I recall what I was thinking as we were engaged in the task.

We wait in the barn, the task complete, I’ve already said the latter. Jared at johnson’s builders should call sometime today—that’s yesterday—declaring he has our metal order. The day before yesterday I had called and order enough metal to cover the rear wall, eighteen feet by 109 1/2 inches of the smoker room at the restaurant. When it was built, early 2013, we used cedar and never sealed or painted it (not sure if you paint cedar wood), and now it is in poor condition, a couple of lower runs are nearly rotten. Our intent is to improve that back wall with the berry colored metal.

Last night I dreamed that I’d bought some type of watch, it certainly wasn’t an Apple watch because it wouldn’t do anything but play some little short song when you pressed a side button. Why robin, a friend from law school in the early 90’s was there asking me what all the watch would do and where I’d purchased it, I don’t know. I vaguely recall a mobile home supplier had something to do with it, or was it an automobile junk yard.

I know, my freewriting will be hard to read. I bet it does a poor job of capturing what all was going on in my head yesterday. Disclaimer. These are my thoughts this morning of a small portion of yesterday’s activities and thoughts. I’m not sure if their totally accurate, some may simply be the slant I’m superimposing on them today.

Try freewriting. And by the way. The capitalization at the beginning of each sentence is done automatically as I write this in scrivener and that I I just wrote is the same. But, I’m adding some punctuation.

Oh well freewriting I’m not adding punctuation here but you do see the I in I’m was automatic

enough enough

Mental Meanderings—A Look-Back at Yesterday (Thursday–022323)

It’s early and I’m thinking about Eddie. He’s our Lab look-alike, all black other than a short, thin stretch of white on his neck. I rescued him last May while on a bike ride; then, he was around six or seven months old.

Shortly after his arrival, Jonathan named him Special Edward, Eddie for short, although I often call him the Black Tornado. You see, Eddie is powerfully destructive. Just yesterday, he half-destroyed a deck rug. By the way, the name Special Edward is a take off from Special Education which simply means he often needs extra help, especially with how he learns to cope with learning and living.

Late yesterday afternoon was a good time to take Eddie on a car ride (we’ve done this for a few months now, not every day but at least a couple of times per week). He loves riding in our old Sentra. Maybe because there’s a couple of bed sheets I’ve left in the back seat for him to rip to shreds. I have to say, he’s done quite a good job.

Our destination was Walgreen’s to pick up a prescription for Donna. Per Eddie’s suggestion, we took the back roads. He’s learned that’s where he’ll see the most animals: cows, horses, dogs, and cats. His favorite thing to do is hang out the passenger side window. I lower the hand crank enough for him to slip his head and shoulders outside, into the wind, with his front paws balancing him on the arm rest and the top of the door frame. Eddie is very agile.

When he sees another animal, especially a dog along the side of the road or traversing a lawn, Eddie will stare and maintain eye contact by turning his head as we pass. Unfortunately, if the animal is on my side of the car, Eddie will do his best to maneuver himself into my seat, which is a no-no since his big body blocks my view of the road ahead. Sometimes, he’ll move from the front seat to the rear to extend his time staring at the other creature.

At Walgreen’s I thought about seeing what would happen if I put Eddie on a leash (I keep one in the Sentra) and go inside to the pharmacy. Of course, I wasn’t serious. That scene wouldn’t have been pretty, for anyone. I have mentioned Eddie is also known as the Black Tornado haven’t I?

I chose the drive-through lane instead. There were four cars ahead of us. And, wholly unsurprising, the first car in line either had a complicated prescription, or had a long and thrilling story to share with the pharmacist, since it stayed planted for at least fifteen minutes. Before car one moved, the Tacoma in front of us abandoned his spot. Now we’re down to three.

Eddie was busy in the back seat with the bed sheets so I started listening to a podcast on my iPhone. I guess there was something magnetic about Sam Harris’ voice given Eddie’s reaction. He was in my lap in an instant, licking both my phone and my face. The only car I could see now was the one approaching from the rear.

Finally, something, maybe the voice of one of Sam’s guests, changed Eddie’s mind and he lay in the passenger seat with his head on my right thigh. For a good two minutes, he lay still and looked up at me with those beautiful sparkling deep-golden eyes. It was as though he was thanking me for rescuing him in the first place, providing him a newly constructed two-room dog house (note: the inner room is insulated, and the house is for nights only), and for these special times together, just the two of us where we, most times silently, share our hopes and dreams for the future.

As it was finally ‘our turn’ at the window, the youngish female assistant said, “may I help you?” Well, you may have guessed. Eddie thought she was talking to him. In a flash he was hanging his head out my lowered driver’s side window. The girl laughed and I managed to speak. Now, I wish I’d said, “Eddie needs his Ritalin,” or something to that affect. Instead, I provided the needed information, and encouraged my wonderful companion to slip between the seats and continue his bed sheet ripping.

Again, we took the back roads home. Eddie occupied himself, switching between his back seat activities and looking for four-legged friends while hanging out the passenger side window. I drove and imagined what life would have been like if this rambunctious but sweet puppy hadn’t appeared out of no where and stood beside my parked bike that sunny day last May.

Here’s a few more photos of Special Edward:

Mental Meanderings—A Look-Back at Yesterday (Wednesday–022223)

It has been very windy the past several days, especially yesterday. This has made my daily biking more difficult. I’ve had to concentrate—to avoid being swept sideways into the other lane and oncoming traffic—and use more energy and strength to pedal and oppose the persistent force. In sum, I’ve been in a battle having to use my mind and body to resist the unrelenting power of the wind.

Resistance is a common word, easily understood. It is a noun, because it is a person, place, or thing. I’ll provide the relevant definition anyway: “the action of opposing something that you disapprove or disagree with.”

I think I could say that resistance is a two-way street. I resisted the wind. The wind resisted me. The two forces, me and the wind, were in a battle. I wanted to safely complete my route. The wind wanted to stop me. Please don’t think I’m giving agency to the wind. I resist that!

The wind isn’t the only thing I resist. In fact, most everywhere I go, everywhere I look, I encounter “something that [I] disapprove or disagree with.” It might be the many and sundry excuses that slither inside my head every time I sit down to work on my novel in progress. These are forces that I try to resist, but I don’t always win.

To some degree, I find something that opposes every thing I want to do. Thankfully, most of these are relatively powerless and can be easily overcome. I just noticed these forces are also present when I need to do something. I was thinking of washing the dishes. I really don’t want to do this. But, I need to. Yet, resistance is present either way. I have to oppose the force (the thing, the thought, the excuse, whatever you call it) that’s trying to stop me from washing the dishes.

Question. Would life be easier if we never encountered “something that [we] disapprove or disagree with”? In a way, it might. Let’s say, you approve of every thing you read, hear, or see. You simply believe the person who wrote what you’re reading, spoke what you’re hearing, or otherwise created what you are seeing.

If I were this person, I suspect I would be a rare and strange person. I suspect I would be a person naked of curiosity. I would be a person who didn’t read very broadly, wasn’t the least bit skeptical. I would be a person who doesn’t care much about reality, how the world really works. I would be something akin to a zombie.

I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am. And, yes, I just looked up zombie in the dictionary. Here’s what I consider the relevant definition: “a dead body that has been brought back to life by a supernatural force.”

Okay, I admit, I misspoke. If I never disapproved or disagreed with anything, I wouldn’t be a zombie because I don’t believe in anything supernatural. Bingo. I oppose belief in that. Why? I’ve never been presented with sufficient, credible evidence such a thing exists (but, I’m still open if presented with such evidence).

My conclusion here is that neither you or I would want to be a non-resisting person. Life would be far less interesting, would have little meaning, and would likely provide a water-slide environment for bad ideas—they’d rapidly flow downward and ultimately make a big splash, maybe one destructive to civilization itself.

I suspect that without resistance our society wouldn’t be as well off as it is. We might still believe epilepsy was caused by demons. But, I digress, which, come to think of it, is fit for Mental Meanderings.

Oh well, maybe the wind will be calm today.

Mental Meanderings—A Look-Back at Yesterday (Tuesday–022123)

While biking I normally listen to either a novel or a podcast. Yesterday was the tenth session inside Lawrence Sanders’ book, The Third Deadly Sin. Sanders is a magnificient writer, and puts me to absolute shame. Another thing is clear, listening to a book isn’t nearly as good as reading the book.

Earlier this morning, I opened this book in Kindle and started to reread part of what I’d listened to yesterday. I began in Chapter 10. Here’s the first few paragraphs (all description):

“All right,” Sergeant Abner Boone said, flipping through his notebook, “here’s what we’ve got.”
Standing and sitting around the splintered table in Midtown Precinct North. All of them smoking: cigarettes, cigars, and Lieutenant Crane chewing on a pipe. Emptied cardboard coffee cups on the table. The detritus of gulped sandwiches, containers of chop suey, a pizza box, wrappers and bags of junk food.
Air murky with smoke, barely stirred by the air conditioner. Sweat and disinfectant. No one commented or even noticed. They had all smelled worse odors. And battered rooms like this were home, familiar and comfortable.

Sanders, Lawrence. The Third Deadly Sin (The Edward X. Delaney Series) (p. 312). Open Road Media. Kindle Edition.

My thoughts, but first I’ll state my conclusion: You and I may not be a Lawrence Sanders, but that doesn’t mean we cannot write SOMETHING. Here’s the kicker, if we want to, and try, simply “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Note, many attribute my quote to Theodore Roosevelt. Whoever said it, it is good, meaningful, always appropriate.

Back to my thoughts on Sanders’ writing. He is detailed (often, I think too detailed).

Boone speaks, “All right, … here’s what we’ve got.” Then, Sanders launches into description. He wants us to form a mental image. Why? To bring us there. For us to sense the very room in which a scene will take place.

Notice, the first sentence of his descriptive paragraph: “Standing and sitting around the splintered table in Midtown Precinct North.” What jumps out at you? For me, this is not a grammatically correct sentence. There’s no subject. The not-present subject is not acting. But, there are verbs, standing and sitting. However, the sentence is good. We can assume there are others present. If not, why would Boone say, “here’s what we’ve got.”

That non-subject sentence makes more sense when we combine it with the next. “Standing and sitting around the splintered table in Midtown Precinct North. All of them smoking: cigarettes, cigars, and Lieutenant Crane chewing on a pipe.”

The last sentence here deals with smoking. Notice, this is a simple sentence. In fact they all are. You and I can write a sentence like this. “Bill, George, and Tommy were seated around the dented table. All except George were smoking cigars. He was chewing on the stem of his pipe.”

Let me say one more thing about the above passage. If you don’t know a word, then look it up. I was familiar with “detritus” but wanted a refresher. Here’s where/how Sanders used it: “The detritus of gulped sandwiches, containers of chop suey, a pizza box, wrappers and bags of junk food.” And, here’s the definition: “Noun–the remains of something that has been destroyed or broken up; loose material (stone fragments and silt etc) that is worn away from rocks.”

Ask yourself, “what is my mind seeing?” One thing’s for sure, the tabletop is messy. And, what is chop suey? “chop suey, noun, a dish prepared chiefly from bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, onions, mushrooms, and meat or fish and served with rice and soy sauce.” I’m not sure I want a dish of chop suey.

Here’s the last paragraph from above: “Air murky with smoke, barely stirred by the air conditioner. Sweat and disinfectant. No one commented or even noticed. They had all smelled worse odors. And battered rooms like this were home, familiar and comfortable.”

I can see it, sense it with my nose, my eyes, even my ears (the room is silent for now, except for the drone of the A/C). The air is foggy with smoke. One or more of those present has been sweating or is sweating. Maybe this insinuates BO. Maybe someone, Boone (?) has sprayed the room with Lysol.

The room is anything but inviting. Take note of the first sentence. I’d probably have written: “The air was murky with smoke, the air conditioner couldn’t keep up [or, the air conditioner failing to do its job].” Too wordy, not nearly as taut as Sanders’ writing. Notice no “was” in, “Air murky with smoke….”

I like Sanders’ final sentence in this focal passage. “And battered rooms like this were home, familiar and comfortable.” No doubt “battered” is a familiar word, but let’s look closer, just as a reminder.

Definitions for battered: “Adjective” 1. damaged by blows or hard usage; Examples: a battered old car; the beaten-up old Ford; 2. damaged especially by hard usage; Example: his battered old hat.

One final thought/question. Sanders often uses his description of settings to establish mood, and to be a predictor of what’s about to happen. If you haven’t read this book you might not have an opinion, but here, is Sanders implying the murder investigation is tired, the detectives are desperate, and they’ve been battered by all their hard-tiresome work to date? I think the answer is yes.

In sum, I might have been frustrated yesterday. Dang, I was frustrated with my listening while biking, feeling my writing was so poor. However, this morning, looking at the words, contemplating the words, gives me a little hope.

I simply have to, “do what I can, with what I have, where I’m at.”

And, so do you.

Mental Meanderings—A Look-Back at Yesterday (Monday–022023)

Between 10:00 and 12:00 AM yesterday, Jonathan, Donna, and I applied a first coat of sealer to the roof of Jeremy’s travel trailer. During this time, while I moved ladders and rolled on the thick white substance, my mind just up and left. Without asking for permission or saying a word of explanation, he got in his car and rode away. I was washing out paint brushes, rollers, and trays when he returned. Again, no word of apology or what he’d been doing for over two hours. The only hint I had came later when I found an empty McDonald’s sack in the floorboard of the Nissan Sentra.

This act of defiance made me mad so later in the afternoon I thought, “old boy, you’re not the only one who can pull that trick.” So, I got on my bicycle and left my mind at home. During the next hour I pedaled as hard as I could, burned at least a thousand calories, and obviously didn’t listen to my Lawrence Sanders book since my mind was elsewhere.

Well, by now, you’ve sensed something’s wrong about my little story, about what happened to me/with me yesterday. I’ll go ahead and admit, I made it up, everything except the roof sealer activity.

What’s my point? You know, our minds and bodies are connected, physically, but that doesn’t mean one or both don’t occasionally disappear into the forest. Most times, some of us, maybe most of us, are lost in thought. Our minds have wandered off, not physically, but mentally, into some wasteland.

What I need to do, what I want to do, what I’m trying to do is learn the art of paying attention. Some call this the art of choice. You’ve heard the following: Bill attended the meeting but he wasn’t really there. Or, Cindy’s father arrived late for her fifth birthday party, but it was as though he was in another world. Choices. Bill and Cindy’s father were physically in one place but mentally somewhere else, maybe half-way around the world.

No doubt, we live in our minds. No matter whether we’re alone or with family or friends, one person, two persons, or a crowd, we’re alone with our minds. We cannot escape it. Well, we can but I don’t like that option. We might as well conclude we are all alone to choose what to pay attention to.

Yesterday, during my 80-90 minute bike ride I listened, via Audible, to Lawrence Sanders’ The Third Deadly Sin. However, don’t assume I listened perfectly, because I didn’t. Often, a thought would appear: “I wonder what the man who lives in that older house does for a living? I only see his car there on the weekends; “Here’s where I first saw that poor stray dog. I should have rescued it,” or “why didn’t I play basketball in high school?” Of course, there were worse thoughts!

Here’s a question I’m asking myself: is attention my true source of wealth? If so, I need to ‘spend’ it wisely, and not squander it on worthless drivel.

Paying attention is a call to Bill, Cindy’s father, myself, and you, to being present, right now, right here and paying close attention to what someday we’ll clearly realize was most important. Let’s keep in mind there will be a last time for a hike in the woods with family or friends, a last time for reading, for biking, for moving ladders and rolling sealer, for slow-smoking ribs, and for every thing else we choose to do.

Choose wisely, and pay attention.

Mental Meanderings—A Look-Back at Yesterday (Sunday–021923)

Note, this is a good way to get some words on paper (or computer). It’s a lot like free-writing.

Most of us DO things and THINK thoughts. Both the doing and the thinking occur in consciousness.

Here’s what I recall DOING yesterday:
Alarm at 3:55 AM
Kitchen for coffee
Meditation—waking up app
Worked on Millie’s story
Outside to let dogs out/fed & watered dogs
Grabbed breakfast bar
Return to desk
Wandered around internet
Administrative work on website
Kindle reading
Breakfast—oatmeal, banana, OJ
TV–Watched episode of Hanna (growing less interested)
Semi-napping in lazy boy
Trip to tractor supply (with Eddie/lab rescue)
Return/work on electric fence
Semi-napping in lazy boy
Biking & listening
Difficulty focusing/understanding a Marginalian article
TV—lost all interest in Hanna; watched law and order
Bed at 8:15 PM
Read chapter in ‘Stranger
Wasted ten minutes on Twitter

I’ve listed yesterday’s DOINGs, what about yesterday’s thoughts?

I’ll start with last night’s dream. There were four characters: me, my dad (he died in 2012), and two unidentified women.

Apparently the setting was a huge house I’d acquired that was in great need of renovation. I was showing my dad a task I wanted/needed him to perform. It was a wall with missing boards, boards that needed cutting (2 x 4s), short pieces.

Then, there was a high ledge occupied by several items that were similar to garden tillers. The two women were on the ledge (20 or 30). I recall telling my dad we needed to go up there and help lower those items to the ground. Before we could act, the two women had tied a rope to each ‘tiller’ and were lowering them to the ground.

I also recall thinking there was a large section of the house that was missing.

What a dream. Where did it come from? From my subconscious? Yes, I suppose, but it entered my consciousness or I wouldn’t have ever been aware of it.

I’d like to know how many other thoughts I had yesterday. We all likely can agree that we have many, and some of them are strange. Where in heck do they come from? And, by the way, random thoughts also appear while we’re DOING things. For example, do you ever have a thought while your washing the dishes?

Thoughts just appear. We don’t create them; something else (the physics of the universe?) causes them. We, no I, better speak only for myself even though I suspect it’s the same for you.

I’ll try to recall some of yesterday’s thoughts but I’m more confident to speak broadly, of what subjects I commonly think about.

But first, try this with me. Sit still, close your eyes, and focus your attention on your breathing. Don’t do anything else for five minutes. I’ll bet you a Big Mac or a Whopper you couldn’t do it WITHOUT becoming lost in thought. If you can, jot down a few.

Notice, what likely happened with each one. They unraveled, especially if you reminded yourself to return to focusing on your breath.

The point is. It takes effort to NOT get lost in thought. The automatic operation of your minds is to become lost in thought.

In a real sense, we don’t have control over the appearance of our thoughts. They just appear in consciousness, unravel at some point, and disappear (I guess making room for another random thought).

Now, to those things that seem to routinely appear in my thoughts—including yesterday I suppose. I’ll speak broadly to not incriminate anyone—including myself.

The past. As an example, every night after I’ve removed my nightly meds from the corner nightstand I pass a framed photo of my maternal grandmother, and another one of my parents. I touch their face and tell them I love them. This is both doing and thinking. There always arises a memory of a past event that involves one or all of them. And, there’s more past thoughts. Regrets—things I wished I done, done differently, or never done.

The present. The thought of extending my daily bike ride, which, selfishly, would give me more time to listen to a podcast (I normally listen to a novel). Fact, yesterday, during my ride I had the thought of biking to Tractor Supply for an electric fence tester but chose not to—lazy I guess. And, there’s more present thoughts. I’ll just label them ‘issues.’ Things that bother me, some BIG TIME.

The future. Health, books I hope to write, family, family health issues, finances, selling restaurant building and Jonathan and I building a place here at Hickory Hollow, and road trips to out-of-state biking trails, or in-state for that matter. And, on and on.

What about you? What thoughts did you have yesterday?

Idea. Why not, at least for a while, start keeping a journal of our thoughts. I anticipate that will be rather difficult, cumbersome to say the least.

Okay, enough mental meanderings. Question: did everything I just wrote appear in my brain before it did in my consciousness? If not, do I consciously think before I think? I guess the former.