The Month in My Sepulchral World

It’s not that I don’t have much to say, rather too much. Most Americans know that something is very wrong.  I’m so troubled by all of it, and it manifests in avoidant behavior.  At least I’m self-whiny though, and try not to inflict it on others, so I anesthetize with work, books, and Netflix.

‘Uncivilization’ coming soon to a town near you
I’ve been reading about ‘preppers,’ millions of Americans who are preparing for the worst.  There are over a million hits for advice, a disturbing gauge of our anxiety as a nation. Preppers believe America is headed for a social, environmental, or financial meltdown. They’re buying generators and storing food, similar to survivalists but they don’t live in the wilds of Montana, they live in the cities and suburbs of America. If I could afford it I’d do the same—every day the news warns us of major upheaval.  Here on the border many folks say your best investment is ammo. Can’t say I disagree.

The CruelPhone5
All this news about iPhones manufactured in China under wretched conditions, and they blame it all on the insatiable Americans. I don’t know one person who could afford a $700 phone. If they didn’t hype these phones, wouldn’t people be content with the amazing phones they already have? Apple has a million reasons for making them in China, many of them absurd. In the end it always comes down to the greedy Americans who won’t work for $17 a day and live in dorms with 20 people sleeping in one room. There’s a high rate of suicide among Chinese workers, so the company sprang into action and installed nets along stairways so they can’t jump off the buildings. Thanks Foxconn and Apple, your compassion is heartwarming.

I was going to make a joke about the word pizzle (steer or other animal penis) and offal (entrails of butchered animals) but I discovered that steer pizzles are a popular dog chew, prepared by stretching, twisting and drying the organ. Here are some quotes from sites that sell them:

♦  The rich flavor and crunchy texture keeps dogs chewing for hours!
  The first time I had Coco sniff one her eyes got big and tail wagged and
she’s been nuts for them since!
  Pizzle stick blowout! ValueBull Jumbo 20% off!

I read further and found many recipes for pizzle and other entrails. One recipe said  first, slice the pizzle open along its length and remove the urethra. That might make your stomach lurch but if an animal has given us its life, the least we can do is eat all of it. What I can’t stand is animals like seals being killed to make powdered pizzle, as well as other species nearing extinction because some cultures believe their horns or other body parts will do everything from increasing virility to warding off evil. Chemical tests show the body parts have no medicinal effect—the pizzle I guess just tastes good.

Boyfriend Story (sorry, the drivel made me do it!)
I dated this baker once, Bob “Shortcake” Pizzelle.  Little guy, looked like a breadstick. He was flaky though, and had this constant glazed look. He kept promising to whisk me away but it was always some half-baked scheme—we weren’t exactly rolling in dough. He was crusty about it and we had a big fight. When he called me an old baguette I had to batter him and insert into a preheated oven. He was pretty mad even though I deliberately undercooked him. As I walked out I heard him whimper, ‘don’t leave, I knead you!’ Forget it, you crumb, this little tart is done.

Insight and Faith
My philosophy has always been to carry on no matter what. Two extraordinary  friends have inspired me recently, their convictions more powerful than any new-age notion promising to autotune your life in five easy steps. It doesn’t work that way. One friend, devastated after just losing her job of 15 years writes:
My circumstances may change greatly, but I’m more than mere circumstances, and knowing that will be my saving grace.

My other friend sent this:
I-91, somewhere between Nowhere and Not Much
Infinite stars on a fine night to ride with a thousand wishes
May we still have the faith to make wishes, and the focus and fortune to be led by their light.

Thank you both for inspiring me, and to all who continue to fight the good fight.

I usually hate all pictures of myself, but I like this one. We met some people on the shooting range who invited us home. We sat around their tiny trailer and drank beer and talked for hours. Look—they even gave me a glass. Barely visible is my .327 Taurus revolver on my hip. When I got my CCW I had to go back a couple times because they couldn’t get clear fingerprints. The sheriff’s department explained that the chemicals I use to clean houses has worn away my prints—it happens. We believe that the right to bear arms is about protecting ourselves from both crime AND the government.

Old wood and rubber wheel in their yard. It was attached to some strange metal thing, like part of a train. We can’t date this or determine whether it was a wooden wheel ‘modernized’ with rubber, or if it was built this way. If you know, please tell me. Note the cut-line in the wooden rim, we think this is how they adjusted the wheel.

The trailer we visited—Arizona livin’ on the cheap.

46 responses to “The Month in My Sepulchral World

  1. The picture is lovely. I’ve always enjoyed a good pizzle, but alive and attached to a well-toned bod and standing proud.

  2. I enjoyed reading your post, and loved the photos of living on the cheap. I also liked the photo of the wheel. Super!

  3. Why does it bother me?

    I liked your detail on the iPhone. These huge companies have got to get caught out soon. I am so sick of people losing their jobs, whilst other nations are exploited, all so some berk can have a phone that uploads a picture to FB in seconds, with a sepia tinge.

    Also I wish we were allowed to carry guns. Sometimes in the UK, I used to feel so vulnerable I slept with a baseball bat IN my bed. Not next to my bed, but under the covers, with me. The police had zero interest in making our streets safe, and I figured if some cretin decided to break in, I’d give myself a fighting chance.

  4. Hi Ms. Gary, I know a couple women who sleep with baseball bats. That’s pretty brave, I’d be afraid of it!

    Is that what these new phones are all about? Who the hell can afford them? I don’t get it.

    • Why does it bother me?

      These phones take pictures, they also talk to you to remind you to do stuff, play music, and they also give you unlimited access to Angry Birds. Basically I think they are making people more isolated and anti-social than ever!
      My bat made people laugh. Mostly because I’m not down with violence, but so help me God, if someone had tried to hurt me, I would have swung it!

      • As well you should (swing it as hard as you can). I just know I would be overpowered.

        I just can’t believe the demand for these phones. It’s not part of my world at all, I simply don’t need or want it. I have a cellphone with limited minutes and even that’s expensive. Angry Birds? I never heard of it so I looked it up…a GAME? More addictive gameplay—where, at the office? Because only people with good jobs could afford these.

        • Why does it bother me?

          I know a person with an iPhone who has used Twitter so excessively whilst at work, they have been fired, from not one company but TWO. Seriously I think the world has gone utterly mad!

          • I know a kid back east who says students are on their cellphones during class! This is just going to make finding a job even harder than it already is. Sometimes I’m totally freaked out by social media—or anti-social as you mentioned.

            • Am surprised, though it is probable, a book or script has not been written. Where an i-phone, make it two i-phones are placed in a glass bottle or each in its own bottle, and set a drift. Wonder what would transpire? Haven’t thought this through, but there has to be a story there of some kind? Both could possibly wash ashore on a remote island, whose inhabitants get along with each other, have no conflicts, no social injustices. Thinking comedy, but science fiction is a strong contender.

              • Well the sci-fi part would be that there’s a place where people get along. Then I would hope that they wouldn’t figure out how to use them. There wouldn’t be any reception and then the batteries could die and they’d make a shrine to them. I’d go there.

                • Ha! I didn’t say it was a good idea for a story line. Never considered the battery thing. I do like your version which could be interesting if done Fellini-esque Funny and annoying.

                  Would in all likelihood bump into you on that island. As I’ve mentioned previously, no cell phone or smart phones here at Plumville; just a dim wit thumping on a key board.

  5. Another little observation, this time about the laid-off friend and “mere” circumstances. I believe that some circumstances are far from “mere” and that I am in no way more than them. For instance, I would live in a tarpaper shack and dine out of dented cans if I could have my cats or even one cat with me. If circumstances should force me to give up my precious furbabies, I choose not to rise above that. The knowledge that I have the intestinal fortitude to go a week or so with no fluid under those circumstances is my saving grace.

  6. Howdy –

    Great photos, and especially the one of you and your revolver. Next years Christmas card photo ?
    The old wheel is unique and most likely worth some money to collectors. It looks like it might be heavy duty enough to be a wheel off a very old railroad cart. I’m guessing, someone modified it with rubber to run off the train tracks.

    I doubt seriously a person could be claustrophobic and survive in that trailer, but you’re right, I’m sure their cost of housing is not great

    Great post as usual………….

    • Hi Cowboy, ha ha if I sent Christmas cards that would be a good one. Did they use wooden wheels on railways? Just to haul stuff by hand? You may be right about someone converting it—imagine discovering the magic of vulcanized rubber, it changed the world.

      Only if I absolutely had to could I live in a two-room trailer, it’d be very crowded indeed with 7 dogs and 10 cats though. No heat or shower and the toilet goes to a hole in the ground. Welcome to Arizona!

  7. Oh got to read this a few more times. Plus all the other posts I have missed.
    I have always thought about running away an living in a Yurt. But of late, thoughts seem to get me into ‘heeps’ of trouble.

  8. That’s quite the demure picture…kind of a “come hither, but not so hither that I’ll need to empty a chamber or two, you pizzle-packer”

  9. The wheel doesn’t look like any railway wheel I’ve ever seen. Railway wheels are normally pressed onto their axles and run in bearings at the end of the axles instead of being bolted onto a hub like a car wheel.

    There were wooden (well, composite actually) railway wheels up until the 1920s, but they were nothing like this.

    Nice photo, though.

    • Hi Robert, thanks. You’re an expert on trains so your information adds to the mystery. There are many bizarre homemade constructions here on the border so it could be something someone concocted out of what they could find. The whole town is sort of held together with bits of old wood, nails, and wire, except where people have modernized.

  10. Never bought into the “Apple cult,” too expensive for me. It’s amazing to me that Americans cannot figure out that S. Jobs was one of “them” who abandoned America who he could become a mogule. Why do Americans worship wealth so much?

    • Hi Virginia, not only too expensive but I’d rather go through life with my eyes focused on what’s going on around me than looking down at a phone. Yes Apple suffers from ‘hero worship.’ Ick. Maybe my worldview has changed from living down here where people don’t really worship wealth, they just want to pay their bills, which doesn’t include expensive toys.

      • Your art is fantastic! It seems that many artists like yourself end up in the Southwest. They claim they love the “light” there (Georgia O’Keefe). Everything is color and light to an artist. Once lived in AZ myself back in the early 70s in Tempe/Mesa for a couple of years. Love that arid dry air. It just makes you feel healthy. I’m old now and live in Maine and used to love it here but not so much now. No one seems very happy these days like they have lost their way/spirit. It’s like were are in the throes of a preapocolyptic period. Hopefully, with all the planetary alignment stuff, we will reach new heights of awareness, appreciation and gratitude and have a better attitude towards our fellow man. I’m ready for a change that is for sure.

        • Thank you Virginia. I didn’t end up here because of art, though I was motivated at first but that has ended, too hard to market, too much competition. The galleries take half and it’s impossible to make a living at it.

          And here I am thinking of Maine. People have lost their way everywhere. I’m not hopeful, just a diehard cynic. Help!

  11. A terrific and inspirational post! You are a magnificent writer, and I really liked the “all over the place” feeling you had here. I’m guessing it accurately reflects your state of mind and life style these days.

    Particularly liked the “half baked” paragraph. Really funny. And somehow made the rest of what you wrote make a whole lot of sense.

    Terrific photo of you. You look like you were born there.

    Given I lived in a tipi 24/7/365 I know about living frugally in cramped quarters. I’m guessing I’d still be living like that if I hadn’t met my wife. She really didn’t like that lifestyle but she loves living in a house that the two of us built with materials primarily from our land. Amazing its still standing 30 some odd years later.

    Thank you for this. It was worth waiting for. I really look forward to what you have to say.

    • Hi Bill, gosh thanks. I’ve lived in cramped quarters before, nothing like a tipi though. A lot of it depends on what physical possessions are important to you, right? What about books, keepsakes, etc.? Did you store your precious belongings somewhere and retrieve them later? I don’t have that much stuff I’m that attached to either—as I discovered when we moved across country with only a U-haul.

      I’m certain you and your wife built your house with both skill and love, and it will stand for many years to come.

      I don’t think I could go back to trimming hedges and keeping the lawn mowed and the hundreds of zoning laws in CT. You couldn’t even park your car on the street all night or keep an RV in your driveway. Freedom is taken advantage of too though, here we have junk or garbage-filled yards, etc., that bring neighbors’ property values down and is just plain disrespectful. But as RVing friends who come down here every winter from Canada said, there’s a freedom here that you can feel. And I could never give up the basic uniform, from hat to boots! I’ve been southwesternized but still ache for the deep woods of New England and places such as your piece of heaven. Thank you so much for writing. Best to you and yours.

      • When I moved into my tipi I gave up most of my possessions, something I regret to this day. I did have one large foot locker where I kept some personal keep sakes some of which still survives today. I was in a phase where I was testing my will to live as simply as possible with no restrictions. It was good for me, but better for me was meeting my wife and building a life together. Now that is what memories are made from. Glad I never lived in CT but I regret having never spent much time in AZ. Did live in NM for a while and I did enjoy that but I was a very young man.

  12. Sometimes my response to someone’s post is so strong and so strange I just drift off, thinking, “I can’t say that…”

    But I will say that your photo, and your comment that your “philosophy has always been to carry on no matter what” seem to belong together. Taken together they bring to mind one of the grittiest and most beautiful songs I know. I’m glad to remember it, and I’m glad to have your photo and philosophy to ponder while I listen again. I’ll bet you remember the song, too.

    • Hello Linda, thank you, and you can say whatever you’re thinking here. Or please email me. Boy do I ever remember that song. I grew up with Joan and Bob and pieces of their songs still haunt me. I think of “Desolation Row” every time I pass the Huachucas, site of the Monument fire. “Where are you calling from…a booth in the Midwest” also comes to mind often, so mysterious, bringing back memories of the old days. I’m honored that this song came to you. I’m so sad all the time, can’t sleep, and when I do have horrible dreams, and wish I could just accept life as it is now. Thank you so much for writing.

  13. Reading all this just made my day Debra! I used to live in a trailer in Florida, I was about 20, and going to the University of South Florida. My ‘trailer-mate’ rode a Harley and we didn’t have shit. Maybe, it’s not what you have, it’s what you make of it. Incidentally, here is a link to some of the questions you raised in your last post. And, great pictures!

    • Hi Dum Dum, thanks! The people who live in that trailer have work and could rise above it but they don’t care, so it’s a choice for them. Fine with me! They live right near a well-used illegal border crossing so they are wary at all times though.

      These protests must be very bad for tourism. I have no inclination (not that I could anyway) to visit areas with protestors or riots. They’re bad here too. What do YOU think of them?

      • Since I tend to avoid even crowded shopping malls, I have no use for riots. I make my point (if I have one) in other ways. Pen vs. Sword and all that brew ha ha. Fortunately, we in the Northeast of the UK, did not destroy our local shops (how would you buy beer?), we did not set fire to any of our pubs (again, how would you buy beer?), nor did we engage in any widespread criminality (other than what happens normally). The causes of the riots? No single, definable socioeconomic factor has yet to be determined. Sure, politicians at first blamed gangs. No. Then they tried blaming broken families. No. The Prime Minister even blamed ‘segments of a sick society’. No. Sick of him, maybe. I do think the global financial crisis set off something that has been brewing for a long time. But any civil unrest has a flash point. If the economy sucks, and people think the government sucks, it ain’t gonna take much for people to kick off. Justified of not. There. I’m done now. 😉

  14. Uncivilization here too. My husband says all the local gun shops can’t stay stocked. People don’t believe the current troubles of our world that we can fix if we get it together, yet they believe an end-of-the-world prediction from… whom? Haven’t they dismissed the idea it came from the Mayans?

    Also in the “I will never understand” category is the iPhone, iPad, iAnything craze. It all comes down to Apple’s marketing–remember the smart alack, smug “I’m a Mac” guy? Talking down to the oh-so-uncool PC guy? People feel elite owning these hunks of metal and will pay money for that feeling. Marketing is a powerful thing.

    • Reminds me of the oft-quoted TS Eliot line about this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper. Eroding away a little more each day into feral decay.

      Marketing is so powerful that its moral responsibilities should be considered—its influence makes people crazy. Hollywood, holidays, politics, sex, food, clothes, technology and everything in between. Gadgets should have a warning label on them, like cigarettes. Caution: addictive, expensive, and may cause death if used while driving! Imagine if decency, class, contribution, or character were marketed instead of greed.

  15. Interesting reading your exchange with Wild Bill re: the tipi, possessions and such. I lived on board a 31′ boat for a while – I suspect it was pretty close to a floating tipi, although probably a couple of steps up the ladder as far as storage space.

    But live-aboard boaters do have to make the same sort of accomodation. Some have storage units where they keep valuables, clothing, etc. – either that, or accomodating friends or relatives. But if you’re sailing the boat and not just using it as a dockside condo, there’s not much extra sitting around, or it will be tossing around once you get underway. And many just pare down to the basics – including the couple I knew whose baby slept in a drawer for the first year. 😉

    • Yes boats are similar, back east we knew people who lived on their boats. I loved their efficiency. RVs, too—a place for everything. I’m constantly asking my partner to make our little house ‘like a ship.’ Meaning shelves, shelves, and more shelves. So sick of the clutter. I try to pare down and he collects. Makes you realize how owning things is actually a burden.

      • I very much like the idea of living in a trailer — freedom and cheap — a life on the go! And as I don’t own much — all of it can be put into one bag! And since I don’t keep collectibles or any memories with me (I don’t know why but I just can’t: photos, cards, gifts, clothes: no past baggage), trailer seems a good home! Only I can’t drive 🙂

        You look so good in that hat (and the gun!). As WildBill said here: ‘you look like you were born there’.

  16. Hi Debra. Today I’ve been thinking about old friends, ones I’ve made through blogging. So I’m dropping by to say hello and to see where you have landed. Your blog as always is interesting: These are bleak times, I guess. Not so bad in Australia though there has been political turmoil here lately with a leadership challenge for Prime Ministership though the ballot was taken a few hours ago so it appears to have been resolved — hopefully.

    • Hi JL, thanks for checking in. Yeah, bleak. I am so disturbed by the increasing crime in my neighborhood and the world in general that it’s hard to write cheerful posts. I keep thinking I’m inflicting my crappy attitude on nice people so sometimes I need to step back and try to recover and regroup. Problem is it’s not working. It’s not really about me, it’s about the horrible effect that watching daily suffering and insanity has on me. I honestly don’t know how to get over it. It’s a defect for sure.

  17. increasing crime always disturbs; whenever there’s a breakin in our street which is pretty rare everyone gets on edge

  18. If were not for our defects, we would all be boring. Who’s to say what is defection and what is not. I for instance, on a regular bases am accused of doing things ass backwards -and am fine with being so. You’re not defective, you are affective or is it effective or is it both. Personally I think you just do things ass backwards like the rest of us.

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