Dolores Dunn, 1930-2019

Born October 7, 1930, Dolores Dunn passed away on March 30, 2019 at the age of 88. At the time, she was living in Kapolei, Oahu, Hawai’i, having moved back to the islands permanently after living in Reno, Nevada for several years.

We came to know each other through our mutual friend, Kay Casti. Shortly after my wife and I separated, I was in desperate straits — needing food, plates, pans and bedding for my empty apartment.

Not only did she find a way to fill my refrigerator, she gave me a wonderful blanket that I call my ‘life-saver,’ as it brought me plenty of comfort as I lay on the floor weeping myself to sleep most nights. Nearly twenty-years later, I still have that blanket, refusing to part ways with it.

As for food, Dolores loved to bake and she cooked like she was feeding an entire army and it was all delicious. Lots of Mango breads, Chablis cake, curry hamburger and fried rice.

Over the past couple of years, I’d lost contact with her and figured that she had finally moved back to Hawai’i, which was always home, to stay. She’ll be missed by me and all of her ohana.

And speaking of family (which ‘ohana’ means in her native language,) I had no idea how large Dolores’ family had grown over the years. She’s survived by her son, two daughters, a brother, her three sisters; 17 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren; and one great great-grandchild.

Aloha, Dolores. Thank you for being my friend and God bless you!

For Five Friends

A fifth friend has passed away this April month. As I try to wrap my head around the  loss I feel, I penned this to express my sorrow. It’s the best I can do at the moment…

Did he rest too long?
If so, death took him
By surprise, entering
As he closed his eyes.
Even the gate guard
Must find his sleep.
But this is an excuse.
Punishment is pain
Of the broken heart.
Now open, the abyss
Is all that he now sees.
The void deep, dark.
Soon he will topple in.
God, help me as I fall.

Magic

Forty-eight hours into a 21-hour bus trip; blinding snow and treacherous roadways. The bus rolls to a stop in front of a hole-in-the-wall diner, someplace unknown to the young man.

It continues to snow as passengers pile-off and inside. He sat at the counter, slightly apart from the others, as he wants to listen, participate secretly.

He orders and the food comes. It is good, especially the coffee, especially the coffee.

Clatter and chatter. The plates and cups and forks, knives and spoon are busily making themselves useful. The passengers maintain the background noise, talking quietly among themselves with the occasional request for the waitresses presence.

The waitress is pleasant, roundish, jovial, a quick-witted one with a warm smile and open laugh. The short-order cook is too busy to make much small talk as he sings out, ‘Order up!’

The dishwasher hums an ancient church tune from someplace deep inside a back room and even deeper from his soul. Unseen, perhaps he has found bliss in the mindlessness of scrubbing pans.

The young man thinks he could stay here, grow old here, die here, has found magic here. But the driver is calling for passengers to return to the bus and without a second thought, the young man gathers himself, gulps down the last of his coffee, follows.

The young man takes his seat from before and looks out the window into the cafe, thinking how simple life can be. He closes his eyes, listening to the low whispers of those he also considers self-made prisoners like him and pretends to sleep.

Beyond the hum of voices, speaking of themselves, the latest news, grandkids and better weather at the end of the road, he can hear the crunching of the tires through the frozen drifts of snow and the droning engine as it battles to keep moving forward. He sighs — neither a sad sigh nor a happy one — as reality sets in: forty-nine hours into a 21-hour bus trip and there is little else to do.

Earl Morgan, 1930-2019

Another beloved person from my childhood is gone home to be with Jesus: Earl Morgan passed away April 16, 2019, in Crescent City, California at the age of 88. He was born June 11, 1930, in Sylva, North Carolina.

After serving in the U.S. Army, Earl went to work for the U.S. Postal Service and was Klamath’s postmaster during the 1964 Tsunami as well as the Christmas flood later that year. One of my favorite pictures of Earl is one where he’s handing Margaret Keating her mail following the tsunami at the temporary office he established at Camp Marigold.

He married his wife Alice on July 1, 1948, moving to Klamath in 1952 and then Crescent City in 2014. He was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Crescent City, volunteering and ministering at the Crescent City Nursing and Rehab Center.

Earl is survived by son, Jefferson, and wife, Sharae, and preceded in death by his wife, Alice in 2017.

Red-Breasted Robin

https://soundcloud.com/tom-darby-79984072/redbreastedrobin

November and the 60 head of beeves were the last to be moved from the far pasture to one closer to the ranch house. It was a short jerk, less than ten miles across the valley, but Mom Nature sure wasn’t going to make it an easy haul.

The five of us had just turned the herd onto the trail when a cold wind began to blowing into our faces. With it soon came the rain, which turned sleet and was followed by a stinging snow.

Soon each man-jack crowding the herd homeward was chilled to the bone; fingers, noses and ears aching along with the watery sting of eyes that could find no relief. Before long even the cattle felt the effects as they tailed up, turning their backsides to the elements and lowering their heads.

The drive’s jefe, a stoic rancher named Carl, watched as we struggled against the weather and the nature of the beasts as they bunched together. Three times we attempted to break them up and get them to turn back onto the trail.

Each attempt was met with failure. Finally Carl directed Tiny to head the lead cow and ‘if need be, drag her onto the trail and head for home.’

Without a word, I helped cut the leader out of the herd as Tiny loosened the loop of his rope and dropped it over her head with precision. Twice he worked her up the trail and away from the herd, with the hope that they’d follow, which is their nature.

That to was met with failure. Carl could see we were soaked to the skin, half-frozen and acting defeated as the beeves continued to tail-up against the winter-blow.

Since it was a small herd, we were all fairly well within ear-shot, when out of the blue we heard Carl’s booming voice:

“Red-Breasted Robin,
Sitting on a pole,
Wiggle-waggle went his tail
And PFFFT went his hole.”

With no smile, simply his standard stone-faced self, he sat there looking at the situation. We looked at one another in surprise and possibly a little terror, before one of us began to laugh.

It didn’t take long for the laughter to infect us all, including Carl, whom none of us had ever seen laugh before. That minute of laughter was all that we needed as we returned to work, breaking our stalemate with the herd and driving them out on the trail once again.

Within a few minutes, which normally happens with Nevada weather, the squall broke and beams of sunlight filled the valley as we push on through to the ranch house and that nearby pasture.

When to Stop Digging

It is the eve of the day in which I have nothing written and ready for posting to my blog. For the past week I’ve been dealing with a case of writer’s block.

Generally, writer’s block doesn’t stick around this long – maybe two or three days at worst – then the flood gate opens and I’ll have five to 10 pieces written, edited and ready for publication. Not this time though – and this is the second time it has happened in the last two-months.

Naturally, I analyzed what could be causing this and I came up with a rather disturbing conclusion: my blockage is due to a deep-seated fear that I will run out of material to write about. I could have knocked myself over with a feather, turned writing quill.

For years, I’ve claimed that my ability to write – whether you think it’s good, bad or indifferent – has been on loan from God. This means the skill is not actually mine and subject to recall at the time of my death or even prior should He so chose.

But I’m not talking about the skill of word smithing – I’m speaking of material. That’s always been left up to me to decide on – again – good, bad or indifferently.

So here I am – stuck – like my truck in a dune of loose, fine sand and all I have are my hands to dig at the tire with. If it doesn’t become unstuck soon there are only two choices – wait for another passerby or walk back the way I came to the main road and get help.

Both are fine options. After all, I view them through my personality of being both stubborn and being a man of action.

At the moment, I’m digging like hell, hoping, when it’s actually time to hoof it.

Ordeal by Oil

On many an evening, before bedtime, I will scratch my wife’s back until she hands me the Lavender Oil to rub out the itchy dryness she endures daily.

“It also helps me sleep,” she explains.

Knowing I have difficulty falling and staying asleep, she has recommended several times that I should try it. I finally did.

After rubbing it into my shoulders and down both arms, I washed my hands and turned in for the night. As I lay in bed, I felt my left arm and thought, “Kinda feels smooth.”

Minutes later I found myself slipping off into la-la land. Then my left eye began to itch and I quickly rubbed it with my right hand.

Within minutes, I realized my mistake as my eye began to sting. Soon it was burning and I had to get a wet, cold wash clothe to place over it.

There seemed to be no relief at first as I sat on the side of my bed nursing a now swollen eye and cussing at myself for my stupidity. It took a couple of hours before I began to feel any relief.

Then my right eye itched…

The Three Acts

The door was open to the old church, turned community theater as I stepped inside. According to his cardboard sign, on stage was an unshaven man in ragged clothes, presenting a three-part act.

Finishing Act I, he bowed, stepped behind the curtain and re-entered the stage from the other side. He finished the second act with a song-and-dance routine.

As the third act began, a two deputies entered the theater, heading towards the stage to arrest the thespian. I protested, “Please, let him finish!”

They were accommodating, allowing him to complete the last act from his jail cell —  across mine.

Anagrammed

“Hey, Dad – how did my sister Teresa, get her name?”

“Because your mom loves Easter.”

“I don’t get it.”

“It’s an anagram.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s where you create a word, or a name or sentence using the letters of another word or name.”

“How does it work?”

“For instance ‘silent’ can be rearranged into the word, ‘listen,’ or Clint Eastwood’s name can be rearranged into: ‘Old West Action,’ — but remember, you have to use all the letters.”

“Oh, kind of like a secret code or something.”

“Yeah, you could say that, son.”

“That’s so cool. Thanks, Dad.”

“You’re welcome, Alan.”

Frankenstein, Reimagined

They gathered round the windmill, pitchforks and torches filled their violent hands. There was a palpable feeling of fear to the fog and smoke-filled air as they shouted their demands.

“Send him out!”

“We know he’s in there!”

“If you don’t, we’ll burn you out!”

Their words had fallen on deaf ears. Not once did anybody answer them.

Soon someone began splashing kerosene on the single door leading into the building. That was quickly followed by a fiery torch.

Not one of the villagers dared to imagine that Dr. Victor Frankenstein had taught his monster how to use the Swivel-gun.

Sex: Work or Play

A a newly married man wonders if having sex on Good Friday is a sin because he is not sure if sex is work or play. He asks a priest for his opinion on this question.

The priest says after consulting the Bible, “My son, after an exhaustive search I am positive sex is work and is not permitted on Good Friday.”

“The man thinks: “What does a priest know about sex?””

He goes to minister…a married man…for the answer and receives the same reply. “Sex is work and not for Good Friday!”

Not pleased with the reply, he seeks out a Rabbi. The Rabbi ponders the question and states, “My son — sex is definitely play.”

The man replies, “But Rabbi, how can you be so sure when so many others tell me sex is work?”

The Rabbi softly speaks, “If sex were work — my wife would have the maid do it.”

The Runaway

Our lab bolted under the garage door as it opened. In seconds he was heading his usual direction of west, up the street.

“Shit,” I complain, “Forgot to put the dog-door down.”

He and I have had this interaction before. He escapes, I chase and each time I chastise him, explaining why he should not run away or cross the busy street and every time he fails to listen.

So once again, I find myself walking in the direction he ran, calling, “Here Yaeger!”

Damned dog! One day I’m simply gonna pack his bags and set them at the curb.

We Are Warned

Over the course of the last couple of weeks I’ve been enthusiastically studying everything I can on the ‘Mandela Effect.’ That’s the pop culture name given to the phenomenon where by people are seemingly being troubled by ‘false memories.’

This is something I feel compelled to share, as I am one of those people.

It’s the small stuff that threw me for a loop at first. One the very first ‘false memories,’ was learning that C3PO’s right leg is actually silver and not gold like the rest of his body.

Say what?! Yes, worse yet — I was Mark Hamill’s stunt-double and stand-in during the part of ‘Return of the Jedi,’ being filmed in Smith River, California and I swear to you that the plastic costume Anthony Daniels wore back then was all gold at the time.

From the small stuff  like a movie characters mis-colored leg, to what I believe is the huge — a complete change in the written word of God. Don’t tune out now, as what I’m about to point out falls into the realm of fantastical…

As someone who has studied scripture for years, I found myself taken aback to learn that Isaiah 11:6 says nothing about a lion laying down with the lamb. Instead, the verse posits that the ‘wolf will dwell with the lamb.’

Huh? I don’t remember that at all!

A shift in reality, perhaps? Yes, and it’s preordained.

This led me to question my knowledge of the Bible. And worse, I allow this ‘verse change,’ to affect my relationship with Jesus as I began questioning how God could allow Satan to alter His word.

Then I rediscovered this verse, Amos 8:11-12: “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord,”when I will send a famine through the land — not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.”

Ah-ha! It’s clear to me from that single verse that Satan has been given God’s permission to change the Bible, ‘blinding and dumbing,’ those who rely solely on the word of God and not on Christ for their Christian walk.

Sadly, not a single preacher has spoken of the Mandela Effect, other than to poo-poo it. And worst of all, they act as if the verse in Amos doesn’t exist at all.

Prompt

Looking out into the back yard, he watched the dogs run back and forth; the younger of the three barking wildly at the dogs on the other side of fence. Tom took a sip of his now luke-warm coffee.

Shaking his head, “Damn – waited to long. Now I gotta go nuke it again.”

A minute later he returned to his seat where he continued struggling to write something — anything meaningful. With a heavy sigh Tom gazed at the photo on his device, realizing that the writing prompt wasn’t doing very much for him.

“But then, they rarely do,” he mumbled.

Strays

The sound told him more than he wanted to know. Kitten was feeding them once more, but he had to ask: “Are you taking pity on those damned strays again?”

His voice was ripe with frustration, so Kitten ignored his query. Instead she reached into their kitchen’s junk drawer and picking out two batteries, she walked to the back door.

Opening it and without a word, she handed the obviously outdated robot the batteries. It beeped, moving away as Kitten quietly closed the door.

“Yes,” she finally responded.

“I ought to call the Recyclers.”

“Then what?” the Sex Kitten 2030 beeped.

Frying Pan

At first I thought I was hearing things; a flute in a copse of trees. Then I thought I was seeing things; a woman wrapped in furs playing that flute.

Behind her — wild animal’s – each under her flouting influence. It took everything in me not to fall in line and follow.

Then I saw the half-man, half-goat, carrying an iron skillet, bleeding and stumbling as if dazed.  It was then I realized that the woman, whomever she was, had kicked Pan’s ass, duncing him in the head with the frying pan, before stealing his flute.

“Perhaps they’re married,” I smiled.

From the Journal of E. Brexley Greaves, Thursday, April 11, 1967

“It happened again, another time slip. This go-round I think I recognized that it had happened and that I wasn’t my right self – at least not the same self that left home this morning.

First it was the dizziness that left me with double-vision followed by the cold coffee in my cup. I swear I had jus’ filled that sucker up.

Finally, when I got home my dogs acted strange around me, sniffing, whining, tails between their legs. The youngest barked as if he didn’t know me at all.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m even the same person anymore.”

A Conversation Between a Couple of Boobs

“I got me some beautiful breasts last night!”

“You did?”

“Yup. Smeared’em with…

“Smeared’em with what?”

“Well if you’d shut yer pie-hole and let me finish, I’ll tell ya.”

“Sorry, got a little excited – you know how I love chicken!”

“Ain’t what I’m talkin’ ’bout!”

“No?”

“But I love chicken — you know that!”

“Fergit it — talking’ to you is like talking to a brick.”

Baby Grand

Grabbing my day-pack, I hopped in my truck and headed east, then north along the highway. It had been a long winter and I wanted to get out, get free, cut loose for an hour or two before return to my hum-drum life.

After parking, I hiked into the rocky hills and out of sight of all other people. Here I could be me as I found what I was looking for – the old beaten up, weathered and abandoned baby-grand piano.

How the hell it came to be here, I didn’t know, but we held a wonderful afternoon recital anyway.

When A Lie Works

“What are you doing, Dad?”

“Looking for your turtle.”

“By falling in the bushes?”

“I didn’t fall.”

“Yes, you did – I saw you. You lost your balance and fell.”

“Naw, I did it on purpose – hoping to scare your turtle out of hiding and make him run from the bushes.”

“Not only are you bad liar, but turtles can’t really run. Hey! — there’s my turtle!”

“See, Son — I told you. Now help your old man up.”

False Alarm

Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t do spiders. In fact, I’ve been known to run from the tiniest of the eight-legged-freaks and even crawl backwards over sofas and high-backed chairs to escape and evade the little bastards.

So during my sister-in-law’s last visit, I heard her shout, “Mary, there’s a lizard under the TV stand!”

Instantly, “Tom! Get in here and catch this lizard!”

“Gladly!”

Mary knows I love lizards.

Quickly, I raced to the front room, heading for the stand without even needing to be instructed where to go. Our home is small like that – and unnaturally — we have only the one television.

Dropping to my stomach, right ear pressed to the hardwood floor, I looked under the stand. I heard myself squeak in an ultra high-pitched frequency as I shot to my feet and backed away.

“Spider! Big-ass-fucking-hairy-son-of-a-bitch!” I sputtered.

In response, Mary grabbed the broom from the coat closet, deftly slid the stand out-of-the-way and like a warrior of old, readied to do battle with the beast. But she could find neither a lizard nor a spider.

Instead — there near her cedar chest and the wall lolled a lone woolly-booger made of dust and dog shed.

Tree Frogs of Truth

The last few days I’ve seen a good number of posts, both on WordPress and Facebook, about frogs. One of those postings included my own.

It’s left me remembering the little iridescent green tree frogs that lived along the creek banks near my home and by the grade school. They were creatures with thin fingers and bulbous tips which helped them cling to the many Alder tree branches.

One day, a girl in my class and I were playing with a couple of these frogs when she suddenly pronounced, “You have fingers like a tree frog!”

Embarrassed and feeling shamed, I recall trying to hide my hands. Needless to say I was hurt — which later turned to anger.

Today, I must admit that my finger tips do appear to be slightly fatter than the rest of my fingers. And I also laugh at the memory of how astute she was as a child and how ridiculous and useless my embarrassment, hurt and anger were at the time.

It leaves me with a smile knowing she wasn’t being mean, but rather honest. Ahh, childhood — I’m sure you’d agree that there are some pieces of that trauma we could each do without.

Death of a British Olympian

Twenty-four-year-old Sonja McCaskie’s mangled heart, in a pool of blood on the floor of her duplex at 2640 Yori Avenue, was the first thing to greet Reno Police officer’s checking on the one-time Olympic skier when she failed to pick up her son April 5, 1963. And for more than a week, they had no idea who murdered her.

Sonja McCaskie, an Olympic skier who was murdered in

Reno police originally thought that Sonja had known her murderer, since no sign of forced entry could be found to either the doors or windows. They also investigated the possibility that the killer had knowledge of butchery or surgery skills.

Sonja was born in Elgin, Scotland, on February 13, 1939. Her father died shortly after, and her mother moved the family to the U.S., first to Long Beach, California, then to Tahoe City in 1954.

There, Sonja took up skiing and competed for Tahoe-Truckee High School. With the 1960 Winter Olympics coming to the area, Sonja wrote the Ski Club of Great Britain for a chance to ski for her native country.

The rest of the British team arrived in 1960, and Sonja tried out, earning a spot. Wearing number 50, she raced in the slalom, fell and finished last.

Sonja worked part-time as a ski instructor at the Slide Mountain Ski School and as a secretary for Blue Ribbon Meat Packing in Sparks. She’d been married and divorced and had a child from that marriage and a 10-month-old born out-of-wedlock at the time of her death.

The case had all the makings of a salacious news sensation. It was a grisly murder of an attractive young woman, who along with some racy photographs, had a diary that detailed her sex life, and police questioned her lovers to eliminate them as suspects.

Police found a bloody footprint at the murder scene, but had no one to match it to. Investigators, also found a camera instruction manual but no camera. Later, cops found the camera at a Reno pawn shop, where a Thomas Lee Bean sold it for $10.

Eight-days later, Reno police arrested the 18-year-old Wooster High School student.

Bean was born in Reno and lived on Neil Road when he murdered Sonja. Bean had also lived on Grove Street where there were indications he prowled the area looking for women’s underwear.

In June 1961, Salt Lake City Police arrested Bean after he tried to strangle a girl sleeping on a porch. The family then moved to Las Vegas, and Bean transferred to the Nevada Youth Training Center in Elko where he spent eight months.

Once at the Reno police station Bean bolted, and everyone gave chase. Bean made it out of the police station and ran down East Second Street where a police officer fired five warning shots, which brought the chase to a close.

Back in custody, Bean cooperated, describing the murder when they took him back to Sonja’s home. First, Bean found Sonja’s laundry which she left on a clothesline in the side yard to dry.

Among the items drying, Bean found an under-slip, which investigators believe he used as a sexual-trigger. Bean also found Sonja had left her back door unlocked, where he took off his shoes, and wearing no socks, crawled through every room.

Finding only Sonja sleeping alone in her bedroom and using a homemade garrote he had brought with him, he twisted it around her neck and increased the pressure, forcing her to awaken and plead for her life. He then stabbed her several times as he raped her.

Finished gratifying himself, Bean dragged her lifeless body out of the bedroom, carved her heart from her chest, threw it on the floor and stomped on it. Next he cut her head off, then tried to skin her, but found the process too difficult.

Finally, he slit her from the crotch to her neck then stuffed her body, with three knives still in her torso, into her hope chest after having first tossed Sonja’s severed head into the chest “like a basketball.” Her left foot, dangling out the chest, was cut off and left lying on the floor.

During all of this he continued to stab her using both the knife he’d brought with him and with knives taken from Sonja’s kitchen. Bean then lolled around listening to her music records and once tiring of that, took her Triumph sports car for a joy ride, returning it and leaving it parked in it’s usual spot near her duplex.

On July 8, 1963, a Washoe District Court jury deliberated for 70 minutes before giving Bean the death penalty. Nine-years later, the U.S. supreme Court overturned all pending death sentences in the U.S., including Bean’s, to life in prison without parole.

He remains in prison to this day.

Those Damned Notes

As I readied to do some laundry, I checked the pockets of my jeans and found a wad of notes I’d forgotten that I’d written a few days back while getting my tires rotated. Usually, I carry a notebook of some sort wherever I go so that I might write as time provides.

Having two-hours in the waiting area of a local tire shop counts as an ‘as time provides’ moment. However, since my visit was not part of my planned day, I didn’t have my notebook with me.

Since the urge to jot-down some thoughts felt so effing urgent, I decided to return to one of my old tricks. I kyped a few sheets of paper towels from the nearby restroom and got to writing.

This has been a practice of mine since I was a kid, having first stolen a roll of toilet paper from a roadside rest area while on a trip and later doing the same while in the service. I have also been sufficiently poor enough to have scrounged in garbage bins for writing material.

By the time my tires were completely rotated, I had nine-and-a-half sheets filled with random thoughts and ideas. I’m providing only the first sheet as an example…
It’s been like this for nearly all my life. My brain races, sometimes more than others, and I feel the strong need to write everything down to ‘empty my head,’ and sadly, I’ve never known another person that goes through this sorta shit on an everyday basis.

As a kid, I first got the idea about taking notes from the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ series. This idea became reinforced while watching ‘The Waltons’ when it first aired in its 8 pm time slot on Thursdays.

Often times, thoughts are heading at me so fast that I screw my facts up. For instance, when writing about ‘another ME (Mandela Effect,)’ I later did some homework and realized that it was Dan Hartman who’d died March 22, 1994, the night I began at KRNO or how in my ‘western society’ notation, I use the word ‘learn’ instead of ‘live,’ in the second sentence.

But then again, I guess that’s why they’re called ‘notes.’ And now — it’s time to transfer what’s usable to my spiral notebook for later use.

Soon

when words are difficult
i know i’m feeling
the urges of spring fever

soon

there will be a need
to get up from my chair
away from the computer
from this desk

camera
notebook
pencils in hand
into the big wild

seeking that something
that’ll allows reflection
refreshment

as restlessness rises
internally
bringing desires
upon me

new experiences
the search for fuel
inspiration
new stories
thoughts
stretching spirit
mind and body

a need for familiar smells
those different sounds
walking through the desert
the high mountain pass
and crowded dirty streets

the road calls
asphalt
gravel
dirt
and i’m ready

Tumblewords

She stared out over the empty Nevada desert wondering if anyone had found one of her many letters. Being a widow of less than a year, Maggie was lonely, sad and desperate.

Days before she had sat at her upright piano, which Matt had bought her as a wedding gift nearly five years before, and began writing. She poured out her emotions in two or three sentences, then with either a red, yellow or green ribbon, tied each folded letter to a single rolling sage bush, then set it free.

After six-weeks, with not one word, Maggie ended her loneliness.