Journal 4-20-12: Turning the Corner

my sailboat in storage

Turning the Corner

I’ve reached Florida, ready to start work on the boat. The video-camera is off to be repaired, so eventually I'll be able to start the video journals again. In a few weeks I'll head north to plunge into the final stretch of settling mom's estate, most likely leaving behind the house I grew up in for the last time, with no plan to return.

I am reaching another turning point, where I am closing in on completing my work for ma, while starting on the work involved in getting my life back on track again. Though I expect to spend the next year re-establishing my own life, repairing, relocating, and restarting everything after having it back-burnered or set on the shelf for this last year and more. Though I made some sporadic attempts to slip some of my priorities on the agenda, and some of the things I did were about getting myself ready to move on, I realized many months ago that I had to focus on the estate and push through it as quickly as possible without distraction, get it done and behind me. Only then would I have the freedom to follow the music, and The Way, wherever it takes me, and devote the total focus it demands. But before that, there are many things yet to do, many loose ends to tie up. I am making arrangements to return here to help scatter Dad’s ashes in the Bahamas in June, just before I head west. And there will be another major effort up at 1213 before I can do that, a final difficult passage in too many ways.

But that is the future, I am here to catch up on the past couple months, the story I started in the last journal, but 5 months is too long a story for one entry, so I continue in a second. It is a strange experience, still, as I review all that has happened in that time in a few short days, all the intense, insane, routine days, weeks, and months that just went by, pretty crazy. But so it goes. It is strange that it should feel so normal to me, when I look at it in perspective, but, well, I guess a lot of my life is like that.

old book

I start where I left off, working as hard and long as I could through the steps to wrap up ma's estate. After all this time without really much response from my relatives, I just do what needs to be done, so I can move on.

The routine was continuing photographing, inventorying, and packing away all ma's things into boxes and stacking them in an empty bedroom, continuing to clear the house. Though it was a long tedious job, it was also a beautiful one, as I went though all the cool things ma had around the house, things that reached back into my earliest memories, and beyond, to Spain, things from my grandparents, from mom and dad's childhoods, adolescence, and days at college and after. I am a sentimentalist, I value the energy in things, treasure them for their emotional value alone. And I have great respect for things, old things, things that were used by someone, things that were treasured. So I handle them all with respect and often awe and amazement. It is interesting to see how much I am attracted to old unique things while many more modern knicknacks and ornaments don't do much for me, like they are empty of feeling. Yet there are modern pieces around that I find beautiful, usually simple, where there is a energy and emotion to them I like. That is the way art works. Yet, even an old, cracked piece of stoneware from Spain is a treasure to me.

antique book, Don Quixote by Cervantes

I love books. So did mom and so did Dad. I am a writer, as this journal shows, whether have ever published or not. I am a writer because I write, and love words, and love to read great books, and just good books. Dad was a writer, and so was ma, though not so much, as a playwrite, but as an actor, she was also in love with words, and storytelling, and understood that was what books were, part of that oldest profession. She was an avid reader and collected great literature, as well as big collections of relatively modern romance and mysteries, and a collection of classic science fiction and fantasy that started from the beginning and carried through to some of the great modern authors. So sorting and packing the books was a major job that went on for many days. Often the hardest problem was not to read them. So many of them I have read.

She also had a couple glass-fronted cases of very old books, some might be first editions, many books well over a hundred years old. Some of them my favorites, and it amazing to touch a Dickens or Cervantes, from so long ago, think how many hands in how many places touched these old pages. I feel honored and amazed to be able to handle them, like sacred objects. I supose, in this house, they are. Others are jsimply very old books, school primers and odd texts, yet I respect them just for being what they are, the first books, with histories I cannot begin to fathom. All the old books I carefully photograph and inventory, as the rare and fragile objects they are, before carefully packing them in wrapping paper. Perhaps they have great value, perhaps they do not, but they are great treasures to me. I am learning a lot in this strange passage I am on, about what made me what I am, and what moves me, and here I can feel so clearly that I love books, and see the books I love. I photograph the inner leaves as well, where I find inscriptions dating back to the 1800s, the short messages and just the names and dates. It is a connection to the past that is absolutely human, this person who wrote their name in this book over a hundred years ago, and loved their books, and I feel that kinship. It is an intense experience.

old bookinscription to norman, 1913

I found among the inscriptions, some dating from the 1800s, the names of members of my family, and held books that had been in the family for generations now, relatives I never knew, books given to my parents as children, books they gave each other when they were young, books inscribed to and by my grandparents, Norman and Isabella (Hap) when they were young, of even the Isabella that Hap was named after, inscribed in a book of Lord Byron's poetry in 1884. I spent weeks sort and pack all those books, from silly ones to ones I handled with a reverant awe.

It is a journey through my own past as well, similiar to when I packed all my small collection of things last summer, getting ready to go. It is not just those great books I read that belonged to ma and dad, but so many things that ma kept, memorabilia to her, and just the many things that while hers, were part of my life, often long ago, triggering recollections and memories as I look at them. Especially because I have such a strange photographic memory, I often get clear recollections of events surrounding an object. It is really a incredible experience, easily classed among my routine extremes, so routine, so extreme.

old bookinscription to isabella chapman from momma, 1912

I even have to face the fact that even with the interviews I did with ma, and hap, and dad didn't want to leave memoirs or an interview, there is so much I don't know of my family. There are old pictures, and old things, that I know are connected to the family, but I don't know who they are or the story behind them or the things, and I never will. That chain of knowledge is broken.

It made me think about the very concept of an "estate", this collection of things, from land and buildings, an old house where generations have lived, to the books passed down and read in turn by generations, and personal possessions, the momentoes and memorabilia of travels and significant events in one life. I find copies of classic books I read and enjoyed as a child or teen that are inscribed as belonging to my parents when they were the same age, as well as the actual books I read long ago, still on the shelf. I imagine, though I never was even able to find a woman to be with, have a family, that I would actaully value that generational view of family. I would like to build an estate where generations might live, to have a great library and collection of things where family history is a tree with deep roots and many branches. I got a strong sense of clanishness from my mom especially, as my loyalty and unquestioned willingness to work for the family proves. To me, there is no question, just as I would drop everything to come to the aid of a friend, or my community. I am a relic perhaps of an old school, where my word is my bond, and I hold honor and duty as primary motivations, and loyalty and commitment as necessities of life. If I am not totally committed, it is hard to be interested, when there are so many things I can be totally committed to, without question, heart and soul. One reason I like Alaska is there is that sense of community, of responsibility to help your neighbor.

old bookinscription by isabella chapman, 1884

I wonder at the American experiment, as always, with it's good and bad facets. Here, we were able to let go of roots and start out new, free from tradition, or ale to hold on to, or even adopt, whatever traditions we liked, but not bound by them. Even in our young state, we already know how rigid and intolerant the force or tradition can be. Yet America, from the beginning, and often again, had in it's cultural psyche the ability, even the desire, to flaunt tradition and instead value the new, instead, sometimes in error, but it allowed us to progress, always chasing the latest thing, whether it was a true revolutionary development, a pop fad, or a big mistake. It is our fault as well as our strength. It fed a culture of youth worship, driven by a massive commercial consumerism and billions of ad dollars, where only the latest thing had value, and must be bought and last years thing tossed away as irrelevant. It pandered to youth, making youth more valuable than it is, though of course, the young like it, because often it is all they have. Even money can't by experience, wisdom, or just knowledge. Throughout history, people have supported systems that gave them power for nothing they had to work for, but were just born with. America has also broken the family tree as ell, where each generation fends for itself, and is barely connected often, as family disperse and lose contact, and no one values or keeps belongings. Perhaps this is driven by consumerism, which wants us to throw away and buy something new as soon as possible, and the best consumer is a single person with few belongings, constantly consuming, focused on valuing only the newest thing, and ingnorant, even contemptious, of the past. So, of course, they do not learn from history, all to the benefit of those who would control and manipulate them and overtly or covertly take power for themselves.

book inscription from dad to mom, 1949

While I have always been evolutionary in my thinking, striving to carry on what is valuable in tradition while discarding the useless, sifting it carefully to seperate true knowledge and wisdom from superstition and falsehood, and looking at the new with skepticism, ready to embrace what has true value, what is true culture and will last, and ignoring what is just commercially-driven pop fads, with no true value, to face and move forward, while carrying the true great things of the past on with me. I have an old classical guitar, a design that hasn't changed in millenia, that I bought at a yard sale, and has been damaged and repaired till it is hardly pretty, but has true beuaty in its individuality, in its character. And it has a sound I haven't been able to fnd in another guitar, and a personal history that makes it priceless to me. I also invented the electric dulcimer, and instrument that goes back thousands of years into pre-history, and more, pioneered using the dulcimer to play modern vocal music. I guide myself with judgement, not prejudice, leavened with the constant awareness that I might always be wrong, or that what I choose is simply my choice, my prefernece, like types of food, or music, with nothing to do with right or wrong, better or worse. As I tell be so often, it is not that things are better or worse, it is who you are and what you choose that is imprtant, and not to let anyone else tell you what to like or not to like, that one thing is better than another, to believe what they tell you without question or doubt. What is important is what Thales said so long ago, "Know Thyself", and then, of course, "To thine own self be true".

I also see an interesting observation that American culture did pass a threshold into a new age, sometime around the 60's. Because many things that were born then are still relevant, still even developing and evolving and replacing the older traditions and concepts that struggle to hang on. It is as simple as the fact that I can jam with my brother, who is almost 40 years younger than me, practicaly two generations, and we listen to a lot of the same music, and even what is different is still the same type of music, only slightly different. It is still Rock, Blues, Reggea, etc. This was harder with me and my Father and me, and certainly with my grandfather.painting of wharf at sunset Though art is one of the things that bridges generations and time, true art, great books, music, sculpture and painting, poetry, all the arts. But there are also many cultural concepts, from environmentalism to multicultural-multiracism, that we are all part of one race, one culture, in all our diversity and differences. That is the greatest triumph of the American experiment, to create a nation where each individual is both equal, and the same in some ways, while free to be individual, to follow whatever creed, doctrine, or lifestyle they choose, as individuals, in a context that is is their choice, and has no greater validity that any other citizen's choice. The true foundation of liberty and freedom, is not on personal choice, but on tolerance, coming into a world where intolerance was most often the tradition and norm, and always acceptable if someone with power chose to impose it. But I have no doubt that historians of the future will draw a broad line in the decades around the 1960's, when a fundemental change occurred in the culture of America, and the world.

chinese print, running horses

I kept scavenging for firewood trying to make it through the last of the Virginia winter without using the furnace as snow fell in February. But in what has become a major issue, as I loaded logs into the van, the last load I would do, the last log fell on my right thumb joint. It happens, I live a rough life. The problem is that now, almost 9 weeks later, my thumb still hurts. I somehow had a great piece of bad luck and what felt like a minor injury in the course of my life is something serious, what I don't know, a cracked or chipped bone perhaps, and all I can do is live with it and hope it heals eventually. But it is psychologically wearing, as my greatest personal fear is some injury that effects my duclimer playing, like to my thumb joint.

I started driving the Van for the first time since I put the engine back together, and started working on the Toyota, pulling the axel to replace the leaking oil seal. I had bad luck though, while I was able to pull the axel in an hour, a major job done quick and easy even with imporvising special tools, but the simple $5 seal I had was the wrong one, and it took me weeks to get the right one. A problem in the autopart's store's computer inventory showed the right part on the screen, but ordering twice returned the wrong part. In the end, I had to order it a a different store, good old Napa, and they had no problem. In the process I decided to replace the bearing while I had it apart. All in all, a job I was ready to complete in a day, took over three weeks. None of which was spent actually working on the car. When everything was ready, I had it back together in a couple hours. Then I removed the carburator, and it is still sitting on the porch awaiting a cleaning and rebuild.

van with gear

But the van runs fine, even better than before, though a few leaks have showed up, or other leaks that I did not address with this job. It is an old van, and it is simply a fact that it is a constant process of small and large repairs to keep it going, which is the price you pay. I had to fix old wiring on the tail lights, really making permanent repairs to things I jury-rigged to get it back north from Florida quite a while ago and forgot about. I also add a real plug for the trailer wiring, replacing the bare wires I twisted and taped together to make the trip up. And in the end, I unpacked all my belongings, which I packed into the van last September so I was personally ready to leave the house, put it all back in the house, loaded my tools, and took the van to Florida to take care of the boat, and despite those few leaks, it is getting it done. Which is great, as this is the first big test, before I depend on the van to head west in the Summer.

I also open up the Hurley, the sailboat that was sunk, then I raised it, put it on a trailer I modified for it, repaired the hull damage and brought it to 1213 to shelve so I could focus on other things. Strangely, when I last returned from Alaska, in 2010, I had planned to finally complete the work on it the following summer, maybe find a better trialer so I could really use the one it is one, which is way to big for it, to load up stuff and take it all to Alaska with the van. Just as I planned to put the big boat in the yard at last. All these plans, even gooing to Florida at all last winter, got changed due to ma's illness and then death, and the responsibilites I've been fielding since then. But as I reach the end, I am reaching the part where I am getting my stuff ready to roll, just as I packed up all my stored belongings from 1213 and packed them in the van last September, ready to go if need be.

apricot blossoms

March is half-gone and winter is done, I have made it past the probability of a significant freeze. It is still cold, and I need the fire, but I don't have to keep it going 24/7. Flowers have started blooming, the daffodills have already been out since New Years, and the quice bushes almost all winter, a record warm winter, and the apricot tree blooms March 10th signaling Spring. I feel I will miss them perhaps more than the house itself.

I think of what else I need to do before I leave, because I assume I will be leaving. I have to, since it is harder to be ready for that, and I need to be ready for both.

I know I am going to be spending a lot of money soon, on the Florida trip and the boat, and heading west, and whatever happens with the house. So I sift another ounce of the smallest nuggests from my gold and send it in to the refiner, which is the lowest price I'll get, but the easiest way to deal with cashing out some gold, and fair, as they refine it, and it gives me an assay report on the breakdown of gold vs silver, as raw gold almost always has silver, often a lot, except gold dust. My gold is quite pure, relatively, about 91 per cent gold, the rest silver with some platinum and palladium as well.

pickup winding machine pickup winding machine

I repair and set up the coil winder again so I can wind coils, using up the last of the magnet wire, before I disassemble and pack up the machine. If I have coils wound, I can make pickups anywhere, as I did when I took the first coils I wound here and finished them in Florida. I need a spare working set in case my present set gets broken, and even my working set is a mismatched set conatining the last v.1 epoxied coil with the first v.2 coils potted in wax. I start winding coils to experiment with switched coils and humbuckers, pulling out a loop halfway through the wind, when I run out of wire. Now I can order more, another reason to get this done, snce it is hard to order things UPS on the road.pickup coils on workbench It is actually a strange case of deja-vu, as I pack my things to head for Florida while the coil winding machine spins. I don't have time to pot the coils, but I am not taking them with me yet. They'll need to be potted, and I even had the wax melted on the wodstove and ready, but there was no time, and there will be time when I get back, to wind more coils, pot them all, and pack them away to head west.

I get the report back from the bank, and the loan is refused, but not because of our finances, they would have refinanced the existing loan still, $100K. But because of the condition of the house, they won't loan against it.

I write up a final offer, based on the appraisal and repairs, too fair perhaps. The appraisal came out at the low end of what I expected, though I did expect it, it is lower than I thought it would be. I don't actually need the loan, because I can assume the existing mortgage under Va law along with the house, which is actually better for me. Coincidentally, a fair offer, actaully maybe too good, roughly coincides with all my assets, outside the cash I need to rennovate, though the assets aren't technically cash. But in the end, it is still whether they want to try selling because they think they will get more than I can offer, which may be more than the house is worth, actually. I hope they can. And I can probably retain an option to buy if the best offer is below what I have offered.

boundry between strpped yard and mine

Bad things happen, too. The work building the McMansion next door goes from bad to worse, right outside the big windows of the house where the desk and woodstove are. The developer scalps the yard, cutting down many oak trees hundreds of years old, turning a woodland landscape of big trees and thick old ornamentals, azaleas and rhododendrons, into an artificial travesty of modern American ignorant, insensitive, and oblivious status quo, an ugly and even evil statement of the worst of America, taking a historic nieghborhood and without a shred of consideration for anything destroying what can never be replaced. I see many in the neighborhood stop and even gathering on the road in front to view the destruction. And in the process they stray over the property line, seriously damaging one of our big trees, probably ending up causing it to rot out one day, and cutting down 40-year old ornamental 10 feet across the line. And there is nothing can fix that. And I delay my departure for Florida far several days just to deal with it. It is disheartening and depressing, and just ugly, reeks of death and destruction of that which can not be replaced, the hubris and arrogance, and the distinct reek of evil that is undeniable.

I have also gotten new threatening letters, actually a heads up from the Sheriff that Fish and Wildlife is not going to stop and basically he's going to be forced to put my boat back on the sailboat Dueodde Or they are planning on ticketing more, because the anchor light isn't perfect, maybe. I know it is all politics, somone has been paid off to get rid of the boats, and there's nothing I can do to the bat that they won't find something else till I either put the boat in the yard or leave the area, or even the state, since it seems to be coming from all side, top to bottom, a mandate to force all the boats into marinas and mooring fields or out of the state. It is pure and simple fascism, no more, no less. Not suprising in Florida.

I can only wonder, as many people have said to me, if it is time to leave the country. At least, leave the east coast.

But I can't ponder the deeper questions either. I can only ignore them, and the authorities and their threats, and the evil coiling through America, and keep to the course I have planned. I have too much to do, little choice, close tolerances, and major focused efforts to make it work. I am on my way to Florida to take care of the boat, after finally inventoring and packing almost all of ma's stuff and sending on the info to the rest of the family so they can go through it while I am gone. Though it really doesn't matter, now, with the contents packed, the house can be cleared, to sell or rennovate and rent, what we do with it seperated from what we do with ma's stuff. Seperating ma's things from the house means they are now on seperate paths, and aren't dependent on each other. We can take years to go through all of ma's stuff if need be. I have to keep moving forward no matter what, that has been the story all along. I have to get it done. Even if I have to plan for both selling the house and me keeping and rennovating it to rent.

All winter I have been talking with my two buddies in Seattle about land out in that area. When I get west I will be ready to buy if I can. There are many possibilites, and one coincidental possibility that might work, 16 acres on the coast equidistant from Portland and Seattle. It might work, and I tell my buddy to keep following up on it, though I won't have expectations, time will tell. Though my finances will depend a lot on what happens with 1213, I’ve had to make sure that what happens doesn’t change my over-all plans. I will be there soon, and it doesn't matter yet.

wodden laughing buddha

I send off my final report, including my offer for the house, even though it is really no different from what it was last summer. So it goes. I'm also still saying I have no reason or desire to pressure anyone to deside anything, but when I get back, I am still going forward. It would be best for me if there is a decision by then probably, so I can focus my resources appropriately on either rennovating or heading west. If nothing is decided by the time I leave, nothing may happen till I get back from the wild in October. And I'll have spent a lot of money by then on moving that I would have used to rennovate, or realistically, to pay my sisters, since I can't compromise the money I need to rennovate and still succeed. They'll just need to take some payment over time. Though I may have done well with gold, but I don't know. The simple truth is all I can offer, I am getting it done, and not stopping moving forward, because I can't.

Which means that, regardless, I am going to Florida to take care of my boat, and when I come back, I will finish clearing the house, pack up, and head for Alaska. If I am not rennovating the house, I will drive west with my stuff. If I have to work on getting ready to rent, I'll be able to leave my stuff at 1213, work till the last minute, and fly direct. But I am going when the time comes, as I am now.

Then it is time to head south, like clockwork, I reach the point I planned months ago, and the pattern drops like dominoes. I am feeling a practical certainty with which I have carried on much of my life, making plans.. or more, correctly figuring how long it will take me to do things, how the pattern and path will unfold, how things are really going to happen, leaving enough slack for details, and make that my plan. It is a dance, the dance I have been doing all my life, since I first started seeking The Way, not even consciously, and then started to understand, to listen the the music, and try to live in Harmony with the energy of the universe, AiKiDo as one man called it, as he found the same Way I found, as many have found. Many names, many words, too many words, or not enough, too much for words to say, so I tell stories. I simply live it when I can, back and forth, imperfect man, doing what I can. Keep dancing. I've loaded the tools and boat stuff, forgotten things and taken what I will not use. At the last minute, I take the dulcimer and performance gear out and put it back in the house. I will not have time to perform, though I take my old guitar, and drive off into the night.

theatre maskshakespearean actorsSufi dancers

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