Category Archives: Health

Dead Tree Remix Day

Dead Tree Remix Day

I don’t know if my dead tree project will ever be finished. I continue to add new painted limbs and branches to it. It’s currently standing in my extra room. I rescued the dead base of the tree from the woodpile near where I found the baby shower box a couple of weeks ago. The little branches I’ve added are from some of my favorite spots along the trail and near the hospital, so it’s a well-traveled creation. I love the idea of it in part because it’s something made from discarded and desiccated remains. That I can add an infinite number of pieces to it, all rendered in luminescent color makes me happy.

The day contains the same elements of any other day. It can be a repeat of the familiar. It can also be an anomalous remix, both familiar and strangely new. Like freshly-sliced jalapeños on vanilla bean ice cream.

For fans of both Merle Haggard and Survivor, I ask you to search for “Survivor and Merle Haggard – Eye of the Haggard.” It’s an example of juxtaposing two things that should not work together but somehow do. Musically, it’s a masterful bit of wild production and melody.

In other news, I don’t like to watch baseball. Albert Pujols joined Babe Ruth as a 600 HR hitter and a pitcher. I love it when anything interesting happens in baseball. It joins bowling and golf as two sports that are like watching my hair dry. Yes, all 11 of them.

I’m looking at the new day with the eye of a tiger and the pancreas of a hyena. (That joke might be a little too esoteric.)

Before I leave for work, I will turn off the light in the room with the dead tree project. The colors will fade to the eye until the sun washes through the window and illuminates it.

It will have its day in the sun.

I hope each of you does too.

My cat will jump up to the windowsill multiple times during the day. I added extra-wide sills to all my windows so that both he and the few plants I have can enjoy the second-floor view and light.

It’s what Mondays are made for, though most of us begrudgingly wake up groggy-eyed and unready for the presumptive start of the workweek. If you’re going to spend 20% of your work-life experiencing Mondays, you might as well find a new perspective to enjoy them.

Take the pieces that don’t work and refresh them. Remix and enjoy.

Love, X
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Inaction

In my new life I have countless stolen moments. Both in the late night and in the early morning. Whatever lies next and unseen in the path of my life, I know that these moments will scatter and disperse and become less frequent. I call them lemon moments because they are pungent and sour, but also fill my mouth and heart with delicious taste. A mouth of lemon provides a bite.

As I sit here on the deck drinking a bitterly delicious first cup of coffee, the wind occasionally lifts flotsam that’s been carelessly left outside or deliberately discarded. The lightning and thunder grows closer and the wind increasingly grows in intensity. I can hear raindrops begin to drum on the waiting vehicles. The insects are roaring and providing background melody.

Yesterday, I returned to the creek. Its water had subsided as the flood receded into the past. The water was still cool and refreshing. A single snake slithered across the causeway and into the upper stream above it. A man hollered down to me, warning me of snakes in the water. “Yes, I know.” As if they didn’t belong there and that I were not the interloper into their world. Snakes may bite when startled. It is nothing personal. I wish I could remember that when their human equivalent surprises me with their hurtful way of navigating life.

If I come across as introspective or pensive it is because I am. But I’ve smiled like a fool multiple times this morning. As the fire trucks and police raced past me to a developing emergency, as the wind gusted and spit rain on me, as my cat resisted capture and darted away from me, and as I looked at the bottle lights and my art-filled fence vaguely lit seventy feet away.

I love these early mornings. Projects and activity are waiting for me. I think of Taoism. It is supposed to teach us the lesson of action through inaction. To allow the natural process of life to cascade around us and envelop us. We of course resist, wanting it to unfold in the way that we think is most beneficial to us. Most of us don’t appreciate the lemon moments when they happen.

The news and the world will always disappoint us. It has always been that way. People falsely believe that the good old days aren’t constantly renewed. If you’re wired for pessimism you will find justification. Optimism is knowing that your life is homogeneous and filled with both delights and disappointments. The trick of this dance is to remember to look for the things that light you up or give you a smile and to look away from the things that don’t.

When I took a picture of the bottle light, it was rendered in white. I had to filter the noise to reveal the color. That’s either metaphorical or practical.

As the thunder races and a lightning bolt illuminates the upper reaches of the sky, I am sitting here with myself and my thoughts.

I will stand up and break the spell in a minute.

For now, I look at my cat whose silhouette is comically backlit by one of my bottle lights. He meows at me, asking me for something I can’t decipher.

I can’t decipher myself sometimes. And I love it that way.

Welcome to Sunday y’all.

The minutes are falling away and the day will start whether you want it to or not.

Love, X

Appreciate

I turned on am radio this morning. I hit the ‘next’ button until a signal came through. I’m paraphrasing. Because life is so much coincidence and odd congruence, after hearing the words, I did my best to remember them. When I opened FB, I saw that a mutual friend had posted one of the themes of what I’d heard. Can it be a coincidence? I hope not. I hope there is an unseen thread running through our lives, one that we often find ourselves disconnected from. In it lies magic, delight, and yes, melancholy.

“We are all on loan. If you believe in god, know that he’s going to call everyone in your life back to him. And if you don’t believe in a higher power, they are still going to leave, one by one. One of the things I taught my children is to act accordingly. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, remember that we are all temporary. Life distracts us with sights, sounds, sensations, and temptations. Keep your eye on the real prize: other people. You can all have all the things you want to delight you. But it is people in our lives who matter. And you are one of them for someone else. Be the person you should be for those around you. And find a way to appreciate the people who inhabit your world.”

Equally true is “chop wood and carry water.” Even as enlightened people, we have to do the things we have to in order to do the things we want to.

So, for now, my job is to somehow retrieve my cat Güino from the shadows of the far end of the landing outside. He doesn’t want to come inside. I don’t either. The insects are buzzing and the warmth of the May morning surrounds me.

A new day.

And if I’m lucky, a new way to appreciate even the moments that make me regret having a job or being around the people who need a skillet applied to their cranium. Maybe I’ll get lucky and no one will give me a much-needed application of the same.

Love, X

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Traversing The Road

Starting with a laugh… as I walked West Miller Street close to my apartment, I watched a greyish blue Chevy Traverse round the deceptively sharp curve to approach me. It was speeding of course. I walked along the right-hand side of the street on the grass. As the vehicle approached, I observed the older woman driving and notice the approaching speed bump. It’s not high profile. Had she simply driven over it, there would have been no laugh. Instead, she braked hard to avoid going over it at 35+ mph. The younger woman in the passenger seat didn’t appear to be wearing a seatbelt. She was turned sideways in the seat, drinking a presumptive soda through her straw. As the driver braked, the passenger went forward unexpectedly. I couldn’t quite see it when it happened, but she squeezed her styrofoam cup as she was jerked forward. The passenger bounced off the dashboard. Weirdly, both the driver and the passenger looked at me simultaneously as I walked and laughed. The passenger started pantomiming her displeasure toward the driver. She wildly pointed down and across her lap. I assume she was baptized in soda. I shrugged my shoulders when the driver looked at me again, having come to a full stop a couple of feet past the speed bump. When I looked back at the vehicle a few seconds later to note the make and model, I laughed again at the fact that it was wrongly named the “Traverse.” It certainly didn’t this afternoon.

Now I want to add another speed bump on top of the authorized one and watch as speeders coming from Woodland school hit it without warning. I could give it the name “Speed Wall” instead of a speed bump.

When I exited the convenience store a few minutes later, I drank my diet soda and crushed ice with enthusiasm. A nun dressed in all white entered as I held the door open for her. One of the regulars who is also quite the scam storyteller asked me if I wanted to buy some weed. With a very serious face, I said, “Yes. I need five pounds of it if you have it.” The look on his face was priceless. “Five pounds? How long will that last you?” Not missing a beat, I replied, “Oh, I’d say about nine or ten days. Can you hook me up?” He shook his head, still not realizing I was joking. “No, I can’t get anywhere near that amount!” I told him I was very disappointed in his inventory problem. I walked away, shaking my head, pretending to be concerned. I didn’t look back. I didn’t dare. There is no way I would have been able to avoid laughing.

At the intersection with Onyx Coffee, I watched as drivers carelessly drove across the crosswalk and ignored the road markings. Because I was feeling clever, I crouched down and pointed my fingers on the concrete, pretending I was a sprinter about to take off across the crosswalk. My eyes were focused on the red indicator across the street. As I did so, a white Chevy pickup pulled all the way across the crosswalk in front of me and stopped. His intention was to make a right turn, even if he had to block pedestrians to do so. I walked in front of his vehicle. Instead of pointing at the crosswalk or the sign across the street, I instead pointed at the grill of his truck. “Oh my god!” I said. And kept pointing. “You need to see this,” I told him, continuing to point. He put his truck in park and exited his truck to see what I was gesticulating toward on the front of his truck. As he did, I walked across the street and kept going. I didn’t look back that time, either. I wondered if he might get angry and return to curse at me. He’d have to make at least TWO more turns to head back in my direction, though.

When I walked two streets past my apartment, I watched a man climb inside the dumpster on the corner. He was having trouble, so I told him to use the truck fork holes as steps. He must have been a newbie to the dumpster scene. I didn’t talk to him long, but it turns out he has a decent job in the evening. He’s been scavenging and reworking furniture and different items. His truck was parked several feet away in the apartment parking lot. He also told me something interesting: that he often found construction workers’ beer in there. They often use it to hide their alcohol while they’re on the job site. He told me that last week he found a bicycle that required only a few dollars of parts – and that he sold it for $100. I wished him luck and told him that he should take a look in the dumpster at my apartment on Sunday afternoon. He thanked me.

I didn’t see another Traverse as I crossed the speed bump again.

X
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Art? And Walking…

“Someone” started an art project on the north fence. 🙂 I fixed as much of the fence as I could, using 200+ hex fence screws, by hand, without power tools. Those are painted floor tiles, backed with buffering felt pads to allow for slight movement and expansion. I’m not done yet. Is anything really ever done? It’s been amusing to watch the passersby and neighbors take a double-take as they walk past or drive up. I have 100+ feet to use if I want. Is it art? I don’t know. But it is colorful and a much-needed dose of it for this pale place. Now that it’s spring, I’m adding color everywhere. Including a super-secret project I’ve been doing incrementally. The super-secret project requires a little bit of stealth, as it’s not an authorized art display. But it sticks out like a blazing pair of pants if you look in the right direction.

Last week, I made an effort to wear my FitBit more consistently. I fell short of 160,000 steps Monday-Friday. It’s somewhere around 72 miles. I might have overshot my competition a bit. 🙂 My previous closest rival wouldn’t join my workweek hustles this week. The whole point for me is to challenge myself. But it does work much better if someone is nipping at my heels through the week.

Pretxel Fish Is Born

What is Pretxel Fish? Arkansas’ newest LLC. Due to the craziness of my name, Arkansas had trouble understanding that my first name is just X. I used the ongoing bureaucratic melee as a reason to replace the ‘z’ in ‘pretzel’ with an X. If ‘xylophone’ can be pronounced with an X, anything can. (One of my favorite words is ‘xanthous,’ which has acquired new meaning lately.) What is Pretzel Fish, the name from which I derived my company name? A reminder to be grateful and to experience whatever is at your feet. Not the potential of what could be or what you’d like to be. You can make moves to change your life incrementally or you can adapt and find lemon moments where you are. It’s up to you and me. I’m not sure what I will do with this new business. And that lights me up a little with both humor and expectations.

Love, X
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A Lot Of Walking

I hit 10,000 steps by 6:00 a.m. One of my Fitbit competitors had to walk about 25 miles to catch up late last night.

Someone accused me of feeling superior for having lost a hundred pounds. There are a lot of reasons why people don’t be or become who they’re supposed to be. I admit I was very evangelical about my approach to weight loss. In part, because I did every bit of it only by changing my diet. Almost anything can be accomplished if you commit to increments and keep the promise to yourself that you’re going to do better. Part of the conundrum of life is that when you excel in one area, you tend to let other areas deteriorate. Each of us has limited time and focus and it is so easy to let the grind of the day distract us.

If I can ever figure out a way to channel my obsessive commitment to anything I set my mind to, I imagine that I will drive people crazy.

On second thought, I probably do that already. It is so easy to let criticism from people that don’t have you or your best interests in mind get in your head. Mine is too crowded to do more than give such criticism a passing inspection.

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WTF-Time

“Lazy is a bad word. Shall we instead call it selective participation?” – The Internet

Today so far… woke up to laughter. Anytime 2 a.m. involves laughter is an auspicious day. And probably suspicious if I’m involved. There was heartache in the morning for someone I love and I hope she finds peace knowing she gave her presence in a time when it was most needed. I worked a bit, then came home and put wheels on my desk. Insert joke here! I built a wooden planter for sunflowers and installed it along the inside fence at this hideous apartment complex. Put up a shelf for random nonsense (I loathe specific nonsense.), one I repurposed and made from fence board. And then, because I couldn’t stand looking at it, I went outside (because that’s where trees and brush grows!) and cut away all the limbs and brush along the 50′ of the fence next to which I put in the planter. I’ve accumulated 4-5 truckloads of limbs and brush for ‘somebody’ to haul off; otherwise, the neighbors might stage an impromptu bonfire. I also picked up an entire bag of trash that somehow managed to get all over the complex since the last time I cleaned it. My back is still sore from all the previous festivities involved in “The Great Cleaning of 2022.” It’s 10 a.m. and I feel like I’ve accomplished a blizzard of activity. I’m going to go find some more laughter in a little while. My soul needs it. Enthusiasm is at a premium these days and I’m going to cash every bit of it in today.

“If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.” -Brian Tracy

X’s Frog Corollary: “If you have to kiss two people, at least one of them should be a woman.”

Remember that there are three distinct stages in life:

BIRTH

WTF

DEATH

The first two have already happened. Squeeze in as much wtf-time as you can, because it’s flying past with indifferent velocity. Otherwise, you’ll lose your health, your loved ones, or your life – only to look back and vehemently utter the phrase, “WTF happened to all the minutes?”

Love, X

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P.S. I made the picture out of several elements and rendered it.

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