Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Rooster Problem

       Rooster Hummock

  Aunt Sammy's voice seemed to come from an enormous radio deep between her   breasts.  This was partly due to her professional training and partly due to the Chesterfields she smoked.   Aunt Sammy  wasn't really anybody's Aunt, but a family friend who had been the northern New York voice   of Uncle Sam's wife for the local  U.S.D.A. radio broadcasts, offering   recipes, household hints and chat,  in the years before the Depression.     
     During the Depression, Uncle Sam quit paying for the broadcasts, and Sammy gave music lessons.  She took to spending summers in the north and winters in Florida, always working on a cook book.  She  was friends with Majorie Kinnan Rawlings, the Florida writer who also had  family in the Adirondacks, and   Rawlings  helped  Sammy  locate and buy a small island  in the Florida swamp lands.  The island had only a big storage shed,  an abandoned   moonshine shack, and a dock with a john boat.....and  Mr LaRoy, an Afro Asian man who helped Sammy convert the still to a stove and fix the place up for her to  write her Still Kitchen Cook Book.... and raise chickens Mr. LaRoy supplied.          Most of the chickens were roosters  and  they were not  trained for cock fighting,  but  all roosters have six to ten times the   Testosterone levels of humans, and so they must be  dealt with.
    Instead of killing them for broilers  at the onset of adolescence,   Mr. LaRoy  visited every two weeks to  round up and milk the roosters for the roostosterone.....and he left the next day, carrying the  stuff  in vials.   We up north knew   about the chickens,   but   we  didn't know about Mr. LaRoy's special business.

  And we didn't know about the business between Sammy and William.
           During her summers in the North country, Aunt Sammy   visited us often at Loon Island, and  little   William  took a liking to her    That was unusual, because when visitors  were around he   mostly  stood off  in the bushes or sat in a tree.  He was    twelve or fifteen at the time. His age has always been uncertain, as he was not my real brother, and didn't seem to be much older at that point than when he had first shown up in our family garden six or eight years previously.
     So when Aunt Sammy and   William announced   that he wanted to go and  live  with her for a while  on Rooster Hummock (or  "Hammock" as they say down there)  Mom and Dad were  surprised..... but  relieved that he wouldn't be spending another season mostly wandering around and sleeping outdoors. 

          What we didn't know about Sammy and William, was that  during her visits with us, she  had been  secretly breast feeding him.    
   It's not as if you would expect that to be going on, but   I suppose  access to  roostosterone  had something to do with the fact that Aunt Sammy, who had never even had any biological children, was lactating at age fifty something.   

    And of course, wild child that he was and is,William has never complained;  and on Rooster Hummock,  he was usually out  with the  hens, sucking   eggs,  and  rumpusing with the roosters.
  He helped Mr. LaRoy with the rooster round-up and each time Mr. LaRoy gave him a quarter, which William put in a sock .

       Until early one morning, he  snuck out and away   back  to  the North Country,  carrying a favorite  hen and a sock full of quarters  in  Aunt Sammy's guitar case.


     The Three Guys Protection Agency

                My first ever shipment of chickens arrived one cold, early Spring, and included fifteen or  twenty unexpected  rooster chicks , added   as   biodegradable thermal-mass to keep the desired chicks warm.   I had already  decided that, besides as a source of  broiler meat or roostosterone, there ought to be a natural role for roosters,  and that we would work it out.   One of the first things to learn about chickens is that they grow and mature   but very soon they got to be  unruly , aggressive, and  unmanageable adolescents.  
  At that time  I knew that  my brother    William was  wandering  around between   Coy Glen and Dietrich's barn where he sometimes slept and read books I had stored there.....   so I caught up with him reading in the barn, and asked him  him to come here to help me deal with the chickens. 
                   William said he  was planning to build a boat right there in Dietrich's barn and then navigate   up through the lakes to the Arctic....which you can do on a map, anyway.
       I told him he could build his  ark right here at Dog's Plot,
            So he came, and did.

  At first he groused  about my    keeping so many roosters  and when I suggested he milk the roosters, and he  refused....wouldn't  eventell me how it's done.
      But really the Roosters weren't much of a problem for William.  He knew all the   strut and bluff , wing dance, and chest butt stuff.  He he took the roosters on one by one.  
 Occasionally body language was not sufficient and he would humble a rooster by pulling out a tail feather.   If enhanced intimidation was needed,  he liked to footbowl the attacker into the pond.  Roosters can't exactly fly, and they can't quite swim,,  but they can   flop across the water...... which amused William and  gave the roosters a  moment to remember. 
     He had to kill some, just to eliminate the genetically determined  assassins.  He used the shotgun for the noise effect.  
                  By the time there were only a dozen or so  left, he could control the surviving witnesses  by just carrying a stick,  held as if it was the  gun .   
                 William came out of his Ark  each morning  and led the three Red Star roosters  from their perch on my deck rail, down to the chicken house, where he would  give each   a small stash of corn or sunflower seeds or whatever,  then  open the hen house door. 

     He needed to stand over them a while, but food is the trick to  tipping the roosters into their better  natured   routine,  calling the hens to the food, clucking over a particularly big chunk of something,  tossing it ,  then moving on  , calling the hens to foraging, nesting, and dusting places,  themselves  standing tall, still, and handsome.... Lefty, Dot, and Whitey, in a  rough triangle around the unconcerned hens -  tails up, or sprawling in the dust.

   When the hens came    back to   the hen house , often  before noon,   William  would release the unemployed   roosters kept in their own wing of the chicken house....  and then  there  might  be   a wild rumpus, which William sometimes entered, throwing and bowling roosters.

           I gave him my old laptop so he wouldn't get bored with this place, but pretty soon he was  blogging about how he was going to take his Ark   up the great lakes.
But    the ark  turned out to be so heavy   he couldn't  even drag it across the   driveway. I don't think it would float either......  even on ice,

        And then, of course,  his old girl friend Gee appeared.
                A few months and several business plans later ,   she was gone.
                         And a few days after she went down the road.....William  left too,
     I don't know where they are now,  might be gone  south with Missy Hooligan's Tall Animal Review.

    Disorder at Dog's Plot

         After William   left,   about all I had to do for the chickens was break bread, open doors, and stand around a  while  to make sure the roosters got off on the right foot..

   And so,   the triumvirate of Dot, Lefty, and Whitey had it covered, we had a period of peace and  stability.
   That was until  late last summer, when Lefty suddenly got the black shits and died off the rail.

Link to Lefty:  http://dogs-plot.blogspot.com/2010/07/i-remember-lefty.html   

   When  Lefty had been gone a day, Whitey started challenging top rooster  Dot.   He attacked Dot. straight on ,    he attacked him from behind, attacked with claw, beak, and spur .....but Dot was  more  shocked and surprised,  than enraged.  He didn't defend himself well..  
       You are supposed to expect this kind of challenge.    This is how roosters sort things out, and  people might  not want to mess with Mother Nature or try  to introduce democratic values to chickens.
      On the second day....... bloody feathers and streaming wattles...those two were going at it hard, right in front of the house .    Whitey was on Dot, at his neck, chop, chop, chop, and not going to stop.
           So I ran out and booted Whitey off....not hard enough to break anything,   but not a mere foot boost.....  hard enough that he landed on his feet  about five yards away and kept on going, flapping and squawling, outraged and humiliated.  Maybe too hard.

I was out with my camera when it happened and didn't manage to turn it off, or to include much of the violence, but you can hear Whitey's protest and   Dot's triumphant flapping.


   After breaking up the coup,   I didn't see Whitey around for the rest of the day.

          That night  I went out with a flashlight ........and found him  roosting on a carry- beam under the deck.

          The next day he came out from under the house,  but  if he got too near,  Dot chased him off.   
                         The two nights following,  Whitey sat in the dog house on the deck, 
      I gave him some Friehoffer's oatmeal bread and then  let him in the house to scooch in the the guest   chair.  
  Next night   Whitey roosted up  on the  recyclables bin  the roosters use to get up on the rail.......
right smack under Dot .

     And the next night after that, he was up on the end rail....  three feet to the left of Dot,   half a space left where Lefty used to be. 

     Mornings now, Whitey and Dot  both accompany me to the chicken house, I set them up, and they range with the hens.   They manage, but  it's a  two dimensional, arrangement in a three dimensional world.  Sometimes the hens straggle  out of the pincer   and the two roosters  split up with the two groups,   or one of the roosters might   wander off alone  to   nap, flap,  and   crow.
    This year I  raised some  Americuna , Chilean/Ameircan chicks who started in the house but are  now totally outdoor birds.   The sleep in the sumachs, and  occasionally  lay eggs in my tool boxes.      Whitey   tries to wrangle them about a lot of the time now, but  the Anerunas are wild and agile fliers who easily evade the roosters and me.

    One  warm day a week or two ago  I  left the sliding door open and  Whitey  Came in.  He sat in the guest chair, and began to cluck and chuckle quietly,    After a few minutes,   one of the Aracuna pullets came in.
Whitey chuckled her to the chair, and she got right up and leaned over him  with her head inches away from of his, staring into his eye, or maybe his mouth.  Perfectly still .  Then her three  intense sisters came in too,  and pretty soon I had to shoo them all out.
       Later  Yellow Foot   ....with Whitey right there and me too...   laid   an egg on the chair.  Small and rounded.  They both stared at it..... astounded.... or expectant...its hard to tell what they're thinking..


Monday, August 16, 2010

KRISTAL FOREST, The Dalai Lama, and Me

   The Disappearing of  Kristal Forest

     Kristal Lorraine Forest -  to whom I was married for four years in the 1960's -  formerly  of Ithaca  and  Boulder,    sometimes residing in  India, and  originally from  Long Beach,  California .....  was living  with her two  Calcutta street-dogs in  Campo Verde, Arizona, when she decided that if she  moved to  Mexico  she   could get by  on her  Social Security payments alone.    

   Kristal had picked up and moved plenty of times all alone before, but this time  she hired a local homeless man   to help.  
   After everything had been cleaned out on the final day,  the landlord   inspected the place, and  handed Kristal  a wad of bills for the deposit refund,.  Then she  drove off  with her helper and the dogs.....in the Red Nissan SUV and pulling  a UHaul trailer.  They were headed for Austin, Texas, where Kristal had arranged a temporary job.  She never got there. 

           When Kristal's family in California  hadn't  heard from her for three months, they reported her as a missing person and soon began prodding the police toward a murder investigation.   
          Arizona police found   no record  that Kristal or her vehicle had crossed the  border, but they found her moving helper still in Arizona, and driving Kristal's red Pathfinder.       He  had  some dubious paperwork indicating that he had bought the car.  Whether or not he had bought the car, the papers established that he was a certain  Robert  Reed.....who had burnt down his own townhouse for the insurance, and had   disappeared while he was out on bail but had been tried in absentia and convicted of  arson. 
   Reed is  in jail serving a ten-year sentence , which is very little considering that there had been half a dozen human beings asleep in the building when he torched it.    He is refusing to talk about  Kristal Forest.        
   A year and a half later now, whether as a result of family prodding or because of some new information of their own, the police have opened a full-scale murder investigation with a  public  campaign to determine what happened to Kristal.
   According to Phil Jordan   (the  Ithaca-area   psychic with an impressive forensic record  who is not  being consulted  by Arizona State Police)  Kristal's death involved her neck and a cabin in the woods   within an hour of where they were when the death occurred.  In fact, the family tsaya that there was a cabin in the woods which Reed was known to use.  I don't know much more, because I am not conducting my own murder investigation.
  But of course you don't need a psychic to think you  know who did it.   A lot of people get murdered for no good reason other than that they were carrying money and trusted the wrong person.  The police need to find Kristal Forest and move justice along.   Surprises would be welcome, but there is no big mystery in her death.  The real mystery was Kristal herself,   even if you happen to have been  married to her for a few years.  

 Water Pig Fever

    In the Fall of 1963..... a semester before Kristal Forest arrived.....  Eric Ross, John Irvng and I were Juniors abroad at the Institute of European Studies in Vienna.   We read Witgenstein, Sartre, A.J. Ayer, St. Thomas,  etc. with the young  Eddie  Mowatt, who had not yet finished his Oxford thesis but had a beautiful  way of making all ideologies  clear and concise.  As an encouraged  intellectual protest to something or other,  John, Eric, and I conspired  to all submit the same quoteation from a Robert Frost Poem in an exam paper we wrote for him.    The poem was all about those who stand on the shore facing outwards, but looking neither out far, nor in deep.
  In response,   Mowatt invited us to his flat, where we drank something and discussed the issues.    He told us he had chosen Catholicism as a stay against confusion,  particularly for the purpose of  bringing up  children ..... though we were as close to children as he would have for a while.   It didn't seem like a ridiculous idea at the time.
         We three drank in the second basement below the Deutches Wein Haus,   ate Friday night steak and egg dinners upstairs at the same place, and rode go-carts in the Prater. We took  coffee in a modern little  place just off Kartner Strasse, where the street walkers kept   comic books to read on breaks.  John taught us the first stanzas of A Child's Christmas in Wales, and led us in walking recitations of  "When I was a windy boy in the bit, in the black spit of the chapel fold..." boldly in the face of the wind and of whatever disapproving old Weiner  happened to be coming in the other direction.   Eric and John grew mustaches,   which I couldn't manage to do, so I  stopped getting hair-cuts.

      While I was struggling to read analytic philosophy at Cornell, and Eric did impulsive Acting  at Marlboro College, John had contended with Hemingway and   Fitzgerald,  read and maybe met Frost ......and it could be he told us that Dylan Thomas toured and read at his prep school....  and that after the reading  maybe they even got drunk together and wrestled.  He never did say that, but you know the sort of yarns I mean.   Yarns  from   personal experience involving prep school, hunting, ardvarks, and bears.   Most importantly though,  John  knew what novelists themselves were all about and what they  did  other than write novels.
 And the main thing.....it still seems to me......is  that  writers can  actually be IN  their stories.   Anyway, in that frame of mind, we three structured a Grand Spin for the next summer, involving    bull running, trout fishing, and motorcycles, with girl companions hanging on behind.  Should be good.     
 Bernard from Haiti and his literary partner  Chuck  must have seen by our outfits that  we three were writers:.  They asked us  each to contribute to the Spring issue of the  I.E.S.  literary magazine, and so we became promising writers.  
     In February,   we  boarded the   Orient Express bound for   Istanbul.......planning to go from there by  boat  to some unspecified Greek Island, much warmer and brighter than Vienna,  and that would be the place where we would be writers, and write. 
     I remember that  train ride as one long  night without real sleep or actual meals, interrupted by a  stop or a dream  in the middle of  snowstorm with  no depot visible......peasants climbing aboard , some with feet wrapped in rags,  others  carrying skis .....a   woman with a baby trying to get into our compartment, the door held shut by the two Turks riding with us at the time.....
         Somehow we zipped right by Greece without my noticing.  It was one damn long train trip, though, and from the beginning we had been  eating nothing much but  hard rolls and cheeses we  brought with us.
    But  when we were almost to the end of the line, we went for our one real meal in the dining car.
I don't remember the meal...but I will never forget it.
 When we had finished  and had been   still  at the table five minutes after the train pulled into the Istanbul station but the waiter  had not yet come with the bill......we got up and walked out.   The waiter caught up with us and made us pay. We paid.  And we would pay again .
        As soon as the running waiter got his money, a  little "Student Hotel" kid  hustled us to a taxi where we were led to   a sort of efficiency bathroom with tile floor, bunk beds close to a kind of toilet/ bidet   with an underbutt water jet and no toilet paper....... a small  bath tub so close opposite  we could puke in it without getting up, just perfect for us that night.  Such  was the onset of what we took to calling Water-pig fever, but which would affect us each differently.
    The first night was the worst; after that we dragged through the underground bazaar where we bought meershaum pipes and  roughly-used leather vests .  Eric says now that he and I went into an opium den in the lowest level of the bazaar, and got so shnockered there.....said  that John had to come and pull us out, but I don't believe their memories.
      Anyway, we were not tourists or hedonists, we were journeymen, and had to get on with it..
            About as soon as it could be arranged, we sailed over the heaving sea  to the port of Athens, where we disembarked as snow fell into gray Greek water.
  We were advised at the ticket office that the nearby  island of Hydra would be as warm as far off Crete;  so we went to Hydra......... which we never had heard of, but is the traditional home of Greek sea captains,  and some very odd characters  I will tell you about in private sometime.    The movie Phaedra had been filmed there the year before, and the  young Leonard Cohen had probably just left.  There were writers too, including a very famous Australian novelist whose name I forget and whom we never actually met because he was surrounded.   We met the ex G.I. who had never gone home again..... Fred....who at the time was trying to make poems on paper which he could bake and eat.
       We were  on Hydra to write actual stories,  and plenty happened there that one could write about, but such things are  distractions when you want to work.    Hydra houses where mostly heated only by cooking  (and our one meal a day was   cooked over a Bunsen burner for us by a woman downstairs) si in our quarters it was was just too cold to write;  especially  when   feeling like shit, and when one is  never  written anything that wasn't homework .
    John was actually traveling with his little portable type-writer, and he brought it down to the harbor where we took coffee every morning after breakfast in order to sit out in the sun.   He didn't write much though, except maybe a letter home to his girl Shyla........because one day he woke up sicker than ever, and the next day he hardly woke up at all,   barely conscious, puking  and drooling into a waste basket.
        So we went asking for a doctor .....only to find that the one doctor  ( who was also the mayor)  traveled a circuit of the islands every week.... so we had to wait for  his two days on Hydra.
   I don't know how long we waited, and I am sure we weren't sitting by  John and the waste basket all that time, but after the doctor finally arrived and had administered his cure, he said John would have died if the wait had been  much longer.   That may or may not have been an exaggeration, but the odd and undeniable  thing is that after  having the typhod, or typhus...or the ideopathological  Water-pig Fever,  John was hardly bothered by the Orient Express Syndrome...... at least not like Eric and me.
  Maybe the one disease cured him of the other!  That could have been his story for the institute magazine, but, to this day, he hasn't come through with one.    Eric handed in  a story about running over a dog, and I  handed over  one about  a disconnected expatriate artist standing on the sea wall of the Hydra Harbor and staring down into a floating mass of fish entrails  or seaweed or something, while a butterfly flutters unseen overhead.  The butterfly was phony and the artist looked like Fred, but seems to be me.

         Back in Vienna,  I hauled my sorry entrails  to Dr. Rudolph Faulkner, a Russian doctor of internal medicine, who told me    I had a  rare form of dysentery,  which I would eventually  be able to discourage some, but never completely vanquish.  He suggested I give up coffee for six months and hard liquor for a few years, and he gave me some big pills.
    But beyond that, he assured me that  my essential problem was a  deeply active philosophical disposition which assured   that I would always be  aware of the darkness at the heart of things .  I don't remember how he actually put it in words, but it felt intellectually  validating.....     Dr. Faulkner  recommended that I read  Fragments of an Unknown Teaching  by the Russian Mystic Gurdjief, but I haven't finished it yet.  I try to look without staring too much.


     Peter the waiter from Graz walked into the international students dining hall in Vienna as we were having our regular evening meal.... and he announced that    President Kennedy had been shot.
       A bunch  of us, Peter included,  decided we should go right then  to the American embassy....I'm not sure what we intended to do there,  or if there was anything more than a consulate so soon after the war and partition.....and we never did find it.
 At the end of the day,  I went for a drink with Peter at his place.
    Peter always wore blue jeans...... is probably wearing them somewhere in the USA right now........and back then was more  shocked by the assassination then I was.        Opened up by the event, and .probably inspired  by some confession of my own......he told me quite solemnly that his own father had died in the trenches during world War  II, as a result of a backfire from lighting a fart.

      You never get over much of anything entirely and forever, but as Spring warmed,   my digestion improved some. Spring was lush with a  influx of American students,  half of them   from California,  and  epitomized for me  by   Kristal Forest  and Cheryl Nickel, who had met when they  both  worked  at Disneyland ;   one on the moon rocket, and one on the Monorail.   Cheryl....open and friendly.... with the sparkling, laughing, and overflowing eyes;   Kristal, taller by a neck, with   very large eyes   which drifted off when the boys of the institute  tried to  get her attention.  Kristal with hair and skin like olive oil, bleached and tanned,  appearing to be maybe a   f North Italian, Egyptian, a Stepp-Gypsy, an Indian of either sort,  or  a green-eyed Sphinx from another planet.
   None of the Institute boys had been able to get anywhere with Kristal.
    One night in March or April ....Eric and John,  with me and some others were sitting around the  stove in Marco Walshocks apartment,  drinking tea with rum, and discussing  the Kristal Forest problem.      John himself was expecting his girlfriend from home to arrive soon enough that he could be disinterested, but after listening  a while,  he said  that there was only one fucking guy who stood a chance with  this Kristal, and that was  fucking David.     

      I really had no idea what chance he  was   talking about.  I had not been in the competition.
          Well then (John let us know)  the reason I was the only one with a chance at her,  was  because I was the only one who had showed no interest in her.  This must have intrigued her, he said.                           So all that was needed now, was a   back story  for me, which would build on that curiosity, and  fire up her interest.  I could get interested easily.  I had just not considered the possibility..
   The story, according to John,  should be that  I had  recently lost the love of my life,   and  had almost lost my  will to live....unless...and so on.
      This  argument had the force of logic:   it got reluctant acknowledgement from the  contenders, and  as long as it didn't require that I do much of anything, the plot was alright with me.  Besides which   ( as I told no one)  it was not a a big lie either:    I  had never really recovered from the summer of my sophomore year  when I adventured off to Alsaka and my high school sweetheart  Carmy Mignano took up with the steady guy  she has been married to for forty some years now.

            Eric  had already taken up with Kristal's room mate Cheryl, with whom  he shared an impulsive nature, so my story was passed on casually.... and  within days  Kristal and I    found ourselves sitting beside one another at the Marine House bar.
 Conversation didn't exactly flow.  One thing we did have in common then was an inability to make small talk.  At some point, I mumbled something and handed her  a small sea- shell I had found on the beach in France, and had been carrying in my pocket since,  She  said something, or she didn't say anything, but she  looked away,  closed her hand around the shell, then opened her hand again and looked down into it at the crushed shell as it had mysteriously appeared in her hand.  She dribbled it into the ash tray.  We ignored the  incident.  She would not remember it.

     A back story is only a back story, and a present plot was called for to overcome the dysfunction of these two .
         It got to be May when the nearby Grinzing vineyards on the slopes  at the end of the street-car  line,  would be bringing out the new wine.   I don't know whose idea it was......nor do I know that Kristal wasn't just as aware of it as I was....but   Eric and Cheryl   invited Kristal and me individually to come  drink the new wine  in the wein stube of one of the vineyards, then take a picnic up into the hills bordering the vineyards.   Eric and Cherly would have their sleeping bags to  camp out over night, and Kristal and I could travel back on the street car before dark.

      Of  course we all, stayed the night n, two to a bag.  Bag rolling races down a grassy knob,  ambiguous  giggles and whispers........ when Eric and Cheryl had lapsed into silence, we two buzzing like two black holes  trying not to disappear into one another.  Too strange for sex.

    But the central story had all its bones and some detail now:    With our girls clamped on behind, we we would  ride the length   of Austria, up over Switzerland,   zipping then to the North coast of France for an ocean dip at Biaritz, and then  south across France to Spain,  and up   over the Pyrenes to   Pamplona  for the annual running of the bulls.....although  I hadn't  yet read  Hemingway   much beyond Big Two-Hearted River .   I didn't know motor cycles either, and hadn't even ridden a bicycle since Junior High School,


Running off the Boars

            Eric had already  bought a used Horex  of around 450 c.c.s and John   a Jawa. 350....but Kristal and f didn't want to worry our parents about  our  exact means of travel that coming summer, so we  saved our pocket money until,  for seventy five  bucks each, we bought  a Deutche Triumph with three previous owners, and barely two hundred CCs - minus the CCs taken up by the carbon deposits.  The more obvious problem to me, was that it had no luggage rack;  so I arranged to have something welded on, and picked it up in time to practice driving around Vienna for a few weeks, before the day we all roared off   to criss-cross Europe.

 "Saddle the Chickens" we usually said, as we mounted and rode out.          I don't know where we got that expression, but an hour or two after we saddled the chickens and  rode out onto  the  Autobahn, the little old Deutche  engine began to cough, spit,  and loose power.
  When we had been out of sight of the others for half an hour,   Eric dropped back  to say that they all wouldn't  all slow down for us, but from then on, they would try each night  to camp somewhere  visible from the road.

     Before long,  our machine would still run but wouldn't move unless we got off and walked beside it.
            The sun was already below the mountains and  we were near nowhere; so I walked the cycle down the embankment and  a little ways off into a  little short-grass clearing only a few yards across.   Very convenient.  We put   rolled our bags out and zipped them together.  Actually, I don't remember any ground cloth.  Could it be we didn't know enough to bring one?  And could it be that we had no question but that mother nature had specially  made us  such a fine bed?

    Before it got completely dark, a tall  boar hog stepped into  the clearing within three or four yards of us.  I suppose he was dropping in for a nap, a wallow, or a snack.   A  tusker....... he stood half in the clearing, and stomped a foot several times;    gave a snort.   I think he was probably threatening the motorcycle rather than the long lump of us on the ground.  Then I stood myself up  at the head of the bags, and  Kristal   grabbed me around the ankles.                        

 Maybe she saved me from making  a cowardly run.   As it was I yelled and clapped my cupped hands several times hard, which was about the most I could do.  The boar turned back into the brush.

       Then it did get really dark........and  we spent the night right there.    I have no idea how.

         The next morning we pushed up onto the road embankment, where I  cranked up the engine.  Starting  with it cool,  we were able to ride along on the shoulder to the first exit.  But from there it was up slope ....and we could manage only if we walked beside and I pushed.  Engine running and choking, we pushed a mile or so up and into the little village that was going to save our butts.  
  It was Sunday,  so the inn was open but the garage was closed.   There was one of each thing in that   village and we were the one thing happening  right then, so within fifteen minutes we were famous in the Inn, and out on in front, where the sorry Deutche Triumph  stood.
     A small crowd began to assemble around the machine.
      Several men   squatting by the motorcycle   partially disassembled it.  They lay the parts in the gutter, poured on gasoline ,  and burnt the carbon out of its insides...then put it together and sent us on our way, with  implicit thanks for our assistance with World War II.

         We were extremely lucky, whether we appreciated it or not ......and now we had half again as much power as when we had bought the machine, but even that was still not much to carry two people and their baggage over a couple of mountain ranges.  We were lucky when we made it to the top of our first Swiss mountain  pass just at sunset, at five miles an hour  in a snow flurry...lucky that there was an Inn with foot thick down comforters there.    And we were lucky again days later, not far from Geneva, when, we saw our friends camped close the road.
         But a few days after that  John and Shyla decided to change their plan,  turn back,  and  go to Hydra.....where they would get married.
       Eric, Cheryl, Kristal, and I continued on tot Biaritz,,  then  to Pamplona, as per  the plan.     
      After arriving in Pamplona and  drinking several bars with hundreds of people wearing and sharing  red bandannas, the  four of us  rode to the outskirts of a village  a few miles out of town and  camped  beside the cart lane in a well kept orchard with no houses near.

    After the first night in the orchard, Cheryl and Eric decided to pack up and splurge on a hotel room, but Kristal and I didn't want to spend the money, so we left our baggage back  when we all went in to town.

  Late that afternoon , Kristal and I arrived back at the orchard   just as four or five men in white  field clothes were carrying off our sleeping bags and clothing.
     We stood off the cycle, and  Kristal pressed up behind me as  if she were still riding. She told me to do something.  A couple of the  looters were carrying sickles. 
 I clapped my hands and  yelled.  They laughed, and continued on.
        They didn't leave much.  Mostly they didn't leave our sleeping bags.
    As we were gathering up the remains a few minutes later, I saw the head of someone watching us from the little ridge behind us, and so I went up there...but he was gone.  Lucky.

    It now seems obvious enough .......seeing as were camped  beside the cart lane in somebody's  nice neat orchard.......that    these guys were on the job site, very near home, and that we  should have looked for the nearest house and done some apologetic begging, especially since this was Franco's Spain.  Instead, we went to the police in Pamplona.
     But don't you worry, the police didn't want any trouble with us.
      They sent us to the mayor of the little town  we had ignored.
    The mayor was a wide, friendly man on a Vespa scooter.  First thing, he took us  to try the  free tapas treats at the town bar,  and than had us follow him  as he drove around looking for suspects.  He stopped a gypsy wagon, made everybody get out..... asked us if those were the ones,  He  took is into a reform school dining hall and asked us if we saw the robbers there, and so on, but  no luck along those lines.

             Kristal and I  had the clothes on our backs, no sleeping bags, and very little money until we could get to American Express in Nice where there was to be money for me.  We bought a nylon blanket and Kristal  sewed the sides together.  That was our bag for the rest of the trip.      Of course, we never did see the running of the bulls.   And a year or so later the mayor would send me a post card  in Spanish, saying our stuff hadn't show up, but he would let me know if they located any of it..  
              We four rode across dry central Spain and past  several big wildfires where there was very little  to burn.   As we were entering Barcelona, we lost Eric and Cheryl in a traffic circle. Or they lost us, and If they weren't trying to lose us, they were  just lucky they did. We may have already borrowed money from them, or were thinking about it.  We wouldn't see them them again on that continent.

               Staying in a not awfully expensive  hotel convenient to American Express, we wired the Nice office to have our money order forwarded, and then wandered around for a few days.  We discovered the street where they sold nothing much but guitars, and  gave up a little more money for a quarter- sized guitar without a  case.    After a week or so of waiting for money to be forwarded,  we learned that there had been a postal strike in France all along.  
        We paid off our hotel bill camped on to the beach, sketched and plunked the guitar.
  It was good we didn't have   much luggage now, because the rack I had paid to get welded onto the cycle had cracked under the original load.
          So as soon as some money came from home,  we   bought a    novelty  jack-knife from the window of a souvenir shop.  It was about sixteen inches long when closed,  but thin steel and more of a joke than a knife, but we rode out into the hills and I hacked down a sapling  to repair the luggage rack.

                  In the saddle again, and half way up the Costa Brava to France, we argued about something unmemorable, and it ended with  Kristal  walking up ahead to hitch-hike.    I don't know if I intended to chase after her, or pass on by, but  she got a ride before I even got back on the motorcycle,  We found each other the next day  fifty miles further on, and Kristal got back on.


        We rode on up to Niece,  where we   quickly learned they do not let you camp on the beach, and anyway we   needed to  get back across Europe the long way  to Holland for Kristal's ship and my Plane.
 The engine was still performing well but that machine had a chain drive, and we had finally worn  down the teeth of the drive cog so far  that  when we tried to ride up the hill away from the harbor and  out of Niece, the chain slipped so much we had to give up the attempt..
      The cog    it would have to be replaced.  And being a foreign machine,   It would have to be ordered, and a high import tax paid.  We signed the machine  away to a passer by on the street.

  The Last Marriage Ever

           After we gave our motorcycle away, getting rides was probably easy for us:    the long legged  blond with the little guitar and the boyish companion....... but I don't remember a single ride until we were already through Vienna again and  on the Autobahn in Germany.  We had been  picked up by a World War II Luftwaffe pilot  returning from Checkoslovokia where he'd gone in order to fly military airplanes...a privilidge not allowed him in Germany any more...... and the next ride, still on the Autobahn:  a  younger German, who  took us   at aircraft speed,  swerving to avoid a pileup in the right lane...... and told us as,  we fishtailed on past the sliding wreck, that we were lucky he had used to be  a professional race  driver.   He gave us schnapps in sample bottles from the glove compartment.  

      Copenhagen seemed to be full of students  at the beginning of something.     Kristal and I lunched on the free condiments at an American style hamburger bar, and slept on the floor of a Turkish bath  which turned us out early in the mornings so they could turn on the steam.

                  I left Kristal at the ship in Amsterdam  and a day later,  I took the plane from Rotterdam.
  I enjoyed my Salsbury Steak flight meal,  the first food in some time for which I didn't need my silly jack- knife.
      I   was still wearing the army field   jacket with the ball point  portrait of Kristal and me riding on the back of it,   the   folding,  cheese and sapling-hacking, sport-utility knife in one pocket, passport in the other.
  Customs  would noticed that my passport had been stamped in Turkey...... and t  I must have   looked like someone had recently pulled me  out of an opium den.
 As soon as I made it through customs....or thought I had...a couple of plain- clothes men took me  by the elbows and steered me to a room upstairs, where they made me empty everything from my bag  and pockets onto a table.  They were uninterested in any of my grungy stuff, and they laughed outright when I pulled  the jokey jack-knife out of my pocket and put it  on the table.  They told me that   while in New York City, where there were laws about the maximum length of pocket knives, I had better carry  it in my bag, rather than in my pocket.

        By the time I got to Grand Central Station I had just  enough money left for a bus ticket which would get me to within fifteen  miles of Ithaca.
      I don't know how I made the last fifteen miles, but I know I got there, and  I slept for two days, with some time off for t.v.and refrigerator.  The family was all up at lake Bonaparte,
   After the   rest, I was interested only in going up north to do some  trout fishing.

        About as soon as I  got back from Lake Bonaparte a   Kristal called to tell me she was pregnant.
      She flew to Ithaca,   determined not to go through with  the birth. The issue was her independence....and  anyway..... willing as I might have been to  stand up and take responsibility.....   to depend on ME might not have been a good plan.    I visited a doctor or two.     But looking for an abortion back then  was like throwing yourself down the stairs,  and  not as effective for the purpose.
    Kristal flew back to California, and a friend of ours drove her to Mexico, where the operation was done in room behind  a drug store, without complications.

     After the abortion  Kristal  decided to transfer to college in Boston , but applied by mistake  and was accepted to little Catholic Boston College, mistaking it for Boston University.      She discovered the difference after she arrived, but  somehow  managed to jump over to Boston U.
         I visited her in Cambridge  more than once.... and very soon she was pregnant again. 
      What can you do? We agreed to  go ahead with it....and to  get married.   I told  my parents.  They were quietly, gravely  disappointed.

   Kristal  didn't tell her own parents about the pregnant part of the wedding plans,  but  arranged to finish her B.U requirements with courses at Cornell, and  she started planning a pretty good  wedding.  She  designed our two embossed wedding bands for a Boston goldsmith to produce, and set the ceremony  in the back yard at Edgewood place, with the Cornell Library chimes cued to play, as we we marched up to be  joined buy the next door neighbor, Rev. John Lee Smith.   She found some  traditional Vietnamese  rail-dancers who performed on a saw horse at the reception there.
    Eric and Cheyrl had  arrived in a Volkswagon Beetle with a brass bed frame on top. John and Shyla were already tied  down in New Hampshire with their own baby.    Kristal's Parents were flying in on the day of the wedding, but  their flight was delayed so we had  to postpone the ceremony for  half an hour and maybe the plan had been to get us married before they could find out she was pregnant (and they did) but according to plan, Kristal and I hopped into the the family car  and   drove from the wedding/reception still  in progress   to the save  remove of Lake Bonaparte which we had pretty much too ourselves and the plane spraying DDT, as it was prime black fly and mosquito season
    I managed to row us over to Round Island and catch a couple of   bass out of season,  and we broiled them over the outdoor fireplace.  Another  day I drove us across the Adirondacks to the   Ausable River   I left Kristal in the car by a favorite stretch below Wilmington and went upstream with my fly rod ...........and was gone so long  she drove back to Wilmington and bought a water melon  which she had time to eat all she wanted of before I drifted back down stream with the reversing air currents of evening.   She was angry, but not   as angry as she should have been.  The easy ability I had back then to escape time, now takes a lot of hard work.
      How do you name a child who hasn't been born yet?   Like most other parents, we thought we needed to do that.  I can't remember the name for the boy who never was, but for a girls name, we settled without argument, on "Mnetha":  the name  I got from  the  Dylan Thomas poem  "Before I knocked and Flesh Let Enter", about the experience of being a child in the womb,  Now it seems lto me  your true and final name is the one your Grandchildren use, even though they call me Granny.
  Kristal, Mnetha, and I  started out   on the third floor of the family home at Edgewood Place,   sharing the downstairs  with both of my parents , sometimes my younger sister Valerie, and  with my grandmother   Donna,  who was already around ninety years old, but still standing in the kitchen.  This arrangement lasted until three women vying to out wait on each other   became two women too many  for everybody .           

    We moved into the Pleasant Grove married student housing complex and I worked short order at Noyes Lodge nearby when I was not in school.  didn't stay most places very long    It seems like where ever we were, Kristal would  shift the furniture around every few days, until   the inherent unsuitability  of the place  became clear, and we would move on. 
       More than once, it was a matter of dust. Her allergies were furious and undeniable.    All of a sudden, as if struck by a cosmic spoor shower, she would flush with a full  body rash  and have to restrain herself from clawing at the tangled webs of coagulated mucus which formed on  her eyes.  I had to   roll up the weby stuff on swab sticks..
              At the Doctor's direction  to build her immunity,  I gave Kristal  regular  injections containing regular household dust.......then    cortizone shots when her condition  got worse anyway ..... and Adrenlin when it was worse than even that.
      I don't now if it was mostly a matter of time, or  or the treatments, but she   battled through,  doing hatha yoga , taking dance classes at Cornell, and becoming religiously vegetarian. She  gradually became  less allergic, and  she was eventually able even to keep a cat, as long as he didn't come further in than the basement. .
       In the Summer of 1968  Kristal left where ever we were,  and went off to house-sit for her dancing teacher, while  I was  finishing  a novel  called  Norman Is An Island,  in which  Norman fakes his own drowning and leaves his wife,   I was also making a short film  which opens on  Kristal  in her wedding gown, In a dream of  floating   dead on her back  down a slow stretch of Fall Creek,...   gown and hair streaming;  a scene  from which she wakes with a dissolve into an extremely ambiguous world  where  fish swim by windows... make of it what you will. I was finishing up my M.F.A. in creative writing.
    Emerson Brown  a Cornell Phd who had been teaching down at The University of Puerto  Rico had come back up to Cornell because U.P.R  had  been closed down for the entire year,  after the police in Rio Piedras   shot and killed two U.P.R. students who were trying to flee over a wall  on which  they had been hanging   protest posters.  U.P.R. planned to reopen in 1969....but minus Emerson Brown and a few others; so  he put me in contact with the English Department there, and I soon had a contract to teach  English literature and English as a foreign language.  Not that either of us had ever contemplated going down there,   but  Kristal decided to  give me another one- more-chance, and packed us up for the move to Puerto Rico.
          In Rio Piedras we soon encountered Hally Wood and Sing Stevenson as she helped him in and out between his wheel chair into the low board  London Taxi they had shipped to P. R. so she could shuttle him back and forth to classes .  He was  a  seventy-five year old working professor of English and Folklore , and Hally,  his thirty year younger wife and former  student.    Their affair some years before had    got them kicked out of the University of Texas;    and beyond that, they were  told to leave the state of Texas itself.
     Sing had been born Robert C. Stephenson,  on a Ranch in California and was a star football player in college.... until he had the game accident that put him in a wheel chair.
        He had once been the North American Chess champion   and he played weekly with a frightened Russian who expected to be found and murdered by the Kremlin. Sing was  was still learning a new language each summer, so that he could read this or that.  He  envied me because I could still look forward to reading the brothers Karamazoff for the first time.  He called me Wild Bill Hiccock.
  In her student days, Hally   had traveled with  the folklorist Alan Lomax, helping with toting the wire recorder and making written transcriptions.  Hally played the banjo and the guitar and sang the songs she had colle cted.   She was a believer in correct authentic versions.   Hally on Banjo, me on harmonica, and Kristal on guitar, we practiced and performed once or twice for the English Department m and at a party or two.  Sing Stevenson. could sit up drinking  with a crowd until they disolved away....... and the next day Hally would drive him   over to campus to    spread enthusiasm, bright and rosy cheeked as always. 

     These were also some good whole days for   Mnetha, Kristal, and I, walking the wild beaches, peering into tide pools and picking up shells.
And Kristal got permission to teach modern Dance   on campus.
 But  after a few weeks of her  classes,    the relevant administrators found out it was MODERN dance,  and they shut her down.
    At the same time Kristal made trouble by  shielding the Vietnamese wife of a faculty member who was habitually beating her -  which he insisted was his right.
  I don't remember the substance of any of our own conflicts, but I remember her being irritated that I was able to just go off into the other room and write, when there were unresolved issues.
       After Christmas Kristal and Mnetha flew back to Ithaca. 
     They moved  back to  the third floor over my grandmother and parents At Edgewood Place.   She enrolled Mnetha in East Hill School which I  had myself attended and was only a few blocks away.    But the city of Ithaca had been making moves toward closing the school to save money.  Kristal  joined with a   group of East Hill parents who demanded that the school be turned over to them, saying they would do the janitor work and the principal  work and everything, plus build a green house on the school roof and maybe raise chickens up there too.  They were ahead of our time.

  Kristal  also joined  a group of mostly Cornell people,  with overlapping interests in  Pscycho Drama, Astrology, and   Mysticism  who gathered weekly  at   The American Brahmin Bookstore   down on lower State Street.    Lennie Silver: poet, musician,  and mystic ,  then teaching   at Cornell , moved his math class down the hill to the bookstore, and magically  transformed it into an astrology course, and himself into the greatest drop-out I know of.
       But the American Brahmin Bookstore  was primarily the  business  and domain of Tony  Damiani,   a  retired. N.Y.C. longshoreman   and devote of Paul Brunton:   an English Journalist who had experienced a grand realization  during a night spent in one of the Egyptian Pyramids, 
   The group study at Wisdom's Golden rod in those days wasn't about psycho drama or sitting in Pyramids, but was in the Hindu academic tradition of  debate about critical texts relating to sacred writings,....way too dry for me,  but Kristal  sat with it.
  I would have been a very sad puppy, without  and Sing downstairs in my building .
   And our old friend Cheryl had recently divorced someone I had never met , or was in hot water about someone,   so she flew down to stay  with me for a while, and we had a good time With Sing and Hally....whom Cheryl resembled in enthusiasm and energy level.
  But  I  was pretty dragged out  lonesome anyway.  Air passage back and forth from Puerrto Rico was subsidized back then, kept down to seventy five bucks, so  flew up to visit  Kristal and Mnetha in Ithaca around during Spring vacation.
     Kristal was living in Shelter valley up Cayuga Inlet.  I caught a few fresh run rainbow trout in Shelter Valley Creek, and discovered morel mushrooms, which were everywhere that season.  Without those few days, there would have been no Spring for me that year.   No new  Spring in our marriage though.

  When I got back the Puerto Rico  Cheryl had a new  boyfriend living in the apartment.  She figured I wouldn't mind, and I didn't. I gave them the bedroom so I could have all the privacy I needed.  Our new friend Henry   had been camping on the beach. I liked him.  His father was a college president, and Henry himself probably is a college president now. 
We  cookied for each other, and boozed with the neighbors.  Plus  I could always go into the other room and write.
       But when they both left, I was miserable again.
   I had been invited to remain at U.P.R. the next year, and I   agreed to stay for double pay through  the wicked hot  summer session  ... but I wanted to go home again, and I could, so I did. 
       While in Peurto Rico, I missed the part where Cornell black students took over the student union and were photographed marching out  out with some  hunting rifles.  It didn't seem to me to be on the scale of the U.P.R. real violence  but  maybe it was close to eruption....and  I had also missed Woodstock....... suddenly there was all this weird clothing,  social experiments  and well intentioned communities out onthe seven  hills of Ithaca.......and the American Brahmin Book Store.
         Kristal introduced me to the psycho-drama which was still meeting down there.    The   group  agreed implicitly to forgo  some of the normal social restraints and considerations of privacy ....to get down to what is really wrong .
  It was clear very  quickly  from the  reactions to me, that Kristal  had been complaining about   me before the group, and  that  the others didn't recognize the devil she had been describing .    I think they were so pleasantly surprised that I got better treatment than I would have otherwise, and that irritated Kristal.
         I came across as unnaturally  quiet, and silently critical....and my new friends  encouraged me to access anger.
     And so I accessed anger, but I learned on my  own that   getting angry with Kristal was  fighting fire with gasoline.

    Surprisingly, the school district allowed the East Hill parents to keep the school open. At Kristal's suggestion  I volunteered  there    and the parent group soon offered me  the chance to  stay on as a paid teacher...... but then I got an offer to take on a couple of Alan Pike's over-subscribed writing courses at Cornell.
     I had been practically raised on that campus, and although I had never liked school  from the very beginnings at East Hill,  and had more than enough it it already, I had by the end of my schooling figured out how to make an easy enough job of it....especially  teaching writing, so  I took the job     I did it for a couple of years, making more money than I would ever make again,

    The last place Kristal  and I lived together was a cottage house set back from  East Shore Drive, across the road from the lake.  In front there was a large   garden entirely of Irises, a third of which I dug out and replaced with vegetable plants.
    In memory, it seems  like the two of us weren't both in the house at the same time, and then communicated through Mnetha....but  I remember Kristal and I alone, standing in the kitchen at the rear of the house,  arguing about something, when I glanced out the window and saw  and  saw  four or five deer  standing right there....  not even feeding, but just  looking in at us.  I stopped   and pointed to the deer, but to no effect.

        Alan and Linda Pike , with David McAleavey, had  rented half a farm house out on Perry City Road   ,   next to the old Quaker  cemetery. They invited me to come live  there.  Lenny Silver and wife Jenny lived in the other half of the house.  McAleavey was in California at the time, and I would be on the couch for a while, but then the Pikes would be going to Italy for a year.
    We called it the Old Same Place. David McAleavey,  returned  from a summer at Berkley   with wild wild hair, wild girlfriend, and music of the Dead.
   There were wandering visitors, visiting wanderers, and a mystic named Ram who was a pretty good intuitive astrologer.  He said there was to be some special significance for me in Pinot Noir wine.   Peyote, LSD, and Pot were around.  I drank Pinot Noir and cooked  elaborate dishes form the Escoffier cook book, Hally had given me.        I dug a vegetable garden between the house and the cemetery and grew one pretty good too tall clump of seedy pot plants.  I often had Mnetha on weekends  and took over care  the little Norwich Terrier   Kasha, which Kristal had bought for Mnetha, but which aggravated her allergies.
     Kristal was also agrivated at a distance by my life and style.  One afternoon when  I had  been asked to deliver  Mnetha  all ready and packed for an  overnight camp , her bag packed , including   some food items for a dinner meal, . so, along with whatever else,  I  tossed in a can of pork and beans   This so outraged Kristal's food principles, that she  shouted me down the stairs and threw the can of beans at me when I was at the bottom.
 She had a point, and she  missed with the beans..  but Mnetha would be witness to many more flying objects, and worse than actually hiting me with a can of beans,  she  refused, because of my  bad food chocie, to  leave Mnetha in my care any more.
     So   I figured - coolly enough, it seemed to me -that  I didn't need to pay HER to do the job she was preventing me from doing,   so I refused to come up with any more child support.
             So she sued for divorce.

                 Our Judge  Friedlander disclosed that she had been one of my father's students in law school, which we knew and  was alright with us....and advised us in  loco parerntis  that whatever else went down, we would have to cooperate about the child.
     Kristal did get custody, which seemed natural and obligatory back then, and I was directed to see a probation officer for a while, probably to make sure I was paying child support.  I don't remember what were the technical grounds for a divorce, but   I  remember standing with Kristal  in  front of some judge or legal  clerk during the  process, and  Kristal saying at me...."David, you think everything's funny don't you? "    
       She did have a point there too.  Our history together was  definitely   not a romantic comedy.    And I wouldn't say it was tragic  marriage either...because I don't exactly regret it.   But it was traumatic  enough that neither of us ever tried marriage again.   
     My writing got weirder, partly because life was, but also because I wanted it to be far out and in deep.   But the fiction  I was working on then never got too far out of one Charlie Peckerstone,  who lived all alone   trying  to write a philosophy thesis......when he was trying.   His name was the  invention of my friend David Rollow, and I don't remember the context, but I thought it was funny.

    Peckerstone  himself was  more concerned  with   collecting retro  diner artifacts than he was in  writing his Phd thesis.     Purchase by purchase, he had gradually  turned his apartment   into a diner, right down to napkins  and an institutional food supply.    The bread had to be Millbrook or Wonder in the long loaves,  and The tuna had to be Star Kist in the gallon-sized institutional can, with the standard mermaid and the starry sea label,
 Of course there were no people but himself in his dinner....  so he never managed to eat more than a third of   a can before the remainder began to smell bad, even in the fridge,
  But then he always enjoyed buying and opening a new can. 
          Late one night, after having put out the spoiling remains of the incumbent tuna,   Charlie goes  to the Supermarket and buys a brace of  of Wonder Bread Long Loaves, twenty five  pounds of   burger patties, and a gallon can of Star Kist .       He gets home from the supermarket at one in the morning, and right away  opens the can.

    And, you guessed it.....what was in there......was not tuna. 
    Curled in a cloudy albumin  ....... a sort of mermaid...not your  tacky Disney  scaly tail  carp-ass thing with pale skin, plastic blond hair, and waterproof mascara...... but a  creature  both more human and trout like with a perfectly smooth skin all over shading  from fish belly white  below, through the   vermilion  sunsets of her flanks, to the starry night of her back.
    Unfortunately, though, she was far from perfect for this element we live in.  As soon as the air touched her skin, Star Kist shivered and her skin began to crackle and itch.
       Charlie Peckerstone was in love or something...but   Star Kist's exquisite skin was so sensitive to air   that   he had to keep  her in the bath tub all the time ,  and she lived there  unhappily  singing  lonesome songs of the sea, until the location changed without notice.   

    Life After Birth

           Soon after our divorce,  Kristal  left Mnetha with  me at my parent's house,  parked her car at Wisdom's Golden Rod in care of  her teacher Tony Damiani,  and  flew  to India with our  wedding rings.
   She donated the rings   to the rural ashram which had been home to   the guru of Tony's guru:  the monk called  simply,  Ram.    Ram was slight, wore next to nothing, and smiles appealingly in his pictures.  He was known for his understanding and sympathetic way with animals, with whom he  never argued   about the interpretations of critical glosses on sacred texts. 
        Kristal  stayed at the ashram for a few months to meditate and serve.  It was all fine with me.
               But  when she got back to  Ithaca again,  Kristal found  that her car engine had seized  while in Tony Damiani's care.
  She was sure that he had driven the car without bothering to check the oil, and that such behavior was unworthy of a religious  teacher. She was unforgiving.
      After the break with Tony, Kristal began associating  with one  and  another of the Ithaca  Buddhist study groups. 
    Kristal  wasn't getting more than some child support from me;  but  she was expert at getting jobs.    She  worked in the Cornell library system, and  she   managed  Ithaca's first self-service gas station.  She  could hostess your event, clean out your closet, or remake every dress in your  wardrobe.  She got Montessori certification   and taught preschoolers.
  Mostly she was  a teacher.
   With me as a cosigner,  she bought  a house out toward Slaterville,  though eventually she turned it over to the bank.  Later, she bought a house out in Perry City, and sold that one after a while,  so she could travel to   Dharmsala  India, home of the Dali Lama and the Tibetian refugee community.
     In Dharmsala   she taught at a  school run by the Dalai Lama's  sister. After a while she returned to Ithaca for short visit, then packed up Mnetha, age   thirteen  ....and traveled with her back to Dharmsala.
         Mnetha soon got so sick  that Kristal  sent her home alone.  Maybe some day Mnetha will want to remember the week long train ride across the high hot planes of India...and the rest of it.
            A few months later, Kristal also left Dharmsala. 
              Mnetha and I picked her up at the airport in New York and Kristal slept with her head on my lap much of the way back to Ithaca.

     Kristal moved to Neptune, New Jersey, to teach at a Montessori school   and Mnetha went with her to finish High school at the mostly black Neptuene High School.  When Mnetha   moved up to SUNY Purchase for her first year of college,  Kristal  came back to Ithaca, once again.
  She dyed and stenciled Tshirts and  remade Salvation Army clothing which she  sold  with her  "Salamader" label.  
            Kristal  was a   sales force of nature.....but  Ithaca  - hip or not - is not the great market plac of the New Age world.........that would be out West in  the Santa Fe, Boulder, Taos triangle.  So there she went.     

   Kristal was a generation ahead of  the New Agers, had knowledge  with experience, and had gained a lot of intellectual confidence..   She got her own T.V. astrology show in Boulder.   Kristal  was the sort of astrologer who  would not hesitate to give dire warnings and concrete advice. She was a good teacher, and probably a good astrologer if she was not too close to you, because like the rest of us, and full of compassion for  utter strangers and all animals.

      Kristal   had looked into her past lives and found something Egyptian.     She didn't believe in mere  coincidence  or random accidents of birth......she  believed that we are born and reborn into circumstances we have earned, and will keep on being reborn until we get it right. And , even if it isn't true....it's true..
        She believed  birth itself is such a traumatic event that it is a big barrier to   remembering, connecting with, and transcending our imperfect  previous lives.... she believed   that if one does not revisit one's own traumatic  birth experience with a qualified  guide, one might never evolve spiritually..
 She  went through the guided experience herself, and became a certified Rebirther..

       She was her own authority though.   Along the way there were  occasional acolytes   and   younger boyfriends,........but I can't   imagine that she ever again  depended on a man for anything.
  Any man  in her experience, even  Tony Damiani,  must have  had difficulty living up to the patriachial  standard   set by her own  father.
         Daddy Guy had grown up in New Jersey as Alfred Edward Gajewski,  Kaj for short in Polish, or Guy as it became on the football team in college.   He was enrolled in Time Motion Studies, but joined the army to be a Seabee engineer.   Right after the war, he Married the girl he had met in Long Beach...on the beach there.  They got married and adopted the last name Forest....being that  Gajewski means something like  forest ranger, or worker, or person.  
      I always remembered from what Kristal told me, that Betty Jean's father, old Knapaw, had been a Gold miner, or prospector maybe, out of Cripple Creek Colorado.  This appealed to me.....Gabby Hayes and his daughter Dale Evans on a dirt poor Colorado ranch, but Betty Jean had spent only from her eleventh to her thirteenth year at Cripple Creek.  And Knapaw had been more of a railroad man over all than a gold miner.  In fact, he had started out as a Gandi Dancer on the extra gangs, just as I did for a summer.  He was drafted at age forty four, and he  survived.  I never met old Knapaw  ..... but  soon after Kristal had left me in Puerto Rico,  I  got a letter from  him expressing his perfect  sympathy.
   I never answered his   letter,... ....and now I AM Knapaw.

          The adoleslcent Cripple Creek experience didn't seem to stunt Betty Jean,  Tall  and attractive, she did some modeling back in California, but about as soon as she was married, she was involved with the Tool Shop which Guy set up near the Watts section of Los Angelos.
      Then Guy and Betty Jean had a baby girl,   beautifully named    Kristal Forest.  Kristal would compete in child beauty contests and take   dancing lessons.   When she  or her younger brother Brent got a cold, Guy would take them to the gym to work it off.  Kristal stood or sat up straight....she  was Homecoming queen at Long Beach State College.  She  could have been a  Dairy Princess from any planet, and was   a natural for the  summer job  she got as hostess on the     Moon Rocket at Disneyland..

  Papa Guy was a believer not just  in rigorous physical culture,  but in a strict health food diet,  and  in Naturopathic medicine.   He employed members of his family, kept working, carrying a gun to work  through the Watts riots,   and  besides the full time business,  labored    for many years at   building the family a house in  Whittier.
       But it was taking so very VERY  long that the  neighbors  complained  and eventually  filed suits against the project, and the situation made  the Odd  News segments of two T.V. networks.
    Kristal was able to plan her own  new room, but  she never moved into it.....but I didn't sense that was a major disappointment for her. .   Kristal told me that  when she first went back to California  with the new baby,  Papa Guy was up on a step ladder as they came in the door, and he  didn't come down.  Maybe Guy never wanted to finish .  He never did.
  As a practical builder and a dreamer, I know that building and dreaming can be the better part of anything.

    When well past the Princess and Beauty Queen stages,  Kristal  had come to seem less like a beauty queen than a sort of goddess:  a fierce goddess. 
       Even before that... back when we were still married and  she made up for Halloween, it was    as Medusa, the snake-haired para- goddess      She made her own  wig,  with  a  dozen or more coat hangers bent and wrapped with cloth to represent  writhing snakes....maybe writhing in a box somewhere yet.        
           Descended - mortally  devolved - from Athena,  Medusa was a less balanced, more pissed-off being,  But  the rage of Medusa is so  huge that you have to  be very careful   not to look into her eyes,  or you will be turned to stone.     Mother worshipers, feminists, and warrior women make use of the Medusa image....as well as misogynists, psychologists, and Kristal.

       She was saintly as mother Teressa, and had fewer doubts.  She was genuinely fierce; she knew she could be powerfully scary, and she seldom, or never, apologized for an outburst.  She denied their existence.    It is not that she was angry all the time...she may have been placid for months at a time.     Peace, after all,  was the main goal of her yoga , her studies, and her pilgrimages.
  In fact, it  seemed like what had erupted as allergies in her twenties, and had later morphed into anger......had  eventually faded some.
         I told her then that she didn't seem to be as angry as she had used to be......and she got  angry  at the suggestion , but not as angry as she would have used to.
       Most everyone except  Kristal (even those with the same condition)  probably came to recognize  that she wasn't just   easily angered and overly concerned with the spiritual and moral  state of others, but had a serious problem:   a mental illness which ought to have a clinical name with an acronym, a treatment, and a support group. 
        And that might be Borderline Personality Disorder.  B.P.D.  has had a name and a description  since  before Kristal was born.    The diagnosis is recently regaining currency, and a place in medical journals with positive findings from random studies and new treatments.    In the time since the term was coined,  a procession of psychologists  has applied it  to a changing range of   behavior.....but then Kristal's behaviors went through some of the same changes during the same stretch of time. In the past it was a dismissive  diagnosis, in the present it is seen as within the treatable range of behavior.  It is, after all, just borderline,  and you may be too.
        There may be some association with  brain and chemical differences,  or with childhood traumas, and family patterns, but  whatever the roots of it, the  the  basic characteristic of a borderline personality is emotional "thin skin".  In terms of behavior, that involves an  intolerance of ambiguity, particularly in moral and existential issues.   Such personalities,  lack the ability to recognize the several clashing characters inside themselves.  Instead, a Borderline tendency is to project all internal battles outside and fight them there.       This becomes a tendency to  demonization.   Here is a  good introduction to the subject, with plenty of links to the sources:        http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1870491,00.html
       It seems right on, but it is only a description, but it seems to be describing   an exaggerated case of the human condition we participate in..

  Kristal was one Mother of a mother....a mother of mothers, of women generally, of lost seekers, of the poor, and of animals.   In recent years, Kristal  had been  teaching in native American schools in New Mexico and had made another trip  to India.....always rescuing as many  creatures as she could.    She had begun signing herself on cards and gifts to her grandchildren as "Madhu "  which can mean something like sweet, nectar, or honey, in Sanskrit, but as a name in Hindu mythology, was applied to one of the Asuric deities, which  the Gita (16.4)  via Wikipedia, says, share the qualities of pride, arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness, and ignorance.  I had thought it was meant to convey the sense of Mother or Grandmother, although Kristal   had become just about completely alienated from her own  mother and daughter,  whom she accused  of ruining her life.  But only her killer  ruined  Kristal's life.

          Though her body has not been found,  Kristal's  family in California has already memorialized her in a ceremony at a Buddhist monastery there......  as she would have wanted.    But  now,  a year and a half after her disappearance., the Arizona police have  opened a full-scale murder investigation,   Kristal needs to be located.   The family needs this to be settled and the killer needs to be in jail as long as he lives.

      So, where is Kristal Forest? 
        "The  Crystal Forest"  is the title of a German folk tale I read in Vienna, before Kristal herself appeared there.
    I suppose it would be relevant here, but don't remember how the story went, and   I couldn't find   it on the internet....but I did discover "The Crystal Forest"  petrified wood protected area and park,    not sixty miles from where Kristal had been living.
  I'm not saying she is there to be found, but   Kristal could have hardly been unaware of that place while living in Mesa Verde, and would have  attached some special  significance to the place ......let her have that.  And maybe we would  let  the person who looked into her eyes and murdered her, be turned to stone himself for a life time or two, before starting over again as a horned toad. There is Nothing we can do about it.
   As of this writing, Kristal's brother and his wife have called off their plan to put up posters and billboards in Arazona, because (they say) I have, with this bitter internet attack on Kristal, I have destroyed all their efforts to get this crime investigated and brought to justice.  But they say they are definitely not angry, and certainly not rage blind.

      A  Kind  Note from the Dalai Lama

      The Dali Lama's North American Seat  is  in Ithaca.   I haven't seen his seat, but I have seen him, and I like to pretend he's my buddy.   Years ago  Mnetha and I  did a stucco job on the present monastery.  The monks borrowed cups of mortar from us, and used it  to butter cracks in the side walk.
But a  new monastery and education center, designed by a former employee of mine,  is now being built up on the hill beyond the sidewalks.    
 While writing this, I discovered that  the Dalai Lama, who has always been a geek and an early adopter,  now  has a Facebook page.  Hi Dalai!
      Here was his status report on the day I discovered him there:
"We must learn how to identify the opposing sides in our inner conflicts. Take anger: we need to see how destructive it is and at the same time, realize there are antidotes within our own thoughts and emotions that can counter it. So by understanding how negative it is and then by strengthening our positive thoughts and emotions, we can gradually reduce the force of our anger and hatred.