Saturday, March 31, 2007
After digesting a nice quiet lunch one summer solstice afternoon, and tossing table scraps out the van window, I jerked the rusted ’79 Ford door open in the newspaper’s back lot. This jolted three Magpies who had been attending to the van’s roof, down to a narrow perch below the windshield. After these moments in which the three Magpies and I were harmonized together in chaotic motion, I instantly froze with one leg stiff out the door to watch them in their new sentinel spots, as one reoriented, jumping inches over my hand, which tightly gripped the swinging driver’s door still, keeping the bright birds from startling off again.
It wasn’t often that I had seen shimmering Magpies this close up. Part of me sensed that they knew of my presence and could see inside me well enough to know I would not harm them. I felt ticklish, like any second one or two of them might actually bound onto my shoulder or lightly peck my head. For two or three minutes, I witnessed their whiling dervish hops about the van and then scrapping back onto its faded top. I wished that somebody else were seeing this from the much-cloistered newsroom. But I dared not move, not even my head. A minute later, a person swooped loudly out from the building side door, lofting the magpies over to an apple tree.
As I watched them embark to the applewood, they soared past by the newspapers rear windowpanes, where a half dozen beaming employees had flocked to see this spectre. This reminded me of a wintertime when some Bohemian Waxwing’s came to feast from the fermented fruit of the same Johnny Appleseed.
From the Mt. Express:
"A Bohemian waxwing, the big brother to the smaller cedar waxwing, stands out among a flock of the colorful birds that recently congregated in a Ketchum tree replete with overripe apples. These opportunistic feeders are often accused of mass, gluttonous eating. Waxwings, or masked fruit bandits, love berries and prefer open woodland habitat to live and mate. These social birds migrate through Central Idaho as food supply dictates and often take turns sharing food on trees or shrubs, opposed to the chaotic competition that some other bird species tend to exhibit. Their peaceful chirping can bring additional joy to those who listen."
Jenney, our highly capable front desk person had taken that day off for her birthday when these waxwings visited. A day later I told her they had come to wish her happy birthday and that, it seemed to me that the chirps sound like :))) click ((chirp! Happybirthday! Twitter, cheep, I tried to emulate the bohemian rhapsody performance of Jenney’s birthday song. Naturally, she thought I was pulling her leg, so even though it was deadline day, for proof, I collared our well-respected and wise octogenarian columnist Betty Bell, who was witness to the Rhapsody, along with the above photo adorned by an added cartoon balloon coming from the bird’s mouth replete with song note icons wishing Jenney her best birthday wishes.
This is when she said that she now half-believed me.
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To be continued…
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Sunday, March 25, 2007
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Thursday, March 22, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Saint Patrick’s Day 2007
Branches dance off in twos or threes
It’s funny how these Idaho trees
Are not designed to poke a man in the face
Except for those that have been
Trimmed sharp, by mans hand himself
Most taper off, reaching safely for Sol
Where people forget to look up
Kids clap -exclaiming never tire
At jumping at sky with sparkletoy in hand
Sounds of glee from the playground
Named after Hemingway ascendfully agree
Thoughts from the tree lean into me in two or three ways
While dazed, the tree rings pierce through my pitch pine stained cloak
To see that I am both old and young
I respectfully stand back from the solid oak
Reasoning some Willy Blake phrases
That is -the young boy’s toys
And the elder tree mans reasons
As the ripened fruit of the two seasons
Patterned then, its suddenly seen from my small patch
That there is a multi-chrome green sword for me
To rip and tear from the ancient tree
-James Patrick Banholzer
Friday, March 16, 2007
The midday owl who withdrew from the bank
Original story posted at:
by JIM BANHOLZER
On a black Tuesday after Memorial Day around celestial noon, a storytelling of crows above Hailey went harassing a great horned owl yearling. These cackling guardians succeeded in winging him directly in front of the Bank of America. While he sat stunned in a handicapped spot for about as long as a solar eclipse lasts, a sequence of events occurred that turned this part of town topsy-turvy.
As it was the first day after a long weekend, pedestrians scurried by almost stepping on the owl—somehow not spotting him in their radar. The person who first noticed was a man who usually dons a Washington Redskin's cap—but not worn on this day. He and I thought we were dreaming, seeing this creature of night thrust into the day's brilliance.
I called a peace officer, who said he would have to call Fish and Game. I mentioned an immediate concern of children walking by and trying to pet it. "Nothing like this has ever happened before around here" his young voice crackled. I agreed. But then he told me, "All we can do for now is 'dispatch' the owl, if you know what I mean."
That's just great, I thought, they're going to eradicate an innocent bird on Main Street with the bullet ricocheting off the vaulted bank and straight into an Arlo Guthrie ballad about Homeland Security—lampooning the whole town. Surely, the young constable would transpire a different hoot himself upon actual approach, by merely setting his sunny stun gun one octave below "Night Owl" and just Tasering this talonious threat away.
The shy owl deposited at the bank could see from every angle that he was in a situation where he had better treat the passers-by humanely, or he would face heavy costs in being withdrawn from the wild.
Blind to the camera phone hooked to my body, I dashed to the van to grab film, all the while focusing on not setting it to flash, which would further bewilder this newly disadvantaged creature. Upon my sudden return, he reoriented enough to fly off silently—free from the dangerous moneychangers. His escape path crooked as he overshot pines south of a Queen's black & white puzzle board. Searchers spied high and low to see if he had again crashed. However, the night eagle soared into his rightful realm, now sharing skies with other unseen communication channels—poles apart from the telegraph wires his grandparents used to stalk over simple plots of spud. He then gazed clearly through solar skylights at detached humans freely swallowing mysterious cyberspace columns whole, then regurgitating unneeded paragraphs.
Meanwhile the football fan whose hat no longer casts curses toward Native Americans and I pointed like wild Injuns toward the feather dust still softly swirling on the sidewalk.
By evening twilight, as my thoughts flocked about the owl and the Red Warrior's skullcap that blew off, it struck me that in indigenous cultures it's taught that owls can see what others cannot—the essence of true wisdom. Furthermore, the owl is a symbol for deception in the sense that he cannot be tricked. With his piercing clarity of vision, he naturally deflects the deceptions we attempt right back onto us, sometimes bringing unforeseen nightmares into the middle of the day.
Something else I had forgotten is that some humans hold certain characteristics in their heart-shaped minds, in common with our owl cousins. Paradoxically, some people may have this type of power and not even be aware of it. A person gifted with good owl "medicine" should not use it to shift winds out of others sails, except in extraordinary circumstances.
That very crossroad is one that I sometimes think I will easily be able to turn left and merge into traffic in the middle of the day, truly believing that I can still fly through Hailey as if it's a small, sleepy town. Until in extraordinary awakening circumstances, a friendly officer with halting radar gives a hoot while seeing through everything and eagerly hands me a guardian gift—a kind reminder that I, too, have been softly deceiving myself.
(Footnote: The above event happened on Tuesday, May 31, 2005.)
In March 2008, this story was dedicated to the memory of Victoria Union and her tender piercing vision.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Finding treasures in dreams fascinates me. Especially when there is some uncertainty of exactly what the treasure is. (After all, what is gold really?) Twice recently, I’ve had vivid dreams where some unidentified magnificent presence was there, but fogged away with my awakening. Last week, I dreamt that my father, brother and I traveled together to watch a professional baseball game at some unknown stadium. The two of them walked down to some lower bleachers, while I grabbed some suds on an upper concourse in between a couple of shady characters. One of these men wore a dark motorcycle T-shirt or jacket with elaborate writings on the back. These complicated slogans made great sense in the dream and were certainly an integral part of an answer to some broad realm, but I disremembered them upon later awakening. In the dream, the strangers and I split apart after our order, and then I looked down at my change and noticed that somehow in the chaos of the busy exchange my ticket became bent up. Inspecting the ticket closer, I saw it was for a lesser seat, way up behind the outfield bleachers. I went back and told the barkeep, “Thanks for teaching me a lesson.”
Suddenly Rickey Henderson came up to bat. (This was the first clue that it was a dream, because I thought he was retired, but not 100% sure) In the dream, Henderson still had it. He smacked the first pitch hard and high. An AM radio voice announced, “Will Rickey Henderson get another triple in the World Series?” Suddenly (to show how he still had it?) Henderson transformed into an outfielder and made a giant leap to try to catch his own hit ball. I was at the back of the high fence and the gates opened as the ball transfigured into a rubber sun-like object -red and fiery. It was about the size of a very large beach ball and it bounced down a chasm onto a several hundred wide foot trampoline-like object newly revealed in the depths of the stadium. It rebounded off the earth’s mantle spinning around in slightly different spots and seemed to be asking a guardian to direct its bouncing energy. I jumped out and balanced upon the ball each time it bounced back up to the fans eye levels. In a way, it was like the logrolling contests of yore. Some fans that were friendly toward me were amazed that I could continue to have some sort of control over this small sun, and lightly chanted, “Banholzer can bounce with the core!” As I bounced, a distinct pinging sound repeated itself each time small sol dipped into the mantle. I kept having simple thoughts –“The core bounces off”, “A rebounding edge ping” and “stay in synchronicity with the core” Much of this time; I sensed that another presence was peeking in on this besides Rickey Henderson and the fans. Something seemingly from outside time and space. The sonaric pinging was so distinct that it repeated in regular three or four-second intervals, continuing even for several minutes of a determined slow awakening as I tried scratching down the dream’s essence upon my nightstand notebook.
Only now, when I looked up Mr. Henderson’s statistics –to see how many triples he has had in Post Season play, did I realize that his nickname is “The Man of Steal”. Last week in my psyche class, we were discussing dreams and I recounted an interview I had seen with Christopher Reeve on Sixty Minutes three years ago. In that interview, Superman said that when he dreamt he could always walk or fly. He was never in a wheelchair in his dreams.
The other dream I had was not nearly as sweet. I had been really getting into Hunt for the Skinwalker, reading about the ranch before drifting off to sleep. In this dream, I was near Falls Church, Virginia where Idyllwild turns into Haycock Rd, in a churchlike structure not far from Mosby’s Raiders hanging tree of the Civil War. It somehow became my duty to attend to five or so caskets that had been plopped down onto the church floor. Some of them had been broken apart and I was supposed to remedy the situation. There was a strong sense that this was going to continue happening every day -2 or three or five of these coming in. I think it symbolized unstoppable wars. It was a terrible dream, but unlike earlier times, I felt that it was important to listen to the dream and try to learn something from it, horrifying as it was. Again, in this dream, I sensed “a watcher” of some sort. For now, I think I need to take a little a break from Skinwalker and read a little of this: Spiritual School of Ascension
On a similar note, to discovering mysterious riches, I’ve been working on a story about finding money on sides of roads, called “Bothersome Moneybags.” Here is the almost completed draft: (next blog)
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Headline: Bothersome moneybags
I’m forever finding sacks of money and whatnot while performing early morning deliveries. Generally at the crack of dawn, these treasures come into view like ancient Indian petroglyphs -always appearing in the eastern sun. It’s as the people from Twin and Boise suspected –the streets of Sun Valley are sometimes spanned with gold.
It’s indecipherable why this keeps happening. I figure that folks out whooping it up, while craning their high-altitude stories, distract themselves, and then leave a purse or camera on top of their rig, which enjoys a pleasant little ride –until that first speedy curve at the edge of town.
Highway clean up crews can attest to this, often finding objects of interest, which have sling-shot off vehicles and into the guttural high grasses for foxes to quizzically sniff at.
Before turning the items in, I generally try to do a little detective work, to save the police some trouble. For instance if I find a cell phone and it’s still operational, I’ll call my phone from the lost one to obtain its caller ID. Then, presuming that the person who lost the phone will still check their messages from a remote phone, I’ll leave a message telling them, at which jurisdiction they can pick up their lost items.
Day planners and address books are trickier. People often neglect to mark their own name within the planner –creating a challenging mindbender for Good Samaritan finders. Once I went through a full day reminder without discovering the loser’s name –until paging back to “Grandma” in the address book. Connecting with person separated from their belongings Grandma, I described the teeny purse along with the finding circumstances. Good old Grandma’s concentration led us to easily discover which of her grandchildren had lost the purse. They even handed out twenty bucks along with their thanks.
“Ice” is the ticket now. Emergency authorities say to file your crisis contact numbers clearly under “Ice” in the event of an accident or separation somehow from your prized possessions. EMT’s are trained to look for this -whether it is through cell phones, address books or even tattoos- in the event patients are incapacitated from communicating.
Digital cameras present new angles. One summer I found one sitting atop Proctor Ridge. Clicking through their slideshow, I didn’t recognize anybody, so figured they were part-timers or tourists. When I handed it over to the police and confessed my good excuse to be nosy, we all had a good laugh.
Sometimes people are not so appreciative. Once an old girlfriend, found 170 bucks in a bag at a gas station. After doing some detective work, the lady demanded we bring it across town immediately –as if we had something to do with the reason she had lost it. We obliged, but then she never looked us in the eye nor breathed a syllable of thanks. However, Brooke and I looked still looked upon this event as a worthwhile experience.
Once, our lively crew was returning from visiting a great waterfall. A group in an adjacent boat-like station wagon had an un-tethered expensive looking camera, enjoying a lovely lensed ride atop
their car’s roof. As the light was about to change green, our animated crew started chanting and pointing to their top. They thought our roughneck gang to be a ship of fools –perhaps madmen pirates, until on a last second whim, one of the mellower boatmen had the valor to reach out the window and save their camera and days photographic records.
Often I’ll see what looks like a wallet or purse just off the side of the road. Most rusherby’s are figuring that since nobody is stopping, it can’t be a true value item. And a lot of the time they are right! A few days after turning in one lonesome wallet, I thought I saw yet another, while driving up Phantom Hill at the edge of the evening twilight. After five losers in a row had expressed no gratitude for the return of their items, I thought, “From this one, I shall keep the money, and like a modern day Robin Hood toss the coinage to kids in Poverty Flats!” Fully confident of the riches to be held, I scooped my hand, into the light almost gone and skimmed up what I thought was a smushed leather wallet from the long roadside shadows –until I got back to the headlights and shuddered, seeing in my speedy greed I had skimmed up, and was trying to pocket a perfectly rectangular leathered squirrel, gone off that old dusty trail.
Immediately after this musing, I dreamt that my wallet was pick-pocketed. Within a few hours (still within the dream), it showed up on a bench at the YMCA bereft of cash. Soon after, I mentioned the dream to a friend. He said, “T hat’s funny, because I had a dream the night before yours, in which I found a wallet with cash bulging from its seams. Our tacit agreement was that he would buy me a strong Himalayan tea –in one of our next dreams.
The mythological status that we bestow upon winning sports icons is inspirational, but all too often our must-win culture deems the person who places second a failure. Take, for instance, Germany’s Jan Ullrich: Here is a man who actually won the Tour de France bicycle race back in 1997 and earned second five other times. Mr. Ullrich is also a gold and silver medal Olympic Champion. Yet in 2005, right before that year’s race, USA Today portrayed Mr. Ullrich as an “also ran” saying, “He lacks mental toughness” (Reibal). Here is an athlete who is in the top one-billionenth percentile of all human racers –yet the media continuously portrays him as a loser. Something needs fixed when according to such doctrines, if you are not sitting on top of the world you are a loser.
The same goes for professional sports at many levels. Even though Boston and New York’s baseball teams sometimes win pennants for World Series berths –unless the team actually wins the series, it is a tough traumatic event for the team and that team’s city! Enthusiasts, whose teams place second, truly believe that their lives as fans would have changed in magnificent ways had only the most infinitesimal of heartless pebbly stones not shifted an easy grounder, bobbling onto an erroneous course through their first baseman’s legs. When this happens, teams instantly trade ‘losing’ players, while managers’ heads get the chop. If you are caught wearing the insignia or even colors of the trailing team, you are subject to ridicule for years to come –until the next rematch. Sometimes this happens even when the team is generating millions of dollars of profit, and would be considered successful by any other business model measurement.
The honorable thing to do is ignore this mockery and attempt to gain character from the process in the meantime. This is not always easy, as there are hundreds of Monday morning “expert” pundits for every professional player and coach. Yet sports figures with integrity can rise above this common challenge and prove themselves successes by disregarding this blather, knowing that, as important as fanzines portray these games to be, that there are more vital things in life to gain rewards from. Superstars can graduate to other causes and truly shine in non-sports related venues, contributing global assists to the downtrodden.
Sportspersons have lots to live up to, when glorified as idols that represent everything good in this weary world. A few aspire to and actually reach this high standard and are worthy of such idolization. It is excellent when they attain this level, but even the most glorified of heroes make mistakes. Being subject to failure humanizes the most respected of sports idols, but if they handle this quandary properly, they can come away even more victorious, albeit human. Paradoxically, being fallible enables humans to overcome mistakes, achieving higher levels of admiration than they could if they were actually flawless entities.
A prime example of sportsmanship played out recently on a field at the Seattle Special Olympics. During the 100-yard dash race, physically and mentally disabled contestants assembled, beaming full of life, each raring to win. At the gun, they started out –except for one small lad who stumbled, rolled over and started to cry. The other participants heard the boy and turned back –all eight of them. One girl with Down’s syndrome bent down on the racetrack, kissed him, and said, “This will make it better.” Then all nine linked arms and walked in unison to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood stunned. There was not a dry eye in the arena, and the cheering still echoes years later, resonating in witnesses’ heads when they recount the story. This clearly demonstrates that “True Champions” sometimes thrive unexpectedly in places, which some might wrongly regard as lowly (True Winners).
Tales of football icons fumbling their fortunes emerge from the underside of the arena. It seems that many fabled players, after having everything in life catered for them, have had difficult times re-adjusting to less lavish lifestyles when their careers are cut short. Some end up strung out on skid row or even in jail. Bruce Lowitt from the St. Petersburg Times writes about players who have resorted to selling their Super Bowl Rings only a few years after earning them. In his story, “Getting the ring can be easier than keeping it”, he interviews Kansas City pawnshop owner Don Budd, who says, “It was hard for me to believe that someone could reach that pinnacle…and be willing to give up the one object that says, ‘I was the best.’” Nowadays, Mr. Budd averages 10 players a season, who sell out their rings in this “last line of defense between poverty and homelessness” (Lowitt).
Yet sometimes, after hitting all-time life-lows even these trounced players bounce back up again, redeeming themselves as even better persons than they had been at the height of their ball-playing careers. Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown, (who was raised by his great-grandmother from age two, because his parents were gone and his grandmother was an alcoholic) left football while at the top of his sport, moving up even higher on the scale of true importance to counsel troubled teenagers and make positive inroads into getting gangbangers off streets. After all, for kids struggling in traumatic times, seriously doubting everything, nothing beats hearing legitimately gifted voices of experience from high-profile persons who have tasted polarities of life’s sweetness and bitterness. From delicate golden syrupy pancakes stuffed with caviar and Savoy-truffles with a side of Faberge eggs -To burnt toast and rotten eggs for breakfast with a side of saltwater decaf from Hard-Times Café.
Embracing wide spectrums of experience develops a broader person. Denial of bad experiences is necessary within certain degrees, but in many cases, denial is not the healthiest course of action.
How often in life, have you heard someone saying about a traumatic event, “I wish it hadn’t happened to me, but I’m a better person for it.” In Kathleen McGowan’s Psychology Today article, “The Hidden Side of Happiness” she shows how “a rich rewarding life often requires a messy battle with adversity” and that “there is a built-in human capacity to flourish under the most difficult circumstances” Thus the paradox, “what doesn’t kill you can actually make you stronger.” Adversity sometimes gets confused with failure and making a distinction between the two can be healing in of itself. Knowing that you have given it your best at a sporting event or some other task, yet did not “win” first place, should not by any means disallow you to proudly walk away from your valiant efforts.
In the mountaineering community, there are several well-documented incidents of professional climbers attempting to ascend high peaks, and then due to safety or weather concerns, turning around within shouting distance of the summit. Jon Krakauer, in his award-winning book Into Thin Air chronicles the case of Swedish ultra-athlete Goran Kropp. After traveling from sea-level Sweden on a specially built bicycle laden with 240 lbs of gear, robbed and beaten along the way, Goran Kropp finally reached the base of Mt. Everest, intending to climb it without bottled oxygen or Sherpa support. After a few training days, Goran reached 26,000 feet, aiming for the top the next morning right after midnight. Krakauer’s eagle-eyed perspective recounts: “For the first time in months almost no wind blasted the summit, but the snow on the upper mountain was thigh deep, making for slow exhausting progress. Kropp bulled his way relentlessly, upward through the drifts, however, about by two o’clock Thursday afternoon he’d reached 28,700 feet, just below the South Summit. But even though the top was no more than sixty minutes above, he decided to turn around, believing that he would be too tired to descend safely if he climbed any higher” (Krakauer).
“To turn around that close to the summit…,” (Rob) Hall mused with a shake of his head on May 6 as Kropp plodded past Camp Two on his way down the mountain. “That showed incredibly good judgment on young Goran’s part. I’m impressed – considerably more impressed actually, than if he’d continued climbing and made the top.”
Therefore, it is nice to see that at least in mountaineering circles that you do not have to park yourself on top of the world to be a winner. Principled warriors from other avenues of life would do well to take note of this. Being able to analyze mistakes, remember and learn from them, applying them to future tests, are one of the highest aspirations achievable and a fundamental nature of wisdom. Studying our failures is a great human gift.
It is nice that in this enlightened age of Lickity-split information, more people appreciate this dilemma, offering optimistic opportunities for better squeezing out of dangling second-leveled crevices.
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Krakauer, Jon. “Into Thin Air (excerpt).” Salon 24 May 1997. 20 November 2006. http://www.salon.com/may97/wanderlust/passages970524.html
Lowitt, Bruce. “Getting the ring can be easier than keeping it.” St. Petersburg Times 26 January 2001. 11 November 2006 http://www.sptimes.com/News/012601/SuperBowl 2001/Getting_the_ring_can_.shtml
McGowan, Kathleen. “The Hidden Side of Happiness.” Psychology Today 02 May 2006. 08 November 2006 http://www.psychologytoday.com/rss/pto-20060216- 00001.html
Reibal, Sal. “Focus gives Lance head start as Tour de France nears.” USA Today 01 July 2005. 10 Nov. 2006 http://www.usatoday.com/sports/cycling/tourdefrance/2005- 06-30-armstrong-cover_x.htm
“True Winners, California 2004.” californiacommunity.com. 10 November 2006 http://www.californiacommunity.com/business2/truewinners.htm
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Rough notes that got the chop:
A demonstration of how powerful sports pastimes are, played out on my computer here in Idaho, when my father recently visited. Dad is a life-long sports-nut and for our mutual entertainment, we looked up some old football records. We tweaked open “The Google” to a three-word search of “Pennsylvania, Banholzer & Football.” Like a “Miracle Met”, up popped Pop-Pop’s gridiron snapshot from his 1924 yearbook, along with the all-important eternal sports scores from Hollidaysburg High School’s bygone days.
Dad became suddenly curious. You see, he has recently moved, now living near a man who played on an opposing Pennsylvanian football team in the 50’s. They sometimes recall in vivid detail certain plays that transpired in games against each other fifty years ago. Sometimes the two neighbors still razz each other over particular plays, bringing backfield conditions and weather as excuses that one got the better of the other on certain sets of downs. Dad now wondered if the yearbook we looked at, radiating football scores timelessly across Internets, would show “whose-dad-beat-whose” back in ’24.
With the click of a mouse,
We scrolled to the score,
There it was eternally,
Tyrone 41 - Hollidaysburg 18
Dad instantaneously yelped “S#! $!”
I was awestruck that an unsettling old score like this would subtract from dad’s ageless sports bliss. Naturally, he will hold off for a while from telling his neighbor that his father’s team defeated my grandfather’s team in those days of yore. However, I expect that eventually dad will, in a sporting manner, fess up and share a hearty laugh with his Pennsylvanian-pal the fact that Tyrone High School played the better game that day eighty-two seasons ago.
“The Blue and White Annual, Pennsylvania 1924.” Senior class annual. 1924. Hollidaysburg High School. 15 November 2006 www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/pa/blair/1picts/bluewhite24/bluewhite24.htm
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I am the same way of course. Decades later, I recall minute details of certain key B-ball plays: fancy passes for alley-oops, or ‘high signs’ at tip off from Mike our agile Center to stymie our opponents with opening play dunks. Even particulars about the flashy blue & gold uniform donned by the towel-boy, as he dashed past the bleachers to warn us that the refs were emerging from the lockers, in our own “olden days” when stuffing in pre-game warm-ups was still against the law.
There’s a rural legend, some say, about an Ore Wagon gushing over with potato rotgut and golden ingots fresh from the smelter, with which fifty years ago a horse distracted by a rainbow toppled down unharmed into Trail Creek’s beaver ponds. Supposedly, all the of gleaming gold was eventually recovered. That is except for two bars.
Now don’t you suppose that if somebody had actually dunked their head underwater and discovered a big bar of bullion, we would have heard about it by now? If that treasure was cheerily plucked up, then it goes against human nature to keep it a secret this long. The finder practically would have had to have told another person. Then that contagion would spread faster than a shaky gold fever codger’s six-shooter ‘wiping out’ Injuns for what’s in them thar hills. After all, even Mark Felt’s throat had to loosen from the depths eventually.
Apparently, lots of old timers did not invest blind faith into banks, but rather stuffed jars of money under trees and into mattresses. It could be that these guys were really the wise ones when you consider The Black Tuesday market crash of ’29, Savings & Loan fiascos of the 80’s, mysteriously missing royalty payments to American Indians, Enron-like events large and small, defunct retirement funds, Government contractors rife with misconduct and whatever else we’ll soon be faceless with Social Insecurity. Perhaps Geraldo Rivera should contract out a nano-robot crawler to slip under the vault for some sounding echoes to determine how hollow Fort Knox is.
One golden bundle would be perfect though.
Who could need any more? Maybe it was really found. Perhaps the lucky man dances around a campfire tonight in the White Clouds stretching tall tales over Indian pale ales with D.B. Cooper. It could be that the soft-spoken man you never really considered is privy to a highly regarded secret, just under the facade. He would be glowing so radiantly, that the untamed schoolchildren, not yet indoctrinated over aura denial, would see that he is holding some kind surreptitious ticket. Even then, they would not quite know exactly what the great evolving mystery is, or how deep to optimistically dig.
These days on modern camping excursions, some parents bury little trinkets captured with Polaroid snapshots testament to great outdoor family times. Then they mark on their Global Positioning units synchronicitis records so when their offspring sprout into later life, they can time-travel back and see paternal power points presented new ways. The truest treats sprinkled amongst these paths less scavenged, are fresh ether communals with wise elk and great owls.
It seems that this whole new Geocaching craze has gathered enough good karma steam that even the inner terrorists direct their wrath away from such purity. Kind of like when you know that the further you escape from the main drag that people you cross paths with there, will tend to be friendlier. Thoreau-ly chartable concepts like these should be boxed inside the Dow Jones Industrials daily spreadsheets, where brokers could first take and read them as lowly caveman comics.
A golden ticket in baseball cards is that of 1910 Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Honus Wagner. Legend has it that “The Flying Dutchman” had sworn off dangers of smoking and requested that his card not be wrapped around packs of cancer sticks, resulting in a breathtaking limited edition. In similar fashion, a dozen years ago in Bellevue, a smart man was meticulously salvaging logs from an old mining paymaster’s house. Giving the interior walls the once over, he discovered inside two stripper cards –preceders of today’s bubble gum cards. A Salt Lake appraiser valued these cards at 500 bucks each. Had those 1881 ladies high-falootenly stepped in to stop the early cigarette presses, by reconsidering the moral values of their skimpy prancing about, would that have ironically raised their worth in smoking cards even higher in some collectors eyes?
Back to that fabled Trail Creek treasure:
Following late winter storms, stunning double rainbows sometimes adorn themselves over Trail Creek. Perhaps since that stretch is rarely open by Saint Paddy’s day, those fleeting multi-chromes, springing just off the Ides, have so far only misdirected lonesome snowshoers to false moneypits. In a mixed blessing of global warming a Seventeenth of March could soon come along for one of us luckily charmed Leprechauns or Flying Dutchmen when Trail Creek waterfalls dry up before spring revealing that last elusive pot next to a beaver skeleton. Boy Howdy! This could still be just enough legal tender to fetch you a nice cold glass of uncontaminated ice water by then.
Dedicated to Fritz –a fascinating seeker of gold and good fortune.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
College of Southern Idaho
An Incongruent Incident on Union Street
It was another “Thirsty Thursday” twenty Virginian summers ago at the Fish Market in Old Town Alexandria. I remember it like it was yesterday. Steve, Mike and I considered ourselves fortunate that our slovenly dressed waiter, remembered to bring us a round of Grumpys-like Schooners filled with Schaeffer to the meniscus point - precisely as Steve had ordered. Three birds-eye view windows were opened to the riverside of the busy bar; allowing fresh smells of the Potomac to waft across the tables. This added a substantial atmosphere to the coin tricks we were about to impress some Russian sailors with. They were on shore leave and pointed to their massive vessel lightly bouncing on the scintillating water docked outside our special window.
This was fascinating enough, but then suddenly a vroom, crash and smashing glass made us all look up from the hammers and sickles of the Russian naval-men’s eye-popping uniforms. Evel Knievel –or so we first thought- had careened his motorcycle off Union Street’s uneven cobblestones, lofted up and over to softly scrape the back of a black Volkswagen Jetta. He landed in the ancient street, a heap of mangled metal inches from the bustling sidewalk pedestrians, some who were pushing babies in perambulators.
As God is my witness, I will never forget how quick Steve and Mike came to be in the front row of eyewitnesses, poking their noses out like a couple of Inspector Clouseaus to sniff the steaming evidence. Equally amazing was the response time of the police. They had the major intersection cordoned off quicker than you can chug a small Schaeffer. The motorcycle’s good wheel had barely stopped spinning, as the authorities, meticulously measured and photographed the aftermath of Union Street’s incident. Steve and Mike related their fresh “eyewitness” testimony to an earnestly scribbling police officer. The problem was though; they hadn’t actually seen the crash. They were only speculating about what happened from a memory of the sounds mixed in with their vivid imaginations. Not only that, they began to loudly disagree upon exactly what happened, creating a whole new spectacle in the street. Even the attending officer turned his head downward to cordially chuckle under his breath at my lively friends.As the official report was stamped, we lounged back into the bar. I reflected how it was a miracle nobody was seriously injured, but the two continued with their argument, weighing that as more crucial than any pause to consider a thankful tribute. The pre-perestroika Russian sailors anchored to the bar, watched with astonishment as my friends picked apart the finer aspects of the crash for the remainder of the evening. We drank several more schooners, I disremember exactly how many. Another fog started moving in over the Potomac. I complained about the “expert testimony” of the accident they did not actually see, and now of their continued belligerent behavior. They were embarrassing our town –nay our country in front of our Russian compatriots. Early on in the evening, their discourse held hints of a healthy dialectical discussion, but now other bar patrons were tearing tablecloth holes in their constitutional “proofs”, revealing complete contradictions. I truly believed that one of my friends was going to be conked over the head with a beer bottle any second, to be reminded what a dirt nap is. Finally, the bartender hollered “last call! And without further adieu, we hoofed it out of the saloon, stumbling over the cobblestones newly adorned with motorcycle shavings. As I walked between my friends along the waterfront in the long mile home, I became a referee sandwiched between their heated discussions. Passing the wake of the bobbing Russian Schooner I grumpled, “You know what guys, this river shimmering full of life smells nice, but your “eyewitness testimony” sure stinks!”
Small siren song
Once, a small town girl became enthralled by sounds of sirens.
Her heart would race up in steps.
She bought a scanner so that she could chase ambulances, became a reporter
Legally changed her fitting name to Beth Ann
Stood on a tin pan and strongly sang, “A hemp anthem item.”
After trapping a boyfriend into a dysfunctional relationship, she started creating her own emergencies, to get what she must have.
The town was too quiet for her big dreams, so she moved to Vegas.
We all know somebody like her.
Every town has her siren clangor, who makes appointed rounds.
Always Klung on some foreign channel.
One rang the Town Bell to cheer merry old New England.
Smoked Salem cigarettes –three at a time- to resist the temptation of calming thoughts.
Ran her boys off to war, so they could escape her prism.
They oughter sew her 3-D into the next American flag.Her likeness casts its beacon shadow as a gutter ball down Wall Street’s blood alley.
News to Digest in the Year 2025
By Jim Banholzer
MMXXV was supposed to be the year for me to retire. But, President Jenna Blush’s impeccably developed scientific task force has shown that we industrious ape-evolvers live longer by not retiring. So now, for our own good social security biscuits start at age 75.
Robbie is my reliable robot helper for delivering underground newspapers. Readers still prefer actual newspapers –now that they’re edible. It’s just that the soy ink doesn’t stick as well to the stomach when it’s bad news for the reader. The sidewalks stay clear of snow for our distribution Segways, since the city elders were wise enough in the 20teens to invest in a new maintenance-free radiant heat invention. One can of “depleted” plutonium mixed in cement goes a long way. Even the wolves feel safe warming their bellies on these side walks, knowing that every bullet has a number on it and will be traced back to the owner via RFID tracking.
Last week we rode up the Baldy Gondola for the price of a Cheney dollar. Robbie and I looked down at the new buildings on the hill. I never thought that the definition of what a “hillside” is could be so easily amended. Well, it doesn’t look nearly as bad from up here as it does from town. Just hope we don’t get another avalanche like the Borah quake of ’09 when that slab of rock closed Trail Creek all summer.
Riding down the Greenhorn YMCA gondola, we intersect the airport tram that transfers to the Mackay area. Ten years ago, that town came alive to embrace the Chilly Slough airport /spaceport, where your tax dollars are shipped to astronomical places. Deicing’s not an environmental problem for the reservoir downstream either. It’s all done by microwaves now. The reservoir is being transformed into a holding pond for the ILL (Idaho Lunar Lab). It makes perfect horse sense since farmers get all the rain they need from designer storms –seeded from that old slough naturally. These storms on demand are a great backup system for snowmaking on Baldy and you know when they’re coming too -unless you’ve already eaten that scheduled section of the newspaper for lunch.
Think we’ll zip over on the tram to the Sacagawea Superdome this evening and catch the Frisbee Golf tournament. It’s retro day and players will be tossing discs the old-fashioned way –savages without remote controls. One back alley geezer, who resembles yours truly, tosses an Aerobie up into the ozone and around the neck of a Mastodon statue on his first try. Robbie enjoys this. I nudge him with my elbow pad joking that his frothing mouth will rust his lips. But he just stares at the game in a trace and takes another bite out of the program.
We head over to the Salmon Interpretive Museum next. Some kids are learning about what Salmon were. One whippersnapper holding a duzz-all device mentions he’s amazed that enough humans didn’t want to blast those darn dams. The HDTV on his wrist buzzes out a news report that the AFLAC duck has succumbed to avian flu. Well enough of this. At least the museum doesn’t have to show photos of what a tree was yet. That’s only on the other side of the cypress pond, where sharp inventors developed underwater chainsaws out of necessity.
It’s time for the bus to take us back to our affordable cell. We insert our marked wrists into the holographic security harness to get on. Confirming that we’re disarmed, it releases us through. Our driver is wearing a clown suit and he’s right to do so. Perhaps he’s the only thing in the valley that hasn’t changed. Even the elevation of the entire valley floor has risen five feet on account of all the garden mulch and earthly possessions hauled up from Twin over the years.
Yes, FEMA fixed that housing problem once and for all. The Timmerman Trapezoidal Manage-Mental camp rocks and rolls an Express train up here for the minimum wage workers. When Jeb Blush declared Martial law back in ’11 anyone suspected to have spoken too fancy-free was netted into this new workforce housing program. There’s even a store on the train. Good thing since most of Ketchum’s old shops are now vacuous second homes.
So in the spirit of Maxwell Smart memorize these words under a cone of silence before quickly swallowing them. Back in 2005 the United States was rated 44th in freedoms of the press. (See: Reporters sans frontières - Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index - 2005 ) We’ve been spiraling down a slippery Timmerman slope ever since. We’ll print all the news that fits until a high and mighty authority pops out of his protected penthouse, picks up a nutritious news wrap and discovers these underground points of light whose blushing brilliance need extinguished.
Old Mining Days Dream
As Great-grandfather (Pap-Pap) led me into tunnels of the Pennsylvania mine he used to live in, we laughed together as we descended metal staircases, as hard-rock miners who worked there did not know the secret shortcut around each edge. He had a sporting laugh, as he agilely turned his great baldhead to glance back at me at each turn. We came to a room lit by fire where I found four leases, written in old time scribing style and all about the size of the United States Constitution.
Speculation was such that Pap-Pap remained living in the mine, to keep an eye on things so that the owners would see fit to actually paying him his paltry mineral rights.
I took the fourth (and most recent) lease in my hands and it appeared to be a buyout.
The mine flooded and was no longer habitable. Dad and I speculated that Pap-Pap might still want to live there, but it was high time and the only time that we would be able to get him to move out of this dark hole.
The leases were signed in rare earth ink: Sinclair or Holding –the last one had a stamped consignee of Fishel Company “The world’s greatest ditch-diggers” a place where I had worn a hard-hat at while slaving away back in the mid –eighties.
End of dream
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
Some reality notes: The last time I remember seeing Pap-Pap in this world was in Pennsylvania in the summer of 1970. He was 90 and I was 10. He greeted me with an enthusiastic handshake, while we smiled at the front door of my Grandfathers (his son’s) house. As we shook hands, I gained a lasting impression that he was a sharp guy with a strong handshake for a man of 90. He and I also found joy in seeing that I was nearly as tall as he was. Our heights might intersect any day. My kinfolk tell me that he worked as a Chemist for Westinghouse in Pittsburgh. He had to retire a few years early due to the chemicals he worked in close proximity with affecting his brain. I did not see any anomalies in Pap-Pap at the time and only remember him as a likeable man. As far as I know, he never actually worked in a mine. He could have though. The area had abundant coalmines when he was a young man -ninety to a hundred years ago.
It niggles at me that there is something deep inside me, which I do not see. Why am I so blind to something so obvious? I think that everyone else sees it, but doesn’t say what it is.
Did I forget to call somebody? Am I being impolite in some way?
I feel like I’m constantly forgetting the most important thing –even though I don’t know quite what it is.
Sometimes I wish I could figure out what it is, or at least gain a fleeting glimpse.
It’s been that way since time immemorial –or at least forty years. Only recently did I suspect that it was even here within me. I feel that this is the beginning of a grand mystery.
I wonder if part of it is a pulsar shooting down through the back of my neck then shaking dust off my rusty moon chakras. Perhaps my secret dream projects out a belly button window and onto a chalkboard for everyone to see the moment I leave rooms.
Here’s a medicine box full of stars with tricky stickpins. Please take a sticky trick pin and pass the box along through our tunnel visions.
I saw a man with Down Syndrome ambling behind the alley. He had the same whitish blue pulsar shimmering through the back of his brain, only his came out fivefold from his side hands. Even though I cannot see my own light, I feel it is similar to his. If people would quit crying about him and stop ignoring him, they would better see his illumination.
Maybe somebody will approach me and say, “Excuse me Banholzer, but there are some nasty polonium atoms dribbling down the side of your cheek. Allow me to wipe them clean away with this Politenessman hanky.”
It’s mesmerizing to wonder why I am so sightless. There must be good reasons.
I was reading the other day how Terror-eyes-zing it is for blind men to see lights for the first time. Traveling from zero dimensions to four in one fell swoop.
I might have the same problem.
Seriously tonight in a dream.
I’ve Done heard that some African tribes believe this is their true ancestral land.
You can read about it in Graham Hancock’s anthropological tome Supernatural.
Without apologies, I would like to take off to there, way up over the piney wood
And call in sick tomorrow on a supernatural satellite well phone.
I trust they will have an advanced form of pine nuts for me to munch on
When my years of fascination finally dwindle down to a new hunger.
I’ve heard that the apes on Sirius hold telescopes backwards that really work as microscopes
Speaking of this I saw a photon of Sirius today –it looks like an aspirin.
What up with that?
I suppose I will need to Big Gulp down a cup of genic / cry o’ genetic - chill pill if my dream
Doesn’t instantly transport me there.
But what about a traveling companion?
I almost didn’t even think of that!
So used to flying solo –you know.
Perhaps another soul would enjoy sharing a serious ride with me to Sirius.
Once we get there, I believe I could conjure up a minute bowl of pine nut soup
And boil it over a volcanic crater, in the event we need sustenance.
Hey, if we overdo it, we’ll just break off a chunk of the Sirius.
The whole place is an aspirin –just as the moon is formed from Emerald Cheese.
At least that’s what Neil Armstrong said in an unrehearsed & unreleased outtake,
When he was Captain Crunching on Idaho’s Tamarack pine nuts
Down there around Craters of the Moon
Where the Flag’s blowin’ in the wind
Like American Stars & Bars
All the way from Carey’s Loading Chute
To Arco’s Pickles Place in Atomic City
Where Sirius sometimes winks in the sky
Remember when we were in Africa?