The Madwoman's Journal
Copyright 1998 New Moon

August 1998

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Things will have changed.

Saturday: 1 August 98

I had my coffee on the back porch. It's a perfect day…

From May into October I keep the backdoor open, day and night. I only close the door to keep the furnace from going on, or to keep the wind and rain out when it's blowing a gale. Otherwise, that door stays open. I've often wished I were some sort of sprite or dryad and could live in the woods or by the sea, comfortably at one with Nature year around. Maybe that's because my earliest memories are of waking up and looking out into treetops. When my brother was being born I stayed at Gram's and slept in my mother's old room. Her windows looked out into birch trees. In the house my parent's built, my windows looked out into oaks. Now my bedroom window shows me maples…

I've always loved this house. It's a Kit Home, I believe, possibly a Sears & Roebuck, maybe Montgomery Ward, built in the 1920's. The carpenter who did the finish work had a level that was off a tad, and all the window and door mouldings run uphill ever so slightly-- but only someone with an eye as good as mine would notice, so that's a quibble. It's a very nice house: square, two storey, front and back porches, walk-out basement, walk-up attic-- hipped roof, with gable in front. The floors are all maple, except the kitchen and bath floors which were butchered at some time and replaced with evil linoleum tile. I've ripped up the bathroom floor and put down the luan base, but I haven't gotten around to laying the really nice tile I bought four years ago-- but that's another story!

This house was designed by someone who understood climate, and the seasons at this latitude. The roof overhangs just enough so that in summer the sun doesn't shine in the windows during the heat of the day, but during the winter there's plenty of warming sun streaming in. These days, with central air in every home, I guess architects don't have to think of such things; but the one who designed this house did, and, in all the years I've lived here, in summer I've counted very few uncomfortable times-- of course, the west wind helps, and I did put a ceiling fan in the front room, but I've never felt any need for an air conditioner. The only discomfort comes in the winter. In the 1920's there wasn't much in the way of insulation technology available. Someday, when I have money- and I've done all the other things that need to be done first!-- I'm going to have the house re-sided, insulated, and tyveked.

What I like most about this house is that, even though it's situated in the middle of a village, and on a main street, if I leave the back door open, I have the feeling of living in a tree house-- remember the Swiss Family Robinson? Lucky dogs! My back door opens off the kitchen, onto the back porch which overlooks my tiny back yard, which in turn overlooks the old apple orchard which is my neighbor's. There are trees all around, and birds, and squirrels. I can hear the traffic passing on the road in front of the house, even as I listen to the birds and squirrels and the tinkling of the wind chime in the back. My back porch is a pleasant place. Everyone who visits remarks on how lucky I am.

My back porch faces south. In my back yard there are two very large, very old pine trees and a venerable old maple. In the yard of my neighbor to the east there are a couple of rangy spruce trees, with branches only near the tops, and a grand old maple that turns bright yellow in the fall. In the yard of my neighbor to the west, there is a young maple growing fast. Soon, in summer, I will see nothing to the west but maple leaves!

My pine trees are very beautiful. There is nothing like watching the moon through the branches of the pine trees- it's like having a haiku living in my back yard. Knowing these trees makes it clear why the pine motif is so popular in Japanese art and poetry. There's nothing more graceful than watching the wind swaying the pine boughs. And in the fall I can gather all the perfect pine cones I need to make wreathes and Christmas decorations…

And there is nothing to compare with the colors of the maples in the fall. My neighbor's tree always turns a perfect, impossible yellow, and the light below is so rich it almost breaks your heart. My maple tree is less perfect in it's display, it's leaves less uniform in size and color, but the greens and oranges, reds and golds, are ever changing, never the same twice, and it pleases me that it is unpredictable, and that it is mine. In the fall, when I sit on the back porch in the richly colored light backed by an impossible blue sky, what could be more pleasant than to watch the maple seeds spinning down like helicopters?

But, it's summer now, and there are thunder storms to watch from my back porch. And rain. And fireflies. And stars. And clouds. And young birds learning to fly…

I think I'll go sit on the back porch for a while.

Firefly Festival
Moon Viewing
Origin of Fire
Addendum to Fireflies


     Breezes sing in the pines;
         the enchantress moon
             persuades the stars to dance.
     Watched by Grandmother Moon
         I have watched snowy pines
             sweep stars from the sky.
(Don't blame the Japanese: the haiku are mine.)

Haiku for People
Haiku Editorials
Haiku on Computer Errors

15 Oct 98: Haiku's Origin

Monday: 3 August 98

Some days it's all one can do to just go through the motions. Other days, just going through the motions requires a superhuman effort. Still other days… are like this one: seemingly pointless, hopeless, and meaningless. I can't help but think that it would be so much easier to get on with Life if only there were a reason for it all. Why are we here? What does it all mean?

In Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy we learn that the Ultimate Answer, delivered up by the ultimate computer Deep Thought, after seven and a half million years of calculation, is [Ta-da!] forty-two. A clear, concise answer. Unfortunately, after all that time, it was unclear what the exact Question may have been, so it's back to the drawing board.

In book two, The Restarant at the End of the Universe, we learn that Earth, our Earth, is the computer Deep Thought designed and built to calculate the Question to the Ultimate Answer, and that all the organic life of Earth is part of the computer matrix, and that the Ultimate Answer's Question is somehow imprinted, patternwise, in our unconsious brains. Desperately curious to solve this riddle of the Universe, Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent devise a method of accessing the unconscious pattern: they draw Scrabble letters randomly out of a bag while blindfolded. The Ultimate Question is then revealed: "What do you get if you multiply six by nine?"

There you have it. Or do you? Omar Khayyam had something to say about The Meaning of Life , the Universe, and Everything, too:

Into this Universe, and why not knowing,
Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing;
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.

For in and out, above, about, below,
'Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show
Played in a Box whose Candle is the Sun,
Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same door where in I went.

With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
And this was all the harvest that I reap'd--
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

But leave the Wise to wrangle, and with me
The Quarrel of the Universe let be:
And, in some corner of the Hubbub coucht,
Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee.

But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

When You and I behind the Veil are past,
Oh, but the long, long while the World shall last,
Which of our Coming and Depature heeds
As the Sea's self should heed a pebble-cast.

Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie,
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and-- sans End.

And fear not lest Existence closing your
Account, and mine, should know the like no more;
The Eternal Saki from that Bowl has pour'd
Millions of Bubbles like us, and will pour.

Perplext no more with Human or Divine,
Tomorrow's tangle to itself resign,
And lose your fingers in the tresses of
The Cypress-slender Minster of Wine.

Were it not Folly, Spider-like to spin
The Thread of present Life away to win--
What? For ourselves, who know not if we shall
Breathe out the very Breath we now breathe in!

How true! Therefore:

Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
Today of past Regrets and Future Fears:
Tomorrow-- why Tomorrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n thousand Years!

But, if I'm not:

Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the Sky
I heard a Voice within the Tavern cry,
"Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
Before Life's Liquor in its Cup be dry!"

Well, much as I detest Miss Scarlet, she was right about one thing: "Tomorrow is another day." Lets hope it's better than this one.

Now, if only I knew what to fill the damned Cup with-- what would go well with incipient psychosis? A nice Chardonnay? Thunderbird?

Rubaiyat of Omar Al Khayyam
Biography of Omar Al Khayyam

Tuesday: 4 August 98

I have done all the avoiding I can do. I've flipped around all forty- two boring channels, I've done the laundry, I've messed with the other websites I'm responsible for (Webmaster by default, that's me), updating the updatable, checking the e-mail, doing my poor best...

Earlier this evening I caught a little of Politically Incorrect and heard some fatheaded woman lamenting the demise of laws (like those prohibiting abortion) which kept the immoral masses (people like me) in line. I wish there was a number where I could call her. I wanted to ask her if the reason she always "does the right thing" is because there are laws in place to make her. It's obvoius that can't be the case. If laws were necessary to ensure "proper" behavior, she'd be running amok along with the rest of us! You know, if all the laws in the world were repealed today, I doubt very much that I'd behave any differently. Think about it. Yeah, it would be nice to think you could go out and shoot the all the fatheads in the world with impugnity, but, really, would you do it? I mean, real-- well, now I think about it, there is one--

No. I've got enough problems without deliberately incurring bad Karma. Therefore, Ms Fathead, let me assure you that it isn't laws-- not mundane ones, anyway-- that keep people moral or kind or just, it's enlightenment. Why don't you pass a law to make people become enlightened? (You'll be about as successful as I would tyring to pass a law to make you mind your own business!)

            Throw away holiness and wisdom,
                     and people will be a hundred times happier.
                 Throw away morality and justice,
                     and people will do the right thing.
                 Throw away industry and profit,
                     and there won't be any thieves.

                 If these things aren't enough,
                     just stay at the center of the circle
                     and let all things take their course.

                            -- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
If you can get hold of Stephen Mitchell's translation of the Tao Te Ching (Harper & Row, 1988), I highly recommend it.
Tao of Physics
Ancient Wisdom

Or, as Thomas Jefferson, the man who drafted our Declaration of Independence, put it: "There never would have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest." Tom understood better than anyone that each man must be granted sovereign control in determining and acting upon his personal spiritual beliefs. That's why the man separated church and state. He wasn't protecting the state from the influence of the church; he was protecting us, our individual consciences, our sovereign spirits, from the interference of any government, however well-meaning. Talk about being enlightened!

We are each of us responsible for ourselves and our actions, regardless of whether there are laws. It takes a great deal of conscious effort-- soul searching, to determine for ourselves what is right, and what is wrong. And it takes even more strength to do what we have determined for ourselves to be right even when no one, not even god, is looking.

And when it comes to passing laws, making judgement calls for other, less enlightened, less spiritually evolved, people, well, what my neighbor does or thinks or believes is none of my business-- as long as he doesn't harm me, or my property, or anyone else, and as long as he doesn't try to make me do or think as he does. Will Rogers put it best: "Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose." Amen.

And now to bed. Tomorrow I'll hunt up some links to the above-- if you aren't sleepy yet, here's a site I recommend:

The Cosmic Baseball Association

Enjoy. Good night.

Jefferson's Monticello
Jefferson Quotations

Wednesday: 5 August 98

This night I've done a bit of surfing and added some links, and I've worked at modifying and refining the format of these Journal pages. I suppose I should've worked out a design before I began these entries, but if I'd done that, this site still wouldn't exist. I'll just have to muddle through, working out the design as I go...

But now I'm tired and can't think any more, so I'll go to bed and let my unconscious take a crack at the design... Until tomorrow...

Thursday: 6 August 98

I got to see The X Files: Fight the Future.

The movie is now playing only in Franklin, a little town, not so very far away, but a place I haven't been to in five or six years-- since long before they got around to building a Plaza, let alone a Cineplex. I therefore consulted my cousin Peter and got directions: "It's easy. You just follow 126, make a right, and go right again…" Easy. I left betimes…

When the Countdown to Showtime reached 20 minutes, and there were still a lot of trees and no sign of a Plaza or Cineplex amongst them, I said, "To hell with the directions!" and kicked on my autopilot. The autopilot said, "Hang a right-- here!" and I did... I pulled up at the Cineplex at S minus 5.

1:30 P.M.

There was no one in the boxoffice, but the door to the lobby was open, so I went in. There was no one in the lobby. I went into the theatre marked "X Files," and, upon my vision adjusting, I saw that there was no one in the theatre, either. But, the pre-pre show Movie Trivia drivel was running on screen, so I took a seat. (Did you know that Margaret Mitchell once suggested that Groucho Marx should play Rhett Butler? Now that would be at the Top of the 100 All Time Best Movies of the Universe list!) Just before the previews hit, two other people straggled in. The three of us watched…


35,000 B.C.

We were off. I was prepared for the worst, and as I watched the opening, a distinct feeling of having seen all this in an old National Geographic Magazine washed over me… (Review)


My fellow watchers left, but, as is my wont, I stayed to the end of the credits. Traversing the lobby once more, there was still no one to be seen. So I left.

I watched the movie for free. I didn't holler as I went through the lobby, either time. Does this make me a bad person? I didn't want to holler, and, with no one there, I didn't want to leave cash on the snack counter. It wasn't my responsibility. And yet--

4:25 P.M.

My cousin Peter says my story sounds like an X File. He says I had better watch the news to find out whether something bizarre was going on in Franklin, that maybe I was an unwitting participant in some insidious Experiment--

I'm not paranoid. It isn't my responsibility. I didn't do any--

Karma. Karma is going to come bite me in the butt. I know it. I'll get a money order tomorrow.

8 Aug 98
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