23 July

Feeling Blue

by Jon Katz
Into The Blue

People tell me I am a positive person – a new development, I think, in my evolution through life. The title makes me a bit nervous, because if you are positive, you are expected to be positive all of the time, for you and for all of the people who depend on you. I also differ from many spiritual people in that I believe anger, sorrow and regretful contemplation are important sometimes, and can be cleansing, even healing. My mind is not always positive, and I am prey to the loud noise out there,  the growing lines of people in the world eager to speak harshly of their lives and world, viral transmitters of fear and anger.

Today I was not positive. We went down to Preble Realty to sign yet another document lowering the sale price of Bedlam Farm, this time to $375,000. We have come down a long way, and it dawned on me today that we cannot go down much farther, if we mean to pay a mover, the lawyer, various taxes and the realtor. Today was tough for me on many levels.

First, because I love the farm so much and I realize it is hurtful to me to have it languish like an unwanted bride, even though I understand it is nothing personal, just the times. It is such a wonderful and magical place to me, it is hard for me to fathom, even in difficult times, why no one has scooped it up. I do take that personally, but how can I not? I came to life and love here.

I am assured by people who know that this will happen. The house will sell. It always does.  But that is a logical process, and my feelings were emotional.

My deflation deepened in Glens Falls, where I drove Maria to her yoga class and went shopping, as I do on most Mondays, and walking around this diverse and interesting old upstate city. It gets lonely sometimes, brings back old memories.

I confess to having a bout of the regrets, the doubts. Should I have saved more? Done what everyone is told they need to do in America? Live for the IRA’s? I wish I had them now.  Was I wrong to leave a marriage that didn’t work for me, and enter into the sad and expensive realm of divorce? Should I have taken the other path, the saner path that almost everyone around me took, rather than upending my life and running to the mountain, then the farm.

Am I a failure in many ways? For not selling more books, making more money, writing the mistress of my writing life, the “big” book that will take care of me for life? Here I am at 65, with absolutely none of the things you are supposed to have when you are 65. And at that, snared in what people love to call “this economy.” An editor suggested to me that I write a piece online, perhaps for Slate, about how difficult it has been to sell this beautiful, restored, underpriced farm?

No, I said, I could never do that. I will not make my life a whine, or a sad story. I am no different from everyone else, and there is something beautiful, something authentic, something profoundly fulfilling about learning who you are, where you belong. As light follows darkness, hope follows fear, joy sadness. One is meaningless without the other. I don’t want to be positive all of the time. It seems hollow to me. I know the fear will sometimes come in the night, and at first light, I will grab my camera and follow the light. My practice.

It was raining in Glens Falls, the dark streets deserted. Nobody was out walking.  I wish I  had brought Red for company, we would have walked together through those abandoned, dark old factories. Still, I loved the walk. And the world grew bright when I saw Maria, toting her yoga mat, walk out into the night and look for me. For me, with her radiant smile. And I handed her the dinner I prepare for her when she gets out, tired, mellow. Lucky me, I thought.

Every time I lower the price of the farm, I realized, I am taking a step closer to truth, to reality, to authenticity, to understanding who I really am and how strong I am learning to be. Every time, I become stronger, more determined, clearer. I know what I need to do. I know where I am going. What a gift that is, I thought, then smiling as I reminded myself, even if it is costly.

The good lessons usually are, aren’t they?

23 July

Rocky And Red

by Jon Katz
Rocky And Red

Rocky and Red get easier with each other every day. It is healing just to see them together. Rocky usually sniffs Red’s butt and then Red settles down near him, and they just hang out for a bit. Don’t understand it more than that, but I like the idea someone suggested of Red guarding Rocky, watching out for him, and Rocky liking that.

23 July

Baby-sitting. Red and The Realtor. And Fiona.

by Jon Katz
Red and The Realtor. And Fiona

We stopped in to see our realtor Kristin Preble and her new baby, Fiona and both of them dropped to the floor for a cuddle with Red. Fiona was the first baby he has seen to my knowledge, and he loved the idea of snuggling up to two women. Fiona grabbed his fur and rubbed his nose. Made me nervous at first, but not after a couple of minutes. We stopped by the lower the selling price of Bedlam Farm to $375,000, hopefully for the last time.

It is amazing to learn all of the new spaces and places Red can enter.

23 July

Open Up, Open Up. Creature Of Fear, Of Light.

by Jon Katz
Open Up

Photography is a gift to me. It permits me to capture images of the world, my world and offer them to you. I take a photo I like two or three times a week, and I love the blue flowers, sitting by the side of the house. In the early morning and late afternoon, the time of photographer’s light, the sun hits them in just the right way and I am drawn once again to the many  beautiful things in the world, full of light, of promise, of faith.

For many years, I was a creature of fear, and now I am a creature of light.  And that is so much better.

23 July

Men’s Club Honor: Sylvester Stallone Hits On My Wife!

by Jon Katz
Fending Off Sylvester Stallone

With the addition of Rocky to the Bedlam Farm family, the Bedlam Farm Men’s Club has grown mightier and more diverse, a counterpoint to the many strong female spirits around me. And we need them. My wife is dreaming of other men!

The men’s club is growing. Now there is me, Simon, Red, Strut and Rocky. A donkey with bad legs, a bald, aging farmer with bad knees, a blind pony, an officious if self-absorbed preening rooster and a strange workaholic border collie from Ireland given to spectacular outruns across state lines. No, really. We are a mighty army.  Sylvester Stallone learned this this morning.

My former girlfriend woke up at 5 a.m. to advise of me of her latest dream – she has long and complex dreams and remembers every detail and relates every detail –  this morning she told me she dreamed that Sylvester Stallone, wearing a “Kiss My Ass” T-shirt,  shades and a beret, pulled up to her in a big car and said “I love you.”

Why is she dreaming of other men, I wondered, testosterone stirring?  The former girlfriend claims she put her hand out to the muscle-bound movie star and said “Don’t Even!” and rejected this advance.  But I was outraged.  She wasn’t interested, she said. She said she was appalled.

But even though we are surrounded by powerful women, we have our pride.  I summoned the Bedlam Farm Men’s Club. We are men, I reminded everyone, no matter how dominated we all are. When trouble comes, we have to behave like jerks! No man is entering my wife’s dreams with intentions. So I had my own dream, just minutes later.

The other “Rocky,” almost surely the namesake of our new equine “Rocky,” had thrown down a gauntlet, entered my private space, leered at my woman. I wanted to beat my chest, but it would make me cough, allergies and all.  Simon brayed. Strut crowed. Rocky ran and whinnied. Red dashed in circles, ran into a tree,  and did an outrun all the way to Saratoga and back.  We set out in our own dream.

We tracked Stallone down. It was sunny, clear, a busy city street.  People fled at the sight of a donkey, a farmer/writer, a blind pony with a rooster on his back advancing. I could see no one had ever seen anything like it.  They hid under cars, screamed, fled into doorways.

Stallone was sitting on a bench in a park wearing the same sunglasses and a beret as Maria had described.  His big black SUV was parked nearby. There were bodyguards with machine-guns inside, I imagined. Stallone was signing autographs. Plus he was Sly Stallone, I could see that. I loved “Rocky I.” Even Rambo. (Not so much). We hid behind a tree and crept down.

I was riding Rocky, or leading him, actually.  Simon, being a donkey, refused to be ridden, but came along. Strut rode on Simon’s back. Red did his big herding crouch and stalked the bench. “Hey Rambo!,” I shouted, the secret code. “This will be a lesson for you. Stay away from my wife’s dreams!”

Then it was time to advance. Like Lord Nelson, I stood to full height and advanced. No matter what happened, they would speak well of our army, the way we comported ourselves.

“Come bye!” I whispered. Red vanished out into the fields out of sight. “No, wait, Red. Here! Here!” I said. Oh, well, he would come around eventually. The rest of us  rushed down the hill. Strut hopped up onto the SUV, dropped some business cards, and then climbed onto the bench and crowed in Stallone’s ear. The doors opened, the bodyguards rushed, firing. Bullets ricocheted everywhere. Explosions went off. Cars were set on fire. We were unscathed.

Stallone turned to Strut, held up his hand for the shooting to stop,  and smiled at the rooster, puffing up a bit. “Hey, big guy,” he said, “you are a might-fine looking rooster. What’s your name?”

Strut puffed up too, and circled around. He seemed to love Stallone, to connect with him. They seemed to know each other, these two men. But the rest of us kept coming.

Simon came to the other side and brayed in Stallone’s other ear, and Stallone screamed, Rocky whinnied,  and Stallone’s glasses came off. Simon put his nose in Stallone’s pocket, pulled out a bran muffin and ate it, then pulled Stallone’s cap off and ate it. He scarfed up his protein drink in one gulp. Stallone, rattled, cursed, looked around in confusion, amazement. Strut jumped into his lap and crowed softly.

Red arrived panting from the far right side and rushed up. “About time,” I said. He gave Stallone the eye and the big man was momentarily hypnotized, paralyzed. Sensing the moment,  I rushed up and bitch-slapped Stallone on the back of the head. His wig flew off and Simon scarfed it right up, one breath. Rocky the pony, confused by the noise, ran up the hill and hid behind a tree.

Stallone, clearly unnerved and confused, looking at his torn pocket, the droppings in his lap, looking for his missing wig and hat,  rubbing the back of his head, stood up and roared “who the hell are you?” He was getting angry, but there was respect in his voice. Maybe some fear. Strut, sending the moment of drama, crowed loudly.

Red went off on another outrun, and I stood behind Simon, who was hungrily eyeing Stallone’s scarf, his ears lowered.

“You don’t want to know, pal,” I said. “Stay away from my wife’s dreams.”

Stallone furrowed his brows, squinted at me. “This about the potholders?,” he asked. But I wasn’t listening.

Before Stallone could get a chance to run away, we did. I wanted to spare him the humiliation. Red and Rocky were already back at the farm by the time Simon and I got there. Strut decided to stay with Stallone for awhile before heading back.

Back in my bed, I heard a rooster crowing. Wake up. Wake up. I could hear the former girlfriend snoring softly.

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