Planning For Death's Icy Grip Part 1

Now that I’ve turned 60, it’s only a matter of time before the icy hand of death finds me. Burrr!

Which got me thinking about how much I should plan for it, how much I should do in advance, so those left behind-lovely phrase, don’t you think?-are less burdened with the detritus of a life well, or poorly, spent.

All of which is a modern contrivance.

In olden days, with luck, you dropped dead and that was that. Of course, as with all things that wasn’t literally true, but for the purposes of this little mental exercise, let’s go with the simple. The grieving family would place you in the parlor for viewing before setting you in a pine box and depositing your remains in the local cemetery overlooking the town. Quick and easy; very cinematic. Probably a bit more entangled-all history is-but for most, probably not. Why? People did not have as much “stuff” as we end up with now. That’s why house hunters these days are so disappointed in the closets of older homes: too little space. Also, it probably didn’t involve the local authorities to the extent it does today.

No one set you out in the family parlor these days. It’s against the law.

Today, dropping dead is its own industry for all involved in dealing with those departing this mortal coil. Government, lawyers, et all. Advisors, with all solemnity, recommend that we should have wills, powers of attorney, living wills(?), instructions for our still living bodies after our minds are gone, both literally and figuratively, trusts-for anyone with any money- and on and on.

It’s requires a lot of time, work, and money.

It also asks the fundamental question: how much do I like, I mean really like, those I leave behind? Glib? Hardly. Having had to help in the sorting out of a person’s life after they’ve passed-another lovely term that is less impactful or dreaded as “died”-I can attest to the fact that it too requires a lot of time, work, and money.

Those of us who care, we are told, will have all our affairs in order soas not to unduly burden those tasked with closing out accounts as it were. And I think that’s fair to a point, certainly where a financial burden may occur. Again, assuming any concern for those left behind.

If you don’t care, are disinclined, or have a mean streak, doing little or nothing won’t actually matter because you’ll be dead. As folks like to say: not my problem.

There is one other consideration in not doing too much: forcing those tasked with disposing of our stuff to, hopefully, use the time to better understand our life as, one would again assume, our stuff typifies who we were. Sure, it will lead to a lot of unanswerable questions-you won’t be there-but speculation on those who came before us is part of the experience, which is the essence of life.

Then again, they may simply hand it all over to companies who specialize in such matters and split whatever cash it produces.

It won’t matter because you’ll be…

©2019 David William Pearce

Monk and His Mother Rebekah

Monk Buttman Mysteries

This is the second vignette for the book, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God, A Monk Buttman Mystery, which will be released on 1/8/20. It concerns Monk’s contentious relationship with his mother, Rebekah. Monk is leaving. In Virginia, Monk was known as William Bohrman.

I remember sitting in the Falcon, not wanting to go in. I was at the house of my mother, Rebekah Altonberg, and her husband, Donald. Donald I had just left, having signed over my worldly possessions to Judah Martindale now that he had successfully taken my wife, Astral, from me. Donald was a banker by trade and Judah was buying my half of the farm.

My head hurt.

I found my mother sitting on her back porch, enjoying, I assumed, her garden and peach trees. She looked me up and down as I approached her, a grimace on her face.

“Is it all finished now?”…

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The Joy of Running Around in Circles

Folks here in Washington are mad! Some damn judge has put a hold on our $30 car tabs, the ones we approved after taking the good time and trouble to fill out our ballots and putting them in the mail and everything.

And, folks in Washington are relieved because a judge had the good sense to block an initiative that screws up the transportation package we voted for 2 years ago!

Confused? Welcome to the Tim Eyman revolving initiative club.

Adroit members of the Washington voting community will note that we have voted for $30 car tabs 4 times now, yet we do not pay $30 for our tabs. Why? Because twice the initiatives were deemed unconstitutional and another didn’t garnish enough interest. Yet here we are for a 4th time, mainly because no one seemed terribly interested in what the transit measure that was passed 2 years ago for light rail, roads, and the like, would cost where car tabs were concerned, so people were outraged.

Outraged! Like I was when I realized I be one of the last persons to pay for an emissions test. That requirement ends in 2020.

The nerve!

Well, some.

Americans are deeply disinterested or disinclined to understanding how government works and are easily roused when faced with a change in thy pocketbook. We also have the bizarre belief that we should have good roads, effective government, and representatives who listen to us without having the onerous weight of taxes forced upon us.

Enter Eyman, he of the people’s initiatives. Over 21 years, he has foisted 24 of these delights upon the good people of Washington to no real effect. How so? Of the 24, only 2 have survived legal challenges and or the ballot: throwing out affirmative action (1998) and reducing the number of King County council persons (2003). Of the others, 6 were voted down, 7 were declared unconstitutional, 5 didn’t draw enough interest during canvassing, 1 was withdrawn, and the latest put on hold by the courts.

Naturally this is the doing of the deep state or the liberals in Seattle or…

Maybe it’s because Eyman has no real interest in passing initiatives that actually work as he does in fomenting anger and providing himself a paying gig. Don’t think so? Then why do his initiatives continue to fail basic legal challenges? After 21 years you’d think he’d have the right legal people advising him on this.

It sure doesn’t look that way.

But don’t worry, he running for governor and will no doubt get this all straightened out.

Monk and Agnes at Home

First vignette for the new book.

Monk Buttman Mysteries

This is the first in a series of short vignettes to support the new book in the Monk Buttman series, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God.

She had me cornered. Trapped.

“I
need my kisses, Sunshine,” she said, pressing herself against me.

“Kisses?”

“Don’t play dumb with me, Buttman, you know the rules regarding kisses.” Agnes’ lips were perilously close to mine.

“I
don’t know that I do, beautiful. Perhaps you should refresh my memory.” I kissed
her just because.

“Nice try.” She kissed me back. “And why didn’t you pick me up? I had to ask one of the boys to do it!” Agnes worked about two miles away, for Johnny D, a financier both legitimate and otherwise.

I feigned surprise. “The goons brought you home?”

Agnes
frowned. “Johnny doesn’t hire goons, Monk.”

“My
apologies.” I kissed her again along her neck. “I was finishing up here…

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Tis the Season… Again…

Some choose to rake; others have raking foisted upon them. I don’t quite know where I am in that, though I should.

And that’s a lie.

I know very well where I stand in that because I foolishly bought into the whole “have a big yard” thing years ago when we mortgaged our future for this plot of land. It was woodsy and quiet and badly overgrown from too many previous owners who had it as a secondary residence and let it get out of hand.

I was young then, strong back and all of that, so I went forth and subdued the land.

Which is also a lie.

I merely made life more arduous and the seasonal work neverending. Which brings us to Fall, and the beautiful colors and falling leaves and cool gentle evenings growing more brisk by the day. If Fall is no more than the day trip through the foliage and remarking on the many hues to be appreciated, then yes, Fall is a beautiful time. If Fall is the detritus of many large trees shedding their summer waste onto your idiotic head then not so much.

Like most suburban caretakers of the land, I have my many implements with which to make conquest over the hoard of leaves and needles that cover every square foot of this quarter acre lot, which includes the roof, which in our wet and cool Fall climate becomes slick and dangerous and a siren’s call to a quick and bloody end to these annual maelstroms…

But I digest.

Plus my wife forbids me from plummeting to my death.

Such is life.

Mercifully, the neighbors taking their daily constitutions for their own health or to walk the dog(s), have the good sense not to comment too vociferously on my self-inflicted plight-this is in opposition to their many “oh, your yard looks so wonderful” comments in the Spring. Few-actually none-have any interest in helping me man the rakes. And I do not wish them ill, it is my lot and my burden to bear. To bear a grudge is to be small in character, quaint though that seems in these times…

So, as is my task, I shall make my piles and work through the sequential dumpings, because trees have their own time tables and are rarely in sync on such things, of cedars and pines, and alders and maples, and every other plant in the yard, as they all yield their surplus big and small. And like Sisyphus I shall endeavor to persevere in my semi-distinct annual ritual of raking the yard.

Tis the season…

©2019 David William Pearce

The Lure of the Sequel

The next Buttman book is coming soon. A few thoughts on it.

Monk Buttman Mysteries

I wrote Where Fools Dare to Tread on a lark. It started as a way to breakout of a hole I’d dug writing another book-still on the backburner-that I didn’t quite feel I could pull off. But I had too good a time writing Where Fools Dare to Tread and when that was finished, promptly thought, “Well, where does he, Monk Buttman, go now?”

Having already run him around LA and northern California, the thought occurred that maybe it was time for him, reluctantly, to face his past, which brought him back to California after his marriage to Astral-Lilith to everyone not named Monk-fell apart. And because his time in Virginia presented him with the demands of family and faith, I decided that would be a good direction in which to go. Lots of fertile ground when God and family are invoked.

Throw in an unhappy daughter with whom he…

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Don’t Leave the House!

Turns out cars are dangerous!

Who knew?

I thought all of us knew! Big heavy things hurtling down the street can bring a host of bad things to us puny humans. I’m pretty sure that’s why we were told as kids not to play in the street.

Am I being facetious? I am.

Part of my beef with the aforementioned article is that it assumes cars are some kind of irrational demon that attacks without conscience and that autonomous self-driving cars will be no better than the ones now being people driven. It also presumes no general benefit from all the safety measures added to cars in recent years and that the answer is not smarter cars, but fewer of them.

There’s a cold dead hands joke there but I’ll let that pass.

As always the instrument or tool is to blame rather than the operator. While cars are getting smarter and more sensitive, like our ubiquitous phones, people are not. In fact the main thrust of the article ought to be not that we need fewer cars, but fewer drivers. They, rather than the cars, are the problem. As noted, cars are becoming far more complex, feeding us more and more information which most of us ignore, disdain, or don’t understand.

Like our phones, our cars require a kind of attention we seem, at times, ill equipped to handle.Still, fewer people are dying because of cars than in the past. Cars are safer and more protective-of the people inside. The article, mostly, is about all the bad things that can happen when one is struck by a car, particularly to pedestrians and bicyclists. That’s not new-everyone I know has a story involving accidents, but almost none of them would consider getting rid of cars.

What we need to get rid of are distractions. That’s a coy way of saying phones. The next time you’re in a car, as a passenger, note all the drivers on their phones. If there is an uptick in accidents and deaths, I’ll go on the record as saying phones are behind it. Everywhere and in every act, people are tethered to their phones and give them their divided attention.

Driving, as has been stressed for decades, requires your undivided attention. Cars on their own do not kill people. People driving those cars do. That is part of the whole autonomous self-driving car thing-doing away with inattentive drivers. That requires an incredible amount of incoming information from the car itself to other cars, and pedestrians, cyclists, and any other vehicle it might encounter.

The question is whether it makes us any smarter in how we interact with big heavy things hurtling down the road. As much as drivers are inattentive to people walking and biking, the same can be noted of walkers and bikers, and that’s one of the big things self-driving cars have to be “aware” of. People seem surprised when I mention this, but you’re expected to make yourself know to oncoming traffic. Yes, they should be looking for you, but I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people walk into the street shielded by parked cars and never look to see if anyone is coming. I’ve seen bikers ride through red lights without stopping-a few coming close to being killed. It is, as they say, a two-sided street.

You can be angry about that, but big heavy thing will win out everytime. And as the author ends her article: Until then, the streets will belong to the death machines.

I’ll be inside if you need me.

©2019 David William Pearce

Moses and the Soil

Another short Vignette from Where Fools Dare to Tread, A Monk Buttman Mystery. In this Monk and his father, Moses, argue about life.

Monk Buttman Mysteries

Moses is Monk’s father, who, along with the Mackinaw brothers founded the commune where Monk grew up. Moses and Monk do not see eye to eye on many things. This is fromearlier in Monk’s life, when he was young and still living on the farm.

“Take it in your hand, take hold of it.” Moses took a handful of dirt from where I stood and put it in my hands. “Feel that? Compress it; run it through you fingers; smell it; it is the foundation of our lives, the soil that forms our bodies, our connection to Mother Earth!”

Yeah, yeah, yeah!

I didn’t care. It had been a long day and I was tired. What I wanted was to go into town and have a cheeseburger platter at the Big Boy, not stand here with a handful of dirt! I’d had more handfuls of dirt pushed on me…

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Junk and the 13 Year-Old Mindset

Occasionally, I find myself aghast at what has become of manhood-laugh if you must-or perhaps the better phrase is: being a man. But I still cling to the notion. I was reminded of this when reading of a woman’s efforts to build a digital filter in order that she not be bombarded in her social media by “dick-pics”.

And apparently, this is not a fringe problem: many women, and men, are subjected to it.

As a way to explain my aghastness, let me tangentially note what being a man once meant, and yes, I realize this will not be historically accurate for all men through time.

It meant being a grown-up, an adult.

Grown adult men do not surreptitiously, or otherwise, send picture of their “junk” to women or men they don’t know, thinking they’re being clever or cute or- I’m amazed they might even think this- it might turn the recipient on. That’s the kind of thinking 13 year-olds engage in.

Yeesh.

Evidently, we have so eroded the idea of responsibility, of personal respect and respect for others, that this is so commonplace in social media, that in exasperation it has to be filtered out, that you have to add an app for that, simply to not be offended, aggrieved in the true legitimate sense, or exhausted by perile immaturity on a day to day basis.

You wonder if any of the billionaire boys who gave us the internet as it is today gave any of this any thought? I’m thinking no, but hey, as they like to say in order to evade any responsibility: we’re only the platform and it’s free speech, right?

Again: yeesh.

Now you may say that I’m being cantankerous or old-fashioned and I’ll cop to that. You may even chide that I’m out-of-touch or have an idealized notion of manhood, adulthood, whatever. Perhaps, but there are worse things and as the current occupant of the White House displays nothing that was once associated with presidential decorum and respect for the office and institution, I remain a staunch advocate for growing up, being responsible- note I didn’t use the word “act”- and recognizing that rather than a burden, it is something to be proud of and nurture in your own kids.

Lastly, using the term “junk” to describe your genitalia is neither endearing or enticing. It’s equating it with something of little value or worth. It’s like sending a pic of a rusted out wreck and going, “Huh, huh, huh?” Quite the turn-on.

Well, to a 13 year-old.

©2019 David William Pearce

Magically Delicious?

On occasion, it is useful to look back and ask the tough questions we may have evaded or ignored in our youth. Like is this any good for me? As if we asked ourselves those kinds of questions when we were 10.

In that spirit, I shall endeavor to answer the pressing questions of yesterday.

During a recent moment of weakness, pique, impulse, whatever, I decided that what I really needed, no wanted, was to relive my fantasy childhood by buying and eating Lucky Charms and Pop Tarts. I say fantasy because for the most part my mother disdained buying them in my youth because they were expense and not terribly nutritious.

Shocking, I know!

Fortunately, mom was not there to impede my purchase and my wife, more or less, went along with it, mainly to see if her memories of these delightful breakfast treats jibed with her memories of the past or clashed with the cold harsh reality of now. Money in hand we made our purchase.

My review:

If nutrition is your main focus, then I can’t say that Lucky Charms and Pop Tarts are any better for you at 50+ than they were when you were 10. Three quarters of a cup of Lucky Charms and half a cup of Skim (?) milk sets you back 150 calories, 10 of which are from fat. I used whole milk because skim milk is basically water and if you’re going to drink milk, drink milk! The difference, for those who care, is 40 calories, which is equal to a bite from a donut.

But I’m straying from the subject at hand.

The ingredients are the usual mixed bag when it comes to industrial cereals, meaning along with your whole grain oats you get trisodium phosphate, which is what I use to wash the grease and grime from vertical surfaces before painting. Yum. Apparently, a little goes a long way.

Esthetically, the only noticeable difference in the cereal, from that distant time when I didn’t know better, is that there are now more marshmallow shapes, namely unicorns to go along with the hearts, moons, rainbows, and clovers. Oh, and horseshoes. This may have something to do with the unicorns.

As for how it tastes, I could discern no difference from how I remembered them, nor in how I ate them, which is to eat the cereal part first, before it turns to mush, and then the marshmallows, which are the best part. My wife noted that they still squeak against her teeth. She’s not a big fan.

The Pop Tarts she liked.

And, as an added bonus to this trip down memory lane, the back of the box has a fairly inane game of follow the marshmallows to distract from the food fest being shovelled into one’s yap, as our mouths were once referred to.

All in all, I’d do it again, assuming I live to be 100.

Bon appetit.

©2019 David William Pearce