It’s all about farm games.

K and I break out the tea collection and get busy organizing the life support system module number tea-oh-yeah.  My friend Snow would be modestly and politely moved by our devotion, as so Level 3 it is to her Level twenty-four forward-slash seven, know what I’m sayin’?

Side note:  I mean it.  When you’re that level, you are big dudette generous and make it look easy.  “Here, have everything you need to start.  Here’s a location on a map.  Get adventurin’ and maybe you’ll connect with ultra-power tea-ness your own special way.”

Back to K and I.  We’ve bought a number of glass milk jars from the local upper-cruster Whole Foods.  Plastic caps, but what the hey weeds have to make do with what they have right?  While we do have tea bags, our focus is on resealable containers of loose-leaves for mix and match.  Since I’m a honey-freak, I have my honey in the rough for getting my freak on.

Now K is pretty crafty.  We get tired of boiling the water the usual way, so she investigates a location on the map and we find ourselves with the bonus round—an electric teapot that rapid-boils water in less than five minutes.  Just fill with water, plug in, flip the switch, and pow.  Yes, this is very much dependency on instrumentality (not to mention electricity), but as I said this is the approach of the lightning age (which is very aquarian).

So now we can make large quantities of water for brewing tea.  When it’s cool we fill the jars and put them in the fridge.  Goodbye, buying high priced tea in the store!  I’m also a soda-fiend, so anything that alleviates my vice for soda varieties is good.  Water’s too boring for me, juice too strong, milk too bland and coffee too strong.  Tea gives me the watery goodness, and a flavor, so I can drink lots of it and not burn out.

Special bonus:  I tell Snow about this amazing teapot and she’s floored.  I give her the info hookup and I get the feeling she teleports one to her kitchen while I’m standing there talking to her.  Next week I run into her again and she tells me the thing opened up a new level for her in the tea-realm, allowing her to adventure in a new area.

The teacher shares what they know and maybe it’ll pay off in those hidden rooms you missed when you were fighting the tea ogre with squid tentacles back on level eleven.  When you hold onto that hunger for knowledge, keep striving with joy for what you do, it pays off.  Snow polishes that gemstone of a hankering she has a little more, while K and I get life support system bonus for more XP.  That’s what generosity does for you.

So what does this have to do with farm games?  Well, seems like on Facebook lately there’s been a surge in farming games.  You socialize with your friends, care for each other’s farms, raise crops and harvest goodies.  Mainly in the dungeon and dragons kind of reward cycle—you kill monsters so you can get better at killing monsters, only here it’s grow crops so you can get better at growing crops.

It’s a slight paradigm shift in games, I think, which bears careful watching.  Is this the seed that falls in the right ground at the right time, the spark that kindles a new way of thinking that will grow grow grow?

The thing is, there’s a growing interest in resource management games (SimCity, the Sims, Civilization, and so on).  The shoot-em-ups and the side-scrollers are still there.  But now you have a growing awareness of “Hey, it’s fun to farm.  To raise animals, plant corn, and build wells.”

Yes, the reality is hard work and thankless repetition.  But it depends on how you look at the reward cycle.  K and I are looking to be healthier and happier.  This formula (of many) is about the reward of having something we make that keeps us going without resorting to the kiddie pool that is mainline industrial food production for loyal, stunned workers.  For Snow it’s about a passion for the pursuit of what interests her.

Both operate under systems that farm games mimic to a degree.  You look for stuff, gather stuff, make stuff, improve your skill with stuff, and then the stuff benefits you.

Then you get into complex games like Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility, where you need to have good relationships with people to get the stuff.  There’s lots of stuff to master—mining stuff, cooking stuff, animal stuff, plant stuff, clothing stuff.  You’re in the realm of a community and the need to ration your time to develop the stuff you need.  The ultimate goal:  To be the best “stuff” person you can be, in this case the archetype of the farmer who are their own means of production.

What does being a good farmer mean?  That you can court a partner and raise a family (and the game allows you to do this, ending only when it is the next generation’s turn to find their fortune), and you can also save the world (or the world of this game anyway)—your knowledge as a farmer revives the Goddess of the land and brings blessings back to the community.

You got that?  Your ability to beat things up here is worth zilch.  Your ability to be patient, adaptable and friendly can save the world for everybody!  Or allow you to have a happy home life—either as a farmer who just loves making bread for the Hek of it or as a family person moving things forward to the next spiral of that life that is greater than ours.

I’m living it a little, others are living it, and the games are representing it.  What level is your watering can skill yo?  Can you make perfect pickles?  How’s that ability to make butter?

I’m wondering what the next signpost will be to what’s evolving right before our eyes.  In the meantime, I need to get more and better skills, talk people up more, and get busy on the farm!

Because I think there’s a comprehensive picture here forming.

Harvesting this year’s crop of tomatoes, corn, and basil.  A much better outcome than last year’s withered out crop of rotten potatoes.  No joke about it, last year’s harvest was a crash and burn bummer.

This year was worse in a way though.  The weeds kicked us around the block with their modifier-bonus allies the insect brigade.  With morale low, the agriculture worthiness guardians could have easily made us cry uncle.

Hek, our plot neighbors didn’t show up once this year.  I can see the skeletons of their hopes dashed to the ground, in the form of scattered forgotten tools and half-opened fertilizer bags colonized by wind-borne seeds.  Their weeds and brambles are taller than me now.

For a moment I catch a glimpse of another labyrinth traveler’s camp, taken over by the wild.  Could have been us.  No shortage of remains around here!

I might have mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating.  I emphasize with the weeds, and admire their tenacity and inventiveness.  If there’s something in the plant world that I think of as resembling the hyper-ferocious predators from the Alien movies, weeds fit the bill.  Break ’em up into pieces and they spread doom.  Removing them is tricky and back-breaking work.  If you let them past the beachhead of sprout they soon grow out of control.

Weeds are also our friends in a twisted sort of way.  They move into hostile ground and turn it to their advantage, wresting a baseline of nutrients out of almost nothing and returning it to the ground.  You can’t argue with a series of plants that insist on growing no matter how difficult the repression of our desire for the “order” of a cultivated garden.

Do weeds suffer, and cry out as they transform the land into something from nothing, messing up our plans for an easy go of things like tricksters keeping it real?

Artists today are like weeds.  The environment of inauthentic wasteland monoculture breeds tougher and tougher weeds.  Until those who aren’t committed to growing to their vision, and I mean committed enough to be humbled by the whole thing yet keep doing the work, end up not being there the next time.  You’ll just see their remains, swallowed up by the earth.

If they do suffer, they’re singing the blues, from the ground up mutha-scratchas.

The time has come to get real with the earth again.  My folks are already there, turning up the earth as they consider what will be necessary in order to plant this year’s crops.  They wheelbarrow huge amounts of weeds to the discard pile.

K and I shamble over to our plot and take in the landscape of this year’s post-winter, spring revelation.  A hawk screeches and chases after a group of four birds.  Hawks like to hang out at the massive public plots we partake in.  Birds love the plentiful seeds and insects of our cooperative.  The cycle is happenin’, man!

We rid ourselves of a bunch of extra tomato cages that serve no use for our plans.  We’ve re-fenced our plot well from last year, so we hand over our extra fencing to another person who is re-doing their own.  We dig up past plants that have gone dead, and take out the detritus of past failures.  I saw apart branches from someone else’s garden making an invasion.

K discovers an honest to goodness salamander of red and black, which we leave alone to dig its way back into the garden.  Despite the countless seeds of pest plants, we do the easy work and let the garden know we are back.  Even if it looks like we are not in shape for this year.  Last year the garden beat us into a bloody pulp.

But there is a bonus.  The onions and garlic we thought had been defeated are growing strong.  And the rosemary, even though it has croaked, the leaves are there for us.  Dried and ready to be picked.  K grabs ’em all and puts them into a packet.  There will be a chicken potpie tonight with a rosemary pump-up for sure.

K spots a dandelion.  I see robins looking for worms.  Yes, spring is here, and the cycle has begun again.  I send blessings out to the living spirit, those who have been before me, the monsters, those who love me, and the losers.  As life stirs back into my consciousness, I realize how hard core it always is.

The worms are getting busy; the fire of life is waking up.  My friends are living their lives.  A psychic apparition of Grace Jones is whupping Batman’s behind with a garden hose as she shouts attention to all the people who give a darn.

I know nothing; I’m just plucking away at the dead magnolias to make room for this year’s crop.

I’ve finished the third set of revisions, and am going down the line of my list of weaknesses to double-check if I’ve missed anything.  Maybe another two weeks, and I’ll have a finished draft.

I’m considering the possibility of doing a short comic book series and posting it here.  Got all the materials and the know-how, I’m only waiting for the right signs to take place and I’ll do some work on what it’ll be.  For now, I’m reading and researching.  Must make stuff for people or Hulk smash!

My folks have a bunch of tapes of a quirky truck-driving friend of theirs that might make for amusing listening.  I may turn them into a podcast at some point, or heck, make my own weird audio show for a limited time.  Must make stuff!

As Guy Caballero from SCTV said, “We need programming!”

The garden had gone weird on us.  The weeds won the battle, and we have mice living in the garden now.  Peppers are all a bust, and the tomatoes have gone whacko – either dying out if they are the big tomato variety, or growing all over the place and producing a handful of tomatoes if they are the small version.

The leeks are ready and good to go – they are huge!  The onions have made an unexpected comeback, while the horseradish is looking not so good.  One of the wildflowers went nuts and grew huge, with wonderful blossoms.  Crumbs, the marigolds are doing amazing, and we were surrounded by bumble and honey bees getting busy.  It was a shock.

We planted some autumn lettuce, but we’ll see how that turns out.  Oh yeah, the corn turned out nice, we got about five half ears with maybe three or four to come.  K and I cut up the corn and cooked it, then had it with the small cherry tomatoes.  The bounty was good as a side for our dinner, but it tasted so very good.

I don’t know what to make of the garden this year, it defies my puny knowledge to the +1.  I can’t explain how we got some of one thing, and nothing of most everything else.  Meanwhile, the folks have tons of lettuce growing like mad, along with garlic.  Pump up the jam for them!

My cool dude artistic friend Xtine has a new astrology website, so here’s the plug.  I don’t actually go there as a watering hole, or it’d be in the blogroll.  But I’ml placing her in the classic links section, as that may be of interest to my esoterically minded guests.  I can’t wait to see what she starts putting into her studio website when it goes to the max.

I stumbled upon some interesting explorations of the Minotaur phenomenon by arctangent at this link.  I especially like how she draws the distinction between a maze (a place to mess you up and keep you lost) and a labyrinth (you always meet the center and it’s occupant, because the route is inevitable).

I’ve been fascinated by the premise of the book House of Leaves, a rabbit hole beyond human comprehension, even though I haven’t been particularly interested in reading the book itself.  Puzzle mystery books don’t do it for me, mostly because I’m no good at puzzles and get hung up on them trying to figure out what’s happening.

However, the idea of getting drawn into an exploration of a supernatural house to try and experience its mystery intrigues me.  I’ve always been very fond of the Minotaur myth, and find the background behind it really cool.  Arctangent’s analysis got me thinking about it again, and I can sense more clues to come from out there.

Time for a mega-destructoid garden update from the depths of the pond.  K and I returned to the never-ending battle to provide the other honeycomb hideout with fresh nutrient supplies.  The weeds were waving their Bermuda grass tentacles, morning glory tendrils, and thistle spines at us with much mockery and daring.  Our crops withered under the assault of the weed choke cutting off their nutrients and water supply.  “Save us you idiots,” they cried.

The time had come to harvest the potatoes.  The ones still remaining looked sickly and small.  Nevertheless, we dug away, and found only a few small potatoes eaten to bits by worms, or mini potato numbs that would hardly feed a beetle.  Yes, the entire potato crop this year is now officially a miserable bust.  Famine rocking you back to the crypt!  Good thing the supermarkets haven’t closed, or we’d be cryin’ in our beer.

The Marigolds growing around the potatoes are huge, and blooming as if they were given the super plant food power pill from Pac man fever.  The onions are also now officially all finished.  The weeds killed them off, and have overgrown 70% of our plot.  K got mad, and decided it was time to cause some damage.  She grabbed a shovel and started a long term project to overturn all the soil.  Weeds not so good against being turned upside down and buried in soil.  It’s the clearest I’ve seen the garden since April!

Meanwhile, I pulled and plucked weeds at a furious rate, cutting myself on rusty wire as I removed morning glories twisting and twining their way to overwhelming firepower.  So far, the tomatoes are holding their ground, and are starting to actually grow now.  They all have fruits growing and ripening.  We could see some real action in the next few weeks if they hold on.  One plant is already producing beyond the chipmunk’s ability to eat and toss, or the birds to peck and drain.  Some mini cherry tomatoes are ripe now, and they tasted so juicy and good!

Alas, the mint patch has done the underground root attack at +125, and is moving into the tomato territory.  I had to beat it back and take a mint harvest a little earlier than I was ready for.  Not a big loss or setback, but annoying.  The leeks and peppers seem to have stabilized and are now growing rapidly.  That’s good.  If we can hold the line, they will succeed in giving us some succor from the crummy harvest so far.  Our corn is the most fragile right now, but another week and they’ll grow above the weeds and we can keep the buggers back with ease.  For now though, whew, gnat and sweat face city!

The basils have grown huge, so now we have more than we can use.  They are the big win, despite a quarter of them getting jacked by the weed triple team.  Bees and bugs are pollinating them happily, and the birds are plunging in and among them.  It’s like last season’s glory days.  Sigh.  Meanwhile, the parental unit’s garden is out of sight.  Their potato harvest was so huge, they gave us a bag of the things as a consolation prize.  Sheesh!  Their corn will be ready next week by the looks of it.

And finally, the humble horseradish is growing huge and well.  For some reason, the weeds aren’t doing so well near the plant.  No bugs are taking a bite out of the leaves either.  Weird.  So, in short, the side crops are holding on or starting to prosper, while the main crop we planted is a total and complete failure.  All those days spent smashing bugs, watering, digging, and fertilizing are officially down the tubes.  I sense a mirage in the mix somewhere, laughing as he pumps a little more of that special sauce into my folks’ garden.

I take a look at my hall pass, and the lifeclock is a big fat black color.  For whatever reason, the boog-a-loos don’t come descending on my head.  They haven’t departed.  The house is still haunted with weird stuff.  The faucet in the kitchen is now leaking.  I have to get that taken care of.  The electrical guys haven’t been back to finish the work.  I guess I’m just learning to live with wacky toilet time, the creaks and groans at night, and the bugs that appear to plague me.

K and I used last weekend to organize and unpack from our emergency move a year and three months ago.  We got good work done, and cleared some space, which was a help.  I got some of my piles of papers back into line, and came across a poster from back in the day.

The poster came with an Alien doll I got back during the craze of the movie that came out in 1979.  It’s a drawing of scenes from the movie with a few artistic licenses thrown in.  That movie was all the rage with my classmates in 6th grade.  A group of folks from a rival class tried to put together a home movie based on their devotion to that science fiction classic.  Crumbs, if only they’d had YouTube back then.

I dug out my Alien baseball trading cards, a complete set except for number 61 – “the chest-burster”, and gazed at all the pictures.  The puzzles got me to thinking about back when movie trading cards were all the rage after Star Wars.  I have to organize these darn cards of mine someday – Blue, red, yellow, green and orange Star Wars cards to name a few.

I had to trade that one for card number 1.  Back then number 61 cards were a dime a dozen, so I figured I’d be able to get another one easy.  Unfortunately, the series stopped being sold on my next trip to the local seven-eleven (which is a hair salon now, go figure), and I’d somehow given away all my extras.

I meditate on the movie, and recollect memories from my young fascination with the film.  I decide to go to Best-Cry and buy the DVD for ten bucks, as I haven’t yet added it to my collection.  K and I have an evening where we watch the movie and have a blast.

I remember seeing Alien for the first time at a late show in D.C., at a theater that sadly, no longer exists (though you can see it in Exorcist III – the main character and his best friend go there for their yearly mourning ritual to watch It’s a Wonderful Life).  Alien scared the pants off the crowd several times.  It was awesome.

The DVD has several deleted scenes that I’ve never seen, and which are actually pretty good.  I feel like I’m seeing an old friend again, and discovering something new about them.  I rethink my old experiences in light of the new scenes and how I might have thought.

My copy of the novel comes off the shelf and I read it three times to get every nuance.  A line from the scene where the remaining crewmembers are talking to the decapitated head of Ash the android sticks out at me.  He asks them if they’ve tried to communicate with the alien.  It’s a dead end for the crewmembers, but I wonder if Ash, being an android with a gender-neutral point of view, isn’t speaking of something outside the crew’s immediate experience.  He was probably trying to mislead them, but he might have thrown them a crumb from the limits of his artificial brain process.

I get to obsessing over the film.  Then I start looking up Bigfoot movies that I suddenly remember watching on Channel 20 WDCA during that channel’s glory years.  There’s this movie where a bunch of college students uncover a mummified Bigfoot and it comes back to life to rampage.  I used a tape recorder to tape the sound when I was a kid, and I listened to it at night with my blankets over my head for years until I recorded over it.  I use the mighty power of the internets and find out it’s called Curse of Bigfoot, and it’s available on Amazon.

My investigations go deeper.  There’s a Bigfoot movie called Creature from Black Lake that I’ve never seen, but I think I might have and forgotten.  See, there’s this scary music hook that I can always remember and associate with Bigfoot.  But I don’t know where it’s from.  So I Netflix the movie and see if that leads to anything.  K shakes her head at my poor taste in B-movies, but I think Creature from Black Lake actually is a decent monster movie.  It does not produce the music I’m straining to remember, however.

I finally go to YouTube and find an old show called Monsters, Mysteries, or Myths, which was narrated by Rod Sterling of Twilight Zone fame.  It’s a TV show that tried to explore Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman, and the Loch Ness Monster from a “somewhat” scientific viewpoint.  There’s a three to five second sound bite where the music that’s stuck in my head plays, and I recognize it.

It’s weird, because that one brief sound bite has stuck in my head since 1975, and only now do I reconnect with it and get into the vibe with a show that scared me so bad I couldn’t sleep for weeks.  The show was re-edited with a different narrator and shown again in the early 1980s as The Mysterious Monsters, which I think I saw and that probably dredged up scary memories.

What this adds up to is that old scary spooky feeling again.  I’m getting the shakes, and yet I can’t stop looking this stuff up and re-experiencing it.  In particular, the self-destruct part of the Alien keeps replaying in my head.  The last crewmember’s endgame and final confrontation with the monster, all while experiencing nearly unbearable panic and fear.

I wonder if my mirage is up to his old tricks again.  Come to think of it, my garden troubles might be his doing.  He does know weeds and soil like the back of his hand, and it would be a laugh-riot if my folks got a bumper crop while K and I got a crummy harvest.  I just discovered the parental units have planted corn and it is already almost ready.  The stalks were hidden by their tomato plants.  Argh!  The garden beat-down knows no depths.

In a certain sense, the movie Alien is about discovery, both of something new and different (even if it’s a horrific one in terms of what happens to the crew), and Ellen Ripley’s inner resources.  It’s a message, one that I observe and reflect upon.  I don’t get the sense that I’m supposed to do anything more than that.

I have a dream.  In it, I encounter the creature from the movie.  It jumps on me like a cricket, and we wrestle in a dark place for a long while.  In Alien, the creature is more than a match for any human because it has inhuman strength and snap-reflexes in addition to claws and slime-lubricated teeth.  But in the dream, we’re equally matched somehow.

The alien snaps it piston-like teeth into my cheek, and instead of eviscerating my face, I resist and slide out of its grasp.  Some sort of understanding passes between us, and all of a sudden I’m “one of its kind”.  We lay on our stomachs together, cheek-to-cheek, and listen to the darkness.

Crumbs, sometimes you can’t sit down and write a post no matter what.  It’s like the summer of beat down and all I can do is go back spaces and slide down chutes.  Everytime I sit down to compose my thoughts, I get another random encounter.  But should I do something else, such as read a book or make a round of pesto, the random encounters hide behind the couch again.  I’m feeling like Batman in that awful TV Batman movie.

The garden has become a battlefield of weeds and failed plantings versus the last stand of the forces of yumminess.  The weather here has been so volatile, it’s hard to get out and do any work.  It’s hot and humid, with regular threats of thunderstorms that rarely materialize any rain, but look threatening to keep K and I indoors.  The onion and potato shields are down to 50% and falling.  The tomatoes are still weeded and strong, but growing slowly.  The leeks are okay for now, but the lettuce has all bolted, so that game is up until fall planting.  I was getting tired of lupin salads anyway.  The basil is online, thank goodness!

Half of the garden is overgrown with weeds, led by thistle towers and grass infiltrators.  The only good thing is we’ve had no bugs at all.  They don’t even want to touch what we’ve got.  The bees and butterflies are more or less there, but in scraggly amounts.  The birds use us as a syopover, but the general traffic all around is way down from last year.  A chippie-munkie has taken up residence under a fence post and is helping himself to our seeds.  As usual, the horseradish is indestructible and pushing the weeds aside.  One thing we do have a lot of are earthworms.  It’s almost as if the soil is terrible for everything but them.  Eat up worms, may as well since the garden’s on auxiliary power.

Meanwhile, the parental unit garden is looking great.  They’ve started to harvest their bumper crop of potatoes already, it’s sad.

K finished a spare kitty pie and I cleared the space between my metal organizers on my desk.  Combine pie with space, and Frankie has settled into a new roost.  That cat is spoiled!  Meanwhile, Michael has been getting fatter and more lethargic.  Which means his poop factory is at 110% reactor capacity.  The big cat news, however, is the installation of the new curtains.  By the Paul and K handycrew, that is.

The metal blinds that came with the townhouse have not been popular with the cats.  So they push them out of the way to look out the windows and end up bending the metal.  It’s a choice then, between allowing the blinds to be slowly damaged or no privacy when the sun goes down.  Plus, the noise the cats make when pushing the metal aside is annoying.

So we scanned for some cheap thick curtains, scored big time, and put them up.  The blinds went up all the way, and the cords were stashed.  Now the cats can poke their head through the gap or around the sides without any problems, and we can shut out prying eyes when we don’t feel like being on display.

The coolest thing though, is the box bay window.  We put the curtains up so the cats have a private sunroom with cushions, blankees and kitty-pies.  It’s like a big tiger den they can retreat to and snooze, snoop out the window, or loaf regally.  Frankie went ape for it, and her happy meter went way up, since she’s a tiger anyway.  Michael just found it and approves, in a “it’s about time” kind of way.  Blink has her own den, in the towel closet, which she has figured out how to open.  She climbs up a few ledges and falls asleep on the sweaters.  Cute +1!

Finally, K and I have been watching Charmed.  We just finished the first season and are starting the second.  Oh, dear, sweet potato pie the writing is horrible.  But it’s like a train wreck, you just can’t stop looking and cringing.  I like the premise, and the demon-of-the-week plots are mildly interesting, but it’s an acting-free zone populated by dysfunctional plot elements you can see coming a mile away.

Three hollywood-beautiful witches gain superpowers and the ability to cast spells from a spellbook when they inherit said spellbook (called “the book of shadows”) from their grandmama.  They become “the charmed ones”.  That means they fight evil, protect the innocent, and struggle with all that real world stuff like career, getting dates with hollywood thud-studs, and working out their family issues.  Hey, what’s not to like?

Unfortunately, the lame writing is filled with convoluted plots and illogical character actions.  The actresses can’t act worth beans, which makes the terrible dialogue and scene pacing agony to watch at times.  The WTF moments per minute is very high.  But, hell, I know I’m eating a Big-and-Nasty here, not a burger I cooked on my own grill with all the fixins.  It’s interesting to me because there’s so much potential in the show.  That potential gets picked up, dropped, and trod over.  But it’s still there, so I watch and gaze in wonder at this two-headed baby with dull surprise.

In garden news, the potatoes are coming up nicely. The tomatoes need a lot of care, so it’s touch and go with them. Onions and chives are on target. The lettuce, contrary to last year, is being really difficult. It looks like it might surge forward soon. I hope so, it’s been a long spring.

The basil croaked, which really surprised me. The other herbs are doing well and spreading rapidly. I’m psyched because our cooking gets so much mileage now out of them, and we now know the power of saving herbs for later in the winter. The garden is teeming with earthworms, which it wasn’t last year. I guess word has gotten around that this plot is active.

K and I have a huge amount of plants in moss packets ready to plant, hopefully this will start the serious attack of garden goodness. Oh yes, and we have a new blue hose with a purple multi spray attachment that rocks the mike. Our major challenge this year is keeping the weeds, which have mounted a massive attack on all fronts. My back is killing me, and the thistles ruined my gloves, requiring me to get a fresh pair. Sheesh!

Frankie has taken to bullying Blink, the older and weaker female cat. It’s gotten to the point where Blink is always hiding and skulking about, and it’s driving K and myself up the wall. In all other ways Frankie is a honeybear, but when she doesn’t get her way (such as wanting to get a walkies outside and we say no because the landscapers sprayed the grass with pesticide today), she acts out on Blink.

We’re really not happy with our vets. We took Frankie in for a respiratory infection, and they decided to give her the latest round of shots because we hadn’t been in to update them. This was in addition to the antibiotics they prescribed. Now, we hate giving Frankie her shots because she becomes weak and sad for three days, and it’s heartbreaking to watch. So for them to give her the shots before we could protest, when she was already feeling crummy because of an infection. Well, the vets are on my poop list. I’m going to go empty my wallet somewhere else. Frankie hid under the bed and sulked for days, and it made me mad.

On the bath front, my aunt gave me an awesome array of bath salts from Pretty Baby, and some cool dude bath bombs from Lush. Alas, I’ve used up the gift boxes and I emptied out my main store of goods the other day. Not having the requisite ability to meditate my cares into valuable cash and prizes at a certain level is of course, intolerable. But understandable, since my stress levels have been off the wall the last month and a half.

Actually, I have a whole stash of bath bombs I’ve been holding onto for karmic reasons, which I’ve been unable to touch. The victims I’ve planned these for will no doubt benefit, but for me it means lean times. So K and I made a brief run and I picked up some more of my faves. There’s this pine-volcanic gravel bomb that does the trick nicely, and I’ve been jonesin’ to make use of that kind again. Stimulates my brainstem nicely, and I’m glad to have it back.

Picked up the third Age of Bronze, titled “Betrayal Part One”. It’s as good as always, and I read through it so quickly it’s sad. The Trojan War is finally starting to heat up, as both sides start to maneuver their pieces into position, while the personal stories of the characters continue to develop in interesting ways.

Of particular interest to me is the diplomatic mission to Troy to regain Helen and avert the war, where several people reveal their character in really cool ways. I never get tired of Odysseus’s trickery, and I have to say Palamede’s honesty is starting to win me over. Paris’s cowardice, arrogance and treachery are really going too far. Troy is doomed.

K has been getting the hiking bug, and after a long search she finally found a pair of boots she could deal with. REI had nothing but high priced, weird and poorly manufactured junk. That surprised me. LL Bean just didn’t pass the muster. So we hit the local Ranger Surplus, because I needed a new pair of jungle boots and a new pair of fatigues. K was skeptical, but she found exactly what she was looking for there. Durable, support, reasonably priced, and not made cheaply.

I swear by my army boots and fatigues. My old desert storm boots and fatigues have been slowly falling apart this last year, despite my best efforts to milk them further. I’ve worn the fatigues for twenty-one years, and the boots for eleven. The service, when it comes to the basics, knows how to make long-lasting, hardy equipment and that’s no joke.

The boots breathe and stand up to anything while giving you support and protection. The fatigues cover your legs with cool/warm air as necessary, and they protect you from terrain, foliage and insects like nobody’s business. Plus the pockets are awesome. I’ve carried empty beer bottles in all four at the 9:30 Club, saving my friends and me the hassle of throwing them out while the music is raging. It’s good to have a new set. I feel it’s appropriate, in a way, with the way my life is going.

You need some light to see your shadow, though too much will make it disappear.  Too little light and all becomes darkness, and you can’t tell the shadow from the night.  Become disassociated from your shadow, and it might take off on its own.  Getting it back would require you to sew it back on, like in Peter Pan.  I’m thinking the shadow might feel safer coming out to play with the lights out.

I get the creeps so bad I experience a minor hallucination.  That’s when I feel the clutch of the dark and terrible figure responsible for all my night fears and anxiety.  I’m in the presence of a stupid, nasty figure of despicable character and rotten luck.

His first words are incriminations. Why did I take so long in coming? Don’t I know how lonely and miserable he’s been, skulking about waiting for me to pay my respects?

What’s the matter, I ask this bird-brained grail king of poor taste?

If I hadn’t been so bleeping self-important, he wouldn’t have had to resort to giving me the “phantasmagoria” treatment to get my attention.  He wants me to help him get a date with UFO girl.

Say that again?

My host starts telling me about this extraterrestrial “broad” he’s got a grotesque fascination for, and he wants me to help him find her so he can score.  He’s acquired an unhealthy collection of sighting information and pictures from the internets, and a used book store he skulks about in on Sundays, because he thinks “babes with books” are hawt.

I can’t believe I’m in the basement talking to myself in the dark with an imaginary psychic entity, but there it is.  This is turning out to be a weird night.

I catch a whiff of a cold earthy smell and am reminded of my garden (which is in winter pre-spring prep mode right now).  My host notices my interest and I listen to him expound about his one human passion, the growing of plants and the enjoyment of their cultivation.  This is an interest we have in common, and I tell him so.

He rudely scoffs at my amateurish “interest”, calling my efforts pathetic and feeble.  Well, he’s right.  So I ask him what might make me less worthless.  My host says its a waste of time to train the incompetent, but watching me gawk like a rube at his astounding knowledge might be amusing.

I get a brief mental tour of his night garden.  He shows me the process he uses to encourage plants to grow, in which one uses touch and voice to transmit a common spirit.  The stuff he shows me kind of freaks me out, and I can’t get it out of my head.

I promise to grow something night-related, specifically a moonflower, or two, for my host. I think it’s only appropriate that there be some physical representation between us that manifests our conversation.

He recalls an audio tape I made ten years back, of music that expressed a desire to know the devilish side of my personality. I’d forgotten all about The Crumb Star.  My host thought it was a jangling mix of mostly horrible music, but at least I made an attempt at talking to him.

My thought is that I need to contact the Dark Goddess and ask if she has any clues about where to find this UFO girl.  This sort of thing seems to be her sort of specialty.

With that clue, my host says I’ll find what I need when I return to the normal world.  I don’t know what he means, but I’m perfectly pleased to be of service.  I open my eyes and I turn the light back on.

I take it that for now I have the shadow’s permission.  I can walk the depths of the unconscious with reasonable confidence.   There’s still a haunted house party to arrange.

For now, I got me a hall pass.

Now that the holiday madness has past, I’ve been able to take stock of the post-santa-claws damage.  My car’s engine mount succumbed to the forces of doom and collapsed, just in time for my yearly inspection.  So I’m socked with a repair cost and delays during the nebulous holiday spirit that means every mechanic is doing the total dodge.  As if that weren’t enough, Frankie caught a lite sneeze, and needed a vet visit to get the kitty drug hook-up.  Sometimes, if you really try, you can feel the jackup gnomes with their vacuum in your wallet.  I must have landed on the square in my personal board game where I have to lose 2 turns.

My friend Liephus gave me a minor linkdump, which gave me a chuckle.  He’s all about the funny, and I think that’s a good a life goal as any.  First off, he sent me a link where a group of video game “experts” do a “scientific” study.  They show a compelling correlation between the time it takes for a game avatar to encounter a “crate” and how good the video game is.  See, it’s a staple in video games that there are crates everywhere.  They conceal “powerups”, “heals”, and “ammunition”.  They are often used as scenery or obstacles to liven up what are otherwise boring environments.  Some games start you out staring at a crate (and therefore are traumatic, horrible games to play), while others take half an hour before you encounter a crate (you have just found gameplay better than any vice you can imagine).

Second, he introduced me to Korean professional StarCraft matches on YouTube.  I think StarCraft is one of the greatest computer games ever made, and a heck of a lot of fun to play, either solo or against other folks.  In the matches, video game players fight to the death on-screen for fabulous glory and prizes.  The Korean announcers lose their marbles following the ebb and flow of play, which is pretty funny.  Some folks dub over them with English (such as DiggitySC), and give it that understated, but deeply satisfying humorous edge.  It’s all about the funny!  Just one more match, and I’ll head off to bed, I swear.

K and I have been watching Grey’s Anatomy, Seasons 1 and 2.  I think House is by far a better “medical” drama, but I like the premise and many of the characters of Grey’s Anatomy.  I loathe the main character, Meredith Grey, however, and her One True Couple counterpart Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd.  She’s very much an example of “The Beautiful Lady without Mercy”, making it all about herself and caring not a whit for what happens to other people.  I sense a post of some kind coming out of this in the future.

My Pa noticed the work I was doing on my rum punch recipe, and gave it the enthusiastic thumbs-up.  Then he passed along to me some vital ingredients.  It appears that I have yet some kung fu techniques to work on, and will likely have to modify my alchemical concoction.  Or perhaps do an addendum post on the matter.  But it’s very encouraging to have my efforts be recognized and have the parental unit pass along another part of the secret recipe down.  On K’s end, she’s been fiddling with crepes, trying to duplicate her Ma’s baffling ability to create rolled-up sugar crepes of smooth munching satisfaction.  She got a pair of really cool cookbooks from the holiday loot-fest, and has been readying to level up her baking skills.  Which reminds me, I have to summon the Cookie Aphid and go back to basics – the Chocolate Chip Cookie of Doom.  I’ve been experimentin’ a little too much, and need to return to solid ground.

Plans for the garden this year are already being made.  The entire garden gang got together the other day and drew up preliminary plans as to what will be planted, and how it will be harvested and stored this year.  There’s some fence work, sod-busting, and composting in my future I fear.  The ground is cold and damp, and the planting many months off.  But this year will be a new level with more hit points and better rolls, I can feel it.

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