Monday, May 24, 2010

rare day

Milestone day. I looked at the $ numbers and it make sense for me to only work Tuesdays(radio day with a client) and my weekend with the autistic man where I basically have to remember to breathe--its that easy. By the way, turns out he is a savant. I give him a date and he will tell me what day of the week it is instantly--go figure. I sometimes can't remember what day of the week. Anyway, a combo of a little work plus SS$ gives me the same money as if I worked full time. Give me a sign God, I thought, after leaving the SS office. Am I doing the right thing? Soon after I not only got my sign but also was given absolute proof of the existence of a higher power. I just got out of the gym and was having a great day off--checked my phone and Karen had left me the best message in 28 years of marriage. First let me back up a day. Yesterday, our landlord spread some beautiful top soil and and spread grass seed. The place was looking good.-all storm damage to the yard gone--gigantic sink hole an unpleasant memory. Karen placed two brown flower pots right at the edge and gave me explicit instructions to be careful backing up into the driveway. So of course I backed up crushing one of the flower pots--the sound of screaming annuals will stay with we for a long time. She came home and gave me the hopeless doofus stare. I said the pot was brown--it blended into the brown dirt! No matter case closed--all verdicts final--pay the clerk on the way out. Now for my moment of my sign from God that he is on my side. I checked my phone when I got out of the gym today and Karen was laughing so hard. She came home for lunch and crushed the other pot!-sweet! The future is bright! The world is collapsing all around me-oceans dying-religious fanatics blaming earthquakes on pretty girls. Europe and the U.S. bankrupt. The Korea's on the verge of nuclear war. Iran on the verge of nuclear weapons. With all these wrongs for the Hand of God to swoop down from heaven to right, He takes the time out of His busy day to somehow distract Karen so she crushes the brown flower pot with her Toyota. Life is good my friends.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

still crazy after all these years

My good and dear friend who was the first person to encourage me to write years ago reminded me that my tenuous hold on reality is not a recent phenomenon. Janet Ruhe-Shoen came back from Chile with her husband and daughter over twenty years ago and ended up settling in my home town of Beacon, N.Y. Janet was a genuine writer and was doing research on a book that was eventually published. No matter what I wrote she managed to find some of the words worthwhile. In my fantasy world, I was remaking the town and the surrounding area with the Rent-A-Nun store located next to the Moose store, where one could buy a used(I shudder to think what I meant by that) or new moose-all sales final. The Melzingah Buffalo Preserve flourished on the top of Mt. Beacon where pampered buffalo were transported to the bottom of the mountain in a wheel barrow. The caretaker, whose name eludes me, suffered from massive disfiguring hernias and was always in need of a new wheel barrow. I think from this caretaker's behavior came the physiological term "enabling". The buffalo also participated in illegal races in the Melzingah reservoir--a major source of revenue in our poor, near- death factory town. Consequently, repulsed Beaconites also built the first bottled water plant in New York. In most homes tap water was sniffed for chlorine, but Beacon water gave off a distinct odor of bison. The area also had other firsts. One weekend a family friend who had never ventured north of NYC. came for the weekend and requested a tour. I took her to nearby Wappingers Falls. While standing on the bridge that spanned the river, I pointed to the river bank where the the first factory was created on the banks of the Wappinger's river. Using water power the Indians would sit assembling tomahawks that moved briskly past them on a conveyor belt. Janet reminded me that my fantasy town also had the world's only totally blind dentist. Karen had to jar my memory, but she remembered the dentist had an incredible seeing eye dog who functioned as his assistant. The combination of braille x-rays and the dog barking--one bark for a cavity, two barks for a root canal and three for an extraction worked quite well. The dog, wearing purple gloves, handed the dentist the correct instruments. Being a German Shepard, one growl and a flash of teeth, was all that was needed for prompt payment. Otto the dog was deaf so complaints were useless--unless one knew German sign language. As i"m writing this I suddenly remembered that on his office wall he had a plaque inscribed "Blind Dentist of the Year-1965"-a fact the doctor was inordinately proud of and shared with every patient.
In real life I played whiffle ball in the backyard with my brother. A home run was a ball hit over the cherry tree. The voice of Red Barber giving the play-by-play on a hot, lazy Sunday afternoon drifted over the fence from the Nelson's back porch. That should have been enough back then--it would be now.

Monday, May 17, 2010

beginnings and ends

I just finished my sequel to "Lilly&Peggy" and found myself thinking about beginnings and ends which led to passage from the "Seven Valleys", a mystical book written by Baha'u'llah in response to a letter from a Sufi. The number seven has great significance to a Sufi. It refers to the seven days of creation out of which came a belief that there are seven stages of self-knowledge. Another fact worth mentioning is that this particular Sufi held the belief, unlike others, that the condition of prophethood was an indispensable link between the condition of servitude and the condition of Diety. This indispensable link was eloquently voiced by His Holiness Christ who said "I am the way...".
Anyway in the "Seven Valleys" Baha'u'llah says "but the people of the Valleys above this see the end and the beginning as one; nay they see neither beginning nor end,"
When I wrote the last paragraphs today for "The Imperfect Pilgrim" I had that experience of closing a circle, blinking, and then not being able to see where the circle began and ended. I then thought of the other non-fiction book I recently finished with Phyllis Ring and Diane Iverson. The heart of the book is an essential practical step based on the premise that down deep we are one and interconnected--that the only logical act is an act of service to members of our family which, when done with a pure intent, is simultaneously an act of service to ourselves. I have been living, or more accurately trying to live like this for decades now. Again seeing the beginning as the end, blinking, and then not being able to tell the difference becomes reality. I will explain. When I was younger I was much more concerned with the the last stage of an act of service--namely the visible act. Someone needs a ride to the doctor and my focus was primarily on the outward act or the end. As I aged I began to pay more attention to the beginning. What motivated my outward act of service? Was it selfless? Did I expect some quid pro quo? At this time of my life I definitely saw a well defined beginning and end-the act and what motivated the act. Now at this stage of my life, almost 63, the beginning and end are blurring somewhat-enough for me to see where this path is leading. Now I spend more time contemplating what attribute of God should motivate my act of service-is it generosity, kindness, some mixture of justice and mercy maybe. The outward act is the visible vessel carrying the divine quality. In essence what I am seeing is kindness moving out in a circle and coming back to me completing the circle. I blink, look again, and see only one circle. The beginning was kindness and the end was kindness-the end and the beginning had become one. All I can take with me in the next stage of my journey are the infinite attributes of God that I have made my own through countless acts of service. It is definitely a feeling of contentment-not worrying so much about how my efforts are received. This line of thinking also leads to in time contemplating acts of service to a relationship you have with that person because the relationship is an endless circle of acts of service circling back and forth between you and the other person. So now I ask what is the attribute of God this relationship needs at this moment and how can that attribute be incorporated into an act of service. These are just my ramblings-no claim at being authoritative in the least. The end--or is it the beginning?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I know it is late

I don't know why sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night--well, someone has to pay for it. Round up the usual suspects. At the top of my list is Santa Klaus and the Tooth Fairy. For years I've gone back and forth by this puzzling question. "Who has the more difficult job?" Lets look at Santa. Only really works one day a year. On the other hand-- Arctic weather, icy roofs, wind chill factor while flying, must make character assessments (who is naughty or nice?) while delivering a zillion presents all over the world. Also on the down side--surrounded by little people who are always under foot, must drink gallons of cheap wine to stay warm on annual flight. New international rule re disposal of waste products at high altitude require him to wear a diaper and carry a coke bottle.
Now let us consider the Tooth Fairy. Works every night of the year. Must carry huge bags of quarters and tiny teeth using public transportation enduring snickers from from the public. Has politically incorrect name that makes no sense. New laws re toxic medical waste(baby teeth)limit disposal to a large cave beneath Newark, N.J.
When Laurel was seven or eight she came to Karen and I around bedtime very excited holding a tiny tooth in her hand. A huge smile and dreams of riches went with her to Dreamland. Only problem was that we were brok. Iwrote her a note and put it in an envelope-From the Tooth Fairy to Laurel Tomanio; "Dear Laurel, Please except this I.O.U. for one dollar. So many children lost a tooth tonight that I ran out of money. I will be back tomorrow night with your dollar. Thank you for your patience-love The Tooth Fairy.
The next morning there was a look of awestruck wonderment on her face. What a thrill to get a letter from the Tooth Fairy. Sure enough the conscientious TF returned the next night with a dollar under the pillow.
Thank you Santa and Tooth Fairy for being the cause of that special look on the faces of children all over the world. And thank you for all the hard work you do under difficult working conditions-sleep with the angels.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Dollar goes a long way

If you are in the mood for profound thoughts then I would skip this entry. Blogs should have internal weather reports such as "Mr. Tomanio is being influenced by a whimsical wind this Sunday"
Every Saturday morning I meet a long-time client and his staffer in Exeter where I stay at a respite house with an autistic gentlemen, but I can get away for short periods. I was in line waiting to buy coffees at Dunkin Donuts when I noticed the sales person was asking if the customers would like to donate a dollar to cystic fibrosis. If they said yes, the lady would write their name on a paper foot and tape it to the window. I could not wait for my turn I was so excited. "Yes, certainly. My name? That would be 'Bongo Smith'". At this point the lady is turning red and trying desperately not to laugh and offend a customer. I'm also desperately trying not to laugh. I look at the D&D windows covered with the paper feet of children in order to get serious, but then I think what if they were trying to raise money to cure jock itch? What would the paper cut outs look like? Later on that afternoon my wonderful daughter and grand baby came down for lunch. We went through the D&D drive thru where my daughter said that her father would like to donate a dollar. "What name please?" "I leaned over and said "Elmo Buff. That's Buff with two f's".
I know a sixty-two year old man should not be doing such infantile things. And I should not be wearing "dandruff" and "halitosis" rubber support bracelets". Quite a mystery. For only two dollars I helped cure an awful disease and laughed the whole day thinking about the look on the saleslady's face--correction Bongo and Elmo helped cure cf. Ronnie Tomanio helped cure sadness.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another mystery

I'm almost finished writing the sequel to "Lilly&Peggy"--a slight book for children published in England . The sequel, which was intended to be a slight follow up book, has reached 160 pages and counting. None of this is my fault. If the characters had been honest, they should have told me it would turn into "War and Peace" and it would take a lot of hard work involving deep thinking and research. My innate sense of laziness would have wisely counseled me against such a project. All in all--very annoying. Also annoying is what they say. I will give an example from one character:
"When a heart is broken the pieces are not smooth and soft to the touch. The pieces do not float harmlessly on a meandering river to the sacred resting place of broken hearts where they are interred with solemn dignity. When a heart is broken jagged pieces fall on the innocent hopes and dreams of others. The bloody remains are tossed, kicking and screaming, into a vacant lot where no flower has ever bloomed and the air is unbreathable."
Another character has this to say about the material world: "There are only two choices. In the end, you will give away everything or everything will be taken from you."
Mind you, these are fictional characters with intelligent thoughts and they don't even exist! I exist. I have a mind, but I certainly don't converse in such a deep philosophic manner. So what does this say about me? If I ever meet these characters face-to-face, I'm going to give them a piece of my mind! Oh wait! I have!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hiding in Argentina

I am going to feel better after writing this-BP will decrease and I will dream of sugar plums. Also it is fun to be an out-of control-crackpot like the guy who writes a furious letter to the newspaper three times a week about aliens who are drinking his orange juice-straight from the carton no less!
I was out and about on an idyllic Sunday with my family and had to use a public rest room in a restaurant. The tp rolls weigh 50lb. and consist of super thin paper that turns to dust when you try and pull it off the cylinder. I had to lay down on my back sans pants and wiggle my arm up into the tp holder in an effort to turn the fifty pound roll and with the other hand try desperately to secure a few squares before the inevitable rip. My arm got stuck and I began screaming. A restaurant worker from Antarctica who spoke no English screamed and called 911 and the police. In a panic I tried to extricate my arm but the whole unit ripped out of the wall. I tried desperately to put my pants back on but it was impossible. I ran through the restaurant yelling "Help! Aliens are drinking my orange juice! and can you put my lunch in a to- go container." I tripped over my pants and knocked myself out. I woke up in a padded cell wearing a straight jacket and the tp contraption on my right arm. I took part in one group discussion with other patients, but we had to raise our hands if we wanted to speak. I did, but knocked my self out with the tp holder. Next time I will raise my left hand. Other than that the food is good and I have been making a few extra bucks selling extra tp to the other patients. I am not sure how often I am allowed to write letters. Now, I feel so much better-all the hostility has ebbed away. The birds are singing and they are bringing me a glass of orange juice.