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8/4/06-Fri.-Have stopped for brunch in Belton, TX, at the Jalisco Cafe, a low-cost Tex-Mex eatery with good vittles. Someone said life is what happens to you on the way to something else. This morning I'd intended to stop at Burger King in Georgetown for breakfast, but someone cut me off at the critical moment, I got distracted and missed my exit, and then I wound up here instead. Not a bad trade, and the experience now is much spicier.

During the journey so far, I was again fuming and frustrated, feeling stuck and that most of life is out of my control. With exasperation, I found myself thinking I ought to have been more like my father and just insisted on how I wanted things rather than seeking some accommodation with circumstances, others' wishes, etc. Many miles sped by while I indulged in this mood.

I probably will feel this way often enough again, for it does seem that most of what I'd hoped for in retirement, and to a degree in marriage as well, has been so far denied me, and I find I'm far from resigned to the situation.

Nonetheless, for today at least, I am struck by the Jalisco vs. Burger King analogy and noting that at times, if one lets go of what seemed essential at one point - just as Fran thought for many years she did not like Austin and wished very much for us to be elsewhere, yet, once used to it, now is as certain she does not want to be in another city - what occurs instead may be as good or better.

Well, that may just be "sour grapes," but it strikes me that Pascal was right in his statement, to paraphrase: Everyone's ills stem from an inability to sit quietly and alone. To me, this morning, the implication is that one might have more contentment and simplicity appreciating what one has than fretting over what one doesn't. What a novel idea!

Appropriately, I think, while waiting once in Waco for Mom to return from her initial activities today, I put into practice Pascal's solitary prescription for our miseries and simply sat quietly.

8/5/06-Sat.-Platitudes, as above, notwithstanding, I grow furious when forced to remain in a deteriorating neighborhood, when for months or years on end Fran prefers the company of others to planning and enjoying a nice vacation in a scenic cool area with me, or simply to our spending time together like any normal couple enjoying mutual hobbies in each other's company rather than in separate rooms and involvements, greeting one another in passing a few times at most through the day, and still learning to really relate, even if we are sharing a meal out, when the inclination of one often is to mock more than to appreciate or enjoy being with the other person. If I say we need more time together, she says we should not be together "too much." With one person so frustrated and the other wishing us to only occasionally truly be in each other's company, how can it still be a good marriage?

In fact, I do not believe it is, though we both shy away from facing this and from either taking steps to improve or to end it. Fran and her sister enjoy being together a lot, as do she and her mother, she and her friends, Mark, Sarah, Gerald, etc. It seems it is only her relationship with her husband that suffers from greater togetherness. Are we then just burying our heads in the sand to not face up to it being a bad marriage?

Or are my expectations unrealistic? I do not know. I am only sure that now and for some time the circumstances of our marriage have involved little joy and too much distress. I do not say this is all Fran's fault. Nor do I believe it is all mine, but the combination of our two personalities seems to mean too often a less than very pleasant time, at least for one and possibly for both of us.

Our mutual motto now, however, would appear to be: "Don't rock the boat." We had better just keep on with things the way they are, we say to ourselves, even if quite unsatisfactory (than deal with them in any new, positive, or decisive manner).

Security trumps "making waves." Only I do not know how much longer I can keep stifling the rage I feel, to "keep things on an even keel (to return yet again to the shaky vessel metaphor)."

But perhaps with Imago Therapy or other marriage counseling we may get to a better, more mutually satisfying place in our dyad. If Fran is willing to work on the relationship, I am not ready to give up on it.

On the other hand, if she wants to treat this as all my problem, to resolve as best I can while she need make no changes in the status quo, it may not be cause for optimism.

Fran and I have key differences of personality, age, and, to an extent, intelligence which help account for the problems that seem to have arisen, but probably neither partner is "wrong."

Frictions or disparities have developed around a few primary issues:

  • Use of time and whether to be together more or less of it;
  • The cultivation of mutual vs. separate friendships and pastimes;
  • Where and under what circumstances to live (in a scenic area and cooler climate vs. in a better part of this fair city vs. still residing in our current abode, in a less and less tolerable Austin neighborhood);
  • How, where, and how often to take vacations together (and of course how we get along once on them);
  • There may also be some differences over the expression of affection and/or passion, but we have not dwelt on them enough to even know if this is as big a deal as the others or if, instead, we are both reasonably comfortable with only occasionally now being very affectionate and/or sexual. (Are we ignoring these aspects of a normally intimate involvement because the concerns are too "hot button" or too embarrassing for one or the other [or both] or simply because we have no significant emotional [or physical] investment in the questions at this stage of our lives? I do not know.)

I may be missing something glaring, that could come out in any therapy that is not merely superficial or limited to dealing with symptoms, but I doubt it. Rather, I think those five areas of real or potential disagreement are the major ones outstanding.

A hopeful way of regarding that: If we could resolve any one of them, there would be perhaps a 20% improvement in our relationship. Similarly if we could just do just 50% better (than we are now) on any two of them.

And yet, to put in better perspective an apparent bleakness (of that listing of five areas of real or possible dissatisfaction), there are more than five ways in which Fran and I continue to have rewarding interactions:

  • We both have enjoyed time with our dogs and find them quite enriching of our lives as well as amusing (even if also a big pain in the posterior at times);
  • We both get a lot out of preparing and publishing our monthly family-and-investment newsletter;
  • We both like relating while eating out at nice restaurants and do so often;
  • We both like "arts and letters" and go to musical concerts in common, listen to similar or the same radio stations, enjoy some of the same educational TV programs, like photography, appreciate common kinds of books or articles and discussing them, at times go to the same type movies (or at least watch them at home), and relish nature, aquariums, zoos, and museums, etc. (or talking together about topics related to them);
  • We are both "live within one's means" devotees and like being frugal while emphasizing saving or investing, traits not that frequently found in the general population;
  • We both like a tradition (of over 21 years now) of alternating long massages every week (so that, more or less, each person both gives and receives a deep, hour-long massage a couple times a month);
  • We both, I believe, really want our marriage to work, and each is committed to being faithful to her or his partner, despite difficulties that develop at various stages along the way;
  • We are both "I" folks (on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator's "E-I" spectrum);
  • We both are strongly against the attitudes and policies of the Republican right and highly antagonistic to or suspicious of big government, politicians, corporations, most religions, or interference by any of these in our personal lives;
  • We are both quite pro preservation of the environment, individual rights and freedoms, intellectual stimulation, true education, and integrity;
  • We have a shared history and life together, certainly more positive than negative, of (so far) over two decades;
  • We are both reasonably tolerant, even appreciative of one another's quirks and idiosyncrasies (having "tamed" each other, as in The Little Prince);
  • We either love each other, despite the rough patches, or have in common at least a close approximation of whatever love is;
  • We both want what is best for each other;
  • We both value the highest practicable mental and physical functioning;
  • We are both "conservative" in the best senses of the term;
  • Although we're very different, our personalities frequently complement each other.

Options, in case wish more time, for concentration on the marriage, meditation, added volunteer efforts, other interesting pursuits, or special projects: less TV, chess, radio, and investments stuff (beyond twice weekly doing research and needed actions).

Today, Mom and I went through a lot of Dad's old papers or pictures from an old footlocker.

We went out for Thai food too.

Later, we met a man whom Mom wants to restore a Samurai sword Dad brought back from his time in Japan right after World War II. Apparently it is worth $4000-5000 if fixed up a bit.

The fellow who is restoring the sword is a character. He has lots of tattoos, is a former NYC police officer, seems to exude an edgy personality (reminds me a lot of my brother-in-law, Scott, in attitude and appearance), is nice though in a fragile sort of way, is quite a perfectionist, and (at about age 40-45) is retired, with disability for a bad back, plus lots of money coming in for his on-the-road "born again Christian" talks on why the world started less than 10,000 years ago and scientists do not know what they are talking about who claim anything about evolution or a longer earth age. He also has the swords and knives restoration and sales side-business. He lives out in the country with his wife and three-year-old son, but they all met us in town at a coffee house. Mom forgot her wallet, so I paid for the refreshments and drove us home.

I saw a large rabbit (or small hare?) while on a nature hike this morning.

Temperatures are a little extreme here lately, up to 105°F yesterday and quite high again today.

This evening, we watched a Humphrey Bogart movie, "Across the Pacific," on the Turner Broadcasting Network channel.

Mom said she had a bad back. So she medicated herself with several (four or more) stiff bourbon drinks both last night and tonight, then was looped enough to slur her words, weave when she walked, fall asleep often during the movie, and forget to close the door when she used the bathroom.

Earlier she told me how, when I was still a toddler and Dad just back from Japan, he had no patience with my childish ways and used to beat me. Fortunately, I have no memory of it.

She said she threatened him with divorce, and they went for counseling once with a psychiatrist after Dad said she was "crazy" and any judge would award custody of me to him. But in fact the psychiatrist did not find her unstable, and Dad refused to go anymore.

In spite of everything, Mom stayed with him. Ultimately, I suppose she is glad she did, given my seven siblings, her $1.5 million estate when Dad died, many positive shared experiences with him over the years, and her numerous grandchildren.

8/6/06-Sun.-Mom and I visited together or went through more of Dad's old photos or documents till late morning. Then I made the trip back to Austin, so tired I nearly fell asleep a few times on the way. Fran had left for a performance by the time I had gotten in. Puff seemed happy to see me. I unloaded the car and then promptly lay down for a much needed nap.

8/11/06-Fri.-In the dream group discussion on 8/2, there were several insights about the "...violent nature" dream:

  • The ego, or self with which I consciously identify, feels on the edge of disaster, overwhelmed by powerful, even violent emotions, that, like the forces of nature, are beyond my control, though I feel compelled to try to control them.

  • I am unbalanced by this dilemma.

  • I am, at least for now, a survivor, but it might actually be better in terms of growth & transformation if I would NOT survive (as the ego self in the dream).

  • Things are very fluid, in great flux.

  • There is much transformation taking place.

  • Yet it feels extremely uncomfortable.

  • It may be wise to "ask the dreaming self" to be more gentle, providing the dream material in less imposing bits, presenting it a little at a time with which to work, rather than being overwhelmed or too frightened, as in a nightmare.

  • This second dream, like the first about a week ago, could be considered another "presentation dream," providing a theme with which to work in the next several weeks or months. Whereas the theme of the first may have been the need for greater integration with the emotions (of my anima), here was a dramatic display of those unconscious emotional forces needing greater expression and integration, at the expense of the too controlling ego self.

  • The sea represents not just the sadness of existence, the tears of things, or lacrimae rerum, but the unconscious from which comes creativity, soul, being, drive, motivation, zest, etc. It represents, then, the true foundation, mystery, or Tao of everything.

  • There is also powerful anger or rage in the dream, of course.

  • There is loneliness, a sense of being adrift, and anxiety represented in the dream, which feelings are probably symptomatic, at least in part, of the ego's lack of control and worry over its own persistence.

On 8/9/06, I had this dream: Just a vague impression that I am still in the same old house after all this time, with no real prospect of leaving.

Insights from the dream group about this dream included that:

-The frustration or sadness of not leaving and going, for instance, on many neat vacations with my wife or moving with her to the Pacific Northwest, or to another supposedly ideal place, but remaining in the same house and neighborhood in too hot (& dry, etc.) Austin, is not a frustration or sadness about the literal ideal places to which I might go, but rather with myself, who will always be wherever I am, here or elsewhere, with or without Frances or others.

  • I should ask the dreaming self to answer the question "What is the next step or development?" In other words, "where do I go from here, to deal better with the inner forces that are the real sources of such sadness or frustration?"

  • There may be "outer world" solutions or remedies, as with traveling alone or with Frances to neat places one or more times a year, such that there is no longer any compulsion to make a permanent move in order to experience what is sought or hoped for there.

  • There may also be an "inner world" resolution, as by meditating several hours a day, or at least until there is a confrontation, breakthrough, and integration with the inner forces or "demons" that currently are haunting my ego self and tending to make me miserable wherever I am.

  • Since the real Fran is not the problem, it would be best not to expect changes in her in order to "make me happier." Indeed, her more complete adjustment to being in Austin, putting down roots, making friends here, etc., may be a good grounding influence and example. Certainly, considering divorce because she does not want to sever ties here and start afresh elsewhere seems unlikely to lead to either of us being more content.

  • The fact that Frances for several years very much did not like Austin and herself wanted to leave here, rather than showing her to be inconsistent, suggests somewhat the arbitrariness of the current dilemma. At one time one partner may feel strongly about one position and the other tends to hold an opposite view (as when I wanted us to remain here till we had the financial independence to be able to move, but it was then she who wanted to leave sooner rather than later). At another time, the positions may be reversed. Such fluctuations are common in relationships. Ironically, the conflicts tend to dissolve as one party to them ceases having strongly held insistencies about them. Thus, if I move on, through inner transformations, we may well both come to no longer feel this as an issue between us, or a solution may spontaneously materialize that seems completely hidden now.

  • The "old house" is the inner self or the "soul." Coming to better terms with it is what is called for in the dream. It is hardly profitable to seek escape from it!

  • Two possible titles for the 8/9 dream were "Stuck in Place" and "What Might Have Been," but both, one representing frustration and the other a nostalgic wistfulness for something essential that has been lost, are irrelevant to the actual situation and so seem ironic, as in the Beatles' satirical song "Yesterday." For both represent a flight from what IS, and that's more important than any "might be" or "might have been."

Last night, I had this new dream: I'm at a kind of flop-house or half-way house, a place where a bunch of street people of interesting and/or unsavory character hang out on a more or less temporary but recurrent basis, and it is also as though some of these folks, and I among them, stop in here frequently and get beverages, a little food, conversation, etc. [It's sort of like, in a more wholesome setting, I used to hang out in the early '60s at the Wesley Foundation (Methodist Student Center), on the Drag adjacent the UT campus, a just casual drop-in (or out) transitional place, where one could go to study, watch plays, discuss philosophy, serve or consume tea, coffee, sodas, juice, and light snacks, meet people, play ping-pong, pray or worship alone or with others, talk literature, religion, politics, or whatever, pick up dates occasionally, etc. The dream flop-house/social club is a lot more seedy than that, though.] I have the impression I've been here many times before but don't really know anyone, at least not well. Most folks here are in transition and may be gone for several days or months (or forever) by tomorrow. For some reason, one of the staff people here, a guy who is all relaxed about everything, as though he has seen it all, and maybe done it all too, and nothing phases him anymore, is gesturing nonchalantly toward a handful of people who happen to be nearby (but I get the feeling it could have been any of the folks who drop in, on just about any evening - for some reason, though, these are all men - however, at times women are there as well and had been earlier.) And he introduces them, these men, by simply saying "They ... (pregnant pause) go to bed with your mom."

As Frances said, on reading the dream, "It sounds like a funny, polite, white guy's version of a major insult ('Yo' momma!'). She must be a pretty spry old lady who gets (sleeps) around a lot!"

Am also reminded of the Oedipus complex notion of killing one's father and sleeping with his mother.

I think of a possible title for this dream: Maternal Affairs, perhaps a play on Internal Affairs (or both matters of the heart, or other inner organs, and security type investigations) and Mom's business or financial dealings (with which I may be involved as her executor and administrator of her estate).

Interestingly, Mom is rather "easy" when it comes to taking investment advice, often simply following whatever impulse and suggestion, from whatever source, has come to her most recently, rather than having a system or personal discipline about how she selects things to buy or sell. Her "performance" suffers greatly as a result. She has seen her overall nest egg decline over a third since Dad died and she took over managing it. (The market as a whole is substantially up during this period, despite the bear market of 2000-2002.)

"Pregnant pause" is an interesting phrase here. I was an only child for nearly eight years, but then Mom had more success staying pregnant and keeping fetuses to term. Between 1951-1961, I acquired seven siblings.

I like the idea of the worldly fellow (on the staff of the social club/all-night cafe/flop-house and), who knows it all and perhaps has done it all himself and is just completely relaxed about everything and can nonchalantly, in a quite non-confrontational manner, impart here and there a bit of stunning info. This animus is a good one, I think, to have as a friend.

I believe there certainly are aspects of my personality that are unsavory and transitional. Also it is true that in some ways things may be changing, as in the prior diary dreams.

The anima in the dream would seem to be the character of my mother. In that sense, it would be a good thing if I were one of those sleeping with her, signifying more integration. On the other hand, that idea seems completely sleazy and off-putting to me (to my ego self?), as does my actual mother in some ways: when I was growing up she at times would not worry about her own nudity, parading about (in my or the other children's presence) with little or nothing on. And to this day I am embarrassed by certain of her behaviors, like drinking to excess, being garrulous, whiney, and judgmental, occasionally getting so tipsy she wobbles when she walks, spends more time asleep in others' company than alert, slurs her words, and does not even close the bathroom door when she uses the toilet. (Are these too aspects of myself of which I am suspicious or ashamed? Presumably so.)

I feel, though, that there are some key aspects of the dream's significance I am missing. I wish it were one I could take to the group, but I shall miss the next gathering due to my monthly literature group meeting then as well.

8/17/06-Thurs.-We are in the midst of another string of 100(+)°F days in Austin's typically long, hot, dry summer. It is as if nature is testing our decisions (mine by default, bound as I am by Frances' preference for Austin) to stay here, though places with more pleasant environments beckon. On the radio this morning it was mentioned that 2006 has so far been the hottest for central TX since a record spell of excessive temperatures close to 100 years ago. Before the year ends, we may break that record. Meanwhile, we continue to be in a severe drought, the worst in a half-century or so.

The intensely warm, arid conditions have complicated too the issue between Frances and me of whether or not to go on more (and more northerly) trips together. Although she seems to not want us to fly in the foreseeable future to nice spots like Redwoods National Park or Mount Ranier National Park, where we might continue vacation retreats by rental car, she did suggest a driving trip next month to Yellowstone. Unfortunately, though seeing that dramatic area again, as I had in 2004, would have been OK with me, the journey that soon may not be feasible because the weather in Austin now threatens to break our house foundation and kill several of our trees if we are away for a long trip. We might have hired someone to water while gone, but, in addition, when she looked into it Fran found that the rooms and cabins are booked up.

Another possibility might be that we go on separate vacations, at different times, so one of us could stay home looking after things while the other is off having a good time. I did this two years ago but found I am not so happy traveling major distances alone and do not get as much out of the vacation itself if by myself. In that situation, I soon am too prone to depression or to brooding about why I got married if it mainly means having a roommate when at home and being on my own when away.

For Frances, of course, it is different. She usually can get her mom to vacation with her if I am not along (the prospect for me of trips with my mom having no appeal!). If not, she is fine about doing things by herself, perhaps even preferring that to accommodating my company and needs. This is not just a matter of our age differences. Unlike many, Fran is perhaps at her most natural when alone (or just with Puff) for extended periods. She easily adjusts to being with others and in certain circumstances finds this very rewarding, but alone or in merely a distant (i.e. e-mail) relationship with people she is like a once-beached sea turtle who has finally returned to the water. In isolation she is "in her element." Just as I wish her to be flexible about my more intimate, one-on-one social expectations, she no doubt hopes for my acquiescence to or acceptance of her desires to more often be by herself or at most in relationships (as with some of her geek friends) that involve few if any emotional ties.

I've been doing more meditation than usual in the last several days. Ironically, the main effect of this seems so far to be a sense of being harried, with too much fatigue and too little time to get done what I otherwise need to each day.

Meanwhile, things, from my point of view, have deteriorated in my library volunteer situation lately. Nikos has been replaced as the manager. Our third manager in three months has a rather intrusive, officious manner. There is a better grasp than Nikos had of the big picture, but a tendency, at least where I am concerned, to micro-manage. A couple of the volunteer ladies also apparently feel my role there is to serve them, being their "go-fer" to do tasks that need to be done but which they are unwilling to do themselves, leaving them free to exclusively do the easiest and most interesting things instead. If I even temporarily frustrate them in this, suggesting they take responsibility for some of the less pleasing chores as well, there is resentment. It is hardly true that they cannot do the other chores themselves or that, were I not there to do their bidding, the operation would come to a complete halt.

The atmosphere there is far less easygoing than it's usually been. Such frictions, feeling that I am being taken for granted to an extent, and a sense that, over all, it is now much less fun to serve at the facility are no doubt in some part due to my own shortcomings. But, whatever their origins, they lead to my having less satisfaction from that volunteer experience, and I no longer look forward to going on my shift days. If the circumstances do not improve, I shall soon be looking into another volunteer opportunity.

Despite how the above litany of negatives may sound, the glass is more than half full right now. On a brighter side: Frances and I have actually been getting along well for awhile; we are seeking ways to work out our divergent approaches to or desire for vacations; the library issues are not really big ones and, to the extent they remain, can be dealt with by cutting back my hours, changing my work schedule, and/or beginning a new volunteer position; I'll also feel less stressed out if I get more rest each day, hardly an insurmountable hurdle given that I am retired; and, thankfully, in spite of the onerous heat, we have air-conditioning and can also anticipate cooler weather in about two more months, after which begins the best five-month seasonal period in this best of all possible places to live. Among the more upbeat factors too, our nest egg (after all our expenses) is up about 5-6% so far in 2006. Also, the dream group has been a quite positive development lately. Last but certainly not least, the extreme dryness around these parts has reduced the mosquito population to a tiny fraction of what we normally endure at this time of year.

I am appreciating my latest book group mystery, The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt.

And a few evenings ago I went to a great concert for which Fran was playing, the latest in the International Series ("A Celebration of Spain") put on by The Austin Classical Guitar Society. The orchestra sounded rather fine, and Andrew Zohn's guitar playing was superb. An elderly gentleman sitting next to me in the audience said in the intermission that he was so moved by one of the Joaquin Rodrigo pieces he thought he might arrange to have it played at his own funeral. For some reason, the music reminded me of the Spanish Civil War.

Tomorrow night, Frances and I will join several others for dinner at the Thai Passion restaurant, located roughly at 6th and Congress.

My mom, though with misgivings because of the recent airlines hassles and terrorism scare, is expecting to be flying out to CA, for a visit with my sister, Alice, and her husband, plus with my brother Pete, starting on 8/22.

Frances and I are busy putting together the next issue of our monthly newsletter, due out in a few days.

There have also been further interesting dreams in the past few days or nights:

On 8/13, I dreamed There's a man in a hospital room with a baby, clearly his child. It seems to be an infant, indeed a newborn, yet I act as if it is a toddler, old enough for toys. After handing the man our "toy," wrapped merely in a garbage bag, for his child to play with, I say "If he doesn't like it, just throw it away." Then he says, taking the gift/bag, "Thank you (not yet realizing what it is)!" I add: "My wife and I had a baby too..." "Oh, congratulations!" he interrupts. "But it died," I continue. "So he (referring to the man's child) can have this to play with if he wants, or you might just toss it," I conclude. The man thinks this gift I've handed him is a toy I would have given my baby had it lived, but actually it is my deceased baby. (He'll realize this soon after we depart, when he looks inside the bag.)

Frances and I leave without further conversation and walk down a long series of hospital hallways, past many rooms. Suddenly, I realize the significance of what we have done and stop.

"Oh no! What was I thinking!?" I say, more to myself than to Fran, who clearly does not care one way or the other and just wants to leave. "It was a human being! There'll need to be an investigation," I add. (And meanwhile I'm aware too that I really need to go to the bathroom. If I'm about to be arrested or investigated, it could be hours before I get to finally pee!)

"Don't worry," Fran says (coldly, clinically), "I have all the papers," as though just having the right documents will be sufficient, after giving away, either as a present or as garbage, one's dead baby.

"We'll have to go back," I say. "By now, the police have probably been called, the hospital authorities at least."

And then, only to myself, I thought, with great sadness (apparently finally "getting it" not just intellectually but emotionally), "There will need to be a funeral and burial service. Our baby has died!"

Our baby gift, in its garbage bag wrapping, looked like a large dead fetus, but its flesh was all gray [as the real, formaldehyde-soaked specimens in my UT comparative anatomy lab had been]. It had an abnormally large head and no apparent neck (as though the fetus' development had not gotten too far along before it was born or aborted). Yet the baby was about as large as if it had been kept to term. [This segment might have been entitled "An Unusual Gift." It is as though Fran and I have suffered at least temporary insanity, due to having had the dead baby. Frances thinks this one very funny, reminding her of the horrible surprises left, under the tree for children in Christmas Land by the "Nightmare Before Christmas" denizens of Halloween Land, who never quite understood the intent of the 12/25 holiday. Going to the bathroom, per the dream group, refers to a desire for expression. But in this case it (also?) meant I simply needed to pee, which urgent need was then uppermost on my waking consciousness.]

Next, on 8/14, I had these dreams: 1. At first, I'm trying to sleep, but there are large black bears about. There is a wall, inside which I would have been safe from the bears, but for some reason I was not in there, and so I am in a rather makeshift shelter near but outside the wall. A bear comes during the night and damages the shelter. I am very frightened but survive. I hide in thick vegetation. It is like (or actually) bamboo, the stalks so grown in together that there is hardly room for me to squeeze in among them, but they do afford some protection, as I can hide there and fit in more easily than a bear could get in and at me. I wonder how others may be faring with dangerous bears about. [This segment might be called "Narrow Escape." I have never seen brown bears, or grizzlies, in the wild, not even, disappointingly, in Yellowstone, but Fran and I have seen black bears in the wild in CO.]

2. I'm in a mixed-race (several of us being "White" and several "Black"), diverse ages (very young to old) refugee group of about 25 people (some in families, others here just as lone individuals, and I am in the latter category), apparently all in a tent (about 300 square feet in size), and we are going around the circle and taking a vote on whether: a. To continue as refugees together, knowing there are bears and other destructive forces about; b. To turn ourselves in to the authorities and get protection inside the wall, but with the loss of freedom implied by being in that place of sanctuary; or c. For some of us to stay with the group and some turn themselves in. I am quite impressed that, as we go around, everyone firmly, though often anxiously, chooses, come what may, for us to both stay together and outside the protective establishment. Someone remarks on the situation being similar to that in 1984 or Brave New World, but many of the young people in this group don't know these or other classic stories. [The segment might be titled "Security in Numbers." In my literature group, several times people in their twenties or thirties have expressed a lack of knowledge of authors with whom I had assumed any literate person, and these are all intelligent, well educated folks, would have been familiar, such as Malamud, Bellow, Faulkner, etc. But, of course, not everyone has a liberal arts education, and a lot of younger folks now have had throughout their lives many other means to entertainment than books. My dream group is mixed-race, but we are not of greatly diverse ages, having no children among us, except that everyone carries about, within him or her, a still living childhood. The wall may be the facade we hide behind to protect our individual egos. If so, it is encouraging that in the dream all aspects of the dreamer choose to remain outside the wall. In terms of the goal of integration, it is also most heartening that we all decide to stay together. There still, of course, is the dichotomy between the group and the bears, so the extent of integration possible is as yet limited. When we are all really together, even including "lions and tigers and bears," this may cease being for the dreamer a rather nightmarish set of scenarios.]

8/22/06-Tues-A new dream, from just before getting up this morning: At night, I'm alone amid old tombstones of a small cemetery park. There's enough natural light to read the inscriptions [though I wake up before actually reading any of them].

8/24/06-Thurs.-Last night I discussed the just above dream segment as well as the dead baby (8/13/06) one with my dream group. As usual, the insights gained were more and different than I had anticipated from analyzing the dreams myself. Here are the highlights:

  • The dead baby in a garbage bag gift to a father with a living, healthy baby sounds bizarre to the ego (what would people think!?), but is just part of the peculiar language of dreaming, which is often in symbols, etc. There is nothing wrong with the dream, but rather it is a positive dream!
  • My wife in the dream is not the real Frances, and her wanting to simply leave the hospital right away, after we get rid of the dead baby, and seeming merely cold and clinical is not a reflection on or indictment of my spouse in life. Instead, it is my own anima or feminine aspect, and in this case "she" is about a very appropriate thing, getting on with life and putting the ended project or venture or involvement that the dead baby represents behind her.
  • The baby being in a garbage bag is also appropriate, for this implies disposal, which is the right thing to do with something that is completely ended.
  • Some dreams are predictive or clairvoyant, and this one may qualify. I had really been looking forward to spending a lot of time hanging out with my nephew, Jim (who in some ways has been like the son and child I never had, since his father's terminal cancer), due in any day to begin his PhD program at the University of Texas here in Austin. However, shortly after the dream I got an e-mail, with no prior warning except perhaps the dream, indicating that, instead, Jim had decided to give up on his PhD studies, at least for now, and to return to NYC for various creative projects. Thus, in terms of my hopes and expectations for the building of that relationship and bonding while he would be in Austin, it turned into a rather disappointing, depressing "dead baby." This exacerbated or rekindled my prior feelings of loss associated with never having had children of our own, which was Fran's choice.
  • The tombstone scene also emphasizes the idea of irredeemable loss.
  • It (places and markers for the dead, who, ironically, have no more need for places, being dead) and the giving away of the dead baby suggest rituals, which we need, for the processing of loss and the grief accompanying it.
  • It would be well for me to give myself a chance to truly deal with my losses and grief, an unpleasant matter, but one essential if one is to move on and not just engage in behaviors to sweep those feelings under the carpet for the rest of my life.
  • In addition to grief processing, for any major project, hope, endeavor, etc., that does not pan out, there will need to be a transition of some kind, a refocusing of energy, emotion, time, attention, etc. onto a new, worthwhile endeavor, my "new baby."
  • And indeed this step has already initially been taken, for there is a healthy, living, newborn baby in the dream.
  • It is up to me to discover what this new baby in my life is and shall be.
  • Generally, it is best to encourage an atmosphere of trust, to whatever degree practicable. This is very important to our relationships, endeavors, vocations, politics, work on oneself, etc. Once achieved and maintained, it can be the foundation of great cooperation and creativity.
  • Laughter is a great way sometimes to facilitate a healing transformation.

Unrelated to dreams, but mentioned by several at that group as well, "Little Miss Sunshine" is a fine, positive movie, poignant with life's realities, but completely charming, and it will certainly make you laugh!

Last night, I had these additional dreams (presumably in response to my having asked, as I was going to sleep, to be shown what is the next step needed to resolve issues presented earlier:

I am being told by some behind-the-scenes dream authority "a gift you have to give, forgiveness." This might be called: "Charity Begins At Home." The seemingly simple, double meaning dream provides a formula for transforming life into a spirit of giving and of no longer grieving over or feeling aggrieved by what has been done to (or denied) oneself.

Of course, that is far easier said than done. A cynical response, "Get real (!)," occurs to me too. For, realistically, more than a small dream will likely be required before I can change my life in this fashion. I am no saint, and the dream calls for a saintly prescription. It is equivalent to Jesus' advice that when someone strikes you on one cheek, you ought to simply turn the other. Unfortunately, in the true world there are plenty (including even spouses, brothers, parents, etc.) who will reward such meekness with further negative behaviors at another's expense. Perhaps, though, short of becoming a holy being, there may yet be room in my repertoire for a more forgiving and tolerant attitude, both toward my own foibles and those of others, particularly when the alternative may be remaining a lot less functional.

As suggested earlier, in response to the dead baby dream, group members suggested that the segment's live baby (to whom I was giving the garbage bag "toy") shows that I have already gone beyond the death of my baby (which perhaps symbolized giving up on: having children of my own; and/or a special relationship with a niece or nephew; and/or a special project in which I had placed great hopes; and/or even the hope or expectation of having lived a life of significance) and that transformation is in the process of occurring. They offered that I might seek from the dream maker what in my life this new baby is, as well as what is/are my next steps(s).

I believe in recent dreaming, as well as thinking about it afterward, I have been trying out various options (i.e., perhaps doing more meditation, mentoring a school child, Big Brothers Big Sisters, more vacations with Fran, vacations by myself, pediatric volunteer work, "Storytime" volunteering, etc.) as if one of them might be key to moving me along from the stuck place in which I've found myself for awhile. Though I do not really understand what the following segments mean, I think they could be more such "trial balloons."

The baby is a book. [While I would love to have the "next step" or resolution be as straightforward as my writing a "great American novel" or some other creative tomb, I actually feel no special pull toward this and so question the accuracy of a simple interpretation of that dream segment, especially as it would be dependent on something outside myself, namely anybody else caring more than a whit about anything I might write. Maybe it means writing generally, though, again, this does not actually feel right. Unfortunately, none of my speculations about the segment seem correct, but I suppose considering them can do no harm. Perhaps one's "baby" in this context is anything he or she has created, that he is passionate about, that he has put his heart to, that fully engages him, that he has really given himself to, or, as the phrase goes, that allows one to do what he or she genuinely loves. Or maybe the dream child is just one's own inner, most natural, creative self, that needs protection and play, one's heart and soul, from which all good and truly motivating in our lives derives. On the other hand, maybe it would be best to actually give the dream maker the benefit here and act as though the idea of making a book itself is just what was meant, and that this IS "my baby." (But then, what the hell do I write about!?)]


There is time before... (some highly anticipated, formal event, as at a convention), and so I suggest to my nephew, Jim, that we take a walk, and I lead him to a beautiful ravine, carved out of the rock by many years of flashflood erosions. A peculiarity of this ravine is that instead of being horizontal, parallel with the rest of the ground surface, it is cut into a vertical formation, as though by succeeding great waterfalls, though no stream exists there now, leaving the stones and colors of the ravine easily in view. Apparently what rocks remain are so imbedded in the vertical array that they do not just fall down due to gravity. Nonetheless, the image is all the more vivid for its appearing to somewhat defy natural laws. Anyway, I start to lead Jim up this canyon, but he just laughs, in his usual way of reacting to something ridiculous, and says: "Tell me you are NOT taking me down (up) this place, when there's a real gully-washer of a storm coming." Sure enough, the sky is ominously darkening, and we are beginning to hear the thunderous crashes of approaching lightning strikes that likely will precede a huge downpour, leaving us quite vulnerable if in (on) the vertical ravine when that deluge has caused a new creek or river to begin cascading over the lip of the falls above us. [I would call this segment: "Don't Go There."]

8/27/06-Sun.-It's been a busy time again. A few days ago, Frances and I put out another issue of our monthly family and investing newsletter, about our 125th consecutive one! And we have continued our usual rounds of volunteer and recreational activities and special interest groups.

Fran is giving a big talk, and it is coming up quite soon in one of her groups. This will be her first major venture into lectures on the natural world. She's been planning for it over the past several months. In another sense, though, her whole life has been a preparation for this introductory lecture on taxonomy. The presentation will be rich in her own illustrative photography.

Our drought and heat wave have persisted without break. I wonder if the country in the next few years is in for another Dust Bowl phase. TX is experiencing its worst wildfire season ever. And our utilities' bill has never been higher. A friend's two-year-old dog is newly disabled, I suspect from the heat. It began repeatedly falling over during its agility practices. The emergency vet thought it might have been due to a heart condition, but later no cardiac anomalies were found. Frances and I are bearing up reasonably well, though she became rather depressed several days ago over the seemingly unending heat.

A lucky acquaintance who, like me, is virtually allergic to the long central TX summers has taken off for a month or two of travels that make me practically drool: a week or so each in central NY, coastal Oregon, Juno, AK, and a cruise along the Inter-Coastal Waterway between there and WA.

Frances and I are for once agreed on the possibility of big upcoming vacations/trips to Redwoods National Park and Yellowstone. Ironically, now that we are both on more or less the same vacationing wavelength, it is necessary to stay around Austin, at least till we have some truly drenching rains, to keep watering around our house foundation and best trees, both at great risk from the baking weather.

8/28/06-Mon.-This journal is now receiving only 2-3 hits a day, the combination of less than very dramatic, engaging content, competition now from literally scores of millions of other diarists, and the generation gap (for most of the potential readers are far younger) being too much to allow for further significant interest in this site. It and its satellite web pages have become so submerged in anonymity as to be rendered of little meaning or purpose but to me. Of course, this was likely always the reality, and I am just now "getting it." Even more that before, then, I shall write the entries without regard to a hypothetical audience besides my own slightly future self. Online just turns out to be the modern means of keeping a private record of one's fairly mundane existence.

Tonight and tomorrow we are to enjoy a little break from the Hades-like high temperatures and have our best chances of rain in several weeks. There is far from an assurance we'll get even a drop, however. We have not just fingers but everything possible crossed and are prepared to dance naked in the street if such efforts might increase the odds of significant precipitation!

Through the close of trading today and as of this evening's analysis, our nest egg is up about 6% so far for the year.

Yesterday, I got together with my brothers, Ernie and Ron, and with Ron's younger daughter, Jane (visiting her dad for the weekend). We met first at the Tien Jin restaurant and later went to see a movie, "Barnyard - The Original Party Animals." The food was good, the company pleasant, and the movie funny as well as entertaining, a film appropriate both for a young teenager and for we three older codgers. It would not, though, win awards as great cinema. The bulls in this movie all had prominent teats, a slightly jarring feature. Other than that, the flick was totally realistic!

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