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9/4/06-Mon.-My newest dream seems, even on the surface, more upbeat in some ways that others I've had recently: I'm talking with a younger man who's been overseas or otherwise in some intensive encounter away from his wife and who is also a student in an in-depth program, perhaps post-grad, that was so occupying there was little time, energy, or inclination to also be working on his relationship - and he said for the first time he had not crammed for his finals, but somehow did fine anyway and either sailed through, "acing" everything, or at least did well enough, virtually effortlessly, to pass all he needed to and complete the regimen - and now too he and his wife were working things out, if not always perfectly, to a degree that it felt like they were more genuinely engaged than they'd been in a long time, so he thought now they were going to make it, even if for awhile it had seemed they must be separated and perhaps divorced. The part about his profession was vague, but it seemed a combination of a foreign combat or occupation situation and yet also a pediatric clinical setting, in which he could see, hour by hour, that what he was doing would be making a positive difference.

Frances did really well in her naturalist presentation (a detailed lecture supported by her own photography) last week. She'd been a little uneasy about it, but since I knew she is so competent and had prepared for it rather exhaustively, I was sure she would do fine. There was a large gathering, and many, including those whose opinions she cared about most, gave her favorable responses. She's even been asked to give a talk for another group.

She and I have been working together on an interesting new project, getting onto CDs and into an album about 120 pictures, many with handwritten captions on the back, from about 60 years ago (1945-1946). These were taken by my dad when in Hawaii with an intelligence unit, toward the end of World War II, and then as part of war crimes investigations he conducted in occupied Japan, under the overall command of General Douglas MacArthur.

My mom gave us the photos to organize this way when I was visiting her last. I'd not even been aware she had the pictures, or that Dad had taken any shots while overseas for that matter. The results are not spectacular but look good and should be a nice surprise, as part of the ceremonies in connection with my brother, Allen's, 50th birthday bash. His mid-century anniversary is actually later this month, but my extended family will be celebrating it in early October. Fran and I expect to have the album available for folks to view at that reunion and also plan to hand out CDs, from scans of the front and back (if Dad had written anything there) of each picture, to my siblings' households.

For those interested in more of my dream life, here are a few since the just prior entry:

There is pervasive corruption. It is in Washington, in many foreign places, and here locally. I too am up to my neck in it.

I'm with my brothers, or at least some of them, including especially Horace, at a massive and old fortress of a family home. It is night, or perhaps slightly before nightfall. We are, or imminently about to be, under attack and will have no choice but to defend ourselves and this place just as things are, though it is apparent to Horace and me that the entire edifice is terribly vulnerable to fire. "We'll need to explain why we were so unprepared." Horace says to me (or vice versa). "If we survive, there will indeed be a lot to account for" the other says. "For now, we'll have our hands full just dealing with the enemy [seen as effective as the Japanese were against US forces in the various late 1941 Pacific attacks]." While the enemy has already come within range, and our defense begins, several of our [World War II type] fighter planes are taking off from ground level at improvised runways between huge, tall pillars that support part of the family mansion, the rest built deep into a hill. A few planes, still barely above the ground, begin to take off right next to me. At least one just misses hitting me. I am relieved to have survived the close call, but also think I should have been on one of the planes myself. Too late now, Horace and I must do whatever there is time and opportunity for, either on the ground or within the great building above. The attackers will have explosives, machine-guns, and mortars, I think, but at best Horace and I have rifles and shotguns to use against them.

There is a question about my volunteer work, not my present volunteering but something else, that I am not yet doing but apparently may be soon (?). Even in the dream, it was unclear what the other work might be, but there was, besides the question of what type it was, also the sense that it was the wrong kind, at least for me.

Our weather continues to exasperate. We have had more good chances in the area for rain, but have still received almost no precipitation. The temperatures have generally been lower. That's something! Frances has been distressed to note some of her favorite plants are dying. Another tree that seemed healthy just a few weeks ago is clearly dead. Since we have a city brush pick-up soon, it has been cut down and carted out to near the street.

Once again a set of neighbors have vacated housing near us, this time the place opposite us, across the street. The circumstances there have always been a mystery. There is never a "For Rent" or "For Sale" sign, yet the property is always, awhile following each time the residence is vacated, a new group of Hispanics who move in. We speculate it is some type of "safe house" accommodation in a system of such for immigrants, legal or illegal, from Mexico, perhaps a modern and Chicano version of the slavery times' Underground Railroad. But perhaps that is just our melodrama. Maybe a legitimate agency just finds new occupants for the house and always has a waiting list, so there is no need for a sign. Another peculiarity is that at least some of the occupants, both men and women, usually seem to be financially independent, at least so that they do not have regular work, though they do not appear old enough to have retired.

Some of our more colorful neighbors have been among the succession of folks living there. We've had everything from people who would park an 18-wheeler (both cab and trailer), on the front yard, to folks who have vicious dogs that roam freely, groups of rowdy teenagers playing football and basketball in the street in front of our place (often at 2-4 AM), regularly throw trash onto our property, and go into our and other lots without permission whenever necessary to retrieve wayward balls, people who have open campfires on the grass over there, who shoot off large quantities of illegal fireworks in all directions, kids that frequently whack off parts of our succulents, etc. Creditors have come by seeking info on some of the tenants, but "I know nothing!" The place was vacant more than half a year once, then again occupied, but with never a sign or any indication of a renovation. It should be entertaining to see who comes next.

Another chapter of my "Broken Branch..." journals from decades ago (this one covering a couple months in latter 1979) is now available. It speaks for itself.

Am enjoying getting into a new book, after having finished several others lately, Annie Proulx's Accordion Crimes.

At my library facility, I am specializing a bit in my volunteer activities and have been sometimes teaching new volunteers, sometimes concentrating on organizing favorite sections of the books.

On our walks lately, Puff and I have continued to add about four miles or more a day to our cumulative hiking totals and then we still often see examples of wildlife. During this drought, we have noticed, perhaps not surprisingly, several rabbits in well watered suburban lawns. Twice last week, we also saw a large, furry domesticated bunny hopping about freely. An in-house consequence of the extremely dry conditions has been a number of geckos that have managed to find ways indoors (perhaps attracted by the smell of water from our showers), then are almost impossible to catch and put back out where they are more likely to get enough to eat (and moisture from the sprinklers).

I've decided I've had enough of global warming. Bring on the global cooling!

9/8/06-Fri.-Have stopped at a Schlotzsky's for lunch on the way to Woodway and a visit with Mom there, then shall continue with a drive we'll take on to Fort Worth and staying with my brother, Allen, his wife, Nina, and their kids. He had called me yesterday and let me know they'd be free for us to visit this weekend, in case Mom and I (or Mom, Fran, and I) could come. As I had been trying, without success till now, to arrange such a get-together for about a year, I jumped at the chance. Heretofore, there have been all manner of scheduling conflicts.

Unfortunately, Fran is not free now, and Mom at first wanted to wait till next weekend, but then it would be hard for me to go. After thinking about it overnight, however, Mom had a change of heart, so, at long last, it's on!

We'll be doing minor celebrations of both Allen's (turning 50 this month) and Sharon's (turning 3) birthdays, before a big family reunion bash in his honor next month at a luxurious, central TX combined ostrich ranch/retreat and conference center.

Later. After a rest and just hanging out for awhile, Mom and I went out to eat at Johnny Carino's. This evening, I took a walk. As usual, I saw some rabbits in the natural areas near Mom's place. The lake was low, and this time I did not see any water fowl. Sunset was gorgeous! Mom fixed herself the first of her potent evening cocktails (whiskey, ice, and water in roughly equal measure), and we settled down to watch favorite TV current events or business programs.

The other night, was shocked and saddened to learn one of my friends has advanced liver cancer. Pepper, our favorite pet of over 14 years, died of this disease. Cancer also killed my brother, Ralph, Jim's father.

9/9/06-Sat.-Up about 7:30. The bathroom next to the guest bedroom where I was sleeping has evidently not been in use for awhile. When I raised the toilet lid, several adult mosquitoes flew out. There were about 100 larvae in the bowl before I flushed the receptacle. Mom spent a week or two lately in CA, has had few if any recent visitors, and usually has a housekeeper in only about once a month.

On the news this morning it was reported that about 89% of Americans believe in a personal deity who is intimately concerned about their own individual existences. There have been times when I felt a presence assumed to be divine. Yet, for the most part, I am in the 11% who are either agnostic or atheistic. Indeed, I do not see how such a large proportion of my fellow humans believe the species' condition that different than it seems to me. Am I so alien, or are they? Is this near unanimity of feeling that God is with us one reason we so recklessly or heedlessly leap into violent conflicts or give up our freedoms to one who claims to be doing the will of God?

Well, it does not really matter, of course, so long as we don't use our religious notions to encourage or justify actions that intrude on the lives of others, though I'm afraid so far the record is not too good on this score.

Ironically, the catastrophe that is the Bush White House began with George W. feeling God wanted him to become the US president. Were Jesus Christ to physically return to Earth, I wonder if he would recognize Bush as one of his most devoted disciples or, instead, as far closer to the type people who crucified him because his messages of peace, love, and non-violence were inconvenient to their personal interests and ambitions.

Seems to me, all these points of view, religious or secular, are just ways we adjust to existence.

Am enjoying another interesting read, Timequake, by Kurt Vonnegut.

Mom and I arrived at Allen and Nina's place by 2:30 this afternoon. Speaking of adjusting to life, one of the neat things about visiting others is seeing how they do it. Some folks manage everything remarkably differently than others. There are so many ways that seem to be successful, or at least approximately so, even in these rather complicated, quickly changing times.

Nina was busy almost all day with selling shoes, jeans, boots, and purses in a flea market she'd set up at a church parking lot near her and Allen's place, thus absenting herself while Allen, Mom, and I looked after the kids except for a couple hours (when they were napping, so we got to rest some as well).

Allen says Nina makes no profit on the flea market sales, that, instead, their credit card bills stay quite high from all her online purchases of extra flea market supplies, several pallet loads at a time, though he's repeatedly asked her, and she has promised, not to make further purchases till their debts have been eliminated. Today, Nina told Mom she had just ordered yet another pallet of flea market supplies, shortly after she'd assured my brother there had been and would be no further supplies bought any time soon. Allen must know she is continually lying to him. He chooses to do nothing but complain or seek new assurances from her of better future behavior.

She also tells Mom that she's making a 25% profit after all the overhead expenses, taxes, etc. Allen, who seems more credible, says he cannot find, nor has she been able to show him, any records with which to determine her transactions' cost bases, for normal business or tax purposes, and does not see any profits, just increasing debts. He asserts as well there has been nothing to show for the thousands of dollars he had given Nina, insisted upon by her allegedly to buy bargain real estate properties while she was still in Ecuador, when she as yet lacked a visa for entering the US legally, even over a year after the two were married down there.

He thinks she's giving much of the profits to the church that now lets her set up flea market sales in its parking lot. I met the pastor and one of the church women today. From how enthusiastically they were helping her, it seems likely a significant part of the money is finding its way to their coffers. A neighbor reportedly complained to the city about this seemingly commercial venture on church property. A city official went out to investigate, but was content after talking with the pastor that, instead, it was part of the church's non-profit fund raising activities. This would be highly unlikely if Nina is in fact making 25% over and above all expenses. (Yet the charges to Allen's credit card persist.)

She tells Mom she's putting the profits into special funds for Sharon and Seymour. But if that is true, she apparently does so without Allen's knowledge. We've known her to fabricate things easily in the past. She does so with the facility and guilelessness of an imaginative kid. I hope for the best, but am not confident she will not at some point really take advantage of Allen. Her behavior to date is at once childlike and sociopathic, while Allen's in response is passive and ineffectual.

I think the truth is that she either is making little or no real profit and/or she's giving most of it to her church, sending it to some of her Ecuadorian relatives (her younger sister, with whom she's quite close, being the most likely candidate), or buying lottery tickets (which she often mentions favorably) with it. But who knows? As mentioned earlier, while she's an expensive hobby for Allen, at least he appears to be happier than when single (or divorced from his first wife) and without their two kids, to whom he is most devoted (just as well, since she also makes him do the main part of the childcare).

After I had helped the pastor, one of the church ladies, Allen, and Nina put away the large supply of flea market stock, tables, chairs, awnings, etc., involved in that operation, while Mom looked after her grandkids, and then following Nina's taking a shower and changing clothes, we went out rather late in the evening to a Lebanese restaurant complete with belly-dancing entertainment.

The food was delicious and the floor show exotic and good, the place was so dark we had to go back to the entrance lamp to read its menus, Seymour got so sick that he did an imitation in white of the worst green puke scenes from "The Exorcist" movie, it took a long time for our to-go containers and bill, and yet Sharon had a wonderful time, in the interim, imitating the dancers by moving frenetically to the loud Middle Eastern music.

Regarding Seymour's upchucking, safely submerged in the light void, he ate a good portion of a paper napkin, as we learned later, along with at least a few helpings of the rich vittles and a bottle of milk or formula, then casually began jetting his stomach contents across the table, onto himself, and into huge puddles on the floor. He never cried about the situation, just hurled out the streams for what seemed an impossibly long period for so small a creature. I was convinced before it was over he must be possessed by the devil.

After having had the late, long afternoon nap-times, the kids were ready to play till after 11 PM (once we'd gotten home), well past when Mom wanted to head for bed. But they were cute as could be and well-behaved, all things considered.

Mom (feeling her age [84 next month] and already tired after another busy week of exercise teaching) had wanted to start back early in the morning, but decided with some reservations to stick around till after we would all go out for brunch tomorrow, unless Nina decides she wants to go to church. My guess is, she'll skip religious activities then. Nina loves to eat vast quantities when others are buying.

9/10/06-Sun.-The sleeping arrangements being rather deficient for guests at Allen and Nina' place, and Mom's and my nocturnal habits being somewhat in conflict, or at best complementary (she retiring early but tending to rise by 3:30 or so, while I tend to retire well after midnight and sleep later), we agreed to switch beds and rooms when Mom would get up, while I would stay in the front room (where there was a bed but also a table, comfortable chair, and easy access to the kitchen and bathroom) first, going to the cramped guest bedroom, with but space for a bed, only after she had completed the first sleeping shift there.

So, by around 2 AM, what with prostate difficulties, I was making perhaps my tenth pre-slumber pit stop while Mom was snoring like a buzz saw just across a thin wall. Before I had finished, though, the saw's roar suddenly halted following a snort. A moment later, the restroom door was opening. "Just a moment!" I yelled, too late.

"Oh, I'm so sorry. Excuse me!" Mom exclaimed, rushing back to the bedroom. I finished and loudly yelled "Next!" as I passed her door. But she showed no reaction at all to my letting her know the bathroom was now free. I had a very spooky feeling. The hair on the back of my head felt like it was standing on end. Had she been so embarrassed at opening the door on me that she'd had a stroke or heart attack? Not wanting to jump to crazy conclusions, though, I merely hoped I was wrong.

Maybe my reaction to the possibility of confirming that someone close was no longer of this world has something to do with one morning discovering my maternal step-grandma in a "late" condition. She had died the night before in the same room with me, her bed, indeed, not three feet from mine, shortly after I'd prayed to "please, God, make her shut up (her coughing paroxysms) so I can get some sleep!" (I was 5.)

That morning, I had also come upon the unconscious and, at first glance, deceased body of my mother. Later an ambulance attendant, rousing her with handy smelling salts, would reassure me that she had only fainted, apparently after she herself had found that my step-grandma was "in heaven."

But on this occasion, at Allen and Nina's, I decided I would just lie down for a few minutes. Surely then Mom would get up and use the facilities, as she'd needed to only moments before, and then we could switch rooms as planned, and I might get to sleep. From the bed I was using, I could see when the bathroom light went on and off and so tell when it would be in use. So I lay down and watched, hoping that surely any minute she'd at last go in, and all would be again as it should be.

But she didn't. At least 20 minutes went by. There was no more snoring, no noise of any kind. By now I was really getting worried. I figured I'd give it only another 10-15 minutes and then just face reality and go on in to check on her. I watched the bathroom entrance intently for any movement or change in the lighting. Nothing.

I closed my eyes for a moment and tried to hear her breathing. Instead, I heard the creaking of a squeaky door opening, followed a couple seconds later by Seymour coming in from Allen and Nina's (and the kids') bedroom, followed by Allen who asked if I'd slept well. It was 7 AM!

I looked toward the guest bathroom. Still no change. On no. I'm a monster! Mom must be lying dead in there, and I've just been sleeping out here, a few yards away, for nearly five hours! I went to the bathroom again myself while trying to calm down and adjust to this new situation of Mom being gone, then, reluctantly, knocked on her door and went on in.

She stirred. "Oh! It's finally time to rise and shine," she said, smiling.

I paused, then said: "I thought you were going to switch rooms with me."

"Oh, I decided to just lie here and not bother anybody," she commented brightly, finally getting herself up.

"Whew!" I thought. "That went better than expected."

After getting back from Fort Worth, tonight, Mom and I watched a good film about relationships, "Lovers and Other Strangers." It was poignant and hilarious at the same time. Some of the funniest lines and situations had to do with a variety of folks telling a young couple (the woman of whom was played by a quite young Diane Keaton), separately, how they were stupid to expect "happiness" from a relationship and so they must give up their notion that they ought to get a divorce after only six years of marriage, just because they were no longer feeling the "magic" for each other. Sadly, they did not "get it" and so would go on seeking the enigmatic or elusive romance of a perfect marriage and thus miss "what might have been" together, that those other folks had already discovered but just could not adequately convey to them.

9/11/06-Mon.-Like every medium of the media keep reminding us, today is the 5th anniversary of the "9/11" terrorist attacks. As the largely corrupt, Lilliputian, incompetent politicians of both major parties do their best to capitalize on our emotions over this for advantage in the next elections, I reflect on what has been lost, and I mourn.

Just as Osama Bin Ladin, our former ally in the good ol' Cold War days, must have been surprised and delighted that the planes piloted into the Twin Towers also brought the structures completely down (with a far greater than anticipated life, property, and economic cost), so too he surely must be extremely satisfied with the far-reaching negative transformations he has, by that single set of attacks, wrought in the US, as a result of our overreacting to the reality we should have already known, that someone might dare to threaten us.

Not least among those changes were: 1. the reelection of a president who could not, the first time, even win the popular vote, assuring a total of at least eight years of Republican right-wing dominance, including the effective stacking of the judiciary in favor of socially conservative (but in the last several years fiscally irresponsible) policies; 2. a series of anti-democratic power grabs by the executive branch, rationalized as necessary for an unending "war on terrorism;" 3. the suspension of certain rights and freedoms previously considered precious and "to die for;" 4. a new approach to international relations, characterized by "preemptive" attacks on sovereign states (most notably Iraq, a failure for us of monumental proportions) which, on trumped up evidence, are considered to be a menace at some uncertain point in the future; 5. the plummeting moral authority of, and support for, our country overseas; 6. the encouragement for further fanatical efforts against us by the many more who now see us as the greatest threat to the rest of the global family of nations; 7. the avoidance of legitimate claims from thousands of rescuers and heroes who helped in the days and weeks after 9/11, who now have serious disabilities as a result of exposure to airborne toxic materials from the fallen towers; 8. the abject failure of those in power to deal, in the interim, with large, pressing problems, like global warming, inadequate health care, poor education, an out-of-date infrastructure, honest, effective steps to protect national security and recover from both natural or terrorist disasters; and 9. the lack of willingness now to compromise and cooperate between and among divergent political interests toward resolving common concerns.

I hate what has happened to us since 9/11/01. Where is our capacity for true leadership?

I fear we have passed our zenith, that the US will never be truly great again. But, of course, America's greatness has always been a flawed thing. Like a Hollywood starlet's beauty mark, perhaps our national blemishes set off the better our real strengths, and we may still ultimately again be the beacon and hope to the rest of the world this country has at times been in the past. To paraphrase an anonymous Palestinian, we must be optimists. There are now no other options.

9/14/06-Thurs.-Though not onerous, my reducing diet has been fairly effective over the past few weeks. I'm down 5 pounds so far, hoping to lose another 3, then maintain weight at or below 150. My dad at the same age was my height (5'6") and weighed about 75 pounds more.

Up today before 7 AM, awakened by a disconcerting dream:

Am at the end of a quite long, complicated dream in which, among other things, I am manipulated by an unscrupulous foreign doctor [Thai? Indian?] who is treating both me and my mother, as well as many others. He has an equally unscrupulous male assistant of the same vaguely south Asian nationality. It seems we are in the doctor's country for treatments. Ostensibly, he is giving me a great deal on back surgery, or some other such operation I have needed [but don't, to my knowledge, require in reality], in exchange for keeping quiet about additional surgeries, on others, the charges/payments for which are under the table and so not to be acknowledged. I assume this is to help keep the good doctor's taxes low. Also, I am keeping his secret in exchange for his doing a fine job, for little or no fee, on an operation needed by my mom [also not in reality, to my knowledge].

I learn the true cost of my complicity in these matters, however, once I am again alone with the most sinister physician and assistant. I'm lying on a hospital gurney in the doctor's surgery, and he has just informed me that he will, whether or not I give my consent - which I certainly don't - cut out one of my eyes to transplant into another patient [who presumably is blind]. I am horrified, but seem unable to get away [as though strapped down or with the only exit from the surgery blocked by the doctor's assistant]. "Well, what did you think," the doctor says, "that you could get something for nothing? At every stage along the way I asked you if all was well, and you agreed. Now it comes time for payment, but you object. Well, I'm afraid that is not good business, Mr. Wagner. Naturally, I insist that all my patients pay their bills." So saying, he closes the curtains of a big window at one end of the operating theater, cutting off the view and sunlight and preventing any outside witnesses, and comes toward me with a needle and injection, which I assume will fully anesthetize me and put me to "sleep," after which he and his assistant can harvest whatever organs they want and then kill me, though, as he is leaning over me, already looking intently into one of my eyes (left? right?) with a very bright light instrument, I have the impression he really is "just" after the eye. [Perhaps "eye" equals "I" - the ego or persona - "one of my eyes" thus may be "one of my ego identities."]

Frances and I have continued to be unlucky with our weather, getting only sprinkles again as the latest storm systems have passed through the area. About a third of our lawn is dead, with no grass, just dry, bare earth remaining. We loved the lowered temperatures and humidity of the last few days, though.

Things have settled into a reasonably pleasant, productive routine at the library facility where I volunteer. It now seems the newest manager was a good choice. People are generally pleased with how the operation is going, relating well together, and getting a lot done. Folks are also seldom working at cross purposes, a problem before. I've continued to focus part of my time there on general chores and then about an equal amount on areas of personal interest.

The dream group remains a rewarding experience. The other members are friendly, and I learn a lot each time I go. The insights, though, are not always pleasant. Often I do not get the reactions I expect. The ego, of course, does not care to have too much light shined on its less than sterling image. (Hmm. Has this relevance for interpreting today's dream?)

Fortunately, there are abundant other options (in material and characters) available in the wings, so the play may go on, eventually perhaps to a standing ovation, even if the "I" persona must be shot down from time to time.

This morning, besides recording the above dream, taking the beast on a walk, and doing a little equities research online, I went over to HEB for some essential grocery shopping.

In view of a variety of prior entries, it is curious that lately I find myself taking note of things I appreciate about staying in Austin. Like the melting of former resentment about Frances and me not going together on as many neat, northern vacations as I'd prefer, this is just another previously "big" issue that seems to have lost much of its force since I joined the dream group. Hmm.

Another positive factor lately has been that I've been making an effort each day to get an hour or two more rest than was the case for the past many months. When very tired, though, I am still often depressed.

Other recent dreaming:

I'm in several situations that require a solution/answer/wise response. In every case, the advice is contained in one of four thick, encompassing volumes of essential truths or ways of handling things. [I do not remember the titles, though I think in the dream they had them.] This is so much the case that it feels a little depressing or boring. Elegant and enlightened as the resolutions of my predicaments may be, always resorting to them seems formulaic, stilted, and joyless. Yet, since there can be no better approach to dealing with the otherwise puzzling, dramatic, disorienting, stressful, and emotional circumstances of one's life than resorting to one or another of the book answers, it's appropriate to refer to these oracular sources in every case. We have but to remember and follow the various sets of guidance they provide. Then everything comes out the way it should. Even if we forget at first, we can then still go to the reference works. They have all the laws, rules, insights, or truths for living. The books are visible [the covers hardback and each in two vivid colors, one, for instance, having large upper and lower blocks of red or gray] sitting in the middle of a short shelf, standing together by themselves, like any four big books might be, their bindings and end-titles out, looking balanced, authoritative, and heavy.

Insights about this dream from the group last night, and/or my own interpretations catalyzed by discussion there:

  • The oracular sources, references, books, volumes, etc., being four in number, represent reality and also a mandala, yielding a process through which to be positively transformed or integrated or attain union with the spiritual center of being.
  • They might also refer to "The Big Book," providing a twelve-step program of growth, redemption, etc., familiar to Alcoholics Anonymous and Alanon meeting attendees.
  • The colors mentioned, red and gray, indicate anger first (red) and then bla or nothing special (gray) and are consistent with feeling resistance to the books, on the one hand, and that their guidance or rules are boring, on the other.
  • They are as well evocative of any and all of the following, among others: 1. the I Ching; the Bible; the complete works of William Shakespeare; the Tao Te Cheng; the Koran; a synthesis of all of modern physics; a vast book of etiquette, covering every possible occasion; a Book of Wisdom; and a total, illustrated taxonomy of "Life On Earth."
  • It may be helpful to try to draw the books, as seen in the dream, and attempt to fill in the missing titles.
  • They may represent the dream maker, to whom one may go with questions (for instance to suggest a theme for an upcoming "dream session"), or instead (which may be more fun as well as wiser, in view of the fact we often do not know what questions to ask) one can more often allow it to simply provide its messages unfettered by meddlesome inquiries.
  • In general, it was felt that the books represent truth, reality, or a healthy process, perhaps even a spiritual one, and that the resistance implied in finding it boring or depressing to follow their guidance, intuitions, rules, or insights may be just the stodginess of the ego, which does not care for "work" at its own expense.

9/18/06-Mon.-Late last night we received an inch or two of gentle, steady rain. Yippee! Birds, pets, people, yards, and gardens are as if giggling with glee. The temperatures are also lower: still 67°F at 10 AM. Alright!

A busy day today. It's Allen's 50th, so I'll be calling him. Frances and I are also busy writing the newest issue of our family-and-investment newsletter. Am doing a few other chores, a little emergency grocery shopping, and some stock purchases.

Fran's off for visiting and duets with a friend in northwest Austin, and I rose early, when she did, notwithstanding having had too little rest. My mind may not be firing on all cylinders, but the lowered mercury and finally sufficient moisture have assured at least that I'm in a great mood.

It might be time to seriously consider a vacation trip, preferably one that can accommodate our best of all possible (spoiled) beasts.

We've learned Puff will not be welcome at the ranch/retreat center where we're holding next month's family reunion. Fran and I debated putting her in a commercial kennel for that weekend, but Fran elected instead to install the pooch in her pet carrier at home for 9-10 hours, that first day of Allen's birthday bash, and to drive up and back separately to be able to rescue the dog sooner. Either way, I'm sure the canine will not be particularly happy to be left longer than ever before.

Here's the latest dream:

As yet, I'm still fairly functional, though terminally ill. Whatever is killing me is also affecting my brain. My ability to think and remember are reduced, it being an open question which way I'll die first, mentally or physically. A few acquaintances know how sick I am and are even sometimes sensitive enough to ask the right questions and show concern, but mostly everyone, even these empathetic ones, are going on with their lives. I'm aware, as I see each one, that our time together is precious, that this could be our last time together. But I do not show much emotion or make it a big deal. They are not ready for that, and maybe I'm not either. I would rather, as long as I can, just go on with my life too. There is one couple though [the man like my deceased grandfather, Papa Joseph, yet wiser and calmer than he, the woman like my deceased grandmother, Mama Rose, and yet also like Christine, a dream group member] with whom the relationship seems to be mostly on an inner or spiritual level. With them, there is just a look in our eyes exchanged, that conveys everything [without the crassness of words] when we part for maybe the final time. There seems also to be an understanding among a few others that they'll check on me from time to time, but out of respect nobody is suggesting I go into a hospital or hospice. I'm as yet living alone and on my own.

9/21/06-Thurs.-The time is 3:27 AM. I'm up after awakened by torturous throat tickling from one of the messier aspects of a bad cold or severe sinus allergic reaction, either of which commenced soon after our wonderful change in the weather the other day. This is the second time I had tried to sleep in something approaching a normal position. Useless. So, I'll either be awake the rest of the night or eventually find a way of slumbering while sitting up.

I've fixed myself some "throat coat" herbal tea. Mmm! Tastes like hot medicine. The ridiculous situation is made a bit worse by the fact I've twice in the past week or so bitten the heck out of myself (which I do not really recommend), leaving two swollen and quite sore places in my mouth.

I began taking these little red pills, so-called "anti-allergen" tablets. They were the best I could find. Usually, over the years I've taken Contac in these circumstances, but they have all been pulled from the shelves now because apparently folks, kids like my atheistic writer nephew William, he who was sent away by his right wing religious parents to a rigid church boot camp to be shaped up by the power of the Lord and its Bible pushing management, have been using such meds to make really powerful and potentially deadly stuff at "meth labs."

These things say on the back one should not take them if one has prostate trouble, but what the heck, it's this or Niagara Falls and a throat so painful it feels on fire, not to mention the really good stuff flowing down into my lungs when I finally do get to sleep, like happened a few years ago, after which it took three months to finally hack the last of the crud back up and begin to breath properly again. I know, I know. More info than one actually wanted.

Of course, the small print on the back also warns you not to take these if you'll be operating any dangerous machinery, as if any kind of machinery at all would not be hazardous if one were three sheets (or how ever many are required) to the wind from taking the little red pills. Come to think of it, I've no idea what that phrase, "three sheets to the wind," literally means, only its slang reference. I suppose it comes from nautical experience.

The box says not to take more than six of the pills a day. I've been taking just one a day. I can still pee, but the flow down my throat continues too. At least I can breathe through one nostril. I appreciate small things when they are the only things I've got. Of course, not being able to breathe at all, that's kind of a big deal at the time, particularly for the one so afflicted.

On the other hand, even just the one pill each 24 hours is having mean effects on mentation. For example, yesterday morning I was watching a videotape of the "Nightly Business Report." Nothing so bizarre about that, of course, but it was recorded at the end of last December, and I was finding it quite interesting.

I rewound the tape after I finished watching, intending to use it to record something else on, promptly forgot I had just watched it, and watched it over again completely, still just as interested as the first time, except now marveling at the amazing amount of deja vu feelings I was having, not realizing till I'd gotten to the very end what had happened. Geeezzz!

Shortly after that, I decided to e-mail people and let them know I'd not be in for the day's shift at the library or for last night's book group meeting. That was, I believe, only the second time I've missed one of those discussions, despite going to a couple groups' activities for close to two years. There has been no reply to either set of e-mails. I get the impression it must be all the same to folks whether I show up, or let them know I would not, or not. Of course it is! Why do we persist in thinking there's anything special about us? Most people are just too involved with their own lives to care that much, one way or the other, about anyone else.

We, Frances and I, that is, finally finished our latest newsletter issue last night, and it's going online by this afternoon. Of course, who knows how it will look once we get it out? I still have to proofread it, and we've already established the synapses are not working up to snuff, er... Now there's another one: "up to snuff." What the heck did that mean, initially? And who wants to think about snuff anyway, when there's WAY too much phlegm doing strange things in all the wrong places as it is?

Have heard from my nephew, Jim, he who was at Juilliard, then was to go for his PhD here at UT but at virtually the last minute changed his mind and went back to The Big Apple last month, seeking a job and new place. It seems he's now gotten an apartment he shares with about three other men, expenses being what they are in that burg, and is working as a teacher in a field at least related to his musical talents (better than being a waiter) while pursuing "other interests." What might they be? Girlfriend? Boyfriend? Creative projects? I do not know, and for several years he has kept things close to the vest. But we've learned he's to be at the big family shindig in October, to help Allen celebrate having turned 50. Maybe I'll learn more then.

As with prior episodes like this, when I'm up half or more of the night hacking, sneezing, etc., I've given up for the duration trying to sleep in our bed, instead closing the master bedroom door and setting myself up a place on the sofa. No point keeping Fran awake for hours on end too! I mean, intimacy is a fine thing, but it really can be taken to extremes. Maybe evolution is a good thing after all, despite its bad rep in certain circles. Look! We no longer require "our" women to leap into the funeral pyre flames and so immolate themselves just so their ashes and ours can mix for eternity or what passes for it. We can even show them a trifling amount of sensitive respect when disgustingly ill. Imagine that.

By default, for I cannot as yet either sleep or ignore my symptoms otherwise, I am distracting myself with a new bargain book from the library sales: John Irving's A Widow for One Year, which, so far, is holding my interest under these less than ideal conditions. Another one, competing with it for my attention, is Katherine Graham's Personal History. Can recommend both.

9/22/06-Fri.-The cold, sinus allergies, a horrible sounding cough, seasonal rhinitis, and whatever else, are progressing apace. Now I am having an asthma attack too. The nasal current is seemingly constant. It feels like I could be flown in a small open plane above a drought-thirsty region, lean out over the parched fields, and single-nosedly save the day! All of a huge supply of handkerchiefs have been used. Tomorrow I'll miss my second library shift in a row.

9/23/06-Sat.-Fall officially began today. It's not as bad as last year, when autumn was greeting with a string of seven or eight 100(+)°F days. Our predicted high is 96. There is even a hint of a cool front coming through later.

Frances and I are not keeping up all that well with the house maintenance. The place was built very cheaply (shoddily) in a seller's market. We could easily and in short order spend $10-30 thousand on its immediate upkeep needs. There are bad places in the cardboard-like siding. They just soak up water and get worse in storms. We also very much need a new deck, etc. Neither of us is enthusiastic about the major fix-ups called for. But we had better get cracking if, as it now appears, we are to be staying here quite awhile longer.

We have little equity to show for our 20 years in this structure and neighborhood. A few years after we bought it, the local, mid-eighties Austin real estate bubble burst. Our place dropped almost overnight around $30 thousand (one-third) in market value. Then several of our neighbors tried to sell for what they had paid, found they couldn't, converted their homes into rental properties, and went to more attractive suburbs, if they could now afford them (which we still could not).

The cough-allergy-cold-asthma symptoms are getting worse. I slept at most about an hour again last night.

I understand that some in the religious and political right wing believe they will be among a Chosen or Elect number of truly deserving righteous ones whom biblical prophecy says will be taken by God to be with Him at the fulfillment of a series of "last days" developments, one of which they interpret to mean that the Jews would be (have been) restored to their homeland (in Palestine), which may be a reason they so ardently sponsor the nation of Israel no matter what.

The only trouble is, the prophecy includes that those Israeli Jews we love so much (whom we support [even when they badly misbehave in ways we decry as "evil" in other nations] with treaties, loyalty, arms, and many billions of dollars each year), will, when Armageddon is at hand, fail to join the merry band of those heading for a rather lengthy stay at Hotel Heaven and instead be slain forthwith by the good guys and cast into Hotel Hell for at least as long.

Further, God's Elect, with first class tickets arranged in advance saying "Go Directly to Heaven" shall number no more than 144,000.

Everyone else will be destroyed, zapped to hell, or both.

Now it's been quite awhile since I completed a math or statistics course, but I believe that leaves an awfully large number of George W. supporters who are not bound for glory.

What is more, to judge by most of the folks I've met who are convinced they will one day soon be ascending to Hotel Heaven, even if, by some freakishly bizarre "Twilight Zone" circumstance, they have been right (excuse the pun) all along, there really are precisely 144,000 of them, and they're all going where they think they are, I would absolutely not want to be among them, for if their God is so bent and small-minded that He'd pick them and only them for eternal bliss, I would want no part of a "No Exit" forever communion with so neurotic, twisted, and sick a Deity as to figure they are His best, most deserving specimens and that the 99.9979% (even more than that if past and future folks are counted) that make up the rest of us deserve no better from their Creator than eternal damnation and unending, unendurable pain. Not to mention all the other innocent animals and the plants, the molds, etc., that this ultra right wingers' God supposedly proposes to "off" in the biggest super "mass extinction" of all time.

Indeed, when I consider the absolutely vast, perhaps even limitless, scope of our universe of universes, the wonder would be that a hypothetical Intelligent Designer would set all this in motion, over a stupendous expanse of time and distance, and involving incalculably horrendous expenditures of energy (not to mention life) along the way, not merely on our ancient world but doubtless on worlds almost without end elsewhere in the expanse of billions upon billions, perhaps even trillions or many many more, of galaxies, stars, worlds, etc. (indeed, if the math is right, perhaps even entirely new universes for each decision point at the subatomic level), then the most fantastic notion would be that all of that, of this, That Which Is, before, now, and into the future, is just so that 144,000 of God's most arrogant, vindictive, egotistical, self-righteous, hypocritical, and aggressive Chosen, a few years from now will help assure the slaughter of the rest and then be taken to Hotel Heaven, there to reside forever with a very Zeus-like deity. Now that would be really weird. Talk about wasteful. Talk about perverse, arbitrary, ironic, pointless, and whimsical. Talk about the opposite of Occam's razor!

9/25/06-Mon.-He who was dying is almost well again! Getting over an illness is a definite mood enhancer. Whether due to prescription drugs (for hay fever and asthma) or a small shower and a cool front that temporarily cleared the air of allergens over the weekend, I'm on the mend and pleased anew to be very much alive.

Up today about 7:45. Puff slept a few feet away in "her" living room chair last night, while I continued to occupy the sofa (and Fran the master bed, befitting her more royal or queenly status).

As usual on Mondays when her duet friend and she are both in town, Frances left about half-past 8 to visit Sarah. I took our best beast on a happy walking tour of the neighborhood, carefully skirting the many areas where folks notoriously allow their canines unfettered freedom, and enjoyed an exchange of greetings with several fellow exercisers.

Checked the status of some stock orders, did some AM ablutions, and took the pooch with me on trips to the post office and bank, glad of temperatures still in the 60s to low 70s so she'd not burn up when left in the car for a few minutes.

Took some of my drugs, once back home, then was off again (Puff staying in her traveling container at the house this time), now to the supermarket.

There was news recently of a leaked report, representing the unanimous agreement of 16 US intelligence agencies that, contrary to what George W. has been claiming in the run-up to mid-term elections, our (unnecessary) invasion of Iraq and remaining (indefinitely bogged down) there since have been catalysts for significant new recruitment among radical Muslims for their terrorist causes, leading to our country and its interests being substantially less safe than if we had stayed out of that unfortunate country.

But it is too late now. We cannot undo the consequences of Bush having opened that Pandora's box. Similarly, we shall have to deal with several others ways in which his approaches have made things worse.

So, on the walk today I was thinking about what may now be the most urgent concerns over the next quarter-century. I came up with these, in no particular order of importance or imminence:

  1. The use of weapons of mass destruction in terrorist or traditional military conflicts;

  2. Global warming;

  3. Economic collapse;

  4. Natural disasters on a huge scale (for instance, such as the Indian Ocean tsunamis in late 2004, Hurricane Katrina's effects on LA and MS in 2005, and the flu pandemic of 1918 [which, if it occurred today, could kill half a billion people]);

  5. An energy crisis of unprecedented scope (the end of cheap oil, and no equivalent means to make the modern world go without huge costs).

There seems not merely a chance but a probability that at least one of these will bring dire alterations within at most 25 years. Meanwhile, democracy or our rights and protections under it would appear to be severely at risk. The killing of about 3000 on 9/11/01, a small fraction of the 50,000 or so we destroy on the nation's highways every year, has already been used as the excuse for a "war on terrorism" that has involved, among other questionable policies, a decrease in the rights we had assumed were ours previously. Yet, horrible as the 9/11 events were, they may prove to have been comparatively minor next to the disasters looming in the coming couple decades or so. The new crises would likely set us up for much more far-reaching suspensions of democratic principles.

As the Chinese curse goes, we "live in interesting times." Unfortunately, in this case forewarned is not fore-armed. It's completely out of our hands. Best, then, to enjoy things while we may.

9/26/06-Tues.-More recent dreaming. Perhaps I'm recalling dreams better due to resting a lot while sick lately. Here is one:

I'm climbing through other people's rooms in a really, really big old house. Several of the people have already gone to bed. I am looking for or trying to get to a bathroom. I generally must go through a window or a door into a room constructed on a different level than the one I left, sometimes a whole floor level lower, but sometimes only part-way, like one-half or one-third of a floor lower. I'm more likely to be going up, to get into the occupied rooms, and down, when leaving them for another room. [Where the heck are the halls!?] The people in the rooms/beds don't seem disturbed by my intrusions, just mildly curious. In other ways than the different levels, I need to be acrobatic or simian, at least at ease use (using) not just my legs but my arms, in this kind of moving from place to place. For instance, some of the windows into other rooms [Why not to the outside?], or things I must grasp to clamber on in, are several inches to a foot or two away from what I have to hold just before climbing into the new room. [There seems to be more to it than just finding the right place to me (pee), but the rest of the reason for my quest is unclear. I might have been looking for my room. I recall seeing (my brother) Horace and that we say something to each other (but not what we say)]. He is in one of the rooms I'd been about to climb into. [I think he might have been telling me not to go into that one then, that my niece, Virginia, was sleeping, or something like that.]

My sister, Alice, who used for several years to facilitate a dream group and still sees herself also as psychic, occasionally giving others "readings" for a fee, has provided the following ("not necessarily Jungian perspective, just what my intuition tells me") interpretive comments on my 9/7/06 dream, about being stranded away from my unit and trying to get back by helicopter when a civilian woman nearby is blinded by a flash fire from another helicopter's cargo bay, etc:

"You are being awfully hard on yourself, and possibly hard on Fran or some other woman, too, or perhaps women in general. There could also be some concern about the family reunion. Perhaps you just want to go and get your family duty over with, and you're a little reluctant about dealing with those civilian wives (including Mom) and possible girlfriends to meet. Your priority is to get back to your unit (your home) as soon as you can. You're uncomfortable dealing with a foreign country (a family that can at times seem foreign to your own nature.)

There's quite a conflict between your masculine, aggressive and assertive, and active self and your feminine which is a more casual, resting, nurturing (getting food), vulnerable, and receptive side that has the inner vision. You judge the feminine side as lacking in self-discipline, instead of seeing it as a purposeful balance for your psyche.

You could also be judging yourself for wanting more rest and healing time and wishing that your meditations opened you up to more enlightenment experiences (the intense flash), and wanting time for your Self.

You may be pushing yourself to maintain your health, and feeling bad about not maintaining your ability to operate your vehicle (the helicopter = the body) with as much confidence as before.

Are you afraid that if you let your guard down and get too close to where it's burning brightly, that you will be blinded by the light? Could you be preferring the security of the rational, practical view of Life, Death, Existence... so that you won't risk injury?

Another interpretation is that you've been hanging out in a hell of sorts (and that our world has been in hell militarily!) (hangar, HELicopters).

Also, as you were sleeping, you could have been having an out-of-body experience that felt more hellish than heavenly, and your main priority was to get back inside your body(the unit) and wake up, open your eyes (but frustrated because this was taking so long, and you were feeling blinded while your eyes were shut, sleeping and feeling unsure about the "ride" since you hadn't gotten the pre-flight check)! (Maybe you hadn't gotten "grounded" before flying off to the dream world.)

My last interpretation is about your health and a fear of doctors and operations, and the "foreign country" that is a hospital.

The unit could be about a unit of blood, or the hospital unit, in quarters too close to other bodies for comfort. This is about your immune system (the feminine, receptive, sometimes injured side that wants to LOOK out for you.) "Look, I don't care how you operate here. I just want to get back to my unit" (alive!) You don't trust the surgeon ("It is no skin off his nose...") but it IS the cancerous skin off your own nose.

While you're about to be operated on, staff members are just squabbling about getting enough rest after their shifts. They don't seem to care enough about your maintenance!

Also, you don't like it that the surgeon insists on taking it out now - instead of waiting to see if the skin cancer really is that big a problem. This is taking place inside a hangar - an opening, like a mouth or a stuffed up nose. You're uncomfortable about the machines, people, maneuvers, and the whole operation of having to fool with a hospital (or even dental office) experience."

And here is another dream, from yesterday afternoon, which I would title "Still Waters Run Shallow:"

Allen is driving several of us [It seems several of us, in my childhood family, are with him.] in his big van [one he doesn't have in reality]. All sorts of natural obstacles keep us from getting where we want to go, or at least on time or without undue delay. In the latest example of the trip going wrong, the whole area where we need to drive next is in flood [the water not moving, though, just sitting on, covering the land, roads, etc.] once we get there. In hope that we can progress anyway, since the van is large and maybe can be driven in the water, I suggest where to turn onto the next roadway. [It is as though I can see through the flood and tell where to take a right, though to the others it is all just a large expanse of shallow, brown water.] But we encounter a several inch high curb [apparently about 7-10 inches high, the curb straighter and higher than most curbs, which I believe are curved toward the top on one side and then blend into the pavement rather than having another side, whereas this one has two tall, perpendicular sides and a flat top, so it is a more imposing obstacle, more like a short concrete railing or barrier than a curb, actually], and, in addition to uncertainty whether the van will be alright if we try to drive over the obstruction, there is the question of what it is a curb to. Might this be [as in the dream I now believe - though my better-than-others' underwater, or through from above, vision is no longer quite so good] just the edge of a big, but narrow ditch or culvert, that the flood is covering, so that, if we go over the curb, then we could just get the van's chassis or body caught on or in the ditch? Or is this, as we hope, the curb for the side of the regular highway, and then if we go over it, we might be able to proceed on down the road, albeit at a slow speed [for we seem, from above, just to be in the middle of a huge lake, the entire region being flooded about 18 inches deep in all directions one can look, though deeper of course in gullies, ditches, and so on]? We also are not sure if Allen's van can keep running. Big as it is, the waters could destroy his engine. Indeed, I wonder, even in the dream, how it has kept running through the flood waters up to this point.[Perhaps not coincidentally, in a sense my brother, Allen, who turned 50 on 9/18 this year, is taking several of us in my childhood family together to an event at a certain place and time, for we are having a family reunion at a central TX retreat center and are all gathering there, starting on 10/7, though coming (going) from a number of separate places, to celebrate Allen's half-century mark.]

Of interest from my sister's analysis above of the dream I had sent her to interpret, is something so obvious I'm surprised not to have noticed it recently before: aggression as a natural aspect of the male identity. If so, I've been swimming in these violent-bent waters for so long I hardly am aware of them as remarkable. Do we note the air when it's not moving in relation to us? Just as a dog must take its odiferous landscape for granted, so I assume the irritation, anger, or rage hormones will always be circulating, at least a bit, in this body bundle of capillaries, predisposing a fight reaction, indeed pleasure in exposure to vicarious displays of conflict.

I don't think either I or males in general are uniquely made this way. I suspect women are inclined toward aggression as well, even if our culture does not acknowledge it to the same extent as for men. But it may help explain "catty" behavior among the ladies, "bitchiness," female sports competition every bit as intense as in the males, road-raging stupidity by women too on the highways, and the preference the lasses sometimes show for a certain edginess or dangerous volatility among their potential mates. Nor is hunting an exclusively masculine hobby. Let's not forget the glee with which women cut up their carrots, squash, or cucumbers, and even their famous fascination with blenders!

The mystery, perhaps, is how, in spite of all this aggression "floating around," we manage to develop and maintain complex societies, nations, and even more or less peaceful international relations.

It seems a matter of course that we establish all sorts of institutions, like governments, churches, sports, marriage, etc., to help us control or channel the aggressions, but also that they succeed in this with but confusing or mixed results, indeed, sometimes becoming themselves part of the problem, encouraging inquisitions, crusades, invasions of foreign countries (even if they have not threatened us) we see as vulnerable, or, in sports, egging players on to violent excesses, as in American football, boxing, or ice hockey. Domestic violence is said to be the most common type, though all of us say much the same endearments at our wedding ceremonies.

Even something apparently as benign and nurturing as gardening can involve lots of violence, as toward weeds, slugs, insect pests, snails, plants we prune, and the unlucky vegetables we like to eat. How tranquil is that!?

No doubt, aggression was essential to our species' survival during human ancestors' truly violent evolution. But can we afford to be so prone to hostility and competition now that, at least among creatures with backbones, we dominate the world. It is cause for pause, too, that we now possess doomsday weapons and tend to wreak havoc on the environment through massively pervasive industrial and agricultural technologies? Might our survival now depend, instead, on the curbing of the violent streak?

Yet, have we time to reengineer ourselves? And into what?

Or are all such considerations belated, naive, and idealistic, our fates already sealed?

My, how I do go on! Maybe we had better stick more with the here and now, appreciating what we can, and not forgetting the practical side of things.

Speaking of the more mundane and realistic, took my car in for an oil change and state inspection/emissions test this morning. No problems were found, and I was home less than two hours after I'd left.

Am particularly enjoying a funny, erudite new (to me) mystery, The Perfidious Parrot, by Janwillem van de Wetering.

9/30/06-Sun.-Frances has done a lot of the organizational chores of putting into a big album a bunch of old pictures of my dad or ones that he took, in a time during or at the end of World War II, along with dozens of newspaper articles, postcards, captions, etc., also from him, sent to Mom in a several year period starting in about 1943 and ending about 1947. I arranged them first and have glanced over everything, plus read some of the articles.

As mentioned before, all this material was completely new to me. For some reason, neither of my folks ever mentioned it or showed it to me or my siblings while Dad was alive. This is a real shame. We might have better understood and at least to a degree appreciated him if we had seen these things earlier. Reviewing them now, soon after realizing from the dream group feedback that, largely from interactions with Dad as I was growing up, I likely have post traumatic stress disorder, and recalling now that Mom had said several times Dad changed while overseas (in or right after the Second World War), I understand that he too must have developed PTSD, from his war and occupation experiences. He received no physical wounds in that super-conflict, but it may well be his psychological injuries as an interrogator, war crimes investigator, and head of a unit that gathered evidence against, rounded up, and incarcerated a number of accused Japanese men, many of whom were later executed, were actually more profound than a number of visible injuries suffered by our forces.

To put it mildly, the pictures, captions, and articles make it obvious that, once returned to post-war USA, he would have been hard pressed to be, feel, or act "normal" after adapting to the life he had to amid bombed and burned out buildings, destroyed infrastructure and utilities, many starving civilians, and at least a few desperate, malevolent men, in post-war Japan.

Perhaps not least among his personal losses was an ability to relate well with his young wife and first son, not to mention difficulties establishing or maintaining rapport with each of his later kids. One thing gleaned, then, from both this photo project (that Mom asked us to work on in preparation for next weekend's birthday bash for Allen/family reunion) and being more aware of my own grieving, thanks to the dream work, is that, whatever there was of tragedy in my upbringing, it was perhaps matched by what Dad experienced and how it shut him down emotionally.

Later. I really am at a loss about trips and vacations with Fran. At times, even for several weeks at a stretch, we can seem to be getting along well, perhaps we might say very well. Then, when the subject of a vacation trip comes up, the slightest thing can set us both off and we are regretting commitments most recently made and sure, based on the anger already exchanged, that we have made a serious error and are now in for many days of hell. Inevitably, we question too our judgment in having chosen this person as our life mate since, when the regular day to day routine is to be disrupted, we cannot even discuss a matter sensibly and are primed for heated conflict from the outset.

This is perhaps the greatest test of my homework from the dream group, to simply stay with my feelings, though they be terribly unpleasant. Fran and I have yet to both, at the same time, be truly interested in a vacation to a nice place together since a difficult time in one another's company back in 2005, when we went to CO, and when most of the days were spent in a Hades of ill feeling. A more or less obligatory trip this past February to see relatives in WI also turned out to be mainly unpleasant from my viewpoint. Now we are planning a trip to FL, in December, to visit her mom, hardly a vacation as I see it, but seemingly the right thing to do, only I was not sure of my stamina, to be able to remain in good spirits for too long, given that it is already difficult, just between me and Frances, when long on the road together or away from home. But the combination of she and her mom for several days can be exhausting and exasperating, and I'm afraid of reaching my limit, after which I might be so miserable as to explode and lash out at either or both of them.

Yet Fran wants the maximum possible number days there and sent off an e-mail to her mom giving the time as she interpreted it. When I mentioned that in future we ought to hold to a set number days we had agreed on rather than extending them by defining the trip days as not including the trip itself, she blew up, apparently egging me on to yell as well. If I object that such tactics do not help our communication about a matter under discussion, she yells that she can just make the trip by herself or else that we can shorten the trip by not even taking a break to sleep but going straight through, and so, as often before, using the approach of throwing out one unreasonable option after another rather than dealing with the issue at hand.

She leaves in a huff, then, when I do not take the bait, and she's obviously prepared to maintain the stance that she has been ill used, but bears no responsibility whatever for the latest breakdown in amity. Under the circumstances, I am wishing I had never agreed to go on the trip, or even to remain in this life. But no exits are permitted (as in Sartre). I'll stick it out, though it feels awful, and, amid the silences between us and my anger and depression, not to mention her own more volatile reactions, there is enough stormy alienation here about to cause, reminiscent of a recent dream, many a great flood. I am wondering if the dream group is correct. Might it not be better just to separate and put each other out of this kind of misery?

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