Wednesday, April 27, 2022

A DAY TOUR OF THE EEL RIVER RIM

…Ahh! The simple remoteness of it all…

 

A long-time riding pal looks at a map of Northern California and comments, “You’ve been on pretty much all of these roads!”  While that’s more than a bit of an overstatement, it’s true that I have been on a lot of ‘em.  And yesterday, I bagged two more.

 


         My recent fascination with the Eel River environs has found me looking at remote sections of our Coast Range in Mendocino, Trinity, and Humboldt Counties.  The geography of this area is a jumble of volcanic spasms, tectonic folds deep river canyons all animated by the occasional earthquake or storm induced landslide.  The fascinating history is far less impacted by white presence than the gold-infused Sierra-Cascade to the east.  It’s easy to disappear into these hills and imagine tens of thousands of years of untrammeled life by the area’s first peoples, and clear to see the brunt of 19th century loggers and ranchers and the railroaders who tried to link everyone together.  Which doesn’t mean our conquering culture didn’t do immeasurable harm to those who came before.  See https://thechurchoftheopenroad.blogspot.com/2018/06/killing-for-land-in-early-california.html

         A good map or atlas (I carry DeLorme’s California Atlas and Gazetteer) indicates place names you can drive right through and never see, because whatever was there, no longer is, or isn’t much. Owing to the fact that I’ll be traveling dirt roads, I’m in our Subaru Forester this trip.  Given a suspect right knee, my days of confidently riding a big dual sport like my late Yamaha Super Tenere are over.  Plus, in the 100,000 miles I’ve put on the Sube, I’ve never once worried about tipping over on the thing.



 

I left US 101 at Laytonville following a well-graded Dos Rios Road into the Eel River Canyon.  Dos Rios is a small enclave of a dozen or so houses perched above the confluence of Berger Creek (I’m thinkin’) and the Eel. I think I spotted a school, but I’m not sure I saw a store.  

 


         Picking up State Route 162, I head north and east and over a ridge into Round Valley and Covelo.  The valley floor is lush, perfect for raising cattle, the cash crop that spelled the demise of the native peoples to whom that slice of heaven had been promised.  The town offers a number of services, but a number of services seem to have left as well.  There’s a Tri-Counties Bank in a newer building, but the old bank building stands as a burnt-out hulk.  The US Forest Service anchors a Mendocino National Forest ranger district there, but Georgia Pacific (or was it Louisiana Pacific?) mill, a long-time big employer, is long gone.

         Route 162 angles east, but north through Mina toward Zenia is the road I’ve long wanted to traverse.  Mina Road pavement ends just outside of Covelo, but the road is well graded, and signs ask folks to “use four-wheel-drive to protect the road from washboarding.”  I’d never thought of the connection, nor do I understand the physics of the deal, but my Forester is all-wheel drive, so I hoped I was doing my part.  The road twists and rises through oak woodlands into mixed deciduous forests, one side posted as reservation land for the consolidated tribes.  Kindly do not enter.  Okay.



 

The top of the ridge finds yellow pines and broad, high meadows suitable for grazing.  Mina, the berg, is little more than a framed gatepost entry to a ranch.  Without glancing at the GPS, one wouldn’t know that now they are traveling on Zenia Lake Mountain Road.  I check the map to see a Lake Mountain Ranch but see not a Lake Mountain.  Will there be a Zenia?

 


         Just when I’m noting the freshness of the high-country air, I encounter mile after mile of the Mendocino Complex burn scar of 2020. This fire, geographically, the largest in state history, took out Simpson Camp, a childhood Shangri-La, maybe fifteen to twenty miles east southeast of where I found myself this noon.  

        The big fire raged south of Kettenpom, a placename on this road, one that supports a small general store, what looks like an ag supply with bundles of PVC irrigation pipe ~ I wonder what for? ~ and even has a bright orange “76” gas sign.  Not sure it there’s gas.  A good-looking albeit laconic dog lazed in the road directly in front of the store as I wheeled around and on to Zenia.  Perhaps there, I’d pull in for a Snickers bar.

 


         Zenia, a bigger dot on the map than Kettenpom, has a post office.  And it once had a store.  There would be no Snickers bar this day ~ at least not one from the Zenia General Store. 

         From this point, there’s an inviting road that leads north into Van Duzen River Country, but that’ll be for some other time.  I turn west to wind beneath the Zenia Bluffs and into Alderpoint.  Alderpoint was a workstation on the now-defunct Northwestern Pacific Rail line. For 75 years, the NWP fought a losing battle with the forces of nature in the Eel River canyon.  Remnants of the rail grade can be seen paralleling the river from a fine bridge upon which I crossed.  Town, itself, is a relative city.  Big(ger) store.  School.  Businesses that support logging, ranching and, perhaps, extraction industries.  Lots of little homes.  Maybe not a lot of wealth, unless one considers that value of living in a scenic jumble of hills and ridges, oaks, pines, and meadows, with background music provided by the Eel River.  Not bad!

 


         The nearest closer-to-full-service town in Garberville, twenty winding miles west at US 101.  The pavement is nice and I’m sure that Alderpoint residents know the route well as they seek a little more selection on the grocery or hardware shelves.  But I don’t want to go to Garberville.  I want to bag Bell Springs Road.

 

All morning, I’d driven the eastern edge of the Eel River watershed.  This afternoon, I’d head south on the west side.  After heading southwest on Alderpoint Road, I exit south on primitive Harris Road.  I’m going to Harris!  Another labelled dot on the map.  Roughest route of the entire circuit, the Subaru handles it with aplomb.  I’m happy to not be on the bike, rolling over rolling gravel and small boulders.  I’m too old to pick the thing up off its side, and nobody’s coming along on Harris Road to help me out.  

 


         I’m not surprised to find that Harris once had a country store, but no more.  The skeleton of the place still stands with a long, low overhung porch, whitewashed walls the whitewash of each dates back about 70 years, and nothing but ranchlands nearby.  I am shocked, however, to turn south on Bell Springs Road when I come to an unmarked placename: New Harris.  Outside of a road junction not even a derelict store.

 


         But I am enjoying Bell Springs Road, another one of those routes I’ve coveted.  Rising and falling over pasture lands and across high meadow grazing lands, there’s a remote on-top-of-the-world feeling with 360-degree views.  To the east, the Yolla Bolly wilderness peak still have snow, between here and there rises Cain Rock where the NWPs golden spike was driven in about 1916.  Cattle dot some areas, trees forest others.  Random roads track over the ridge and down into the Eels River’s deep canyon.  At some point down there is Island Mountain, site of a 0.8-mile tunnel, longest on the NWP route.  But, in reaching the site of Bell Springs, I realize I’ve missed the necessary road had I wanted to use to trundle down and see that engineering marvel.

         Bell Springs is home to a fire department with a red pickup and a third- or fourth-hand fire truck.  The company’s sign may have been hand painted by a fourth grader with an affinity for balloon letters.  Yet, a lovely slice of ruralness.

         It’s about twelve miles down to the junction of US 101.  Closer to the highway, population seems more dense and less rancher-like.  Once on the Federal Route, I have to remind myself to wick things up a bit in the Subaru as folks like to travel 65 miles per hour, not the 27 I’ve been enjoying for the bulk of the day.  It’s two hours to home.

 

I’m enamored by the remoteness of our nearby Coast Range.  I’m easily mesmerized into fantasies about life there when the nearest neighbors were mule deer, bald eagles, and the occasional mountain lion.  

 


         After seven hours of bumping around, it seems to me that, other than timber and some grazing, there has never been much that could be monetized or Europeanized or exploited in these parts. Which is good.  The true value of this region may be where this region takes you when you visit.

         Let’s not tell anyone about it.

 

© 2022

Church of the Open Road Press

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

THE ARMSTRONG REDWOODS RETURN

…and We Return to Armstrong Redwoods

 


A year-and-a-half ago, the Walbridge Fire surged, burned and seemingly ravaged Armstrong Redwoods State Park just outside of Guerneville.  Many living throughout Sonoma County and beyond recall stinging eyes and choking air brought about by smoke that that hung in the atmosphere for weeks.




As the conflagration raged over vineyards and pastures, hillsides and dales, the fire swept through the Austin Creek Preserve and crept down the hill into the priceless redwood grove that has always been an area treasure.  Monitoring the fire’s progress on the radio was much like listening to a late-night baseball game where team Redwood was being routed by team Inferno.  What would remain when all was said and done?

 

Well, the good news is that the treasure survived.  On a recent weekday Candi, Edward (our dear old Aussie-lab mix) and I dropped by to check things out.  The lovely trail from the entrance station to the Colonel Armstrong tree has been refurbished. At 1400-years-old, the Colonel Armstrong appears fabulous: a sentinel tall, strong and steady (and looking not a day over 1200.)  




The trail to the picnic area has been cleared as well. While the Walbridge Fire impacted the hillsides and meadows further up and some the park’s forest floor, the resiliency of the Sequoia stand is evident.  Far from devastated, many of the trees in the lower reaches, though scorched, again provide a canopy of deep green. Redwood shoots ~ some already as tall as six feet ~ are springing out of ancient burls and stumps. Ferns and other forest flora are reestablishing themselves illuminated, in places, by those shafts of sunlight that make redwood forests so ethereal and cathedral-like. On our visit, the air was still and cool and sweet, the voices of other visitors hushed, because that’s what you do in a cathedral, right?  




Getting there:  North of Santa Rosa, exit US 101 at River Road; west to Guerneville; north on Armstrong Woods Road to entrance station. $10 day use fee, waived with a State Park Annual Pass ~ available at the gate. Lower trails are cleared and open, but Edward (the dog) was restricted to walking (on leash) only on paved roads.  Pack a picnic, bring water and grandkids. Neighboring Austin Creek Preserve (up the hill) is still closed.  

 


As an aside:  When on a motorcycle ride in our area, frequently, I’ll stop, dismount and wander a few yards into one of our many redwood groves, just to listen to the angels whisper.  It’s good to know those angels have returned to Armstrong Redwoods.  Perhaps they never left.

 

© 2022

Church of the Open Road Press

Friday, April 8, 2022

441 VICTOR

 People You Meet on the Road

 

Having curtailed some motorcycle riding in anticipation of some anatomical micro-wave sessions, I did run a few errands on Mariolanza, the Moto Guzzi, the other day and stumbled into the following situation.

 

I’d parked in the motorcycle spaces at the corner of nearby little town’s iconic downtown square.  Upon returning from an errand, I spied a gentleman – older than myself – eyeballing my ride.  Even from behind, I could tell he was wistful.  Perhaps it was the way he held his shoulders.

         As I slipped the key in the ignition, he said, “What’s that? A Guzzi?”

         “Yep.”

         “Nice restoration.  What year?”  He tugged at the leash of a fine-looking Doberman who was showing some degree of interest in Mariolanza’s rear tire.

         “It’s a 2021, Guzzi’s 100th Anniversary model.”

         “They still make ‘em?”

         “They still make ‘em.”

         “I got me a Brit bike.  A thumper.  Can’t find nobody to work on it, though.”  

         “Really.  What brand?”

         “BSA.”  

         “Wait? You’ve got a Victor?”

         “Yeah.  A 441 Victor.  How did you know?”  

 


         “You said, ‘BSA and Thumper.’  What else would it be?”

         “Well, I do sorta recall a 250 single.  Pour oil in the top and watch it drain out through the bottom.  Not a problem with my Victor, but it has a few others and I can’t find anybody to work on it.”

         “Did you check the Zen House in Point Arena?”  I’d had a very positive experience there, surrounding the rebuild of an ’86 BMW.  I offered to write down some on-line info.

         “Oh, son.”  [Ha!  He called me ‘son.’] “I don’t do computers.  Come to think of it, I don’t do carburetors anymore either.”

         “Me neither.”  Pointing to the Guzzi, “That’s why I got this one.  Fuel injected.”

         “Fuel injected?  Bah!” He gave the Dobie a gentle tug.  Then he said, “So, how is it you know about my bike?”

         “Back when I was in high school, a 441 Victor with it’s yellow over brushed aluminum tank and pea-shooter exhaust was my dream bike. Light.  Snazzy.  Cool like Steve McQueen.  Sounded cool, too.  Tucka-tucka-tucka-tucka-tucka.”

 


         “Yeah.” The gent grinned broadly. “Tucka-tucka-tucka-tucka-tucka.”  

         “College kid livin’ nearby had a Victor,” I continued. “Called it the ‘One Lung-er.’  Said he wouldn’t ever see himself comin’ the other way on one.  Not like a Honda or a Yamaha…  

         “…What year is yours?”

         “I bought it new in ’67 from the dealer in San Jose.”  

         “New in ’67?  No kidding?”

         “No kidding.  Dropped into the shop one afternoon, just to nose around. Sales guy put me on it and took me for a test ride.  No helmet.  No license.  Nothin’.  

         “Sales guy was in front of me on a big Lightning or some such when he crashed.  I ended up getting him to the hospital, but then went back and bought the Victor.”

         “Nice piece of history.  And with its own history.  You’ve had it since ’67?”

         “The whole time.” He nodded.  “You sure there’s a shop in Point Arena?  I never heard of… what’d you call it?”

         “Zen House.  From Pirsig’s book, I think.  On the highway – the Pacific Coast Highway – the main drag, behind the only gas pumps in town.  You can’t miss it.”

         “Oh, son, I’ll bet I can…”

 

 


I hope to cross paths with the Victor on the road someday soon.  I’ll be on the Guzzi.

 

© 2022

Church of the Open Road Press

Monday, April 4, 2022

WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS GONNA DIE… …BUT FOUND OUT I WASN’T

 Prostate Cancer is among the most common forms of cancer found in men aged 60 to 65 and up.  The older one becomes, the more likely that such a carnival will show up in one’s prostate.  The medical community has yet to figure out what causes prostate cancer, and the individual (like me) will not know the carnival is going on until evidence of a higher-than-normal PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) shows up in panels from regular blood tests.  

Guys: if you’re of a certain age, DO get those panels done.  Check with your physician about how frequently you should have this assessment.  I let mine slip and, when the data came in, my PSA number was 34.  Normal is below five.  (Check with a real doctor ~ or see the references cited below ~ to find out if that last statement is even close to accurate.)

 


With that score of 34, it was clear I had prostate cancer, and, to me, the word cancer always meant “get your affairs in order.”
  But here’s what I found out: Prostate cancer, while eventually found in many (if not most) aging men, is also among the most successfully addressed.  Fewer than 1% of men diagnosed with it die within the first ten years.  

 

Further testing (CATscan, PETscan) indicated that the show had not yet gone on the road in my case, and it was stll confined to my enlarged prostate.  Radiological treatment ~ what’s been recommended for me ~ will likely do the trick, but the punctuation mark brought about by this whole discovery/process got me to thinking about life’s common circumstances and how my view of them changed.  And changed again…

 

A few examples:

 

* Candi goes to the shoe store.  It’s usually an hour and a half and she may or may not come out with a new pair of shoes.  Generally, I wander about, and feeling sorry for the salesperson, pick out something I might like, whether I need ‘em or not.

 



When I thought I was gonna die… I sat on a bench outside the store thinking that I’d probably never wear out the shoes I already have in my closet.

 

When I found out I wasn’t… I realized I could really use a new pair of Birkenstocks.  

 

* We love our Subaru Forester.  At just under 100,000 miles, the trusty thing is far from worn out, but on longer road trips, it is not as smooth and comfortable as its larger stablemate, the Outback.  And now that we have the fully electric Chevy Bolt, the Forester is used mainly for longer road trips.

 



When I thought I was gonna die… I figured the purchase of a new Sube (or any vehicle) would be a colossal waste.  Like all those shoes, I wasn’t gonna wear this one out.

 

When I found out I wasn’t… Dang! That new Outback Wilderness looks cool!  And rugged!  Think of all the back roads I’ll be able to explore in comfort!  Throughout the entire west!

 

* What about those celebrations that place dots on the timelines of lives of little ones and loved ones?

 



When I thought I was gonna die… I was sad for more than a moment, but not much more than a moment.  The overwhelming emotion was of disappointment for all the things I was gonna miss.

 

When I found out I wasn’t… I returned to thinking about birthdays, graduations, weddings, holidays and all the stuff that goes along with such celebrations.  Do you have to buy presents for each of those occasions?  Maybe.  But what you really need to do is show up.  I’ll be showin’ up.  Glad tidings.

 

* And then there’s the world circumstance…

 



When I thought I was gonna die… I found myself no longer as concerned about climate change or world peace.  Disappointed that my baby-boomer generation more than less screwed up what was left to us by the greatest generation, it was a relief to not have to worry about such things any longer and only hope our kids will be able to cobble together the pieces we’ve left and rebuild a better planet and a better community of nations.

 

When I found out I wasn’t… Well, crap!  After the radiological treatments prove successful, I’m going to have to reenter the fight.

 

* Recently, I posted a satirical conversation with God wherein we discussed my demise and what to do with the time I had left.  Several of my associates thought it was damned funny (because it was damned funny) but several others thought I’d just be damned for my blasphemy.  So, what about the afterlife?  Will I make it to heaven?

 



When I thought I was gonna die… I had to give some thought how my life has been and some thought to heaven.  I’ve been more than fortunate to live in some of the most beautiful environs in the State of California (and the US, for that matter) ~ the foothills of the Sierra, the pine forests of the Cascades, and now, spittin’ distance from among the most stunning coastlines anywhere. As an educator, I believe my service to kids and teachers has helped them in their success.  I’ve enjoyed the companionship of at least three wonderful dogs who, when (if?) I get to the other side, I know will charge up to me, tumble me to the ground and lick my face with abandon while I just giggle.  As a father and grandfather, I know I could have/should have done more but I get warm and welcoming hugs every time I see one of ‘em.  




And, as far as angels go, seems like I’ve been in a relationship with one for nearly 40 years.  So, I have to ask myself: “How is this not heaven?”

 

When I found out I wasn’t…  Yippee!  I get a few more years here in heaven!

 



Bottom lines?  Guys, get checked out or you may find yourself checking out.  Everyone else:  God’s advice from the previous post still stands.  See you on the road.

 

o0o

 

For more information on Prostate Cancer, check out these resources and see your doctor:

 

National Cancer Institute: https://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate

American Cancer Society (recommendations for early detection): https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/acs-recommendations.html

Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prostate-cancer/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353093

Kaiser Permanente: https://healthy.kaiserpermanente.org/northern-california/health-wellness/health-encyclopedia/he.prostate-cancer.hw78220

Stanford Health: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/cancer/prostate-cancer.html

USF Medical Center: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/clinics/prostate-cancer-center

 

© 2022

Church of the Open Road Press

Monday, March 28, 2022

ME ‘N’ GOD TALK PROSTATE



 

ME:            Hello God?

 

GOD:          H’yup.

 

ME:            I’m David.  Do you have a minute?

 

GOD:          I know who you are.

 

ME:            You do?

 

GOD:          Of course, David.  You’re the writer.

 

ME:            Wow!

 

GOD:          I particularly like that 23rd Psalm of yours.

 

ME:            I didn’t write the 23rd Psalm.

 

GOD:          But your name is David and you said you’re a writer.

 

ME:            You said I was a writer. And I am.  Sorta.

 

GOD:          Sorta?

 

ME:            Yes.  Sorta.  I write a blog.

 

GOD:          Oh Me! What’s a blog?

 

ME:            It’s a venue where you can make stuff up… you know… and share your ideas without having ‘em scrutinized by an editor. No agents or publishing houses to deal with… Hell, it doesn’t even… Oops…  Sorry…

 

GOD:          Go on.

 

ME:            …doesn’t even have to be factual.

 

GOD:          I’m familiar with the genre.  They’ve been around a lot longer than you have, David.  Some folks call ‘em scriptures.  

 

                  When did they start calling ‘em… What did you call ‘em?

 

ME:            Blogs.  I write a blog.

 

GOD:          Yes. A blog. On parchment?

 

ME:            No.  Electronically.  On the net… You know, the web…

 

GOD:          On the what?  How do you… Never mind. 

                  

                  [SUBVOCALIZED] Jesus! Kids these days..  

 

JESUS:       [OFF STAGE] D’you call me, Dad?

 

GOD:          No!  I’m talkin’ to David, here…

 

JESUS:       The 23rd Psalm guy?  From Judea?

 

GOD:          I’m not sure where he’s from.  Now don’t interrupt, kid!  I’m havin’ a conversation here…

         

                  [TO ‘ME’] So, what do you write about?

 

ME:            Oh… Umm… Travel.  History of California… the West. And stuff I see or make up or think about while I’m riding my motorcycle. Although sometimes I just sing Sinatra tunes.

 

GOD:          Ah!  Sinatra. Wish he’da made it… [SINGS] Some day…

 

TOGETHER:        …when I’m awfully low, 

                  when the world is cold, 

                  I will feel a glow just thinking of you…

 

                  [PAUSE.  GOD AND ‘ME’ MAKE EYE CONTACT]

 

GOD:          Wait!  You ride a motorcycle?  They’re an abomination!

 

ME:            I’m sorry.  I didn’t know that.  They sure are exhilarating, though.  Breath-taking.

 

GOD:          Lots of exhilarating, breath-taking things are an abomination.  What kind of motorcycle is it?

 

ME:            A Ducati.  It’s Italian.

 

GOD:          Loquerisne mihi ex Italia?  Papa non es homo?

 

ME:            What?

 

GOD:          I’m sorry.  I slipped into Latin.  I figured it out. You’re from Italy…

 

ME:            No, I’m stateside.  

 

GOD:          Stateside?

 

ME:            The new world.

 

GOD:          There’s a new world?  Why wouldn’t I know this?

 

ME:            Other side of the planet from Italy.

 

GOD:          Oh.  Got it.  Anyway, I asked if you were the Pope.  A lot of folks think I have a hand in picking him.

 

ME:            Yeah, well, a lot of folks think it’s just politics.

 

GOD:          It must be something like that.  I sure as hell don’t pick winners and losers.  Not even for the Super Bowl.

 

ME:            Wait!  You just said, “Sure as hell.” So, hell is a sure thing?

 

GOD:          Have you seen Ukraine lately?  Aleppo, Syria?  North Korea?  Barstow…

 

ME:            Point taken.

 

GOD:          So, David.  What did you wake me up for?

 

ME:            Oh! I didn’t mean to wake you up.  I can call back later.

 

GOD:          No.  No.  I don’t get too many calls lately.  Most are just the self-righteous who dial me up and want me to condemn this or that. I tell ‘em they’re barkin’ up the wrong tree – tell ‘em maybe Billy Graham’s kid can do that for ‘em, or that Ted Cruz fella.  He’s pretty good at condemning things – and then I hang up.  

 

ME:            - - - 

 

GOD:          Saayyyy… You don’t want me to condemn anything or anybody, do you?

 

ME:            Not off the top of my head.  I’m sure I could come up with somebody or something if I thought about it.

 

GOD:          Don’t bother yourself.  No need.  If somebody or something needs condemning, I’ve already got it figured out.  I’ve got almost everything figured out.  Like I did with you and that 23rdPsalm.

 

ME:            But I told you I didn’t write the 23rd Psalm.

 

GOD:          Hey!  I’m fallible.

 

ME:            What?  Fallible?  You?

 

GOD:          Sure.  You know that part about people being made in My image?

 

ME:            Yeah.

 

GOD:          Well, are people fallible?

 

ME:            Umm… Yeah.

 

GOD:          Well then, wouldn’t it follow that I’m fallible, too?  Certainly, I’ve screwed up from time to time.  Earthquakes? Floods? Plagues? Locusts? Cable television? Those were just screw ups on my part.

 

ME:            But that’s not what the Good Book tells us.

 

GOD:          Do you think I had anything to do with your so-called Good Book?

 

ME:            Didn’t you?

 

GOD:          Look.  I’ve made stuff up.  The fish of the sea. The birds of the air.  The beasts of the field.  But the Good Book? Someone else made that up.

 

ME:            Someone else?

 

GOD:          Sure!  Why should I toot my own horn?  I leave that to Gabriel or, if he’s not available, Satchmo. 

 

ME:            Louis Armstrong made it?  I heard he smoked weed and sh… stuff.

 

GOD:          Louis Armstrong made it.

 

ME:            But Sinatra didn’t…

 

GOD:          What can I say?  I work in mysterious ways…

 

ME:            [AFTER A PAUSE] So, what do you do with your time?

 

GOD:          Time?  What’s that but an invention of mankind?

 

ME:            I never thought of it that way…

 

GOD:          Before you all invented time, as I recall, the sun came up and everybody did some things, then the sun went down, and everybody went to sleep. Simple. Perfection, I’d call it.  Then you all invent time and screw it up.

 

ME:            Now wait a minute, sir… I mean, your highness… I mean…

 

GOD:          Call me God.  It’s short.  It’s sorta sweet. It’s direct.

 

ME:            Okay, “God.”  Look, I didn’t invent time.  I didn’t invent much of anything other than those motorcycle stories and history tidbits I post on my blog.

 

GOD:          Do others like your work?  Some folks like my work.  

 

                  If someone likes your work, it kinda gives a reason for your… your… existence.

 

ME:            So, is there a reason for existence for everybody?

 

GOD:          That would have been a good plan.

 

ME:            So, you didn’t have a plan?

 

GOD:          Well, to be honest with you, not really.  What happened was short, sweet, and simple.  A bit like a Science Fair project for a fifth grader.  

 

ME:            Science Fair?

 

GOD:          Sure.  You see, hundreds of billions of what you folks call years ago, I created a couple of gas clouds and I had them floating around in space. Then, to see what might happen, I exhaled a puff on one and then the other and they sorta collided.  I’d figured that nothing would happen, or at worst, the combined clouds might turn green or turquoise, then just kinda dissipate.  But wow! Did I get that wrong!  Hell of an explosion!  You shoulda seen it!

 

ME:            So, the whole thing was more like an accident?

 

GOD:          Accident? Accident!  I’m not sure I could admit anything like that.  I have to think of my standing with… with… umm… the faithful.  I mean, I may bungle some things but…. 

 

ME:            [INTERUPTING] But what?

 

GOD:          Look!  Nobody’s perfect.  But, that said, David, I’d advise you to remember that you’re talking to God here.  And I’m the last entity you want hanging up on you.

 

ME:            Oh.  Y…y…yes. Sorry.

 

GOD:          Hey!  Not a problem!  I’m all about forgiveness.  All you gotta do is ask…

 

                  Anyway, as a result of the blast, a bunch of bits of stuff… matter… phlogiston…. started flying out all over the place.  Icy stuff.  Molten stuff.  The hot stuff spun around until it formed these beautiful, almost perfect balls.  Planets, like that one you’re on.  And ever since that happened, I just sit back and watch… monitor things.  Most of this is outside of my control.

 

ME:            How long ago was this?

 

GOD:          I don’t do time, remember.  [ASIDE] Although that Donald Trump character probably should.

 

ME:            So, you just sit back and watch.

 

GOD:          Yes.  I guess it’s like a giant… what do you call ‘em?.. video game.  Like your alternate reality, except it’s real reality.  So, yeah.  For me, I just sit back and watch my universe expand.

 

ME:            Your universe?  Are there others?

 

GOD:          Well, I think Zeus has one.  And several other guys.

 

ME:            Guys?

 

GOD:          You don’t think a bunch of old white men came up with male dominance on their own, do you?

 

ME:            - - -

 

GOD:          Another one of my screw ups.

 

ME:            Well, I’m afraid I’ve got another one to tell you about.

 

GOD:          Oh, yeah?

 

ME:            Yeah.  Let me ask you a question.

 

GOD:          Shoot.

 

ME:            How’s your prostate?

 

GOD:          My what?

 

ME:            Your prostate.  It’s a little gland in your lower belly that produces hormones and fluids and the stuff that helps men with their part in creating new life.

 

GOD:          You create new life?

 

ME:            Yep.  I suppose it’s part of that chain reaction you set off with your Big Bang Science Fair experiment.  Did you get a ribbon or anything for that?

 

GOD:          No. I do recall singing my whiskers pretty good.

 

ME:            Well, the prostate is about the size of a walnut, although, on you, it might be bigger.  For you, I’d bet an XXXL.

 

GOD:          I’m… well… fit for my age.

 

ME:            Well, the prostate, like damned near everything else you created, is made up of cells.

 

GOD:          Cells?  Like what Socrates or OJ was in?

 

ME:            No, silly… I mean sir… I mean… Oh, God.

 

GOD:          Yes?

 

ME:            A cell is a living unit.  A building block.  A membrane like a balloon filled with fluid and some sort of a nucleus that regiments and regulates how big it gets and how it fits in with others.

 

GOD:          Sounds governmental.

 

ME:            Actually, it’s biological.  Except…

 

GOD:          Except what? 

 

ME:            Except when for some reason unknown to us… maybe known to you… 

 

GOD:          Search me. I don’t even know what you’re talking about here…

 

ME:            …the cells mutate or change and no longer fit together correctly.  Then a man can’t pee, can’t develop a… well, can’t reproduce… and sometimes the crazy cells start to invade other parts of the body.  Usually happens once a guy is fifty to sixty years old.  Maybe older.

 

GOD:          I don’t do time, remember?

 

ME:            Yeah.  But you’re old.  So, how’s your prostate?  Can you pee?  Can you have kids?

 

GOD:          Well, David, if you’ll recall, the last time I fathered a child, the whole thing was a bit of a fiasco.

 

ME:            Don’t get me started on that!  But here’s my question.  I’ve lived a pretty clean life, didn’t do drugs, never smoked much other than the occasional cigar, attended church for a while…

 

GOD:          For a while?

 

ME:            Yeah.  Had to quit.  Evangelicals.  Money changers. Bastards hiding behind the skirts of believers and the gullible in order to do their evil.

 

GOD:          Of course.  Another of my great disappointments.

 

ME:            Drank a little scotch.  Maybe too much.

 

GOD:          What kind?

 

ME:            Lagavulin 16.

 

GOD:          Nice.  I prefer the Oban.  Nectar of the… well… Me.

 

ME:            Anyway, about a month ago, they did me a blood draw and, in checking things out, found there’s a bit of a carnival going on in my prostate.  Now they say they have to cut it out or zap it…

 

GOD:          I could zap it for you…

 

ME:            No thanks.  I’ve seen what happened with your last experiment.

 

GOD:          So, what’s your question?

 

ME:            Well, they say it’s pretty curable, but if they don’t catch it in time… and they may not have in my case… the mutant cells may spread throughout my body, and I may die.

 

GOD:          Really?  How soon?

 

ME:            You don’t do time, remember?

 

GOD:          Right.  Sorry.

 

ME:            So, here’s my question.  They say you see all and know all…

 

GOD:          David.  I’m not the Wizard of Oz.  I’m not even sure I’m the man behind the curtain anymore.

 

ME:            Okay.  Okay.  I’m just worried that things are gonna come to an end before I’m through with all I want to do.

 

GOD:          David, there’s not a thinking person alive that doesn’t have the same concern as they peer into that valley of the shadow you wrote about. 

 

ME:            I didn’t write the…

 

GOD:          Shush, now!  You want my advice?

 

ME:            Uh… Sure.

 

GOD:          Then listen:  Use your current… umm... circumstance as a motivator to make the best of the… what do you call it?... the time you have.  Live, love, write, dream.  Got any unfinished projects?

 

ME:            Yeah.

 

GOD:          Well, just finish ‘em and rejoice.  Then, what the hell, start another.  Okay?

 

ME:            - - -

 

GOD:          Oh, but keep this in mind: As long you insist on tearing around on that damned Ducati, it’s likely that it won’t be the prostate that does you in…

 

 

A MASSIVE BOOM RESONATES, ECHOING FOR SEVERAL SECONDS…

 

 

GOD:          Well crap!

 

ME:            What was that?

 

GOD:          [RISES, SIGHS AUDIBLY] Mother Nature.  Looks like somebody tried to pass off another cheap-assed stick of margarine as butter again.  Haven’t you people learned that it’s not nice to fool with her?

 

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