New Additions

I have a rather ambivalent relationship to automobiles.  My dad was a shade tree mechanic par excellence.  I doubt there was anything he couldn’t fix short of straightening a bent frame (though I bet he could have figured out how to do that, too) before cars became half computer.

I, on the other hand, could not have cared less about the machinery of…well, anything.  The mechanic’s gene or whatever it is missed me.  Dad would haul me out to the garage regularly to help him do a repair and my overwhelming sense was one of “LET ME OUT OF HERE!”  Bored doesn’t cover it.  He would try to explain how things worked, why they were the way they were, and for what it’s worth a good deal of it stuck.  If, later, as a driver, I found myself in the middle of nowhere with a malfunctioning set of wheels, I could probably have pulled a McGyver and fixed the damn thing.

But the all-consuming love one sees in the faces of males of a certain type when they pore over their engines…uh uh.

I still don’t care that much.  Oh, in a theoretical way, certainly, but the getting-the-hands-in and “tinkering” is not anywhere in my suite of anticipated pleasures.

But I do like cars.  I like the way many of them look, I love driving them, I appreciate the æsthetics of them, I would not want to do without them.  They are, in my book, cool things.  I am a firm believer in paying a good mechanic to keep them doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

I would like one day to own a really fine high-end…something.  Mercedes, Lincoln, Porsche, Lexus, whatever.

For now, though, I am a happy driver to have a new set of wheels.  Given the destruction of my previous set, this was a necessity that has turned out nice.  I have a new car.  2013 Corolla.

Yes, another Corolla.  Our fourth.  We like them.

But this one is NOT BLUE.



New Wheels, September 2014

Not quite a matched set, but close enough.  His and Hers.  Ours and Ours.

Life Has Been So Much Fun Lately…

…that I’ve decided to say nothing about it today.  I’m getting a new car tonight, already selected it.  Just need to sign the papers and take it home.  I’m getting almost no fiction written today, which is a bummer (maybe I’ll slip a paragraph or two in later), but other things are getting done.  I’ll tell you all about the year I’ve had this past week some other time.

For now, a photograph. An old one.  Was a time I toyed with becoming a portraitist.  I was developing a style, according to some (though I couldn’t see it), but I had done some half-way decent work.  I found this the other day while looking for something else.  This is Paula, who modeled for me for a few months way back in the late Seventies.  She never wore make-up, she was just naturally beautiful and photogenic, and I would have loved to do more work with her, but time moved on and we’ve long since lost touch.

Anyway, I still do the occasional portrait, should anyone be interested.  Enjoy.


Paula, portrait, 1976

Life Sometimes Hits You In The Ass

I realize people don’t want to hear about your woes, not unless they’re amusing in some karmic way, or you have a manner of relating them that takes them up out of the pit of despond wherein the currents swirl in an effort to pull you down further.  But life is a heady mix of things, both good and bad.

Let me start with the good, just to leaven the stew.

We’re alive, the meteor missed the house, and the dog is happy.

Well, now.  On to the rest?

Last Friday I was due to be at work at two in the afternoon to prepare, with coworkers, for a Big Deal event for Left Bank Books.  We were entertaining Melissa Gilbert at Maryville.  Yes, that Melissa Gilbert, of Little House On The Prairie fame.  Half Pint?  Was that the character’s nickname?  I wouldn’t know.  I think I’ve seen three or four episodes, ever.  Not my thing.  (But to my chagrin, no one got my repeated references to Z’Ha’Dum, so maybe that evens things up.)  Anyway, I had to stop by the post office on the way and do something else (I don’t remember now) and after that I turned onto Kingshighway to head north.

As I drove along I glanced to the right and saw a woman walking down the  street, just past Ackerman Toyota, dressed in what I think of as “Dig Me” attire.  She was attractive, seemed in good shape, and was certainly an attention grabber, painted on distressed and ripped jeans, tank top, long blond hair.  I saw all this in less than an eyeblink and turned my attention back to the road.

Traffic was stopped at the light at Osceola, at the north end of the Charles Schmitt car lot.  I stopped just shy of the entrance to said lot.

A moment or two later I heard a horrible squealing of tires, looked up to see a large pick-up bearing down on me, just time enough to think “Oh, shit” and brace for impact. Bam! Rocked the car, jostled me around, ruined my afternoon.   Naturally, just as this happened, the light turned green and the vehicles ahead of me moved on.  A few seconds either way…

I got out of my vehicle.  The trunk of my car…well, have a look:  Smashed Trunk 1

The truck that hit me was a Ram 1500.  Appropriately named, I think. Two men got out, both in workmans attire (painter pants, t-shirts) and the driver had a panicked expression.

“In a hurry are you?” I asked.

“Not really,” he said.

Then I realized what had happened.  “But she was awful nice to look at, wasn’t she?” I said.

He hesitated, then gave me a goofy, embarrassed grin.  “Yeah, I admit it.”

Naturally, the young lady to whom I referred was nowhere to be seen.  Not that it really mattered.  He could have been trying to read a billboard for all it mattered, the fact was he hadn’t been paying attention to what was in front of his fairly rapidly moving vehicle.

Other Vehicle   As you can see, it didn’t do much to his truck.  Knocked the front license plate off.

His passenger called the report in on his cell phone.  We pulled onto the lot so we didn’t block traffic.  A mistake, I realized later, since it then took damn near two hours before a cop showed up to take the report.

The people at Charles Schmitt let me call my work to let them know I might be late.

At which point Kris and Jay appeared, as if by magic, to see what had happened.  My bosses.  They’d been on their way in and passed the lot and Kris said “Is that Mark?”  Jay said, “I don’t know, was he wearing a hat?”  They called Left Bank and found out about my call, turned around, and hung with me for a time until they absolutely had to go.

The event that evening was going to be awkward without me, but they assured me they’d handle it.  After the police FINALLY arrived, I walked down to Ackerman Toyota to see about leaving the car there.  We’re good customers.  We’ve bought three vehicles from them (and will likely buy more) and get all our service done there, so no problem.  I then called Donna, who was as it happened on her way home.  She picked me up at Ackerman and took me to work.

No one had actually expected me to come in, but they seemed appreciative.

Now, I had just spent almost $600.00 on that car repairing the automatic window mechanism on the driver’s side.  It’s probable that the car is now totaled, but we’ll see.

Yesterday I learn that the gentleman who hit me let his insurance lapse months ago.  Wonderful.

This is some kind of cherry on the sundae of my year.  I’ve had to replace me glasses.  There were other repairs.  My coffeemaker died.  But several weeks ago I injured my arm at work.  An annoying injury at the bicep that is taking a damnably long time to heal and when this guy hit me I apparently jammed that arm again and it now hurts about as bad as it did when I first injured it.  It’s now Tuesday, though, and I have no other mysterious aches and pains, so I seem to have dodged the whiplash bullet.  (I’m fortunate to be in as good a shape as I am, otherwise I might be more screwed up.)

The prospect of buying a new car is one of mixed emotions.  I’d love one.  But not just yet.  We’ve had a year of unexpected expenses and more stress due to other factors which I would rather not discuss here, and things are…awkward.  We were talking a couple more years before new car time for me.  We really can’t afford it, but on the other hand you do what you have to.

I had two new books come out this year, of which I am very proud and happy.  I would appreciate a bit more attention to them.  A few reviews in the appropriate places wouldn’t hurt, a few more sales, etc.  But all in all, that part is good.  But if this is some kind of karmic realignment, I think I’m glad a new novel didn’t come out this year, I’m not sure I’d survive the balance of joss payments!

One thing of which Donna and I are extremely grateful is the number of good friends we have.  They’ve been terrific, even in wholly unexpected ways.

But I would rather not have things happen that calls upon them to be as supportive as they have been.

In a few weeks I’ll be sixty.  The mind boggles.  Unrealistically, I’d thought things might be a little easier by now, and really, when I pull back from dealing with the daily nonsense, much of life is easier.  It’s just that I don’t have as much energy to deal with it all as I used to, so it seems…well, more annoying, to be sure.

I picked up my rental this morning—a rather cumbersome Kia SUV—and the insurance adjustor has already looked at my old Corolla.  I await his call to tell me what will be.  Whatever it is, we’ll deal with it.

With a little help from our friends, who have been terrific.  Thank you all.

So let me wrap this report up.  Just letting you all know what’s going on.

Have a better day.


p.s.  Well wishing and so forth are appreciated.  But I’m perfectly serious about boosting the signal on the books.  That kind of support would do some serious good anytime, but right now it would be balm to a sore psyché.

Gravity Box and Other Spaces

The Logic of Departure

Or, if you’re so inclined, give a follow on Twitter:   That would be like a kindly Thumbs Up sent across the interweebs.

Old Image

Something from the distant past.  I shot this some time in 1974 or 75.  I do not remember where, but the internegative made from the original 2 1/4 square transparency has produced a rather painterly scan.


Frog In Leaves, 1974