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#OtterSpring #PureSchmaltz


On her way with me to fetch her little sister, The Grand Other, from after school care, The Grand Otter confided the underlying concern she'd held when agreeing to spend time with The Muse and I. Her perspective tends to shift around us, and some of the more upsetting elements of her life come into sharper focus when we're around. I have no idea why this might happen, but I could not successfully argue against this being her experience. We each hold the ability to go unconscious to frequent annoyances, and any change can bring these back into disturbing focus again.

The fundamental difficulty with any form of enlightenment seems to hover around the issue of coping. Any Jehu can stare into the eye of God, but not everyone can avoid blinding themselves with the experience. Mindfulness might bring any number of blinding revelations, none of which improve perception, absent some barely-describable ability to discern while experiencing. Full immersion too easily produces drowning sensations. Slip over here for more ...



I describe my hometown, Walla Walla, Washington, as "the center of the universe, where gravity works right," because for me, it sits in the center of MY universe, and I know the place well enough that I can anticipate gravity's fickle fluctuations. Others, perhaps poisoned by early exposure to Looney Tunes cartoons, consider Walla Walla a joke location, good for a giggle and little else.

In spite of my heart-felt conviction, I began plotting my escape from this lovely little valley well before my seventeenth birthday, and I've been largely successful in my efforts to find other places to live, if not set down even remotely permanent-feeling roots. I have, instead, lived most of my adult life as a non-resident evangelist for the place I could not bear to live. Slip over here for more ...



The Scariest Person In The World can't hardly bear to go to bed at night. She's up 'till all hours, though she knows full well how early that alarm clock will ring. Her day job seems certain to exhaust her again, though she prayed hard to land it and felt especially fortunate when she did. It didn't change much.

She inherited her terror, bequeathed by her mother, and, I suppose, her mother's mother before her. A long family history of histrionics, strong-willed females exacting tribute they intended to resolve something. Whatever that something might have been, not even they ever knew for sure. Slip over here for more ...



The Grand Otter reported after the lunch stop that she had been chosen for a special program at her school. "I was like the least qualified, but they chose me anyway. It was like a five hour session on leadership."

"So, how was that?" I asked.

"You know those experiences where everything you hear just seems to mean so much, but after, you can't describe what happened?"

"Of course."

"It was like that." Slip over here for more ...



The GrandOtter says she wants to learn to drive a stick shift, and I agree to help. I feel delighted that she wants to acquire this throw-back ability. In twenty years, I figure nobody will even drive once self-driving cars become the norm, so learning to drive a stick shift will hold all the utility of knowing how to drive oxen. I, myself, never learned to drive oxen, and I deeply feel the inability. One never knows in what shape that next zombie apocalypse might leave the world, so arcane knowledge of any kind attracts my interest.

We start with the motor off, playing through shifting scenarios, intending to start imprinting that invisible gear arrangement schematic. After sixty years of stick shift driving, that pattern remains a minor mystery to me, and this blind spot becomes obvious as I set to failing to explain it. While each gear holds a specific position, finding that position relies upon more intuition, more feel, than I can explain. I realize that I have never felt completey confident I've found a gear until that gear engages. Slip over here for more ...



This family tootles. We consider the small road trip superior to almost any other form of integration. Something about the combination of the containing space The Zoom Car provides and the scenery passing by as we drive solidifies our sense of self, so this first full day of The Grand Otter's visit found us tootling. The Muse chose the destination: Estes Park, a place neither the Otter nor I had visited before. I suggested the route, the Peak To Peak Highway, a route which would keep us in back country, safely off any interstate.

I probably should't mention this, but the scenery outside hardly matters. Slip over here for more ...


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