Tag Archives: Miscellany

the journal of cat writer #1

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The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius said, ” Don’t feel harmed, and you won’t be, and you haven’t been.” Centuries later the emperor’s medieval Christian heathen Thomas Aquinas corroborated that no words should do harm on the soul of the heard. Well, it’s easier to say than to be done, especially from the high chairs of big wigs. So much so that none of those self- hypnosis of affirmation prescribed by the privileged rings true to me as I am trying to put together pieces of my heart.

The cause of the malady of the heart ensues from my twitter correspondence with a literary man over my prescient knowledge of Theodora, a former comedian turned the wife of emperor Justian of East Roman Empire in the 6th century A.D. She was later canonized in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and her feast day is November 14, which he had denied. As it is my nature to strike up a meaningful conversation based on knowledge with an intelligent person with seeming affability, I commented on his tweet politely in bona fide intention to inform him of ill-conceived intelligence. However, the response felt heartbreaking with a blunt inflection that froze my heart instantly.

By the spirit of utilitarian knowledge, I guided him to Wikipedia source that corroborated the fact. Despite his gratitude for the rectification, the disheartening incident has only cemented my long-term speculation that it’s either I was born luckless to have a seamless casual conversation with a stranger or I am hexed to be kept from anything nice even to the simplest and smallest degree happening to me – ever. Methinks, everything I think and touch turns useless gold with a feckless Midas touch.

As Shakespeare aptly described, my nature is modulated by what it works in, like the dyer’s hand. I have also found that these flaunty intellectual men and women in the habiliment of affable erudition often turn out to be a superficiality of knowledge and disappointment of heart, floundering me ever in the lurch of disillusion. Moreover, although they seem so dazzlingly smart, they are not always omniscient. Maybe, I think, unless you are educated under the tutelage of kindly Chiron, the wise elderly centaur to whom Achilles, the son of Thetis, and Asclepius were entrusted, the immaculate acquisitions of knowledge and cultural finesse require divine intervention.

Officially Haunted, Really

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Prologue: I wrote this post in March of this year upon reading an article about historic haunted places in the UK from a subscribed issue of ‘BBC History Revealed’. I wanted to contribute my knowledge about the Whaley Museum in Southern California in a letter to the editor. The new July issue arrived on my Kindle Fire this morning, and I saw my letter featuring therein. It was edited in the context, but only for the perfect perspicacity. The letter is, in fact, one of the fifth letters that have been so far published in the magazine. 

Sometimes they either don’t know they are dead or wouldn’t accept it because of strong attachments to their once earthly abodes. You may think it’s a puerile imagining to believe in ghosts, but there are indeed more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy. As someone keen on supernatural phenomena happening in the background of our ordinary landscape of daily life, it gave me a fillip when I came upon an article from my subscribed history magazine the other day about the historical capital punishments going horribly awry as though to use the grisly scenes of capital punishment as a reminder of societal retribution for an eye-for- an eye. It also reminded me of a story of the condemned whose ordeal of execution was so unbearably painful that he is still roaming around at his execution site as though with eternal lingering attachment to his earthly life.

Here in Southern California, the story of James Robinson (aka Yankee Jim) who was executed for attempted grand larceny in San Diego in 1852, is something of haunted folklore that attracts tourists and ghost hunters alike. He was hanged on a gallows off the back of a wagon, but being a tall man with long legs, he resisted being killed by keeping his feet in the wagon but was at last pulled off. His body then swung like a pendulum until he strangled to death. And it was this very site of hanging that one Thomas Whaley, who happened to witness the execution himself, built his dream house where he and his family soon began to hear the unexpected phantom footsteps as if being made by the boots of a large man, walking noise, and the windows mysteriously unlatched and opened up. Lilian Whaley, the Whaleys’ youngest daughter living in the house until 1953 was certain that it was the ghost of Yankee Jim haunting their house. Now the Whaley House is the Whaley Museum, a California Historical Landmark located in Old Town, San Diego, California.

However, ‘Yankee Jim’ still lives there because although unseen, his presence is felt and heard by visitors and staff at the museum. Never malicious or naughty, the ghost of the hanged man is said to rather shyly manifest himself by footsteps, markings on the wall, or opening and closing of windows. So much so that the Whaley Museum, along with the Winchester Mystery House, is certified by the US Department of Commerce that it is genuinely haunted. So if you live in Southern California, it’s worth visiting the Museum and Jim. I think I may pay a visit. The address is 2476 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110.

glittery wild west

I have recently read an article about California Gold Rush from my subscribed British history magazine with particular interest as it was somehow relatable to my own experience of being a recent single pioneer woman from the East to the West with new prospects for the future. Although the article was informative in unpicking the social manifest and latent dysfunctions of Gold Rush, there were also new and innovative modes of business as spearheaded by adventurously daring individuals who paved the way to the prosperity of the Wild West in years to come. 

Wells, Fargo & Company, founded by Henry Wells and William G. Fargo, started and prospered the West’s all-purpose business, consisting of transportation, security, and communication agents, buying gold from prospectors and selling them paper bank drafts and delivering the valuables and mail guarded by a hired detective against outlaws. Pony Express, founded by William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell, was the first express courier service in the U.S., delivering mail from California to New York in fifteen (15) days by dedicated excellent employees on horseback day and night until the transcontinental telegraph was established. And there’s the famed Levi Strauss, the founder of the iconic Strauss & Co., who made the first blue jeans for miners, cowboys, etc. 

California Gold Rush prompted a huge spike in the demand for changes in various sectors of the American society, which was an inevitable calling of the ethos, Manifest Destiny, and it also begot some of the most interesting and impressive enterprising spirits whose establishments are still among us and whose names are made into the history of the U.S. 

fairy cowboy

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It is true; there’s magic in the web of all she saw at the moment even if it was just her optical illusion like a mirage of an oasis to a thirsty wayfarer or of an island to a land-searching seaman.  The tall beautiful strange man emerging from the inside was even stranger with a strangely radiant smile that was beaming from one end of his shapely formed masculine lips to the slightly slanted end of the enchantingly mischievous openings. He was wearing a blue long-sleeved shirt that matched his dancing blue eyes visible under a fluorescent light that filled the interior of the house and fashionably worn-off jeans held fast with a thick blue belt on the right side of which contained a holster to put a pistol in. It was the pair of light taupe-colored moccasins that seemed to give the man a status that fused the capricious power of an ancient pagan deity with the erotic charge of a modern movie star. The extraordinariness of the strange beauty was synonymous with witchcraft of love at first sight, the dangerous yet fantastical manifestation of her imaginations, desires, aspirations, and wishes, all the latticework of her spirit pining for the pleasures of the senses that Judy felt unjustly denied and ousted for outrageously unknown reasons.

If the word ‘gobsmacked’ doesn’t give you a proper sense of realization because of its textual limitation, then one good look at Judy’s present face would make up for the incorporeal sense of the word: her big brown eyes were transfixed to the florescent blue lamps that riveted the man’s whole face. Her pouting lips were quivering with silent excitement concealing her pounding heart in the exaltation of her senses smothered under demands of daily duties imposed by the reality of life in which she had to carry many a burden that even a mule would long to emit a cry of exhaustion. All her worries were evaporating into the chilly nightly air, giving her instant anesthesia numbing the strains of her existential life. Judy was in euphoria, like the sailors of Odyssey who after eating the leaves of lotuses lost their memories, happy or unhappy, became unanimously blissful in an unknown land. She didn’t want to leave the moment, the place, and Him. It’s oh too good to be true, but it didn’t matter to her anyway because even if it had been a dream, she wouldn’t have wanted to wake up. Even the presence of her fido friend Nena by her side was forgotten to her. She was thinking of him, looking at him, him alone and him only, and none other in the world.

Rufus, Ben, and Raphael were growing impatient about Judy’s prolonged initiation of being acquainted with the man of the house because they were all hungry and tired for hot meals and warm showers followed by good-nights of sleep to continue their always tomorrow journeys for the buried Aztec gold. So, as usual, Raphael went forward and broke the spellbound moment of enchanted silence: “Howdy, sir! We have been traveling all day long and would like to know if you have spare rooms where we could rest for the night. If there’s no such room, then we would be obliged to sleep in your stable.” Raphael couldn’t ask for hot meals which were what he and his buddies really needed with an increasing sensation of hunger that grew only stronger by a stronger rejection of the thought of food in their minds. For although Raphael was the most socially adroit of the trio, hubris was wanting in him, and a burst of momentous bravado was quelled by the resistant hunger. Raphael felt remorseful about foregoing the request for food, while his buddies were standing behind, watching the solicitation, and feeling famished.

Maybe the pitiful sight of the whole scene might have moved even the mind of this strangely beautiful man, who finally greeted them with a jovial gesture. “Yes, sure! Guys, please come in, and I will let you use the second floor for sleeping. As a matter of fact, I was having dinner by myself. What great timing! Let’s have dinner together. I have some salad, oatmeal bread with butter and fruit jams, fresh milk, juices, wines, and water enough to feed us all. By the way, my name is Fred Faun, the foreman of Las Posas Ranch. It’s getting cold out here. Come on in quickly!” The jovial invitation from this strangely beautiful foreman of the ranch amounted to a discovery of gold in a derelict mine or a backwater of an insignificant stream running behind a haunted ranch. The consorted bliss of being accepted to a feast gave the traveling band instantaneous magnanimity of loving all humans, evil and good. With an alacrity of departure from a terror of uncertain rejection, Rufus, Ben, Raphael entered the house. Judy and Nena were the last to enter while Fred Faun was holding the door for them. Now Judy was inside of the man’s house, and her heart was pounding harder as the man was coming toward her closer. It was her first time for everything happening to her.

150 miles to El Dorado

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Judy begins to feel like a whimsical paramour leaving for a new object of love at sight. What was pleasingly solitary in nature seems to be prolonged isolation from the world that Judy so wanted to escape, and her coquettish dalliance with the wild rugged nature is no longer wanted as the Sun is slowly moving westerly to cave into the Evening Star and the Moon. It might be still early for calling it a day to you with your weekend frolics still left to re-calibrate your kicks for another week, but it’s late for Judy, who would rather mourn for a passing of the last day of a weekend at home than rebel against it in a frenzy of nocturnal bacchanalian orgy elsewhere outside the comforts of her den. Now the anxiety holds a grip on her, and she begins to fret, and the miasma of the ill-feelings begins to effuse the uneasiness to Nena who begins to whimper and to the accidental trio of strangers observing every move that this girl makes as they are nearing to her, part perplexed, part bewildered. What a curious mixture of emotions she puts on her face! Rufus, Ben, and Raphael become curiouser and curiouser as they get nearer to the porcelain doll in their eyes.

‘Howdy! Lass! What are you doing here?’ Raphael, the talker, begins the talking. ‘We are headed west toward Los Adios Mountain. Do you know where it is?’ Judy incredulously looks up the mounted man with a mustache and a sombrero and thinks that he looks very convincingly like Sancho Panza, Don Quixote’s faithful servant. There’s something about the man, thinks Judy. The diction, the ambiance, and the deportment are rather anachronistic or incongruous even to the social media era where people flag their selfies on the internet as if they were on a popularity contest and compete for likes and comments as emotional security and collateral for their forged so-called self-confidence. My Dear Reader, don’t misunderstand that it’s immoral for you to hang your beautiful pictures on a digital platform for popular admiration. It’s just that this act of self-promotion serves as a springboard for testing your marketability and your mobility as a result of winning the competition for likability based upon looks and frivolous comments that do not mean much, much at all. Amid this train of thought, Judy despite being agitated by the lateness of the time warms to this amiable man and decides to answer him. ‘This is Wildwood Park, sir. Los Adios Mountain is 150 miles away from here. And you should go northward. You are far off from your destination.’ It is a sight to behold – the face of Raphael grimaced partly and bewildered partly, all in dazzling chemistry of emotions that is hard to describe. So much so that this display of indescribable human emotions on Raphael mollifies Nena’s agitation and puts the tempestuous waves of her emotions at ease. Now Judy feels refreshed and happy.

Rufus and Ben are within an earshot of this dialogue between the pretty lass and Raphael and cannot but be disappointed by the fact that they are once again on the wrong track, which seems to be forever chasing after a phantom of the dead Union soldier obfuscating them lest they should find where the buried treasure is. Where’s the Aztec gold? When can they find it? Maybe the miasma of frustration and agitation that hovered over Judy must have been transmitted to Rufus and Ben on the stead because now their faces mirror the symptoms of a malady of broken hearts. Then suddenly, Nena now recovered from the plague of uneasiness, springs forward and wags its chubby tail and bark toward the firmament as if it were looking at a thing invisible to your and my human eyes. Nena keeps barking and looking at the puzzled crowd behind as though it were trying to explain to them that there is something in the air that only Nena can see but we can’t see. ‘What is it, Nena? What do you see?’ Judy knows that dogs and cats can see supernatural things because their eyes can look through the souls of the living and ghosts of the dead. Judy tries to follow the direction where Nena is looking and barking and sees a gossamer trace of haze vanishing into the air like the vestige of a propeller plane soon to be effaced across the skies. The more Judy tries to scrutinize it, the faster it disappears. And Nena keeps barking, looking in front of the curious crowd. What is it that the dog is seeing?