Saturday, December 27, 2014

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part II: 975-951

Here, then, is the second installment to this series. The idea of posting one per week might take me til May before this thing wraps, so who knows what things will look like this time next month. Again, no value in the order of appearance; these gratitudes appear as they came to me. The first installment is here; the original idea here.

Nine Hundred Seventy-Five: Mike Gordon

            The Phish bassist is one of the most unique human beings I’ve ever observed. Having studied interviews conducted with him, print pieces he’s written, songs he’s crafted, his onstage mannerisms, his tweets, and having met him and talked to him once, I think this guy is one of God’s finest works. I believe he is -- and has been for some time now -- the finest working bass player in rock, and if there’s only one more thing I can say about him it’s this: The way he bobs his head with most every note shows that he is in tune with the magic happening around him and his bandmates; he has, in fact, surrendered to the flow, and for that, the audience lives a richer life.

Nine Hundred Seventy-Four: tractors (John Deere, and otherwise, but mostly John Deere)

            I’ve only driven my late Grandpa Beck’s Craftsman, and that was probably 30 years ago. I know I’m not unique in this but I love John Deere shit. All of it, man. All of it. The small units, the big rigs, models, mugs, bibs, key chains, all of it. I love them, what they do, what these machines represent. I’ll probably never own one, never live on a farm, and never even have a riding mower, but I like the idea of all of those things. I’m not infatuated with the idea of humans conquering the earth, but the notion of the amount of fertile soil on this planet being so vast, so gigantic that we keep building bigger and bigger machines to help us harvest its fruits is pretty cool. The idea of a John Deere machine so big that my family could sit and eat dinner inside one of its tires both frightens and intrigues me, and as weird as that might sound, I’m grateful for it.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part I: 1,000-976

            I don’t know much about One Thousand Gifts beyond the glean of a quick Google search and that it was the recent feature in my wife’s book club, but I like the idea. Gratitude has been an idea in my brain for a number of weeks now, and it’s time to strain the wine-soaked onions, the bay leaves, and the peppercorns. It’s time to add some salt to the butter-mounted reduction, and if I’m lucky, squeeze some citrus into it. The plate has been a concept and life has reached the acme of service. I’ve weighed the starches, proteins, and yes -- the veggies -- entered them into the spreadsheet, and clicked ‘save’. Conceptual value determined, presentation awaits garnish, expedition, and delivery.

            So before I conjure any more food metaphors, it must be stated that, while possible to order such a list in some sense of ascending appraisal, I will probably not do so. I imagine this will take enough time on its own, so if I list two-ply toilet paper before the Rocky Mountains, don’t think that I consider comfortable defecation cleanup to be a more precious commodity than rushing runoff through a wildflower field. I’m just not disciplined enough to spend the necessary time to reorder these things once I’ve written them. That said…

One Thousand: heritage

            For at least 15 years I’ve wanted to trace my ancestry. I dabbled in it for a minute, oft hoping to find the Internet loophole to free research, but I’ve never bitten, so I’ll go on what I know. Or what I think I know. My father told me that my blood consists of Irish, German, and Cherokee lineages. In looking over a few documents I obtained, it appears there’s some British as well, which would explain the teeth, I guess. I don’t find the Irish portion of that mix to be superior, but it’s the one with which I’ve identified the most and for the longest time. It’s hard to sort out the emotional and mental pieces of why that’s true, but I think it has to do with finding pleasure in a people that have worked hard and struggled. I also imagine there’s a part of me that seeks family unity and finds a source of it there, buried beneath real and imagined rubble. I can’t really speak for the German (or the British) pieces, but I suppose they lend perspective on being the oppressors of the world. Be it true or not -- I mean, have you met my sister, Tiffany? -- the Cherokee embodies the spiritual me.