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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Horizons


25th February 2012
Dear Cassi,

Among the many things my mother could claim to be one was a science teacher and she spent her summers teaching at the Youth Science Center. The class that I remember best was anatomy as my mother had me help with a lecture or two.
   
That memory resonates for no good reason, but I still recall my mother preparing for her lecture. We had fried chicken the night before, and from that my mother would take a piece of cartilage to show the class. I was so thin as a child that you could see my bones well, and she had me stand in front of the class and show them the skin of my back and point out where the cartilage was in my spine.
   
She would then show them the bit of chicken and explain that it was much like the human nose. It was not for decades after that I would learn that bone is matrix tissue not composed entirely of cells but, well, more like coral to me. The bone is secreted by cells that make their homes in it like a tiny version of coral.
   
My mother loved science with a passion that I have never been able to emulate but the truth be told for the whole of my life she knew she was dying so she lived every moment as best she could. Nothing brought her more joy than expanding the horizons of others.
   
Love to know, little sister


Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Pool


24th February 2012
Dear Cassi,

You would never think it by looking at me now but there was a time in my life that the skin stretched hard over my frame. This manifestation of myself was due to an aboveground pool my mother had installed. As a youth this was my greatest joy to get in the water even if I did little swimming.
   
That was youth for me in its purest nature as I would come home, strip to my briefs, and jump in the water. Rain or shine I would pace the pool feeling the weightlessness of buoyancy and getting so great a workout that I was thin as a rail.
   
The pool was also a learning experience for my family as my mother would collect any interesting thing that found its way into the water. We found a few water bugs that braved the chlorine that my mother took to show her science classes.
   
Then, as these pools are flimsy things, the side rusted out and the pool exploded into the yard. We came home one day to find the back yard full of ankle deep water and bugs of all kinds floating in the swamp.
   
As wondrous as this apparition was it got old fast and after a few days it became the household’s major complaint. This was noted by my neighbors who suggested that the water be used to water the plants on their side of the wall.
   
I took that as a cue and took a pen to one of the irrigation holes in the wall. This flooded the neighbor’s driveway and complaints abounded. Well, be careful what you wish for because you can get more of it than you wanted.

Stay dry, little sister



Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Conjure Me a Boat, Son


23rd February 2012
Dear Cassi,

Sometimes the bull in my life is a big deal and sometimes it’s just a little thing. I’ve learned in life that small things are add up. If we don’t look after the bits then the big things get bumbled.
   
The case came to mind the other day when I was clearing out the garage and ran into the old boxes of acrylic tile that Alan had left over from replacing my good carpets with cheap crap floors. No, I will never forgive the man for lowering the living standard of his children. He was my parental guardian in the loosest sense of the word.
   
The tile had come into play one day when, for science class, I had to make a small boat. This was to be something I could carry to school so toy boat size. It had to be water worthy and would be loaded with weights until it sank.
   
When I took this assignment to my parental guardian he referred me to a piece of acrylic tile and said it was the right shape. How a flat square translated to a boat keel I still have yet to understand. “You just have to look for something that shape” he said and bent the tile so that it was an arch. Again, what would have fashioned this into a small floating object I still cannot tell you.
   
I imagine that I could have fashioned a boat out of a few tiles had I a means to cut them which he had failed to provide. Had I the tools and know how I have today I could have made a rather nice boat out of those tiles with enough work. However, I was a ten year old without a knife to cut the tiles with or an edge to keep them in line.
   
I made a boat at of a old foam meat tray and got plus points for making it look like a river barge. I asked for help and got none.

Story of my life




Richard Leland Neal  
Also updating today!
Jonny American a webcomic
Random Street Theater a Comic

Monday, May 28, 2012

Leaky


22nd February 2012
Dear Cassi,

Today was one of those days when I just feel unappreciated. One of the washrooms at work had flooded the floor and made a mess. People ran about looking for water damage thinking that it might have been like the last time this happened on the second floor when a shower valve had broken.
   
After the commotion and phone calls I was finally permitted to take my patrol and have a look at the problem myself. It was a toilet running at full blast so that water sprayed about. Someone had plugged it because it was making noise, but now that it had been cleared the running water was more a nuisance than anything else.
   
I pulled out my needle nose pliers and a penny; I had no screwdriver, and got off the valve cap then tried to close the valve with the penny. As I moved it about little shreds of red mettle came off the coin, and it became clear that it was too soft to do the job. I tried with the end of the pliers and that worked so I closed off the valve so that the sound of running water no longer rang through the halls.
   
In the end the supervisor placed it in the report that I had closed the valve and had me show her where it was so she could close it if needed. Still I was offered no thanks in this regard. One would think that the amount of water I saved would have warranted a thank you email from management.
   
Then, in all the reason I had to deal with the problem thanks was not among them. First off it cost my work money to let that water run, and that money could go to better things for the clients. Second, think of the environment and how much water I saved. Third, my clients need a good night sleep. I could add a few on there but in the end I was helping everyone. 

I work in an office but I still get dirt on my hands for a living. I am an honest man and few folks will ever know our value.

Stay strong, little sister



Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Down the Gofer’s Hole


21st February 2012
Dear Cassi,

When I was in grade school gofers were a common thing in the schoolyard. They could have been moles and as I’m not sure as to the difference I will call them gofers.
   
As it happened the rule was that we, the children, were not allowed to dig or put our hands in the sand on the school ground. This, they told us, was because cats pooped in the sand and they didn’t want children playing with poop. I guess in the world of six to eight year olds playing with poop is something that was done.
   
In any case, I was walking to the jungle gym one day and got my foot stuck in a hole made by one of those pesky gophers and tripped. It didn’t hurt much and I was more fascinated by the whole that wasn’t there a moment ago.
   
I pulled my foot out and looked in wondering if I could see a tunnel and moving the dirt around with my hands. This was when I heard a teacher call me and looked up.
   
I don’t remember what teacher or even of teacher is the right word to describe this person. She accused me of digging in the sand, and I said that I had tripped on a gopher hole. She didn’t believe me and said if “it was a gopher hole then there wouldn’t be grass in it.”
   
“The ground gave out from under me,” I replied, “why wouldn’t there be grass in the hole?”
   

“If it was a gopher hole how did you get dirt on your hands?”
   
“I reached down to see what the hole was.”
   
In the end I think I got in trouble for it but in the case I have to agree with the teacher. Better safe than sorry when it comes to kids playing with cat poop.

Keep your hands clean, little sister




Richard Leland Neal 

Wrecked on the Roadway


20th February 2012
Dear Cassi,

This morning I came across a wrecked car on the roadway and stopped to investigate. I had a feeling that something was wrong as the lights were out on the street and making my way down I could tell they were out for some distance. I turned a corner onto Santa Anita road and saw the sparkle of glass in my headlights.
   
I could tell there was a car in the distance the moonlight. I dark twisted shape loomed on the side of the road like a dead beast. By this derelict was a telephone pole hanging by its lines. The downed pole had to be the cause of the power outage. I passed the car in the darkness and pulled over. The driver could have still been in there for all I knew.
   
With my hazard lights blinking I approached the wrecked car on foot. The front end was torn away so the car could not have driven off, but I could see the cabin was still in one piece. Wishing I had my work flashlight I looked in to see only darkness. No blood stained the interior, and there was no sign that injury had taken place.
   
I walked back to my own car when I was approached by a local. She said that the car had been there for a spell but she had no phone to call the police. I had to ask her where I was and on her answer I called 911 and reported the incident.
   
Trouble came with that as there was dispute over what police agency was to look after this problem. I was referred from one operator to another then back again. During this interlude I noted a car approaching slowly with lights that searched the gloom. I waved them over and found that this was a sheriff’s cruiser. I told 911 and they hung up on me.
   
The deputies thanked me for doing my civic duty and sent me on my way. The whole excursion took a half hour longer than expected, but at least I know that in a world folks who drive on by I am one who stops.

Stay safe, little sister


Richard Leland Neal
Also updating today!

Random Street Theater a Comic

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fluoxetine, Prozac, Grapefruit, and 5-HTP


Okay, let me clarify that this is what a pharmacist wrote me but that I do not stand behind these statements in anyway. If you are taking medication it is your responsibility to talk to your doctor about it and you should not use this to treat or diagnose any condition.
Some tome in May of 2012
Dear Mr. NEAL,

Thank you for using (Our) on-line pharmacist question service.

Based on my most up-to-date references, there is no significant drug interaction listed between Prozac (brand name for fluoxetine) and grapefruit so you should be able to have grapefruit while taking Prozac.

As for 5-HTP, taking 5-HTP with Prozac may potentially increase serotonin levels and cause a condition called serotonin syndrome as well as a brain condition called as Call-Fleming syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is an uncomfortable and potentially serious reaction whose symptoms include fever, uncontrolled muscle movements, digestive symptoms, and others.

Therefore, this combination is not recommended.

In general, I don't recommend taking dietary supplements in the hopes of getting medical benefits from them, without first checking with your own clinician.

Many people are not aware that, in the U.S., products sold as dietary supplements (including herbs, glucosamine, chondroitin, SAM-e, enzymes, and even some hormones) are not standardized or regulated to the same extent, or in the same ways, that prescription medications, non-prescription (over-the-counter or 'OTC') medications, or even foods are.

Unless there is a USP (United States Pharmacopeia) standard (which exists for many vitamin and mineral products, but not for herbs, etc.), there is no assurance of :
identity (what the label says is in the bottle);
purity (lack of unwanted or even harmful contaminants);
or potency (the dose the label says is in the bottle);
and the manufacturer does not have to perform valid studies of safety or effectiveness.

Further, there is very little information on possible interactions among dietary supplements, or between dietary supplements and prescription or non-prescription medications.

Even if an up-to-date reference doesn't warn about interactions between a specific dietary supplement and another medication, this doesn't mean that an interaction isn't possible. It may be that interactions have occurred, but have not yet been recognized, reported, published, and integrated into the medical references.

If you haven't already, please discuss your use or interest in the use of dietary supplements with your regular clinician. Good medical care is based in large part on open communication!

Please read over any written information on your medications that you may have received from your doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist if you haven't already done so. I also recommend reading the information on your medications in the drug encyclopedia on our Web site. This will help you familiarize yourself with the side effects, warnings, and other precautions relevant to your medications, and will help make your treatment as safe and effective as possible.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have any additional questions or concerns about your medications, please feel free to contact your clinician or pharmacist.

Thanks again for your question. Sincerely,
(A pharmacist ) 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Our Little War


14th February 2012
Dear Cassi,

On my list of foolish things I did as a young man is an event that took place over about three days during the first Gulf War. I was ten or eleven and we the children had our own little war without real sides or fighting but more the buildup of arms.
   
In our own little war we collected rocks and separated them by size and gave the sizes names. I recall that we had scuds and patriots, but what other names we may have used I have long lost in my fading memory.
   
I recall the largest rocks as being softball sized bits of concrete. We could have killed with them had we ever thrown them. What they were doing in the school yard was a good question.
   
I do recall that they had been the byproduct of some construction. An apparatus that had been built with adults sizes in mind and had no use on a child’s play ground then it made little difference because it was torn apart by the local gangs.
           
There were no battles in our little war but who needs battles when you have a buildup of arms. The nature of children and our glorification of war is an odd thing given the horror of reality.
   
Then I do recall having rocks thrown at me as a child. The first time I ran away, the second I stood my ground, the third I ran after the attacker making it clear that there activity would be met with force. Sometimes aggression is the answer, but what I would have done had I caught my attacker is anyone’s guess.

Stay safe, little sister



Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Depression is Not a Gift


13th February 2012
Dear Cassi,
   
Depression is not a gift no matter what they say about it or how you deal with the problem. Depression is the side effect of some malefactor in your life. It is the body shutting itself down to live through the bad times. Depression is the human equivalent to a computer going into stand by.
   
It is true, if hard to see, that every situation that can be managed can be seen as an opportunity. My losing my job was a bad thing but you can look at it as an opportunity to change, to make my life better, and that is what I did in that case. However, not losing it would have been better in most situations.
   
It is even possible to see my falling out with my family as a gift of some kind. The situation let me let go of them and gave me interesting material for stories. Still, I guaranty that there are easier ways to come up with stories than to live them or have your soul put in a blender.
   
To some extant life is only what you make of it but we still have to understand that depression is not a gift. If it was a gift I would be the most gifted man on earth. No, depression is not a gift, but we can great it with the will to go on and the strength to overcome.

Stay safe, little sister

        


Richard Leland Neal

Also updating today!
Random Street Theater a Comic
http://randomstreet.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dances with Dishwasher


12th February 2012
Dear Cassi,

I’m writing to you rather than finishing my homework for Life and Human Development. Then, I would have been done by now if I hadn’t had to watch my dishwasher’s instillation. I was there to help hand my neighbor tools as he put the thing in but you would think Paul could have done the job. After all how much brain power does it take? However, every time I tried to leave the situation to him in a moment I would be called back to deal with something or other.  
   
On the up side the job was done right. My dishwasher was a mess and problems had to be attended. The old machine had been hardwired, and hardwiring is dangerous as it’s much harder to ensure that the power is off. Paul would have let it slide, but I made the point that with the thing open it was time to get the work done.
   
Then we found a leak in the cold water valve. I asked for its replacement, and Paul had a look on his face like he wanted to kill me. I know it was a few more dollars, but the leak would only do more damage if it was left to run.
   
It took leverage wrenches to get the valve free, but the nipple behind it was rusted and crushed under the wrench. It had to come out. My neighbor tried and tried to wrench it, but all that would happen is the pipe would bend. I suggested magnetic solvent, but he said that it would only work if we wanted to leave the pipe for a few minutes. I made the point that we had been trying for at least a quarter of an hour to get the nipple free and it had failed. He could move on to another repair and let the solvent sit.
   
He did as I said and the bit of old rusted pipe came away easily. Within was a garden of brown and red that I would have found charming had it not been a part of my kitchen sink.

Well, off to my homework

                                   


Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Talk for Me


11th February 2012
Dear Cassi,
   
Over the last week one of the employees at my work said they knew a person who worked with a major cable network. This information came with the promise that he would talk with this person about my work as a screenwriter. You must understand here that, nice as the gesture is, this fellow had never read my work and had only known of it from my description.
   
In the world of Hollywood writers are bottom feeders until you need them, and even then everyone thinks they can do a better job. They second guess the writer and bring in new people to change the work. What finally gets to the screen is a Frankenstein concoction of ideas held together with stitches and hope.
   
Then we have the fact that every Joe and his dog thinks they’re a writer and the dog will tell you it’s the best writer in the world in barks if it could. For every one writer like I there are at least ten like Josh. You recall Josh who thought he would start a video game company? By the time he was done speaking he had a new idea and was moving on to something else.
   
Josh was a fellow who couldn’t get the job done, and when Hollywood folks come across a man like me they think he is a man like him. Even then I no blue ribbon. I’m a competent writer and nothing more. Someone said they would have a word with a person from a network for me. I have been giving no hope by this promise.

Stay safe, little sister




Richard Leland Neal

Monday, May 21, 2012

Trespass


10th February 2012
Dear Cassi,
   
One of the events that rather put a stick in my side was the trespassing of a homeless couple on the shelter grounds. Understand that I have been hired to prevent trespassers and these folks had been told before but came back the next night and refused to leave. Reluctantly, we called the police but they never came.
   
The next night I received a report of a girl crying in the parking lot and as I could not be relieved someone else came to this girl and asked if she required help. The second half of the couple came and they were given option of coming in and sleeping in the shelter or taking themselves elsewhere.
   
I went out there in the cold on my patrol and found them sleeping in an awning. The man had all the blankets and the woman was curled up like a dog. I know he was an angry man because the first time I asked him to leave he curst at me and screamed “We’re just trying to survive!” We had offered him good conditions, a clean bed, and hot food. How sleeping on the street was a better way of surviving I cannot say.
   
In the end the police came and cuffed them, but let them go, and they moved off. I have never seen them again. Still, I have to question what they think of as surviving. I think that what they mean by surviving is living by their own rules, doing as they please, and sleeping on the street.

I talked to the police for a spell and they said that most of the homeless they come across are mentally ill. How to get folks who are so bad off mentally off the streets and into a program and even then eventually living own their own is beyond me. It’s all I can do to help the wayward come home.

Stay safe, little sister


Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, May 20, 2012

She Called for Help


9th February 2012
Dear Cassi,

One of those things about calling for help is that folks need to understand you. You and I know better than most how those calls can fall on deaf ears. So here is a story about that happening shortly after my mother’s death.
    
I was coming down Rio Hondo hill with Alan and Paul and we had made it almost all the way home when we passed the bridge for the San Jose Creek. A woman’s voice called out ‘help, help!’ and we looked down to see a middle aged dark skinned woman on the river bank.
    
She looked fine with no clear sign of distress as she stood there in the dust but I noted that she picked up some long bit of discarded rubbish and tried to use it as a cane. 
    
To my surprise Alan called back “Hello” and waved. As I was ten or eleven I couldn’t understand why he would do a thing like that given the situation.
    
“Help, help!” she called again and the old man stood there as if he didn’t understand.
    
“I think she’s said help,” I commented still confused by the situation. I had little understanding of hearing at the time and I couldn’t get it into my head that what I heard and what Alan had heard was so different.
    
With that we went down into the creek bed to find out what was wrong and the woman said that she had fallen down the slope and twisted her ankle. She lived close to the river and we quickly found her husband and helped her back up to her home.
    
As we walked away Alan commented that this had been an adventure. I was unimpressed but when I asked him why he couldn’t understand the woman he said “If it hadn’t been for you we would have just walked by,” and cries for help would have fallen on deaf ears.

Stay safe, little sister



Richard Leland Neal 

Also updating today!
Random Street Theater a Comic

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Feeling Well


8th February 2012
Dear Cassi,

I’m sure you will be glad to hear that I am feeling well. The coughing has not departed but it has lessened and I no longer feel as if I will faint when I have a fit. This comes with the daunting task of catching up on my homework, the dishes, and my laundry, so I greet it with little enthusiasm. 
    
I was ill for more than a month and so the things I have neglected are numerous and deep into the decay of dereliction. My dirty clothes have made a continuous carpet from my shower to my bed, and I don’t even want to tell you about my car.
    
Worst of the lot is my grad school posts which I should have had something in the range of ten a week but now only have had about two. I was asked by one of my two professors to go back and add these responses. So I have five weeks of work to catch up on and where I will get the time I have no idea. For every one day I was ill I am now two days behind.

Stay safe, little sister



Richard Leland Neal

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spudly and the fire


7th February 2012
Dear Cassi,

I do not imagine I have ever told you of the fellow who I once called friend that had the nickname Potato Head. Potato was an odd one and still was one of my closest companions for twelve years of my life. I do recall his Spudly face looking to me like a lump of clay when I first met him. Then at the time all faces were as clay to me and I could only recognize people by voice.
   
Well, one of Potato’s early vices was his love for fire. I do recall one incident when I had found a pack of matches discarded for being wet that he had then torn up trying to light every one. Let me remind you that as I lived in abuse at home most of those folks who called themselves my friends were not the most considerate of people.
   
One day Potato got his hands on a lighter and took it to school. This was in the fifth grade and I was eleven. He took his lighter into the field with some other children and lit a paper bag on fire. I stomped it out and he insisted that he would simply light it again. I walked away having no way of stopping him and the three other boys he was with at the time.
   
The fire he lit fed off dry pine needles and grew to the size of a small car. I permitted myself no more than a glance back at it as I moved off. I could still see that the fire was menacing in nature.
   
I recall the children calling out “fire, fire!” and the teachers running to put it out. Then we were all called to the office and Potato told them the whole story. I was happy to be exonerated of blame but why someone would light such a fire is still beyond my reckoning.

Stay safe, Cassi




Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Music Blues


19th February 2012
Dear Cassi,

Among the things my mother wanted me to be able to do is play musical instruments. Why she chose the accordion for the first of these instruments is a question only she could answer. I was never any good at playing, mind, but if we did well the teacher would give us a chocolate. This was normally a small candy bar.
   
I do believe the teacher’s name was Polombo as he said “people mistake it for Colombo.” He was a large man who looked like a dark Italian, but it could be that the passing years have dulled my memory. 
   
I still have my purl white accordion and I think the key where we put our finger is still marked with a sticker. I do believe Paul said he would kill me if I ever played the thing again. Whereas I grant he was not joking I have no desire to learn the instrument. 
   
Then, as you know, my mother died and Alan told me that he felt that I didn’t have time to play the accordion any longer. Just as he told me I didn’t have time for Boy Scouts or therapy for my learning disability. The man entrusted with my care after my mother’s death couldn’t be bothered with the needs of his fair haired boy.
   
The benefit of learning an instrument was so lost to me and I see little reason to return to the practice now as time is short for me. In the way of things it is always good to know music and always good to know an instrument that someone may want to hear. The accordion was a bad choice for this, but understand that my mother wanted it to be the first of many that I would learn.


Stay safe, little sister



Richard Leland Neal 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Dishwasher I Never Wanted


5th February 2012
Dear Cassi,

So yesterday I told you of my dishwasher woes today I will tell you of how the washer came into my home. I have little recall if this was 2003, 2004, or some time before that, but its arrival brought no joy. I recall that I was having money problems and working myself half to death to get out of them.

At the time my completely unloving family made a token effort to hold up their end of things. One of the points of contention was the fact that it was one of Paul’s responsibilities was to wash the dishes.

The man was never very responsible. Dishes sat in the sink for weeks until they rotted. Even when the dishes got done the caked on grime was never washed away. I would take a glass from the cabinet only to place it back in the sink. It got to the point that I just started washing dishes on my own.
   
In order to get Paul to wash the dishes my grandmother, who is on a fixed income, bought him a dishwasher. I was furious. Rewarding him for refusing to wash dishes was one thing but this raised the bills I had to pay by three hours wages a month at the time. To top things off the dishes still got back in the cabinet dirty.
   
When my grandmother asked I told her that all she had done was make my life harder. I recall her screaming “That is so stupid I don’t know what to say,” and slamming the phone down in my ear. Folks never did get the idea on talking things out before doing and so the idea of preplanning is lost of my genetic similars.
   

With the dishwasher broken I’m back to doing dishes on my own. You tell me, did this help in any way?

Stay safe, little sister


Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quaking Over Earthquakes


18th February 2012
Dear Cassi,

One of the events of my youth where over reaction was an issue was an earthquake. I believe this was the Whittier Narrows quake that claimed eight lives on October first of 1987.

I will grant that the loss of so many in an earthquake is rare, but the likelihood that there would be another quake short to follow was low.
   
Still, when I arrived at school the next day class had been canceled and we, the children, spent the day in the playground for fear of aftershock. This precaution after I had been told by the principal that the school buildings were of a construction that was safe in these situations.
   
It was the prerogative of our teachers that the disaster was so a danger that our education could be halted. They only kept us for a half day and then sent us home, but I couldn’t understand why we had gone to school in the first place. So much of our lives we spend waiting and this bit was just another in the line.
   
They wouldn’t even let us in the school to use the restrooms or water fountains. They used water from the emergency drums. If there had been a real disaster to follow then a water shortage would have come quickly. I know all this because when I got water out of a fountain the teachers explain to me that they feared the building would fall on my head.
   
Nowhere even near to my school had the plaster even cracked, but fear gripped folks as if a monster lurked in the shadows ready to gobble them down. The wind blows, the earth moves, and be the things of the land should get on with our lives.

Stay safe, little sister





Richard Leland Neal

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Day the Dishwasher Died


4th February 2012
Dear Cassi,

Today my dishwasher died. You would think that this would be of no consequence to me as I rarely use the device. However, my illness over the past month has made washing dishes hard for me, and what good would it do to wash dishes when you will simply get them dirty with coughing? 
   
In any case, I roused today to have my Paul complain about the machine running without stop for the last six hours. I opened the device to see water standing in the bottom and the heating element sizzling away. As clumps of lime the size of large mice have been a commonplace find in this device I added lime solvent. This did no good so I added bleach. I never knew what a bad idea this was until the fumes burnt my eyes and I nearly collapsed from coughing.
   
More than once I had to run outside to let the green goo of my illness out of my lungs, and even with the fans on the house was uninhabitable for an hour and a half. We sat out on the back lawn waiting for the smell to abate. Paul commented that even as I had failed to repair the machine I had succeeded in making teargas.
   
He had ordered a new dishwasher even before I put the liquids in the old one. The machine was a Kenmore and he refuses to do business with Sears ever again. They have a tendency to kick washing machines until they start running again and call them fixed. In a week or two I’ll have a new dishwasher. I didn’t want the old one, but what can you do?

Stay safe, little sister



Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Crab Hunting


3rd February 2012
Dear Cassi,
   
Another of the stories I have from Camp Cherry Valley is of the for mentioned time I went crab hunting with some of the other boy scouts. These crabs would only have made eating for the most hungry of folks as they were small enough for had dozen to fit in a foam cup.
   
We had asked the scoutmaster for ice to drop down the crab holes and flush the things out but gotten none and so worked with our hands. This was a thing I was no good at as I had little knowing of crabs. I learned on my first few tries that the crabs could give up their legs to be free.
   
I recall that the largest crab a boy had stabbed with a stick to catch, and the damage had made the animal still. It was not dead as I could still see its mouth moving, but I imagine death came for the poor thing shortly as every time we put it back in the water other crabs came to try and take it away.
   
Among the other crabs there were the very small and the not so small even if they all were too small for the pot. These had to be kept apart from one another as they would fight. There was one of these who when placed in the cup of small crabs would fight with those smaller than it and cause a commotion. This one was taken out and placed in the cup with his larger brothers where the bully got his just earnings. Nature can be a real my sister but sometimes she does play fair.


Stay safe, little sister



Richard Leland Neal  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Principal and His Principles


17th February 2012
Dear Cassi,

Something of an odder story from my past is the occasion where graffiti because a large issue at my grade school. That year the school because a patchwork of reds and maroons to cover the spray-paint. I remember there was a lecture on gangues where, I believe he was a policeman, told us that in other areas the gangues had respect of the schools and that their petty scratching were on bridges and such.
   
I have to say this is true as I never saw the marking at any of my other schools. What gangue members are doing at a grade school I would have to question? I mean “Come on, sniper, let’s go hangout with Oreo at the swing set,” just doesn’t sound tuff.
   
Still, the problem existed and so did its ugly spot patch solution. On one occasion the paint had not been on the door more than a few days and one of the boys pealed some away to find clean paint underneath. We pealed more looking for any sign of spray paint but there was none to find. As it happen the new paint adhered to the black spray paint, and when we peeled off the new paint the spray paint came with it leaving the door clean.
   
We children, Potato, another boy, and I, found this amazing but the teachers were not so impressed. They called us into the office and explained to us that the Principal had spent his weekend paining the graffiti out. Then they made us clean up what little shreds of paint we had left. Somehow they didn’t notice that the door looked better after we were finished, but perhaps it was the principle of the thing.


Live sane in this world, Little sister


Richard Leland Neal

Friday, May 11, 2012

Camp Cherry Valley Silver Mine


2nd February 2012
Dear Cassi,
   
One story that has stayed with me over the years is that of the Camp Cherry Valley silver mine. Cherry Valley was a place that had been taken up by the boy scouts after the silver had long run dry.

Most vivid in my memory is the ferry that took us to the island the camp was on and the clear blue water of the surrounding sea. That was the first time I saw a live flying fish but the fish only sat on the top of the water without flying for us.

I recall the tidal pools where two boys hunted for crabs. At high tide the pools were living gardens, but when the tide was low the sea anemones would curl up covered in rocks. If you touched one of these bundles of stone they would let out a bit of water.

On the first day of this camp the care taker took us all down to the mine and told us the story of its collapse. Two men had ownership of the land and they had followed the wealth down into the earth. Then one day one of them men was working down in the mine and the other through a stick of dynamite down the shaft and killed him.

This was a life taken in greed but then one must ask if some gas seeping from the bedrock had played a part. The air in those manmade caves has always been a problem so long as men have cut into the earth. With this in mind it is clear that excavations can have bad effects on mental health. If this fellow had a set of lungs full of gas he may have made a bad decision. Still it ended poorly for the man as he was so guilty over his homicide that he jumped off a cliff. Is it justice?

Stay safe, little sister



Richard Leland Neal