As I Approach Eighty

I approach eighty living on this beautiful island, and probably will finish up here. Over half my life I have been living here in paradise. To get here and stay here I sinned a lot, but it has been worth it. Unless, of course, when I quit this world I have to pay for those sins, as at least one of my daughters seems to believe.

Nobody really knows about that, I suppose. And in any case there’s nothing to change the past, and I’m not one to look for forgiveness, so I will just have to face the music.

Bus Schedule

Bus Schedule

Not sure why, but Patrick had the Port de Soller – Valldemossa – Palma bus schedule saved on his computer so here it is for your amusement.

Perhaps he sent it to people who were coming to visit.

The original PDF of the schedule was dated 18 March 2014.

I found a newer version too, dated 3 May 2016.

Whiffletockers

In high school I worked after classes and on Saturdays delivering furniture for Carl’s Furniture store in Orlando.  Miss Brewster was the secretary and bookkeeper for  my boss. She was what we used to call a handsome woman, probably in her fifties.  She wore reading spectacles with rhinestones on the rims, and was one of the first persons I knew who had a chain to let her glasses dangle from her neck when she wasn’t using them.  I was fascinated by the way they bounced off her bosom when she let them go.

There were two of us working in the delivery van. When we had no deliveries, Miss Brewster put us to work sweeping the premises, washing the display windows, polishing the tables and whatever she could dream up to keep us earning our wage.

She was hard to please and kept after us, never satisfied, especially with the floor and those  dust balls which would flee from the air current created by the push broom, scuttle under a sofa, and later reappear to follow Miss Brewster as she swept by to greet a customer in the showroom.

She called these elusive fluffs whiffletockers, pointing them out to us with her spectacles.  Whiffletockers were hard to catch, and if you managed to grab one with a broom, it stuck there and had to be plucked loose from the bristles by hand.

I never heard the word before or since.  Miss Brewster has since become dust herself, and for me all that remains of her is that pair of spectacles, slanted like cat’s eyes and beaded with rhinestones, and her contralto voice saying whiffletockers.

Memory is often like that.

You try to catch it and it scurries away from you, hiding under other more vivid furniture in the head.  In that sense then, they resemble Miss Brewster’s whiffletockers, and I am determined to track as many of them as I can, weightless though they may be, and flatten them like oversized asterisks on the page.  Maybe then they will cease flitting about on the floor of my mind, or at the very least accumulate in an orderly fashion in a corner where old light is coming through a window.

*

  ‘Nita and I are standing on shining wood.  Barefoot.  Naked. Bright sun illuminates our skin, makes a puddle of light beneath us.  We seem to be floating on the thickness of varnish.

In another room dark and windowless, my newly arrived brother has my place.  He arrived without the harmonica promised to come with him.

That is the beginning of all.

*

The Liberator

Yves sat fuming at a corner table in Las Palmeras.  His scowl did not invite you to so much as say hello.  He stared at the empty coffee cup, thinking so hard you could almost hear his thoughts.  If you had, and you understood French, you might not want to hear those thoughts.

Yves’ restaurant, with Monique at far right

Two days had passed since his wife had walked out with a painter and sculptor named Fuchs.  Almost everyone in the village knew it was happening before it happened, and everyone knew it had happened before Yves knew it.  That’s where his thoughts were at the moment.  Continue reading “The Liberator”

How Suddenly Our Fictions of Permanence Are Reclaimed

Even in mundane correspondence, Patrick and his friends remained true to their artistic, poetic roots. Their imagery and storytelling lushly fills the pages.

This is one reason I share these letters: to share his love of words and his practice and appreciation of the wordsmith craft.

Patrick saved this exchange in a separate file, clearly not wanting to lose it. His letter was dated 19/05/12, or 19 May 2012. Her letter, which was saved first in the file, was dated 08/12/12, which I believe, based on context, was 8 Dec 2012.

He titled her letter “love and other strange passings” and his “our exits, our entrances.” I present them here in the order I found them in the data file. The file itself was dated 15 March 2014.

Continue reading “How Suddenly Our Fictions of Permanence Are Reclaimed”

The Gospel According to Sr. Patrick

In Spain everyone is born with two last names. The first is your fathers’ (first) last name, and the second is your mother’s (first) last name.

So if I were born in Spain of Spanish parents, my name would be James Patrick Meadows Toombs. But in fact I was born in West Virginia and my name is James Patrick Meadows.

So for two reasons I am called Sr. Patrick. One, it fits the custom of naming. Two, no one wants to pronounce my last name. Meadows would be said may-AH-dos, which means “he pisses” in Spanish.

(From a file dated 19 Feb 2014.)

¡Que Cara!

In 1960 there were still plenty of us who wanted to live in Greenwich Village.  The heydays were long gone, but the aura still hung around.  The Café Bizarre was just catching on. The Figaro still had wind quintets or string quartets live on Sunday morning, men with heavy sweaters and horn rims reading the fat Sunday Times at tables the size of a dinner plate.  There were still pushcarts with vegetables and fruits on Bleecker Street.  The Aurora Italian restaurant was still affordable, the waiters still had Neapolitan accents.  Chess in Washington Square.  A tuba and piccolo duet by the fountain. Painters showing their stuff alongside the church.

Mari and I found an apartment on Gay Street.  Continue reading “¡Que Cara!”

Zambak

Patrick sent this story to me, along with several others, on 25 Dec 2013. This one tells the story of the Zambak, chronicled elsewhere indirectly.

Billy Bielmeyer and I were sailing in the Bay of Izmir in his tiny Pirate dinghy. The hills of Izmir rising up on all sides from the deep blue sea bristled with minarets. It was the hour when the muezzins called the faithful to prayer, but you could not hear them out where we fizzed along on the sea, the main and jib flaphappy in the stiff breeze coming off the land. The wind was hot on my cheeks, and I felt Continue reading “Zambak”