I flew Delta from LAX to Minneapolis to Hartford . Red eye special . Good arrival time for my friend to pick me up , except that I got confused on the day . The day I flew in he had a gig and had to pick me up a little later . I waited in an airport bar and had a couple of expensive airport beers ,  local Connecticut stuff .

Now I’m home again . Same flight in reverse , except that this time it wasn’t a red eye .

Three hours in Minneapolis . Coming in from L.A. , I saw snow covering the parking structures outside . On the return trip , two weeks later ,  no snow . The airport is stretched out along endless concourses . Concourses . When do you walk concourses  outside of airports ? Am I missing something ? There are moving sidewalks and a tram .  Endless concourses . Food courts . Shops .  WiFi access .

I had a few mini-bottles of Scotch in my carry-on bag . They’re allowed . My friend Willie told me that last year . He gave me a couple of them to test his statement . No problem .  I showed them to the snoops , thinking that they might confiscate them . No . Willie was right .scotch

To order the same shot of Scotch during the flight would have cost me seven dollars , I think . Drinking one of the bottles during the flight I felt as if I were now out of the red , outsmarting Delta , pushing the envelope . The little bottles cost only 99 cents in Connecticut .  If I had had a few more mini-bottles I’d be sitting pretty , ahead of the game , actually beginning to show a profit . Well , almost   .

I once went from Berlin to London on Ryan Airlines . Ryan , if I remember correctly ,was the airline that seriously considered charging a fee to use the restroom . Nice .I would have gone broke .  I got to the Berlin Airport , Freuninggulingen ……., no Shaeuftshaffen ……. no Sheinifeld ? , Shoenefeld ? , at six in the morning . I had come from Poland by taxi that morning . Got there overly early , as is my way .WWI air ambulance

I was second in line . We were the only two customers to have arrived so early for the flight .  I had one bag to check . There were two conveyor belts moving luggage along : to London  and to  Ankara . I didn’t see the clerk put my lonely bag on the Ankara belt . I should have been watching , I guess . When I got to London I had no clothes . 10 days in England and no  clothes other than what I was wearing . I won’t tell you the whole sad story . My bag met me in London on the 10th day , having , I assume , enjoyed its own vacation in Turkey . We flew back to Berlin together , but we didn’t talk to each other the entire flight .

Another Berlin to London flight on British Airways was exciting after the pilot announced  over the scratchy PA system that he thought the landing gear was stuck . We were going to have to go in on our shiney sleek aluminum belly . The pilot’s voice was almost inaudible and he had a heavy English accent . One of the many . Dorset , maybe . Rs everywhere . Like old movie pirates :  Aarrh , matey ! Wharr yer headin’ ? Shiver me timbers !  Emarrgency vehicles aarrh be preparrhin’ fer arrh landin’  . Aarh.sign el monte airport

The plane was full of Germans . I , a native English speaker , was barely getting what the pilot was saying . I didn’t think that many of the Germans got much of it . But , on the other hand , maybe they had learned English from the English . Good possibility that they understood a lot more than I did , now that I think of it .

When we approached Gatwick , or was it Heathrow ? , the emergency vehicles were lined up along the runway . There were plenty of them : fire trucks , ambulances , police , hearses . Well , maybe not hearses .   I had confidence in the pilot and the plane . I don’t think anyone else in the plane could say the same , judging by their panicked expressions . Those pilots , highly trained ,  could slide it in on its fusilage belly .

Buckle your seat belt ; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride . airplane seat belt

But the landing gear came down and we all rolled to a stop .  Anticlimatic . I’m not complaining .  Billy Bob Thornton said ,” I’m not afraid of flying . I’m afraid of crashing . ”   That about sums it up .

About these English accents :

Ada and I flew from LAX to London once and I had arranged , in advance ,a rental car from the airport . I never sleep on flights and by the time we reached the car rental desk in London I was exhausted . I couldn’t , for the life of me , understand what the English girl at the counter was telling me . It was a Friday . I thought that she was telling me that my car wouldn’t be available until Monday . She wasn’t , of course . She was trying to tell me that my car would be a Mondeo .  I was losing my temper .

” Not Monday !” I said . ” Now “england

Ada had to translate . Mediate . Ada grew up in Poland .

” Tell him…” the English girl would say .

” Tell her ….” I would say .

Oh.  The car is called Mondeo. Nothing about Monday . It’s waiting for us . Oh . O.K. Why didn’t she say so ?mondeo

I don’t mind flying much . Once in awhile . It’s quick once you leave the ground .  Gets you places you might not otherwise go . Somewhat uncomfortable . Never enough leg room . And they always remind you how a seat belt works ; they show you ; give a demonstration . That comes in handy because sometimes , if you haven’t used one in a few hours , you might have forgotten .

Sometimes you should bring along an English-American dictionary , or , at least a phrase book . Several English speakers from various corners of the earth learned English English from the English . Beware .  And consider bringing  some little bottles of booze . If nothing else , it gives you a sense that you’re getting away with something .  Even if you’re not a drinker bring some  —– trade one  for a few more tiny bags of peanuts or pretzels . If you ride Ryan Air , bribe the stewardess to use the head without paying the fee . Endless possibilities . Endless.illustration 3


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mushroom pickers

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on the walk to sister-in-law’s place

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apples apples apples

Okay. I returned today to the apple orchard here in Szczecin , Poland , to chop a few more branches , to try and finish the job that I started last week . I had written a post about my experience then.

I wrote about Johnny Appleseed in that post , too ; but I exaggerated so much that I think Johnny should get a slightly better write up here . Meaning no disrespect , I called him a vagrant and said that he wandered the country , maybe hitchhiking and sleeping under freeway bridges , and I pondered why he never made it to California . Of course , this was , I guess , what they call tongue-in-cheek . Maybe that’s the correct expression . It was jest a joke . From all I’ve read about Johnny Appleseed , he was a kind and gentle soul , tried his best to hurt no living  creature , added something beneficial to the world , and he deserves a better rap .

There was a man who was called , in his lifetime ,  Johnny Appleseed . He was John Chapman , born in Pennsylvania in 1774 . He didn’t really scatter apple seeds around from a big burlap sack , but he did wander around quite a bit establishing apple nurseries . He lived a simple life . When he died he left hundreds of acres of nurseries to his sister .

He had gone out west , too ; but the ‘west’ in those days meant Ohio , or Indiana , or Illinois. Go a little further west and you would’ve been in French America . California ? That was Spanish land . That’s why Those Spanish names show up on  California maps: San Diego , Los Angeles , Santa Barbara , San Francisco , Sacramento , Compton Bakersfield Crescent City  . And Oregon/Washington area ? The Brits were considering fighting the Spanish for it about that time , I think , while  the Americans  were already scouting out the best corners for their Starbucks and KFCs .  Russians had sailed up and down the coasts there , but they had no chance of holding on to those lands given any opposition.

When Johnny Appleseed was out west , he wasn’t anywhere near there . I had just gone too far saying he’d been in Oregon . And that’s the way it is . Of course , President Jefferson’s Voyage of Discovery  led by Lewis and Clark made it to Oregon in the early days . That expedition began in 1803 , about the time Napoleon was selling the Louisiana Territory to the USA .

But what does all of this have to do with trimming apple tree branches in Poland, you say ?  Nothing , but once in awhile I feel a need to go back and offer a little apology to any reader who gets a bit bent-out-of-shape when I rove a little too far into the realm of nonsense and mis-information , who feels that I’ve given readers a bum steer .

I wish not to prevaricate , but , as that Russian writer used to say : On with my story , however . [ By the way , there is a Russian River in California , named the Slavyanka River by the Russians in the early 1800s who had settled a trading post , Fort Ross , near the river’s mouth in 1812. Remember 1812 ?  Americans were not fighting Russians then , but Englishmen . ]

My translators , my dear Ada and her charming sister , didn’t show up for a couple of hours , so I had to go-it alone with the woman whose trees I was altering with a heavy chain saw . Let’s just say , in passing , that when you cut a branch it should be the right branch , the one the owner wanted cut . They can’t be neatly nailed back up or glued back on . So I checked with her twice before each cut ( A version of the old carpenter rule : Measure twice and cut once ) .garden 1

I know how to say  ” here ” in Polish ( tutaj ) . That’s a handy one in this situation . Cut here , tutaj ?  Positive response . So I cut , and I cut . The trick , I’ll tell you ,  is to know that when a Polish person says a word that sounds to me like “no” , he/she really means “yeah” .

Cut here ?

” No ” .

Okay . Permission granted . Chop chop !

We tossed the branches and debris over a little fence into an adjoining back yard area . I assumed that that large triangle of land belongs to the home owner , but it may well belong to the neighboring church , too ,  a modern church rising to heaven just on the other side of a decorative concrete  wall .  At any rate , that’s not my problem . I don’t want to get involved in any religious disputes .

If it were southern California , the county would’ve issued notices long ago to the property owner to clean up that triangle of land  or face a fine  . But I’m not now in southern California . I know that for sure because , for one thing , rain falls here most days , for awhile . ( Luckily , I remember what rain is from my childhood , so I wasn’t scared when it dropped .)

To cut to the chase [ What , exactly , is the origin of that one ?  Does it refer to  the horse chase at the end of the old cowboy movies , which often came at the end of the film , just before the hero kissed the girl ?  ]  I drank my Polish beer after a job well done and sat for awhile in beach chairs in the garden with the owner of the orchard .

The home owner had the beers cold for me . ( She knew the word  “cold” in English ; and she knew that we Americanos like our beer cold ) . She and I sat and talked about California , Los Angeles , San Francisco . She told me about a friend of hers in Bavaria who grows bananas and Kiwi in her yard . A  ” micro-climate” ,  she said . We were talking about fruit , what’s grown in Szczecin and what’s grown in different parts of California .  She used her ten or twelve English words and I used my  twenty or thirty Polish words and the conversation went quite well , I thought . We used what we had and made the best of it and that was good enough . She asked about pets and so I told her about our cat , black with white on the front and on one paw .We didn’t talk politics or religion . That would have been going too far out on the lingo limb .

When Ada’s sister arrived  (  who speaks Polish , English , French , Danish , and Russian ) , I told her about the nice conversation that we had been having . She asked , mystified : ” In what language ? ”

What language indeed !   Poland 2016 art etc 080A language existing somewhere in the odd ethereal gap  between English and Polish . A gardener’s language , perhaps .


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Szczecin sights


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Poland 1 2016 June 026POLAND 4 2016 jUNE 24 001Poland 1 2016 June 004Poland 1 2016 June 012


POLAND 4 2016 jUNE 24 010Poland 1 2016 June 015Poland 8 2016 coconut oil and kids 095Poland 1 2016 June 020Poland 1 2016 June 006


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me as a child

train of thought

The words of prophets are written on the subway walls and in tenement halls and whispered in the sounds of silence .—–Paul Simon

I didn’t talk much when I was a kid .

I hear Ada’s voice saying , ” What do you mean , when you were a  kid ? ” What she means is I don’t talk much now . I think that I do , but , compared to other people , okay , maybe not .

When I was in the early years at school , a teacher suggested to my parents that maybe sending me to a psychologist would be a good idea . Why ? Little Danny doesn’t talk ; says almost nothing .  My mother told the the teacher , I guess , that that’s just the way little Danny is ; has always been . According to my mother’s telling of the story , my dad was a little irritated that the teacher seemed to be overreaching her field of expertise . At any rate , the suggestion that little Danny see a head shrinker didn’t fly with the folks . I think now that the teacher was right on , but now that’s water under the bridge , a trivial little anecdote from yesteryear , what might nowadays be called a byte from the bygone-isphere .

Ada thinks , by the way , that during my frequent periods of silence I am turning great truckloads of thought over in my brain , churning the brain butter , coming up with clots of solid conclusions . It’s not only been Ada who thinks such things . I’ve run into that misconceived perception from people all along .

Sometimes it works in my favor . It’s sometimes the : ” He doesn’t say something until he has something to say ” idea , as if I’m filtering the world through my brilliant intellectual gills , and keeping only the vital substances . If they only knew !  To me , it’s a sort of   Being There  thing . I’m Chance the gardener mistaken for Chauncey Gardiner .Little Danny

At other times , I am suspected of having deep thoughts which I am unwilling to share . I had an instructor at UCLA who believed this . He tried to cajole and guilt-trip me into participating in class discussions . Philosophy of Knowledge class , no less ! If I had a tiny little thimble , I should have told him , I could cram my understanding and knowledge of philosophy into it , and still have room for a sandwich and a piece of fruit .

Lincoln evidently said something like Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt . Lincoln was a wise man ; knew what he was talking about . I’d renovate that old saying , though , to say something more like Better to be silent and be thought a genius , than open your mouth and remove all doubt . lincoln

Ada worries , still , that I’m having all of these intricate thoughts that I won’t share with her . I suppose that she worries that I’m secretly critical of this , or of  that , or of her , or of the drapes she just bought , for example , or that I’m actually having  negative thoughts about  what I just expressed a positive opinion about  .

My aunt Mary gave me a big decorative wooden clothes pin when I was a kid that said , in large block letters on an attached plaque : SECRET IDEAS . That’s been a recurring misconception all along , it seems . If they only knew !

I hate to say that I’m empty-headed , because it sounds bad , and because I think that there are plenty of different kinds of intelligence , and I’m intelligent enough .  I have to admit , nevertheless, that much of the time I’m empty-headed . No recognizable , reportable , thoughts !  I’ve used this an an explanation to soothe Ada’s worries about my supposed secret stash of notions  .

” What’s on your mind ? ” she says . Nothing ; but she doesn’t believe me . I probably wouldn’t believe me , either , I suppose ; but , well , that’s  the way it is . That’s the way the cookie crumbles .




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child psychology

”   The child intuitively comprehends , that although these stories are unreal , they are not untrue “.—–Bruno BettleheimPoland 9 2016 july 2 026



I’ve been reading The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim , subtitled The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales . Bettelheim , a recognized child psychologist , was in  Nazi concentration camps at Dachau and Buchenwald before he came to America . He taught at the university of Chicago .

I thought that the book might be interesting based on the subtitle, and it was light weight ( literal meaning ) , so I brought it to Poland .  It had previously been sitting in my garage for who knows how long , collecting dust and , most likely , reflecting upon its sad existence among the histories , and road maps ,and old cartoon books and the odds and end thing-a-ma-jigs , dishes and pans , Christmas decorations , a few tools and extension cords , and the unworn  clothes , and the eclectic collection of bric-a-brac and this-and-thats .

I don’t know if Ada had originally acquired this paperback or if I had . I’ll guess that Ada , the psychologist , did . That would be the better  bet . She worked in Poland as a child psychologist , after all . And she married me , let’s not forget , thereby procuring herself a fairy tale existence forever and ever ***.

I like fairy tales , but , you know , I admittedly am a little bit intellectually lazy . I can’t see myself buying a heavy ( in the non-literal sense ) book like this , even at a library sale , or a garage sale , or in a thrift shop . That’s usually where we buy our books . Maybe I did , though . You’ll have to let me have that little fantasy that maybe I did .  (Not knowing who Bettleheim was might have been a factor in that purchase , if indeed I made it , because I might well have otherwise attempted to avoid the intellectual challenge ) .KutaisiTblisi 2016 743

As it is , I’m still working my way through the book . I’m beginning  a chapter called : TRANSCENDING INFANCY WITH THE HELP OF FANTASY . So far , not yet very far into the book  , I am working through several of my childhood problems that , it seems , overtook me because I didn’t hear enough fairy tales in my young life . I’ll go for that theory ; it’s explained in well-reasoned detail in the text , and it makes sense . Too bad Bettleheim wasn’t my childhood psychologist ; I’d most likely have my wits about me now , in that case ;  but we , I’m afraid , for one thing , never lived anywhere near Chicago . KutaisiTblisi 2016 633

So I have to go it alone now ,  reflect on my early life , and probably read those old fairy tales ( not many fairies in those stories , by the way ( pointed out by Dr. B ) , but lots of witches and woodcutters , and evil step-mothers , and frogs transforming into princes, and kings and castles , etc. ) if I can find collections of them .

Could it be that all of the copies have  been discarded from libraries ?  Maybe that’s  what’s wrong with the world ? I’ll investigate and let you know later . That project may take some time , though , so maybe don’t hold your breath waiting for the answer .

I’ve got to work out my childhood problems first , and that goes way back , and that’s quite a big ball of wax to work out , especially on my own , so it may take some time  for me to make significant  progress . Ada , a trained psychologist , has so far been unable to cure me , and she’s had decades to work on it . I don’t know ! Maybe she’ll , at least , read me the fairy tales , if and when I find collections of them at the library or in the thrift shops .

I’m looking forward to the next chapter , too : FANTASY , RECOVERY , ESCAPE, and CONSOLATION . This Bruno Bettleheim seems to know his stuff ! It may already be too late to  fix  my childhood psychology , but I think , if anyone , this guy Bettleheim can help . A journey of a thousand steps ………………………and all that .

*** I hesitated putting this in here , due to the anticipated possible ridicule and scorn from certain (un-named ) sources , but , what the hell !



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apples, etc.

As far as I know , there is only one type of apple that will grow in most of southern California , in the Los Angeles basin , the Anna’s apple . When ripe it is sort of striped red and green . Most apples need a colder climate than we’ve got in Arcadia and around the area .

So , moving right along , here I am in Poland with a borrowed electric chain saw chopping branches from apple trees . There’s a cherry tree in the yard too , and a pear tree , but the apple trees dominate the property . They cover so much of the yard that I was asked to saw several  branches off to open things up to the sunlight .

How did I get myself into this situation , you might ask . Another fine mess you got me into ? Well ,  Ada’s sister has a friend who has apple trees in her garden and we were visiting there a couple of days ago . So , afterward :  ” Dan , if we could borrow a saw , would you …..?  “Poland 2016 art etc 085

I’m a sucker for gardening work . And there was a promised Polish beer or two in it for me , so why not ?  Luckily , as it happened , it was a good electric chain saw with a sharp blade and there was plenty of cord to get from tree to tree , and the weather was good , not too hot , not too cold ; just right like the three bears’  porridge , and a couple of beers were getting cold waiting for me for whenever I might finish the work . Me , Dan Sawyer . American lumberjack in Szczecin .

This was German land previously and a German house before what my generation calls ” the war ” . Mr. Fawlty : ” Don’t mention zee war ! “. These days , of course , no one knows for sure what war you’re talking about when ” the war ” is used , since the routine day to day , year to year , decade to decade has become one war and then another war and then another . Congress never seems to feel it necessary to declare war these days  . Presidents, and Eisenhower’s ” industrial-military complex ” of corporations and generals decide those things now , I guess .  The cost in blood and treasure is written off , I think , and is off the books . ” From another pocket ” , as a friend of mine used to say about outrageous school district expenditures . It all doesn’t really bother most of us in the USA too much . Now we’re in endless war ; but that’s a discussion  for another time . So , as Dostoyevsky wrote in The Gambler :

” To my story , however . ”

The ground was covered with apples . I’ve never seen so many apples , except perhaps once , up in Portland with my friends Joe and Susan . We all went, Ada and I and our friends ,  to an apple festival there with various types of apples on display . Maybe there were hundreds of varieties ; or maybe I exaggerate just a bit .Poland 2016 art etc 095

Anywho , moving right along , this dude named  Johnny Appleseed was up in Oregon , apparently , spreading seeds around the place a long time ago . You’ve heard of him ? Kind of a homeless vagrant with bags of apple seeds , tossing them out here and there as he wandered across the nation , presumably hitchhiking and sleeping under freeway bridges .  He may or may not have worn a tin pot on his head . Johnny Appleseed ( an alias ) wandered around the country tossing apple seeds out and about . Why ? It sounds to me like he may have had some mental issues , but that’s neither here nor there .

Why he didn’t make it down to southern California I don’t know . Too hot for him , maybe. He was from somewhere back east . Probably good that he didn’t show up here in the Southland , because he might have fell in blind and hopeless love with the mild climate. Good for sleeping outdoors . He might have staked out a corner of a canyon along the coast or maybe a little copse on a cliff somewhere and never left . Then where would the apple industry in America be today ? See my point ?  Evidently , the only apples available in that case would have been Anna’s , and Anna obviously was no J. Appleseed .

To my story , however .

To jump to the end : yes , I enjoyed my  Polish beer sitting in a newly aerated garden . The saw was a good one , but it weighed about 25 pounds , which is heavy for an electric chain saw . When the blade began to clog with debris I wasn’t able to loosen the bolt that held the plate that covered the chain-wheel , that trapped the debris , that lived in the house that Jack built .

On top of all of this , I’m supposed to go back in a few days to finish the job . I have a sneaky suspicion , however , that ‘the job’  will never be done . It’s a lot like the so-called War on Terror , or the fight to destroy ISIS , or , for that matter , Operation Enduring Freedom , or any of those gloriously but disingenuously -named military efforts of ours .

Tell me when we win , will ya ?  Give me an idea about victory . How will we recognize it ? Any markers to indicate victory ?  As Serling said : “ There is a signpost up ahead ……..”  I’m afraid that we are all now in the Twilight Zone , tweeting on our devices , building and padding our nests as best we can , and missing the BIG PICTURE .

I sipped my Tyskie , anyhow , as Ada’s sister and I discussed Donald Trump and the current Polish government that has neutered their equivalent of the Supreme Court and has commandeered the Polish media .  She was cracking , peeling , and eating freshly picked hazel nuts .  An old bird’s nest had been dislodged from one of the trees and Ada’s sis wanted me to take it to the grandchildren as a gift and it sat between us on a little table , a well-made nest , but dry and hard-looking , and evidently unconcerned about the state of the world . Sis then talked art to the house owner and so I , not speaking Polish , bugged out and took a walk over to a church next door to have a look , but the church  was locked up tight .

Rain began to fall a bit , and the skies darkened . Storm clouds gathered  , turned like they were celestial armies  maneuvering , positioning , preparing for a coming battle . Suddenly , unannounced , there was  some massive mobilization of  forces and a massive storm seemed about to strike  .

We made it to the tram to head back before the heavy rain began . I wondered if Johnny Appleseed might have been Polish , given all of these apple trees , or German , and I also wondered if the approaching heavy rain would hold off just long enough for me to get home . It did , after all . Sometimes things seem worse than they really are .


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