‘Little Turtle’

is now available in a limited first edition. Originally $1200 this hard cover children’s book, hand made by hobbits and using recycled materials is now marked down to $15.

It’s about the adventures of Little Turtle who wants to know how big the ocean is. Hey haven’t we all asked that question? The drawings are suitable for coloring so this would make a good gift for 3-7 year olds. Add your own underwater characters if you’re really into it. Included is an epilogue with instructions for making your own book.

The other day I was in my storage room (actually the second bedroom), looking for discardable books that I could cull out and take to half price. This room is full of shelves from floor to ceiling designed to hold my inventory and my book collection plus boxes and boxes of various assorted stuff. I noticed one box sitting on the shelf about eye level and pulled it down. Inside was the manuscript for ‘Little Turtle’. I took to my workplace and lifted the papers out of the carton, oh my god I wrote this in 1997. It was like uncovering an archaeological artifact, the pages were covered with drawings and text. Some pages had been scanned into a larger size for some reason, I don’t remember why. I remember the story. It was when I had just returned from Mexico, living on turtle beach that I wrote it. And then never did anything with it, put it in that box, closed the flaps and forgot about it. For 22 years. Until now. (I’m practicing my incomplete sentences. I’ve been told that you’re not supposed to do that so I want to see what happens.) (It’s fun.) And that’s the story of the story. I felt kinda like that guy who found ‘Gilgamesh’ in the ancient ruins of Nineveh written in cuneiform on clay tablets. ‘Ah hah, what have we here?‘ he must have thought. And then when they sat down and deciphered it, aha again, the mother of all stories – Gilgamesh! – it must have felt familiar to them. Even after 5,000 years.

I lived on Xcacel beach, a simple campground beach where lots of turtles came to nest, with my buddy, Buddy from 1992 to 1996. We had a dive shop and a jungle excursions business for the tourists who came by and wanted an adventure. We built a nursery on the beach so the turtle eggs could hatch unmolested by surf or poacher. The mother turtle would drag herself up out of the surf at night, dig a hole up above the surf line and deposit a hundred ping pong ball size eggs, carefully covering them with sand afterwards. Two months later the hatchlings would bubble up thru the sand and sprint for the sea, the only mother they would ever know. Some of the hatchlings we kept and put in grow tanks so they could get up to speed before confronting the barracudas, sharks, ospreys and pelicans of the open water. Summer was the season for the females to get impregnated and make landfall with their precious cargo and August was when they started to hatch. I remember those days, it was exciting. Patrols along the beach at night scouted for turtles coming ashore and when one was spotted, the whole team sprang into action, checking the tag and gathering the eggs.

We did a project on the captive turtle babies in the tanks as they were growing up on diced fish and turtle chow. We used a biopsy punch to encode the bottom of their shell (the plastron) with the date and location of their birth, all without harming the turtle much. Then when they were released and swam out to sea whoever caught them or saw them on the beach when they came back to lay their eggs would know how old they were and where they came from. It turns out that those turtles swam hundreds of miles out into the Caribbean Sea and then came back to the same beach where they were born 14 years later to reproduce. Xcacel had a profusion of sea turtles, for some reason, the Greens and Loggerheads loved to nest there.

But I digress. The story of ‘Little Turtle’ grew out of those experiences – thinking about turtles and working with turtles, sometimes seeing them on our dives gliding around underwater or stuck under a rock. They hold their own special powers. When you look at them, they look back at you as if from some ancient primal sea – they’ve been on the planet for a 100 million years swimming the vast oceans, migrating and navigating and finding the sea currents and the food chains. The mothers look sad and are crying (an adaptation to keep the sand out of their eyes while they are on the beach), or it may just be such an ancient look that that’s how they look. ‘Oh humans, you newcomers, who can’t even swim in the ocean or stay underwater for more than 2 minutes without scuba gear, oh you two legged ones stranded on the beach here, I don’t know how you survive‘, they might be thinking. We survive by building hotels on turtle beaches is the truth, Ms. Turtle, and inviting tourists from countries that don’t have a Caribbean Sea and white sandy beaches with palm trees and halcyon breezes to come and spend their money here.

That was one of the amazing things about living there – we managed to save the beach from the evil developers and it remains to this day, as far as I know, free and clear of hotels or any development. The only beach from Cancun to Tulum to survive unscathed and protected specifically for the turtles.

Sometimes the good guys win. The turtles find their way home. Magic resides in the wild and natural world around us. Adventures are afoot and if you’re trying to find out how big is the ocean, it’s probably about as big as your imagination.

angel or no angel

I’m sitting on the back porch. A recent rain has filled the pool and I’m imagining that I have just returned from a long trip to some far away country. It’s so great to be home again even though I have been here for weeks and months.

But the truth is, I have never been here before. Not on this day. It is a new journey and it is a far journey. I have never seen the trees exactly that color, exactly in that state of profusion, with those deep shadows lit by cracks in the fence from the light of this overcast day. And how the air strikes my face, how it smells, the coolness of it, not hot and dry. The desert air replaced by sub-tropical monsoon moisture – I have never quite felt it this way before.

The backyard has a wholeness as if it were one body. It seems contained and somewhat symbiotic. The algae eat sunlight, the bugs eat algae, the frogs eat the bugs, the cat eats the frogs, the owl eats the cat. Or I guess that’s more of a food chain. Some kind of a process, some kind of a metabolism.

Within the confines of this yard there are innumerable changes talking place and all in concert and cooperation with other elements. The ragweed’s long serrated leaves begin to turn yellow and droop on cue from the falling temperatures and the changing angle of the sun. Underground foragers and burrowers, worms and nymph larvae alter their behavior in some way I’m sure in response to the changing temperature. It’s unfathomable. To see it in it’s wholeness and to know there are millions of unseen interactions going on that comprise this picture, is a beautiful feeling. Everything is working and everything is connected. Gee, I guess I am too if I’m appreciating it. That is a form of interaction. The kidney shaped pool and the trees, the running fountain and Miatti the cat and me.

My backyard is one of the characters in the book I’m working on. Thoreauish. Basically. How I write this part is just hang out in the backyard with a pen and notebook and see what happens next. Could be absolutely nothing. No thoughts. Nothing to write. Those are the best, but invariably the angel shows up and starts whispering in my ear. ‘Write this down and tell the people’ she says. And I do. Of course. On course. On site. Unbelievable. Ha! Just messin with the angel.

The story of my backyard is the story of the Garden of Eden. We’re not that far separated from it, friends. We lived there for 300,000 years and only recently left it to found our civilizations and invent air conditioning and stuff. Also many many kinds of different plastic molded items. Stores full, ships full, trucks full and landfills full.

And for 300,000 years we were in the Garden of Eden? Yes, friend. Our species appears in the fossil record beginning 300,000 years ago but we had not yet eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We were innocent, primal. Sex was impulsive and without guilt. Plentiful also, one would think. People lived on the bounty of nature. Then about 70,000 years ago we came up with a great idea – let’s have a cognitive revolution! And those creatures (us), who could already talk with a high degree of proficiency, began to make art and began to invent gods and began to explore realms within their own selves, not just in the world outside. They found that they could imagine things that didn’t actually exist yet, could plan for something that could happen in the future. They could say that this is good and this is bad, you are wrong and I am right. They began to tell stories about the spooky woods and all the monsters hidden there and the gnomes and the fairies. They eventually invented farming and gave up their hunting and gathering ways, or most of them did, but we never really lost the stories. And that’s because our roots, the hidden knowledge of who are is based on all that back there. It’s written in the book of our deep and immensely ancient past.

We have a subliminal and a compelling desire to return to the Garden of Eden. That’s why I like hanging out here and writing stuff. Or not writing stuff. Just listening. Angel or no angel.

little turtle and friends

i’ve been publishing hand made books lately – 2 poetry zines (available at Rosella’s Cafe in San Antonio) and now a children’s book called ‘Little Turtle’

i actually wrote it in 1997 after returning from living on Xcacel beach in Mexico – ‘the place of the turtles’ / two days ago i discovered it inside a box sitting on the back shelf in my storage room / it was like going thru an old manuscript dug out of an archaeological site / strangely familiar but foreign / it’s replete with amazing illustrations which is what caused me to want to publish it

little turtle is curious and wants to know how big the ocean is (what turtle or child doesn’t wonder the same thing ??) so he embarks on his journey and has his adventures (isn’t that what we all do ??) and that pretty much comprises the plot / simple / plus the illustrations are black on white so the child can color them if he or she likes / plus the book is easy to make and instructions are included at the end on of how you can make your own book / all you need is a copier and a printer and a pen and paper / plus it’s going to be a hardcover !! finally a use for all that cardboard from all those amazon boxes : )

college football / zine festival

today as i write this blog post young men are risking their bodies on the field of play for the purpose of entertaining us and maybe getting a big NFL contract one day also glory and adulation if you can make a touchdown in front of 112 thousand people

i think of it as the carrying on of an ancient tradition – the ritual of the hunt / chasing that deer and getting it down / throwing a dart and hitting the target right in the heart / trailing it and tracking it and making a final kill – a touchdown / and the praise and adulation back at the camp when you bring it in / cheerleaders at the entrance kicking up their heels / a place at the fire to tell your story and make it a good one too a little bit of exaggeration a little bit of humor a little bit of bragging

we require sports because we no longer have adventures / we require tv sit-coms because we no longer tell each other stories / we require ‘the media’ to tell us all about it because we no longer have conversations amongst ourselves

that’s why it was so cool to visit the zine festival today at main library / amazing productions – story telling and graphics / funny stuff / personal expression / interesting people sitting at their booths with all their zines displayed / i got five zines / my favorite is ‘john dear’ by monica garcia about a deer ?? a boy ?? i’m not quite sure who is having an identity crisis / he goes to the still pond on the advice of the headless person and looks into the water to see his reflection / what he sees freaks him out so totally that he falls into the pool and goes thru an underwater portal and talks to a personless head / it’s super excellent and i got to meet the creator i mean not THE creator but monica who drew it and wrote the story

zines are a thing / they’re easy and simple and you have a thing / well maybe they’re not easy and maybe they’re not simple but you do have a thing / and that’s cool

patreon

I’m writing a book. It’s called ‘The Ancient Book of Magic Secrets’. It’s a story of our history and it’s a history of our stories, it’s a powerful manifesto and a searing indictment of our times. It’s a carefully crafted tale laid side by side with a collection of non-fiction essays hoping for some kind of symbiosis, it’s revelatory, it’s hybrid, it’s interconnected, it’s irreverent and it’s funny. And writing it has been an adventure.

I’m launching a Patreon page to promote the book project. On this page patreon.com/ancientsecrets you can learn more about the project and sign on to be a ‘follower’ LOL or a patron. Writing this book, like I said, has been some kind of an adventure and my idea is to share it with friends by creating a forum and a community and a platform for conversation and mutual discovery minus all the mind pollution on facebook / hopefully it can be all these things

The purpose of my book is to save the world. I’ve always wanted to do that but could never figure out how until now. Well actually it’s still in prototype, still figuring it out but I’ve got some of it up. Support and maintenance systems, right? It will change and evolve as it finds its rhythm so please be patient and stay tuned.

The project. So I’ve been working on it for awhile and there is a fair amount of ways to go. Three of the 18 chapters or sections are in final draft, the others are in varying stages of development. I’m working on it. My daily activities facilitate the writing time. Lattes are not cheap but the cafe experience helps.

This project involves massive amounts of research, innumerable hours of computer writing, blissful hours of bike riding (that’s where it all comes together), endless scribblings into notebooks and dictations into voice recorder. For me that is the adventure of it, can I put it all together, can I pull this off before I die or the world blows up, whichever comes first? I think everyone should have an urgent project. Here’s mine.

book report

my current book report is for ‘the book of genesis’ author unknown
probly someone lost in the desert with nothing else to do so they collected all
the stories they had ever heard from all the people they had ever heard them from and who themselves had heard them from other people who had heard them from other people and on and on it went all along the fertile crescent

first off god created everything out of nothing
it was a miracle
how that’s any different from the big bang popular with scientists i don’t know
then he set up his people
yes i shall have a special covenant with you and you shall cut off
the foreskins of all your male babies that are born unto you as a
sign of my covenant

excuse me for the exegesis but that’s fucked up

anyways it goes on how sojourner abraham founded his own kingdom
there at the edge of the fertile crescent and prospered and started up
his own propaganda war machine / yeah god told us to kill em all and
take over their valley

abraham was a pioneer and a sojourner / for some reason he wanted to get as far away from the fertile crescent as possible even though that was his home culture
maybe he had a bad experience there or his father did / his father was born in ur near the city of uruk on the southern tip of the crescent and abraham was born in nahar at the northern tip / from there he journeyed southward to caanan along the western edge of the crescent and into the land of the moabs and the ammonites and the philistines

the fact that he was a product of the fertile crescent is fascinating to me / the story of old king gilgamesh takes place there / it was there that we first learned to write down our stories and create literature

among the folktales passed around by the descendants of abraham was the story of noah and the great flood / noah gathered two of each species and loaded them into the ark and shut the gate / then the whole world flooded and all perished except for what the lord had saved in the ark / but how did he keep the lions and the tigers happy for 40 days and 40 nights ?? any meat he had brought aboard would have spoiled by then / meanwhile there were plenty of luscious lambs and goats and other ungulates just standing around in close quarters

i dunno

i’m reading this book to give some background and depth to my gilgamesh story which is one chapter of the book i’m writing / the good book / the project i have staked my life on / the book that could change everything and bring peace and tranquilty, finally, to all mankind
if it works everything will fit together seamlessly – all 8 chapters and all 8 episodes of the narrative / it needs narrative structure but it’s primarily a diatribe / it’s about being human – hey write about what you know right ??

self congratulations and the ancient book of magic secret’s eponymous chapter draft completion

i finished a draft
of one chapter
i’m so elated
i’m celebrating

opened the kombucha
in the pale green bottle
that once held
italian sparkling mineral water

and drank
thinking outside the box now
feeling the momentum
the tide change

anything is possible
and it’s right as rain
my brain signals to me
time to revisit the narrative

and imagine a new beginning
or a difficult decision
with powerful consequences