ELECTROSHOCK … After Frankenstein, the electric chair and Big Nurse, psychiatric electroshock treatment gradually fell into disfavor … I remember the crazy North Beach poet Bob Kaufman wildly spouting poetry and philosophy, a cigarette dangling from his beat lip, walking about Adler Place or mesmerizing a crowd at a Columbus Avenue party. He’d endured electroshock, and it had changed him, they said, and made him a kind of brilliant madman … My mom had gone through tough times in the Sixties, losing a son, just like her mother had lost a son. Divorced. Depressed. I guess you could call it a nervous breakdown. Swallowed a fistful of pills, more than once. She was institutionalized at Agnew – the psychiatric facility we’d all joked about, growing up in San Francisco’s South Bay … Afterwards, she told me they’d given her electroshock treatment. But she managed to do what it took to get herself released. And got well enough to live on her own for another 20 years, as mentally sharp as ever, it seemed to me … Now, a University of Oxford study suggests mini-electroshocks to the brain, delivered painlessly to the forehead of some 25 students, improved their math skills. After five days of “transcranial random noise stimulation,” as the technique is called, the electroshocked students completed their math problems, two to five times faster. And that increased capacity from those receiving the mini-jolts continued even six month later … Maybe we’ll have tiny pulsed electroshocks delivered to us before math exams in the future.
MARY FAERY … We are having a celebration of Mary Ellen Friedberg’s life in Norwood, where she spent many years raising her children, Sara and Gregorio. It’s slated for Thursday, June 27, at Two Candles Restaurant & Lounge at 7 p.m. Bring stories to share.
BUTTERFLIES … The first sprinkles in a month dusted the wedding party of Wendy Sue Crank and George Priestley Parker at the Parker Farm near Norwood this past Saturday. Good omen in a drought … And as the laughing couple repeated the incantations of the good minister, a cloud of butterflies were released in the wind to scud across the mottled blue horizon of Wright’s Mesa.
OVERHEARD … Dale told a story. Her dad, kind of a shy guy, was in an anti-aircraft battery stationed in the Pacific at an island air base during World War II. He was taking a bath one day, pouring water on himself with his helmet, when the attack siren went off. Donning his hat, he rushes to his gun and starts firing rounds at the incoming Zeros. The hot spent shells are pouring out of the gun and burning his naked legs. So, he’s screaming and shooting and screaming the entire attack. His buddies nicknamed him “Mad Dog.” A badge he wore with pride.
FOLEY STATION … A few years ago, just by chance, my son and I stopped in La Grande and found ourselves seated for dinner at Foley Station. The dark-stained wood shone with an historic glaze, the ceiling a lovely pressed tin. And what a dinner! Some of the tastiest, most creative food I’ve had. And for a very reasonable price … Over the years, it became a destination eatery for me. I started planning my trips to the Northwest around dinner or breakfast at Foley Station in La Grande … On my five-day odyssey to Jimbo and Carol Anne’s wedding in Port Townsend last month, I picked up a hitchhiker in Salt Lake and ended up making it all the way to Pendleton on my way north. But coming home I maneuvered times to make it to La Grande for dinner, expectations high … Alas. Imagine my chagrin to find Foley Station gone and in its place an “authentic” Thai and Vietnamese café. Deeply disappointed, I half-heartedly took my place in a long line. The hostess hadn’t shown up after several minutes. I saw several parties in booths waiting for their food. I walked out. A sadness not unlike hunger in my gut.
MY WATER … Cloud Acre water starts on Lone Cone, and comes spilling down to Beaver Creek and Gurley Reservoir. The latter parcels things into the Gurley Ditch and Maverick Draw, which parallels Naturita Cañon on down to the state highway cutoff between Colorado 141 & 145. Where the Maverick and the Naturita hook up and together drop into El Cañon de San Miguel on a rendezvous with Rio de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores. And finally my water catches up, full-on, with the mighty Colorado.
THE TALKING GOURD
Long days, summer light,
Warm breezes in the short night,
Stars and planets, Milky Way,
Fireflies at the end of day.
Cousins all in outer space,
Cousins to the human race
And all the species old and new
Who live in the sea or the sky so blue,
All who creep, who leaf , who crawl,
Entwined together, cousins all.
Sound the fiddles, let the drum beat
From mountain top to prairie heat,
From ocean waves to forest fires
Play the music of hearts' desires
For beauty and life in dancing whirls,
DNA molecules, hurricane swirls--
Energy born of Sun and Earth
Water, Air, and a sense of mirth.
Mystery lies behind and below
Our best response is to let it grow.
Mystery lies before and above
Our best response as always is love.
- Amy Hannon
Raritan Valley (NJ)