Because you were wondering

The tortoise woke up. I checked on his box in the wine cellar, where he spent the winter under a bunch of leaves, and heard a rustling noise (“yee haw, let’s get these dogies outa here afore the posse shows up!”) and carried him, box and all, into the library, where it is dark and by the next day he was up and running around again, mesmerising the cats. He’s moved to the kitchen and I can’t wait for the weather to warm up to above 10 degrees C. because being outside will help him with his obsessions and monomanias. Right now these include finding a way to get behind the refrigerator, and carrying the metal fruit shelf thing on his back. And painting, of course. I’m already tired of cleaning up after him.

Also, he will be happy to be reunited with his stone, I imagine.

Tortoise update

Nice thunderstorm last night, complete with lightning and thunder (duh) real close, and cloudbursts. In the middle of it all, I checked on the tortoise, to see if he’d gone into his house. He had not. He was atop his stone.

My interpretation was that he was just, you know, c’mon baby, who cares about a little storm!!?!

My wife’s was that he was protecting his stone from the elements.

I put both of them into his house.

This morning, after I finish my coffee, I’ll put his rock back in its usual spot. I’m afraid he’d never come back out of his house if I didn’t (he = tortoise, not rock).

(Apparently the rock = female).

New member of the club of animals who make art

To the club of non-human animals who make art – which includes elephants, various apes, and Tillie the Jack Russell Terrier who reminds me a lot of Arnulf Rainer we can now add the Greek tortoise (Testudo hermanni hermanni), or more specifically, my Greek tortoise, which after several years of small format Jackson Pollack homages graduated today in the kitchen to a new style which, on the one hand still showing a fascination with Pollack, now incorporates the ambition and grand dimensions of Christo and land artists such as Robert Smithson, taking an hour to mop up and making me glad I don’t have a Pinta Island tortoise.

Something something tortoise something

The tortoise wants out so bad you can taste it. She was scurrying about when I got up at 4.40 to feed the cats (was gotten up). Caught her in the middle of hte kitchen floor when I turned on the lights, like a cockroach. Now she’s running laps, her claws scratching the tiles sound like a wheezing businessman running laps in a deserted Y.

She never gives up. I reiterate, I know. She is one of the lucky ones. We all are. Thanks to a long – infinitely long, or at least immeasurably long series of highly unlikely occurrences, we are here. In all likelihood we shouldn’t be. According to the laws of probability. But we are. Because we were lucky. We call it lucky. We here at the tip of the long tail. Because luck got us here, we believe in it. We worship it every week in line for our lottery tickets. We have ceremonies and riguals to guarantee it, like baptisms, weddings, and funerals.

When the tortoise runs her circles, though, something else is going through her mind. Science.  She is thinking about science. Through her millions of years of evolution she has learned to make her luck. She doesn’t sit in a shady spot, or in a sunbeam wishing for it. She, usually (unless she is resting or digesting, or fucking her rock (she might not be female, in fact)) walks the perimeters of her existence, seeking an exit. The exit will not come to her, it has to be found.  She has to go to it. And she is seeking, not trying to work magic. Because she knows that this amazing series of accidents that is our universe will at some point create a situation she can seize to get what she wants. A door will be left open, a section of fence will fall over, a plant will grow bushy enough to support her weight, and she will climb out.

And although highly unlikely, these possibilities are less unlikely at the perimeter than at the safe center. A tortoise does not believe in fairy godmothers. It believes in pellets of food, lettuce, a water dish, a little house, daytime and night time, hot and cold, hiding and seeking, marching the perimeter, finding a hole and climbing out. It believes in what it has observed and experienced, not in what it wants.

Tortoises invented science, science defined as observing without prejudice and using what is real and what works. Tortoises don’t disbelieve in God but they don’t pray either.

Guest post: Mig’s tortoise on how to do it

Despite what they tell you, there is a way out of here. The secret is to keep looking. And to look everywhere. And once you have looked everywhere, look again. And if looking everywhere again didn’t work, look everywhere again in a different pattern. Because you never know. All you know is, there’s a way out. The secret is to never stop. It’s not perseveration, take my word for it. It’s perseverance. There are temptations and distractions on the way, like your reflection in the cellar window.
God, the reflection. I could stare at that for hours. In fact, I have stared at it for hours.
There’s just something about it. It cannot be explained, the fascination. They think I think it’s another tortoise, but I don’t. It’s just, I dunno.
But you keep looking. As if looking were the whole point. But escaping is the point, let’s not kid ourselves or comfort ourselves. You don’t rest until you escape.
Oh, this is a nice rock.
Just the right size, tortoise size.
Hi there. Quiet type?
Hi there. Hi there. Hi there. You alone? Do you mind? Oh, god.
That’s another distraction, the rock. But so good.
Such a sweet rock.
But you don’t rest until you escape. Unless you count the distractions. Life is one thing only: escaping.
Not just being on the lookout for an escape, but being in the actual process of escaping, constantly. Everything is escaping. The secret is this: you must already be in the process of escaping when the avenue of escape presents itself. You must already be climbing the board blocking your exit from the flower bed when the board falls over because it was poorly secured.
You must already be shinnying over the flower pot blocking your exit when it turns out you’ve grown enough to make it out.
You must already be squeezing through the little picket fence when it gets loosened just enough to make it out.
The secret is you must always be there, escaping, in order to escape.
But what do you do when you’ve escaped, I am sometimes asked by some wise guy.
Here’s what you do: You escape from that, too: It’s escape and escape and escape, all the way down.

Ljubljana etc etc

My trip to Ljubljana last weekend was a lot less confusing than my previous trip five years ago because they have the Euro now. Otherwise I noticed few changes. They still like rollerblades there. The women are still charming and beautiful, the men are still long-legged and tall with smallish heads (i.e. exactly wrong place for me to buy clothes), all are well-dressed. I don’t know if all of Slovenia is like this or only the capital city, but they’re good dressers. The Viennese looked, upon my return, like cheap slobs.

Present company excepted, of course.

A couple days ago I wore my new suit. It differs from my old suits in several aspects. One, it is new and they are old. Two, it is not black. Three, it fits. I… sometimes you just reach the point where you say, you know, fuck it and buy clothes that fit and not that are the size you want to be to motivate you to get to that size. Boy, it was comfortable not feeling like a bumble bee squeezed into a wasp outfit.

Looking back on your life, it is like badly-made Swiss cheese, I was thinking just now, out strolling around the neighborhood. Mostly solid cheese, with a few giant holes in it so when you slice it to make a sandwich, you’re all, WTF is with this big hole?

And the ham is looking through, and the structural integrity of the sandwich is compromised, and a thick layer of mayonnaise and mustard is trapped in the hole, unless you fill it with a slice of pickle or tomato.

Also: my tortoise escaped. We’re going to hang posters around the neighborhood. We’re more concerned and upset than I had expected. The fact that it escaped was not exactly surprising – it’s been trying to tunnel out for the past five years – but it’s still a shock to see that it has gone over the wall.

Also: the kids are in the United States now. Hi, kids. Hope all is well.