Monday, July 19, 2010


By © Russ Barnes.  All rights reserved: text and photos.
July 13, 2008; Sunday.  Awake 8 a.m.  Go through the ritual of making coffee.  Butane stove on porch. Percolator coffee pot which I haven’t used in decades.  Light breakfast in guest house. 

Pace to get ready for revising.  Dive into it at about 9:15 and work till about 12:30.  It appears to me to be working.  Knocking out most narrative for action.  Making the division between the two worlds of the play (the “Meeting Place of the Living and the Dead” and the “Hallucinatory Past” clear as well as the passageway between the two realms.  Make clearer why Granny and the Captain are there where they are.  Also clarify the role of the audience as “the town looking on and implicated.”  Went to make lunch at the big house.  Sat out on the breezy hill overlooking the scrub wooded valley and Lake Travis in the distance.  Returned to do two and a half more hours work on the play.


At about 4 p.m., I get on the bike and roll down hill about 3.5 miles to Cow Creek Road where there is the creek and a swimming hole.  I strip down except for old tennis shoes and go in for a 30 minute soak.  Water is about 5 feet at deepest.  Clear.  Minnows and some trout swimming around me.  I reach out to grab and they are reet, petite, and gone.  Water is cooling, but pretty warm -- about 78 degrees.  Sun is blazing.  Later I talk with Joe on the phone about the experience.  About the elusive fish, he says, “Use a spear.”

Get dressed and begin the arduous bike climb to 1700 feet.  I’m not in excellent bicycle shape yet this summer.  I stop three quarters up the public road alongside the ranch for rest, shade, and water.  I go through the ranch gate.  I push half the steep driveway stopping twice for rest and water.  Arrive back at guesthouse about 5:40.  Cool down.  Begin hour’s meditation at 6:15.

Watched the sun set at 8:37 CDT, “burn orange,” as Texans say, over the southwestern part of the valley.

Am reading materials about George C. Marshall in the evening to prepare for that play I am contemplating.  Thinking about dilemma and structure.

July 14, 2008, Monday,  Awake 7 a.m.  Is this Bastille Day?  Talk with Robbin.  Miss her.  I miss shared experiences, shared perceptions.  She pushes me to see more things.  I miss sleeping together.  It feels right.  Fear I may not be right for her as she may need someone on the more preacherly side.


I make my way to about 19 pages of revision of Red Dog Dirt. 8 a.m. to 12:15.  It seems like about five minutes.  It is arduous work.  Narration to action.  More stage directions to guide the director.  More family stuff.  Will be controversial in my family, but will be valuable to the public.  Doing my best to universalize it and not just make it the story of one family, one person, or one town.  There is not just one protagonist in this version.  There is Granny, Russell, Richie, Guts, the town (audience), and Mongolusa.  I would say the themes are childhood innocence, coming of age (socialization), losing ones way (adulthood, manhood) through avoidance and regression, shame, guilt, eucharist.


Ominous black clouds blew in from the west at about 11:45 a.m.  They seem to disperse and have made a generally overcast sky all day.  Windy.  Know enough about Texas weather that it can change in a minute.  And that change is ordinarily violent.  So I do not take out the bike today for my exercise and exploration.  I let it blow over, and try to do it earlier than usual tomorrow.

“Blue Monday” on KUT radio tonight.  Celebrating 20th anniversary of Antoine’s.  Downtown Austin.  I have seen some of the greats there: Bobby Blue Bland, Junior Walker, Marcia Ball, Eddie Cleanhead Vinson.  

I’m not struggling here for some remedy to my life problems.  I’m just doing my disciplined routine: work, exercise, eat, sleep, walk around enjoying the scenery and the animals, meditate, keep house, pray (for general insight), tell myself and God funny stories.

To be continued tomorrow
Go to sequel: #1, #2, #3, #4, #6, #7, #8

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