Joan will have died three weeks ago tomorrow.  I still haven’t got the paper work I need to do from the damn lawyer.  And last night I realized, trying to fall asleep, that I don’t know where her ashes are.  The mortuary was going to mail them.  And I remember having given somebody the address for the Ora Church, and I remember having spoken to Reverend Roper about the sending along the ashes.  But I don’t know if the mortuary mailed them or not.  Damn, it would be a bummer if her ashes got lost in the mail.





We are trying to figure a date when we might all get back there to the little graveyard in Ora, SC.  We are aiming I think for June 10.  Brother Dave can make it then, and it looks as if Brother Steve is going too, and perhaps Nephew Brian, and Brother Dan wants to go I think.  But it’s hard for him to make plans.  He wants to go back to work of course, and he has some sort of meeting with the people at his former work this week.  At the same time his therapy people want him to concentrate only on getting better and not thinking too much about getting back to work.  So it would be awkward for him to go back to work, if that happens, and then say he has to split for a week to go to a funeral.

On top of that, his doctor people are talking more and more about working on the artery that is half open.  And that makes going back to work even more awkward.  Because no sooner would he get back to work than he might have to go to the funeral or have an operation, whichever comes first, and there is no telling at this point how long the recovery from the surgery, if done, would take.

So I had a talk with him about all this yesterday and given the very, very uncertainty of his plans, I said we would just have to aim for June and see how the chips fell and he seemed to go along with that. 

Which reminds me, I need to contact Wilson Memorials and get Joan’s departure date chiseled into the Tingle Stone next to WB.  I seem to be fretting about the etiquette of this though.  I wonder what Emily Post would have to say.  Is it more proper to have the dates already chiseled in at the time of the burial or more appropriate to leave the date blank until after the funeral.  I would hate to make some sort of gross funeral faux pas.

Brother Steve said that Joan’s obituary appeared in the North County Times:

Joan Tingle, 84

ESCONDIDO — Joan Kaller Tingle, 84, died Tuesday, April 10, 2007, in Escondido.

Born May 20, 1922, in Canada she lived in Spring Valley for one year. She was a homemaker.

She is survived by sons William Tingle of Santa Barbara, Stephen Tingle of Escondido, David Tingle of Spring Valley and Dan Tingle of Santa Barbara; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Inurnment will be at Ora Associate Reformed Church, Gray Court, S.C.

Alhiser-Comer Mortuary is handling arrangements.

Joan lived in Spring Valley for a good twenty years.  So that was wrong.  And there is no William Tingle.  I am Nicholas Tingle, even though my name is legally William Nicholas Tingle.  William is WB’s name.  Not mine.

 I hereby declare to whomsoever might be interested that when I die I want Nicholas Tingle only to appear on whatever form of memorial, if there should so chance to be one, (stone or little box) that signifies my final resting place.


That’s Joan in 1936.  Not the person I knew. 


Big Wind

Wham!  I think I have hit the wall.

Did I make a joke:  People say the grief process goes: denial, anger, and so forth.  And that I have jumped straight over denial into anger.  I don’t think there is a so called grief process.  Hell, there’s just grief and more or less of it.  Today, I seem to be at the more rather than less stage.

For a while I had this sort of hectic energy as if deep down inside of me I had this little engine running that just wouldn’t shut off.  To rest, one needs to relax, but this little engine wasn’t letting me relax.  Well, now the engine has stopped and the result is not relaxation but generalized misery, approaching my old colleague torpid depression in which the meaning of it all become elusive.

I woke up vexing myself about the political and emotional correctness of a song I wrote yesterday.  Perhaps it was a signal that the engine was shutting down.

The last stanza goes:

Old Buddha say the worst thing is to be born
I guess that makes old Buddha seem pretty damn forlorn
But maybe that old Buddha was onto something we forgot
Being dead is easy; it’s life that is the shock

A big wind comes straight out of nowhere
And knocks down anything that is standing there

If you are alive right now
You’re in the wrong place at the wrong time….

So I start chastising myself for suggeting maybe life itself is a horrid mistake and nothingness is better.  And so I should change the lyric, if I had the energy to do it, to something more upbeat.  Talk about a loss of perspective…

Big Wind. It’s an MP3.

If it ain’t one thing……

I was not looking forward to my May appointment with my pulmonary guy.  Any doctor stuff having to do with my lungs puts me in the throes of anticipatory anxiety because of my forty year bad habit. Actually, Dr. Flaster was not originally my pulmonary guy; he was my sleep apnea guy.  I had to go to him to get a test for sleep apnea and later to get my sleep apnea cure stuff.  I guess sleep apnea does involve the lungs.





He became interested though in my lungs per se when he heard about my bad habit.  He ordered an extra x-ray.  The problem with lung cancer—as yet no early detection.  And then when I got the pneumonia he insisted on checking me out.  I had an x-ray again and had to take a breathing test that turned me blue in the face and made me almost passed out.  He had told me after the first x-ray that I had the start of asthma and this time he said, over a month after the pneumonia was supposed to be over, that my lungs still showed signs of the pneumonia.

I liked Dr. Flaster pretty well.  I had worked to establish a rapport.  The nurses said he was one of those geniuses and that he had a wicked sense of humor.  He had a PhD in chemistry and was of course also an MD.  I asked him if he still had time for bench work and indicated that I had a PhD myself in literature though.  I figured phrases like “bench work” and PhD might make him more inclined to remember me.  In fact, he took to calling me Dr. Tingle when he remembered my name at all.

My May appointed was for a final pneumonia check: x-ray again followed by a meet and greet. But of course I lost the card with my appointment time on it, so Carol called for me to find out the time, and told me to sit down, because she had just found out that Dr. Flaster had died in his sleep just two nights before.  He lived alone and his dog had died just a few weeks before.

In light of my recent Job like travails, I thought, what the hell is this?  What does it mean when your doctors start dying? I was glad the appointment was canceled on account of death but pissed that I would have to make another.  And on top of that I would have to try to cultivate a relationship with another pulmonary person.

I wasn’t surprised though.  Dr. Flaster was bald, about 5 foot four and had that Babe Ruth figure:  built like a bowling ball with tooth pick legs sticking down.  Also he was positively disheveled.  He had this overlong belt that flapped around in front of his half pulled up fly, and his shirt kept coming out of his pants. Given his weight and my guess that he had never worked out in his life, he looked like a walking time bomb to me.  And he sweated real easily too, like guys I have known who are overweight and also alcoholics.

I liked this guy.  He was Jewish and they buried him right away. 

Here’s looking at you Flaster, a real mench of a guy.

A Diversion

I go to a club to workout.  I try to go everyday.  I met a guy there named Ben.  He’s well over six feet and has sort of folds of flesh hanging around his abdomen.  I expect he was really heavy at one time and lost a lot of weight.  He is also brown as berry all over.  You see this stuff in the locker room where people change their clothes.  He is retired now, formerly an engineer, and very smart.


Also he complains about something all the time.  He has been going to the club longer than anybody I know there, over 20 years, and all he can do is complain about the place.  You figure he would go somewhere else with all the complaints.  They were playing some sort of music over the speakers in the locker room, and he would go around with his hands over his ears complaining about the crap.  He complained so much they stopped playing the music.

He has his own house with a big front yard with grass and he started into talking about this war he had with the gophers.  He waged a war on them for years, using all the traditional devices—flooding, sticking flares in their holes, traps—but he couldn’t get rid of them.  There was one really big one that he came to recognize, that he just couldn’t get rid of.  The thing would come out of its hole and like taunt him, Ben said.

Being an engineer Ben eventually went high tech; he bought or built this device that stomped the ground. He thought maybe the vibrations of the stomper would drive out the gophers.  But all it did was leave a big hole where it stomped.  Then he hit on sound and bought a high frequency noise emitter that was supposed to produce a sound, inaudible to human beings, that drove gophers crazy.  The problem was that cats and sometimes dogs that would come into his yard and go nuts when they heard the sound.  Cats would just flip into the air he said and go into convulsions.  He didn’t like the cats and dogs coming into his yard—people should know better—but he didn’t like having to cart them out of the yard and put up with neighbor’s complaints either.  That could have been worse; the noise didn’t out right kill the animals.  Just flipped them out.

Over time, he managed to adjust the frequency of the noise emitter and he said it pretty much worked.  But he couldn’t get rid of that big fellow that taunted him.  I could tell he had a grudging respect for that recalcitrant gopher.  He had an Ahab and the Whale thing going with that gopher.  The big gopher had turned old and grey over the years of their fight, and the way Ben figured it, the old guy was now deaf and that’s why the sound didn’t disturb him.

Turns out Ben is brown as a berry because he has psoriasis.  He has a good thatch of grey hair, and said I wished I had his thick hair since mine is becoming all thin and stringy.  Oh, he said, that was nothing; it was really much thicker than that but he had to use some super powerful shampoo to keep the psoriasis off his scalp.  One of the ways people fight psoriasis is to get a lot of sun; thus the brown as a berry effect.


I have been hearing songs on the radio for a bit now from a CD called “The Road to Escondido” by JJ Cale, with Eric Clapton.  I figured it couldn’t be our Escondido, the one where Brother Steve lives, and near where the folks live.  But I was wrong.  JJ Cale lives in Valley Center which is exactly where the folks lived.  That was their address “Delridge, Valley Center, CA.”  I guess he titled his album the road to Escondido because it would’t sound as mysterious or something as the road to Valley Center.


Brother Steve had a burst of energy and went to the bank in Escondido to see if he could get into Joan’s safety deposit box and perhaps locate her original will that the lawyer wants (along with a death certificate).  He had the death certificate, but no key to the deposit box, so they said he had the right to get into the box but they would have to get somebody to pull the lock.  Then he remembered that maybe he had seen the key in one of Joan’s purses that might be in the storage area where we put the stuff from Delridge.  So he went there—sure, enough—found the key, went to the bank, got in the safety deposit box and located the original will along with Brothers Dave and Dan and my birth certificates.  Then he went over to Joan’s lawyers and dropped off the original will as well as the death certificate, and so—thanks to his efforts—we have got the ball rolling on the lawyer side of things.


Brother Steve reports he got a T. Rex CD, which was sort of odd since the day before I had been humming “Bang a Gong” in my head.

I am waiting for the lawyer paper work.  All sorts of things to fill out, and of course they want a 2000 dollar retainer.

I brought up the coca cola vigil thing with my students, showing them some pictures from the web.  I huffed and puffed about how tawdry I thought it was—displaying one’s grief with coca cola cup. And then said, though, maybe I was overreacting and what did they think.  They didn’t say I was over-reacting, but then they didn’t find anything particularly wrong with it either.  Well, a little bit maybe.  Though all seemed to accept the coca cola cup thing as an indication of how much the consumer culture has become part of all we do…for better or worse, I guess.

I am running on empty.  Last night I was trying to respond to a student’s email and I kept putting my fingers on the wrong keys and coming out with stuff like akjoaduioa—and I just couldn’t stop doing it.  I need to rest somehow but it’s hard to rest when you can’t relax, and I can’t relax because it seems like I have this little engine down there some where that is running at full speed and I can’t shut it off.

 Cousin Beth sent along the image of the Pepsi Cola Vigil.  This is a picture of students at Furman College, in Greenville SC, honoring the dead students at VT.  Cousin Lucy who works in the public relations office at Furman says the students at Furman were pretty deeply affected by events at VT.

 I was a bit surprised at the Pepsi Cola cups since in the South, as I understand it, Coke is king.  A high school in Georgia held a Coke day and all the students came to school wearing Coca Cola t-shirts, except for one maverick who came wearing a Pepsi shirt.  He was sent home for the day.

 Coke is king according to my understanding because it was developed by a man named Pemberton of Atlanta, GA.  I think the Coke headquarters are still there—in Atlanta.  But I am not sure.

Broken Hearted Melodies

As indicated some time before on these pages, I bought a used guitar about 4 years ago for 350 bucks, and since that time, I have been trying to make up songs using my computer as my recording device.  I use a software program called ProTools that includes another program called Reason.  With this piece of software one can mix in a drum line and other effects with guitar, voice, and base that are produced by me and directly recorded.  Finally I think, after fiddling for I don’t know how long, I managed to start making decent drum lines.

I made up this song yesterday and I expect it reflects my current mood.

It’s an MP3 and should download pretty easily.

I call it:  “Broken Hearted Melodies.”

Coca Cola Vigil



This is a picture of the candle light vigil at Virginia held in recognition of and to mourn the deaths of 32 Virginia Tech students massacred by a murderer.  If one is however unaware of this context and knows what one is looking at this might also be an advertisement for Coca Cola.  If one looks closely, one will see people holding candles in little red cups.  These are Coca Cola cups.  Visits to media sites as well as Flickr will confirm this.  Indeed peppered, throughout pictures of the mourners, one finds coca cola cups.

Perhaps significantly too in responses to pictures of this kind on Flickr one finds no mention of the cups.  Rather, repetitiously, “awesome shot,” “thanks for sharing,” “very moving.”

I didn’t notice this myself because I did not watch TV coverage of the event or look for coverage of it online.  But after class this last Thursday, a student came up and said, “Hey, I noticed something because of this class.”  We are discussing and writing about the consumer culture.  When he told me about the coca cola cups, I was outraged at the pure insensitivity and just plain vulgarity displayed by people mourning the deaths of comrades with candles in coca cola cups.  I can’t at the moment quite find the words to express my feelings about the inappropriateness of this particular product placement. 

I suppose there might be many reasons for this sordid vulgarity.  One was in a rush to mourn and perhaps lacking a cup in which to stick one’s candle, one takes a coca cola cup because it is handed to one, as free of charge.  Still, had a coca cola cup been handed to me on such an occasion, I would have thrown it to the ground and stomped on it.  I wouldn’t in any case have wanted my grief  associated with a sweet, sticky substance, that rots teeth and contributes to obesity.  Not to mention its association with the predatory capitalism of the Coke corporation.

But this reaction marks me I suppose as pretty old school.  I was not born and raised in the consumer culture as it flowered since about 1980.  The students I teach seem to find nothing wrong with acting as walking billboards for whatever clothes they are wearing or rock groups they support.  And they find nothing wrong, I guess, because acting as a walking billboard serves as an identity marker, as way of asserting one’s allegiance to a particular product and all the other unknown people who also pledge allegiance to this particular product.  Who knows but some students carrying those coca cola candles may have felt, albeit unconsciously, soothed by those cups and their associations with that sweet, sticky beverage that has marked so many happy and unhappy occasions.


Brother Dave and Sister-in-law Teresa drove up to SB to check in with Brother Dan and see how he was going, what with the stroke and all.  Later in the day they drove out to our place on the edge of town and we found ourselves swapping tales from the Joan and WB story book: aberrant acts of random violence.


I have already recounted in these pages, WB’s death threats towards Joan, involving a truck and a two pound hammer; I have also mentioned Joan’s attempt to stab WB with a kitchen knife.  Actually, the word “attempt” is wrong; she completed her action.  She stabbed WB but managed only to stick him in the arm.  She failed to realize her full intent.

But we started at one point swapping tales that we didn’t all know.  I hadn’t known for example that Joan had struck WB on the back of the head with a skillet, but, failing to render him unconscious, managed only to stun him.  I was perhaps digesting this story and sitting there in a daze I followed the rough outlines of the pieces of a story that once in focus caused me to laugh as hard as I have in weeks.

Towards the end, if one remembers, Joan was prone to falling down; this was particularly troublesome since once down she could not lift her flaccid body from the floor.  She was felled, one might say, and WB by that point was so withered up and weakened that he could not begin to get her back on her feet.  So as they had done on previous occasions and would do later, they put in a call to the fire department to come pick her up off the floor.

When the fire persons came to the rescue, however, they found the doors to the house locked.  WB had forgotten to unhinge the bolt, and so to rouse the inhabitants to action the fire persons went around the side of the house to see of the sliding plate glass door that allowed a view of the living room was open.  As they tried the door, itself locked, they saw WB in his withered and worn down state kicking at the prone and flabby Joan.  Apparently she was making some attempt to get away from the kicks because he had planted one foot on her chest to hold her down while he went at it with the other.

I could just see it there in my mind’s eye.  WB in his weakened state expending the little he had of energy kicking his prone wife of over 60 years while sputtering profanities—goddam cunt, fucking bitch, and so on.  For he could be profane, while she just lay there, well protected by her flab in all the stunning passivity by which she had exercised power and ruled the roost for so many years.

I just laughed.  A hard laugh.  And, to take the joke a step further, I got up and mimicking WB’s bent and feeble posture began to kick little feeble kicks at an imaginary Joan while muttering in a squeaky voice, take that you fat cow and so on.  Whereupon the others in the room, requested that I “stop it,” so I did, but got a deep chuckle every time I thought back on it.

Of course I did not sleep for shit.

Take a loner to lunch

The massacre at Virginia Tech has upset me.  After all, I teach at a university and work with students.  So maybe that’s natural.  And a few years back, at UCSB, a student used his automobile as a lethal weapon and drove it directly into a group of students.  Four died as I recollect.


For some reason I started thinking about loner students I have known over the years.  Maybe 15 years ago, I got to teach some classes that were designed for low income and minority students.  This was back when affirmative action was still legal.  The special think about the classes really was that they were smaller (18 per section, rather than our regular 25) and all students were members of EOP (Equal Opportunity Program).

Calvin was in one of these classes.  He was a black guy from East L.A.  He had one of those faces that seemed prematurely gnarly and aged.  Also he clearly was not a stereotypical black athlete.  This dude did not pump iron.  His father was a minister and his mother was a police officer.  He had braces, huge ones, and I don’t know where he got his clothes, maybe from a golf shop because he word that golfer pants, with plaids I think they are called.

Calvin did not fit in anywhere.  The number of black students where I teach is pathetically small, but I expect Calvin didn’t fit in exactly even in East L.A.  Not with a minister father and a policewoman mother and those damn plaid pants.  And a name like “Calvin.”  I would see him now and again around campus and just like me he was always walking alone.  He would call out, “How’s it hanging.”  I would say, “A little to the left.”

One day in class, he said a lot—for Calvin I mean—something like:  “Like high school is supposed to prepare you for college.  Middle school is supposed to prepare you for high school.  But middle school don’t prepare you for nothing but middle school.  And high school don’t prepare you for nothing but high school.  And college…”  And then he shrugged.

He said he was sleeping way too much and without his parents constantly looking over his shoulder, he was “drowning in freedom.”  I liked Calvin, but I figured he wouldn’t make it, and sure enough when I asked around the next year, I found he had not returned.

I have thought about Calvin over the years and wondered how he made out finally.

The murderer at VT has been described repeatedly as a “loner.”  The way the word is used and the context in which it is employed might make it seem as if being a loner is a bad thing.  It’s not.  Calvin was an OK guy and actually pretty interesting.  I mean just because a guy doesn’t have friends and eats alone in the student cafeteria doesn’t make him any more a threat to society than all those non-loner people.  Hell, if you don’t believe me, take a loner out to lunch.


Joan died a week ago today.  Brother Dan had that so-called mini stroke this last Thursday.  This has been one of the longest weeks of my life.


I have been reading a little in a book that says depression is the result of the inability to grieve.  I am not sure that’s what the book is saying exactly; maybe more like one is unable to grieve because one is stuck in grief.

In any case, I thought denial was supposed to come first and anger later on.  Of course, the process model of grief is BS.  But I seem to have skipped directly to the pissed off stage.

I went to bed and couldn’t get to sleep and was suddenly raging pissed off when I remember that damn lawyer has not gotten back to us yet—after three calls and an email—about what, if anything, we are supposed to do to get the trust filed and any final paper work that might need to be done. 

And yesterday I got really pissed when I heard about that massacre at Virginia Tech.  33 students dead, including the killer.  I started in ranting about the fucking incompetents that run the country and the fact that it is possible to buy automatic and semi-automatic weapons in this fucking barbaric country, and so on and so forth till I wore myself out.

The students were sort of stunned—not by me—but the event; some had heard about it and others had not, and they were whispering to each other, and one student said, because I had the web up, go to U-Tube for some action footage, and I said I didn’t want to look at any pictures of the fucking shooting or of students jumping out of windows for fear of their lives.

The parents and friends of those poor students are going to have one damn long week too, I expect.