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I had a rock once, but . . . - Hurtling Butt-First Through Time [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Phrembah (a potato-like mystery)

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I had a rock once, but . . . [Aug. 11th, 2015|09:19 pm]
Phrembah (a potato-like mystery)

. . . I never thought to try and see anything in it. Or to hear anything in it, or from it. Has anyone tried that? With this current flurry of cackle about "seer stones," there are two assumptions that permeate the dialog: That "scrying" using a seer stone does not work (of course it doesn't work—we know that now), and that if it did work, the scryer would see images in the stone or through the stone via a more-or-less totally visual experience. Has anyone ever listened to a seer stone? Are we sure that that's not how it works? How it always worked? Somebody (besides me) needs to look into this.

Anyway, I had a personal rock that I carried in my left front jeans pocket with my house keys for years. It was a rock that I selected out of the parking in front of our house in Salt Lake City. We called it "the parking." It was the strip between the sidewalk and the actual street. People did different things with their parkings. In the older neighborhoods where my grandparents lived, the parking in front of a house invariably had two large shade trees, elms, sycamores; my dad's mom's house had maples that shed those little helicopter seeds in the late summer. Between the shade trees in these older neighborhoods was lawn that never grew very well because it didn't get much sun and had to be watered separately on purpose. In the newer neighborhoods (ours was brand new) people didn't want to have to maintain the parking in front of their house. It was a pain. So, very often they just put down plastic and filled the parking with gravel. The gravel in our parking was 2" landscaping stone, which meant that the rocks it was made of fell through Utah Sand & Gravel's 2" sorting grate, but not through their 1-1/2" grate.

One afternoon I was sitting on the curb in front of our house. Twelve, thirteen and fourteen year-olds would do that in those days. Just sit out in the yard for no friggin' reason whatsoever. If the midday sun was beating down, you'd probably sit on the covered porch on the north side of the house where it was measurably cooler. That day I was sitting on the curb on the street side of the parking. I took a rock out of the gravel there and started to grind it on the cement curb. I found that I could grind a flat spot on the rock after a few minutes of grinding. So I kept grinding. This went on for some hours. Two? Three? I don't remember. I had nothing else to do. In a neighborhood chock full of school-aged kids, their parents and siblings, there was nobody else around. That was rare, but it happened. I was one of those kids who not only didn't need other people to entertain me, I actually reveled in solitude sometimes. So I kept grinding my rock on the curb and then on the sidewalk because the sidewalk had larger, flatter expanses where you could get some elbow action going.

By the time my dad got home from work, I had ground this rock into a kind of four-sided diamond shape with points on either end and shallower angles in the middle. It wound up looking a lot like a plumb bob, if you know what that is, but it wasn't there yet; it wasn't finished. My dad was not happy with the scarred white area on the sidewalk where I had been grinding the rock. It looked like somebody had scribbled all over the walk with chalk. My dad made me take a garden hose and a stiff-bristled push broom out there and clean it off. The water and broom evened it out and made it less noticeable, but, because it was actual abrasion and not just chalk, it didn't come off completely. My dad, being a 1960's Leave It To Beaver dad, wanted to know why someone would do that. Why would anyone sit on the concrete for however many hours and grind a piece of rock into a shape only slightly less random than the shape it had had when he picked it up. I had no answer for that. I didn't know. I honest-to-God didn't know. It just happened. What was I thinking? Nothing, mostly. A few times it occurred to me how it was pretty easy to grind a rock on a sidewalk and make it a different shape, but why? What for? I literally had no idea.

So I didn't do that again, not on my dad's sidewalk. But there were empty lots in our neighborhood where the city had put down sidewalks and curbs where no one had built yet. Nobody even looked at those sidewalks. And I wasn't permanently damaging them; after a few months of sun and wind and rain you couldn't tell where I'd ground my rock and where I hadn't. Over the next few weeks, when it occurred to me, I finished grinding my rock into the sort of oblong plumb bob shape that God and the Universe had decided it would be. It wasn't my design, not at first. Later, when I could see what shape it wanted to be, I helped it along toward that shape. After the basic shape was achieved, I used a two-sided whetstone on a workbench in the basement to grind the rock almost perfectly smooth, no grain at all. And I oiled it so that it appeared black instead of the charcoal grey it had started out as. My dad wasn't happy when he found out I'd used his whetstone, either, but like the sidewalk out front, the whetstone recovered with usage and by the time we moved you couldn't tell it had ever been used to grind my rock.

The result of this endeavor was that I ended up with a magic rock in the shape of a plumb bob that was wider across the beam than it was deep through the middle and somewhat longer from the middle to one end than from the middle to the other end. What was magic about it? The fact that I had kept track of it for weeks and put a few dozen hours into shaping it and polishing it was all the magic I could think of. Like I said at the beginning, it didn't occur to me to try to coax any more magic than that out of it.

So, this is my magic rock story. This and the fact that I don't know what happened to it. In fact, I can't swear I don't still have it somewhere. I have boxes in my garage from the first time I moved out of my parents house that need to be gone through some day. What I can't remember is whether the magic rock was ever seen after we moved from Salt Lake. Did I have it in Denver? Or Albuquerque? Did I give it to someone?

This is the case with a few other things, as well. I had a Mosrite guitar and a Gibson Titan II Medalist amplifier that I bought as a teenager in Denver. I sold them both to Ed, The Red Faced Boy, for a total of $425 as I left Denver for the last time (1972?), and I remember disposing of other stuff (or having it stolen), as well. However, I had a Stella-Harmony parlor guitar that my parents gave me for my twelfth birthday and a Harmony H304-A amplifier that I bought on credit at Gallenson's Grand Jewelry when I was thirteen, and I cannot for the life of me remember what happened to either of them. I drilled a hole in the top of the guitar and mounted a Radio Shack contact mic on the underside of the bridge with an 8-32 brass screw and matching nut. I also put a volume control (and maybe a tone control) on the upper bout of the guitar. I bought the mic at the Radio Shack in the Cinderella City mall in Denver, but I don't know if the guitar made it to Albuquerque. The amp did make it to Albuquerque. Back in my teenage rock star wannabe days in Denver I had installed a balanced attenuator off of the speaker output and run it to a 1/4” jack so that I could plug it into the Gibson Medalist and use the whole Harmony amp as a fuzz box. The 1/4” jack worked its way out of the crappy fiber-board side of the amp and I ended up making an aluminum plate to hold it securely in place. I was going to put a Fender-style tone stack in the amp, but I don't know if I ever did. I did have it apart on my workbench/desk in Albuquerque; this I know (I think).

So, what happened to the Stella guitar and the Harmony amp? I have no recollection of giving away or selling either of them. And, by extension, what of my magic rock? Same deal. I would like to remember what happened to these things just for the fun of it. I don't necessarily want any of them back, it would just be satisfying to know where they went. Maybe self hypnosis. Maybe eBay?  Maybe eBay is self hypnosis.  It's hard to tell . . .

—Chibongo phleeg mahuti, I always say (but ain't that America?)