Lana Jane Ratliff, Where Are You?


Lana Jane in 1952

Lana Jane Ratliff was the first girl I ever loved.  We were six and in the second grade at Irving School in Joplin, Missouri.  When she did not return  for the third grade, I learned that she had moved…to California, or so I was told, but that was incorrect.  In any case, I resolved to find her no matter how long it took.  I would propose marriage and somehow, we would find a way to survive on my dollar-a-week allowance.  So I have now been searching for her (on and off) for 65 years.  At this point, I only want to say “HI” and see how her life turned out.  I truly hope that she is well and happy and enjoying her grandchildren.  It would give me peace of mind to know this.

Lana Jane 1964

Lana Jane in 1964 (From School Yearbook)

Recently I was able to unearth a lot about Lana Jane using and  After our second grade class let out for summer vacation, I never saw Lana again.  Her father, Gregor, was in the Navy and involved in training and recruiting, so he moved around a lot.  Eventually, the Ratliff’s wound up in Hutchinson, Kansas, where Lana finished high school (Hutchinson High School, Class of 1962) and then attended Hutchinson Junior College, in 1962 – 64.  She was the editor of the college yearbook.

I have determined that the lovely woman on the right is indeed the Lana I knew in grade school, and have corroborated this with research.  This picture on the right is how she looked at the end of the school year in 1964.  Unfortunately, all traces of her after that date are missing.  Perhaps she married and has a different last name, but I can find no marriage records and (thankfully) no death records either.

I hope Lana is alive and well “somewhere out there.”  If anyone knows, please let me know.  She would be 72 years of age if still among the living.

Lana’s parents were Gregor and Katherine Ratliff.  After Kansas, they went to Southern California, living in San Dimas, San Gregorio, and finally Fullerton, where they passed away.  I have not been able to locate their final resting places.

UPDATE:  Shortly after posting this, I was able to communicate with Lana’s cousin on FaceBook.  Lana is alive and well, I am happy to say.  She sent me a note, and it was great to see her feminine handwriting in green ink, yet!  Sadly however, Lana has become a bit reclusive and I was informed that she is not interested in reconnecting with anyone from her past, that she is both a very private person and very present-moment minded.  Sad.


Fall Is Here Again


A Fall Scene

Blog Posts vs Writing in a Personal Journal

Almost ten years ago, in early 2006, I started writing in blogs on the Internet. In some ways this was a mistake, as one’s writing changes when he knows it is being read by strangers. Also, the topics change as well. When keeping journals, I wrote a lot about my private problems, hopes and accomplishments, things that would not be interesting to strangers. So a lot of personal writing never happened. Most of my blog writing is utterly forgettable and irrelevant. In hindsight, it was a mistake.

I will be 71 years old next month, and that seems indeed quite old to me, and yet I don’t feel that old. I am retired, but still work occasionally. My major goal and focus at this stage of my life is to greatly enhance my skill and ability as a bassist for jazz. I have a fully carved string bass, as well as three bass guitars, and practice regularly with the Cats Swing Band of Los Gatos, a project of adult education there. In the past year I have learned to read notes and expand my knowledge of music theory. I am currently immersed in bass study, with the intent to bring myself up to a professional level as quickly as possible.

I am now in the last stage of life. Tess (my wife) has several physical illnesses, including a heart problems, diabetes and asthma. I suspect she will precede me into whatever comes after this life, and that will be hell for me. I have no desire to live without her.

I have no great fear of death, no remorse or sorrow at its approach. I see it as the inevitable way of all flesh, and rather than face it with dread, I am merely observing to see what happens.

A Foxhole in the Mind

A Foxrain-puddlehole in the Mind. That’s what soldiers in war refer to a mental exercise designed to keep them from panicking under fire.  It is a way to feel safe so one can function in trying circumstances.

It is a place where you can feel safe.  We all need this mental place of security, safety and serenity, in order to cope with the pressures and worries of work and daily life.

Sanctuary:  a place of refuge and protection.

Sanctum:  a place where one is free from intrusion.

What I need is not so much a foxhole in the mind as a sleeping bag in the mind, my own bedroom to shelter me from the rainstorms of life.  Warmth, comfort, sleep.  They can’t get me here.  The feeling that I don’t have to get up in the morning to go to school or work and can sleep as late as I like.  My cat and my dog lounging with me on my bed.

The above thoughts are ways in which I enter a meditative state.  They help me relax, unwind, and even fall asleep.

I have a CD called “Rain.”  It is designed to aid in meditation and relaxation.  It is a collection of natural sounds — rain, surf, wind, thunder, jungle sounds, birds, crickets.  Listening to it helps one enter an alpha mental state, going “deep” into the subconscious, connecting with something called the Universal Mind.

The Universal Mind, I take it, is all human minds, living or dead, that is accessible to anyone through meditation and psychic skill.  It is this Universal Mind through which psychics can see facts about people that they have never met.  It is also a means for obtaining ideas, answers and solutions to problems in life or business.

Don’t laugh.  Napoleon Hill in his famous book on success, “Think and Grow Rich,” describes rich tycoons of business and industry who believed in this concept.

It’s also a great way to fall asleep and take a nap.

The Akashic Record: Move Over Cayce, I Too Perceived It

Man in a Bowler Hat and Celluloid Collar, Early 20th Century

Man in a Bowler Hat and Celluloid Collar, Early 20th Century

Sometimes when I am in a meditative mood, I gain new insights and perceptions.  Back in 2004, I was working in San Jose on an accounting project.   I perceived, or imagined, a kind of supernatural record, perhaps in the mind and memory of the Divine.  This record would be of every event and human memory ever made, like a huge mystical database.   I wrote down my impressions in my digital journal:

From My Journal, Friday, July 16, 2004

I am near downtown San Jose.  Part of the public transportation system makes use of old fashioned trolley cars they bought from Italy 10 or 15 years ago, to restore a portion of the City’s past.  The trolleys make use of iron bells that are rang as a warning to traffic that they are coming.  The ringing iron sounds like something out of the 19th Century and conjures images in my mind of horses and buggies and women in hoop skirts.  I sometimes feel that I could just walk downtown and cross the centuries as easily as crossing the street.  I somehow sense that the past is still all there, existing in parallel with the present, that all the yesterdays stretching backward into time still exist with all the thousands of people and events laid out chronologically and accessible like some giant rolodex.  Or so it seems when the trolley’s iron bell rings, or the tower bell downtown chimes out its quarter hour.  Or does it still do that, like it did when I was a child?  Come to think of it, I don’t remember hearing it for some years.

I wish I could traverse the centuries at will, spend an afternoon in 1898 and wear a bowler hat, spats and a celluloid collar.  I often feel a need to communicate with those long-dead folks.  I cannot share their world, but can only imagine what it must have been like.


Later, after writing the above journal entry, I learned that my concept of a “giant rolodex” is called the Akashic Record, and I am far from the first person to ever conceive of it.  The great psychic Edgar Cayce is believed to have been able to access the record, and that accounts for much of his psychic observations.

Fall Weather and Psychic Phenomena

Here in Hollister, California the weather has been hot during the day, but very fall-like in the evening.  I love that nip in the air.  I  love the fresh smells.

A few posts back I was whining about my chronic depression.  Poor me!  Waaah! I just need a hug.  Well, I needed something, in any case.  The Universe provided it.

A few weeks ago, I was looking for a book in my library when an unwanted book fell out.  It was a few years old, the edge of the paper had begun to brown.  The title was “Another Door Opens.”

I didn’t remember when or how I got this book.  I had a sneaky feeling that an unknown force, the Universe perhaps, was messaging me.  “Hey dummy, here’s a book you need to read.  Get on it.”  I did.

The book was about psychic power and communing with the dead.  But it was more than that.  It also contained a lot of practical advice on how to be happier, how to deal with depression.  It talked about soul-paths, and how it is up to you to change your path to a better one.

“Finding your path” is figuring out what you should be doing in life to maximize your potential, your purpose, your happiness.   How do you find out about psychic stuff?  Consult a lady with a kerchief on her head and a crystal ball?  No.  You meditate a lot.  And read more about developing your psychic powers, which sounds a lot more occult and weird than it really is.  Mostly your psychic power is your intuition, your effective care, feeding and use of your subconscious mind.

Sure, psychic power can include psychokinesis, moving things with your mind, mental telepathy, distant viewing, dream interpretation, extra-sensory perception, or ESP.  The psychic skill that impresses me most, and one I would like to have, is the ability to hold an object — an old pocket watch perhaps, and sense important facts and details about the person who owned it.

Depressed?  Get on the path, dude.  Don’t know what or where your path is?  Put it out into the Universe.  Show me the way, great Cosmos!  My mind is open to it.

I am managing my mental states better after receiving this information.   I just read a fairly technical book on “Developing Your Psychic Powers.”  It also stresses regular meditation as the means to increase these natural abilities.

I have another book that I will start soon, it is called “The Only Psychic Power Book You’ll Ever Need.”  It should be interesting.

We all have psychic experiences now and then, though we may not recognize them as such.  I will relate some of my own in future posts.

Big Band Bass

Cats Swing Band

Cats Swing Band

I am now practicing regularly with the Cats Swing Band of Los Gatos, California.  The band is an adult education project, for older people who have retrieved their trombones, trumpets and saxophones from the Attic, dusted them off, and started to play again.  One of my best friends, Don Calvello, informed me of the band and I joined.  I play bass.

I play both bass guitar and standup, or string bass.  The latter is my principal instrument.  I love “American Songbook” tunes, great old American standards like those  you hear sung by Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra and others.

I’ve been with the band for a year now.  In that time period I have learned to read notes and my ear for jazz, swing and blues has improved considerably.  The band has improved steadily, too.

Our band leader is a young man, a senior at San Jose State and a music major, one Faris Jarah.  Faris has done a remarkable job whipping this cacophonous collection of cats into a credible band.

Currently, we have three trombone players, three trumpet players, two saxophone players (one alto, the other tenor), a piano player, two guitar players, a drummer and me on bass.  We could use a baritone sax player and another alto sax.

Currently we are practicing the following songs:  All of Me, L-O-V-E, Corcovado, All Right, Okay You Win, Embraceable You, and others.  I may publish links to some of our practice sessions later on.