Drew T. Noll © 2023, all rights reserved

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Three Thumbs

There’s a rule and two others that I found while navigating the Ramon Crater. Back in Boulder there was a devil’s thumb, but this was different. In the crater I rediscovered three of them, rules of thumb, rules to live by, and rules that were meant. The devil is fantasy, I always suspected, but the cultural paradigms sent down in time would never relent! So, in the crater, I stuck my head in the desert, into the sands of time, and I learned as much as I could, till mostly I was spent. And spent I was, coming up from the barren lands down below, on the globe we live upon. I kept learning long after sundown, the rules to live by … and, until now, not making a sound.

Rule one I learned from my father, as we hiked in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the highlands of California. We arrived at a campsite daily, with packs upon our backs, to find that others had left things behind. My family was small, only four with my mother and brother, but we learned that leaving a place better than when we came was the goal, and rule number one. Pack it in, pack it out, only took care of one’s-self.  We needed to move beyond to make the world better than when we came, so we left each place better than we found it, by packing out others’ garbage as well.

Rule two I taught myself, as all rules should eventually become. I have a fear of heights that has developed over time. My palms sweat when I think of a climb, and I tremble when thinking about the depth of the surface below. Times in the past have given me vertigo, the world spinning ‘round, never stopping, and leaving me cringing and clinging to anything found. The only way that I’ve envisioned to overcome the irrational cringe as it appears, is to chant to myself that it doesn’t really matter. I talk to myself, and caress myself … enforcing my mind over matter.

Rule three was learned much later, from my brother, Uncle Abba, as we sat around the Shabbos table. We spoke, one and all, of a higher consciousness, a better self to lead others. We spoke of a world where each individual seeks to know all. We spoke of a mind-space where the world could be contained, and where each person’s realm could contain others. The line of thought always brought us, sitting at the table, to the awareness that we are all one, and that we must work together. I learned that to be whole I needed to incorporate the views from others; I understood, at the end of each meal, that I needed to be ‘Rosh Gadol.’

Conclusions signal an end, but I believe this is only the beginning. With so much apathy coming down now, we feel the pain, as if the end was already here, and aligned with our inner being. We ask ourselves, always, why ME, with a capital Y, as we fly down the carnival ride we can’t believe we paid to ride. We plummet down the trails we leave, ’round and ‘round, but to know the end is only to stop falling down. To know who we are is a task undone, we slip down until we drown, but … in life we sing as we descend. I say we should listen to ourselves thinking, and stop drooping into the unknown, the undead. Be Rosh Gadol! Take stock and take advantage! You can do it! It’s only mind over matter!! Just be sure to help others clean up the mess they leave behind, that way, TOGETHER one and all, we can shine!!! um... wut woot! 

Monday, November 7, 2022


There’s a knowing left under the world that reminds me of me. I think it sometimes, this knowing, but it leaves soon thereafter, spitting nonsense into my memory of it being. The life it left always tilts my reservoir of love but never touches my lips up, never begs to begin. I sing, I dance, slamming it out unseen, but always tasting the wishing in which it began ~ image: Etrog in Space, 10-2016 

Thursday, September 22, 2022


The alarm split my head open as it went off. My new phone wasn’t normalized yet, and school had just started for the year. It was loud and shocking, but my day needed to begin, nevertheless. Swimming through tasks uncompleted and filling all of my inboxes, I awoke and shuffled towards my morning routine—bathroom, dressing in the dark, tip-toeing downstairs to awaiting animals … feeding, coffee, and contemplation of things to come. Fat ran into the house when I opened the back door, our friendly neighborhood cat, instead of sauntering through my legs for food as I tripped in the dark out onto the back deck. It was strange. I saw Pizza hesitate on the deck-rail, his front paw fluttering as if testing the air for safety. But, with a clink and a spatter, the cat food landed into the metal bowls secured to the kitchen window-sill with wooden cut-out frames and super-sheva.

I returned to the kitchen to begin to feed the dogs, Roxie and Dude, scooped Dude’s food kernels with a different plastic cup and then spun to fill his bowl on the deck. Fat jumped onto the window-sill and greedily ate at the same time, but Pizza was still paralyzed on the rail. Dude wolfed into his chow, as is normal, his senses old and reduced to only taste and smell. And, Roxie was already gone, having run around the corner after more neighborhood cats that often come to call—usually, hence, returning to guard her food-bowl and, of course, to growl.

I measured her kernels into the bottom of the cup, swirled it for effect, and returned to the deck. She was still nowhere in sight, which is often the case as she gets wind of usurper cats waiting beyond the fence.  I bent, and watched the kernels fall from my hand, swirling out of the plastic cup and into the bowl, metal clinking to a stop—Roxie’s last meal. She saved me from imminent death, Roxie did, as I came to suspect. I bent, the spill of kernels spaced out in time, falling to the swirl of the bowl, the bottom of gravity cascading down, and around…

Hisssssss… jumped at me. Behind the dog's water bowl, full from the day before, laid a snake with poison fangs. The last kernel fell into the metal bowl and twirled on its end, as I watched fangs leap out across the meter between… I reeled in my mind, a swear word careened from my mouth, loud, muffled, and I stumbled back over my own roots. 

It glistened in the morning air, a viper digesting a recent kill. Quickly, Fat left. Then I grabbed Pizza off the rail. I threw him into the house, and then scooped my big dog Dude from around his belly, trying not to hurt his tumors as I lifted him and flew him in, too. I shut the door and raced across the house to open the screen at the front—then thought I saw the blur of Roxie coming in, followed by Luna the black cat, which disappeared upstairs with a bleating meow.

The snake catchers arrived from Atlit, after a brief call. All business … they captured the endangered animal, with a trash-claw and a bucket. We all joked about how it would be released back into the wild, next to our home, then come calling again… ha ha ha ha… Then I walked to work through the nature reserve next to our house.

On a break between classes, my phone began to scream. It was subtle, but insistent, ending in Roxie’s head being swollen and obscene. She had been bitten by the snake, my wife said in the text. I was in shock. I ran into my next class and began to teach vocabulary and connectors, but I actually can’t remember…

Hours became days, and then the day stopped. Roxie swelled up and her brain stopped too. Her blood pooled and then she stopped living; and then she decided to go. We all kept her alive with our love, for a day or two, as she perked up every time family would call, wanting to grow back to normal, chasing cats and growling next to her bowl, loving, just … so deeply, the life she had found…

In memory, and in blessing to all for a meaningful new year, full of promise and accomplishment, may you be written into the book of health and astounding life…

Shabbat shalom

(to read about Roxie's young life and start, please read here: https://israel-travel-secrets.com/beach-blanket-puppy/)

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Into the Woods

Separated by the Rocky Mountain range of craggy peaks, I was forced to reinvent myself by the sheer fact that I was physically cut-off from my past; I had to rely upon the foundation that had been set down by ancestors who once had moved west. I moved east and landed in Colorado, then perched onto the foundation of a suburban home built the year I was born. There, I began to search for work … and three years in I began again to paint. After stints splinted with real estate, museum work, and cabinet making, I carved into my suburban home a woodworking studio for days and a painting studio by night. Hence, after tucking my freshly bathed jammy-clad boys into bed with a story read between lines, pages skipped in anticipation, and then with a parting kiss to the lips of my love, I disappeared down below the earth into a basement brightened with paint to light up dreams of doorways invented to ascend.

I built there a tiny staircase with a curving rail up through a hole in the wall leading into an unseen garage, my woodworking studio by day and a place to dwell above ground by night. My suburban bi-level began to transform and to morph into its own, during daylight building cabinets, but at night spray-painting dreams to create jet-ways into the unknown. From table-saw to router, with some hand-tools in between, my mind would leap from paint in the basement to ornamentation above. Built, mortised, and finished upon the ground, with gold-leaf spread around and between, I spent my nights traveling between worlds, one above ground and the other seeking the light from far down below, but mostly unseen.

My boys grew while my worldview shrunk. But, I found that I was able to survive and almost thrive, and regardless of numbers and inherent fears, a business was formed—built in summer with winters too cold. So, built more I did, cloistering up, into the sky with a loft in my woodshop to look out from with a ladder leading below—I left a dimension and time, leaving behind the clutches of foundations built. I had parted from my past-life in California and built my dreams on my own. In suburban Colorado I built it alone, with no way to be heard, internet only a dream, I built from anew a worldview unshared and painstakingly unsung.

I coached soccer for my first-born, attending teacher-meetings for my second; I evolved and developed into a parent each day, LEGOs on the carpet, museums for learning, and teaching about bikes; playing Airsoft in the day, but by night descending—seeking, expecting to rise up again nightly via a staircase through the wall, I painted in oil-cosmic, and the nights slipped together into still. By catching a ride in the dark on the waves passing by, I remained to myself tangible, quite possibly alive, and my mind was able to soar. At least that is what I told myself. Really, I was completely lost in a foreign land with a foreign alibi. Who was I fooling, anyway? I left California because I was tired of holding on to something that had died many years before. I needed something new, something strange, something obtuse and prickling in order to live. The world I had known wasn’t ever real, wasn’t ever anything that could manifest a footing. It was a world overrun, that I lived in, with too many other things, hollow things, devolving. The cultural condition in California had mutated, for me, into something grand and bulbous, a sore toe tripping forward, so with almost no choice left, I left it.

My father grew up there, in the sunny state of California, his father too, all watching the place breed and spout, spreading a sort of cancer with a vintage tin watering can haphazardly onto dreams dreamt, and then packed away out of sight—into crates perfectly fitting produce produced in the dark. I left California with a brother from Laguna on one side and from Israel a brother-in-law on the other. We slept one more time 15 stories above ground in a rent-controlled apartment on the L.A. shore, above the ignoble chaos my mind depicted way down below. My head was made up and I had to leave, the place I loved from generations before had spit my soul out in order that my body should follow. And we went east… 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Scream

I want to scream every time I think about relieving myself. What is this damn machine I’ve been stuck between?! My cells are conspiring, my path is obscured, and my teeth need to be cleaned?! It’s just not fair that I signed on for a life-changing path, a cairn or cornerstone to admire in pathetic undertones of the unknown. There is a plan, I feel in the soul of what I brought with me, but the feet of this thing I ride in have another design entirely. There are vibrations propelling me into this strange and viscous place, time dilating then expanding and becoming null and void because of its birth, because of mine being me…

I spew forth matter that has no relevance, not matter at all. What matters is the meaning behind the expulsion of fluids, the excrement left behind in this world of ‘no matter.’ Whatever… I chose it, supposedly, when I was under the duress of wonder, wandering in a place I can no longer remember. So, the corner of chaos that I once knew no longer exists, and just rots in my memory floating about and stinking to high heaven. It’s not about that, I know… but, holy hell—it sticks to this skin as I expulse the refuse clinging to its core, forevermore... At least that’s what I think when I think of it, the being that began before—there is really nothing more.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Post Conceptualism

We have built our mind’s eye to the point of blindness. There are a few coughs and spasms, still, but in essence we have moved onto a realm where each individual is aware, and pissed off at the world’s refractory-insanity. We believe in mankind and at the same time we spit in its general direction, all the while stuck between what we think and what we believe. We laugh at ourselves, but not really, begging a question between what was funny and what we now see. The corporate shadow engulfs us all, money begging our attention, yet we know deep inside that once upon a time a soul moved the entire scene. We are all blinded by our own enterprise, blinded into knowing, and totally unable to see. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Conversion Court

My background is a secular one, but as a child I was surrounded by quite a few churches strewn about. So, when I was very little ... there was a time when we were forced to go to Sunday school; and, we were disturbed by every moment of it. It was a different era, you see, where children were seen but not heard. So, I guess you can only imagine it if you didn’t share this same experience in some form or another. Later, after coming of age and attending art school, my mind told me to push all the limits—nothing was off the table—at least until the year I was propositioned by both of my favorite teachers, one female and one male, to take our relationship to the next level; not in an obtuse way, mind you, but very respectfully and considerate of my feelings and blossoming desires at the time. Thankfully, I had already met my soul-mate and learned enough under-grad-world-religion to know that I was actually a Jew born into the body of a Goy. I loved growing up as a non-Jew, but not as much as having ultimately found my people-dom.

It’s a complex thing, “people-dom.” I came from a ‘people,’ but I became aware of another, and possibly a more suitable people. I had already traversed Christian theologies, from Episcopalian as a child to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a young adult. I even explored the local Hare Krishna Temple to be sure of my path, but ultimately, after reading cover-to-cover from my father’s (exploration into other realms in collage) Khumash, I found something that resonated with my soul. The Five Books of Moses spawned everything in the western world, I told myself at the time. The underlying philosophy of Judaism didn’t attempt to deny or omit other faiths, I told myself at the time. And, at the time, I was ready to build the world into something that made sense to me, and could (I told myself at the time to feel comfortable dipping my toes into...) maybe make sense to others.

I converted to Judaism in LA. My parents came to support me. I dunked under the living waters and came out anew as I connected to the Creator of the Universe using ... mere words to do so! Then, as I stumbled forward into the unknown, I spent the next 20 years trying to understand the people-dom I had joined. Finally (but not really), I let go of my ego-driven attempt to control my growth in the world … and I moved to the Holy Land only to be dunked again. And then I left adolescence and the real metamorphosis began. But, I found myself becoming so far away from my childhood roots that I almost forgot... almost... and yes, then the world submerged under corona-lock-down and I had a window of space to remember with. Last week I visited my brother, whose children are steeped in Baptist theology, and I broke bread with my uncle Bob (yes, Bob’s my uncle), and I listened to the faith and love they espoused. I could finally listen and be comforted by their belief in their faith. I could finally understand that we are ‘ALL’ ONE; and, I also finally understood, in that moment, something that I hadn't from the beginning. I finally knew that I was a Jew.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022


Fur growing up upon my floors, I sweep and vacuum it but it keeps building up … little doggies and kitties gather in corners where life in our house won’t disturb, and gathering can continue as days move together to form months, even years. Our white dog, Bongo, once brought into our home, has since vanished to other realms. He left looking into my eyes as I cradled his head in my lap, petting his fur, all the time knowing that it would never mix again with the black fur back home, to end gray and unseen, and then gathering in corners until our time was at an end. The black fur is Dude’s, and always has been, at least during our stay here in what we refer to as the middle of the east on our planet. Dude was our first dog in the Holy Land. Then Fat, born inside a dumpster, showed up looking for food and a night well spent. Pizza followed soon thereafter, as a cat that would be indoors, but in the end … just … wasn’t. 

After Bongo replaced us with thought-clouds of wonder, we found Putzky the dog wannabe on a beach. She was born to a local Arab family down the street, but we colonialized her outright with smiles, cash, and the real potential of a healthy long life, and being. Her mutant features were of no concern. Then, a few years later, Loonie was handed to us via our young son, who God-willing will betroth quite soon. The zoo we live in has grown, mostly, from year to year, and with the blessing of Hashem may one day unfold again. That growth has extended to the wonder we feel looking around us from time to time, realizing our fortune, understanding our place and the responsibility it holds, and its sting. A gift we were given is obvious, as is written, but the awareness of such is something that can shine far beyond our understanding. 

Training new members as they join our pod is a complex endeavor. We have more than one human, but each member strives to be together. The only known ending for each and every story is that the animals within are the ones that know truth. The humans in our pod have a sense of where it will end, but it’s the animals that determine where the energy will grow and descend. Like lightning rods pulling down the love that we need, the animals in our life teach us to breathe. They teach us to love, not only them, but each other … indeed. There is a love with conflict between male and female in our realm, the dogs here sense it and can make sense of prophets from beyond. The animals in our life can tell us the things we don’t know. The dogs ‘begging what we can’t know’ give us a window to see each other and to then grow. 

Ahhh… enough with the rhyme, enough with this twaddle and mow! The grass is not greener just because we seem to think so. I started a new project drawing my thoughts as they sewed humor, unfolding with … obvious ebb and a flow. Once we received a new cat, cute as could be, she displayed behaviors unknown and never (by me) seen. MMeeOWww… on and on. Her tail was a pointer poking down, rubbing fur raw as she plowed down into it all. Crying up to the heavens, Loonie echoed way down below. Our new cat was in heat and we just didn’t know. Pizza the boy winked at us all, he knew how to call, but we did not know... Up into the attic she crawled, Pizza in tow, around the house, all willy-nill, she drew him out and the rest of us saw. It wasn’t until we understood that the cat we had been gifted was not spayed as we thought, the owners from before saving money as their unwanted cat flew out their door. 

Shabbat evening was coming, a time to shut down, and we acted once we knew. The new cat needed fixing to blend in with our zoo. The animals around us all knew, but we humans had to stew for a spell, thinking it over and processing all things new. Then with the clock ticking before the sun went down, we raced to repair the damage to our own family realm. There was time before our day of rest was protected; there was time to fire up the engine of things built in the world. In the town that I live there’s a road that wanders down, ending abruptly at the edge of the sea and the end of what’s known. The sun settled down there as I sped home before lighting, and it wallowed for an instant, the sun, with Loonie meowing softly, begging a ride back home. The sea roiled as I watched from afar, red-orange spray sizzling and sputtering out, as the sun wept for the day’s last time. Loonie yawned, like nothing had happened, but then as I descended down the Conqueror’s Road, I wondered if I had time to get home. I turned on the Wheat Road … then followed the plan down to below. I made it, we made it, and our zoo was complete once again, without chaos in tow — a brand new Shabbat Shalom. 

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