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Epic Road Trip #11: Jimez Mountains

For full disclosure I have left the Jimez and moved on to Chaco Canyon, one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. I’m on a back country hike and I’ve settled in some shade under an overhang/shallow cave and I am going to wait out some of the heat.

At the end of my last post I was camping in the Santa Fe National Forest trying to hike this elusive Civil War Trail. I ultimately found it and it was closed on a Saturday. I have never known a trail to keep banker’s hours or worked so hard to do something I wasn’t that excited about. Google maps took me to another trail which was not open for the public and I drove to the Jimez a day easier then I’d planned.

You have to pass through Los Alamos which was weird having a military checkpoint but I ended up spending enough time in the area it just became life. They have great dispersed camping in the greater Bandelier National Monument.

I spent a day at Bandelier proper which is very cool. Long house ruins and cliff dwellings. Lots of tourists but I’ve been isolated enough to find them all charming.

I took a long drive to the second site. It had a nice unimproved trail and there were cliff dwellings and some petroglyphs. It was an interesting climb up the Mesa and didn’t see too many people.

I did enjoy the prairie dogs and saw some elk. There is a stand of old growth Ponderosa pine but it’s a manicured stand and didn’t feel like a forest. I climbed one of the hills and there were a lot of wildflowers especially wild irises which I’ve seen a lot of on this trip.

I went back to camp and the next morning I went to Valles Caldera at my friend Rodger’s suggestion. It’s a beautiful valley surrounded by the hills of the long extinct volcano that formed it. It’s a fairly new National Park (2015) and feels more like a cattle ranch (which it still is by statute, when there’s not a drought) then a National Park.

I hiked a short nature trail and drove down to Los Alamos for a vegetable rice bowl which was cheap and excellent (Tiger Bowl). I did the Los Alamos walking tour and learned about life during the making of the first Atomic bomb. There are a few original buildings, some settler stuff and some ancestral Pueblo ruins; all right downtown.

I meditated at the Unitarian church and grabbed a Gatorade out of their Gaia Box. It was raining so I went to Starbucks and enjoyed a coffee and some WiFi and it was well worth three dollars and a poor nights sleep.

It was still raining a bit and their was a nice rainbow which I took as God’s promise he wouldn’t destroy us with atomic bombs. I picked up a quart of oil and made the clerk go look at the rainbow. She was glad she did.

After another night at my usual spot I drove down through Santa Fe and south to La Cinguella Petroglyphs. It’s on BLM land and it’s pre-columbian and a huge collection. I scrambled over the rocks awestruck for 5 hours before I was done in and didn’t see them all.

I got some great Guatemalan food down the road. A steak with a chili sauce and all the fixings. Then I went to REI and got a new pair of Chacos. My old pair were hanging together by a thread as I’d had them for more then a decade of hard wear. Coincidentally I broke the new pair in at Chaco Canyon. Having some tread is amazing.

Speaking of those Chacos. I’ve forgotten how unpleasant the afternoon heat is and I’m getting stuff setting here so I will get back to the adventure and catch you up later. I’ll have to climb a bluff to get a signal tomorrow so maybe I’ll have time to catch the narrative up to the present before then.

I got hot and tired at Chaco and got a hotel room. Going to Aztek today and camping in Bizi badlands tonight.

Epic Road Trip #10: Petroglyphs and ruins

Petroglyph Rock was impressive. I hiked 2 1/2 miles down a jeep trail to get to the trailhead. I got on the wrong trail and spent a couple more miles following false paths. I did a thorough search of the parking area and found the trailhead clearly marked and a short hike to Petroglyph Rock.

It’s a paleolithic artifact 8-10,000 years old. Very nice piece. I found one other petroglyph on another rock after a pretty exhaustive search. I hiked most of the trail twice but it’s really just a connector to a nearby campground and some exposure to the ecosystem which I’d already done on my misadventures on the Rio Bonito.

I did see what I assume is a horny toad. If anyone knows more, please chime in. I then drove over to Fort Stanton and checked that out. It was a fort built for the Indian wars and had some parts of it burned by Confederate sympathizers. It then was used to ensure the Mescalero Apache stayed on the reservation.

It was the best built of the western forts and in spite of being a tool of genocide was quite beautiful. There were lots of intact buildings from the late 19th century. It got a new lease on life as a CCC project and German sailors were interned there as well as some Japanese Americans during WW II.

It got its final makeover as a hospital for turbuculosis patients. The climate is really sweet and they added some buildings and upgraded almost everything. When we got better treatments then hanging out in the desert it was closed and is a historic site. It seems really underutilized and would make an awesome resort.

I camped in the next canyon over on some BLM land. It’d been a pretty full day. The next morning I started driving north towards my next historical site. A tip from Ray who I had met at Bridal Veil Falls and a historic sign map gave me my next 3 stops.

After breakfast, at the Smoky Bear Cafe where I finally got one of those Mexican breakfasts with beans and tortillas (It was in the area where he was rescued from a fire, I skipped his park because they wanted $2.00), I went to White Oaks a former ghost town which is now about half occupied.

I stopped by the graveyard it being Memorial Day and paid my respects to a deputy gunned down by Billy the Kid. They also have a little historical museum you let yourself in with little dioramas of settler life.

I then drove down to Valley of Fires, which was really cool. It’s a 4-5,000 year old lava flow and had a cool interpretive trail. A thunderstorm blew in with some serious hail and I got soaked in the second wave.

I then drove out to Three Rivers Petroglyph National Conservation Area. I was going to camp in the nearby National Forest and explore it the next day but the road was closed because of flooding from the storm. Even a quarter inch of rain can flood some arryos I learned and we got much more than that. I did some serious backtracking to find camping in the National Forest but the site was beautiful.

I drove out to Three Rivers the next morning and wow, just wow. It’s the largest collection of petroglyphs that is publicly accessible. There were so many I spent the day there hiking and taking pictures and meditating.

I then made a serious drive and got my second hotel room in Santa Fe. Again out the door for $43 and wifi problems on one of my devices. Today I got up and poked around downtown some but was scared off by the price of parking. I went to the National Cemetery and then further up north to the Pecos Pueblo ruins.

It was pretty cool. It’s an archeological site where this dude figured out layering and dating sites by pottery. The Pueblo folks sent Coronado on a wild goose chase to Kansas figuring he’d get weakened or killed on the plains looking for cities of gold. It worked but they got conquered by the Spanish anyway.

They had a revolt and destroyed the church and had 12 years of freedom but the Spanish won out who became the Mexicans who got pushed out by the Americans. The Pecos Pueblo traders dwindled until the remnant joined a nearby pueblo.

There were some reconstructions and foundations. The second church ruins were built in a smaller footprint then the first one. There is a kiva in the church which there’s only a couple of those. I did my meditation down in it which was cool.

The park closes at 5:30 so I didn’t get to do the Civil War hike. Texan militia tried to conquer the area to open up Colorado gold fields and Californian access to the Pacific but got their asses handed to them by Colorado and New Mexican militia.

That’ll be tomorrow’s hike. Now I’m at a great dispersed site in Dalton’s Canyon in the Santa Fe National Forest. I’ve got some split peas cooking on a fire for a late dinner. Didn’t expect to get to make a fire out here but all this rain has been a Godsend for droughtland. My peas are old and are taking forever which has allowed me to get this written.

Rest well faithful reader. I’ll get this posted tomorrow and hopefully have enough signal for petroglyph pictures.

I forgot to post this yesterday when I went into Pecos for coffee and was looking for the Civil War trail. I couldn’t find the trail and drove up into the mountains and hiked a trail. They wanted $8.00 for a day use pass so I just hiked the one and relaxed at camp (in the evening drizzle again).

I decided to take a slow day today and push on to Bandelier tomorrow. I found the trail in Google maps I couldn’t find yesterday so I’m going to hike that. Been reading Leaves of Grass, the deathbed edition; a book on the Apostles and studying Book 4. Good stuff for a deep dive both into America and myself.

Decoration Day Weekend

Hello Faithful Reader,

I was just looking around for how to make the blog public again. With a few tweaks I think I can live with it being public. I was just looking and haven’t posted in almost a month. Maybe with knowing I have more readers again I will feel like posting. I feel like, and someone reaffirmed this is a time in my life worth documenting. Its Saturday night a little passed bedtime but I napped hard so I expect I will be staying up later then usual. It was good to sleep, certainly the most solid one in 2012. My thoughts have been rushing since January with the frenetic activity and deep thought of newly minted political life. Overall I am pleased.

I haven’t had a good nights sleep this week. Monday Council ran late with two hours of public comment on this controversial tax incentive/job creation thing we are doing. I didn’t get home until 11:30 and I was pretty wired. Probably should just start taking people on offers of beers afterwards as its pretty stimulating. I work the next morning though and don’t want to give up an evening to get a late night on Tuesday as I had thought I would do during the campaign.

Its hot on the first weekend of Summer. Mid 90s. Still mowed the front yard. We put in a scoop of cedar mulch, mostly Flow. Got the roses and mailbox beds and the beds along the privacy fence in back and a path to the compost and the dirt outside the back porch. Flow mulched the strawberries  and garden beds with straw. I cultivated a little but have been hard pressed to do more then mow. I weed whipped the back and skipped mowing its been hot and dry. I mowed the front lawn, mostly because it was longer then the neighbors.

The girls in the basement apartment moved out and the owners have been scurrying around on projects. New neighbors. I thought I was going to start a community organizing project but there is a hitch with my intern starting and I want to involve someone else. I told a neighbor I would start in May but I’m not quite there.

Had about 800 pages of reading for the last Council meeting. All the usual stuff plus trend statements and data for Strategic Planning. We did small groups with Council and department heads and the like. Rotated groups and topics, it was interesting. Got to know a lot of folks. Been on a name learning tear.

Everything has a steep learning curve with all the background information and the level of detail to make informed decisions. I have been sideways with my base early on which makes for a bit of consternation. I also get a lot of positive feedback and bounce ideas off whoever which is fun. I’m going to start doing my prep reading in the dog park and getting feedback from the folks out there.

Didn’t do much with the nap and all. I went to the market and got a lot of stuff since I am helping Harry move next week and won’t be able to go. Got a nice deal on big fresh white onions, a giant purple cauliflower, asparagus (I was surprised at that), a couple of nice looking lettuces (everyone agreed this is pretty much the last week for that with the high temps), kohlrabi, some yellow turnips, kale, carrots, sweet cherries, a couple of big beautiful hybrid tomatoes (seconds even), and some trout for my luncheon tomorrow.

Made some fried cabbage for supper. Cabbage I got at the market last week, an onion with some of the green tops, some of the turnip greens, garlic scapes (I cut those earlier in the week), lightly toasted sesame seeds, fried in olive oil with a lot of crushed red pepper and a splash of Worcestershire. It was good and Flow made crab cakes and naan. We were pretty grateful because we have been living large.

I called in sick yesterday. Hadn’t slept right all week, a little free floating anxiety when I am supposed to be slumbering and stayed in bed late and felt sluggish and dumb. Couldn’t nap and slept poorly last night as well but I feel like my 2+ hour nap today was a break through. There’s been so much change with City Council, the new position at work which is learning a bunch of new programs and trying to wrap my head around a few defuse projects, plus adjusting to being an everyday bicycle commuter.

I have advanced the probate situation and have a meeting on Thursday to sign affidavits and go forward so it will be nice to get the truck on the road again. Going on a float trip on Monday. Trevor, a friend of his, Jesse and myself going South out of Coopers Landing to Millersburg I think. I’ve never done passed Coopers and am looking forward to seeing something new.

Jeff and Vicki, Trevor and Lisa and Harry are coming over for trout. Reminds me I need to look up how to roast garlic. I am going to baste the trout in a yogurt sauce with roasted garlic, lemon, parsley, and chervil, maybe a little mace. I am also going to do the cauliflower in a foil pack with olive oil, turmeric and nutritional yeast. Might grill the asparagus as well. I think I will put one of the trout packs in the freezer. I got 3 packs (6 fish) and Brian isn’t coming and Lisa is a vegetarian so probably can get by with 2 like the trout lady suggested.

 

Ogalala

Vacation is nice, only a few calls and emails and reading about myself in the local press. I’m in a Days Inn in Ogalala Nebraska. Touristy enough to drive up the price. I was on a schedule though and this was the exit I wanted to stop in. I’ve made good time and just drove yesterday through increasingly nice weather. I am going to have some continental breakfast and then amble over to the local Boot Hill and visit some cowboy graves. I have a pocket of change and it seems appropriate on the one year anniversary of the Popster’s passing to pay my respects somewhere. He was not buried with his boots on though he probably wanted to be. His only stated wish was to be drove back to the homeland in his pick up and we pulled that off. My TV doesn’t work but there’s a coffee pot in the room so I won’t complain. Even crappy coffee is a blessing though I won’t complain when I get to John’s and go back to drinking home roast. He squirreled away some Kenyan for us when he got his 2 free pounds with the roaster I got him for Christmas. Its good Friday a good day to think about death or in my case death and coffee, or really death and coffee and breakfast. I’ve got a touch of poison ivy, it must be in the yard. I’ll have to go back through with better eyes. Been singing some snatches of verse, maybe i’ll get something done enough to post.

Categories: travel

sublime day

December 28, 2011 1 comment

Well we made it back safely from our holiday travels and I have successfully transitioned back to going to work everyday. Starting the week on a Tuesday certainly helps, after all tomorrow is Thursday already. Its kind of compensated for getting home late in the rain and not really having an easy time getting the car unloaded and things put away. An empty house needs attention, a dog with a day in a car needs some exercise. I tried to stop at an Indiana state rec area west of Circle City as Dad liked to call it, astute readers may recall, but I couldn’t find the entrance and spent our hiking time driving around some fake lakes.

We stopped at a hunters check in and walked down to a dock but I kept hearing all these guns going off and then it dawned on my road addled mind that I couldn’t really be walking Fido through woods full of armed strangers hoping to shoot who knows what. Fido didn’t understand why we would drive all day get to the woods and then get back in the car and drive all evening. If that dog would learn English I would explain shit to him. Easier I guess just to do things that make sense. All in all he’s a pretty reasonable critter with a healthy philosophy of life. A little more but sniffing and shit eating then I care for but he seems pretty well adjusted and less estranged perhaps then I usually am.

Fido is being pretty chill for it being my late night because Olive has been over all day. She is Amy and Michael’s dog and Fido’s best friend. They’re the same age and have been playing regularly since Fido was 4 months. He is thrilled to death and doesn’t need much from me at all. A little dog butlering please and he wouldn’t say no to a treat but he’s content. Olive is a character, closer to a default dog her mongrelism is hard to classify. Probably some pit because she’s brindle and has some muscles in her forehead, but she’s got a boxer’s chest and stance, some floppy hound ears with a bit of a bay to her bark as well. She’s a good dog. Energetic and pretty good with Fido. She does hump him some, but he puts up with it and sits down or lays down if he gets tired of it. Plus he was doing it to this puppy at the dog park yesterday. I try to stay out of dog politics, they generally work it out better if left alone.

Being my late day they had several hours to work out their biggest exuberance outside. I have a nice sized yard and first thing we did was put a fence up [white picket even, I am so conventional these days] so they have a good space to play. Got to have coffee with Amy before work. I had slept in a bit having Malavika and Isaiah over last night to play some games and get caught up. It was fun wish I could remember the name. Amy got to see my before coffee demeanor which you usually have to live with me to experience.

I roasted more coffee this morning after Amy left. I did an Ethiopian medium/dark and am looking forward to it. Been drinking dark roast Honduran and gave the rest of them away. They were popular presents and got to teach some people about coffee. The herbal skin cream from Erica was a big hit as well. We all remembered my Grandma’s having New Skin by her herb doctor Doctor Kaylor and it generated some reminiscing. Betty has a bit tucked away I wonder if you could analyze it to see what was in it, we all remember it as miraculous. Uncle Mike remembered it was brown and it definitely wasn’t as scenty as Erica’s. I’m thinking it was comfrey.

Busy day to day. Did a suicide awareness/prevention training. I’d done it before with this group so I was challenged to dig deeper into the phenomenon. Normally talk about attempters versus completers and did again but challenged the group to try to address the potential completers who may be passing through our orbits at any time. I read from David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” with one of his characters being on a psych unit for a hardcore overdose and really eloquently talks about her motivations. Since he later committed suicide I theorize it gives some insight into the mind of a completer, something usually isn’t possible.

He talks about wanting to end how he is feeling versus wanting to hurt himself, the euphemism we all want to use. He talked about horror being the dominant feeling, life turning lurid. I used those points to talk about the sublime. How to connect, provide hope, open the door to talk, provide meaning, normalize. I put my money where my mouth is and tackled the subject head on and tried to do that in my process group. Everything but the sublime part. Everyone is not ready for sublimity. Its an important word that we overuse/misuse. This lamp is sublime. No its not. Sublimity is overcoming the horror to something transcendent. Mostly though I just didn’t have the time, I get very few words in a process group which is intrinsically peer to peer. But I’ll work it in. Maybe do an education group on the topic.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks for reading this far and thank you for your comments and your likes and for subscribing to my rambles if you do and for your own blogs and sharing your stories and your wisdom. It makes me a better person and inspires me to keep doing this.

 

Categories: books, dogs, feelings, travel, work

we don’t make flags here anymore

December 24, 2011 1 comment

Merry Christmas faithful reader and I am glad I got a chance to post before the big holiday celebration. It feels good to be up in Michigan. I have been ill all week but am feeling much better, mostly recuperated except for a bit of a cough. Fido held up OK on the trip. We enjoyed stopping in St Louis Thursday night and seeing Mark and Sarah and having some Thai food at King & I. Yummy.

Fido enjoyed eating all the chicken bones he found on our walks in St Louis. He’s not used to walks in the big city where the streets are paved in chicken bones. He also enjoyed when we stopped for a hike at a metro-park in suburban Dayton. We hiked a 1.2 mile loop which was about all I could handle yesterday. Today we walked up town and did the river walk, Monroe is a cute town and there a few nice views of downtown we found. The economic downturn is at least a boon for preservation as things are less changed then in past visits.

Have a family gathering tonight, breakfast tomorrow and another dinner tomorrow as well. Doing this Christmas thing up right. We went to the farmers market today and I was impressed with the winter offerings. Got apples, red onions, shallots, black strap molasses, honey, yukon golds [do you capitalize when a place is the name of a thing, like Yukon golds? doesn’t look right, I think not.], plus some christmas cookies to buff out the ones I got from Sarah, so I can serve them at tomorrow’s dinner. I got this German kind I’ve never had before. I also got these green eggs. I’ve never seen such a thing, but its an heirloom chicken variety. Quite impressive and a distinct taste the farmer said. I also got a kohlrabi as big as your head, I’ve never seen one so big.

The big reason I wanted to post though is I have a poem I wrote on the way up passing through a small town in Ohio:

Welcome to Findlay

Home of Flag City

But we don’t make flags here anymore

They’re all made in Red China

Which shouldn’t surprise ya

It’s like everything else in the whole damn store.

So there ain’t no good jobs

Cuz some soulless corporation

Didn’t think their workers had a right to a living wage

So they took all our good jobs

And sent them to the Third World

Just to make a few more dollars, its a brazen age.

So welcome to Findlay

Home of Flag City

But we don’t make flags here anymore

They’re all made in Red China

Which shouldn’t surprise ya

It’s like everything else in the big box store.

If you’re lucky enough to have a job

It’s probably part time

Its a tough old world in the service line

And I will serve you and you will serve me

But ain’t none us making no money

Cuz we ain’t making nothing, nothing but time.

So welcome to Findlay

Home of Flag City

But we don’t make flags here anymore…

Categories: dogs, family, poetry, politics, travel

Holiday Letter 2011

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Well its been a tough year on Leslie Lane but Fido and I are resilient if nothing else and still found some joy worth sharing this holiday season as we recount the events of the year for our family and friends. I use the “we” pretty loosely as Fido is sacked out on the love seat with his head on a pillow as his cousin Shadow, “a little human in a dog suit” taught him to do. He rarely much to these narratives so I will plunge ahead without his active input.

Currently I am sick; scratchy throat, sore, chills and tired. Came on last evening, I couldn’t sleep for the congestion, got up and took some Nyquil and almost slept through the time to call in. As I alluded to in my last post and if your a new reader you may not know but we had our share of tragedy this year, Fido’s man died in April and if being sick brings a little solemnity to the narrative, its entirely appropriate; snot riddled and a little tearful looking back on the year that was.

Dad and I celebrated the holidays at home last year. Usually we travel and the year before in a hotel in Monroe Michigan it struck me that I have a perfectly good house with a lovely Christmas tree at home why am I spending Christmas in hotels and campgrounds year after year. I worked Christmas Day and came home to celebrate with Fido and the Popster with the exchange of gifts and holiday cheer. We celebrated the New Year with Dad making a pork roast in the slow cooker, you have to eat pork on New Years to” root ahead” as Grandma Trapp would say. If you eat chicken you’ll scratch all year and beef leaves you standing still chewing your cud.

We had a bad Winter with lots of snow and cold. Since I live only a block from work I was one of only three that made it in and one of two that stayed. We had fun doing all the groups and accommodating ourselves to the weather. I walked Fido a lot. He would have a good time even when the snow was deeper then he was tall. He kind of jumps and swims like his moves to get through tall grass. We owned the Bear Creek Trail that winter.

I made my first road trip of the year in early Spring when Dave Smith won some free tickets to see The Pogues at the Royal Oak Music Theater. It was nice to reconnect with Dave and see his new place and visit family and friends who I’d missed on the holidays. The green  truck did not survive the trip however with the timing chain rubbing its way through the engine case. I landed on my feet and Betty and Bill were kind enough to loan me there car for my stay and rented one for the drive back.

I brought back Johnny Watson for a working vacation here in CoMo. He put in a new floor and tile in my kitchen to replace the crappy linoleum that was cracking even though it was new when I bought the house. The disruption and dust was hard on Dad and it was only a little before that that I saw Dad was struggling to get through his routine and that I was going to have to step up my game and start helping him with laundry and making his bed and real basic shit like that. I cried when Sarah asked me how I was doing the morning I realized Dad couldn’t make his bed anymore. I wondered how I would manage the house on my own and caregive for Dad and work all on my own.

In early April Dad couldn’t catch his breath and I took him to the ER. They gave him a breathing treatment, which eased him up and they almost sent him home, but decided to admit him. I went to work and came back after and he was struggling to breathe. I got on the nursing staff to get him some breathing treatments ordered and went home since he couldn’t visit. I missed a call in the middle of the night and awoke to a voice mail they had Dad on a ventilator.

I called family and pretty much moved to the hospital. Bob was on the road within hours and bedside that night. What a blessing family is. They took Dad off the ventilator to see if he could breathe on his own and we were instructed to get his final wishes. As he was coming out of anesthesia I said “Dad, Dad its Mickey [my childhood nickname]”. Dad licked his lips and said “Mickeys in the wide mouth green bottle, Rolling Rock…” and I could tell he was thinking of beers in green bottles and after a pause he said “I’m not an alcoholic”.

Well he couldn’t breathe without mechanical assistance and that’s a shitty life my friends so we stopped the machines and started the best friend of the dying, good old Morphine. Morphine relaxed him and got him some lung action so he could push out carbon dioxide again and gave him a few good days, to visit and say goodbye and give more family time to come and make peace.

My friends went into action, hosting my family, cleaning my house, walking my dog so that I could be at the hospital full time. They visited and offered support and got us the things we needed. Boone Hospital Palliative Care were beautiful. We drank rum and cokes, Dad had lost the taste for beer with his gluten free diet, but enjoyed a good drink with family and friends and was his charming and engaging self. We snuck Fido in one night and he lay at Dad’s feet while he slept. Dad woke and said “I’ll be damned”.

It was good for Fido who had never been apart from Dad for more then a few hours in his whole life and he seemed to figure out what was going on. Dad hung on for a few days, the price of doing business when your tough as nails. One of the last things he enjoyed was listening to the first two chapters of “Last Stand at Papagos Well” by his favorite author, Mr. Louis L’amour, read by yours truly.

Dad passed and family returned home and Fido and I were alone in our grief. I decided to do the funeral service myself out of respect I didn’t want to hand the chore over to a stranger. I had a small memorial service in the backyard that weekend and sprinkled a little of his ashes on Fido’s predecessor Myrtle’s grave. I wanted to make sure I could get through the thing without breaking down before I did it for the full funeral the following weekend. It went well though my progressive friends wondered how it would go over in the heartland.

It went over really well, people liked hearing his story and having a theologically unique approach was validating to many and offended few (at least they were quiet about it). It gave me a chance to connect with a lot of family as I am normally quiet at such affairs and no one knew I could write and deliver a speech. I submitted the service to the New Yorker but ultimately just posted it on my blog.

I thought I would be alone in the house but this guy Kevin who used to live in Columbia contacted me about renting a room and John came back to stay with me for close to six months which was great having him around. John got some projects done putting in a dog waste compost system in the back corner and building a raised bed frame and a cold frame out of some of the old windows.

The garden was largely a bust this year, tough weather with lots of rain early and then a month long hot and dry spell. Ultimately it got nice but green tomatoes were about the only thing I had in abundance. I fried some, made and canned chutney, and ripened a bunch for homemade tomato sauce several times. Put the last of them in my turkey soup yesterday.

It was a good year for floating, though not on The Big Muddy which was closed for much of the year because of flooding. Michael, Trevor and I floated both the Lemine and Locust Creek. The Lamine was slow and Locust Creek involved a lot of portages due to debris which was new to me. I floated the flooded Overton Bottoms twice. Nothing like canoeing through the woods. My best float though, John put together a full moon night float on the Gasconade on my birthday. That was incredible.

John and I also vacationed in the Appalachians. We stayed in Sieverville for a couple days and daytripped into Great Smokey National Park. The hike to Laurel Falls was probably my favorite but we also watched a mama bear and her cup snacking and lazing about in a gum tree. It was very cool. We dropped south of the park and did some guerrilla and dispersed camping in the Nantahala National Forest. We hiked in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Grove and saw some great old growth trees and hiked to some more waterfalls including another Lauurel Falls. On the way out we camped in the Pisquah, pretty much skippable. It was a great trip though and I got another mile of the Appalachian Trail and my total stands at 157. I pledged to go back and start north just north of the park, but not this year.

Ultimately John moved back to California and my housemate Kevin bought a house and moved out yesterday, so as of today its just me and Fido. We’re content with that, though the house seems big for me and a little dog. In the Spring if a housemate hasn’t turned up on their own I’ll start looking. I expect someone will just show up, its worked so far.

Lets see, entertained less, but some. Had a nice blow out for Thanksgiving, with a local pasture raised heirloom turkey and Kevin made some excellent sides. We had a collection of strays from my neighbor Henry, my buddy Harry originally out of Toledo, Kevin, his new girlfriend, and a couple of professors from the university from way out of town (Italy and Estonia). We had lively conversation and drank some good wine and enjoyed our lovely meal snug and grateful.

Work continues to go well. I was demoted to counselor after a minor screw up. Best thing that ever happened to me. I got a more responsive boss and a more reasonable work load. I continue to do staff trainings, education groups (added self control and dreams to my repertoire), therapy groups, and am getting to be a better counselor. I am a more confident public speaker and am even more motivational. I came to realize people need more preaching then teaching.

I continue to eat more local food and now that I’m buying all the groceries my local content should do nothing but climb. Lets see, I also joined the Odd Fellows and I’m glad to be a part of something both storied and ready to play a more important role as our government slides further into dysfunction.

In October I got into the post a day challenge a little late but upped my blogging game considerably. It challenged me to have something meaningful to say daily and I started picking up more subscribers and “Likes” from strangers. I cancelled my Directv and will likely drop Netflix as I blog more and watch TV less. I hope to get into an exercise routine in the coming year. Still single but feel closer to changing that but am still not feeling rushed. Have a couple folks that I think are interested but haven’t followed up on it. I may, or I may not when it comes right down to it.

All in all some good things happened in a tough year. I am not sorry to see 2011 go but it was a time of growth and change and I am not ungrateful for the experiences I have had. 2012 promises to have more joy and less pain and I look forward to building on the gains I have made, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

The Salamander Dance

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Fido is restless wanting to go in and out. He’s been by himself most of the day. He is not a fan of being home all day when I work, even though I come home for lunch but he deals. Tonight I went out immediately after work just stopping by to let him out and pick up the car. I had hoped to leave work early because my lunch got mangled but the day was too difficult to disengage from gracefully except a mere 5 minutes early.

I was rushing because I decided to squeeze a little Occupy Como before my beer and a movie I had planned. Elise was in town and saw her there but I didn’t see the “You Are Awesome” sign which is my favorite. I settled with “There’s Nothing Wrong With You” after passing over a lot of other signs. Even the “We Are the 99%” didn’t resonate today. I am part of the 100%.

I didn’t stay long and headed over to RagTag and had a Cuban and a Schlafley APA, which were both familiar favorites that performed as expected. I also picked up a loaf of Ancient Grains bread and caught a flick with Trevor. We saw Urbanized which was pretty good but dragged a bit and felt like school. Would’ve been a nice break from a boring professor in a class on urban development. But it was visually interesting and showed stuff I did not know. Copenhagen and Stuttgart are smaller then I thought. A human’s visual field is 100 meters by 100 meters and classic cities make their central square that big probably the most interesting thing. I’d never thought of that seems obvious in retrospect. I love stuff that’s like that.

So after unsuccessfully trying to extort a piece of desiccated liver Fido is settling into some tug-o-frog interspersed with some fetch so my post drags out in spits and spurts. its good though he needs the attention and the fun. He’s my buddy.

I was walking him the other day at the Bear Creek Park out past the little lakes and met an old vet walking with a cane. Fido was a little skittish but we struck a conversation and he said “dogs are pretty good partners” and they are. After having been married, lived with folks, siblings, political cooperatives, unintentional communities, roommates, and road trip buddies Fido is enthused, low maintenance, and can make me smile just thinking about him. Its supposed to be nice tomorrow and we’ll go on a long walk. Even if I never get my shit shoveled. Actually should finish that Saturday weather permitting or Sunday for sure. Seems to take all my energy to do much more then tread water.

So once again I am mostly posting to get more poetry up. My hits have been up and I’ve been picking up subscribers as I put out more stuff. I guess at some point I’ll have to start writing some new stuff. I keep singing “Black Iron Prison” hoping to get more but I haven’t added anything I want to keep. But I bet I got at least another 100 floating around in my head and 50 more on scraps of paper and old books and notebooks and probably another 50 floating in the world. So maybe I can keep up the production.

I might share a poem in my ed group tomorrow. I was covering Feelings Management and somehow our ultimate nature came up. I had stated I am not my feelings, I am not my thoughts, and when asked what I was I thought my truest self was my will. That was called my actions but that doesn’t sit right but I couldn’t really explain how the will was different any better then Epictetus’s “moving towards a thing” or a sense of purpose. I also suggested a narrative or a story. There’s a couple of really smart dudes in treatment so it makes me want to take it up a notch and I may share my: i-believe-i-am-a-pattern I posted a couple posts back.

Well tonight’s offering goes back to the ill fated Appalachian Trail hike of 2000. I found it pretty challenging physically and it was an emotional low point but it was also filled with a sense of accomplishment intrinsic in climbing mountains every day and there was poignancy that makes that era very memorable. I had a tangible sense of intense nostalgia when I visited in September. I want to go back and hike more this Spring if I can get motivated on a few projects to make it happen. But anyway the biggest thing I remember was being cold and wet all time. It rained a lot, there was frequent heavy dew, and seemed times we lived in clouds, and sometimes above.

One night we (I hiked it with my wife at the time Amee) got a trail side shelter on the side of a mountain. The clouds came up below us and the other mountain peaks poked up and it was like being on an island in the clouds. But it was hard sometimes to keep spirits up in the rain and wet. But I noticed that that was when the salamanders and such would leave the little springs and streams and you could spot a lot of them out on the trail if your eyes open. I sparked this one and sang it as I wrote it hoping to cheer Amee up (and truthfully myself as well) when it started to rain for the umpteenth day in a row. I called all four of the pieces on the trip Appalachian Spring and a number. This one is number 4 so likely the last, but I can’t be sure of that without looking at a map. I went through a fairly intense non-linear period that I am still not completely over. Have to warn you its more then a bit silly, nonetheless “Appalachian Spring #4 (The Salamander Dance)”:

If it starts to rain by chance

The salamanders do their dance

They do their dance

The salamander dance

And if it starts to rain some more

Then the frogs begin to soar

There’s flying frogs all over the place

There’s flying frogs flying into your face

And if it starts to rain in pails

Then out will come the snails

With their slimy trails

Of snail entrails

And when the rain is finally done

Then out will come the sun

and the hikers will smile

For another mile

But if it starts to rain by chance

Then the salamanders do their dance

They do their dance

The salamander dance

I don’t go to zoos

November 4, 2011 1 comment

Good morning. I am up early drinking coffee, a Honduran light roast that is growing on me. Untold depths I tell you, really tasty. Probably this weekend I will have to get in the habit of having to roast my own. Having a live in expert coffee roaster is a rare luxury but I’m glad John made it home safe and hope is transition back to California living is a smooth one. Fido sure misses him and the dogs. The little guy follows me pretty devotedly now. I am up early, after get the coffee drank we’ve gotta get out and walk the trail and see if there are any sunrise visitors to the dog park. He really played up a storm our last visit. Nothing like a little isolation to bring out the social. He even played with an uncut Dobie that started out pretty intense.

Yesterday I blogged about my first poetry slam in Fayeteville Arkansas and noticed that one of my classic poems wasn’t up. This one I wrote the first stanza when I was crazed and then a couple few years I hacked out the next 2 stanzas rather quickly when I needed another Milk Carton song and that quickly. I tried singing it and Dan suggested I do it as a spoken word number which worked out pretty well.

I used it in the poetry slam, took first place and there was a newspaper write up about the event it was really funny because the biggest chunk of the story was people in the crowd ripping on me. It has an anti-materialism angle that some people found challenging. “No job no house I bet he still lives with his momma” one gent said or words to that effect. It was funny because I did at the time.

I don’t go to zoos

To see the animals in their cages

And I don’t go to work

To see the slaves bring home their wages

Because I know a secret

I know the score

I know that money equals time

And they ain’t making any more.

You can’t get ahead

Playing by the rules

Laws are passed

By the ruling class

And only obeyed by fools

So step back and think about it

There’s only just one you

Do you want to go down

In the history books

Doing what you do?

So why don’t you turn the TV off

And go to the woods for a day

You might just be a little surprised

At what Mother Nature has to say

She might just tell you

To fuck it all

And give all your money away

Sell your house and car

And VCR

And live in a tent by the Bay.

And I don’t go to zoos

To see the animals in their cages

And I don’t go to work

To see the slaves bring home their wages

I know a secret

I know the score

I know that money equals time

And they ain’t making any more.

Categories: dogs, poetry, travel, work

spoiler alert

October 25, 2011 Leave a comment

My fourth day of road tripping in a row and I am holding up strong. This morning rode out to Chesterfield for a conference with a co-worker and really enjoyed the trip. You only get to know someone so well at work when things are busy and not a whole lot of time for life stories and the like. We left at 5:15 am to be in Chesterfield (St Louis suburb by 7:30) so I set an alarm. It had been years since I had and it probably allowed me to get better sleep then having to be more conscious of the time. It was business attire, don’t ask me why so i wore a shirt and tie. Getting talked  at for a day ain’t worth wearing a suit for.

The drive out was fun and MFH always puts out a nice spread. It was at some version of the Hilton and they had little breakfast burritos and surprisingly good coffee with fresh melon and pineapple. The morning presentation was on Health Literacy. A bit of yawner there for most of the presentation. Most people read poorly, a sizable chunk not at all. If you put out stuff so people can actually understand it things don’t suck as much. Captain Obvious made those points taught the “teach back method” which is pretty much what it sounds and then the last 10 minutes through out all this great practical stuff faster then you could write it down. Short sentences, no more then 2-3 syllables, simple fonts, helpful pictures and diagrams, lots of white space, good paragraphing, no italics or ALL CAPS and stick to the Need to Do not Nice to Know. Might be other good stuff in my notes.

Someone also taught how to optimize Word’s reading level assessment tool, you do chunks avoiding numbers & headers and the like that can throw it off and never write above a 6th grade level. It was cool stuff and raised it in my consciousness so I shouldn’t complain. Especially not after the lunch we had, rare roast beef with all the fixings and a sweet array of cakes.

The afternoon started with this activity that turned out kind of fun. We were given instructions to a card game similar to spades with no trump, ace high, two of clubs leads. The winner of the first game advances to play other winners. You’re not allowed to talk. We tied at my group but I was feeling pushy and like playing cards so I silently offered for our team to advance.

We lost the first trick and I threw a king on the next only to see my partner throw on the ace. I was still reeling from the fact my partner had no strategy whatsoever as there wasn’t even a rule about following suit when my partner led into my ace of clubs. The other team raked in the trick which led to a non verbal argument that got a little heated. Ultimately we were told to play cards by the facilitator after I had note pad taken away and was pantomiming why it was my trick. They kept the trick but I kept the lead and we took the rest of the tricks but i wasn’t so into it. The trick of course is we had different rules, his said ace low mine said ace high.

That was cool but then it was the return of Captain Obvious as we talked about it for over an hour with people making the same of course points. Then like a weird replay she broke out these cool tools you can use to evaluate a coalition and went over them hyperfast in the last 5 minutes.

Nonetheless not bad as these things go. We went to Trader Joes before heading home.  I cooked some dinner and am gearing up to watch Horde. this time i mean it.

Categories: health, travel, work