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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

dogs and domestic violence

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Took a long drive today north on 63. It was pretty fall color the maples seem to be coming along now. Smokey rode up front and true to her cattle dog nature barked at a lot of cows. Sheep she’s not interested in except the second glance she gives to hay stacks and picket fences, just to make sure they’re not cows. Horses she grants honorary cow status. I dozed through the wild turkey siting (I wasn’t driving). We were early for our thing so took the dogs to a park in Montezuma. Was pleased to see a lot of old school playground equipment although they had the little plastic crappy stuff too. I immediately thought about walking the dogs up the teeter-totter. Smokey was the only one was game and jumped off when she passed the center of balance. Managed to get all the dogs on the merry-go-round. They were not fans.

Had an interesting experience in the court house (not my case). We were talking about the proven inefficacy of DARE with a lawyer and he mentioned it was a program mentioned by name required by legal statute. He mentioned it was the same way with domestic violence programs (The Duluth Model) which I responded was a good idea because otherwise you’d have people doing all kinds of stuff that beyond not being helpful might be harmful like anger management.

Ran into the lawyer again at the clerk’s window and he was chit-chatting withe the prosecutor about a deal on an assault case where they wanted amongst other things anger management. He hooked a thumb at me and said” this guy says anger management is no good”. The prosecutor asked why and I told her it feeds into the excuse making function. “Honey don’t push my buttons you know I got that anger problem” and that it was harmful in domestic violence situations. She said it wasn’t a domestic case and I told her I still had never seen any evidence it was an effective intervention and that I had had good success with anger issues in my batterer intervention class and told her about this dude I had had come through for road rage after not being helped by anger management several times. No one had ever told him anger was a choice. She said “well he did have an assault on his girlfriend sometime back so we’ll try it”.

Nice being in the right place at the right time. There is so much education to do on this topic. Speaking of, if you’re not familiar batterer intervention is rooted in identifying power and control tactics that are at core of the issue. Domestic violence is purposeful and instrumental, which means its done on purpose and done for a reason. Anger management makes it seem like an accident.

 

Categories: dogs, domestic violence, travel

haunted st louis

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Made it back to Columbia a couple of hours ago after a bit of a whirlwind trip to St Louis. I feel a little warm and increasingly tired and am thinking I might be getting sick. It was a fun trip though. Yesterday I was up early and got my weekend stuff done (water plants and such) in a hurry and was packed pretty early. I picked up Jillian and we went to the market. Mark’s birthday is Monday and he was having a fire in his backyard so I got him a Patric Chocolate bar and I gave him a jar of the green tomato chutney I made.

There was also a big box of green tomatoes so I have the opportunity to make relish or what have you. Its sad seeing the end of the vine ripened tomatoes for another year. So after the market we drove out to St Louis. We had a little nap time and i read most of a herman hesse novel I hadn’t read. His fourth one named after an estate. Its pretty good and looking forward to finishing it next time I’m out.

We were wanting to go to a haunted house and went to the Lemp mansion which is reported to be haunted.  The Lemps were per-prohibition brewers and the first Lemp committed suicide after the death of his good brewer buddy Captain Pabst. There were two more suicides and the mansion was pretty cool. There are some working gas street lamps outside and I’ve not seen that before. The haunted house turned out to be at the brewery and not open til 6 so we came back. It was pretty fun. Haunted house technology improved in the last 10 years or so since i’ve been. The Lemp place had a lot of smoke and you walk down this two flight spiral staircase that you can barely see. It was the scariest thing because when it had you walking into strobes or total darkness I was always afraid I would be falling down the next flight of stairs.

Sarah and Jillian were into it and the line was just long enough to bond with some strangers and build some anticipatory tension. All in all it was a fun evening.

Mark had his fire and drank some hot mulled cider and rum and some Black Bear Bakery goods and smores. Being in St Louis had to watch the World Series. Left me as the only one rooting for the Rangers, probably best they got beat.

Slept hard and work up tired, read some more Hesse waiting for everyone to get up. We cooked a big breakfast fried potatoes, eggs & tomato, turnip greens and fruit salad. After that Mark’s dad came over and it was first I’d met him, a cool retired social worker and we helped Mark rip up some bricks and shovel down a high spot in his backyard to improve drainage.

Drove home after, not got time to carve pumpkins so left them all but one as gifts. There was a rubber necker traffic slow down and it felt good to be patient and enjoy the Fall color and sunflowers and just rest. Made it back for some dinner and am gearing up for Walking Dead season 2 episode 2. Hope its better then episode 1, feeling a little soap operaish.

Categories: baseball, friends, travel

two up, two down

Watching baseball, Yankees/Tigers play off baseball. The kid is pitching and he bunched out Granderson and Verlander was just grinning. Didn’t need any patience to enjoy that half inning. I feel like tonight is our best chance, I’m worried about our five spot, not confident with Fister coming up again or the new guy. Maybe an ensemble. The bullpen is  tough and deep. But i would be content if tonight was the night and the next game is a rested Verlander against the next team.

Well, back for a day of work after a long weekend road trip. Busy day and still a lot i didn’t get to. Cooked dinner, spanish rice and peas and carrots which i did with fresh grated ginger and black walnuts, salt and pepper of course. I was a little headachey i think from the 11 hour drive home from the homeland and then dozing in front of last nights game, but rocked through my day nonetheless. So it feels good even as Granderson makes a beautiful catch and we don’t get a couple of runs.

Went for a somewhat whirlwind trip to the homeland.  Took a half day on Friday for working the Saturday after my vacation. John is teasing my live blogging baseball. “the reader will have known who won but i don’t”, beautiful. John was a fun traveling companion especially doing all the driving. Smokey sat up front, she likes to scan for cows so she can bark like crazy at them. She has a pretty good eye for them, and can smell them from a distance depending on the wind. She was good company up in the big front seat of dad’s truck. Hard to think about having to get rid of it.

We stayed with Brenda and its nice to see her doing well. She hopes to make it down for her CNA test in Missouri around Thanksgiving. I am going to get an heirloom turkey. I’ve only had bobtail white, you too i bet. Not that they’re not a nice turkey, I’d just like to try something else. Didn’t order one quick enough last year. More salt in the brine Brenda requests, last year must have been a little tough. “Probably just from it being able to walk around” was John’s take.

We got in late late Friday so I was a little out of sorts but John brought dark roast Panamanian. Yemeni today at a light middle it loses something when it gets darker but it needs something. John has been a great roaster and taught me some tricks and is leaving his roaster so i don’t have to figure one out.

Brenda and I went to the market and I was really impressed. It had grown a lot and the pavilion was full. There was a nice selection with some good buys and some stuff I can’t get at home (black walnuts for example). The pineapple bread was crumbly and expensive but the cider was cheap and excellent. Got some beautiful red peppers 2 for a dollar and some this and that’s. Brenda picked up some ground chuck from Dannies and I made burgers for supper with fresh tomato. Forgot to bring pickles but Brenda had some store bought ones.

Called Chad Osborne and he happened to have plans with Chad Olson and was meeting another friend at the Red Coat in Royal Oak. It was fun and enjoyed a white ale and some good company. I had a cuban which was good but not exceptional. We went out for another round after and it was nice to reconnect and Chad and I had a good catch up conversation as Chad napped on the drive home.

 

Sunday Brenda made us breakfast scrambled eggs (local free range) with cheddar and feta, fried potatoes with the red pepper, and biscuits and hamburger gravy. Good stuff.

Earlier Saturday we went to a nuclear power protest at the statue of Custer that stands downtown in Monroe. There were better then 30 people and a lot of people driving by honked. One person rolled down a window and yelled “go fuck yourselves” which hasn’t happened to me in a long time. No death threats though. Some people like having a job so i’m not bitter.

There was a singer songwriter and some people made speeches and a lot of plants were representing. Detroit and Toledo folks too, Mike Keegan I think was the only one from Monroe. It was part of an international day of action being Oct 1 and all. Mike Leonardi mentioned in his speech that the Trapp Brothers drove up from Missouri for the event and we had organized protests and been pushed over on tripods (not true john was doing support for the tripod guy that got pushed over and was maced and randomly snatched up before he could handcuff himself to the police car had been his plan), jumped off the Martin Luther King bridge, and chained myself to that very statue of Custer (actually it was just handcuffs). Saw Jesse Deerinwater which was a bonus as last we’d heard she was in KY.

The protest then caravaned down to Promenade Park on the Toledo waterfront. There were bands (someone out of flint the insurgents or something, very political but fun and sincere and not too cheesy) and speakers (we left during Kucinich, hohum a politician). It was mostly nice seeing people although i liked the occupy toledo kids. especially the one who can’t keep her hands off dogs.

After that we went to Costco so John could get the dog food he likes. They don’t have one in Columbia. I picked up a few things and it wasn’t as overwhelming as that type of thing can be. I owe it more to sleep deprivation and protesting all day outside more then the horror of the big box. Toledo waterfront is beautiful, there are some cool statues and the new bridge is a sight.

Couldn’t believe I jumped into the Maumee off the old Cherry Street Bridge. The water was cold, I didn’t even check the temperature just asked someone who’d done it how late in the year he went. We got picked up by a sail boat to avoid unpleasant conversations with the police and fire department and such about the wisdom of such things. The boat could only get so close being a sail boat coming up on a bridge (hadn’t thought that through) and we had to swim quite a ways out to get picked up. Joe got cold and was having trouble swimming. I held him up and swam him the rest of the way in. John Schwartz was crewing and I can’t remember who else pulled Joe in and when it came time for me to climb out I realized I couldn’t move my legs. Only been cold like that a couple of other times but don’t want to get started on knocking your core temp out of whack. I’ve got way to many stories and though dreary it wasn’t too cold.

We had a big family dinner on Sunday at Bob and Pam’s. Pam made pot roast which was excellent and Betty made this killer squash/yam casserole with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a little clove I think. Brenda made deviled eggs (with the free range, she gets little ones for a dollar a dozen) which sparked a conversation what mom put in them (mayonnaise, yellow mustard, salt and pepper was the majority opinion with a little paprika on top). I make mine more daring but they were good. Bobby and Julie brought an apple pie from a local orchard that was killer (it was the walnuts). Sparked a conversation about Smuckers and I’ll try to get Brenda to bring down a blueberry one for Thanksgiving. You should come, looks like there is going to be a feast (i got extra guests last year by posting the menu).

The star of the show was Mr. Nolan Lagrange all of six weeks old. He holds his head up which is about all you can reasonably expect. Struck me as a serious sort, thoughtful, to the extent all of those little neuronal firings are organized into such a thing. Had good conversation with Bobby about consciousness development and I am glad he and Julie are watching.

Its nice to see everyone doing well. Shane came by and had pictures from his hunt in South Africa. i want to see his stuff when its stuffed. All the meat goes to market. They give discounts on shooting stuff they need for the market. Charge by the critter. He forgoed a giraffe for example for some big thing with horns.

The drive home was a little trying. Hadn’t recovered from the drive up. Enjoyed some WJR. They got some welfare reform so they had the Great Lakes State social services director talking about throwing 11,000 families off welfare for their own good because people get dependent on a check don’t bother learning how to read. lazy shit heels. The next guest was a Yupper congressman talking about oil companies already paying their fair share. All this without irony.

Also caught an hour of Terri Gross interviewing a big wig in the New Apostolic Reformation. A lot of stuff on spiritual warfare and getting control of the guvmint. Scary stuff, very middle ages.

But finally made it home. Bases loaded in the 8th Yankees at bat ahead four to one. Al Albuquerque to the rescue. Leland plays the match up. Nite faithful reader, go Tiges!

Categories: baseball, dogs, family, the mind, travel

eulogy for my father

September 27, 2011 1 comment

Its coming up on six months ago since Dad passed away. I’ve been missing him as baseball season winds down. He  would have been so happy seeing his Tigers winning the division and playing so strong going into the playoffs. He admitted to me that it was a bigger deal the Tigers winning the World Series then me being born back in 1968. They hadn’t won since 1947 and he had other kids. He denied it when I teased him about it later but I didn’t take offense. There was no competition in his love for baseball, it was welcoming and  I knew it didn’t mean he didn’t love me a lot, he just really loved baseball. Watching it with him taught me some of its nuance. I’m still not really patient enough for baseball but its coming.

I wrote the first half the night that Dad died. It opens very strident and I guess I was mustering gumption to do something different, defy convention. The second I wrote the weekend after and put most of a week into feeling my grief full time. And walking the dog. It was time well spent and Dad had an easy story to tell and I was blessed to be privy to the details.

These words brought me a lot of comfort and I am indeed blessed to have been raised in such away to cultivate them. Dad was really a poet. One of the last things really hit his lyricism, “I’m so tired of holding my eyes closed”. He could be sparse like that, spare I guess is a better word. Well its already a long piece so I shouldn’t put in too much of a prologue, except to say I hope it makes you think and if it brings you comfort I’m glad.

“Eulogy For My Father”

3780 words or so

 

“This above all, to thine own self be true. “ I am not really a minister and I don’t really want to be doing this. I am a grieving son and I want to be sitting next to my brothers and sisters, crying some, laughing some, squeezing an arm in reassurance, an arm across my back in love and support. I want to hear words of beauty and consolation in celebration of a life well lived by someone who knows and loves my Dad and will tell his story with truth, compassion, and respect, in accord with what my dad believed in a way that resonates with what I believe, with what we all believe. That was simply not going to happen. There is a narrow band of belief that dominates most discourse on matters of the spiritual. If you adhere to one of its dominant strains you might not have even noticed, or only noticed the slight difference when you hear someone talk from another dominant strain. But many of us are outside of that, un-believers or simply un-churched. We patiently sit through funerals, weddings and the like and listen to stuff that is irrelevant at best and often frankly offensive. So if I talk about some stuff that church people feel uncomfortable with just hang in there and bear with me, hold on to what is good. Believe it or not, I’m trying to be a uniter not a divider. Take what you need and leave the rest. But for a half hour at least these words are mostly, for the rest of us.

Mr. John Paul Trapp Senior has a story that is long and complicated. It spans generations, a continent, and is in small part outside the bounds of what the masses of men believe perhaps, at least what men say they believe. Funerals are fundamentally an act of the sacred and need touch upon the ineffable, the spiritual wonder of the transition to the next great adventure, or how else are loved ones to be comforted?

John was never comfortable about talking about spiritual things. When asked what he believed I always described his spiritual orientation as backslidden Christian. He believed in that whole thing, sort of, but wanted to do what he wanted to do. Mostly drink beer and smoke cigarettes work hard and raise his kids right. So how does a backslidden Christian raise his children? He exposes them to church, lots of them, if they want. Doesn’t encourage it or discourage it, but makes it clear he is not really into talking about it. He’d heard enough about it already, he would say.  Enough to feel judged, unworthy perhaps; but also defiant, resilient, and able to stand on his own two feet.

About a year ago Dad solemnly informed me that he had become an atheist. What???? An atheist at 73? Who does that? There are no atheists in foxholes the liars say who preach a spirituality of cowardice, of toadyism for rank gain, a theology of threats and bribes.

Dad had been watching the Discovery Channel and had heard about the Big Bang and it seemed a lot more reasonable, he informed me.  And the Big Bang is a beautiful and wondrous way to understand where we all come from. Condensed to a single point, a place with no dimension, only location. Containing all the matter in the universe. And then bam, everything there is flying apart in all directions, hundreds of millions of years pass and the uniform layer of hydrogen has ripples and perturbations and clumps coalesce and begin burning through nuclear fusion and stars are born and grow the heavy elements and die and explode and the star stuff keeps flying apart. Bigger and bigger.

12 billion years pass and dirt and such collects and spins around a midsized yellow sun on the spiral arm of a typical galaxy that we like to call the Milky Way, and so is born the planet Earth.

It is a beautiful story in its stark simplicity, and the lesson it teaches is the truly grand scope of creation. It has all the more power for being factually undeniably true. You can generate testable hypotheses and learn more about its nature, that is how science advances. In all the creation stories of all the peoples the Actual Truth turned out to be far more vast and far more wonderful. For when John declared his independence from the belief in god he was not rejecting the God Who Made the Universe. He was rejecting some weird little cartoon god he had heard about when he was a kid. A god who rejected all that was fun and demanded the humorless life of a drudge. A god who judged and made one feel small and unworthy.

I took John’s atheism as a step in the right direction. A rejection of something that should be rejected. And the universe is a vast and wondrous place. Currently in my day job I am a substance abuse counselor and I wrestle with helping addicts find a source of spiritual support when drugs and alcohol have taken control of their life. It is no accident that a chapter in the AA Big Book is called “We Agnostics”. Recovery is developing a way of life that is so positive, healthy and fulfilling there is no longer any room for nonsense, and so it becomes an exercise in serenity. And so they say: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

But what of atheists and agnostics, is sobriety denied to them?  Not by any means. I have heard a number of workarounds, Good Orderly Direction (G.O.D.), the program, door knobs and file cabinets, anything to reject the toxic selfishness inherent in addiction.  I, a little from the outside, as a treatment person not a recovery person, humbly propose the Universe. The universe is sufficient for the serenity prayer and has the advantage of being self-evident to all. ‘For I believe the universe exists for I have seen and heard parts of it. I have tasted of the summer fruit and smelled the coming rain; felt the gentle breeze as it rolls across the plain.”

The serenity prayer neatly divides the universe into two categories and gives us advice on how to deal with both. First, there is everything under our control. And what is under our control? Only our own actions and those we meet with bravery. Everything else, literally everything that is not our own actions are outside of our control, and so we meet everything with acceptance. The intersection of bravery and acceptance is where we find wisdom. And the universe is sufficient for the serenity prayer. It will hold the things we must accept, it is sufficient for serenity. It offers peace in a time of loss. You can say it with me if you want to try it on for size. “Universe grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

So does a belief in the Universe as science understands it preclude a belief in God? Absolutely not. 96% of Americans believe in God and that included Einstein and most scientists. The universe doesn’t compete with God as creator but is the fundamental proof of the scope of creation and that its source must be vast and mighty. For this message is not one of atheism or agnosticism for I am fact am a believer, a passionate dedicated believer in the God Who Made the Universe.  This universe, the real one. Personally I believe that like my body has a spirit which animates me the physical universe has a spirit which animates it. But I know what I believe is not what everyone believes and for today I want us all to reach for common ground in which to lift up the spirit of John Trapp in communion and love for remembrance, celebration, and comfort.

For even though he called himself atheist once, Dad told me that Mom was waiting for him. Dad was on a ventilator toward the end and when they took him off and brought him out of sedation, he told me, he had died, and he told me, with assurance, that Mom was waiting for him. I believe him. It is in her character. It is about all I ever saw my mom do. And so it begs the question if Mom was waiting for him where exactly was that? I can honestly say that dad didn’t care and didn’t put much thought into it. I already said he was uncomfortable on matters of the spirit. He was not uncomfortable in contradiction. And neither am I. The truth is too vast the universe too big to not contain many contradictions.  I like to believe in a personal god who cares about me. I like to believe in a universe governed by immutable natural laws that can be known and predicted and depended upon. I like to believe in miracles. I like to believe that Mom and Dad still live still love me and care about me, still speak to me with their wisdom. I know they still live in my heart if nowhere else.

John Trapp was a simple man and when I asked him how he wanted to be remembered it was as a Working Man. He worked hard growing up on an organic farm, though in those days they just called them farms. He was born in the heart of the Great Depression and the war years were lean ones on the home front. But the Trapp family was self-sufficient in a way that now we can scarcely understand. He had to churn the butter, pluck the hens, weed the row crops, feed the animals, there are others here who know these stories better than I so I will leave it at that he worked hard even as a small boy. But he played hard too. Fondly remembered tales of hijinks and adventure, messing around with the dogs, sledding, skating, hunting, how he earned his switchings, his sister Alice and her friends holding him down and kissing him.

But mostly he talked about working. Mowing grass, being the first to get a chain saw and cutting down trees. Hiring out as a farm hand, eventually for his sister Norma and her husband Joe. When the season ended he moved to the kill floor, slaughtering beef, hogs, and veal. It was a short trip from there to being a meat cutter. A dollar an hour until the union came and then he moved up to $2.65 cents an hour. Good money in the 50s and he still played hard. Drinking, dancing, roller skating, shuffle board and pool leagues, convertibles and drag racing; mishaps and near escape. Some reckless driving in Monroe that inexplicably ends with him joining the army. Trained as a mechanic he was stationed in Germany when the Berlin Wall was doing its Berlin Wall thing. There he developed a lifelong love affair with trucks. Most of his army stories though are about baseball or drinking beer. Good local beers with each town its own.

After his time in the service he returned home and to meat cutting, bought himself a brand new 1963 Ford Falcon Convertible, courted and married Frances Eileen Allen. He didn’t care that she had three kids he loved kids and promised to raise them as his own. John still had a little growing up to do but rose to the occasion with his readymade family and tried to be a good father to Bob, Betty and Brenda and three more boys when they came. Dad worked hard and we camped in Lake City in the summers.

Tragedy struck early and hard on this little family when John’s youngest son Dennis drowned in the swimming pool in the backyard. Dad blamed himself as the army had only taught him adult CPR and he later learned it was different for little kids. He drank beer and pitched horseshoes, all four by himself. Eddie Trapp came over and walked with him, no one had anything to say. Dad couldn’t handle family life anymore. He was broken in a way that luckily few of us will ever get to really understand. It was only 7 or 8 years ago that he told me he had finally gotten over Dennis dying. He went on a six month drunk from what I understand I am too young to remember.

He couldn’t stay home and didn’t believe in leaving, John was no coward, so all there was to do was to become a truck driver. He bought a straight truck and started hauling furniture for Beakins Van Lines. He would always point out the parking lot where he learned to drive when we drove through Circle City, as he liked to call it. North America became his home.

He took his first trip and was frightfully lonely. I had the great pleasure of finding and reading some of his letters home to Mom, before moth and rust destroyed, and they were heartfelt and touching. A demonstrative loving side of John I had never seen.  On his second trip he threw me up in the cab with him and we were off to see the country. I was three years old. I would stay up all night to help keep him awake and we would talk about everything. I was his confidant, sounding board, and in many ways the repository of his hopes and fears. What an incredible gift to give to a child, your total attention, sharing from your heart. Showing him the country. I am so incredibly blessed I cannot describe. Having such an enriching early childhood in large part shaped who I am today. I was able to learn that people live all kinds of different ways and you can go to places and see stuff.

Dad was a character on the road. He knew this country comprehensively. Everywhere. He gave his own names to the flowers he saw. He knew the phases of the moon and how the stars change overhead with time and distance. He grew to be wise. He learned to instantly make friends. To make the most of a chance encounter. To be real with people. He stayed true to Fran though she had her doubts as she had seen him flirt, a lot. But he stayed true to her in death as he did in life and as easy and convenient it would have been to find another woman to take care of him. Instead he struggled on alone learning how to take care of himself for the first time in his life.

Hauling furniture was hard work. He would work hard all day and drive all night, running hard after the elusive dollar. But he also learned the culture of the truck driver and prided himself on acting as a Professional Driver. Driving safely and courteously, safeguarding fellow travellers, and caring for shared spaces. Looking for opportunities to do someone a good turn. Flashing in trucks when they passed with his running lights a quick flash of thank you when another truck did the same. He was also a friend to hitchhikers and transients, scooping them up giving them honest work and a chance to see the country, starting many in a career.

He helped many a stranded motorist or someone just down on their luck. Early in his career he was the first on the scene when a truck had smashed into a pick up full of migrant workers. There were bodies all over the road the truck driver who caused the accident was weeping and doing nothing. Dad began pulling bodies off the road, living or dead he could not always tell but he had no assurance traffic would stop and it needed to be done. He was a brave man who acted with honor whatever the cost.

Once after he was done with furniture and hauling freight for BJ McAdams he picked up a hitchhiker in spite of the company rule against it because the kid wasn’t wearing shoes. He drove him somewhere, bought him a meal and gave him some money, and didn’t think much of it. Some months later he was tracked down by a private investigator from a fuel slip. The kid had remembered his handle, Trapper John in those days and John was flown in as a surprise witness in a Perry Mason kind of way and exonerated the kid from a bogus charge of armed robbery. Dad did a lot of heroic shit. Stopped rapes, beat men down for disrespecting women and was pulling out his deer rifle out of his truck when the police gunned down a mass killer in a bar he was drinking in. If the cops had been three minutes later John would have taken care of it himself.

He ended his long career, 37 years and well over five million miles driven without a major accident with Anderson Trucking, ATS. Dad loved Harold Anderson, a war hero, truck driver who parlayed his truck and a granite contract into a billion dollar company. He treated John square. They recognized Dad’s excellence and made him a trainer. As racist and sexist as John could be they tried to give him all the women and black folks because he treated people decent and gave everyone a fair shot.

John hauled freight and ATS specialized in specialty loads. A lot of granite and all kinds of big stuff, mining equipment, giant machines, and cranes. It allowed him to be a piece of history. He hauled in granite for the FDR memorial. He hauled scaffolding for crowd control for presidential inaugurations. He hauled a fair chunk of our industrial capacity to the Mexico border and brought back the things we used to make here. He hauled pieces of the space shuttle. He hauled the Disney Parade and towed the Goofy Car in the parade when it wouldn’t start. At the end of his career he specialized in Wind Mills. Technically difficult blades being 150’ long the rear wheels of the trailer were steered by an escort driver. He also loved being part of something good, something for the future. He drove truck until he was 70 about as old a driver as I have ever seen.

Retirement brought some new challenges but also some new joys. He got a little dog he named Myrtle. He had always called his trucks Bessie and his trailers Myrtle and Myrtle followed him around like a little trailer and was a faithful friend when he suddenly for the first time in his life had time on his hands. She was a little dog a chow mix with a leaky heart valve that left her short winded and easily tired. John could relate he was as well by this time. He struggled to pay the bills on a fixed income and could not work his way out of his spending problem like he always could in the past. I made him a deal, I would buy a house if he would come and live with me and help me with the upkeep.

It was a beautiful arrangement that renewed his sense of meaning to his life. Work, that could be done but didn’t need to be done. Perfect for a working man winding down. As my friend Lisa said in a consolation message: “Mike, I’m so sorry about your dad. I know that he has been a huge part of your life these past few years and you will feel his absence every day. You made such a difference to him during these past few years. I could tell that being part of your bustling, friendly household made him feel connected and loved. You took such good care of him.”

As Dad began to decline he began to lose interest in things. It’s a process I’ve seen over and over as people prepare for death. The Tao Te Ching 16th chapter speaks to this and has been a source of strength and guidance for me since my mom was dying:

Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return.

Each separate being in the universe
returns to the common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.

If you don’t realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.
Immersed in the wonder of the Path,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.

If you wonder why we had John cremated it’s because he’d be spinning in his coffin as I have decided to end with a song. John had to abandon music when he married a woman who not only was tone deaf but could only make tone deaf children.  I sing this not only because it is the only song I have written about John but I wrote it when Mom was dying and it speaks to what I believe about these things.

When your wife is dying in the summer time

The ministers go on vacation

The road workers do their excavation

But the truck driver stays at home

Alone with his regrets

He drinks cheap beer and he frets

About his dying wife and his debts

And if he should have stayed on the road so long.

And when your mom is dying in the summer time

The birds still sing in the morning

The red skies give the sailors warning

But the sad boy does not sail on

Alone with his worst fears

He stifles back his tears

He tries to bring his family cheer

As he writes another sad sad song.

And when someone’s dying in the summer time

People still go to the beach

But happiness is so far out of reach

We just all stay home

And we sit alone together

And talk about the weather

And what’s going to happen to Heather

When her grandma dies before too long.

But the birds still sing when we mourn

And with every death new life is born

We’re all just part of the Goddess anyway

So I’ll wipe away my tears

And learn to face my fears

And know there’s a new part of God to hear me pray

I know there’s a new part of God to hear me pray.

Another Friday Night…

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Killing time before the Tigers game comes on. I have to work tomorrow so don’t know how deep I’ll be able to get into the game with it not coming on until 9:00. They have a chance to clinch the central division and its nice to end the season strong. I like our chances. Spent some time after dinner weeding the strawberries. They really took it on the chin in the heat wave (probably should have watered them more) and a lot of grass came up in the newly opened space. I especially wanted to get the fox tails, last thing I want is one of this bristles stuck up one of the dog’s nose. Cost my brother like a thousand bucks when it happened to Smokey. Also need to mow, but tired yesterday, and kind of wet today. Got some wild flowers blooming, wish i knew all their names, but the asters by the mail box are especially pretty. Saw more then a few of those in the Nantahalas along with fancy goldenrod, phlox, and a bunch of other stuff  i couldn’t ID or can’t remember. There were a lot of these orange pitcher flowers by our second camp site. Even though it wasn’t a legit dispersed site in the National Forest (too close to both a paved road and a picnic area) I was glad we stayed a second night because a beautiful little hummingbird got comfortable enough with us to feed on the orange flowers. It worked its way through the little jungle of them for quite a while. There’s always something magical when they stop by and I am looking to get more flowers in, in front of my picture window and in the back to draw more in. I’ve upgraded to black sunflower seed instead of the cheap mixes and it has drawn a better class of birds. John got me a squirrel guard, a plastic dish that tilts when you put weight on it  that has kept out the squirrels and of course the dogs help. Fido has them all running out to the feeder whenever someone opens the back door or yells squirrel. I trimmed up Fido some tonight, straightened up his mustache and got some long spots and some spots that were matted and worked out from his pre-vacation cut. They had been annoying me the whole trip and I was glad to get it done. I had left his little penis hair but it was getting to be better then 2 inches long and John was teasing me so I trimmed that too. He doesn’t care for the manscaping and I can’t blame him after what happened to his balls. I wanted to share more about my vacation but after being back a couple days it already feels far away and long ago. I didn’t take a computer and instead had this great idea of blogging in a book instead. The links are hard but its really revolutionary. I realized I don’t self-censor as much here as much as I thought as my writings for myself weren’t much different, although I would be lying if I said they were exactly the same. Over-sharer that I am I still hold a lot back for the general prevue. I may share some excerpts or use it as a draft maybe this weekend. I have to work a half day tomorrow so no market. I will probably go to Wilsons to get at least some local produce. I was going to wait until Sunday and go to the art/vegetable market at bus station but I want to make barbecued beef and need some sides. Maybe I’ll do carnitas instead and go to the grocery store. its not a bad idea anyway the cupboards are, if not bare, have some room and the fridge is bare. I did make it to the market last Saturday in Franklin North Carolina. It was small but friendly and we got some local tomatoes (not as good as home), a jalapeno, pimento, green beans and okra which livened up our tuna and noodles and our canned chinese food (man that stuff has really gone done hill). We also got a little zucchini bread which was not as good as the ones i get locally (or make for that matter). that would be a good weekend activity, i’ve got a brown banana in the freezer. Franklin was a cool little town though. Caught breakfast twice at the City Diner. Had the Gypsy Omelet which was hash and swiss, pretty yummy and it was cheap. We drove past a place in a strip mall that didn’t have any customers on a weekend and found the City Diner with a lot full of pick up trucks. Pa Miller taught me that was the way to find good eats in the country, god rest his soul. There was also a cool indian mound with some history that it had been an important city of the Cherokee before they got f*cked and they kept the village center on the mound. It was an important battle(the battle of echoe) there where the Cherokee won one year quite handily but got beaten decisively a year later. Would have liked to check out more Cherokee stuff when we were out there, but we stuck to the woods. Looks like its time to call Harry and tell him can’t go to the market and watch a few innings before hitting the hay. Good night faithful reader and sweet dreams.

There and Back Again #2

September 15, 2011 3 comments

Well I am home from the Appalachians and it was a really delightful trip. John took some pictures of course. For driving into the remnants of Hurricane Lee we really had OK weather. It rained pretty much nonstop for the first couple of days. We had a break in the rain and hiked the dogs at Locust Cliffs in the Hoosier National Forest on the way down. We considered camping there as we knew we would be driving into more rain but didn’t want to have to deal with wet gear so early in the trip. We stopped and slept in the truck for a bit in a truck stop in KY and drove on into the Great Smokey National Park Labor Day Morning. We got a room for a couple nights at Motel 6 in Sieverville and needing to kill some time before checking in we drove into the park. We had a nice hike at Laurel Falls and then headed back to the room figuring the traffic jam out of the park would have cleared up. It hadn’t and it was a long drive through the hell of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sieverville.  A collection of schlock and tasteless hillbilly nonsense like Branson on steroids. We had the pleasure of that drive several times as we commuted into the park to another really incredible hike and doing a driving trail where we saw a black bear mommy and cub chilling out and feeding in a gum tree. Driving out we hit the Appalachian Trail near Clingman’s Dome so I could add mile 157 for my AT total. After that the rain went intermittent and we moved down and did some camping in the Nantahala National Forest. Hiked in some old growth Poplar/Hemlock, hiked some and hiked some of the AT near Siler Bald that Amee and I had done. It was poignant being back especially being September 7, the 11th anniversary of Mom’s death and that stretch of the AT was where I had come to terms that Mom was going to die. I’ll probably write more about that and some other stuff but I wanted to put up some pictures and give the bare bones narration. We moved to a nicer site where we could have fire over on Bear Pen Mountain and did a couple of waterfall hikes, one named Laurel Falls actually. A couple days there and we drove back over the mountains and caught another nights camping in the Pisgah National Forest. No where near as nice and no hiking at camp but its just great to live outside. After a week of it it just becomes life. Then we drove back enjoying the beautiful scenery of Highway 40 and reminiscing of our childhood trips through the region. Caught a room in Padukah KY and drove home this afternoon. Pleasantly surprised at the yard which is the thing I missed the most. Weeded the strawberries some and enjoyed the wildflowers blooming in the front yard. Not as much as the Nantahala but more than than the Pisquah. I’ll post more on the trip soon.

Categories: gardening, travel