"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

31 March 2010

As the Fist Holiday Approaches...

I could say it's because I've not even been remotely Judeo-Christian since I was at least fifteen, and a practicing heretical Tibetan Buddhist since my early twenties, that holidays, like Easter, don't mean that much to me. Oh, sure, I acknowledge it out of respect of my family and it's an opportunity to get together, have a few cocktails, and eat lamb. However, when I've missed the holiday for whatever reason, it's not hurt my feelings.

This year is different. I find myself looking to Easter with a nervous anticipation. Here's the holiday, which Christians celebrate as a day of resurrection, and it will be the first holiday my family's gotten together since my mother stepped into the bardo.

In a case of de ja vu, six years ago, Easter was the first family holiday after my grandmother died. Both my mother and I were morose on the subject, and we numbed our emotion with beer and whiskey. Strangely, as close as I was to my grandmother, this year's Easter seems so much more profound. Much more melancholy.

I wonder if it's because of the simple fact my mother birthed me. Or if it's the fact what would have been my parents thirty-eighth wedding anniversary was just a few weeks ago. Perhaps it's just because, and there is no simple answer.

My daughter made sure she could come. With my x being such the devout Catholic, I wasn't really sure if I should have bothered. My little girl took the initiative, pulling the look, bitch! My grandmother just died this past winter and this is the first time I'll get to see my Dad's side of the family since the memorial, and it's important, so if you don't fucking mind card.

Okay, I might have paraphrased some of that...

As is typical for family gatherings within my bloodlines, we're all expected to bring something to contribute to the meal. My brother is being a pain in the ass. My sister is being neurotic. My father is making the arrangements to get the lamb.

I worry/wonder what it'll be like. If there will be tears or stories or if, like the metaphoric elephant in the room, we'll all notice the specter-like void where a four-thousand year old chinless woman should be, and we'll not say anything about it. I wonder if my father will bring whiskey and encourage my brother, Whitie, and myself to join him in a tumbler or more. If it'll be a good time or a solemn occasion.

And I won't know until I get there, some five risings and settings of the sun. My talents might be many and varied, but I don't do clairvoyance. Here and now, I can theorize and what if until I drive myself mad by chewing on the inside of my skull, but it won't do much good. All I can do, is take a deep breath, focus, get my reptile zen on, and take what comes.

29 March 2010


Some years ago, when Sabina and I decided Morocco was our Kashmir, Weathertop Manor was for sale. Though it was more than we could afford, we fell for it anyway. It was a one-hundred twenty-someodd old Victorian that was once a bed and breakfast hostel, which sits next to the cantina. It was purchased within a month of us scoping it. Sabina was a little morose about it.

As an example of things not being as they seem, we later found out Weathertop Manor did not have much land to it. The southwest corner of the house could potentially flood because of marshiness caused by the Brewery Spring that runs between it and the cantina. It turned out to be for the best that we didn't get it.

The cat who purchased Weathertop Manor lost his place, up and over, in a breakup. Morocco was not Kashmir to him, but a place to regroup. Just a place. He looked at me as though I was insane when I mentioned the concept of Kashmir to him. He did not appreciate the one-hundred twenty-someodd old Victorian for what it was.

Sometime during the winter, I began to notice a decided lack of activity around Weathertop Manor. Then, the notices began to appear on the front door. The outcome was both sad and obvious; it had been abandoned and there were events in motion to give possession of the property to a bank.

It's tragic because that beautiful Victorian might sit vacant for quite some time. And gods and bodhisattvas know what the cat may have done to it. Repairs and renovations might be a long and expensive process.

But then it'll be for sale again. Maybe not for as much as when Sabina and I wistfully thought about it, but so it goes. Maybe some seasonal snowbirds or real-world dropouts, like us, will purchase it. Whatever the case, I just hope whoever does purchase Weathertop Manor will appreciate the one-hundred twenty-someodd old Victorian for what it is.

26 March 2010

Early Spring Walkabout

A couple of shots of the valley from an earlier walkabout with my daughter. It goes without saying I had one of those and I fucking live here! moments...

Even with light snow showers and mist, the air is getting warmer. Seeps and streams are thawing out, as is the Long Loch. I've caught splashes of green amongst the rust and khakis of the exposed grasses. At nine-thousand one-hundred eighteen feet, we can potentially get winter-like weather for another month or more, but I can feel spring starting to spring, and it gets me to smile.

23 March 2010

The Challenges

"Lay with me lady
you're drivin' me crazy,
I promised you all my life
These things that sustain me
oh how they drain me,
But I'll never hang you out to dry..."

This might be a little difficult to believe, but I have not always had the best luck with women. Well, not in the sense that goes beyond platonic. In fact, there have been times it's been quite abysmal.

I realize this comes as a shock. Yes, it's true, some women do spontaneously orgasm in my presence, and my rampant field of luminous masculinity does make strong men weep and wet themselves. But some are immune to my charms.

Remember, I am an aberration; being too tall, too skinny, with eyes too big for the rest of my face. My spine is twisted. From the standpoint of basic zoology, and, sometimes, the social construct of reality, I am not the first choice.

It has seemed to go in spurts, my more intimate interactions with females. Sometimes, I might have a few relationships in a row. Then, there are the times when I go quite awhile, sometimes years, without that sort of a dynamic. Both have had their upshots and downsides.

I am kind of solitary by nature, so being alone is often preferable. Letting someone in that close was not without peril. Nothing annoys me more than the smothering aspect some girls have inflicted on me, let alone the getting territorial. Or the lack of understanding when I lapse into silence, or fuck off somewhere to be by myself. There was a girl once who stated it was quite obvious I didn't really need anyone, and half the time, she wondered if I even wanted anyone.

During those times in between, I have occasionally seen one of those moments tenderness between lovers that genuinely pulls at my heartstrings, despite the fact I don't have a romantic bone in my body. There were times when I might find myself feeling a little lonely, even aching to share a moment or observation with someone special. But, I could just as easily dismiss those thoughts as thinking the girl for me, aside from having a fair amount of brain damage, probably was only a phantasm.

I can remember females who were intimidated and even queerly jealous of the fact that I lived with a woman for a few years. Nevermind said woman was one of my oldest and dearest friends, who I helped hook up with the man she would one day marry. For some reason, this was a wall to get to me, which was constructed in the mind of a girls who were obviously not worth my time.

And then my own quirks could get in the way too. Not being overly extroverted or lack of willingness to play the game. That solitary streak. Closing up in a crowed room, being content to watch, but not interact. My supposed sarcasm seemed to act as a barrier, or so I was told a few times.

Mei fei tsu...

Several years ago now, another of my oldest friends decided to start taking me out, under the auspice of socializing me. See, at the time, I might hang out with another hominid once a week, if motivated or pressed, at the most. He mentioned worrying I was getting too antisocial. There was also the fact it had been a few years since any of that kind of female involvement, and, in my friend's mind, that would just not do.

I didn't mind the idea of hanging out with my friend. His dragging me places could potentially be interesting. At the very least, I could monkey watch.

And that's how I ended up spending my time in the vampire caste. It didn't all suck. Some of the music was intriguing. There were some cats I found I got along with, even got to be friends with. I even eventually ended up getting involved with a female. My friend felt like he accomplished his mission.

For a little while, that wasn't bad with the one female. But things fall apart. Eventually, I said I was done. It ended up playing out like the lyrics to a Queensryche song;

"You're through with me
I'm not through with you..."

Yeh. Less than fun times. So it goes.

My other female dalliances were less than satisfactory as well. If for no other reason than the fact they ended up getting complicated somehow, and that's just not my scene. If I wanted complicated, I'd go watch a French film.

Sabina and I met roughly a year after my friend started bringing me out. The first night we met, I was looking for that female I first got involved with. Our respective others had once been involved, but this was not surprising. The vampire caste, like other social circles, had an incestuous aspect to it. One, which I thought made Dueling Banjos more appropriate at the juke joints than This Corrosion, Sex on Wheels, or Just Like Heaven.

So, we knew each other that way. I would sometimes bum cloves off of her and try not notice when she's get into it with her boyfriend at the time-frequently-at the juke joint. We ended up becoming friends and getting close through a joe job we both worked. I found I liked her better outside of the vampire caste then as one of its aristocracy.

Things began to fall apart with those respective others. We acted as counsel and commiserater for one another. Cheerleadered for things to work out, or say when it might just be time to walk away.

One night, at least a half of a year, if not more, from when I'd split from the one female, and probably in between dealing with some kind of brain damage complication from another one, and Sabina was in the swan-song days with her boyfriend at the time, had met to share a bottle of wine. It had an owl on the label, Sabina said she wanted to drink it with me because of strix. We were bemoaning the subject of romance and relationships.

I got into my misanthropy. Those solitary tendencies that made not being involved not so horrific. I mentioned that, given my most recent intimacies and their repercussions, I'd rather be alone, because, once more, it seemed not worth the brain damage. The girl for me, who could deal with the quirky paradoxical misanthropy, was probably a phantasm.

"You don't think you'll ever find someone to put up with that?" Sabina asked me.

"Fucking what? Do you think you could?" I growled before taking a big gulp of wine.

I could blame that on the wine, but I've always found blaming anything on drinking, other than perhaps a buzz or intoxication, a cop-out. To tell the truth, I'm not sure what exactly prompted me to say that to one of my close friends, other than, that night, I was finding myself particularly cynical and hostile towards my fellow biped. Even and especially those with tits. To her credit, Sabina didn't say anything, but instead, sort of looked off into the shadows surrounding us, and sipped her wine.

Almost a year before that, I had heard Sabina discussing the finer points of makeup. She remarked that she wouldn't even answer the telephone without it. This got my attention. Perhaps because of my fascinations with peering beyond Voodoo masks and poking at the worms underneath to watch them squirm. I do, after all, get curious like that.

"Really? You won't even pick up a telephone without your makeup?" I said with a fair amount of venom.

"It's true," she said. "No one sees me without makeup."

"Not even your boy?" I asked.

"No one," she repeated.

"Really?" I said, leaning closer. "You shouldn't go saying shit like that out loud."

"Why's that?" Sabina asked me.

"Because you might run into some weird fucker who has the Japanese pictogram for demon tattooed somewhere on their body that might take you up on that," I said.

"You won't do it," she said, and my growl and chuckle intertwined like serpents.

"Honeychild," I said. "You can either play nice, or I can come after you with a crowbar and a loofah."

There it was; a challenge. And, me being me who can sometimes get into trouble, or have a rollicking adventure, or both, when driven by curiosity, decided I just had to pick it up. Over a year later, meeting Sabina at what would become the Nostalgic New Orleans Residence, I had my first occasion to see her without makeup. She didn't miss my triumphant smirk.

"Well, aren't you just pleased with yourself?" She asked me mockingly. "Happy now?"

"Ecstatic," I said. "I told you one day I'd pull it off."

But, friends and otherwise, our dynamic has always been about balance. Just as she challenged me once upon a time without meaning it over a matter of makeup, it could be said I challenged her once upon a time over a matter of my misanthropy. I really do believe that.

Three months after I made that one crack whilst we shared a bottle of wine, I caught her in my mutherfuckingkitchen, taking it upon herself to help me cook dinner. There was the ensnaring of my hand when I returned from burying my father's mother. When I mentioned I wanted to move to the mountains, she said we should figure out a way to make it work, because she wanted to come too, enjoying my company. With my ideas of opting out, she has offered augments, in which to pull it off more thoroughly. She's expressed wanting to spend her life with me, and, so far, so good.

It's been a few years since that night with the bottle of wine with an owl on the label and me going on about being alone because the girl for me, the one who could deal with my paradoxical misanthropy, was probably a phantasm. These days, I find there is this one woman who has so ingrained and imprinted herself into my life I have a truly difficult time imagining it without her. And me, who was once told it was obvious I didn't need anyone, who it was questionable if I wanted anyone, who once said I don't belong to nobody, found myself giving myself, willingly, to her. I suppose that means something.

I have never been the type to test someone I purport to care for, not taking those tests myself. It's something I've always found petty, mean-spirited, and otherwise a bunch of who shot john. Still, it seems, without really meaning it, I handed down a challenge one night. And, it seems, Sabina rose to that challenge, however unintentional, quite well.

20 March 2010

The Last Times

"Angels and demons dancing in my head
Lunatics and monsters underneath my bed..."

Perhaps the best place to start this story was a particularly craptastic day, in the waning days of winter, four years and ten days ago. My x-wife was getting married, so I was not getting my daughter for visitation. The vehicle I had at the time, the last one I would have whilst I lived in the city, decided to die on me. There was the matter of the female, I guess, I was involved with. She often preferred to stay home and either sleep or watch the telly than have anything to do with me. I think we phoned and, on rare as hen's teeth occasions, hung out, out of habit more than anything else. That particular crapastic day, we'd kicked around perhaps having a dinner together, but she either decided sleep or the telly was the more entertaining option.

So, I was already in a less-than-pleasant mood. This was back during a time when I had somehow found it okay to drink-often to excess-frequently. Sometimes for no other reason than the fact there was oxygen in the atmosphere. Having had a particularly craptastic day, I conspired to meet with some cats I was running with at the time at the Tiki Bar. I figured drinking several of the cheap redneck beers I was partial to at the time was in order. After the day I had, I rationalized that I earned it, figuring it couldn't get much worse.

What a fool I used to be...

The gypsy pulled me aside to talk almost before I had ordered my first beer, giving me a shot of whiskey. She told me how, because of certain paperwork, she was being sent back to her homeland for at least month. Maybe more. An exile of sorts. Of course, I found this devastating. We were pretty close, having swapped stories, poems, and drinks in the four years we had been acquainted. Be that as it may, that was the better of the bad news. The other aspect had to do with the archangel with a broken wing, Jibril.

"He's sick," she said.

"Fucking duh," I said. "I can smell it on him. I always have. The boy's got four kidneys in his body, and not a one of them works. Everybody knows that."

The gypsy seized my arm, quiet forcefully, causing me to growl at her. She locked her gaze with mine, not flinching despite my snarl and willingness to take her arm off at the shoulder. With a deep breath and pull of her drink, she released my arm before continuing.

"No," she said with a remarkable calm given both the situation at hand and the amount of drink she had consumed. "It's really bad."

And she proceeded to tell me just how bad really bad was. How much more toxins and other wastes were being drawn out by his dialysis. The way this left him-quite literally, in some ways-drained. She told me how the scent of sickness and decomposition I would sometimes get from him, a scent so strong I'd sometimes chain-smoke so I could handle the presence of my angelic friend, was the scent of him dying before our eyes.

She told me because, back then, I was dancing with the dead for money, triaging potential organ and tissue donors. By virtue of that, I could understand. She told me because Jibril was my friend and I admired him. She told me because she figured with my reptile zen, I could handle the news.

"Fucking perfect," I growled, downing that shot of whiskey like it was water, there was neither taste nor burn to it, which, when it comes to whiskey, is a rather sad state of affairs.

Perhaps it was because of the particularly craptastic day I'd already had, along with these new scraps of news, but zen was not something I really felt. In fact, I was off my fresh-fried lobster for the next few days following that day and night. I phoned the one female who preferred to sleep or watch the telly over having anything to do with me. That ghost of an ironic acquaintance, which our communications seemed to be more out of habit. I told her what the gypsy said about the archangel with a broken wing, my concern, and about the whisper in my ghost, telling me he'd either scrape his way out of it, or he'd not make it to that autumn, but I did not know which yet.

That female all but blew it off as if the gypsy was overreacting. Sure, it was possible. Everyone I've ever known has overreacted at least once. Whether that's an aspect of the human affliction or I've just had the strange luck to be related to and acquainted with a bunch of neurotic mutherfuckers is conjecture. And, in the context of this tale, was not appropriate.

So, I didn't really speak in much detail of my concern or the whispers in my ghost regarding Jibril to that female again. She didn't seem to care. It took me a little over another two months to finally work up the escape velocity from that situation, and the aftershocks lasted at least another half a year. But that is another story.

"He's going through tests to be put on the recipient's list,"the bruja of my acquaintance, who knew the archangel far longer than the gypsy and I combined, said in an effort to comfort me on the matter. "The results will tell how he's really doing, but he says he feels good enough to try and beat the strict lines of determination."

The whisper in my ghost persisted. By virtue of what I was doing for money, I found myself having nightmares. I wanted to find him a kidney to help him. I wanted him to prove my whisper wrong.

I suppose, in a way he did. He did make it to and through that autumn, finally venturing into the bardo on the very last day of that winter, a year and ten days from when the gypsy told me how bad really bad was. In a lot of ways, that's hardly a comfort. Dead is still dead, and you don't always get to walk away from that.

I'm not sure when exactly it was that I saw Jibril again. All I know is that is was an occasion. We embraced and I did my best not to notice the scent of sickness and decomposition that emanated from him. When we parted ways, he embraced me tightly again.

"Goodbye, my friend," he said to me.

For those of you playing the home game, you probably already know my feelings toward the term goodbye. But, for those you just tuning in, I am fine with bye, farewell, until next time, see you later or anything other than goodbye. Goodbye is what you say when it's the last time. Done and over. When you'll not speak to someone ever again. Forever.

And yet, Jibril, the archangel with a broken wing, that fucking moth, would say goodbye to me and I would see him again. There would be a next time. It was always an occasion. I would let him get away with saying goodbye to me, noticing, but not offended, not really understanding why until almost a half a year after he died.

For the next year, I didn't see him nearly as much as I would have liked, but ain't that always the way? The gypsy would sometimes relate to me stories of his condition. Sometimes, she would vent, if not lash out about the circumstance altogether. I can't say I really appreciated when I would sometimes find myself catching her frustration over what was happening to our beautiful friend, but I also knew why she did it. So it goes.

The last time I saw Jibril was at a redneck Marti Gras party tossed by a bike tribe of our mutual acquaintance on the eve of Losar for the year of the pig. As with any time I saw him, it was a pleasant surprise. It was an occasion.

Try as I might, I cannot recall the exact things we talked about that over cocktails and cigarettes. It's true, that night was the first time since I had stopped finding it okay to drink-often to excess-frequently that I allowed myself to get a little intoxicated. But that would be an excuse, and besides, there are those who say my memory can make an elephant cry. Be that as it may, there are limits. I just know we spoke of politics and le cinema and comic books and philosophy and religion and all the other things we'd talk about over cigarettes and either coffee or cocktails. The details of those conversations, however, is but mist over the memory of that last time.

When we prepared to part ways, I tried to get him to come with me to see the Losar celebrations in Little Asia, once the sun rose. It was something I felt was important and we could both enjoy. He declined, lighting a fag in that suave Jibril way of his.

"I probably will be going to bed when you're leaving to do that," he said. "And that's your thing."

He then reached over to give me a hug. The same tight embrace we'd been exchanging for nearly a year. That one that developed after I was told how bad really bad was.

"Goodbye, my friend," he said to me.

It was the last time I'd ever hear him say that...

A month and two days later, I was in the Confederacy. Along with my siblings, I had just helped my father put his mother in the ground. We were all eager to return to that place named for the Spanish way of saying colorful after having to deal the southern relatives and the blood drama there. I had just gotten off the phone with Sabina, when my phone rang again.

I answered with a cheerful lilt to my voice. It wasn't Sabina, but Madam Lung. Her voice was shaky.

"I'm sorry...I know you're busy with your family stuff..." she tried to say. "I don't know how to tell you this..."

And then, the words fell out amidst a flood of dragon's tears. Jibril was gone. Just like that.

All fall down...

Six months later, I was at a party with Madam Lung and Sabina. The dragon and I were standing out on the terrace talking, and the archangel with a broken wing came up in conversation. It seemed that happened a fair amount back then. The wounds were still oh so fresh and we are all oh so messy. I started talking about my viewpoint on the term goodbye and how he could somehow get away with saying it to me without offense, when the understanding finally hit me like a two-ton heavy thing.

"Muthafuka!" I hissed. "He knew there might not be a next time. It was always the last time!"

Fucking perfect...

And I was moody the rest of that night and about half of the next day. Because, of course, that was going to make everything better. That was going to bring my friend back from the dead, in perfect health, no less.

I'm sure one can imagine my dismay and further moodiness, frustration, and melancholy when that didn't happen...

In the last three years, I have said goodbye to that fucking moth more times than I can count without removing clothing. After all, goodbye means done and over. Forever and the last time. I know this, feeling it down to marrow.

But perhaps that's why I tell these stories; because he was the exception that disproved the rule. Goodbye always meant the last time, but there seemed to be a fair amount of next times. Maybe I want to keep thinking Jibril has another next time left, despite the evidence to the country.

14 March 2010

Daylight Hornswoggle

Spring forward! That's the cliche, isn't it? Nevermind the loss of an hour of sleep. One can make that up. Perhaps playing ketchup on all the lost sleep once one is dead, but one can make it up.

Depending on what's happening year to year depends on how disorienting the fucking with clocks is. Time is an abstract to me, and this happenstance even has an effect on me. I find myself a little out of it for a day or two whilst trying to enjoy the fact the sun is setting an hour later, but not. See, come closer to spring, we go and hoodwink ourselves that there's an extra hour of light by virtue of the tick-tock of the clock. It's a royal scam.

I suppose, back when the American Empire was more agrarian, this sort of thing might have worked. Or at least been more convincing. The American Empire is not so agrarian anymore. It seems the changing of clocks in the spring and fall is done more out of habit than any sort of practicality, and is believed in like Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy; real, but not, because, deep down, we all know better.

The days are getting longer. That is the planetary tilt along its axis. Basic science there for you, whelps. It was happening long before the first monkey invented the first clock in an attempt to make sense of, control, and manipulate their environment, because when you know what time it is, you've really got a handle on things. The days length will fluctuate after the monkeys and their timekeeping machines are gone. As long as there's a world, spinning around its star, it'll happen, and springing forward or falling back has nothing to do with it.

13 March 2010

Portraits of Contentment

African music and a fresh cup of steaming green tea. A full belly and a quiet, but mild, overcast afternoon. The vernal equinox is a week away. Here and now, I am relaxed, taking in this portrait of contentment.

I was out and about earlier in the day, when the sky was the color of turquoise and the sun was shinning brightly. Whilst I was out, I met a man who was running for the board of the township's loose government. I shook his hand and signed his petition. I'm not a huge fan of government of any sort, but, I can deal with Morocco's, for it is minimal. Home-rule with no standing law enforcement. The Lord Mayor once invited Sabina and I, whilst out on a walk on a warm summer night, over to smoke a bowl.

In other parts of the world, that might lead to political scandal. Here, it's just how it is. Part of life in a small mountain township. We accept such things with a shrug.

The day before, Milarepa and I clambered about the Bull's Head. I did some scrabbling. Part of me wonders if the next time I go to the local's jam, the bakery, tearoom, or perhaps even the cantina, if someone's going to remark about seeing me scrambling up the rockfaces with my dog trying desperately to follow after me. I was half looking for the other saints that were placed in various places throughout the Bull's Head. I've found one. Sometime, hopefully before next winter, I'd like to find those others. Even if I don't, I know I'll enjoy myself.

With just a slight inclination of my head and shift of my gaze, I catch a glimpse of my personal Kilimanjaro. The only mountain I really, really want to summit. Some cats get their rocks off by climbing mountains, but not me. I like my walkabouts and scrabbling. That's my thing. Something that works for me.

Looking out at my personal Kilimanjaro is one of the many reminders of why I chose to live here. It's quite something to see a twelve-thousand foot peak when looking out the window. A little bit of magic and one of the many faces of the Divine. Its own portrait of contentment.

11 March 2010

Mud Season

There have been annoying snows over the last few days. Little showers here and there. Just enough to cover the exposed areas with a light dusting, before dissolving into the sunlight and wind. Then again, the cycle repeats. The chill in the air is not quite as biting as it was even a week ago. All around, the exposed ground is saturated, giving it a bog-like quality. Dirt roads are rivers of mud.

Long ago, I was told there was only three seasons in the mountains; sun, snow, and mud. My father sought to remind me of this when I first started talking about fucking off for the pointylands. Having lived here now, I have seen truth in that little supposition. The four seasons, as those in lower elevations know them, border upon mythology up here.

Mud Season is the bardo time between snow and sun. That point when the snow begins to loosen into slush and the ground starts to appear once more. When the cowbirds and finches first reappear at the feeders, heralding the arrival of the grosbeaks, robins, and hummingbirds. It's that time when it can be wonderful to be outside, whether it's doing some snowbound activity, going on walkabout, climbing, or just taking in the view, or hurrying indoors before the next storm. This is the time when the ski resorts begin to sing their swan songs, the season officially ending within the next month or so, whilst the hardcore snowbums look to the backcountry outbacks, where one plays odds against avalanches, and places where the snow never melts for their kicks.

The last round of snow ended earlier in the day, and the sky is clear, as are the exposed patches of ground. Stiff breezes howl trough the valley. I watch snowdevils dance along the summit of my personal Kilimanjaro. Meteorological prophecy speaks of two warmer days, two cooler, then another warm up. I scheme to do a walkabout in the next few days, and try to restrain any cynicism about the manic weather of this time of year. I've lived in Colorado most of my life, and I know foretelling the weather can be a roll of the bones.

Still, the days are getting longer. The air feels just a little warmer. There are different wild birds about than just the ravens, crows, and magpies. I recognize those omens. It might be mud season here and now, but Sun is on its way.

09 March 2010

The Opt-Out Scheme

Let's talk about rock and/or roll...

Okay, maybe not. Better yet, let's speak of goals. Those objectives we set for ourselves. The prize, however tangible or otherwise, we keep our metaphoric eyes on.

Sometime during my teenage years, I decided I wanted to have published something and live either in or near the monoliths of the greater metroplex. It took me nearly a full twelve years, but I eventually self-published a little something entitled; Seasons in Limbo: The Tangled Web, and I got some royalties from it. Not much. Just enough to pay-with folding paper and jingling coins-for a night of rather athletic carousal. I was living within a mile of the monoliths at the time.

Once upon a time, Sabina and I decided that a funky little mountain township with roughly two-hundred residents, some ten miles from the Roof of the World was our Kashmir. Not even a year later, we found the House of Owls and Bats. It took us a little less than two months to purchase it and move in.

Of course, I used to, in terms of retirement, before I decided I'd not wait that long, wanted to move to either the mountains or the deserts. Both landscapes entrance me. Thus far, having been to both, I have found the mountains much more agreeable to my constitution.

There's a certain irony in this, given there have been those in my past, friends, lovers, acquaintances, even family members, who've believed I was without direction. That I had no goals whatsoever and just wasted whatever potential I might have. I cannot help but chuckle, given what I have accomplished. Sure, it really has nothing to do with money or fame, but neither of those things are of particular interest to me. However, as Jezebel once observed of me, I have a nasty tendency to get what I go after, it just might take time.

Somewhere in my mid to late twenties, when I still lived in the greater metroplex, I decided once I owned property, I was going to start working on become self-sufficient. Opting out. The initial ideas were things as simple as a garden and the use of rain water and snowmelt for the plants. I also liked the idea of getting off the grid somehow, as not to be paying the local energy consortium for electricity.

When I first told Sabina of these ideas, a few years back, she didn't laugh at me or tell me I was far from the conventional definition of sane. In fact, she rather liked it. She began to offer a few of her own ideas. Things like solar and wind power. We both bounced the idea of a greenhouse off one another. Even having a well. The seeds, planted some five or ten years before, were beginning to germinate into a full-blown scheme. A new goal.

We already try to live as sustainable and mindfully as possible, and this is a step further in that direction. It could be considered being green, but, in some ways, green doesn't have a lot to do with it. Long before that fad, or even thinking of this scheme in the sustainable direction, I thought of being self-sufficient in terms of economics, and maybe even a little bit in the way of my misanthropy.

Why should we pay for produce if we're growing our own? Even and especially if we put up a greenhouse, giving us the ability to grow year-round? Why pay the local energy consortium for electricity if we generate our own? Why pay the township for water if we sink a well and use the rain and snowmelt to help water our garden? Why be beholden to anyone?

And then there's the aspect of me being a quirky misanthropic bastard. Not having to deal with other hominids doesn't necessarily hurt my feelings. In fact, I prefer it. It's something I do love about living in the mountains; not quite as many of the half-bald monkeys called Man to bother me.

My sister, in snarky jest, said I was going full-hippy. She asked me if we would communicate by smoke signals in the future. With a bit of a chuckle, I mentioned that if, when mentioning my latest scheme, I had said I was also going to be stock-piling guns and ammunition, she'd call me a survivalist and ask me where my tin-foil hat was. Both are forms of opting out, just different aspects of the same cosmic coin.

Sabina and I have started with baby steps; beginning research into high-altitude gardening, we want to do at least one season of that before committing more to the greenhouse. We've done some research and pricing on solar panels and wind turbines. In between, we buy organic and local as much as possible. Live as sustainable and mindful as we can.

It is a process in which baby steps are required. One that could take years. I once told Sabina that I was estimating between ten and fifteen, depending on the circumstances. Still, that doesn't bother me, given that it's taken me years to accomplish some of the other goals I have set for myself. Just as I did those things, I will do this. After all, my patience is formidable and I seem to have a nasty tendency to get what I go after should I decide I really want it.

08 March 2010

Drama Along the Road

Snow, more spring-like in its composition, falls lightly. The patches of exposed grass are covered with a thin layer. According to the thermometer, it's above freezing. It's supposed to be a little cooler in the next few days, before warming once more. Even though it's late winter, I think of a folk cliche that speaks to the shadow of the season;

Springtime in the Rockies...

Further west, about one-hundred miles away, in Glenwood Canyon, which stands as something of gateway a western end to the mountains, the Road has been closed by a massive rockslide. The story goes that great rocks, some the size of transport vehicles, punched holes into bridges and the Road itself. Traffic is being routed along other routes, some of which are hundreds of miles out of the way.

Sabina told me stories of what the Road through Glenwood Canyon used to look like, before it was expanded. Like parts of the Road through our Sahel, there was a fair amount of blasting to set the Road where it was, instead of switching back around mountains and following the lay of the land. To this end, Sabina could not help but wonder if all that blasting, all those years ago, did not destabilize the canyon walls and something like this was just a matter of time.

There's some validity to that supposition. It wouldn't surprise me if the weather, like the snow that falls outside of our front door, doesn't have something to do with it as well. That over the years of wind and rain and snow and erosion and hot and cold, along with the vibrations of the thousands of vehicles, which pass daily along that stretch of the Road, had an effect.

Thankfully, none of our travels in the foreseeable future involve going that far into the American Maghreb, although we find ourselves wondering about how this will affect commerce. The Road is the main east/west route through this part of the world, so hopefully, this won't last long. In the meantime, me have ample food and wine presently. I've already resolved to get fuel to top of the tank on the oft chance prices go up because of this. Be that as it may, whilst this is an interesting bit of news to follow, it's probably not something to worry too much about for the time being.

07 March 2010


There was a time when forty-one quaint American degrees on the fahrenheit scale was not something I would consider warm, bordering on balmy, at times. That was in a time before I found my Kashmir here in Morocco, Colorado. Before I lived through winters without direct sunlight and wind and slabs of snow, first born in autumn that only grew, and temperatures that rarely climbed above that of frozen water. Before then, forty-one quaint American degrees on the fahrenheit scale was a little cool, bordering on chilly, at times.

Those slabs of snow begin to recede a little. I can see patches of grass, still dull brown and khaki in context of the season. The ice shelves along the river begin to loosen. I wonder about the wisdom and safety of the ice-fishermen down on the Long Loch. The dirt streets are mostly mud. Where there were once ice sheets, there are now puddles of standing liquid water.

So, I went for a walk through the township. It was too nice of a day not to. My Kashmir was quiet, as a small living ghost town in a mountain Sahel would be in the waning days before the vernal equinox. It's still ski season, after all. Tourist season, when Morocco sees a little more activity, doesn't start for another month and a half, at the very least.

But that's okay. I like the quiet. It is one of the many reasons this place is my Kashmir.

Finches have started to appear at the bird feeder, and for the first time in months, I find myself filling it with seed more frequently. There will be more birds coming; cowbirds, grosbeaks, juncos, sparrows, swallows, robins, and more. Along the side of the house, there are buds, ever so small, ever so slowly, poking up out of the dirt. Crocuses, most likely. I silently named this spectacle hope. The hope of rebirth and renewal and the hope of the new season, which is just around the metaphoric corner.

Cooking Thoughts

I suppose, were I an arrogant man, I might say my breakfast frittata, made with Spanish spices and the secret ingredient of love, was a stroke of culinary genius. Much like the previous night's supper of three bean, barely, and rice stew with a dash of Indian spices and west African peppercorns, known as Grains of Paradise. However, I am not an arrogant man. Be that as it may, my breakfast frittata was still rather good. I resolve to make it again.

I learned how to cook fairly early on. My father taught me quite a bit under the auspice of knowing how to cook so I'd never need a fucking woman. Perhaps that was one of the seeds of my wanting to be self-sufficient, or at least unintentional encouragement in that direction. I'll never know for sure, though I like to theorize. But that's another tangent for another time.

Over time, cooking for me became a little bit more than just putting food in my belly. It became a source of enjoyment and adventure. Something, which sometimes, almost bordered upon art. A way to travel the world by virtue of spices and preparations. I once read that the way a culture expresses itself through its cooking is one of the reasons to be alive, and I truly do believe that.

Although, I shrink from the idea of being a foodie. Perhaps some of that is my hatred of labels of any sort. Maybe it's because as much as I enjoy cooking and different recipes from different parts of the world, it strikes me there is so much I don't know. The same could be said about anything that interests me; my ignorance of the subject far outweighs any knowledge I might have. So it goes.

Ironically, I weigh, at the most, one-hundred fifty pounds, but sometimes drop as low one-hundred thirty. At a height of almost six and half feet tall, this borders upon emaciated. And yet, I am in great health. When I have spoken of cooking and my enjoyment of food, I have gotten the looks of shock, awe, and disgust at my famine victim build. I just shrug at the circumstance. It's not like I asked for this.

Chicken, marinating in spices, gets in the proper context for dinner. I'll be making a salad with orange and nuts as an accompaniment. Maybe some cracked bulgar too. Wine, I think, would go nicely, although I've yet to decide between red or white. We both loves us our reds, but I do realize some meals speak more of whites. I don't worry too much about it, given that supper is still a few hours off and I have plenty of time to decide.

05 March 2010

Meal Drinks

I bought beer specifically for the stir-fry supper I'll be whipping up. Wine is fine, when it comes to most dinners, but sometimes beer is order. Or tea. Or ginger brew. Or water. It depends upon mood and context.

As an indulgence, I swung by the Sweet Shoppe, up the other side of the junction, on my way home and had a buffalo burger. I'd been jonesing for a good burger for a few days, and, knowing I was going to be out and about, decided a blustery late winter day beyond the edge of the world was a perfect day to satisfy that jones. With this meal I had a Mexican Coca-Cola in a glass bottle. My ginger brew that I make from scratch is the closest I get to soda on a regular bases, so one Coca-Cola every now and again is not such a bad thing. Well, as long as I am mindful as to the time of day I drink it.

Besides, there's just something about sipping soda from a glass bottle...

The pairing of beverage with whatever food can be something of an adventure. There was a wine shoppe in the greater metroplex Sabina and I used to patronize, and the staff would ask us what meal, or meals, I was going to be making, so they could suggest the perfect bottle of wine. It was one of those staff members who turned me on to a particular beer from Singapore that goes oh so swimmingly with vindalhoo curry. Now, that's customer service.

Jasmine tea might go well with this stir-fry I intend to make too. In fact, I'm sure it would, because tea can compliment stir-fry just as well as beer. It's by virtue of the Thai curry I intend to use that makes beer a much more appealing option. Just a little zingy spice; not as much as I'd like, but enough of a bite for Sabina. We'll have beer because it fits like a hand in glove. Then, after dinner, once the dishes are done and we relax into the evening, perhaps a glass of wine. All of which will be in perfect context.

04 March 2010

The Carmera Eyes and the Mirror Lies

Well now, I have been given some fifteen minutes of...something. In case ya'll ever wondered about some of my damage, because, after all, we're all messy;


When we were doing this, as evidenced by the images, there was a camera involved. I never really posed, which kind of made it okay. And, well, I did say I would help with project, and photographs were part of the deal. At one point, in an effort to make me more comfortable, my buddy had me take a photograph of him. Queerly enough, that was the most awkward part of the whole process.

As we were doing this, he saying how he liked the camera. Photographs were honest things. The image they showed was how it was, warts, scars, wrinkles, and all. In a way, that's how I see mirrors. I am fascinated with reflections for that very reason.

Now, he mentioned self-image. How one can bring that to the reflective surface and distort the truth contained therein. Fair enough. However, there are ways and means to alter a photograph. Everything from the cast of light to giving the subject wings and horns.

But I caught myself meditating on the subject of self-image. That phantasm one sees of themself in their mind's eye. I found myself, somewhat amused, finding that even though I will comment upon my eyes, my self-image often lacks a face. It is just what I can see as I look out; arms, legs, hands, feet, a body, occasional wisps of hair. The only time I remember my face, or that I even have one, is when I get near a mirror.

How queer. Honestly. I guess I always knew this, but I honestly never thought about it until those conversations.

I am fascinated by appearances, facades, and perceptions because of what happened to me as a whelp. Not appearance as in one's way of dress. That's just fashion, which can change. No, the Voodoo mask. The self-image and what lies beneath.

As to which is more honest, a photograph or a reflection, I think is conjecture. Perception. A camera or a mirror may be objective in what it shows and views, but the eyes that takes it in are most likely not blessed with the same objectivity.

02 March 2010

Above Freezing...or, A Late Winter Heatwave

The part of me that remembers living in the rural south around tent revivals, televangelists, and other forms of zealot, wants to jump up and shout;

"Praise be to hey-Zeus! My prayers have been answered!"

And I'm not necessarily the preying type. Well, not in that sense, at least...

The air has been steadily warming over the last few days. Finally, for the first time in a month or more, the mercury has climbed above the temperature of frozen water. Meteorological prophecy shows the trend to continue for the next few days. There might even be some mid-thirties on the fahrenheit scale.

I am filled with joy, finding this to be a happy thing. The taste of sun on my face was like a kiss from the Divine...with a little-make that a lot of-tongue. I found myself comfortable outdoors without a jacket. It was commented it was warm out, and that's why some the local businesses were slow. I remarked with a wry smile it was downright hot.

Yes, it's true, here in the sub-alpine, above freezing in late winter can qualify as balmy. I've come to appreciate thirties and forties on the fahrenheit scale. A summer heatwave consists of temperatures getting near eighty, if they ever got above that, I'm sure there'd be those who dropped dead of heatstroke.

Oh, I'm sure there's someone on the Alaskan frontier, or perhaps Siberia, or maybe even Antarctica that call me a pussy. And I won't even try to second-guess the reactions of possible lifeforms in Europa's equatorial regions. What a flatlander calls cold I might catch myself snickering at, depending on my mood, just as they might scoff at my idea of hot. But, be that as it may, it is all a matter of perspective.

Here and now, I'm enjoying the fact it's simply a nice day out. The snow is melting and the dirt streets are mud. I cannot see my breath when I step outside, and it's not quite as chilly without a jacket. This is just fine with me. I find myself smiling with a sense of hope; there are warmer days ahead.