"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

28 October 2010

Man of Confusion

I made the hop down to the library to return Cry of the Kalahari and see if perhaps there were any other tomes available by the same authors, despite the other books I've committed myself to reading. There was also the auspice of perhaps renting a film or two to watch on the 'puter, and maybe something interesting at the book sale, held daily in the library's basement. Only the film aspect came to fruition. Flights of fancy for when my daughter comes for her next visit.

One of the librarians, who is also a neighbor, has traveled to Africa. She's told me stories. Several, for I do get curious, and I'm sucker for a good story. Even the occasional bad one. One of those tales involves the fact her daughter considers Ethiopian cuisine her comfort food since they were living in that nation-state during the majority of her childhood. Once, I bought both the librarian and her daughter small bags of berbere, in exchange for some Ethiopian recipes I didn't have. A few months later, I gave the librarian some of my first batch of homemade berbere.

She had borrowed my big spiral notebook of recipes I have acquired over the years. It had been in her possession over the summer. Were it not for the many other fine cookbooks I have, this might have bordered upon travesty. But, in all fairness, Sabina has been holding one of her books hostage since late spring. Thus, it could be argued, the balance of the universe has been maintained.

The librarian was very excited to see me returning the book and checking out films. She had my notebook with her and was oh so eager to return it. To the woman she was helping as I walked in the door, she gushed about all the wonderful and otherwise amazing recipes I had collected from all over the world.

"So, you're a cook?" The woman inquired.

"I sometimes dabble in the kitchen," I said. She was the third biped over the course of the day I had said that to, and I still haven't decided if that's strange.

"It sounds like you do some exotic stuff," she said.

"Only when I do American," I shrugged. Which is true. In my peculiar perceptions, American is when I was doing something ethnic. Otherwise, I pretty well stick good old down-home country cooking. Of course, the country in question could be Morocco or Spain or Cambodia or Brazil.

There was a nervous chuckle and a confused look. I set down the book I was returning and mentioned something about being back around for the notebook. Having just been thrust into a conversation with a stranger, I hoped by then she'd have checked out her acquisitions and finished her banter with the librarian. When I returned with my films, she made some remark along the lines of happy cooking, although the perplexed look remained as she walked out the door.

The confused looks and nervous chuckles are something I've just come to accept. Whether speaking in jest or seriousness, it seems to happen. Lately, with a little more frequency. I blame that on the gig.

"I really shouldn't, what with my diet," I told my benefactor when she was offering candy to the strawboss and I the other day. He was speaking to me in a language of power tools and mechanics, hoping I'd eventually gain a working vocabulary. She shook her head and, with a slight smile, walked on to deliver her offerings elsewhere.

"Diet?" The strawboss scoffed. "How much do you weigh?"

"I fluctuate between one-nineteen and one-fifty-five," I said.

"And you think you need to diet? Riiiiiiiiiiight..."

The strawboss walked off. I was sort of gobsmacked by his reaction. So much so I never got a chance to tell him that gullible was no longer in English dictionaries or the words of wisdom from P. T. Barnum.

There is a reason I don't talk much to strangers. Well, aside from old wives tales warnings, being more than a little shy, and there being conjecture as to whether they come much stranger than I. Were I to want to wax poetically arrogant, I could say my tongue is that of ambrosia and acid. The more honest, and humble, assessment is my words, no matter how trivial or profound, seem to trigger migraines at worst, or, at the very least, a moment of kangaroo? from the one unlucky enough to be caught in the oral shrapnel.

I've tried to explain this briefly before. A warning, but it was not heeded. Of course, at the time, I was in Red Hot Chili Peppers drag of wearing but one sock, and not on my foot. As well as smirk, perhaps a little impish in its nature. In the temple.

Really now, would I lie about something like that?

23 October 2010

Remembering When the Nightmare Really Began

It has been two years to the day that my mother phoned me to say the malignancy entered her lymph nodes. The doctor handed down the death sentence. Remembering a false-alarm scare but a month before, I called my own mother a filthy fucking liar that day. If this was a joke, I was not laughing, and my humor's as twisted, if not moreso, than my spine. Her tears spoke only in truth. I had to own up to the fact that my mother was going to die far sooner than I ever dreamed or wanted.

I really try not to think about it. Concentrate on the slate autumn day outside my window. Brew some tea and listen to some music.

But it's there. Just like the anniversary of my grandmother's death, the realization of the date strikes from the shadows and hangs about like persistent cobwebs. It is inescapable. Whiskey and a lobotomy could not remove the knowledge of the fact.

It's there. Like the stiffness in my twisted spine from a combination of the barometer and five days straight of doing the gig. An ache. Sometimes, dull, sometimes stabbing. The pain, I have come to realize, is an inevitable consequence.

So it goes...

Matters of Decpetion

"The key to victory in a military operation is deception. Though effective, appear ineffective. Though competent, appear incompetent..."-Sun Tzu

"Candy apples and razorblades
little dead are in their graves,
I remember Halloween-
This day
anything goes..."
-This Misfits

In a little over a week, that one autumn holiday is coming up. Like the Devil, it has been known by many names; Samhain, All Hallows Eve, All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day, Hop-Tu-Naa, Halloween. To some, a new year to be celebrated, when the veil between the lands of the living and realms of the dead are supposedly at their thinnest. Whilst to others, it's an excuse to get liquored and party. A holiday dedicated to the sham and sickness of facades.

I used to really enjoy said holiday. Part of it being the fact it seemed to point out facades and appearances and the metaphoric masks monkeys wear for the absurdity it is. That and there was often chocolate involved.

As the years progressed, I found myself less and less impressed by it. I have often blamed this on my stint with the vampire caste. It's kind of hard to take such a holiday seriously when Halloween can and did occur on any given day. The mantra of Everyday is Halloween might just be my second favorite Ministry song next to Scarecrow, but as a way of thinking and being, I found it more than a little trite.

There is also the aspect of Homo sapiens being deceptive animals by nature. The whole Fisher-Price pop-psychology that we all wear masks. Well, not unlike any other species, I suppose. There has to be a fair amount of bluffing to survive in the big bad world.

So why dedicate a day to dressing up like pirate or one's favorite rockstar? I mean other than a taste of the strange and chance to pretend to live in someone, or something, else's skin? A half-assed attempt to escape one's self, perhaps? I suppose, if one is filled with that kind of self-loathing. After all, the riddle of the individual can be slightly macabre, along with being perplexing. Once, I quoted to an acquaintance the line from Sun Tzu about how if one knows their enemy and knows themselves, they will not be imperiled in a hundred battles, and that cat just kind of snorted.

"Knowing your enemy is easy," he said. "Knowing yourself is the hard part."

I had nothing...

Of course, some schools of philosophical thought advance the theory that the I in individual is but a phantasm. There is no you or me, which can border upon terrifying for some, and a mindfuck without a kiss or reach around for others.

I have lost track of how many times I have been told I am not what was expected or as I appear. Expectations do lead to disappointment, and I do believe a judgment based upon the surface observation is a sickness, but that probably comes with how I was fucked with so incessantly about my appearance from a rather early age. Over the years and lifetimes, depending on my mood at the time, it's either amusing, saddening, or just plain frustrating to have some random biped be all kinds of shocked that I grew up on a farm, wrote and self-published book, know how to cook, have a command of language, know a little about religions and sciences, that I have a child of whom I have a good relationship with.

Why wouldn't I? Why couldn't or shouldn't I? No matter how often it happens, whatever my mood-based reaction, I am also shocked. I've joked I must be the master of deception because of it. Then again, it's all true. Even and especially the lies.

So, Halloween is coming in a little over a week, and I have a hard time being excited, much less impressed to rocket science. Sabina has gotten herself a pumpkin to carve and sometimes speaks of putting up some decorations, because apparently my collection of various skulls and bones and our other bits of oddness and esoterica are not in the proper context. My daughter told me she wants to dress up as Waldo of Where's Waldo? fame, and I do remember snickering at the thought. Although, I catch myself wondering if instead of the battle cry of trick or treat! I should mutter bah humbug!

In a week, there is a Halloween dance in our loverly little township. Because my hypocrisy knows no bounds, I might just go. Hey, it's an opportunity to go monkey watching. Other than wearing pants, the likelihood of my playing dress-up is right up there with hitting Deneb with a rubber band whilst laying at the very bottom of the Mariana Trench. If queried about a costume, I figure I'll only be able to speak in truths; I'm the cat who's apparently nothing as he appears or is expected. One of my favorite quotes from The Art of War wrapped in a package blue jeans and a t-shirt.

It'll all be true, even and especially the lies. But who knows? I might just win a prize.

21 October 2010

Unwilling Hero

Perhaps it is a social construct that dictates most everyone wants to feel they either do something or are a part of something important. A chance to leave one's mark upon the world in an apparent happy way and a good-guy badge in the process. What could be better?

On occasion, I have been told despite my best efforts, I am of a decent sort. That I have been helpful. Often, my reaction to such accusations is to call bullshit, perhaps even upping the ante with some who shot john. I maintain I am the worst kind of bastard with the morals of an alley cat. Any good I may or may have not done is merely collateral damage, for I am neither a saint or superhero.

Besides, there is no good or evil, persey, just fun and boring, and I like to be entertained...

For money a few years back, I found myself being a professional messenger of death, by virtue of triaging potential organ and tissue donors. It was a love/hate relationship. The gig truly intrigued me, but there have been those who have said I'm a morbid fucker to begin with. I can own up to deriving a certain joy in interrogating trained medical professionals, even and especially when they were foolishly pompous enough to believe their title was Medical Greek for god. It was important. Back then, I had a friend who was trying to go for his third kidney transplant. It was tragic that he didn't make it, and for two years after, despite a sort of burnout, I kept on in his memory.

The burnout I felt with that came from the establishment. Coming from me, such a statement is hardly shocking, I realize, since anyone playing the home game knows I do not play well with others. The bureaucracy cheapened what it was we were doing. The propaganda party line was we were saving and enhancing human lives, and yet, we were expected to do it in an assembly line manner, as though we were making widgets. The powers that be had no inhibition of telling you how, if you fucked up, you could be potentially murdering someone who needed a life-saving transplant, but in the same breath jump your shit for not having x amount of contacts in an hour.

When I got away from there, it was a blessing. I suppose dealing with disease, desperation, death, dying, and Machiavellian politics can take its toll upon one's psyche. Even a morbid quirky fucker such as myself. There was also the fact I found myself no longer doing that shortly before my mother got sick, sick. I do not even want to contemplate having to do that gig around those seventeen terrible final days she was in the sickhouse or in the aftermath.

After that, I found that I wanted my means of income to tied to something...well, meaningful. Me, the misanthropic cunt who'd call you a filthy fucking liar if you said I did a good thing. Perhaps I had gotten bitten by some sort of metaphoric bug whose venom was altruism. Maybe it was because the auspice of doing something important helped to make whatever the thing was more interesting to me than just simple punch in, punch out.

My catch as catch can catering gigs with Saint Christopher over the summer were a hoot. I really did enjoy myself doing that. I suppose, were I to try to affix some importance to it in context to the line of thought, there were some individuals who didn't go hungry and I was partially to blame for that.

But maybe that didn't count. Intriguing as it was, it was pretty well playing foodie with a family friend, getting some paper under the table, and free cocktails at the cantina after the fact. That wasn't working, it was money for nearly nothing, in that ham-handed dysfunctional Dire Straights kind of way.

Lately, for money, I have found myself being involved in the production of wood stove pellets made from the very beetle-kill that has ravaged parts of these mountains. The founder, my benefactor, is a woman with aspirations of getting away from fossil fuels, a green, local, and sustainable enterprise that all but glows with a whole lot of mindful livin', bitches!

And since I do my bits to live as conscious, sustainable, and mindful as possible, I find I can get behind the concept. Even if my twisted skeleton says not-so-nice things about the memory of my mother after a day. Of course, a great deal of my sustainable and mindful livin', bitches! doings comes from that one almost all consuming goal of dropping out. Being completely self-sufficient and beholden to no one. Perhaps that is sociopathic of me. It is definitely misanthropic, and I don't feel bad about that.

So, for money, I find myself doing something important again. I could care less about a good-guy badge, because I am neither a saint or superhero. Besides, true charity and other forms of good works occur when no one is looking and does not stoop to asking for validation. Although do dig on the thought of doing something that could be considered altruistic and be able live because of it without being sangha or some other religious title, which I figure that probably is rather sociopathic of me.

15 October 2010

Indian Summer Beyond the End of the World

Out front of the House of Owls and Bats, around sunrise. Because of the clear skies, it wasn't the neatest of sunrises. Although, the colors to west, and the cast of light was pleasing to the eye.

I must admit, the preternatural warmth of the previous calendar month has somewhat thrown me. It comes as a shock when I realize the seasonal residents have scuttled off to their winter compounds. The fact there are still leaves on a fair amount of the deciduous trees, and some of them are even green is queer. A year ago, the same trees were stripped almost a month prior. Granted, there are more bald aspens on the north-facing slopes than the south, but the leaves that are there are still dull gold and rust colored, instead of wind-blasted mummy brown. Up-valley, closer to the Roof of the World, the tops of the high peaks have started to wear their winter cloaks of snow.

Recent events have put the lyrics of a Seven Mary Three song within the walls of my skull during the early mourning hours;

"I wake up
to beat the sun from her glory,
I'm only one cigarette
away from mobility..."

Okay, the cigarette part has not been true for two years and two months now, but the beating the daystar from its glory part is. Since moving to the mountains, I have become increasingly diurnal. Part of this is simply environmental; there's more to do during the day. Besides, in a township of only about two hundred bipeds, about one-hundred ninety of which are full-time residents, and living in a rural parish, we don't have what could be called a thriving nighttime scene.

That's fine. I did the nocturnal thing. It was rather fun. But it served its purpose as well as a dolphin, whale, an octopus, and a shark. It was time to try something new.

When I first started waking earlier in the mournings, I would get up to meditate. Or at least try and sit still for five minutes. I don't know if mentally noting with a demonic smirk how delicious it is to try to sit still and be silent to B.B. King or a song like Black Magic Woman playing on the radio counts as meditation in the technical sense. Perhaps that's why Buddhists have been known to refer to the act as practice, because you're constantly trying to get it right.

Sometimes, the kittens will come and sit in my lap in mid-attempt-at-inner-tranquility-and-enlightenment. The Grumpy Old Men have been known to push their heads under my arms to sniff at me. Whistler will even give me a lick on the cheek, as to let me know he's there. Even Milarepa will, at the very least, make some kind of snorfily noise. I've referred to these moments familiar mudras.

"Do you mind?" I've whispered to whichever quadruped, or quadrupeds."I'm trying to get serene here."

We have this discussion every few days. It's especially heartwarming when Chevy forgets he's over seventy pounds and decides to kick the kittens out of my lap. Whistler sometimes gives him an annoyed growl. It's charming.

At least the weasel-r'ts, little pĂșcas they are, have had the courtesy not to interfere...

It has been interesting to be out in the pre-dawn. I find myself grateful for a few astronomy books I picked up at the library book sale, as to being able to note which constellations occupy the small strip of sky over the narrow rift-like valley that I refer to as our Sahel. Some mournings I whisper a greeting to Orion. Ever since I've known the name and location of that group of stars, my eyes have always been drawn to it, although I'm not exactly sure why. As much as I love to look at the stars, amusingly enough, it wasn't until we moved to our Kashmir that I was finally able to locate Polaris.

This endeavor that I somewhat accidentally fell into and that has started getting me up early, even for me these days, has altered my tea drinking habit. I'm not overly sure if this will do. Sabina likes to harass me about hitting the tea too hard. That I might have a [tea] drinking problem. She's done the same thing about my water consumption. Of course, she's all junkie-like for kombucha, a fermented form of black tea. She even has stills...I mean jars...of it on the refrigerator.

Although my skeleton sometimes hates me after the fact, the pain being an unfortunate, but inevitable consequence, I have stumbled into something important. Even and especially for this part of the world, and even moreso for the mountains. By afternoon, I am once more left to my own devices. Since the process has just started and I have just gotten engaged in it, there are some growing pains in its consistency, and I work on adapting to the new circumstance and finding equilibrium within the paradigm. This is something I do not trip about. After all, I am all about balance.

In the meantime, it is indian summer here. Sure, there was the four hours of a few inches of wet snow, which was gone by afternoon, even if it did get me to brew my first infusion of Nepali black tea of the season. Some mournings have been cooler than others, but it's still pleasant. I consider making a ten pence guess that, whilst there might be some meteorological and metaphorical hiccups, it's going to stay relatively mild for at least another sixteen days. Perhaps longer. I could be wrong, but that dandelion I spied on walkabout a week ago seems to indicate I could be right.

12 October 2010

A Himalayan kind of Day

Some years ago, there was this Asian artifact boutique a few blocks from the Temple of the Jinn. It was there I acquired my Thai print t-shirts, which were supposedly all the rage on the streets of Bangkok and in fashionable juke joints in places like Jakarta and Tokyo. My favorite is this one that's an astrological chart with a crocodile on it.

It seemed for a while, Sabina, who wasn't my lifemate at the time, and I went there at least once a week. If for no other reason than to window shop. The proprietor was a neat cat to talk to. Unfortunately, the place didn't sell enough to pay rent on the space he was in. The last I heard, he was going to try and run an online business, but have yet to see anything about it.

There were other neat nick-knacks and patty-whacks there as well. This was where I got my prayer stones and paper lanterns. I got the gypsy a Hindu-style shrine there for her birthday. Shortly after my Sabina and I got involved, she bought a wooden window carving, saying it was for us and the residence we would one day share. These days, that carving hangs in the front window of the House of Owls and Bats.

By far, the neatest thing, well, besides those nifty t-shirts I acquired, was the loose-leaf Nepali black tea. It was rich and smokey, reminding me of lapsang souchong. In the period we patronized that boutique, Sabina and I got several bags of the stuff. Although, the only time I would brew it would be when it snowed. More to the point, when said snow would stick, as if to be contextually correct with a Himalayan vibe.

I live ten miles east of the Roof of the World, where the wind blows Tibetan. Like Morocco, our Kashmir is the land furthest west. Well, at least before the continent splits in half and water flips a coin by virtue of the forces of gravity to decide whether to flow toward the dawn or dusk.

It was before the first slivers of dawn that I was up with the hounds, wondering if the machine failure at the pellet plant was going to prevent me from having a stand there. As light slowly crept into the world, I was able to make out more than low-hanging clouds along the mountainsides. Outdoors, it was precipitating.

And the loose leaves of Nepali black tea found their way into my infuser for mourning tea. I put on the soundtrack by Jeff Beal and Nawang Khechong from that one heartrending Tibetan documentary, then the one Nawang Khechong album we have, as to be in the proper context. There were Buddhist prayer chants and Nepali folk music I could've played too, but I found myself in the mood for something else after the fist two albums. Johnny Clegg and Oliver Mtukudzi suddenly sounded rather good. An almost sense of defiance to the weather outdoors, which was so much more punk rock than punk rock.

I could pretend to be surprised at the sudden turn in meteorological events, but I remember where I live. The Roof of the World is but ten miles away and the here, in a place like Morocco, being the land furthest west, the wind often blows Tibetan. For half the year, it can be rather Himalayan around these parts.

It does seem I have the rest of my day free, which is okay, given the gig is somewhat outdoors. I figure on enjoying the fire, a book, and lots of tea, although saying I'm going to spend the day drinking-tea-would probably invite accusations of being a lame ass. One of my next infusions will be of Moroccan mint, or perhaps African rooibos whilst grooving to African music on a day with a Himalayan motif, but there are those who baselessly accuse me of being contrary.

I know, I laughed too...

05 October 2010

Renaissance Man

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

An old and simple question. What exactly do you want to define your existence? A fireman? An astronaut? A butcher? A cook? A baker? A candlestick maker?

For a very long time I equated growing up with growing old. Those broken, hollow-eyed withered things one might see sitting at a lonely park bench that might have had dreams and aspirations once upon a time, but either never had the strength to pursue them or had them beaten out. Even now, I catch myself saying I don't like grown-ups.

And, of course, I despise labels of any kind. I find asking or being asked what one does to be quite demeaning. As if the answer of being a plumber for money is also supposed to convey the sum and substance of that cat's existence, end of chat.

Fuck that noise...

When I was a whelp, I remember wanting to be an archaeologist. Perhaps it was the romance of bygone times and lost civilizations. Over the years and lifetimes, I have been hard pressed to find anyone who hasn't at least been vaguely howed and wowed by photographs of the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Roman Colosseum. Even dinosaur bones, although paleontology is a different discipline, it does involve digging around in the dirt, listening to mute riddles of the past, and playing with those puzzle pieces to paint a metaphoric picture.

The digging in the dirt bit was kind of a turn off. I have this hang up of liking to be clean. Said hang up was something I had to work around and through in order to make my attempts at gardening. That and keeping soap and water nearby for after the fact.

I was also very interested in zoology. That may have come from being a mercilessly bullied kid who found better companionship amongst species other than Homo sapiens. I wanted to move to Africa and study the animals of the Serengeti.

When I was fourteen, a man in a pet store told me I could be a zoologist if I wanted, but there was no money in it. My mother blamed that man for me loosing interest in that subject for many years. Ironically, this was around the time I was becoming more interested in creative endeavors like aborted attempts at drawing and the stringing together of words into stories. Not that those creative things are known for money making careers neither. Of course, I've never cared much for money. Money can't buy me love.

Being a stargazer, I kicked about the idea of astronomy. However, I suck worse than a black hole at math. There seems to be quite a bit of math involved in astronomy. I just like to look at the stars.

Every so often, in the years since I went to university, where I was studying philosophy and theology when I dropped out, I've considered going back. Those sciences, even and especially, archeology and zoology have been two things I've thought of studying. Still, as much as I love to learn things, I dislike institutions, be it of society, religion, or learning. I'm just not much of a joiner, well, other than this whole Terran biosphere thing I've been doing for thirty-eight years now, and my subscription to National Geographic, but, sometimes, even those things seems like too much effort.

I once told a friend of mine I wanted to be a renaissance man. You know the type; that cat who knows practically everything about everything. I have a friend like that these days, although I can't help but wonder if he'd blush to the bones at the analogy of knowing practically everything about everything.

Having published a book and done some other stories and poems, I guess it can be said I've done the creative artfag thing. Even though I never got a degree-the social construct of reality's way of showing you and swallow and regurgitate shit-I continued to study theology for quite a few years, so I guess one could say I've been some sort of dysfunctional and heretical mystic. There's a few cats I know who'd say I'm something of a chef, simply because I've been known to dabble about in a kitchen.

I catch myself wanting to add scientist to the list. Although, I think it would have to be like my studies of theology in succeeding years after university; self-taught, because experience has taught me that institutions and I do not play well together. Besides, I do not require a piece of paper to prove I know what I know. In my opinion, such things are for cats who are insecure and must prove something, or are cursed with terribly small genitalia, or perhaps both.

So it begins with me looking at some of the archeology books I have in my possession already. There's a book on physics and super string theory I have on reserve at the library, simple because I'm interested. I figure on going there searching for further archaeological tomes as well as ones on zoology.

"What will you do with it?"

Another old and simple question. One my grandmother liked to ask. She saw the acquisition of knowledge as a means to end. A way to improve one's station in life. As much as I love and respect my grandmother, even posthumously, I don't necessarily agree with that.

The cliche is knowledge is power, and I just like to know things. The whole of creation is my classroom. What will I do with the knowledge I acquire?

I'm not sure, but I'll let you know when I have it, and we'll all be surprised...

03 October 2010

The Phantom in the Dreamtime

My mother has been appearing frequently in my dreams as of late. Nothing visionary or nightmarish, but I've seen her phantasm. Sometimes, it disturbs me or I wake up feeling morose. There are other times I pay it no mind, only remembering hours later I had seen her whilst I slept. In any regard, when the realization strikes me, I know it was only a dream.

Just a dream...

02 October 2010

The Mystery via Eagle Rock

A view from the back, taken a couple of years ago. The rock formation is called Eagle Rock. It is about five or six hundred vertical feet up an avalanche chute along the southern ridge of the valley. My daughter and I have been wanting to climb that rock for years.

We spend the better part of the mourning puzzling over our day's adventure before deciding upon Eagle Rock. Between my daughter and I, there was the joke it might just be cursed. This supposition was based on the previous two times we committed to climbing it, my daughter took ill.

This time our luck held. We took the ancient railroad grade to the avalanche chute. By virtue of finding some deer trails, the ascent did not take nearly as long as anticipated. We got to the rock formation in question, scrabbled about, and took in the views. Eagle Rock was sufficiently rocked.

However, it was what we found roughly one-hundred vertical feet below Eagle Rock the got our attention;

Dry stack. Something rather common within the mining areas of these mountains. It always gets me to think of Hadrian's Wall, which is what I call it within the walls of my skull.

We clambered back down to check out this new find. From all appearances, it looked like it might have been a wagon road. This was curious. We were at a point along the valley's southern side were the slopes were far too steep for mining. The ruins of the old alpine tramway were roughly a mile west and a few thousand feet above us. Fancying further adventure, my daughter and I started to follow it east, to see if it ended at any mine ruins.

The way it was overgrown in places, it was quite obvious we were the first bipeds on it in at least a century. Sometimes, we found where a rock slide had wiped out part of the track. Once or twice, it almost entirely disappeared, but then, either my daughter or I would spot more stack, and pick up the trail again. Eventually, the mountain did swallow this old road altogether. At that point, we started dead-reckoning our way down, knowing we'd eventually land upon the railroad grade.

And then we found;

A ruin. Either a miner's cabin, or perhaps an orifice.

There was a graded over and blasted-in hole nearby. The structure itself was marked with all sorts of warnings. I snapped the photographs, but listened to the whisper in my ghost about not going inside. The track leading away from it, as guessed, lead us back to the railroad grade. Right between another trail head and the side track to the township's water tower, in fact. I marked this side trail with piece of blue twine from my pack I keep for such occasions.

Altogether, the trek took only a couple of hours. When I told Sabina of our finds, she said she wanted to see the ruin at the very least. Warnings be damned. This could lead to another walkabout within just days, which is not unappetizing. Although, I want to take care about that ruin. At least until I know a little more about it.

That stated, there are one or two cats I could inquire with. Ones know things and tell fantastic stories of incredible places and forgotten times. Even and especially about the valley, and, more to the point, our Kashmir.