"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 May 2014


I think the title says it all...

When the first prospectors and miners came up here, this was beaver bog. As the first tents, houses, and other buildings went up, because of the richness of the soil, it became the town's cattle pasture. One-hundred thirty-four years ago, upon that stretch of land, a miner built a cabin, which would eventually morph into a funky-gotta have the funk!-one bedroom Victorian cottage we call the House of Owls and Bats.

For the first time in five years, there is standing water out back. Ankle deep around the willow. I throw out mosquito dunks, silently wondering if I'll have to kill them with a shovel-perhaps a gun?-this year. The further back into the property you walk, the spongier the ground becomes. I consider gumbo in the near future, for I find it in context.

Across the street, at the river, there is a rock I like to sit out with something liquid and watch the water and the world amble by. It's relaxing. Here and now, I can hear the leviathan. Two of my footrest rocks and one of the others I use to measure the level of the river are under water. Across the river is a large flat stone I refer to as the oh fuck! rock. When it gets submerged, there's street flooding and sandbagging in the lower-lying areas of town. Here and now, the water line is halfway up.

Yessirie, the excitement never stops...

27 May 2014

Embracing and Letting Go

A perfect song from a perfect album...

It was me who re-introduced Sabina to the Refreshments. Their debut album, Fizzy Fuzzy, Big & Buzzy, was a staple in my stereo along with Peter Gabriel's Up, anything from Space Team Electra, Bad Brains, and my various African musics. One of our first dates was a Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers-the Refreshments current incarnation, just in case anyone fell asleep there-concert. When Lee caught Sabina kissing me-I tried to stop her, honest-he was very thrilled and no at all surprised. Then again, it played out no one really was.

Roger Clyne is Sabina's boyfriend. She'll ask if he missed her whenever a Refreshments or Peacemakers album is put on. Because of this luminous crush, for the last few years, on the muthafuckingSaturdaybeforeMemorialDay we find ourselves attending the Denver's Day of Rock along the grand bazaar of Sixteenth Street. By the end of the show, Sabina is all excited and giddy having seen her boyfriend, and me, having hung back as far as I could, but still surrounded by far too many people, is ready to kill everyone around me. Even the children.

Especially the children...

I remember my daughter asking me about missing the city. An acquaintance asked me about missing smoking when I mentioned wandering into a cigar and wine shoppe on Sixteenth. It's interesting how interwoven those past things are; the smell of really good tobacco, that palpable energy when walking amongst the monoliths of downtown. Time was I enjoyed both. Sometimes simultaneously. That time is not now, and I find I do not require exposure to either, even if, so many years later, I can still somewhat appreciate them.


There was rain and fog and mud. When the sun finally broke through the cobwebbed chains of cloud, it was as if it was in the full force of high mountain summer. I welcome the new season with the embrace reserved for those dear you've not seen in a bit.

The river and seeps roar with force of early runoff. Sabina told me just how far we could get up Grizzly Gulch before snowshoes would be required, and those water crossing might be tantamount to madness without a four by four. Along the road to the ruins of Waldorf, one can make it mile, so it may be weeks yet before those of us who steward the Santiago Mill can reach that ruin. I am edgy to see the outback of the tundra in its summer clothes.


I admit it, I've been neurotic about Chevy the last few days. When he doesn't drink as much or eat as fast I worry. Any time his arthritic back-end gives out, causing him to stumble, or worse, fall, I growl, finding I am not emotionally ready to deal with another dog collapsing. He and Whistler grew up together and I've seen Chevy sniffing those last few spots his brother was laying before I took him to the vet. When Chevy decided to wander down toward the mechanic's shop I was in borderline hysterics.

This too shall pass...

I did go up the Bull's Head like I said I would. Although it'd been a couple years since Whistler had accompanied me to the top of the rock formation from which the trail takes its name, that's where I set his collar. My mother never did that walkabout, but it never stopped me from leaving a string of prayer flags for her just before she died.

Because my phone's camera is not the best, you'll just have to give a wrinkle and squint and the benefit of a doubt about the prayer flag remnants...

I felt unburdened after the fact. The catharsis that comes with letting go. Being Tuesday, afternoon tea proceeds cocktail hour. I sat out with a book and some steaming jasmine. The hot sun caressing my face. When Whistler was happy, or, approved of something, he would give a chomp. Perhaps it was just my imagination running away with me, but as I sat back on the early summer afternoon after it was all said and done and over, I almost thought I heard a delighted chomp.

Cocktail hour a couple months back, Whistler obviously worn out. The cats are Mom Cat, Luna French Kitteh and her daughter, Eeeva Tiny-Voice...

22 May 2014


From that walkabout back in October Whistler and I did to the ruins of the Illinois Mine, off the the 730 trail. And just last week he went on walkabout with me...

You'd never had known it, but we didn't always get along. Until four years ago, he was edgy and standoffish around me. My father would say he was my mother's dog, contrary and an overall pain in the ass. My mother would say he was my father's dog; aloof with a strong dislike of people.

"No wonder you two are such good friends!" The bruja said when I gave those descriptions, Whistler sitting companionably at my feet. Fucking woman.

After my mother died and my father decided to leave the Rub 'al Khali of the badlands of eastern Colorado, he began to get rid of all of the dogs. He'd parted with most of the kennel stock when my mother got sick, sick. Whistler and Chevy, the Grumpy Old Men, retired from their showing and herding days, were now the house dogs. The place my father was moving to did not allow dogs, and it fell to me to take them.

"I may be your way to life," I snarled at Whistler in a moment of jungle rules during that chaotic time of my father's move. "Show me some fucking respect!"

Chevy was brought up to the house first, then Whistler. He was still standoffish toward me until he saw Chevy, his three month younger half-brother, again. The way Whistler ran to him, it was like one of those syrupy bitch films where the couple crosses a beach to fall into one another's arms.

After that, we were as thick as thieves. Whistler, having some separation anxiety what with my parents leaving him in one form or fashion, was my canid shadow. Only the slow march of years would limit just how far he could follow me.


At first, it presented like IVS, the uneasy movements and the head-tilt. With that condition, you hide and wait for three days to see if the dog gets better. As the days passed, his condition worsened. Suddenly, his back legs stopped working. I wondered if it wasn't tick paralysis, but there were no ticks on him. Then, he turned down food.

It doesn't take a physic or someone who has been involved in the medical field to know what that meant...

The vet figured his something went wrong within his spine. That he'd been actively dying the last few days and it would be abject cruelty to keep him alive through the weekend. Whistler's mind was fully intact, but not his body. Were I to antropomorphise, one of the last looks he gave me was as if to say the number was up and it was time to say goodbye.

"Oh child of the noble family, Twist, listen, and be without distraction; you are about to enter the bardo. You may choose to be reborn, or you can choose to attain the ultimate liberation of enlightenment," was the Tibetan death prayer I whispered in his ear after he was give the hospice dose. "Om mani padme hum."

I used to figure when the time came, I'd have Whistler cremated and scattered his ashes across the many trails he walked with me. The time has come and Sabina and my daughter helped me bury him out back. I took his collar and a lock of fur and will leave them somewhere along the Bull's Head. That was last trail we walked together.

Because of his arthritis, I always figured Chevy would go first, not Whistler, who was so much more active. Chevy, arthritic and oblivious, lays at my feet. I wonder if he comprehends his brother is gone. My mother had Chevy trained as a therapy dog once upon a time. I wonder if he knows how therapeutic his presence at my feet is here and now.

Roger Clyne wrote this after scattering the ashes of his best friend...

20 May 2014

Hot Day Lunch Date

What for the juxtaposition...

It was positively hot as my daughter and trekked along the Notch to get a lunch of Mex-'Merican at the cantia down valley. I mean, it must have been seventy if it was a degree. I told my daughter perhaps the house would need to be outfitted with an air conditioner.

She asked me if I missed the city at all and I reminded her how the junction, six miles from my front door, is too far east these days. I mentioned how when I lived in the historical district, I quite enjoyed it, but there came time to leave. No, I do not miss the metroplex in the least, but nor do I regret my time there, for I also experienced a spark of uniqueness and adventure amongst the neon and back-alleys.

"Does this ever get tiresome?" A traveler with a thick Arkansas accent asked me the other day.

"Oh, it can be tough," I said quite gravely. "In the years I've been here I've had to hike, bike, mountain climb, rock scrabble, roadtrip, snowshoe, get beer from small breweries and attend festivals. It's been perdition." I sighed heavily. "But I take that bullet, nay, shoulder that burden. For the team."

It was shocking enough that he didn't believe me, but it bordered upon insulting when he started to laugh, as if I was joking!

"Imagine," my daughter said with a chuckle after I related to her that tale. "Dad, you're proud that you live where others come to vacation."

"Pride is a sin," I retorted. "It was taught to us in a moving picture show with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, and you know those things don't lie."

"Dad, you're a Buddhist," my daughter said. "And you once told me you don't believe in sin."

Contemptuous fucking whelp. She gets this from her mother, you know. Stop fucking snickering!

After a lovely lunch of build-your-own tacos and burritos we cut up the canyon, which the narrow gage railroad snakes up. From the time we left in the late morning to our walking back time, more leaves had appeared on the aspens. The deciduous finally putting on their summer plumage at ninety-one sixty. It filled me with joy. We concluded our afternoon sitting in the adirondacks along the east side of the house with the hot sun caressing our faces. With a wicked grin of joy I recalled what I said to an acquaintance as I introduced my daughter;

"This is the true love of my life. Sabina is the other woman."

17 May 2014


Sabina found the perfect place to picnic on the shores the reservoir with musics of rushing water and the cries of ospreys for the backbeat. Fantastic. We had summer sausage, cheeses, crackers. bread, chocolate, and a old vine tempranillo. The landscape we had driven across reminded us of what a fantastic place we had come to call home. We discussed alternate routes to get to the Great Stupa for our yearly pilgrimage, which would involve not leaving the mountains at all.

"Bet when you gave me that paper wasp's nest you didn't think it'd play out like this," I said as we toasted. "Such a sweet thing."

"Sweeter than the acorn?" Sabina asked me and I nodded. She smiled her I-love-you smile. "I guess I had you at wasp's nest."

"If you had gotten me a tarantula, I might've swooned," I said.

Sabina, because she's a girl, shuddered. I've never gotten the fear of spiders given any human is hundreds of times bigger than any arachnid and their blood has no coagulants. Of course, my irrational animal fear is sharks, made even more irrational by the fact I live very far from any ocean. Any time someone chides me for that but shudders at the mention of how I once kept spiders, I chuckle at the absurdity. I also fondly remember how my daughter asked me for a tarantula for her sixth birthday.

Excuse me...there's some dust in the room...no! It's nothing! I'm fine!

Stop laughing...

Job called me from the desert that night to let me know he made it. I told him his new role as caregiver to the blind parents of a friend was a good thing. He was once a constable and even did security work. It seemed hardwired into him to serve and protect. Although we spoke of keeping in touch, the conversation had shades of goodbye, which depressed me, because, in my personal construct, goodbye means over and done with for forever and ever, amen. Because we've sometimes gone for long periods without talking, another part of me warns myself not to panic.

I have been meditating upon the concept of burnt bridges. Both unintentional and otherwise. Job's phone call somehow got me to remembering back to when we buried my father's mother. I'd not set foot in North Carolina in sixteen years at that time and hadn't felt bad about it, but it'd been over a year since I'd seen my father. Sure, we'd spoken on the phone once or twice, but not physically been in one another's presence for the time it takes the world to truck around the sun.

"You need to stop worrying about it, boy," my father said in his rich Carolina accent. "The road goes both ways."

That said, that remembered, was a nice little metaphoric backfist. A reminder that losing touch with some of the cats from high school I may have once considered friends, university chums, or even friends from my ten years in the metroplex, is not the end of the world-actually, the end of the world is the eastern border of our Sahel as far as I'm concerned and here be dragons. John and Paul-the Beatles, not the biblical prophets-may have summed it up best;

"Ob-la dee,
Ob-la da,
Life goes on...well,
life goes on..."

It's queer, but I've gotten funny looks and eye-rolls when I mention that bit of wisdom...

I do find it interesting the roads we've all taken. Sabina and I on the path of pine needles and smoothed river stones with our grand mountain adventure, Job with his sojourn into the deserts. Sabina's friend will be here in a day, his road down out Montana, to hopefully dance with the wolves. There is something to be said for the metaphor of the road going on forever, because, as far as I'm concerned, the day you reach the end it is the day it's lights out.

I can't speak for ya'll, even if I knew the language, but I'm far too busy for that...      

13 May 2014

Special Day

It was a special day; Sabina and I mark one of myriad anniversaries. I was going to throw together a little chicken paprikash for supper, just because. The next time the sun rises, we'll go on a road daytrip with a picnic. It's been a bit since we've done that, the picnic aspect, that is.

It was a special day; he'd not gone walking with me in a bit. Gone are the days when Whistler could bushwhack up a twelve-thousand foot peak with me, and then, the next day, when I could barely walk, he'd herd-chomp at my ankles, wanting to know what the day's new adventure was. These days, two years later, a mile is an effort. What a drag it is getting old.

It was just the Bull's Head in this late spring mush that got the Rockies to make national news-ya'll do know it can snow here at any time of year, riiiiiiiiiiiiight? Whistler made a brave show of it. This part of the valley, in most places, seems the steepest. Even at a quarter mile, he was showing signs of fatigue. I did my best to encourage him. He did his best to keep up with me on my long shanks.

There's a point, after the ruins of the Diamond Mine, I am scrambling along terraced levels to another set of ruins, before coming out at the far east end of town. A residual of his IVS, when he gets tired, his equilibrium gets screwy. Even at the drop-offs by the Diamond, I had him on a leash, as to help prevent him pitching off the edge of the tailings. We reached the intersection with the 730 and headed home. I didn't do my usual loop, but that was fine. The two of us got to walk together, and that's becoming increasingly rare.

"Thank you for the company, lo jen" I said to Whistler as he achingly followed me home. "It was, as always, lovely."     

09 May 2014

Sun Dress

Her hair was like that of spun gold and her eyes were deep sapphires. She had a disarming smile that could dim the sun at midday and spoke in easy kind tones sweetened with innocent giggles. Sometimes, she would do handstands just because she could.

He was acid cynicism and distrusted nice things. As far as he was concerned, the world was not a nice place and happiness was fleeting. Why he found himself drawn to her puzzled him.

They were a striking couple. She was the ambrosia to his acid. When they first began, he took her to his secret place in the forest for a picnic. It just felt right. She wore a purple sun dress. He meant to kiss her only once that day, but found he couldn't stop. It worked out, because she wouldn't have let him.

He took her horseback riding and she introduced him to her family. The silly and sweet things she would say, things he would revile from if said by someone else, he caught himself smiling silently at. Happiness might be fleeting, but those fleeting moments was something he secretly hoped would last until the stars fell out of the sky.

She was gone so suddenly she never had the chance to tell him about the baby. He never had the chance to say whether or not he would've wanted it or to be excited or terrified. It was unreal, like being jarred awake from a beautiful dream that had been so close to waking it had scents and flavors. To this day the ring he got her still sits in the back of a drawer, the black velvet box that holds it turning gray with dust.

What happened proved to him happiness was fleeting, but there was no comfort in the validation...

He scattered her ashes in his secret place in the forest where they had that picnic. Over the years, there had been others, she'd not have wanted him to adopt a life of hermitage with her gone. None of those others could ever touch her divinity, and he refused to insult her memory by trying. Sometimes, in that secret place, in the right light, he could almost hear her giggle. He could almost see her in that purple sun dress, doing a handstand just because she could.

06 May 2014


The gentle spring sun was diffused with cotton candy and cobweb parasols of clouds. The breeze would sometimes carry a hint of chinook violence down off the Roof of the World. The trill of hummingbirds served as the day's soundtrack. A perfume of green awakening and river and melt cologned the atmosphere. The scent of dynamic.

I rode my bicycle down valley to return my rented documentary. Early May is perhaps the swan song days of the limbo of mud season, but already, there are more travelers about. The first tour buses have passed through. There have been inquiries about the jeep roads in the area. More and more of this winter's cocoon peels away to reveal the landscape's summer skin.

There is a litany of things I love about this place; it's juxtaposition of geography, the climate, the closeness of history, that urban/wildlife interface that is so much different than flatter places I've lived-yeh, it ain't Africa or India with the really big cats, or the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang, and Padar where there be dragons, literally, but you understand-the stories and secrets yet to be discovered, the nearness to the nowheres and never-nevers. Yet, when it comes down to brass tacks and bedposts, it's the uniqueness, or the perceived uniqueness of the place, the subtle dynamic, that overall funk, because you gotta have the funk, that holds me. If that wasn't here, I would probably have long ago grown restless, and been seeking my entertainments elsewhere.

I would say recent events have gotten me meditating upon the perceptions of success and happiness, but that might be a lie, given I seem to have something of an introspective streak. A bygone acquaintance told me his living in a suburban enclave as a federally contracted IT worker was living the dream. Whereas, to me, it sounded like a nightmare. He seemed a little dismissive when I told him small snippets of my life, but he was one of the ones back then who couldn't quite grasp why I didn't just toe the line of the social construct of reality. I had my own way to go and so it goes.

Comic book mantra;

"Suburbia is failure. Accepting suburbia means accepting less. It's a tiny slice of comfort. A rose from Lucifer, meant to buy you off. Rome is burning, and true comfort lies beyond the flames..."

One of my friends is on his way away, whilst a friend of my Sabina's is getting ready to move here, hoping to get involved with a wolf sanctuary. Both men are jumping off the ends of their tiny worlds into a great unknown. The grandest of adventures or the greatest of follies is a matter of aspect. Recently, I came across the term hack your life in the context of breaking from the gray apathy to live that metaphoric dream. How fluffy-bunny. Many years ago, my sister would wax lamentation about not being able to hit a cosmic reset button.

Contextually, I wonder of reboot is not a better description of what these two cats are about to do. I would say that is what I did when I came up to the mountains, and it hasn't been the first time. That Tao of Chaos of mine, because I do not do the social construct of reality. It seems as hardwired as the need to breathe. I endeavor not to look down my snout at those who do find their security homogeneity, although I sometimes might fail, I wonder if they'd grasp the secret of my success.

Then I wonder if it really matters...

It probably doesn't. There are two people I am acquainted with whom are facing major life changes. The world morphs from chrysalis to its latest form. Perhaps their is metaphor in that. Even if there's not, it might be interesting to see the shape of things to come.

03 May 2014

Spring Fever

It's the first time I've worn shorts since early October. Sandals for the first time was a week back. Hummingbirds trill through the valley and we rush to get out the feeders. The narrow-gage whistles, heralding the start of a new season in our Sahel.

I opted to ride my bicycle over to get a shot and beer. The melodrama's on its second weekend, giving our fair 'berg its slice of class by virtue of theater. Snowbums spoke in tongues of lamination at the upcoming closing of Loveland for the season, although, A-Basin could be open until July, what with the snowpack along the pass, and the hardcore types will find those snowfields that don't melt out of spite and the junky's need to ride.

So it goes...

The sunset is striking when I ride home and the air was brisk against my bare legs. Fantastic. The bartender mentioned it was difficult to hug me. So I swept her off her feet so we could see eye to eye and she'd be able reach. It was easy.

A romantic might swoon at such a thing, but I ain't romantic. I can sweep a girl off her feet in the same way a lot of people look up to me; I'm really fucking tall. Freakishly so, Jezebel used to say, but I would correct my best friend; superfreak, for I am superfreaky.