"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 January 2014

Weatherly Perspective

When the national news is not talking about that crazy scene in DC-it's just a power-mad town-or someone rich and important doing something scandalous, word has been about the weather. Great maelstroms. Droughts. The midwest is apparently in the grips of another ice age.

Good thing nothing's wrong with the planet. That and there's no need for 'Merica to get involved with the Kyoto Protocol. Oh, and the rich people shouldn't be taxed, because, you know, they're going to save the rest of us cattle.

Wow...for a second there I almost got political...

There's the story of Atlanta being paralyzed by two and half inches of snow. Of course it was. It's the fucking south. My family lived in that region for three and a half unfortunate years when I was an adolescent. During our first winter, it snowed, once!, three muthafuckinginches no less, and the region we were in was paralyzed for a week. My mother made fun of the same people who called her, my brother, sister, and I yankees as she got around in the wintry wonderland without hindrance.

Yeh, calling us yankees...didn't they win that fucking war? Oh, and by the way, Colorado wasn't even a fucking state back when that war happened!

Sempai lived in Atlanta twenty years prior to coming to our Sahel. He remarks he had a better time of living in Appalachia than I did, and he's married, to a man. I surmise this was his urban verses my rural.

It's funny, as the sun sets, the sky clears from a two and a half day storm, I estimate a foot and a half to two feet of fresh snow. There was obligations and getting wood pellets for our stove. Shoveling and higher boots. You could hear the avalanches roaring not too far away. Travelers were terrified, transporters annoyed, and the locos got by. So it goes.

Sempai wishes the media would lay off Atlanta. It's the south, this shit happens maybe once every twenty years. I am sympathetic. Although my life in the Confederacy was not nearly as decent as his, I've seen how winter weather we don't even really blink at knocks the slats out from under those folks.

Of course, I remember southern heat and humidity vividly. Here at ninety-one sixty, we get above seventy-five quaint 'Merican degrees and it's a heatwave. One-hundred on the fahrenheit scale with as much humidity? We'd have old-timers dropping in all directions from heatstroke. Down there, they fan themselves, turn on the air conditioner along with the NASCAR, and sip something cool, which may or may not be laced with liberal amounts of alcohol. We start a fire and throw on an extra layer when it gets below forty.

Perspective is the buzzword of the day...

Our big winter storm made the metroplex news. Just enough to scare the flatlanders to not come up for a day, but to get the urban snowbums to touch themselves in their no-no places with glee as they ran for the hill-powder's gonna be good! A quick glance at the the national speaks that the novelty of Atlanta's recent weather 'pocalypse has gone and worn off. That's okay. Weather changes, as does what the hot news item is. Funny that.

Outside, the skies clear. It'll probably get rather frigid overnight. Come Sunday, I'll be off snowshoeing in the recent snow, and I can hardly wait for Tuesday, for more snow might come. Hopefully, the avi danger won't be so high. Half a world away, in Atlanta, the snow and ice will have disappeared into the stuff of apocrypha, fantasy, and/or nightmare, and that's okay. Different worlds, different landscapes, different weather. So it goes.         

28 January 2014

Back in the Saddle

Word came down that Old Scratch was officially repaired was the first day I took note of direct sunlight once more shining upon the House of Owls and Bats. I knew it was coming; it had gotten to that point here in deep winter I was counting days as I watched the sun's glow expand across the valley. It's about this time of winter when anything above forty quaint 'Merican degrees on the fahrenheit scale is plumb toasty, as in warranting a t-shirt.

The return of the sun and my vehicle fixed? Oh, fuck yes. Life became quite wonderful.

It was a mild day before the snow that we hopped down below to the far eastern edge of the greater metroplex to pick up Old Scratch. Eastbound traffic was an adventure of patience going down and schadenfreude coming back up. I blared punk-rock and we had champagne in the driveway to celebrate when we got home whilst waving at passing tourists hoping to find a shortcut down the hill. We were already home. It is possibly sociopathic to chuckle at that fact on a Sunday afternoon tourist-traffic snarl-up, but we do so, and quite often-always!-without guilt.

The storm of a day before had been far more impressive in terms of accumulation than initially foretold by meteorological prophets. Mei fei tsu. Prophets don't know everything and oracles are often confidence games preying upon the gullible's Confirmation Bias.

Because of my vehicular woes over the past nearly month, I'd been sticking to the routes closer to town. At least there are trails around town. Be that as it may, I like to explore, and found myself feeling somewhat tethered. I struck out for a place further afield for walkabout to a soundtrack of belly dance music.

The snow devils danced in the countenance of a mosh pit. Me not minding that thar punk-rock, I know a little bit about being caught in the mosh. Against diamond-bright fresh snow and a turquoises blue sky, the snow devils created queer mirages as I trekked through, their phantasmal talons and fangs lashing icily at my shell and snowpants.

Mine were the first tracks on the trail since the fresh stuff had fallen, and the wind erased those as quickly as my snowshoes laid them down. I didn't go far, just to a point I could take in Mount Bierstadt and its ominous Sawtooth Ridge. Beyond that point was a sign advising of snowslide area. It'd snowed and the wind was fierce. I decided against taking a chance.

After all, I was alone. Were something to happen, there'd be no one to help me. Not Superman. Not Wonder Woman. Not even Charles Bronson.

Besides, there was something decidedly not on the day's agenda. Oh, what was that? Dying, but perhaps I lack a spirit of adventure. Then again, living's a pretty interesting set of adventures thus far. I'm too busy to want to explore the other side of mortality.   

24 January 2014

The Devil's Music in the High Country

Back in the day, that halcyon time before I even knew this place existed, he was a loco figure. These days, he lives up over the other side of the Roof of the World. When he shows up to play, he says how good it is to be back home in a voice that smoked a million cigarettes, making Tom Waits sound like he's trying too hard. He sings songs in the voice of man who has been followed by the hellhounds on his trail. Given he's gone through a cancer-leukemia, lymphoma?-it would seem he survived at least a mauling.

Older now from back in the day, he has dreads longer than my hair, and that's to my mid-back. I see no ravages of cancer treatment, which I can unfortunately recognize all too well. He has a bit more of a pronounced widows' peak-back in school we called those thigh burns, but that's another story. He wails the hymnals of a man who has fished upon the River Styx itself. A visitor, nay, a survivor, of the hellscapes. The locos love him for it. That perdition makes for the very bestest of blues.

I walk in, and, were I poetic, I'd say the atmosphere was positively electric. I ain't that cool. It's the usual nitrogen, oxygen, and argon, which allows one to breathe. The scents of happy hour; quick food, pheromones, booze, sweat, and everybody working for the weekend were merely a byproduct. There was standing room only. So it goes. He was wailing away and I found a good vantage point at the bar with bottle of imperial.

It's the little moments that get me; a father and son going out to dinner over righteous blues. Locos, all old, old, if not ancient friends, telling our musical host how impressed they are he can still do a small venue, but still pack a big room.

I should probably getting around to shaking hands with this man, even if he'd forget who I was the next time he saw me...

A family reunion, me getting to meet one of the elder children. A couple, whom a neighbor recently told me would never live together sporting those kind of rings. I overheard them talking about their wedding album, and wondered of it'd go platinum. Moments like this can make me go a big rubbery, but you'll never see it.

Hou lin, hei tsin...

After the break, another of the loco talent comes on; the Fiddler. I've heard him do both Americana and blues well. He's on the blues tear, and I am not disappointed-it's after midnight and I got two bottles of wine-oh, fuck yes. I walk out with a smirk on my face.

Life is good, simple as that...  

21 January 2014

Senior Stomp

He always knows when I'm going on walkabout whether or not I take him. When I do, he gets rather excited, forgetting he's the oldest of the three. He makes whiny noises and chomps his approval.

When I stop, whether to shed a layer, adjust my trek poles, or just take in my surroundings, he makes those noises, encouraging, almost begging, me to keep on. Sometimes, he nips at my heels, herding me like the creatures my mother trained him on so long ago. It's too amusing to be insulting.

The Lair of the Boggieman is at the beginning of the canyon, just below Cemetery Hill. Not that far away at all. By the time we reached the grove of aspens, one carved upon in the countenance of what we named the place for, he's not following so close behind. The excited whines and chomps are replaced by panting. We've gone maybe a mile, but that mile, coupled with deep snow has worn him out.

It's slow going heading back. Lots of breaks. His fifteen year old bones are stiff. I offer to carry him, but he pushes on out of tenacity and perhaps spite. He's not his arthritic half-brother. It's humiliating enough I have to lift him in and out of vehicles when we drive somewhere. His eyes tell me that.

At home, he promptly collapses in the parlor. I give him treats and scritch behind his ears, telling him how good he did. He chomps one last time before drifting off to sleep. The walkabout may have been exhausting for him, but he still approved.

19 January 2014


When I first moved here, I didn't quite understand what one my neighbors meant when he said he either lived in shorts or snowpants. I figured snowpants were a skier or snowboarder thing. Walkabouts for me consisted of boots, a few times, out in the badlands of eastern Colorado, perhaps some coveralls if it was cold and the wind was blowing polar-cap.

Our first meeting with Miguel Loco was the day we purchased our snowshoes. It has been lucrative acquaintance in terms of gear and acquired knowledge. I have mentioned before he's the master and I the student. He's so proud of how far I've come. That first day, though, partway through our first winter, he became incensed when he found out I was hiking in the snow on jeans.

"Not on my watch you're not!" He said, handing me my first pair of snowpants. "You will wear these. Cotton kills."

I gave that line about the murderous nature of cotton to a reoccurring character of mine. Of course, part of that character was inspired by Miguel Loco. Maybe I should tell him that someday. He'll either be flattered or punch me.

We snowshoed to a ruin we'd not visited in a few years. Not much had changed. We talked about perhaps camping there come summer. It wasn't even within a mile of home.

In our snow gear we were quite comfortable. It was then, frolicking in the snow that I began to understand what that neighbor meant all those years ago. Like him, these days, I either live in shorts or snowpants, and the living is quite comfortable, like a second skin.  

16 January 2014

Stalker in the Mirror

The memories are still so real and vivid, it could have been yesterday. It could've been a heartbeat ago. You were watched. Every move scrutinized. Preyed upon.

Nowhere was safe. Those eyes found you. Venom-laced whispers recounting every action and event to the smallest detail. Even in sleep you caught yourself looking over your shoulder, running, but unable to truly hide.

Eventually, you did break free, the details of exactly how blurred by the stain of the psychic violation you endured. Although, no distance seemed great enough in making your escape. It took years to regain your courage. To not constantly be looking over your shoulder, to not almost think you heard those venomous whispers.

Once that happened, you began to look back. You knew their every move. You watched them to make sure they were no longer watching you.

Late at night, when the demons come for tea, a single question is asked;

"Are you really that different?"

The answer stares back at you in the unyielding truth of a mirror, though you loath to acknowledge it; you are one and the same.

14 January 2014

Wind Walk

The snow on the east side of the Hose of Owls and Bats..

It would seem we're getting a winter this year. When held in comparison to the last two years this could either be a shock or cause for elation depending upon your philosophical bent. It's been a good winter this year, in terms of snow; one-hundred four percent of average snowpack statewide thus far. I've been able to snowshoe a lot. So far, so good.

It seems the month long, perhaps even in the waning days of December, we started getting the winds. Every year, the same ten locos bemoan it's the worst winds in a century. Kind of makes it hard to take them seriously. If I felt like getting my meteorological geek on, I could check wind data for that many years and compare and contrast. Sabina's actually shocked I haven't.

What has fascinated me this year is the interplay of wind and snow around the house. The past two years, in January, we've had bald yard. This year, we have some excellent drifts. The one loading an upslope cornice along the east side of the house must be, at its deepest point, waist deep one me. That's at least five-thirteen and three-quarters, if it's an inch. Of course, there are those who have accused me-baselessly, I might add-of being freakishly tall.

It's superfreak, thank you very much, superfreaky...

I woke up to a blizzard and the urge to walk. I'd not been snowshoeing since Old Scratch broke down and was getting antsy. Not to say I'd not been out. Me without a being outside is like chocolate without peanut butter, or something else poetic and otherwise profound. Point being, I wasn't going to let the triviality of a blizzard prevent me from going on walkabout.

I trekked the narrow-gauge tracks down-valley to the library. See, I had documentaries to return and ones to search for. That was the excuse, I suppose. I wanted to frolic in the canyon between my town and the one six-hundred vertical down. Although, I doubt anyone would've bought said excuse, not that I was selling it.

It's funny, I intimately know my route through that canyon. Yet, because of winter's divinity to alter the landscape in such varied way from one year to another, I had to reteach myself the way. Not that I was ever in danger of getting lost; both the river and Road not far away, it was still amusing to catch myself tromping yards off my usual course.

"You don't mess around," the librarian said seeing me, looking like a wind-blown and ice crusted ninja with my snowshoes hanging from my pack.

"Vehicle's in the shoppe and I require educational media," I said glibly, pulling down my balaclava. "Anything new?"

The wind was at my back on the way down. Going home meant climbing up and having to fight the jetstream. I stopped at the high bridge for which the lower railroad station takes its name. Down here, locos said the Devil howled. I pressed myself against the cold steel of the bridge as the gales lashed at my skeletal frame, resolving notto get a particular insipid Bob Seger song in my skull. Instead, I focused on another Robert of whom I admire;

"Early this morning
when you knocked upon my door,
And I said;
'hello Satan,
I believe it's time to go'..."

Not like I go worrying about repercussions from the Devil, given what I've done to his wife before...

The wind is never as bad within the bosom of the trees, although, one must be mindful of widowmakers when it gets especially blustery. Along the tracks, smaller snowdevils danced. I could see their colossal kin waltzing upon the high peaks. The wind did a strange thing to the sounds of the canyon; I could hear it rushing past me, the river as it moved below its ice, the discordant song of trees swaying and rubbing against one another, and the occasional call of a chickaree, and my footfalls through the deep snow. I could not hear the Road. Were I to antropomorphise and believe something greater cared about my aberrant ass, I would postulate the Divine knew I wanted to be further out into the Backcountry and brought its symphony to me. The mere thought got me to chuckle at my own arrogance. 

After a point, just past the Lair of the Boogieman, I chose to follow the tracks to the upper depot, instead of cutting through the cemetery. Part of me felt utterly spent, going uphill through such bluster. Yet, I could not convince myself to mind. I got to go walking, snowshoeing. A form of meditation, it's venue more opulent than the finest cathedrals within the kingdoms of Man. A wander through my own Never-Never Land where an adult encouraged to play outside all the time. 

It doesn't get much better...

And as you see, I made it home unscathed...

08 January 2014

100 Words; Alien Song

If you listen, you can hear the river ice as it freezes and thaws, shifts and buckles, expands and contracts. To my ears it is the alien chanting of some far-flung mountain monastery. Mantras of an order older than the kingdoms of Man, perhaps even before the times of dragons and titans when the world was yet young.

Winds of Tibetan viciousness have sculpted interesting drifts across the landscape. In some places, the snow can be a crusted knee-high dune, in others a bare dusting of fine powder. Sometimes, the sound of footfalls is jarring to the cacophony of silence.

05 January 2014

A Winterlude

The cadence of this song has been fitting of my mood as of late...

I survived the holiday season largely by ignoring it. No mean feat when one of the big happenstances in these parts is an outdoor Christmas market and people are constantly wishing you tidings of joy and peace and goodwill toward Man, when, in truth, they don't give two tugs of a dead dog's cock about you. The days came and went. We focused more on Sabina's birthday. It was grand.

I dealt with the fourth anniversary of my mother's death in much the same way, although there were the depressive moments. These, I think, are inescapable. On the day, as has become the custom, I played Sketches of Spain. That night, there was a gypsy folk show playing at the Large Town Hall, where we host community dances and the melodrama. It was cathartic. With my quirk of remembering dates, I noted with some bittersweetness that the tenth anniversary of my grandmother's passing is on the first Friday of next month. Perhaps there is symmetry in that, twisted in its precision. Maybe I am just seeking patterns in the chaos and there are no omens to be found.

It could be it doesn't really matter. They're both dead and have been for years. I rarely deal in absolutes, preferring the beauty of Grey, but dead is dead, and you rarely get the luxury of walking away from that.

Of course, as much as this high mountain place is my paradise; my Kashmir, my Africa, my Shambala, it's not been all sunshine and rainbows and gumdrops and fairies and unicorns. For one, we are still within the thrall of the long dark. Direct sunlight will not grace the House of Owls and Bats for another few weeks yet. Perhaps the long shadow cast by the ridgeline of Mount Pendleton makes us punchy.

Sabina's phone died during our hut excursion. Nothing horrific that could not be replaced upon the return to more civilized environs, but the transfer of information was incomplete; well over one-hundred pictures stay trapped on a device that will no longer turn on. I keep many metaphysical photographs within the walls of my skull. Memories to cherish. Sabina has suffered a form of technological amnesia from which she may never recover.

Despite my luminous field of rampant masculinity; which has been known to get women to spontaneously orgasm and strong men to weep and wet themselves, I do have limits. It's true. One of these is I am not mechanically inclined. Oh, I can cook and carry on one mean philosophical discussion, but I cannot hammer a nail straight on a bet and know next to nothing about automotive vehicles.

Well, I know how to put fuel in one end and point it where I need to go. Most often a trailhead. I know if a mechanic says I need blinker fluid he's trying to fuck me. Other than that, I concede my ignorance. Be that as it may, when our local mechanic told us Old Scratch had spun a bearing, I knew nothing good was going to come of this.

Fucking perfect. I need a new engine. In winter. Deep winter. Were this summertime, I'd just be riding my bicycle to obligations and adapting. Long ago, my mother questioned whether or not I was meant to have a vehicle. Such a postulation arouses murder thoughts. Meant means there is destiny and some unseen cosmic force is pulling my strings. The very concept makes me think of my favorite line from the Christian gospels in which Yeshua bin Joseph said;

"Yeh? Fucking eat me!"

I may have paraphrased that...

One of my volunteers has loaned me an extra vehicle in order to get to and from obligations. I owe her dinner at the very least. The wealth Sabina and I possess has never translated into folding pieces of paper; the only tangibility of the blood money from my father's mother all those years back being our getting our one-hundred thirty-four year old miner's cabin-turned-Victorian- cottage--a wise investment, I'm regularly told. Most of the time, this does not bother me.

We will get through this. It just won't be pretty nor cheap, like some dates I've had in the past. I know and accept this.

Occasionally, my reptile zen has been likened to blind optimism. Nothing could be further from the truth. The First Noble Truth is the realization of suffering; spotting onto the fact this is a universe filled with unremitting chaos, horror, death, disease, murder, bullets, blood, bombs, spies, cobwebs, gravedust, razorblades, and maggots. The good is something that should be savored, for it is so precious, like rubies and glass beads. To my mind, only a masochistic idiot continually dwells upon the negative. Pessimists get me to think of a line from the graphic novel of  The Crow, before Hollywood fucked it up-yes, yes, I realize mainstream 'Merica might not have been ready to see the anti-hero shoot morphine into his jugular, but T-Bird was the main villain and he was black!-because there were so many good lines from the story that weren't used in the film;

"Stick the knife in. Deeper. Twist it..."

Snow falls gently outside. It's cold, but not as cold as some places out east, and, when held in comparison to the equatorial regions of Europa, they're downright tropical. It is still beautiful here. A beauty, which hits me between the eyes daily, if not hourly. I live where others come to vacation. It's not always easy; cars break down and people break down and other things break down too. Still, this is mine; I get to hike, cook, and tell stories. I live with a lovely woman of whom we act as one another's balance points. I wouldn't trade this for godhood.

Not so much a song as a mantra...

01 January 2014

100 Words; Young Old Man

They've known one another since childhood. Curmudgeonly old friends. They are a host of characters; a retired language instructor, a skydiving vagabond, and the president of our local historical society. There are some great stories to be told.

Here are men in their mid to late sixties talking, acting, and drinking like it's around high school. I can scarcely keep up. The midnight hour approaches and I cannot keep my eyes open. I am not the nocturne I once was. At forty-one, it looks like I'm the old man. The irony is not lost on anyone. There are laughs aplenty.