"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

01 December 2015

The Gem

I have been talking with Miguel Loco about learning how to ice climb for at least two years now. After all, when you live somewhere with long winters you learn to do things in said winter other than hole up inside and drink. That leads to madness, if not liver failure. There's also the fact I like climbing things, despite that I have been prone to moments of vertigo. You push through these things or you die, that is the way of it, and I have no time for dying.

Timing and lack of gear had been the excuses the past two winters. Then, I found that old, old pair of waffle-stompers. Two weeks later, Miguel acquired equally old, and hardly used crampons that fit those old boots like hand in glove. For my first forays, I would borrow things like ropes, axes, and a helmet to see if I even liked what I was looking at doing.

"He really wants to get out there, and I have a feeling once he gets going, he won't want to stop," Miguel told Sabina recently.

A few days ago, we were at his shoppe. The weather has been cold and he spoke of scouting ice. A few places he wanted to take me are starting to freeze up nicely.

"Oh, that reminds me, I never showed you this from last spring," I said, pulling out my phone and scrolling to the image of the waterfall up Mosquito Gulch.

And you would have thought I was showing him pictures of naked girls in provocative poses what for his reaction. I was tempted to tell him to put it back in his pants, for there was a lady present, as well as Sabina. He demanded I text him the image.

"Where is this?" He asked excitedly.

"Between the 730 and the Bull's Head," I said.

"I've never heard of it. Is it right off the trail?"

"Sorta," I replied and then added in a somewhat sing-songie voice; "I can take you there."

"We're so going!"

There is something kind of cool about knowing of a place one of your gurus does not. Playing guide for a guide. I would remark on that, as well as his reaction to the image of the falls. Miguel would tell me it was porn.

Ice porn...



At the falls, using a certain tall, lanky aberration for scale...

By Miguel Loco's reckoning, it's maybe fifteen feet of straight vertical. A good inaugural climb and a way to learn some technique. He told me to watch the ice and keep him posted, and used terms like farming for sculpting the ice for a better climb.

"This is great," he said. "A real gem. Sheltered and in a place you'd never find unless you do some bushwhacking. I really doubt anyone has ever climbed it." He smiled and patted me on the shoulder. "You found this, you get first ascent, and then, you get to name it."

That's the rule, apparently. Back in summer, I'd called it Mosquito Falls for the gulch it was in, but apparently, that will not do. Sabina suggested Robbie Grey's Grab. I thought of Robbie Grey's Roost, The Gem, or even Lankin's Lookout, should I want to name it for a fictional character. Or maybe I won't name it at all. Edward Abbey once bemoaned the human propensity for naming nonhuman things like mountains and canyons.

Maybe I'll tell you my decision after I bang some ice...

After our scouting, we went and had brunch. It was grand to discover we shared similar scientific interests. We parted ways on a cold and blustery afternoon and I went to scout the ice of Brown's Gulch, another place we mean to climb. It might be the only way to reach some of the ruins that can be seen along the sheer rock faces.

Yes, I am going to learn the discipline of ice climbing. I have the blood, the blade, the courage, and the gear, whether my own or what will be lent. I get a first ascent for my first time, which I wonder how many other first-timers get. I may have a new way to pass our long, dark winters. Even if it plays out I'm not into it-of which I seriously, even comically, doubt-I'll get a story out of it. Sometimes that's the greatest gem of all.    

05 November 2015

From Beyond

I'm chatting with the owner of our local watering hole and she's asking me to speak to some new neighbors. Something about getting a feel for them, though I am not inclined to cop a feel from complete strangers, let alone, ones with parts missing. Still, I have somehow become the metaphoric go-to guy.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see you. Your gait is purposeful. You mean to speak with me. I have several problems with this, with seeing you walking toward me with that purposeful gait. Quickly, I turn away.

"Gotta go," I tell the owner of our local watering hole. She goes on to talk with you as I make my escape.

I'm walking down the street in the lengthening shadows of the deepest blue of evening. Summer is long gone and the first snows have fallen. It gets dark so quickly now. I pull my layers close against the growing chill.

Turning the corner, there you are, walking with a purpose. You mean to speak with me. I know why you shouldn't. Why you can't. Quickly, I duck down a secret way I know, avoiding you once more.

Normally, I'm not out so late, but here I am. The gypsy and I are having cha'i and talking about books. It'd been a bit. Then her phone rings. A phone call, not texts. She talks for a few before handing her phone to me with that one look she'd get, which I used to call that foreign girl look.

"You need to take this," she says.

"Hello?" My voice echoes into an abyss.

"Don't go moving to the south," you tell me. "It'll look like you're running away."

"Bah!" I snort. "Have you fucking met me? I don't run. I'm dug in here. If I were to move, west is the closest direction to forward for me."

Of course, I'm remembering back to when things went down between the jewel-eyed girl and I, and you were amongst the school that implored me to move. For my safety. I refused, because I wouldn't run. I would not be broken, because there is not a force in the universe that can break me. I dug in. You must recognize I'm musing this by my silence.

"You still there?" You ask.

"Ummm...you do realize you've been dead almost five years, mon amie," I say finally, my voice is small and lost. "Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhttttttttttt?????"

And you're silent for only a second, but it seems like far longer than the almost five years...

"I know," your voice is distant and disembodied. Phantasmal. "I've known for a long time." You pause to stifle a sob. "I miss my son."

"He died the day after the accident," I say with reptilian honesty. "Two days before your family pulled you off those machines."

"Never pull your punches, do you, you bastard?" You're fighting tears.

"You'd despise me if I did," I reply.

"I told you you'd find enlightenment," you say. "Sometimes, you'd doubt me."

"I'm not that pretentious," I say. "Besides, you said that over the tarots. I met others of your ilk who could read their mark and use the cards to tell them what they wanted to hear. I'm a skeptical bastard, I admit it. If nothing else, between my mother and you dying taught me that."

"I meant what I said," you say with that sense of confidence I admired. "No matter what you think. Remember that."

***

The clock says four o'nine. I am wide awake, and my mind, which never shuts down completely-sucks for meditation at times-is running at full bore. There goes the rest of my sleep. What just happened was so vivid and spit-shiny real I can smell and taste it.

But I begin to think. Burden and a boon. I begin to dissect. Such is my way. These days, when being poetic, I might say part of my mysticism is inquiry and analysis.

"You're such a Virgo!" Another Pagan of my acquaintance once told me when I was being curious and questioning.

"And what the fuck is that supposed to mean?" I asked her. She never answered, but instead shot me stupefied look that I'd even inquire.

Pieces of reality begin to slide across the phantasm of the dreaming. Everyone may have known and loved you, as I often joked, but you didn't know the owner of my local watering hole. The street I walked down was far more urban/urbane than anything I've regularly walked in years. It's been almost as many years as you've been in the ground since I've shared any liquid with the gypsy.

I was dreaming...

Of course, I start asking why?, after all, it's me. You know that. The gypsy sent me all those old pictures, that one of me and you from a thousand years back, which I think of as the description of our acquaintance. Of course, like pond silt when you step into the water, memories will come flooding back. It's been nearly five years-thirteen days away-since your rollover. My mother, dead ten months before you, still shows up with vivid ferocity in my dreams.

The answer. Mystery solved. Logic.

Yeh, logic and answers do not change one simple fact; you're dead and gone almost five years, and, my dear, dear, sweet friend, I miss you...terribly...

04 October 2015

Autumn


Kicking it old school; a pair of waffle-stompers I picked up at a thrift store for less than twenty. I can theoretically ice-climb wearing these...

Last night was a truly righteous thunderstorm. It rattled the house and illuminated the sky. I found myself wondering if it would be the last of the season. If there would be a dusting of snow now upon the high peaks. A traveler spoke of flurries atop Mount Evans a couple days back and Sabina told me of hikers speaking of flurries up Silver Dollar lake yesterday afternoon.

After a rather hot and dry September, October has announced itself with a more autumnal countenance. The aspens have peaked, and, looking out back at Eagle Rock, last night's storm has stripped them of some of their leaves. Part of me is relieved by this. Perhaps the leaf-peepers will go elsewhere and I will finally be able to breathe at obligations.

Yes, I have still been busy. Whether obligations or any of the other myriad things I do, which Senpai would refer to as free jobs-e.g. boards, committees, and/or commissions. I have five of those, I counted. As an example, the last few of my sacred Tuesdays, I've been doing trail maintenance with the retired forester of my acquaintance for Open Space. This is not as horrific as it may sound. I've been finding myself in parts of the county that were either on the metaphoric list of someday or I'd never considered going. It's always good to expand one's horizons. And I find my time spent with the retired forester rather educational.

My daughter is living on her own in student housing down in Boulder. Her major is microbiology and her minor is molecular biology. I'm rather proud. She's not driving right now, which is fine. I have come to view my visits with her in a similar light as when I was still commuting to the greater metroplex for money the first year I lived up here; something I can tolerate, even if I get back as quickly as I can.

A free day and Sabina and I mean to go walking. There is a mine arrastra up Mill Creek and the Rutherford Trail. Open Space and HDPLC lands. Places we've not been. I may actually have the coming Tuesday free to finally go up Grizzly. The air is cooler and the world is painted in rust. Perhaps now I'll have the chance to slow down and truly enjoy it.



With the lines "What are you afraid of? Show me what you're made of" in context of some of the land-use stuff I've been doing, this has been my jam...

01 September 2015

On the Other Side of Summer

The other day, after coming back from laundry and errands up over, I gazed out at the west Loveland Pass in early evening light. Aside from a scouting and subsequent camping trip to Pass Lake, I'd not done any trekking up there this year. It made me sad.

"Where has the fucking time gone?" I lamented.

At obligations, once a year, my schedule gets thrown into upheaval. I survive, obviously, finding some sense of equilibrium. Still, this summer has seemed particularly busy, and I don't feel I've gotten nearly as much accomplished as I'd have liked. Here it is, on the cusp of High Country autumn, and, to be trite, I feel like summer's past me by.

It's not that I haven't gotten out. We did camp. Grizzly and Cherokee Gulch are two places I still need to get to, and hopefully before the snow flies. Every time I go over Loveland Pass, I look at the places I need to explore and/or reacquaint myself with.

I did go up Brown's Gulch, though not as far as I wanted. We stopped a little ways before treeline and snacked in the cool shade near rushing water. My companions, being my daughter and her boyfriend, wussed out. I harassed my daughter about this, given she was supposed to be climbing Quandary Peak that weekend.

"There I have the expectation of going straight uphill," she argued. Later, she would tell me when she summited that fourteener, there were some people having a fondue party and sharing with other climbers.

"Mountains," I said with a shrug. "Were it anywhere else, that might've been strange."

My daughter simply nodded in agreement. After all, she's been with me when hitchhikers busk to entertain frustrated drivers caught in Sunday afternoon tourist traffic on the back roads. She's heard me mention the Easter Gorilla. When I say mountains, it pretty well explains everything. If you don't get it, you're not going to.

From the tourist standpoint, things are winding down. The kids are back in school. I don't run quite as much at obligations. For the first time in months, I had a week without overtime. Some of the aspens show the beginnings of color change. The leaf peepers are just a few weeks away.

My birthday is on the other side of the sunrise. Not a big one, I suppose. Not a decade or even half decade. Although, the magistrate always makes a big deals of his birthdays and he's thirty years my senior. Still, as this orbit comes full circle, I catch myself having a few revelations. Whether or not they're grand is conjecture;

Mountain. It's like that. Apparently, it ain't boring.

I never wanted a career. There, I said it. I just wanted to have adventures and be my own person. The myriad of things I've done for money have been just that; a means to an end. A way to bankroll said adventures. Not being locked into a career has, upon reflection, made a great many of my leaps easier than they would've been otherwise. I've said many times being defined by what you do for money is boring, it's just taken me twenty years to fully realize why.

Recently, I've taken to writing in a notebook again. Not daily, but when the mood strikes. It comes and goes and I don't know how long I'll keep it up. What has struck me is how my style has changed. It's not as fantastical. Sabina referred to it as more matter-of-fact. The mutual postulation is environmental; living somewhere magical all on its own, there's little reason to tart it up.

I've never liked the concept of a reputation. Piss and wind. Get to know a cat and form your own opinion instead of what the hype is. Yet, it seems here, in a rural mountain county, peppered with small tourist towns, you can live or die by a reputation. The case in point I've seen it most recently is when someone goes to apply for work or to rent a place and the questions are asked have you heard of such-and-such? and the stories of good or ill are whispered. Good or ill, that's how it seems to work. Apparently, my constantly wanting to play outside and knowing a little bit about the trails is part of my reputation.

So, there it is. We stand at the other side of summer. I am hoping for a long warm autumn to get to all the walkabouts in on my list. Since I have no intention of growing too much older, let alone dying, if I miss it this season, there's always the next. Tomorrow, we will climb Mount Trelease to help mark the start of another orbit and something to do. A new adventure in a lifetime of adventures to mark off.

04 August 2015

In the Blood




Some attempts at creativity; a rustic sitting spot, behind the willow out back, and a trail marker up by the ruins of the Illinois Mine...

Perhaps my grandmother's favorite song was Little Boxes. She would mention it when passing through suburban wastes as we headed into the badlands of eastern Colorado to visit my parents. It was said if she felt the population density to open lands ratio was not right, she would lean over to the person closest to her and start to sing.

"Little boxes
little boxes,
And they were all
made out of ticky-tacky,
And they all looked
just the same..."

The last person I ever heard relate that tale said there was a hiss upon her otherwise always civil voice. I knew that hiss well. The intonation that you were doing something incorrect and needed to straighten up and fly right or she would make your life exceedingly difficult. You did not fuck with my grandmother. Very few people have ever intimidated me. My grandmother is one of them.

My grandmother hated two things; sprawl and liberals. I find I share her hatred of sprawl. It was one of the the things that drove my push into the mountains after the city had served its purpose.

***

I think it was the beginning of the year that Senpai first mentioned there were openings on the county Open Space Commission as well as HDPLC. This was taken with a grain of metaphoric salt. I felt I was busy enough.

Still, because of the retired forester of my acquaintance, who is a vice-chair on Open Space, and, come to think of it, involved in everything I've found myself involved in, save the town's museum committee, I made some inquires. The forester's companion, a globe-trotting widower who volunteers for me, was one of the people I made mention of my curiosity to. When I said I could be selfish about my free time, she shot me a look and a wry smile.

"I think you can take some time out of your precious hiking schedule to hike around for the county."

So, I went to a meeting after expressing my interest to the right people and receiving an invitation. There was another cat there with similar interests, older than me. He'd lived in the county ten years longer and dropped names. I mentioned who I was and inferred some of my family were involved in Open Space in other places, but, things like the fact there's a park named after my grandfather were not mentioned. In a place where there's a lot of historical preservation going on, there's also a lot of ancestor worship. Love and respect my family as I do, I try to stand or fall on my own merits.

I gave my song and dance and then closed my mouth. Part of it is my inherent shyness, part of it was to watch-I like to watch-the proceedings and get an understanding of how things worked. The other guy felt it was okay to interrupt. When speaking with some of my acquaintances after the fact, a great many seemed to think I took the better course of action.

"Some people do things because they have an agenda they're trying to advance," Senpai said when we discussed the subject. "You don't. You do things you do out of genuine love for it. That's why I suggested it to you. I wouldn't have done it if it wasn't something that fit you and who you are."

That was April. Things moved at the speed of bureaucracy. Don't call us, we'll call you. In the interim, the magistrate sent an unsolicited recommendation to the county commissioners and I acquiesced to being on HDPLC-I'll say it was to shut Senpai up. The commission sent me a questionnaire on being involved with Open Space and the way I answered apparently got their attention.

A few weeks back, I got the recommendation from the commission. This meant an interview with the county commissioners. More bureaucracy. Playing dress-up.

Fuck...

It is disgusting, but for all of my anti's, the long hair, tattoos, and trinkets, I can clean up and play johnny-conformity in such a nauseating fashion I catch myself scrubbing manically in the shower for hours afterward. I got it from my grandparents, both of whom were county commissioners of some note. From my father, who was a traveling business man for money when I was little, and, to this day, can convince a drowning man to have a drink of water. From my mother, my grandparents daughter. It's in the blood.

The interview went well. I spoke of community involvement in order to sustain said community. Of how I felt our Sahel is a magical place of many varied landscapes. Of knowing that sometimes the best way to protect a thing is to share it.

Officially, word would come two weeks later. Unofficially, the forester found me the day of the interview and congratulated me on my appointment. Over the last few weeks it's how he's reintroduced me to cats in the circles of which we travel. Yes, I knew I had this muthafucker. I knew back in April. However, a throwback superstition, I waited for word from on high, lest the whole thing be jinxed.

Word came from on high. My daughter, her boyfriend, and I went out for Mexican to celebrate. There's champagne in the fridge for when Sabina gets done at obligations.

This whole bit of madcap skulduggery has once more gotten some people I know to ask when I'll run for mayor, or, county commissioner. I growl, remind them my grandparents were the politicians. That the things I do, aside from not advancing a personal agenda-who really has time for that bullshit? Not me-is to avoid running for an elected position.

"It's in your blood," Job said one of the last times we spoke. Something I've heard more than once from more than one cat.

"So is hemoglobin and platelets," I shoot back. "That means nothing."

"It's your destiny," Sabina said once.

"Fucking what? You're Palpatine now?!? 'Come to the dark side, we have cookies' and all that?" I snarled. "Besides, you know I don't believe in destiny."

She just shot me a sly smile. The one that entreats me to growl deeper. Dig in more.

"I'd rather bear my jugular or call myself a romantic first," I said. "And since the universe shall fall to entropy before that happens..."    

28 July 2015

Alpine Frolics [In Pictures]


Looking down at the Santiago Mill...



Gratuitous Colorado wildflower shot...


An example of nature's sense of reclamation...

***



Jones Pass...


Looking back at Red Mountain...


The screaming tree...

***



Pass Lake...



Campsite Peek-a-boo...


And then, cocktail hour...



Sunset...



Daylight's fading...



Come morning...



Clouds, reflected...

The words are forthcoming....

07 July 2015

The Number of Seasons


A recent acquisition; a moose skull. It hangs upon the back door now...

Rain has been falling, but that is nothing new. Thus far, it's been a wet summer. Although, the last three days have been cooler and not as humid, getting Sabina to fatalistically ask who stole her summer. She can be the type to see the grey cloud behind the silver lining, whereas I tend to be a little more positive. It balances us out.

Here it is, just a few days into July, and I've yet to get up on the tundra or poke about in gulches I wish to explore. We've yet to go camping. I know there's still time, but that time is but a few short weeks and there's all the demonic details in between, which also must be dealt with. Blink and you'll miss it and the snow will be flying.

Sabina's parents have a place in Hawaii-times is hard-of which they want us, her sister and bother-in-law, nephew and new wife to visit in January. Around the time of their fifty-sixth anniversary. Everything paid. You'd be excused for thinking I'd already have my frame pack stuffed to the gills for tropical adventure.

I didn't lose anything in Hawaii. The islands I want to see are Madagascar, Borneo, and/or the Galapagos. The idea of being stuffed into an airplane, thirty-thousand feet above the surface of the world's oceans for almost ten hours holds little appeal. Flying machines are not made for people with my measurements.

Endeavoring to be positive, I try to look at the adventure aspect, because adventures can suck when you're having them. I know this firsthand. Sabina's parents seem to like me well enough, and the only thing I'm spending is time. From the naturalistic standpoint, I've never been to the tropics and only seen the ocean two to three times in the nearly forty-three years I've been alive. Even then, I've only seen the Atlantic. This could be an opportunity to see whales. There's an observatory at fourteen-thousand that could be neat to check out. I could get a story out of it.

Sabina has similar thoughts to mine. So we try to look at from angle of what appeals to us. Her parents speak of not knowing how much longer they'll be in Hawaii. Her father is nearly eighty, and, whilst active, not as active as some of the seniors of my acquaintance I've summited thirteen-thousand peaks with just for want of something to do.

This got Sabina to ask me how many more summers we have. How long before our idea of summer fun is a walk around town and stopping to watch the river amble by, for our trekking days are behind us. Personally, I'll want to be shot in the face-twice-if that day ever comes, for I have no time to belly-up and quit. Remember, I am the one who aches for the lifespan of a star.

There's several billion seasons left. Well, at least until the sun goes red giant and consumes the planet. There'll be no more seasons. Period. Hopefully, by then, our species, or whatever its evolved into, if its not wiped itself out-see? I can be negative too-will have expanded out into the cosmos.

Perhaps I think on too grand a scale, which is why the demonic details sometimes get missed. Here and now, time may be short, but there's enough of it for those gulch treks and at least one camping trip. We're scheduled to go up to Santiago-alpine!-in five days. Suddenly, it looks like I may have an opportunity for something tropical in the cold of deep winter. Part of me is not thrilled by the location or how I have to get there, but I know better than to totally poo-poo it. After all, it's an adventure, and how can I really say no to that?

30 June 2015

A Backbeat for Nada

Runoff has started to abate. I no longer hear the Leviathan, grinding river rocks to bowling ball smooth. Some of my lower demarcation rocks begin to peep above the swells, and my oh fuck! rock has become completely dry. Other places in town, I see evidence of drying out. It will be safe to traverse the water crossings of Grizzly Gulch soon enough.

Out back, by the willow, there is still ankle deep standing water. So it goes. Old beaver bog. Runoff always gets the Talking Heads song Swamp playing in my skull. Because we like to anthropomorphize and imagine the universe has a sense of humor-and the giraffe and platypus certainly make a strong argument for this-it's vaguely funny how the monsoons come on the coattails of runoff. During some deluges, William Elliot Whitmore's Lee County Flood seems so fitting.

Then again, I have a constant backbeat within the walls of my skull. The stereo is always on in the house. My daughter once said she thought I'd be overjoyed becoming deaf, because I'd not have to listen to people. Truth is, I'd be depressed, because I'd not be able to hear music, be it that made by humans, or by impassive universe around me.

I hath smote my first mosquitoes of the summer. An omen the ticks have most likely gone. One blood-sucker for another. I am not amused.

The strangest happenstance has come to pass over the last week or so; I've not been so much in the mood for tea. There, I said it. Water, cool, clear water-water-has been my go-to. The other night, winding down for bed, but trying to finish up a conversation with Sabina, I'd decided I was done with libations, and my wine glass became a water glass.

Queer. I wonder if this means I'm pregnant. If so, then who's the daddy? Sabina, for having never wanted or had children, is perhaps one of the biggest mothers I've ever met. Do you find it strange that one of the last times I told her this she entreated me to fuck off? I know I did.

Last week I saw Senpai all but dancing the jig a few times over the state of society. Even and especially over the events of this past Friday, he has quite the right to be happy. There was irony that a trade agreement was pushed through with the help of a political party whose agenda has been to block the sitting president at every turn. Although, for every leap we make as a society, there comes that moment of catching the evangelicals getting into a truck with Missouri plates, one wearing a t-shirt that reads; Fear god, love thy neighbor.

And Social Distortion's Don't Drag Me Down starts in my skull...

If you haven't figured it out by now, I am one of those cats who finds existence a constant state of becoming. Evolving. Owning up. You adapt or you die, this is the imperative and gospel of biology. The dynamic of change is just a given. One of those songs that I hear even when I'm not playing it on the stereo with varying degrees of frequency is Memphis Minnie's I Got to Make a Change Blues. That jam's been playing a lot recently. Part of me, feeling slightly silly-superstitious, wonders if it is an omen of bigger changes upon the event horizon, and, if so, I curiously wonder what those changes will be. 

08 June 2015

Twisted Arrow

"You've been reading
some old letters,
You smile and think
how much you've changed,
All the money in the world
couldn't buy back those days..."-The The

Long ago now, when my siblings and I helped my father put his mother in the ground, we ended up at the wake. It was a grand southern affair with casseroles and libations. Having lived at higher elevations for so long, we felt we were drinking alcohol-flavored water whilst the southern relatives got hammered and mourned. One remarked out of all of my part of the family, I was the one who'd changed the most.

To be fair, some of these cats hadn't seen me since I was fourteen or fifteen. I'd not started growing my hair long, and certainly was unable to sprout facial hair yet. It was before the braces fixed that overbite I had through childhood and the idea of a tattoo had not entered into the mathematics of my thoughts.

That summer was when Sabina and I decided we must move to the mountains. I have mentioned more than once how that shocked my city friends. Even Jezebel was a little gobsmacked. Recently, as I mentioned hating crowds and flat places, she reminded me of how I once wanted to be so urban. I thanked her for the call-out, but reminded her of where we were living when we first became pals; the badlands of eastern Colorado. Flat and khaki with fuck all to do.

See, I knew I'd one day leave the greater metroplex. It just seemed to be the way of it. However, as I told another acquaintance who, when I first spoke of Kashmir, I had no intention of going back to the badlands, or even North Carolina. Fuck that noise.

Never back. Forward. Ever forward.

In a sense, I've only gone back twice in my life. The first was when my family moved back to Colorado. My seventeen year old delusion was it'd be back to the very first farmstead on the very western edge of the metroplex, just a few miles east of the hogbacks and Front Range foothills-I like to call them wuss hills these days-by Morrison, when that was still the countryside. My friends, some of whom were my friends only when in that one neighborhood, would pick up where we left off three and a half years before.

What a fool I used to be...

The new farmstead was seven miles east of Parker, on the county line. The very edge of the badlands. Over the years my parents would move even further into those flat wastes. It was a new landscape, new people, new rules. Three and a half years is forever and a day when you're in junior high and high school. Those friends had moved on, despite efforts I made to stay in touch. Their memory effigies have since faded into obscure places within the walls of my skull I only inspect on the rarest of occasions.

The old cliché holds true; you can never go home again...

The second time was moving back in with my parents, to that first new Colorado farmstead, right after my divorce. That was a tense and depressive eighteen months. My father and I were ready to go after one another with knives. My adolescent urge to escape the badlands was trumped my adult one. When Jezebel said she needed a roommate, I was gone so quick, my pants had to catch the next bus out.

Once upon a time, my way of thinking and being was built upon the foundations of The Art of War, The Book of Five Rings, The Analects of Confucius, The Tao te Ching, and pretty well any Buddhist sutra. A friend once remarked I was the smartest cat he'd ever met, because anyone can read Sun Tzu and Confucius and regurgitate quotes to sound cool in conversation, but it takes real intellect to apply that knowledge and live it. I have not spoken to him in years. Sometimes, it makes me sad.

These days the foundations have a another layer of which is more of a go-to; Desert Solitaire, A Sand County Almanac, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Lonely Planets; The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life, and pretty well anything from John Muir. Instead of mala beads and Thai prayer stones to occupy my hands, I carry fossils and smoothed river stones. No one I hang around these days would be surprised by this, given I speak of being outside as holy sacrament.

Five years back, Lee came to stay with us to pull his head together whilst he contemplated leaving the Sons of Silence. I chided him on being a joiner, a fucking lemming. Back then, I had a subscription to National Geographic, making me a society member by default, and that was almost too much fucking effort.

A year later, I found myself on the board of our historical society. To this day, I say I did it to shut a couple of people up. From there, I've found myself getting involved with a few other things within my community. Senpai will remark how established I am. How I have become the Man, to which I mention, like Old Blue Eyes, I did it my way.

The occasions I have had to speak from someone from the distant past of high school, or, nowadays, even the city, they seem blown away by who I am now versus their rose-tinted recollections. I am saddened by their apparent stagnation and descent into a reality, which is a blur of Republicans and meat. We are far-flung aliens to one another and that probably explains why bonds are never reestablished.

Never back. Forward. Ever forward.

I too get amazed and twists and turns my life has gone along. The adventures, the mentalities, the landscapes. Even some of the things I've done for money, though, I think it is banal to measure the sum and substance of your existence against what you do to pay the bills. Cats like that should be peeled, salted, driven around on spiked planks by near-catatonic mental patients, used as a jizz-catcher for rabid baboons in heat, and left to hang in the town square for necrophile boys to play with. At best.

Although, any time I get too impressed with my own intelligence and how much personal evolution I've accomplished, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Inevitably, I am wearing a t-shirt and an unbuttoned, untucked flannel. An image of me through the ages. It's then I catch myself wondering what really has changed, if anything at all.     

02 June 2015

Signs of the Sweet Time


The falls up Mosquito Gulch, all defrosted now. A lovely spot to stand under after a hot walkabout...

A friend of mine, of whom I warn people not to fuck with, for she is short, spunky, and southern, told me she knew it was summer when she saw me wearing shorts. I knew it was summer by the scent in the air and the way everything popped green in what seemed an overnight. Let the sweet time begin.

The river, noted, if not lauded, for its clarity, is brown with silt and sings in the tones of runoff. Some of my sitting rocks, or, ones I use for marking the waterline, are submerged. I've yet to hear the leviathan, but I know it's just a matter of days, if not hours.

Sabina and I scheme to go camping. Back behind the Bull's Head is the most accessible now. Grizzly Gulch sometime after runoff abates. It's be later in the summer when we pitch the tent up above Pass Lake. I itch for the alpine, having not been up there since Sabina's birthday. That's almost six months. Half a year.

This will not do...

Walking around town, neighbors hold court on porches. Mowing instead of shoveling snow. The scent of grilling and bonfires as opposed to the scent of fire to heat a house.

I have learned to deal with and appreciate winter. Autumn's colors are always striking. Spring brings its promise of renewal. However, summer is truly the sweet time. In terms of economics, it's our busiest, richest time. In terms of life, it's the sweetest time because it's so fucking short. Lessons in cycles and impermanence.

Summer has come. A time of hummingbirds and wildflowers. Shorts and sandals. Walkabouts into the Backcountry to those places snow never melts. Of grilling and nights under a big starry sky with an open fire and not as many layers. The shortest, sweetest time of all.

26 May 2015

Early On

After a murky and very moist month, there have been a couple of somewhat nicer days. Efforts at early summer. It seemed in some ways that April and May swapped in terms of both temperatures and precipitation.

Also, the societal attitude was more that of April than May. Tempers on edge with seasonal burnout and prayers to see the sun again. I too have felt a bit of burnout at the murk, but it's more musculoskeletal than social. The continuous roller coaster of the barometer has pushed and pulled at my twisted skeleton in ways I imagine the tidal forces of Jupiter affect Europa. My exhaustion toward the weather was one of pain.

Yet everything is lush and green. The early stages of runoff sing in esoteric tongues. The high peaks hold fresh snow from a month of storms. I can remember a May four years back like this one, except the snow-line was much lower, and when the sun came out for Memorial Day weekend there was dancing in the streets. Last night, we had a chiminea and watched the stars.

There has been an ugly conspiracy abroad to get me on HDPLC-Historic District Public Lands Commission-because of my liking to be outside, spearheaded by Sempai and a retired forester of my acquaintance of whom I'm on the historical board with and has been an election judge with me. What a way to start the summer.

Mei fei tsu. The way I see it, it'll keep me from getting tapped for anything political, like mayor or county commissioner. Long hair, piercings, trinkets, tattoos, and I-don't-fucking-do-dress-up aside, I'm on a historical board, a museum committee, a stewardship group, and now, apparently, a commission. That's a lot of irons in the fire. Politics would complicate things, and, if I wanted complication, I'd watch a French film.

So, yes, it is early summer, or at least trying to be. Trying to be a little warmer and drier. I wear sandals, but no shorts just yet. Apparently, I have something else to do to occupy my time that at least two, and maybe more, cats think I might have the qualifications for. I'm not sure how to approach the subject. It's that same sense of queerness as when one of my best friends told me how much he always admired me. Sometimes, I think I am given far too much credit. Still, it's early yet, on several levels. Looks like we'll all see, and, I, for one, like to watch.

12 May 2015

Rambles

A day of rest. Over the last few weeks, I'd maybe gotten one or two of these. Not really my fault. See, Sempai had been off California dreaming, putting his stepfather in the ground, and, at its simplest, who else was there? My efforts have been noticed, lauded, and rewarded, for which I am grateful. Besides, the blood drama he had to deal with in a family of conservatives, crazies, and religious zealots makes my trip down south to help my father put his mother in the ground all those years and lifetimes ago almost a simple game of ketchup.

Despite all that noise, it doesn't seem there's been much going on. Oh sure, a couple walkabouts, trips to the local watering hole, Sabina and I even slummed the biggest town in the county, in what is basically the foothills, to get Cajun and play some pinball. Almost a date. Still, it's been almost like downtime, although, I am never one to complain about life being quiet. Whilst I enjoy my adventures, the dramatic side, which can sometimes rear its ugly head despite my best efforts, is something that can make me rather difficult to get along with.

It has been soggy. A lot of nice mornings and then rain in the afternoon. Sometimes rain all day. Snow above ten-thousand. Although, it has fallen a bit lower a few times. The snowpack for our river drainage is back above average, and there's flooding in flat places. Sabina's most recent radio show had a water theme to it in observance of it all. Part of me feels the burnout; wanting shorts and sandals after seeing hummingbirds and blooms. Another aspect grimly accepts this weather pattern knowing I cannot do anything about it other than make the best of it.

No bad weather, just the wrong gear...

Recently, I did draw something of a line in the sand, if only in my own mind. My sister had invited me down for my nephew's birthday. Because of obligations, I really couldn't, but I found myself feeling a little irate. It's been five years since either of my siblings have been to my house. Back when we scattered my mother's ashes up outside of the ruins of Waldorf. It's been two for my father. For some of my friends and acquaintances down below, of whom I wouldn't mind having over, it's been longer. Like since I left the fucking city.

Sometimes I get asked to come down. I him and haw. There's the fuel and my growing hatred of crowds. The fact it's becoming increasingly hard to see at night whilst driving and I don't stay up until the small hours anymore. Rationalizations, perhaps. However, and, what caused the above mentioned ire, was remembering how my father will say the road goes both ways and I find myself sick to death with those both ways being me going down and coming back up.

Point? Final statement on the matter? It's y'all's fucking turn. You want to see me? You come up the hill.

Last night, I was going through some older stuff, and came across this;

"I have this urge to pack up my belongs and move to Africa, or, maybe Tibet, disappear into the wilds, and grow a beard..."

That was right after my grandmother died. I could Conformationally Biasly say it was where the trouble started, or an aspect of it. That wanting to ramble, but we all know better. Although, it got me to think, and thinking is good.

There was a comment from the bruja, which gave me a chuckle. I should have stopped there, but it was late at night, when the demons come for tea, and I was having a whiskey to note I had no obligations for the next two days. I found the last correspondence between us; me offering sympathy and an ear right before her grandmother died. It was the day before the rollover that would take my beautiful friend's life, some ten months after I'd lost my mother.

The gypsy recently told me she believed the bruja was wearing her seatbelt when she was ejected from the vehicle, but the force of impact was enough to do what it did. Such a postulation can help assuage five years worth of slow-burning anger over the circumstance, but it doesn't change facts; dead is dead, and you do not always get to walk away from that. My friend certainly didn't, of which I am so vividly aware. I stared at the correspondence for a long time.

So it goes...

It is a day of rest. I mean to wander the Notch down-valley. Maybe take myself out for a salmon burger. Just because. Walk back up the canyon along the train tracks. Shrimp curry for supper. Tomorrow I do a museum committee thing of being at reception for the train workers, but that's more of cookout than any kind of obligation. I feel myself recharging as these words flow from my fingers. Summer's almost here and the snow on the high peaks is striking as always. I itch to get further into the Backcountry and up upon the alpine, but I know that's bit off. Sooner than I think, but later than I hope.

So it goes...

01 May 2015

Notes From the Shoulder

The first hummingbirds of the season were a week earlier than even some of the oldest old timers remember. There was still elation, for they foretell the true coming of summer. My feeders, both seed and pollen, have been busy places. The cats make valiant attempts, and I narrate their trials in the accent of Sir David Attenborough. It's hard to tell who is more amused; myself, or, the mocking cackles of feeling birds.

In twenty-two shorter than we realize days, tourist season really gets underway. The first tour bus of the season showed up during obligations. Chinese. I deal with people from all over the planet, and it is times like that I curse my lack of multi-linguistics. Sure, I know a few words in a few languages, but only enough to sound cool, or, affected, in conversation.

Despite that misanthropic face I see in the mirror, I do also realize I have many metaphoric irons in the metaphoric fire. I might be placing another into those proverbial flames. Right now, it's a whole lot of hurry up and wait. Although, cats of my acquaintance seem to be pulling for me and my patience is formidable. The magistrate pointed my existence out to some powerful people who smoke fancy cigars and drink expensive drinks. I am not sure how to approach the subject.

This is the time of waiting. Waiting for the green and the flowers. Waiting for rafting and the museums to open. Waiting for it to get hot out. Up here, we stand upon the shoulder waiting. Summer is but sun and storm away.  

18 April 2015

Some Vignettes

This past Tuesday, after hiking the canyon down, I took myself out for enchiladas. The girl behind the bar recognized me and asked of my adventures. This got a stranger, a couple seats over, to start asking me about trails. The sort of questions I am often asked at obligations, because there is this ugly suspicion I am in the know about such things.

Often I have stated that work is the eight hours of inconvenience you put up with in order to do the things you truly enjoy. Then this shabby crap happens. Of course, I live in what is termed a resort area, and find myself dealing with tourists constantly, and not just in context of what I do for money.

It would certainly seem I live my fucking job...

***

Later that day, I went for a walk around my funky tiny town with a ginger beer in hand. I'd not had afternoon tea yet, so it wasn't near cocktail hour. One of my neighbors, who goes to Antarctica for rescue services and kicks, playing fetch with his dog, nearly brained me with a tennis ball.

How awkward. He apologized. To make up for the near catastrophic turn of events, he took some of my ginger beer-an apparent good mixer-and some Icelandic vodka to make me a Moscow mule.

What a town! What a time to be alive! I fucking love this place!

***

As a DJ for the community radio station, Sabina sometimes get sent free stuff. The latest CD was all the way from New York-New Your City?!? Git a rope!-and took us both back. Dark gothic tunes that echoed to past lives down below. We listened to the compilation as we daytripped it to Breckenridge, the irony of what we'd think of as city music being played being played up in the high mountains not being lost on either of us.

It doesn't seem goth has changed that much since I stopped hanging around the vampire caste. Those jams could've been the same from ten, twenty, even thirty years ago. At first I found this sensation of stagnation disheartening.

However, to be fair, listen to Americana, bluegrass, punk, or the blues, and there's not much change over the years. A genre gets a sound and sticks to it-if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Maybe there's nothing wrong with that. Perhaps someone with a more sensitive ear than I could tell me I'm full of shit.

***

Further debate and discussion on being mountain...

Sabina's friend, Pippin, got me a bumper sticker for Old Scratch that reads Jesus would slap the shit out of you. This is a sticker of wild popularity and uproarious laughter. Random strangers have taken pictures of my vehicle just for that sticker.

I told Job it was my jab at the Elmer Gantries of the world. The charlatan Christians who preach the word, but have no conception of the spirit. My thought is if said bumper sticker offends you, you need to look in the mirror. Job tells me he used that line in church.

As we walked out of whichever establishment in the environs of Breckenridge, we had someone asking if we were the ones who had Old Scratch. Said bumper sticker had given a good jolly laugh, for which we were thanked. I shook my head after the encounter.

"Do we fucking look like that was our car?" I asked rhetorically. Sabina shot me a look and a wry smile.

"Face it, you reek of mountain," she said.

I resented that. After all, I do bathe. Occasionally.

***

Announcing its presence with a authority, snow has returned to my mountains. A couple of heavy, wet, feet of spring snow fell. I sing my praises of thanksgiving to the shift in the jetstream.

Road closures were aplenty. I would've drank my treasured last infusion of Nepali black tea and snowshoed, but I had obligations to attend to. If I believed in it, I would say fate is not without a sense of irony.

A free day awaits with the rising of the sun. There is to be a dusting overnight, maybe even during the day ahead, and we mean to get out with the shoes for what may be the last time this season, although, obviously, you never know. This is Colorado. This is the mountains.

There are further chances of precipitation in the coming week. Nothing as powerful as this last storm, but something that'll help our snow pack. This past Tuesday, I wore a t-shirt whilst on walkabout and sandals after I got home. The last three days I've worn snowboots and wool socks. That's fine. We can use the water, and, I can do with at least one more snowshoe. Sandals can wait. After all, my patience is formidable.

14 April 2015

Owning Up

I have been known to say with a degree of flippancy, routines are for squares, sighting the banality of such a thing. There are times I will own up and say my hypocrisy knows no bounds, if, for no other case, than at least it's funny. Case in point; after waking and getting myself presentable, as it were, I fed Milarepa and started my tea water. Checked the stove for pellets and recorded the morning low. Let the dog out, answering that age-old metaphysical question, and lit some incense whilst I got my pack ready for my day's walkabout. Activities very indicative of a free-day morning. Despite my appreciation of chaos, I too, have a routine.

This is owning up...

Not too long ago, Sabina was asking me about her outfit. I told her she looked luscious as usual, and glibly asked about my look. When she said mountain, I found myself a little insulted. I abhorrer stereotypes, finding them boring. To be pigeon-holed in such a way was a bit of a metaphoric backfist.

See, I thought about it; the curse of self-awareness and a mind that never shuts off. I have longish-okay, long-hair. There's the beard. My raiment most of the time is of someone either leaving for or returning from a multi-day, multi-mile backbacking trip. I drive a Subaru. Nay, I drive an older Subaru with some mechanical...eccentricities...that's all but smothered in bumper stickers.

Mountain. Sometimes, you just gotta own up. I just hope that doesn't make me boring.

The last parting shot the jewel-eyed girl said to me in those moments of Machiavelli when the break-up got good and ugly was she'd rather stay home and sleep or watch Cartoon Network than hang out with me anyway. I was boring. It was a terrible thing to say, the kind of barb spoken in the tongues of pure hate one uses when they are absolutely not getting their way and really want to wound.

I did not rise to her bait. During that period after the glass broke, right before my birthday, and mid-October of that year, she tried that sort of thing a lot. Hateful asides whispered from dark corners, trying to get a reaction. I didn't feed that dragon, but endeavored to rise above. There were a couple of reasons I was still in places she could encounter me during that period, perhaps the most poignant was to show to her and her harpy of a sister, whom was much more Machiavelli at times, that she didn't break me.

However, I was bothered by being called boring. I can own up. Certainly, I found myself being entertained, but perhaps I had sank into stagnation and not realized it. I remember speaking with Jezebel on the subject.

"I've know you since you were nineteen, and, one thing I definitely know about you is you hate to be bored," Jezebel said. "It's almost like you're afraid it. If I really wanted to hurt your feelings, I do just as she did; call you boring to see if you'd wince."

Ergo, I found myself having to own up. Jezebel would go on to tell me she was proud that I didn't rise to jewel-eyed girl's bait and that I was still one of the most entertaining cats she's ever known. Sometimes, late at night, when the demons come for tea, I wonder if she was just saying that as a balm for my verbal shock. Other times, I remember it when I worry I am slipping into mundanity.

So, I own up; I have a routine. I am mountain, although, Sabina digs the term mountain bohemian, but that probably has to do with the artifacts and funk-because you gotta have the funk!-about the house and property. I loath being bored, even for perceived nanosecond.

My hypocrisy knows no bounds...

There are those I know who want to hear stories of my adventures. What meals I've cooked recently or what books I've read and my thoughts upon them. Maybe I am entertaining. Perhaps, when it comes down to brass tacks and bedposts, it only matters that own up to what I am and do not find myself banal because of it.

12 April 2015

Two Minds

When at obligations, if the sun is out, the temperature is above roughly thirty-five, and the wind's not howling, I tend to eat outside. The bench I sit at is referred to as the veranda. In my direct field of vision, is a tree, which, at this time has begun to leaf out. Even in town, six-hundred vertical up, I see evidence of the deciduous trees getting ready to sprout leaves. Insects dance in the lazy afternoon and early evening light, omens of warmer times.

The part of me that likes to spend late spring through early autumn living in shorts and sandals is excited by everything being flung a month ahead-even meteorological prophets are echoing this. The part of me that watches the state's snow pack and has found enjoyment in snowshoeing in a late-season blizzard through town to check the post knows it's too soon. I wonder about wildfires and worry about the river rafting season.

Over the last few weeks, the pattern has been warmth from the weekend through mid-week, then, weather comes in. At first, it is prophesied to be impressive, but as the storms get closer, they seem to fall apart, leaving just a dusting and a cool, breezy day in the afterglow. Once more, a storm is foretold, and it is supposed to be impressive. Part of me is cynical, but another aspect holds out hope. Whilst I am anxious to be able to go further into the Backcountry without snowshoes or fear of avalanches, I know those deep drifts are our world's water towers.

A few weeks ago, whilst day tripping to Leadville-at ten-thousand two-hundred-we were greeted with a rainy afternoon. I really do enjoy rain, whether it's a gentle shower or a powerful thunderstorm. At that moment, I felt the fear and loathing reserved for the characters in Lovecraft stories, knowing the rain is damaging to the snow pack.

Part of me looks forward to planting at the community garden and soaking my feet in the river after walkabout. Part of me wonders if there'll be enough river water to get my feet wet. Rain keeps the fire danger down, but does not do much for the water table. Whilst part of me is cynical about the coming weather, part of me waits with a glimmer of hope that it will help, rather than hurt.  

05 April 2015

Basecamp

Just as I spent a portion of my life wishing I could be someone else, there was a large part of my life spent wanting to be elsewhere. Perhaps it started innocently enough; the coffee table books about Africa in my great-grandmother's house that sits on one of my shelves to this very day, or her artifacts from China. I've always been a sucker for documentaries, even and especially about nature, so the far-flung locals that were featured captivated me. There was also the steady diet of sci-fi, fantasy, and comic books growing up, feeding an active-overactive?-imagination.

The bullying made somewhere, anywhere, a better option. Of course, one cannot outrun their monsters, and anyone who would try to tell you different is either daft or trying to sell something. Still, being an aberration, I've often felt like a bit of an outsider, which can be more bothersome than you might imagine. So, the idea of finding an elsewhere that it didn't matter how curious I was held its sway.

Whilst never possessed of the gypsy mojo of some of the cats I've known, that subconscious search was constant. It's perhaps the reason some teenage boy's ranting to a Led Zeppelin song when I was seventeen made such a lasting impression. The myth and magic of Kashmir. I had something to find.

You would think, having that feeling of outsiderishness, it would have been grand that I fell in with vampires for a bit. Not so much. As with any social caste, there is the strata, and with castes like the vampires or punks or artist-types or pagans or metalheads, there are the degrees of how alienated you've been to close ranks with whatever group. Whether you're just a tourist carousing in someone else's skin for a weekend and a thrill or the one who is so strange that you're alienated amongst the alienated. And, of course, there is the subtext of who keeps it the most real, those who try to give lessons on being the most outsiderie.

Fuck that noise...

***

I wasn't actively looking for Kashmir when we stumbled upon it. Ain't that always the way? Of course, I was thinking of elsewhere at the time. Sabina and I had extricated ourselves from the vampire caste and were exploring new avenues of things to do and reconnecting with either accidental or intentionally buried aspects of ourselves. The recent life changes made me restless.

To be trite, it was like falling in love; something I knew head, heart, and gut, and no one could tell me otherwise. Suddenly the somewhere else to be had a tangible location. Myth and magic made manifest. We had a goal, and we achieved it.

***

It's coming up on the anniversary of our taking possession of the House of Owls and Bats. Of coming home. I'd be stating the obvious to say this place still sings to me in esoteric tongues. A human lifetime is not enough to throughly explore the totality of it, which is part of the magic.

A human lifetime...too short. It is why I ache for the lifespan of a star; all the things I want to do might only be accomplished on a cosmic timespan. This is why I have decided not to die. I'm busy.

I no longer desire to be somewhere, anywhere else. Whilst being an aberration, I can still feel like a bit of an outsider, but I'm somewhere populated by other exiles and drop-outs. If there are those who would preen and posture over being more outsiderie than anyone else, and there probably are, I've either not met them, or dismissed them out of hand.

There is still the desire to travel. I still want to see Africa and Tibet. Alaska and Patagonia. Spain and Greece and Australia. Cambodia and Peru. To see whales and perhaps go into orbit, if not step off world to somewhere really alien. The thing is, now I have a basecamp to come back to and be contented to be back home.

24 March 2015

More Springtime Dispatches


Trail booty! I've been hunting for one of these for years... 

I show my amore for Sabina by collecting her interesting rocks whilst on walkabout. She does so for me by finding me bits of skeleton. Other couples might tarry about with jewels and cards and candies and all that other romantic yotz. We trade bones; the bones of Gaia, the bones of other species. That's true love.

***

The historical society has been holding the Cabin Fever Dance for six years now. Many of the attendees have known me for longer. Yet, everymuthafuckingyear the question of why I don't dance is raised.

"Well, you see, I have this horrific genetic condition," I reply. "And I don't mean my connective-tissue disorder."

"Oh? What's that?" It is asked.

"Caucasian," I say.

Dancing at a vampire den is not rocket science; just move with the music and relax in the knowledge you probably can't look half as ridiculous as some of the other tossers out on the floor. In fact, if you want to see something funny, watch a group of vampires dance. Better yet, film it and play it back at slightly faster speed, seeing as that caste likes to do everything on a dance floor in slow motion.

Dancing all punk-rock like-e.g. moshing-is basically a street fight you don't have to worry about getting thrown in jail for. Just know when to duck and hope you don't get too banged up. So I've heard.

The concept of town-dance dancing is neither my cup of tea nor glass of water. Better luck asking me to write a sonnet and mean it. Ergo, my remarking of genetic issues and watching from dark corners with my wine.

This, however, did not stop the matron from dragging me out on the dance floor. Something about loosening me up. I get any looser, I might whistle when I walk. Although I hugged her after the fact, I still called her cantankerous.

"Hey, it's me," she said completely unapologetically.

***

I broke out a pair of sandals for the first time in months. We had a chiminea that night. Everything seems a month ahead in terms of seasonal changes and temperatures. One meteorological prophet suggested that perhaps the state's snow pack has already peaked. I told a traveler the other day I've not snowshoed since the beginning of the month what for the quality of snow. When we've wandered, it's been south faces with gaiters. We check for ticks.

A few inches of snow fell overnight, mostly melted away by noon. I was wandering the Bull's Head, searching for a particular artifact. It is either still buried under the snow on the backside of the rock formation or it has been moved. If moved, I have a pretty good idea of where and just might come calling.

There was a breeze and bright sun. More snow is foretold for overnight, but a repeat of last night's in terms of accumulation. Then warm again for many days. A musician of my acquaintance greeted me with happy sprung! the other night. Thus is the cycle.

Out in the bush is where I hear the rhythms and rhymes of the cosmos, and, if I could, might dance to it. Coming out from the backside of the Bull's Head by the Diamond Mine, I looked at a slice of rock I like to scrabble. Most of its ice and snow has melted from it and I felt the itch to climb. This got me to smile.

"Soon enough," I whispered.

17 March 2015

Dynamic, A Hymn


An iced-over waterfall up what we call Mosquito Gulch, two days back. The ice is far too rotten to be climbed, and I lack the equipment and knowledge to do so. For now...

Something moved in overnight, which brought a cloak of heavy gray to the first light of morning. I am a sucker for the shades of Grey. The mist gave a damp chill, an illusion to how cold it really was. I grabbed extra layers in case. Best to be prepared.

It was not even early morning when the sun first tore through the murk. By ten, I was seeing blue above. The clouds slithered and danced along the mountainsides in the countenance of Chinese dragons. I marveled as they faded away like dreamtime phantasms in golden light. By noon, one had to wrinkle and squint and give a benefit of a doubt to find even the faintest suggestion of a cloud across the turquoise sky. The air was warm.

When describing the aspects of Byzantium that are the tiny towns, which dot our Sahel, Sempai will wax Norman Rockwell. I find this funny, given his big city-Atlanta-sensitivities and very open homosexuality. Some of the volunteers say things don't change much 'round here. I find myself thinking yes, but no.

Within the borders of the municipalities, one can find a certain sense of stasis. This is a given in small towns, be it rural North Carolina or a ranching station out on the far-flung badlands of eastern Colorado. Rural is rural in that regard.

And yet, this place is ever-changing. I watch-I like to watch-the sculpting of freeze of thaw. Of wind and snow. The changes wrought by rain and rockfall. Nothing is stays exactly the same.

I own up that I am not as well-traveled as I'd like. There are cats of whom I'm acquainted that have lived in far more places than me. Be that as it may, I believe I have found my place in the world, and, of all the places I have lived, this environment is, by far, the most dynamic.

15 March 2015

Springtime Distpatches


The Peacock Pavilion at the House of Owls and Bats, where we shall be cocktail houring after walkabout...

A day of rest in the middle of what is shaping up to be a busy couple of weeks. The craziness started with Sabina's nephew getting married a week ago upstate. I find increasingly going down below for anything is a chore. Strange memories, good, bad, and indifferent, are stirred up like black mud in deep puddles, blurring my vision of the present. As I look back west toward my mountains, I feel as though I am in exile. It is only when I climb to the thinner atmosphere once again I find I can breathe.

My daughter was there for the ceremony and came up to the house afterward. We had mussels with a lovely South African wine for one meal and grilled beer brats for another. There was a walkabout involved at one point. The only one I've had in a week.

The time change always fucks with my already wonky sleep patterns. Forward or back does not matter. I spend days feeling torn and tired and murdered. Between a friend/comrade-in-limbs being on her annual Florida pilgrimage and covering a half day for Sempai it was another six-day stint of obligations. By yesterday I was slap-happy exhausted and all but begging for the opportunity to stab someone in the gallbladder. With a spork. Twice.

There was a birthday party for a neighbor at the local watering hole. A round and civilities. For not even catching a buzz, I remember little of it. As a new calendar week dawns, the mundanity of what I do for money not withstanding, I find myself again a busy man. There is the historical society meeting and the beginning of season orientation meet for the community garden. A historical talk and the annual Cabin Fever Dance, of which I always do the clean up at. Somewhere in there is Sabina's radio show and a daytime roadtrip to Leadville for something to do, and, I suppose I should try to sleep some.

It's funny, for all I consider myself misanthropic and solitary I certainly do have a lot going on, and pretty much all of it involves interaction with my fellow primates. Once upon a time, I had an online handle of Paradoxical Misanthrope as a nod to going monkey watching in crowded places like the Sixteenth Street Mall and juke joints. That was long ago. A time when I could deal with crowds much better than I do now.

After a somewhat decent snow Friday, it has once more warmed up. I've been wearing t-shirts without layers more often than not the last week. Snow recedes around the house. Stay dry is the neighborly greeting recited like a mantra when walking around town and the scent of muddy thaw is thick in the mountane air. There has been grilling.

It's been a week since I've been out into the bush. This, of course, will not do. I look out my parlor window at the far side of the valley, the south faces, knowing where I'll be wandering. I need to get out for I have been busy and need to breathe again.

03 March 2015

Scenes From a Tuesday Morning


Shot of the altar. Much more reflective of our views these days...

I pad about the house with an infusion of jasmine tea. Mozart is my jam. Outside is overcast with light flurries. Meteorological prophecy portents of snow later in the day and into this evening, but I remain hopefully cynical about the amounts, seeing as it hasn't dumped much more than six inches on us over the last few storms. However, the statewide snow pack is closer to ninety percent of average than it had been, and, our particular river drainage is over one-hundred percent, thus, the reason behind me being hopeful.

Incense perfumes the house, as always. The levels of profundity of my burning incense has waxed and waned throughout the years. I can admit, in some contexts, it can be as automatic as turning a light switch. Other times, I watch the mysteries of the cosmos unfurl within the tendrils of scented smoke. Sabina once told me one of her favorite mental images of me is lighting a stick, watching the smoke, and placing it in the burner upon the altar. Some such silliness about the look of contemplation and reverence.

Both of us get complimented on the way we smell. Being glib, I mention the marvel of bathing. It elicits a chuckle, and then incense is brought up. We burn it constantly, to the point that unless a stick is burning, like a smoker with a lit cigarette, we hardly notice the underlying scent that hangs about us like an aura. I have had someone reach over and breathe deep. I've had someone reach out and touch my hair because there is so much of it. Depending on how misanthropic I feel dictates how deeply I growl or don't.

You'd think someone who is nearly six and a half feet tall, lithe-a nice way of say emaciated-pierced, tattooed, and bedecked in one or two trinkets would be used to such things. It'd probably elicit a chuckle or an of course with some baseless reference to paradoxical nature I've supposedly nurtured if I said I don't like to draw a lot of attention to myself. Oh sure, I don't really want to be another brick in the metaphoric wall, but I've met those cats who go out of their way to make sure they're noticed, and, observed insecurities aside, it seems like a lot of fucking effort. Even and especially when you're just going to a corner store for a soda and a candy bar.

Such are some of my muses and meditations on a Tuesday morning with Mozart as my jam...

I try to decide how to spend my day. There are no professional obligations. I have books to return to the library and the trash should be dealt with. A new coffeehouse is opening in space of the one that shut down back in late January, and a cha'i could potentially be in order. After all, it is across the street from the library. If Miguel Loco's about I could pick his brain from information about a trek I'd like to do through Herman's Gulch, up around to Dry Gulch come summer. The world is my metaphoric oyster, or some other savory mollusk.

Tomorrow, I convinced Sabina to snowshoe Dry Gulch with me. During the winter, part of the trailhead is snowed in, and one must walk from the foot of Loveland Pass; dirty, crusty snow and scent of diesel fumes for about a quarter mile. Understandably not enjoyable, but once you round that curve and pass the Boneyard to first look into the gulch itself, it's like a kiss from the Divine. With tongue.

This is the time of year when the snow starts to shift its countenance. There's still a bit of shoeing to be had, some even in just a t-shirt. I am looking forward to our trek, partially because I've not been up Dry Gulch since early autumn. We'll be roasting a chicken for supper, and, when we return home from walkabout, there'll be relaxing with a cocktail or three, because that's how we roll.


A scene from a recent cocktail hour at the House of Owls and Bats. My glass had lemonade in it. Seriously. You believe me riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight?

19 February 2015

A Hymn for Snow

Although the meteorological prophet over at CAIC called the storm that rolled in Sunday, lasting through Monday, a return to winter, I felt the snow had more of the wet-paste spring snow countenance. Certainly, Tuesday was brisk as the wind blew Tibetan from the Roof of the World, whipping snowdevils this way and that, but the last two days have been a return to milder temperatures, which have characterized the last few weeks. There are patches of bare ground appearing around the house. Out snowshoeing in the Hollow, the snow varied from crust to dust to powder depending on how shaded the area was by virtue of trees and being on a north face.

Perhaps it is because of the angle of the sun climbing higher on its march to kiss the celestial equator-with tongue-for the equinox, or having that scent of mud in the air more and more in my nostrils, but I stand by my supposition of an early spring. Prophecy speaks of snow again, and a decent one, but I am skeptical. I am skeptical by nature. The jetstream has been such the big storms have been missing Colorado. Our statewide snowpack now stands at seventy-seven percent. Grotesque. However, we have it better than other locations in 'Merican Maghreb. Even if it does pan out to be a decent storm, I think it'll be more like a snow we'd see in March or April, which means heavy and wet and a lot of it will melt away once the storm passes and it warms up again.

Truthfully, I am hoping my skepticism is misplaced. Mostly for the snowpack, although, I'd like some nice fresh snow on which to shoe through. I do not prey unless it is in context of the food chain, but I am thinking of finding a chicken to sacrifice under the auspice of getting a little more moisture. A bit of sympathetic magic, and a chicken is more likely than finding a virgin.

12 February 2015

The Student, The Master, The Changes of Roles, and The Degrees of Cool


Thanksgiving, 1994; I had been twenty-two for two months and change. My daughter had been alive for a week. I only had one piercing, no tattoos, and had yet to sprout a gray hair...

For those just tuning in, I was not always the hoopy frood you know now. Very far from it. I was a rather awkward youth. Part of it was being an aberration; being too tall, too skinny, with eyes too big for the rest of my face. Another aspect was the bullying, which nurtured my solitary nature.

There were times I wanted to be someone-anyone-else so badly it physically hurt. Perhaps that is why I despise the concept of a persona so much now is during those ugly, painful, awkward years, I more than once tried to be something I wasn't. More than once, the results were disastrous. I have the metaphysical scars to prove it.

Once, when speaking of someone I admired to the point of idolization with my x-wife, I mentioned hoping to one day achieve their level of cool. My x-wife, the rebelling good Catholic girl who ended up with me to piss off her parents-to this day, I'd speculate-suggested instead of trying to aspire to someone else's level of coolness, perhaps I should aspire to my own. It was a backfist of perspective, which helped me ditch the idea of trying to be something I wasn't. Years later, I knew a cat who would speak of the importance of living one's own myth. Sometimes I wonder if his advice and my x-wife's are interconnected in queer way I've yet to fully understand.

When I first met Job, I thought he was so cool you could store cuts of meat inside him for a month. He was the master, and I, the eager student. We'd hang out at coffee and I'd devour his insights. His advice when I had a problem was invaluable. He was my guru. Me saying I was going to talk to Job was like the monks of old going to speak to the head of the order.

I think it was perhaps six months back I first noticed my conversations with Job had changed, and that was beyond the fact of his becoming born again. Certainly, we had, and still do, stimulating dialogues, but suddenly, I wasn't the one seeking advice. I was not the one thanking my friend for the insights.

We've known each other for twenty-one years and change now. He might be eleven years my senior, but I am no longer so wet behind the ears. Even back in the day, he appreciated what I had to say. Nowadays, it seems he treasures it even more.

I find myself queerly shocked...

During one of our conversations, he told me how he always looked forward to hanging out for my perspectives, because apparently not everyone sees things as I do. This is a good thing in my mind, because the world would be a really fucking boring place if that were the case. From his perspective, my passion was something he saw as a fire that burned hotter than a star, and like Hendrix, he wanted to stand next to it. He told me some of his acquaintances now think I'm his imaginary friend, because a cat like me shouldn't/couldn't exist. That many of those times I was going to his for insight and advice, he was taking from my perspective ways to, as he likes to put it, build a better mousetrap.

"I've always wanted to be Robbie Grey when I grew up," Job told me recently. I told him he gives me far too much credit.

I find myself wrestling with this. When did the student become the master? How did I ever get so cool as to win the borderline idolization of one of the coolest cats I've ever known? To me, this is shocking.

The man doesn't even drink, for fuck's sake, so I can't dismiss it so easily...

At one point, in recent years, I realized I truly do have back in the day stories. I know I've gotten where I have along this Tao of Chaos through a sense tenacity and perhaps a little-a lot?-of strange luck. Yet, when I talk to Job, I go into the conversation feeling like that wide-eyed whelp from years back. Nowadays, he talks to me as his guru and I don't know how to approach the subject.

Perhaps someone might say I've come into my own. It seems, were you to ask Job, I did that a very long time ago. Me, trying to work out this change in our metaphoric roles, thinks it's just a step along the way. Which one of us is right is purely conjecture.


January twenty-seventh, 2015. I've been forty-two for almost five months and my daughter is twenty. I have more piercings and tattoos. My hair's as thick and wavy as ever, although, there's a rather interesting blaze of gray along the right side. Just a few of the things that have changed...

10 February 2015

Thoughts on a Potentially Early Spring Day

I got out of bed to a brief blast of snow. Nary a dusting. I brewed lapsang souchong for the occasion, and, as the sun has come out to melt the fluff, I questioned if it was a waste of time. Stepping outdoors, it's cooler than it's been the last few days, but it doesn't feel like winter, instead early spring. That sense, the smell of mud, has been around for since the sun came back.

Is winter's back broken already?

Perhaps I should not be surprised. Autumn came early this year, so, it follows spring might too. It still snows in spring up here. Fuck, I've seen snow in summer. Remember; mountains. I don't mind the mild air, despite my layers to be out in pretty well anything. As long as we have a decent snowpack, I'll deal. There can be the deep snow for shoeing up higher-although, hopefully not cement and mashed potatoes-and snow not so deep I post-hole here closer to home. I could dig that.

Last week, it snowed six inches of heavy wet warm snow on what would've been a free day for me. Sabina went snowshoeing with one of her pals whilst I covered for Sempai at obligations whilst he engaged in a preservation conference. Professional capital, I rationalized. Besides, I got to have the Matron volunteer with me, which doesn't happen as much as it used to, and that's a treat. At times, she seems less able to suffer fools than I during a roadway closure.

After six days of straight professional obligations and nearly a fortnight from being out on walkabout, after sleeping until I got up, we hit the trail. Like an acquaintance of mine, we started out one destination in mind, but ended up bushwhacking to another.


Sabina was intentionally artistic whilst I was unintentionally rockstar...

We had been to the Snowdrift Mine about five years back. A couple of the buildings and the boiler are still in fairly decent shape. There was graffiti indicating that someone had been there a year ago, and a mark from a neighbor from 1997, which we intend to show him the photograph of the next time we see him. It was a lovely warm day for bushwhacking and scrabbling. When we finally got back down, we noted the local watering hole was open. I ran Milarepa home and we went for a shot and beer and loco camaraderie.

Recently, we had a city acquaintance asking for an afternoon hangout-on a Sunday!-and we had to decline. The practical reasons were twofold; my daughter's visiting, which is first and foremost, but also, during either ski or summer tourist season, driving east on a Sunday is an exercise in road rage and formidable patience. Besides, and I seriously think perhaps only Sabina and my daughter understand this, I left the city, and have worked very hard to insure the only reason I need to go down there is for familial obligations, which, ten times out of nine, I still try to get out of.  

Caustic of me? Oh, perhaps. Remember; misanthrope.

However, there are those I want to see the funk-because you gotta have the funk!-of our Sahel. To go on a walkabout or have a cocktail over at our little cantina, which, sometimes is only open because the proprietors decided they themselves wanted to have a drink, but, then, again, what better reason? Perhaps have a meal and listen to some music or sit outside to watch the sunset and the unfolding of the stars away from the light pollution of the greater metroplex.

Such are the thoughts that ricochet through my skull on what is potentially an early spring day. I finish my tea and start my breakfast before walkabout. My daughter will be up in a few days and I cannot wait to see her. I know it will snow again, but I question whether or not even a vicious blizzard would carry winter's harsh bite. Perhaps it doesn't matter, just as long as the snowpack is such we don't have to worry about wildfires come summer.