"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

27 January 2015


Some shots of the river. The blue ice is always captivating...

Although there have been some cold days and some snowy days, by and large, the month has been rather warm. A meteorological prophet whose gospels I read has dubbed it June-Uary. As the direct sunlight has returned, chasing away the long dark, the temperature has warmed. The last two days have had highs in the very early sixties. Last evening, as I arrived home from obligations, I caught the scent of mud. Of thawing.

It's not unheard of to have a January thaw. Although, I cannot recall smelling mud so early. Catching that scent in early February is shocking. I have been recording the weather-highs, lows, and conditions-for about four years now. Yesterday, I noted my first smelling of mud this year. The reason being, people's memories, even and especially when it comes to weather, is short. I want to be able to document when the first omens of thaw appear. Geekery aside, it is part of the human affliction-both as a merit and a flaw-to seek out patterns.

With the day's high being sixty-two at ninety-one sixty, I did not bother with a jacket of fleece vest whilst on walkabout. All those layers were in my pack. The trail I wandered featured mud and mushy snow. Like my layers, I carried microspikes and snowshoes, but neither were needed. The sun was hot upon my face. Part of me rather enjoyed it.

Mount Pendleton as seen from across the valley. From behind my house, of course, it is far bigger...

Some rock I may find myself scrabbling once the snow melts...

There is a rumor of snow, scant, though it may be, in the next day or so. Nothing major. None of my meteorological oracles speak to a big change in the pattern in the next ten days. Of course, foretelling the weather involves aspect of chaos mathematics, which makes predictions dubious beyond just a few days. Still, as I breathe in the scent of mud, I catch myself wondering if the prophets with be calling the next month July-Ruary.   

22 January 2015


It's shaping up to be quite the week. Queerly exhausting in some way that probably only makes sense to me. The madness began Sunday when a bluesman of my admiration was broken beneath the blade of the leukemia that devoured him. I was the one who broke the news to our bookkeeper, who was actually friends with the man. She's one tough bitch with a scathing New Zealand accent-the way kiwis pronounce bastard is just fucking cool-and watching her reaction to the news was just painful.

Then the knowledge of two coffeehouses I dig-dug?!?-closing down. Some of it was a shock. A bit was melancholy. I think it got me nostalgic.

The last bit involves a man I've not spoken to in thirteen years and change lost his war with cancer. The other friend, the one who told me the news of the one cat's illness a year ago, apologized for not telling me sooner. In the whirlwind I'd been forgotten. That didn't bother me. It'd been so long and we'd drifted into that space where old friendships go to die.

 I do confess to being bothered by the fact it was a cancer death. Something I had an eighteen month front row seat to watching. There are those in this world I do not like, and I'd not wish the disease, or, watching what it does to someone close on them for money or godhood.

I find myself feeling tired and emotional and all too willing to stab something, or, someone, thirty-seven times in the chest-I might miss at thirty-six and thirty-eight seems just a little excessive. Coming home from obligations involved the Thursday chores of watering my plants and trimming my beard. I lit some incense to that cat I once knew, to the wreckage that's been the last four days, and poured some whiskey. Despite the distance in orbits, I caught myself muttering words from another departed friend of mine as I toasted youthful memories;

"Goodbye, my friend..."

Having purged words from my skull, letting fly across the spider's web of cyber into the either, ether, and or, I find myself standing in the afterglow. Perhaps I will take note of a catharsis after eating something and collapsing into sleep. Maybe it doesn't really matter. The last four days offered a queer sequencing of events, which would have the more superstitious wondering about the omens and portends contained therein. I weathered it, for I maintain I've yet to encounter the force in the universe that can break me, and, perhaps that's simply enough.

Yeh, over the years we drifted apart. However, due to bone, blood, muscle, sinew, and skin, it is anatomically impossible to have a shadow cross my heart. Just saying...    

20 January 2015

Remembering Paris

Something of a musical mantra for me. Contextually, it seemed to fit...

"What goes best with a cup of coffee? Another cup."-Henry Rollins

I heard news from the gypsy today, no joy, a coffeehouse I used to frequent has closed its doors after nearly thirty years of operation. It was enough to pin me in my seat, like hearing an old friend you'd not spoken to in a few years suddenly died. Certainly, said old friend and I hadn't been that close in recent times, I think it's been established I can be bad at that, but during our time the closeness couldn't be severed with a laser.

Back before I was tea fiend, I was a java junkie. There was a button to that effect on my pack, and, if it's on a button, then it must be true. The first time I stepped into the place was early in my roaring twenties, with a few cats I graduated high school with that insisted on playing Sir Mix A Lot's Baby's Got Back just one more time in the tapedeck. I wanted to murder the lot of them.

We stepped in the door to Ministry's Psalm 69 playing at ear-splitting levels. The air was so thick with smoke if you wanted a non-smoking section, you'd need to lay on the floor and hold your breath. There was a used bookstore and the cat running it was engaged in two games of chess at once.

"Oh, fuck yes," I whispered to myself with the most wicked grin of joy upon my face. I was in love.

It's hard to recall my favorite memory of the place. The best story. There were so many. Times by myself, scribbling away in a notebook with black India ink or reading tomes of forgotten lore. Games of rummy with Jezebel until the small hours between late night and early morning of spirited debates with philosophically minded friends of the time. Games of chess with my daughter. There was the time Jezebel told me if I really wanted to see if a girl was my type, I needed to take her our for coffee.

"What you need to do, is bring her here, order a pot, and write," she said. "You know how you get! Sit her down, ignore her for a couple hours as you bury your nose in your notebook and see how she reacts when, after those couple hours, you try to read to her what you wrote. If she doesn't tell you to 'fuck off', she might be worth keeping."

Then came the time, many years later, when Sabina, after she said she wanted to run her fingers through my hair, but before we got together was subjected to me purging words out of my skull over a cup of coffee. It could be arrogance or the Confirmation Bias made manifest, but she listened intently to every word I read back. The expression on her face was what I would come to know as her I love you smile.

One of my friends stopped being just an acquaintance at that coffeehouse. Job advised me on how to deal with violence wrought by the jewel eyed girl over a cup. A year later, over another cup, I would be consoling him about his impending divorce.

That would be the last time I set foot in there. Perhaps it's for the best. The summer my grandmother died, the bookstore was closed down in favor of a wine bar. I likes me my wines, but it did something to the place. A spark was extinguished that could never be reignited. Stories I'd here after I moved away from the greater metroplex spoke to place becoming even more gentrified, and that's just boring.

I went on walkabout to digest the news I had been told, getting entranced by the snow and trees and rocks. It's been well over twenty years since I first set foot in that coffeehouse, first met that old friend that has now passed on. Nothing lasts forever.

After my walk, I had to go get wine. On my way home, I stopped by one of the local coffeehouses, which is in the process of shutting down, the owners unable to live at altitude. The place has a used bookstore in it. This twisted bit of symmetry is not lost on me.

I got myself a cha'i and picked up a few books. At first, when I walked in the door, I tried to tell myself I have more than enough books, but I realized that was as absurd as one of my audiophile friends looking at a rack of vinyl and saying they have more than enough music. Bidding the proprietor a good day, I stepped out to warm mountain afternoon. I thought about that coffeehouse down below now gone and the one I'd just left that would be closing in three more days. With my cha'i in hand, I toasted the surrounding peaks. The peaks are now and the coffeehouse was the past. Then and now. So it goes.

Words to live by...

13 January 2015

Mystery in the Hollow

One of the-many-things I love about where I live is there are still treasures and adventures to be found not far from the doorstep. That, after all our years of living here, there are still things to discover. Things, which can sometimes confound old-timers and historians. It is part of the mysticism of our Sahel.

The wooded area between Wide-Awake and Daisy Gulch is an area I call the Hollow. I will maintain that I never choose a moniker for a someone or something, but that it chooses whatever, and it is up to whatever to figure out what that means. A neighbor/professional acquaintance had told me of ruins up Daisy Gulch shortly before my birthday. Mentioning ruins to Sabina is akin to mentioning heroin to a junkie. She all but salivates, which is vaguely amusing given my archaeological interests.

Upon our initial exploration of the area, we found a few fairly well-defined roads, but the ruins we were told of were closer to tree-line, which we didn't get to. There were still some things we found, and being back in those woods during leaf season was striking. We resolved to go snowshoeing there come winter.

The was not without its challenges what with CDOT liking to plow just about everyone else under with snow in the name of keeping the roadways open-thanks, government!-making places to pull off a bit of dubious proposition. It was by luck and a whim we found one such spot the other day. Although, there were snowmobile tracks marking out most of the roads in the Hollow, Sabina did note one trail we had wanted to explore that was pristine. I broke through the deep snow to quite the bit of fascination.

Ice crystals over an open mine tunnel...

Formations inside the tunnel, standing like phantom sentinels...

Anyone who has been playing along at home knows Tuesday is my usual walkabout day. Aside from the fact that routines are for squares, Sabina and I were both savagely curious about our find. I decided to do something other than walking.

The upper part of the valley is part of a National Historic Landmark District, which is sort of like a national park, and, thus, in some dysfunctional way, fulfilling a childhood wish of mine to live in either a museum or a nature preserve. It goes without saying there are a lot of Historically-minded cats up here and we know a few. That was how I ended up in the basement of the courthouse talking to the county archivist.

Page one of the documentation of the Blue Bell Mine of which our find is based to be a part of...

Back in my roaring twenties, if I said I was curious about something, Jezebel would warn me about getting into trouble, and, sometimes, my dear friend was right. However, there have been times when my curiosity has led to high adventure. I never worry about it either way. See, although curiosity can kill a cat, said cat has more than one life, ergo, making a single death a mere trifle instead of anything of consequence.

06 January 2015

A Balmy Day in Deep Winter

That was a pretty impressive windstorm the day before. One meteorological oracle mentioned gusts being recorded between thirty-five and eighty miles per hour. Despite their viciousness, there was a taste of chinook to their countenance. I would record the day's high at fifty degrees. By night, the winds had abated.

With the morning came the assessment and clean up of damage; some property funk-because you gotta have the funk!-had been knocked about. It wasn't much effort to fix this. Surprising, given how the house groaned and shook in those gales, but I don't complain. If re-hanging a couple strings of Tibetan prayer flags is the worst thing that happens to me in a day, then I am doing all right.

It was with excitement as I did these quick chores I realized the next two days would be spent in adventure clothes; this time of year meaning shell-pants-not as heavy as snowpants-and my snow boots. Whilst I am generally not the type to divide my wardrobe into work/play/party/walkabout clothes-that's entirely too much time and effort-I also can clean up nice enough for the magistrate and matron's holiday party that does not include me looking like I just came down off of Bierstadt in a blizzard.

There are girls and some-for the most part gay-men I know who have shoes for every occasion. Most of my shoes have to do with walking, from the snow boots to the as-long-as-it's-a-dry-trail-but-better-for-town-shoes. One girl had a pair she called her-and I am not making this up-walk-like-a-slut-shoes. I tried to emulate her gait in those things once and got laughed at. Uproariously. I took this in stride, for I am awkwardly and otherwise aberrantly put together, and if you don't believe me, come with me some time to Miguel Loco's when I try on a jacket or a long-sleeve mid-layer. It is both high comedy and utter frustration.

For the last two Tuesdays I'd promised Milarepa a walkabout, but other obligations got in the way. Time came to make good on a marker. It was one of those clear deep winter days I do enjoy; light breeze and warm sun. The type where a thermal and t-shirt almost seems excessive and your mid layer and shell stay inside your pack the whole time. I wore a cap instead of a beanie for the first time about a month.

The Maine Mine. Ours were the only tracks...

Although, I strap them to my pack-better to be over-prepared than under-I have never used my snowshoes on the 730. We encountered one person using a set on the way up, and he told me it was an exercise in futility. When we arrived at the ruins of the Maine, halfway to the mine for which the trail is named, the snow, whilst deep in places, wouldn't have warranted shoes. Even if we did both post-hole a few times wandering about the ruins.

I might be anthropomorphizing, but that looks like one happy hound...

Lately, when Milarepa and I have done the 730, we don't go much further than the Maine. I joked the ruins are our little clubhouse. Soon enough, we'll do that push all the way up the monument to see Clifford. This summer, I want to do some off-trail exploring of Brown's Gulch. Tales of other ruins, some not so picked over, ring in my ears.

Brown's Gulch, like Kearny, is pretty steep. Sabina once trekked some of Brown's with me and did not enjoy it. Milarepa is pretty intrepid, and, like Whistler would do, cries if I climb up something she cannot. It really doesn't bother me to have some trails I explore be ones I only take a hound. Sometimes, four-legged companionship is better than two.

03 January 2015

Five Orbits On

Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain, The Beatles Let it Be, The Rolling Stones Let it Bleed on the stereo, and a tumbler of whiskey. It is snowing. Puttanesca cooks upon the stove. There is catharsis.

Five years later, I still miss you, mother...terribly...