"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

22 December 2016

Holiday Meditation

Get to know me well enough, and you realize I don't get into holidays much. At some point, I began thinking of them as a sham. Why should one day have greater importance than another?

This time of year, especially, has had a tendency to fill me with a special kind of vitriol. The hypocrisy of goodwill and thinly veiled cruelties. Blatant materialism. On a personal level, I've gone through bad break ups, deaths, and drama, both with blood relatives and social acquaintances, this time of the year that have left a fair amount of psychic scarring.

For those just tuning in, the day after Thanksgiving, for twenty seconds and four chest compressions, I was an orphan, My father, with pneumonia and septic shock was sentenced to the sickhouse. Now, that would plumb rattle some folks. Me? I kept my reptile zen, because someone had to. My sister has her moments of melodrama and my brother has his moments of jerking his knees, which can make you go blind, because when you knee-jerk, you do not see reason. Someone had to talk to doctors and nurses and sign forms and make grotesque decisions. That someone ended up being me. I have been lauded for it, but I'd rather never go through it again.

Three, getting close to four, weeks later, my father is home. He is on the mend. Trained medical professionals are dazzled by his recovery and drive to walk in the lands of the living. One of my southern relatives says her prayers were answered. My father will say it wasn't his time, but god taught him a lesson. I call it luck. In a cases of twisted symmetry, three doors down in the MICU was the loco drunk I called EMS on six days prior. Both men left the unit on the same day, the difference was my father went to MedSurg. The loco drunk was in a box.

Christmas is in three days. For the first time in so-long-I-can-no-longer-remember, I am looking forward to the holiday, We mean to gather at my sister's house. She's got the biggest place and it is the most centrally located. We shall eat, drink, and antagonize one another, because that's what we do when we get together.

At one point, I shall contemplate whiskey with my father, because that's what we do when we get together. Perhaps we shall toast, or maybe we'll talk about music and a thousand memories from forty-four years of acquaintance. It doesn't really matter. When it gets down to brass tacks and bedposts, it will be a good day.


20 November 2016

Dead Man Walking

The loco drunk said he was sick, his face ash gray, his countenance that of a dying man. Two former nurses were about, one, saying his pulse was thready and breathing labored. He was refusing help, just wanted a case of water and to go back to his camp, a burned-out trailer up the mountainside.

We debated and agonized on what to do. Since he was refusing help, should we ask for it anyway? They looked up to me, well, because I am six and a half feet tall, how could they not? In the end, I called senpai for advice and he said unto me to call EMS with the disclaimer the loco drunk could refuse treatment. When I told said loco drunk that, he spoke of someone helping him.

"That is exactly what we are doing, Sir," I said as I went to call EMS, my voice reptilian, detached, cold as the airless void between the stars. Hou lain, hei tsin-thick face, black heart-ask Sun Tzu.

They could not even find a blood pressure, and, thus, took him away. My documentation took me back to days as a triage coordinator in the field of transplant. The feeling-more than a feeling-I have is we will be burying someone from our community very soon. I hope I am incorrect.

Here and now, I meditate upon the reptilian...

15 November 2016


Well, it's been a week. The has been anger and cheers, smiling and tears. The Onion, as it is so hip to say, killed it with their coverage of events. The fact satire makes for more honest coverage speaks volumes to the absurdity before us. I wonder what the reportage would've been like had it gone the other way.

Victory is an interesting point of view. By the popular, the will of the people, one person won. The electorate says otherwise, and that's the cat running the show. A reason I get cynical about politics past a loco level, but that's another rave rant for another time. And the protests; if you tell me the winning side wouldn't have cried foul and protested had things not gone their way, I'll call you a filthy fucking liar to your face.

Boy-howdy, it would've been nice to see a woman in charge. After all, we are oh so advanced and enlightened as to have had a black man-half, technically-run things, and it was not that long ago they could only aspire to be the help. Not long before that, they were bought and sold as beasts of burden. So, why couldn't or shouldn't we? We are, after all, supposed to be the best.

In the past few days I have heard some compelling and intelligent arguments that, other than the genitals, nothing would have really changed. Sure, a girl would've been on top of the sand pile, but otherwise, status quo. Just some rich older cat in a suit. Another career politician.

History was made a week ago. Someone who rocked not being a politician won. Now just how not-politician he stays remains to be seen.

I'm not happy about it. He's a bigot, a bully, and a bro, which are aspects of the human affliction I dislike. However, he got the prize, and all the petition signing and protesting isn't going to change that I don't think. My liberal friends and acquaintances got eight years of sitting pretty, and now, perhaps, it is time to suck it up and survive not being the popular kids for a bit.

That being stated, in two years come the midterms, and I hope to see more blue in the legislative branch. I know my conservative friends and acquaintances snarl at the idea, but, to my mind there is far too much red in the hallowed halls of power presently, and that is an imbalance. We need the equilibrium in order to properly function.

Of course, and this is probably political-imaginary-land, but it would also be nice to elect cats on both sides of the aisle that will work together. That whole cliche of being there for the people. Saying you want your leader to fail or block him/her/it/whatever at every turn, even if they might have a great idea because your ideology doesn't gel with theirs is a dick move.

Wait, maybe I should retract that dick move line. That kind of jackassery is an insult to moves made by dicks. Or people named Richard.   

09 November 2016


There it is. My dimestore guess was off, but I am no prophet. One ideology rejoices, the other mourns. So it goes. Congratulations, I'm sorry. With one exception I've observed, it seems that eight years is the dinger for one ideology to be in power, then people want a taste of the strange, but, really, what is the difference between Repulracrat and Democrican? Aside from the spelling?
The sun rose today, and it will set. Strap in. Rejoice or mourn, but remember, four to eight years is really not that long of time.

24 August 2016

A Case of Mistake-Jem Identity

Sooo, at a meeting regarding county trail maintenance and interpretive signage, the executive assistant to the commissioners called me a jem. Me.
This is a true story as told by a preservationist of my acquaintance and admiration. I inclined my head respectively in thanks, the whole time thinking they've got me mixed up with some other tall lanky bastard who likes to play outside.

12 July 2016

Fun Facts About the Leadville Boneyard

We were speaking of roadtrips and fun places to go. Leadville came up, because we both think it's a funky little 'berg, because you gotta have the funk. I mentioned having picnics in the town's cemetery with a bottle of wine, which was lauded as a good idea. Although, when I mentioned people were just dying to get to the cemetery, I was greeted with a groan and an eyeroll, and I don't know why.

"Of course, the people across the street from the cemetery can't be buried there," I said.

"Really? Why?"

"Because they ain't dead yet," I replied.

"Goddamnit," She snorted, burying her face in her hands, "I have no words."

A sociopath, or, perhaps a sadistic man, would have found glee in her reaction. Of course I am neither. Aren't you thankful?

07 June 2016

Two Minutes

Jibril looked the age he would be now. His hair was long than he kept it around the time he died, but shorter than when we first met. Being two years my senior, the sandy blond had faded to a dusty Grey. His savagely intelligent eyes were framed by lines that read like esoteric charts to forgotten lands. His suit was not as tattered as the one I remember him wearing in his last days.

We were at some evening gathering where Tich Nhat Hanh was supposed to speak, but he did have that stroke, and, instead was on side-show display. His spasmed movements spoke of severed and damaged brain wires. There was no serenity to be offered by this. Outside, the world was starting to burn down.

"As you can see, I'm still alive," Jibril said as we attempted to look away from the spectacle before us. "But they're coming for me tonight, and then it will be the End of Days."

"You know I don't believe in that shit," I said with a bit of a snort. In the years since my mother's and the bruja's  respective deaths, my ability to take anything on anything other than analysis and inquiry had dropped drastically.

"The Universe doesn't care what you believe," Jibril said coldly. A mantra I've heard on both the science and religious sides of the aisle.

Two minutes left and the world is gonna end...

19 May 2016


I have mentioned having encounters from cats from all across the planet. This sort of thing happens when you live where others come to vacation. Every so often I have someone ask me for a space in which show devotion because it's prayer time. I do not prey unless it is in context of the food chain, but I accommodate, finding a them a quiet place and pointing which direction is east. They're always polite, and, sometimes, frightened to ask, which is sad, but not unexpected given the sociopolitcal climate of the day. A year back, it was a couple of skiing students with a Call to Prayer app on their phone. Fantastic. Today, it was a couple.

I had a class to set up, and left them to their devotional with a fellow proletariat making sure they were not disturbed. Upon my return, I was given notations of the exact longitude and latitude of Mecca for the Qibla direction and many thanks. They had wanted to thank me in person, but so it goes.

It got me to smile...

10 May 2016

A Return to Serenity

I would say we're balls deep in mud, but the hummingbirds showed up a week ago, and that makes it spring. There are the subtle omens; the grass is becoming green and flowers are sprouting out of the beds. On some of the trees, you can see the hint of leaves and the river is running a little higher as the higher up snowpack begins to melt.

Slowly, we shed the Grey apathy of winter. Sometimes, there has been snow. Sometimes, it has stuck. It can snow up here any time of year. Mountains. Because of the higher angle of the sun, in strange and psychological ways, forty-five degrees with no wind seems so much nicer than a month or two ago. Back in January, forty-five with no wind would constitute a deep winter heatwave.

Perhaps it is the world waking up to its short warmer times, maybe it's been exploring new places, both on foot and otherwise, it could be that discussion we had, upon which we decided on a course of action, but perhaps not yet, but my restlessness has somewhat abated. There is still the urge for adventure, to go!, go!!, go!!!, but I as have a sense of serenity. Mountain zen, perhaps.

Come what may, the mountains have taught me things. An expansion of horizons I could not find in great libraries, cities, fields, or forests. For that I am grateful. There are other adventures and other eventualities, though not yet. Here and now, I take in the here and now. Here and now, I am serene.

26 March 2016


She was maybe ten or eleven with striking red hair. She told me about learning about animals at a camp for dyslexics. Her voice was hushed, and a little hurried. It was obvious she felt a little awkward. At ten or eleven, who didn't? Even and especially when you have a learning disability that has fucked with some of the wires in your skull? I folded myself all but in half to lean down to her, and said with a slight smile;

"Hey, it's okay. I'm dyslexic too."

Her smile outshone the sun...

20 March 2016


The second clear day after a multi-day snow. It is not without irony Sabina broke one of her toes, precluding a snowshoe. So, we intend to roadtrip. At least we'll be getting out.

I have been restless as of late. Wanting to wander far afield. Perhaps it has been the recent travel. Maybe it is simply the time of year, as temperatures warm and the world begins its thaw. I hunger for shorts and sandals and looking out at the night sky without wanting to be in goose down.

Many times, I have mentioned that concept of Kashmir; a mystical concept introduced by pothead during a Led Zeppelin song of the same name. At seventeen, I was obviously very impressionable, because I've carried around that idea ever since. One of the aspects of it was one's place in the world was a much a state of mind as a location of dirt and rock. The mental state aspect has figured greatly into the equations of the mathematics of my thoughts.

Back when Sabina and I were headed to the hills, I made some remark about being grateful for her company in the endeavor. She she could not imagine the mountains without me, because there was no Kashmir without me. Thinking about it, in the last near-decade, I have traveled more than I had since I was eighteen, when I had gone to North Carolina to find those adolescent friends in the small southern town with fuck all to do had moved on without me.

But that's another story...

It works both ways, there is no Kashmir with out Sabina. In the aspect of the mental state, she is my Kashmir, and isn't that about as romantic as piss? Love her as I do, in the typing of that, I think I may have vomited a little...in my mouth.

I find myself desirous of going to the island again. Blame it on the whales, because, you know, I'm the first mainlander to say that. I also think of the naturalistic aspects and the idea of the dynamic that the island is still being made has my attention.

Yet, I find my restlessness is expanding beyond the idea returning to the island. The last few days I've meditated on the concept of becoming a peregrinator. I've met more than a few up here. Some who have permanent homes up here they return to either seasonally or every few years, or ones who disappear for a couple years, then come back for another couple before disappearing points beyond once more.

I mean, fuck it. Why could we? Why shouldn't we? It means adventure and something to do. Were I ever to get bored enough to die, the last thing I would want anyone to try and say about me is I wanted to spend more time at the office. That is slow death.

Perhaps it's just the time of year. The world slowly thaws and transitions and I am craving change. Maybe it's that I've gone a bit further than one of our multi-mile walkabouts or day-long roadtrips of burning fuel, and I want to see what's on the other side of the horizon. It could be it doesn't really matter at all, but that I have had this feeling as of late.

Actually, it's more than a feeling...

Something will happen, I feel that all the way to my marrow. Whatever that something is, I'm fairly confident it'll be entertaining. And, no matter what, as long as I have that one particular traveling companion, it would seem Kashmir will follow me wherever I go.      

07 February 2016

Epilogue; Back to the World, or, Beyond its End

On a recent walkabout through the town cemetery, we witnessed a miracle of wind-loaded snow. We laughed ourselves sick...

Come down music...

It was the twentieth of January when we arrived home around five in the afternoon. How I maintained consciousness for another four hours still baffles me. The feeling of sleeping in my own bed was akin to the warm embrace of a long-lost lover.

Yes, I did ask my pillow the next day if it was good for it too, what of it?

Six days later, on my first real walkabout since returning from the island, I noted direct sunlight had returned to the house. I had a glass of wine out in the first soft daylight of two months in celebration. As far as I'm concerned, when the Long Dark ends, winter is halfway over. Then again, in my timekeeping, winter starts when the sun no longer rises above the ridge, and that's mid-November. Perhaps I function best in places where time is something of a dodgey concept.

Of course, I was back to a place I did have to keep better track of hours and minutes, rather than just whether or not it was night or day, what with professional obligations and all. Life slid back into familiar rhythms fairly quickly.

There were obligations and errands. Meals and walkabouts on the free days. We came across fresh cat tracks in fresh snow. It was glorious, but I am unsure if it was a mountain lion or bobcat. See, the fresh blood in the snow helped to talk us out of further investigation, despite the coolness of the National Geographic moment. Besides, it would have been a dick move to disturb the cat during its dinner, not to mention potentially fatally dangerous.

Seeing those tracks served as perspective. On the island, upon land, the most vicious predator was a species of primate that had figured out how to manipulate fire. All the scary beasties were out in the ocean. Here in the mountains, things with tooth and claw walk the same same trails we do.

Because I live in a smaller community, people I didn't even tell, but were acquainted with, would ask me how my trip was. With a fair amount of glibness, I would say it was okay, which was meant with a chuckle at me being a card. Many of these cats are used to me saying the mountains are okay if you're into sweeping views and juxtaposed geography.

Every so often, I catch myself missing the backbeat of the tropics; the chatter of the local wildlife at night and the surf against the lava rocks. Other than alpine breezes, it can be rather silent in the mountains at night. It was a jarring lesson I had to relearn.

I do dream of the island. I dream of whales, which is kind of fantastic. Part of me would love to have the skull of one. Then I catch myself wondering where I'd hang such a thing.

The superstitious sort might see my whale dreams as portents. Lifetimes ago, I might have, but these days, I know a little better. A Pagan's spell may not work. A prayer to a deity may go unanswered. An omen can be misconstrued.

So it goes...

I started to meditate on how the trip has changed me, and immediately realized how absurd that was. Sure, how oh so romantic to say x place changed you, but I haven't got a romantic bone in my body. The reality is you're changed the moment you walk out your door, even if it's just to run down to the store for ice cream. On some level every walkabout has left me changed.

There is a term for those who are not changed by experiences; dead...

I am happy to be home, make no mistake. There are the peaks and being in my own house. It's nice to see the familiars again and not to be tripping over six other people to refill one of my water bottles. When I look out a landscape, I remember that sleep-deprived catharsis of the first night back. This is Kashmir. My place in the world. A preservationist of my acquaintance has a similar experience when she comes back from traveling, and she wanders the globe for want of something to do. I think of her as something of a mentor, so the fact she shares that experience is something I find infinitely comforting.     

04 February 2016

There and Back Again

On the morning of the last full day...


Some traveling music. One, because of the mention of tidal pools, the other because it's Faith No More...


Somehow, it was fitting we had to wait two hours to check in. The airline sends its employees home between the early and late flights. Sabina's parents dropped us off by four in the afternoon in order to get back to Pahoa before dark. Not a fan of night driving these days, I can empathize. The days on the island, no matter the time of year because of its proximity to the equator, are never much more than twelve hours. Having to wait, I utter a new mantra I learned over a ten day stretch;


I had more trouble with security this time than coming out, but it actually was my fault. See, I forgot to take my phone out of my pocket, and, the lack-of-a-filter/pathologically caustic honesty, got me to point this out, which led to an extended search. To his credit, the TSA agent offered me privacy for this, but it was my fuck up and I had nothing to hide, so I stood my ground.

 Since we had time to kill, I said to fuckery with it and got us beers. I'd rather not discuss the bar tab for two rounds of not even stout beer. It was sad that there were so few dark beers offered on the island. Another traveler in the bar postulated it was because of the warm environment, to which I called bullshit. My favorite beer on the planet is a stout out of Sri Lanka, which is lovely with spicy curries, and that place is not known for being cool in the sense of temperature.

Part of me hoped the beers would help with sleep. Or, at the very least, I wanted to be a little less high strung for the flight. Hip-hop was the backbeat, which made me contemplate a third round in favor of outright homicide.

It was obvious I was preparing for Colorado. My t-shirt, a Colorado company, read; If you're not already here, you're lost. Perhaps I was making a ham-handed attempt to be provocative. Maybe I was showing some state pride. I found curious symmetry that Colorado and Hawaii are sister states.

On the way to the airport, I zipped the legs onto my hiking pants. After security, I changed from sandals to my hiking boots. The air conditioner in the bar inspired me to put on my flannel, sleeves down. As we head further back, my vest and jacket will appear. The beanie I wore down from home will replace my cap.

The night before and earlier in the morning, Sabina waxed fatalistic about our return; back to obligations and bills and having to pay for laundry and groceries. I have been-baselessly!-accused of being cynical, but I just cannot lament like that. Within the mathematics of my thoughts is a party being tossed for the volunteers at my professional obligations on my first full day back and hopes of snowshoeing. The sun should almost be back on the house after the Long Dark.

Leaving Hawaii is not the end of the journey, just another leg of it. My journey ends when the lights go out, and I have absolutely no time to die. There is the auspice of living a life that does not require a vacation, because your life is a vacation. Some woo-woo love and light Iwanttopunchyouinthefuckingthroattowatchyourexpressionasyouhyperventilate types seem to have been recently trying to push that. I could say with a fair amount of certainty I have been living it for years, if not decades.

Yeh, I'm that kind of punk-rock in the Dali sense of keeping it surreal...



A late-night redeye to the mainland and I can't sleep. I watch The Martian, which was fairly faithful to the book. I flip through other bits of video media for background noise. Everyone else around me is asleep and it would be rude of me to click on the light to read.

This time, I set the timer on my phone. As these words find their way from the maggot's nest I call my mind to the page to dry in black India ink, there is an hour and a half left before we land. The last of the Star Wars prequels is on and I am not very excited about it-Thank you, oh so much for turning Darth Vader, my childhood hero, into a fucking whiny bitch-but it's background noise. I envy my fellow passengers their slumber. Insomnia and travel are twin aggravations.


San Fransisco;

Still no gentle people. And no one with flowers in their hair. What's this noise?

And I thought the music was bad in the Kona airport bar. In the pre-dawn small hours waiting at the gate, the music permeating the air is some fangless R&B tripe somewhat reminiscent of Sade, and the fact I even recognize the genre makes me want to scrub my scant flesh from my pronounced bones. Needless to say, I find this auditory circumstance disturbing.

The gate is right by a security checkpoint. There is the chitter-chatter of early morning travelers and the beeping and buzzing of scanners. If I close my eyes I can almost think it sounds like a casino. Every so often, a coldly automated female voice comes over unseen speakers to proselytize the paranoia of air travel in the post 9/11 world.

Nothing else is open yet. I'm down to a couple energy bars and a dubious amount of energy to hunt for anything else. Part of me craves coffee, but, after being wide awake nearly twenty-four hours, I figure that might be counterproductive. As it stands, I take a big slug of water from my bottle and try closing my eyes.




It hardly counts as a layover. Get off one plane and walk to the next door gate to board another. This is only the second smallest plane I have ever been on. Constantly, people make note of our cozy quarters. I find myself intrigued by the craft; it seems more fitting for island-hopping or the greater metroplex to a mountain STOL port than the flight we're about to undertake.

Although, given the journey started in Hawaii and will end at my mountain home, perhaps it all makes sense...

I managed to catnap for an hour. My vest and beanie are now on my person. As we landed I saw my first snow-capped mountains in ten days. It got me to smile.

Just a few hours left to go...


DIA to The House of Owls and Bats;

There was catharsis in steeping into an eighteen degree mountain night as the waxing gibbous moon illuminated the snow on the valleys high peaks. I love nearly and full moon nights in winter in my mountains for that very reason. There was the crispness of the air and the silence. It was in that moment of zen I realized I was home.

To backflash, a friend picked us up under a sky of broken clouds with rumors of storms further up. I was told I could never leave again, my place of professional obligations barely managed to function without me. Apparently, at the very least, no one else can reach the antique clock. I guess that's flattering.

The clouds thickened as we drove into the mountains, and there were flurries, but nothing significant. Part of me was sorry I was so busy talking to our friend and trying to stay awake that I didn't take note of my first sight of the Roof of the World. I figure it's okay. The realization I was back in my mountains got me to smile a grin of wicked joy and to whisper made-up mantras of thanksgiving.

The familiars were happy to see us. We unpack and our friend gave us soup so we'd not have to make any efforts for a dinner. We're home, happy, and now it's okay to be throughly exhausted. Soon we will sleep like larva morphing into butterflies.

In getting home, how could this not be my jam?

02 February 2016

Notes from Camp 1 II; Meditations

Because who doesn't have Mozart as their jam when being all contemplative like?

Mauna Loa. There are holes where I live, and, some of them belch steam in the winter. Difference being this wasn't dug by Cornish miners looking for silver and we don't tend to get lava flows up here...

What for my heresy, my initial reaction to the spirit that pervaded the island. There's a story in it...

Some local wildlife...

The vibe here is different. That much is unmistakable. Me being me, someone who dissects, looking for answers, tries to discern the difference.

I live in a paradise. A place where people come to vacation. So, I wonder if it's a simple matter of traveler versus local. Or perhaps tropical island verses mountains. I am never completely sure.

Like where I live, this place something of the poor relations of the posher resorts. Both places are a little behind the population in terms of infrastructure. Sabina's brother in law-does that make him my second brother in law or great brother in law twice removed?- sometimes says Hawaii the way I'll say mountains.

There's a little more of the woo-woo love and light new ageness than I even pretend to tolerate as a steady diet. Everywhere are signs speaking of the spirit of aloha or drive with aloha. It didn't take long for me to get a little caustic about it. Must have been the jet lag.

"The fuck?" I snarled. "The spirit of 'hello'?"

"It's a little more than that, you know," Sabina said.

"Well, it also means 'goodbye'. Goodbye, hello, hello, goodbye," I said. "John and Paul had something to say about that, and I don't mean the biblical prophets."

"So why didn't they call that song Aloha?" Sabina's nephew, who was with us at the time, inquired.

I might have been taking a huge gulp of water from my bottle when he said that. That water may have almost come up through my nose and any other openings upon my head, given my reaction. I might have deserved that, but I do not believe in the concept of deserve.


Almost immediately, I fell out of time. Attuned myself to the rising and the setting of the sun. Like legendary zen masters, sleeping when tired, eating when hungry, and getting up upon waking, instead of just laying there.

There is the notion of the story and there is the way the story goes. One would think I know that fact like the direction the sun rises and sets; the preconceived versus the actuality. Yet, I have sometimes found myself suckered by the baited trap.

In my skull, half the trip had been written out. The gypsy once told me characters do not always do what you want them to. It was one of the first lessons I found myself relearning on the island. I once more learned to let go.

I meditated upon Africa. From the tropical jungles and rugged savannas of my childhood zoological curiosities, to the Moroccan mountains and deserts of adult wonderings. I used to say the stories all began in Africa. From the standpoint of the human animal, I am fairly correct.

I meditated upon Tibet. A place made more mystical by ancient travelogues, despite the fact of its rocky loneliness. Once I threatened to move there and grow a beard. Many years later, after reading some of those travelogues and their accompanying deconstructions I found myself feeling like a poseur suckered by a passing fad.

The mountains happened at an interesting time in our lives. There we were in a budding relationship sloughing the tattered skins of previous social dynamics and searching for something of a cosmic reset, perhaps. Kashmir happens, I can imagine the gypsy saying. It makes me wonder if we'd gone to the Arizonan desert or to the island instead of to the Colorado High Country that one day in late May what might have crystallized within our skulls.

There I go; Kashmir, deconstructed. Me dissecting, cracking open a shell and poking at what lies beneath to watch it squirm and acquire my answers. I can remember Pagan acquaintances being driven nuts by that...quirk...of mine. Then again, they were more into that love and light, and I appreciate chaos and the unyielding forces of nature too much to swallow that.

Contrary to what you might think, such analysis does not demystify a concept for me. Far from it, actually. In some ways, it just deepens the mystery. Making it so much more profound.


Days into our trip, Sabina's father asked me what I thought of the island. I wondered if he knew of my misgivings when the trip was first suggested. How I was a little reluctant to go. If he had caught me fresh off the plane, he may have heard a diatribe of  displeasure sponsored by the letter fuck, but it was days later and I'd had time to decompress. I offered him a wry smile.

"I am intrigued."

It is funky-gotta have that funk!-and interesting enough to invite further exploration. By the end of the first day, I knew I'd be back. There were things I would not see. Experiences I've yet to have.

Like the mountains, I felt drawn in. Not to the point of dismantling years of living in a place and full time moving, as I did on that fateful mountain afternoon, but something that definitely piqued my curiosity. It is as though there is something on the island for us, sort of like up in the mountains. Like the mountains, it may take years to truly find the shape of it.

Sabina asked if I could even envision being a part time islander. More likely. Here and now, I am not sure I could cope without distinct seasons, and I'd miss snowshoeing. My answer was during March and April; the height of mud. That time when the snow is too crappy for snowshoeing, but too deep for hiking, the resorts are closing down for the winter and not ready for summer and people are snarly because of seasonal burnout. There would still be whales and trade winds on the island then.

Like the initial trip, I know we'd be fools to pass up the opportunity. The full demonic details just need to be worked out. This is something I do not worry about. There is time and my patience is formidable. We figured out the mountains, we'll figure out this. As has happened a bit throughout the course of my life. The last time I saw my sister, as we discussed one of the happenstances in my life she said it must have happened organically, which I took as a tarted-up way of me saying it just kinda happened.

I may not be love and light, and I might dissect things past the marrow because I do not believe in fate, but I do know that...

Somewhere I shall further explore...

28 January 2016

Notes from Camp 1 I; Experiences

Two aspects of the same location...

The place we slept; Moana I'Kena Huina. If the House of Owls and Bats is basecamp, then this place was Camp 1...


The last time I saw the ocean I was a teenager. What I saw was bluer with higher tides than my adolescent memories of the Atlantic. At one point, storms in the Pacific Northwest would be the cause of big waves that would batter the coastline. It was fascinating to watch. On a few occasions, I saw flying fish, but never what caused them to come above the water. Sea turtles would ride the waves. Surfers of the most ancient of orders, surviving from a time of dragons and titans.

We went to the water a lot. Sabina would speak about the fascination with it. Something primal being felt in watching the ocean. In the mountains, I watch the river, sometimes with monkish concentration, and the high lakes carry a certain sense of zen. For me, I think going to watch the water-aside from wanting to catch glimpses of the life contained therein-was the sheer scale of it. Like looking up at the night sky into the totality of the cosmos, the enormity is right there, but it is difficult to comprehend that you are staring into yet unseen depths.

Perhaps my favorite vantage point...

The coast, like everything else on the island, was borne of lava. I really liked the ruggedness of where we were staying. No resortie-sand beaches with hula-girls for us. I lost track of how many times and routes I took bouldering the rocks, occasionally getting spritzed with sea spray.

It was along this section of rocky coastline I would see my first whale. I was coming down to the water on what would become perhaps my favorite vantage point for the first time, when, for the briefest of instants, I caught the fleeting glimpse of a pectoral fin coming out of the water. Much like the only time I've ever seem a wild mountain lion, had I been a second earlier or later or blinked, I would have missed it. I all but teleported to the edge of the rocks for a further look, but it was gone. This did not prevent me from returning to the house with the most wicked grin of joy on my face. 

"I saw a whale! Guess this means I can go back to Colorado now."

The other time I would see whales was back on the way to the Kona airport. It was witnessed from a distance, but the countenance was unmistakable.  Looking out the window toward the ocean, I counted between six and eight spouts, which I postulated were mothers and calves, and two breaches. That was the total National Geographic moment. Yes, I clapped my hands together excitedly and may or may not have yipped like an excited puppy.

Certainly, I'd love to say seeing whales, even and especially that first glance and/or the breaches, was magic and mystery that filled me with a deep sense of cosmic oneness for all other living creatures upon the Earth, but I'd be lying. I'd like to say witness not one breach, but two, was like having a prayer answered by mythological anthropomorphic deity, but the only time I prey is in the context of the food chain, and I'd not insult the Divine by tarting it up in anthropomorphic drag. It comes down to this; that seeing whales was nothing like I figured, but it was no less really fucking cool.



Hilo was a dirty, stinky places hemmed in by stripmalls. Its downtown reminded my of a strange sort of amalgamation of Denver's Asian quarter with my years-old memories of East Colfax thrown in for a spice. The difference here was more people of European descent in aloha-wear looking for a thrill. The oddest thing I found there was it was another of our number, not me, who got city/crowd-stabbie first. We departed directly after that.

Pahoa, on the other hand, was a funky little 'berg, and you gotta have the funk. It was a strange crossover of a tropical Morrison, maybe some of Pearl Street in Boulder, a Pagan sabbat, and some aspects of the towns in our Sahel. I know a few mountain acquaintances who would probably feel right at home. I realized I could potentially get in a little trouble there and have a fun time doing it. The woman who ended up doing my latest tattoo reminded me very much of the bruja.

Said tattoo...

Unlike the mountains, upon initial inspection, there does not seem to be a lot of archeology here. The tropical climate and the still-active lava devours it. Even though a town like Pahoa is a sugercane station almost as old as my town, it sometimes seemed hard to grasp. Up in the mountains, even being on the edge of wilderness, one did not have to walk far to find the passage of Man, be it a rusty miner's nail or a beer can from the 1970s, preserved in the alpine air. Where we were, one had to hack into jungle in hopes of finding remains not made from less-permanent material. I heard tell of ancient petroglyphs, but never got a chance to see them.

This has gotten put on a list for next time...


Other Places;

A couple sea turtles at the Black Sand Beach...

Observatories up top of Mauna Kea. To someone who sees playing outside as holy sacrament, these are the equivalent of monasteries of esoteric orders...

A lotus pond...

We traveled to two different beaches in the same day. Both had different color of volcanic sand, one green, the other black. Oddly enough, the ground and the water at the black sand beach was cooler. I couldn't help but wonder if it was the time of day.

During most of our stay, the only water we encountered was salt. Fresh water came out of a tap. Some squatters further in the jungle used rain-catchment to get water. I began to wonder if there were any rivers on the island. On the last day, we were taken to a waterfall, plunging four-hundred twenty feet into the jungle. It was striking. Sabina and I agreed the sound of the river it fed reminded us of home.

The way Mauna Kea rose up reminded me of every picture I've ever seen of Kilimanjaro. Well, sans the snow, which I found queer. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I kept hold of the calendar dates, and I knew it was still winter, even if it felt like July. Sabina remarked the mountain's visitor center, being at ninety-two hundred was almost like being home. I countered only if it were late September or early October.

We beheld the sunset at thirteen-thousand seven-hundred seventy-nine foot summit, watching the observatories open up like night blossoms composed of tech. I was fascinated by those and the tropical sun setting from the summit of what is truly the tallest mountain in the world. I was also fascinated by the lack of snow. Being a thirteen-thousand back home would have involved snowshoes and down and checking the slopes for the possibility of avalanches.


I realized during the trip I would make a lot of comparisons. North Carolina for the humidity and greenery, Kilimanjaro for a thirteener, places in Colorado for some of the towns we ended up in. Under  normal circumstances, I would be vexed by this, the comparisons detracting from the uniqueness of the actual experience happening right in front of your eyes. However, I think what I was doing was something of a human thing; drawing on personal experiences and stories-in context all the National Geographic and nature documentaries I've seen-to make sense of where I found myself. Perhaps I'm wrong and that was a rationalization. I've yet to find a satisfactory answer.         

24 January 2016

Headlong Flight


A tragedy that occurred the day we left. The gypsy called me twisted for telling her I had an airtight alibi. The nerve... 


Now, the shit gets real...

I am seventy miles and ten days from home. Within the next day, the miles will increase, but the time will decrease in strange temporal ways before the wake up. Small comfort.

For ten years I lived in a big city. Most of it in the shadow of the monoliths of downtown. As we first entered into those borders of neon, I wondered how all these people do it. How I did it.

I cannot see stars. The air stinks of exhaust and sewage and thousands of millions of bodies both unwashed and overly perfumed. When I was younger and more foolish and wanting to escape the badlands of eastern Colorado, this held promise and adventure and yet unnamed treasure. Having left that all behind so many years ago now, this is a form of perdition that would make Dante and Milton cross their legs and blush.

I do find myself grateful we left when it was dark. The stars shone with dazzling brilliance, but the mountains were shrouded in new moon shadow. I think my ire would be worse having watched familiar peaks recede in the distance. An upside is we will be returning home during the day and that first glance of the Roof of the World coming out of the greater metroplex is is cathartic to someone like me.

So, I am trying to focus on the journey ahead instead of what I feel I've been forced to leave behind. The mantra of ever forward can be difficult when having left a Kashmir. I keep reminding myself I'll be back soon enough, but part of me-a very large part-is aching for the peaks and rocks and the adventures contained therein.

Yet, I am starting upon a grand adventure, so I should just let go and let the good times roll...

San Fransisco...

I have spent four hours of layover and didn't meet any gentle people. There was only one cat with flowers in his hair, and I'm guessing he was coming back from where we're going. I'm kind of disappointed. The old song lied-lied!-to me.

A belly full of Japanese and a beer from the same place. A reward for surviving the first leg of the journey. Because of the airline overbooking we lucked into catching a later flight and missing our first layover. However, neither of us are too keen on this flying thing. The air over Colorado is always turbulent apparently, which was less than thrilling. These vehicles do not seem to be made for someone with my measurements. I get cramped and crushed for hours on end.

The next leg is five hours and change, which I think borders upon grotesque. Then a two hour drive to where we're staying. In the last twenty-four hours I've slept somewhere between forty-five minutes and an hour. Here and now, I am too wound up to increase that period of rest.



It was something to see the Pacific rolling and roiling against the California coast from the air. We were already high enough that the city we left had been reduced to toy-scale miniature, and yet the ocean is still massive. The largest body of water on the planet. Somewhere out there is Challenger Deep, the lowest spot in the world.

And we get to fly over this body of water...

For the most part, we've been either over or through clouds, chasing a setting sun. I watched the twilight dapple light and shadow upon the shifting forms of the clouds. Occasionally, I see breaks down into the ocean, It occurs to me this leg of the journey is a study in air and water, both as liquid and vapor. It is a void in which time will fall back three hours from home.

More by exhaustion than relaxation, we manage to catch a couple of catnaps. Mine have been shorter, I notice. I have no idea the distance we've crossed. Time is nigh on impossible to figure in the void. We will be touching down on what is arguably called the most isolated island in the world and I find myself eager to be upon Terra Firma once more.


Kona to Pahoa;

I was reminded of North Carolina what for the humidity. It was the first time I'd ever exited a plane in that fashion, going directly onto the tarmac. Sabina remarked it was very Casablanca. Apparently, in Hawaii, you no longer get flowers draped about your neck upon arrival, unless your in-laws decide it would be a cute and otherwise corking idea. I was not terribly excited. We ate pizza in the parking lot, though, I was so hungry I question whether or not I actually tasted anything.

On the way from the airport I tried to make a brave show of it, but being up for a day and a half with a handful of catnaps hit me like a two-ton heavy thing. I guess it speaks to how much I trust the company I have found myself in for the next ten days. One of the last times I saw Sabina's parents, her mother said I was good for their daughter. Given I am usually tolerated, if that, by parents, this a great honor.

There is very little light pollution, making the stars deliciously brilliant. Because there are not eleven and twelve thousand foot peaks hemming us in, there are more of them to see. I wish I had a telescope.

From open windows I can hear the ballads of frogs and a hymnal of surf. Occasionally, a chicken crows in the small hours darkness. I have some vodka to unwind. Sleep is in order. In the daylight I shall walk to the ocean.

22 January 2016

Prelude; Shuffling Toward Real

Mountain music, and context for the following day...

The trouble started the tenth of January...

Here we are; the day before. In twenty-four hours we shall oscillate from security to airborne to layovers and a wholly different landscape than the one I see out my window. My bags are packed and we tick down the hours to the ride to the airport.

The shit is getting real...

All my bits of apprehension and other fears bubble to the surface. This is the first time I've crammed myself into an airplane in nearly ten years. Part of me wants to get fabulously roaring drunk. There was the acquaintance who offered me some of her special brownies-mountains-and I consider contacting her. Perhaps then I'd not be so wound up.

Then I think of not wanting to miss anything. I wonder how much I'll sleep in the next twenty-four hours, and how much of that will be because of insomnia. I question whether I'll bother to read any of the book I packed for the journey.

It was habit I collected my weather data. The routine of knowing how to dress for the following day. As I often say, I live where playing outside is holy sacrament and I like to know if I need a sweater. It is supposed to be nineteen here tomorrow. For me, after early morning, that will become irrelevant.

I could speak to the concept of between I first read mentioned by the Dragonriders of Pern-roughly thirty-thousand feet-being far colder. That the locations we lay over and our ultimate destination will be warmer. The fact I'll not be tracking weather conditions or pellet stove fuel usage for the next ten days has been one of my bugaboos, though no one I've mentioned this to has expressed sympathies, and this vexes me.

So, I go for a walk around town. It is fifteen degrees out with no breeze, just nice and crisp. The sky is clear. I find the walk to be soothing, reminding me this is my Kashmir. I come back home and listen to the radio, taking in the peaks, which surround my house. My mountains. This is my place in the world and I know I will return to it, but, things are about to change. For ten days, I will have none of this. I will be elsewhere.

I must not fear...