Sunday, January 01, 2017

2016 - Not so bad ....though 17

For all the bitching going on about 2016 on social media, I didn't find it to be a bad year at all.  and that's not really something I've been able to say for quite some time.

The year started with me being payed to ski, snowshoe, and snowmobile around Tahoe.  I re-certed my Wilderness First Responder, on the clock, and then got to visit Joshua Tree National Park for the first time.

Summer brought me to Crater Lake for a third season.  I was blessed with an excellent, albeit largely green crew, and we accomplished a hell of a lot.  Housing was good, the social environment tolerable, overtime hours were plentiful and I had more morel mushrooms than I wanted to deal with even into August on account of the prior year's 21,000 acre fire.

Then in August I made a leap forward with my career securing a stable year-round job that should be around for 4 years anyway.  With that security in the bank so to speak I started taking some time off to really throw myself into the cabin project, rather than leaving an exposed frame I now have a roofed and enclosed building on a small piece of land of my own.  The backup plan for going full hermit is locked in.

I also purchased a 6x12 cargo trailer, which, while another ...thing... to worry about, the things you own end up owning you and all, it does provide me with the flexibility to move everything I own minus some furniture and appliances in one go, provides a mobile storage area / workshop space, and possibly could serve as a stealth camper.

So then I came to Moab, and found a nice albeit expensive apartment.  And already I've got to see an impressive amount of things that have been on the so called bucket list for a decade.  I've been hiking regularly on my off days as well, and have even gotten out on the cross-country skiis in the nearby La Sal mountains.  And as a final high note, I ended the year backpacking with Jesse in the Wilderness of Arizona.

Not a bad list, not bad at all.  But most importantly I've enjoyed the only stable and healthy relationship I've had for a very long time if ever, and I've grown somewhat stronger and wiser through it all.

This is, of course not to say that I didn't have some tough times and shameful moments, it was the worst allergy season I've had in a decade and the moving and cabin building have been stressful and expensive and I'm not entirely proud of my conduct.  But 2016 was a good year.

I'm aiming to make 2017 a good year as well, but I sense the theme is going to be uncertainty in a big and potentially ugly way though maybe not as much for me as the world at large.   This is, it should be said, the first time I've been concerned with global affairs for a long time.  And the geo-political pivoting point is going to be Saudi Arabia.  At present I don't see how there can be a bloodless exit from the crumbling House of Saud.  Shit's gonna get ugly if oil doesn't get back over $70 real fast.  Putin and the Iranians are licking their lips.  Their proxy war with the Saudis in Syria will likely go down as just a warm-up exercise.  And if Putin and the Iranians can drive the quickly becoming broke Saudi Arabian Kingdom into chaos (read: take Saudi oil production off-line) their oil dependent economies, not to mention already booming regional influence is really going to soar.  Their incentive to get seriously aggressive is monumental.  Will Trump just surrender the American queen on the middle east chest board?  As much as he is already in bed with Israel, I think the answer is no.  Anyway, you may want to keep your eyes on this situation, it has been opaque to the media so far, but is, truly, so damned obvious, and frightening you should be paying very close attention.

Friday, November 11, 2016

3 months

I have indeed been busy.

3 months without a post here.  And I have too much to say.

But by way of an outline I ended my work at Crater Lake around mid September.  That gave me two weeks and change to work on the cabin project.  I threw myself into it all day everyday and at the very last minute, at sundown on the very last day that I could remain in Oregon I succeeded in buttoning the cabin up.  A roof, 4 walls, 2 windows and a door.

And then onwards I rolled to Moab, with my newly purchased 6x12 cargo trailer in tow with all my belongings.  1000 miles and two days of driving later I started my new job.  Bounced between government housing spots for a few weeks then found a very nice but costly apartment and signed a one year lease, not without a certain amount of apprehension.  Since then I've been working on getting settled in.  I bought a new sofa for the first time in my life.  And I've built from scratch some shelves and a bed.  And in between I've been getting paid to explore the ruins of ancient civilization in the stunning Canyonlands of South Eastern Utah.

My allergies have at times been horrendous (Sage pollen).  But the season for that seems to be coming to an end.  And thank all goodness for that, as it casts me in some of my shittiest lights as a person...  Cats, dust, pollen + me  = Shit-head.

But the stress of the move is unwinding, and the histamine, and the new job.  And I'm quite grateful to be where I am.  I'd like to just savor this situation for a bit before things get messy in life again.  So now, the theme is slow down, relax and start saving money again.  The cabin was expensive, the trailer and the move was expensive, and the new place and furniture and appliances...  expensive.  So I am in recovery mode.  But I can see redrock and snow capped peaks both from exactly where I am sitting, and that ain't half bad, not half bad at all.  Living in a place where more than a lifetime's worth of exploring is all close within reach.

There's much more to say, of course, but for now that's where I've been.  And where I am, recovering from an epic scramble.

Friday, August 05, 2016

The Winding Trail

I've recently accepted an offer to go build and maintain trails in Utah's Canyonlands, and a few other National Parks and Monuments in the area starting in a few months.  It's a year-round job on a "term" appointment which means up to four years of steady work and full federal benefits.

I'm not sure what to think yet, the offer sort of came out of the blue.  It was something I had applied to quite some time ago as a backup plan in case my current employer persisted with an ugly and demeaning piece of politics.  But at the time I didn't realize that it was a year-round + benefits sort of job, just something that paid about the same as my current gig, (slightly less, actually) that I could potentially go to as a contingency if the shit hit the fan here.  And as the months rolled by and the issue I had here faded away I sort of forgot about it.

And now this, the real deal.  Still kind of shell shocked, and going through various phases of cognitive dissonance, and worry about this decision.  But also feeling a little better about it each day as I come up with strategies to deal with the obstacles it presents for me.

The Canyonlands are one of the hardest, wildest, most remote and wildly, mystically stunning pieces of desert in the country, or the world for that matter.  It's big, harsh, empty, and seriously intimidating, and it's going to set the stage for my next massive series of professional and personal challenges.

And yet, I'm not sure that I'm done with Oregon altogether just yet, but only time will tell how this place will weave with The Canyonlands in the continuation of my story.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

To Notice the Sunshine

Typically when I have had nothing to say here it is a good thing.  And I suppose that has been true of the last 7 weeks absence.  I'm now back up at the lake, settled in, and leading a large crew on the trails.

It bears mentioning that I think creativity requires either emotional pain or time for playfulness and in either case solitude.  Lately, I have had none of these things.  And that is OK, although busyness often runs counter to presence.

But even so I'm thinking that I need to arrange my life more carefully right now so that I can capture those quiet moments and use them to keep going with this, ...the written word.

No pen in hand
and an occupied mind
no insight to be had
no truth to find

the sun shines warmly
on the crest of the rim
where the snow falls below

and I'm not noticing
not really

because I have walls to build
to what end
to what end?
I really don't know

perhaps I should fly a flag
maybe yellow

on the wall below
where the snow falls
and I don't notice the sunshine

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Know Thyself - or - Time to buy squat shoes

So that's me on the red machine...  Yeah, that's about all I've got on that one.  Definitely an interesting part of my winter work, and by interesting I mean somewhat painful and often terrifying.  Mainly I just wanted to share the photo as I forgot to earlier.  I think my posts were suffering from a bit of seasonal affective.  heh.  And so now the snow is mostly gone, at least below 9,000 ft, and the job ends this week.

Definitely glad to have had the work, particularly considering the death of Ole Bessie, and my need to finance getting my shit together fitness-wise this winter.

It's been slow going, but quite the journey, and though I have grown significantly stronger, (and heavier), I'm a good 20 lbs bigger than I was around this time a year ago.  It has, much more, been a journey of learning about all the crap that is wrong with my body in terms of structure, imbalance, and mobility. 

I took these two photos yesterday doing 3 sets of 5 reps.  That's 200 lbs on my back, not much in the grand scheme of things, but easily double what I could do when I started this.  Can you guess what part of me is in pain today?  My brachioradialis muscles (top of the forearm).  Jokes aside, it illustrates the supreme interconnectedness of all things in the human body, and that's what I mean about this being a seriously educational journey.  Why does ...whatever... hurt?  Is something too weak? Is something else too strong?  Is something too tight?  Is something too loose?  Is it because my right leg is 3/4 of an inch shorter than my left?  Is it because I have bad dorsiflexion in my ankles?  Is it my damned hip-flexors again? 

Point is, I've been learning a lot about physiology, and taking care of myself as a corporeal being.  We probably all should.  Particularly if we move heavy objects for a living.

As they say in the Delphic Maxims.  Know Thyself.

...also, don't squat heavy on carpet

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Stillness and Healing Anxiety... and a warning

So the Winter work season is drawing to an end for me.  It definitely got easier as the time passed.  Though I wonder if the reason it started out being so difficult was just the stillness, the environment that leaks. And by that I mean that when one is not occupied and must be still with himself all sorts of old pains that have remained suspended in the turbulent waters of a busy life start to settle out and leak. And there you are covered with an anxiety you dont understand and cant wash off.

Shake, rattle, and roll has been my go to strategy for as long as I can remember.  Dont let it settle, dont let it leak.  Keep walking, keep driving, do. not. rest.

Therein lies the value of freedom.

And a parking lot can be a particularly brutal kind of cage.

So I suppose this winter has forced me to simmer in the residual pain from 2012... that I had thought was long gone. And sometimes stuck in that truck by the roadside I would wonder if it will ever end.  I dont know.  I just know that before that year I wasn't ever struck with anxiety that didnt clearly point to anything, and now I have been whenever I pause ever since.

Get too still and you start to think, about what could be a lie, about what will go wrong, about how there might be a nook in events, in the data, some place some time some story that isnt perfect, some way that you might be being betrayed, setup, gaslighted, embarrassed and readied for the psychological grinder... again. be owned and abused and degraded and have your dignity and your wealth and your friends and your ability to feel sane, or to trust or to sleep soundly through the night all stripped from your hands ... again.

Sometimes I'm not sure one can ever recover from something that heinous.  But it has gotten easier ...over a very long winter.

And that is not to say that much, much more of the time I don't feel gratitude, for all the other things that have gotten better and easier. Their side is winning.  But I also have to say it.  Fuck You.  You never apologized for any of it.

And to everyone else, learn this from me, if nothing else.  Beware the person who cannot apologize.  It marks them for what they are, a beast without empathy.  And they will maul you for sport.

...incidentally a popular presidential candidate whose name rhymes with Chump, also cannot apologize, its like swallowing the 6th saltine for him; he just can't do it. 'Nuff said?  ...not that I would vote for any of his rivals.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

End of an Era

Two Hundred Seventy Thousand Miles...

The last two weeks have been tumultuous ones.  Ol' Bessie gave up the ghost on February 28.  Her engine seized in the middle of a busy intersection during rush hour.  She was 23 years old.  

I perhaps could have prevented it had I a little more daylight to work with.  She had been suffering from a vaccuum leak for a couple of weeks.  I had it narrowed down to the gasket that sits between the throttle body and the intake manifold.  And I was on my way to O'Reilly Auto Parts to purchase this very inexpensive part to replace 2 days later on my day off.  But I think perhaps she sucked a piece of that decayed gasket or maybe some other debris or liquid into the intake and then it was all over...   A squealing death rattle and a stall, then nothing.

I've sent her off to a good home, a very eager buyer at a very good price.  He talked about maybe dropping in a newer motor and keeping her running.  It's none of my concern.

Now I've purchased a 2005 Sierra.  Can you fault me for buying the same make and model after so many miles of loyal service?  Or after having learned so much about its maintenance and repair?

But I have to tell you, it was liquid stress saying goodbye and being without my wheels for those long, long few days between finding the new one.  And I am very grateful to Jesse for her help driving me around like a deadbeat boyfriend to find and haggle over my new ride.  And for putting up with the chaos as I withdrew masses of gear and detritus from behind Bessie's old bench seat that defied Euclidean possibilities.  As well I'm grateful to Shane and his family, the random guy who I met in traffic who helped me tow Bessie out of the intersection to safety in a parking lot, and who helped scream back at the enraged commuters who honked and yelled things to the effect of "get the fuck off the road!"... while that was obviously what I was already trying to do.  And then for tracking me down after I accidentally left my backpack in the back of his pickup...  Grateful indeed.  And maybe a bit ashamed that other people are better humans than I am.

270,000 miles...

I knew it was time...  But I wonder, how long might she have lasted, had I the time to drop in that gasket a few days earlier?

...It was time.