Monday, August 31, 2015

photo exhibits:
local flora (rearview mirror)
science spectrum (rearview mirror)

Saturday, August 22, 2015






new story:
Minding One's P's and Q's
enjoy! comments welcome, as usual!
new story:
Rite of Passage
enjoy! comments welcome, as usual!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

brought my computer to dfw so i could do some writing. was taking my niece to dfw so she could fly to heathrow - she had the big adventure, a nine-hour trip that would land her in london in the morning. she got on the plane at three or so. i went straight to get a cinnamon twirl and a coffee, but, when i tried to write, nothing came. just too burnt out i guess, being a single dad, having four and a guest, the guest having a trampoline accident and other situations, on top of which her thirteen-year-old counterpart, a boy, had a trampoline accident of his own and had to see two doctors somewhere in there.

both kids are at an awkward age, right between childhood and adulthood. she goes off on this flight, an unaccompanied minor, yet she looks so grown up, so mature, so eager in a way to be in that international air space between USA and UK, where she can explore her own identity and not be so bound up in grownups always doing everything for her. she now has a texas tech sweatshirt that is a few sizes too big, and that's as it's supposed to be, nothing better could make a kid look more like a college kid or eager to get to the next step. back in england this will be interesting, wearing the big texas letters around and letting everyone know where you just spent your summer.

i tried to encourage the two to relate more, but the one thing they had in common was resistance to my constant encouraging one way or the other; they just wanted to be themselves, play on their devices, stay up late, make their own way. he's let his hair grow in front of his eyes, and, though he says it's easy to get it out of there with a shake of the head, he doesn't, so half the time you're looking through this hair to look him in the eye. he wants it that way. he talks softly; he sees the irony in everything. he finds it painful trying to talk to any thirteen-year-old girl, not to mention grownups and all the others who you run across in life.

dfw is crowded as usual. the restaurants are full; people are walking this way and that with luggage, on their best behavior, wearing their favorite travel clothes. flight to lubbock is delayed. some flight to indianapolis has moved into the gate where i'm waiting; my own flight will be after theirs. there are about ten people on standby to go to indianapolis. i have moved over by the window a little, so i see the wide expanse of texas sky a little better, though i'm hearing the news prattle. good thing about the news, seventeen republicans die a slow death at the hands of a loudmouth attention-grabbing know-nothing, the bad thing, the guy might actually be president, this country being what it is. happened to reagan, and could happen again, it really has more to do with being aligned with the pulse of the country. decent normal politicians can look at his plan and say, this makes no sense, it's unworkable, he's a nut, and they're absolutely right, but it doesn't matter. the ones in the bottom seven are going to start dropping out soon; the rest will follow. on the democratic side it's a lively scene too, but it kind of doesn't matter who they pick, that person will still be better than any of the seventeen dalmations.

the loudspeaker announces a gate change for a flight to calgary and a number of people get up and leave. who knew? it's a large gate, lots of people hanging around. some are clearly texas, you can tell by their manner. the indy ones, harder to tell maybe, it's not like iike i can ever tell. sometimes i can tell. sometimes i even know them. it's mid august, people traveling all over the place. our own flight, delayed by about an hour for whatever reason - at this point, i just want to go home. it will be a little dicey, kids up way past their bedtime, a little over-stimulated, cooped up at home all day, at the end of their summer vacation, and both parents leave home, mom to a convention, me here to dfw, taking my niece to her all-night flight. she, i suppose, is in the air now, her parents on their way to heathrow or at least thinking about it, as it will land early morning in london, and hopefully they'll be there. some people are speaking to each other in cantonese, i think, behind me; the news blathers on above me; to my right, some plane has just landed and people are getting off of it. this will no doubt be the plane that's off to indianapolis in a few minutes.

i kind of wish i were being paid to sit here, either that or getting good story material out of it, and in essence picking up grist for my future writing. i can see, to my right, through the glass, the whole variety of the world's airline travelers, unboarding, carrying a few bags, being pushed on a wheelchair, dressed to business hilt, or whatever. there is plenty of material here. the problem is that, tired as i am, i don't really see it. or, i'm too tired to process it well enough to put it down in a way you'd enjoy it. it's a wild and crazy world, always moving, and this is a place where everyone is between worlds, visiting someone or moving, or doing something new, and are for the most part as stressed out as i am. we do, however, have the idea that we will get where we are going, eventually. i know this from hard experience.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

on the mountain

ok so i'm into a kind of groove - have five children, four of my own and a niece visiting from england - and my wife was unable to join us on this trip to the mountains, specifically, to ruidoso, a little tourist trap high above the white sands. after the first night here, we shot down and saw the grandparents, then hit white sands on the way up, but the niece is in a neck brace from a trampoline accident, and we had to cut back on the wildness a little, no sleds in white sands, and no swimming down the two-story slide in the pool at ruidoso, which happened to be closed anyway.

so that leaves me with five kids and nothing to do, and a lingering distaste for many of the usual tourist traps, though money is not really the problem. i just plain don't like 'em, except for this one, which offered a big bean chuckwagon with a cowboy music show afterward. i covet that lady fiddler's job, i told my kids, and they all got a kick out of that, though they'd never heard the word "covet" before, being a little behind on sunday school. took 'em up the mountain today, and we went twice to a river in the center of town, which is really more of a creek, perfect for soaking the feet in, getting right down in it, and experiencing the mountain waters tumbling down into the valley. the first day, waters were really muddy; today we could see the bottom. it made a difference.

one day my sister came up from las cruces and spent the night up here, high in the mountains, where it's at least twenty degrees cooler than everywhere else. my phone, on the lubbock weather channel, goes 101-101-100-102 but the same week, set at ruidoso, it's not only an hour earlier, but it says 80-80-81-80. those are the highs. at night it's 50's. the niece doesn't know from farenheit, but she's enjoying it too.

my sister, however, said that the whole tourist scene is somewhat offensive. yes, well, ruidoso has these wooden indians out on the sidewalk and you can see them as you climb the long hill through the main road of the town. it also, by the way, has a store that flies a confederate flag, blatantly, right out on main street. but it's the glorification, and commercialization, of the mescalero apache that she really objects to. we traded notes on what we knew about the mescalero apache; both of us had climbed through the reservation on our way up from alamogordo and tularosa. at one hillside, an enormous catholic church dominates the whole valley. the town of mescalero itself has fairly new civic buildings, very classy, being fixed up with funds from inn of the mountain gods, their newest casino. they take care of their woods, though, cutting dead trees out of them so that they're less likely to burn down. there's a little disagreement about the thistle, though. the thistle is an invasive weed, bright and beautiful purple, but it takes over; the white folks in ruidoso want every thistle torn out of every mountain valley. the mescalero, however, introduced some natural thing that was supposed to counteract the thistle. everyone's a little wary about how it will come out. i'm not taking sides. actually, i kind of like the thistle, in its purple splendor, but i have no idea why it would be bad or folks would want to exterminate it. in the past, other purple weeds, like purple loose strife, got a good head start on the humans by being pretty enough so that some people would allow it to survive. who knows, if that's true of the thistle?

so the kiddos are having a glorious week of screens, bars, sugar, popcorn, soda, whatever is not healthy. a little bit of walking in the mountains, a lot of hanging around a closety cave being decadent. i sit out on the porch, watching the stars come out, and savoring the fall of the temp, down through the seventies, and well into the sixties before i go to bed. i drink navajo tea, supposedly made of wisdom and patience, which i pee out, at night, whenever i wake up. last night the sky, which was full of thousands of stars, also had an occasional shooting star, as the plaiedes (sp?) were coming through. the kids wanted to sleep out on the porch, but it was already well down into the sixties when finally i made a deal with them - you wait forty minutes, then, if you want to go out into the cold and sleep out there, go ahead. only one was still awake after forty minutes. he routinely stays up past one anyway, and was kind of interested in the idea of parking himself on the porch and watching shooting stars all night. and sure enough, he saw quite a few. especially saw a few in the middle of the night, when he got up, around four, and gave up on the porch idea. it was the hardness of the porch, he said, more than the cold. but those shooting stars were out there, sure enough.

following day, i was a little out of sleep. i'd peed patience and wisdom all night, and in addition, my sister was here, and she got up, lost, a few times, trying to find the bathroom. i guess she had issues with patience and wisdom as well, but the main point was, i wasn't sure who was out on the porch, and who was not, and this caused the loss of a little sleep on my part. but, as i pointed out to her, it's the total number of stars that you see that determines your overall quality of life, so i picked up a few thousand that night, and the fact that a few of them were moving, was probably worth a few bonus points. in the fresh air i've actually written a couple of stories, though i've gone totally dead on the poetry, and need to kind of get in the groove again.

i feel bad about the trampoline accident, but what can you do? there is risk in such things, and we took the risk, and a bad thing happened. they drove her to the hospital, and did a cat scan, but she was all right in the end. we had to calm down on the rest of the trip, is all. i was thrown off my game, and i have a couple of kids who could still really use a tumble here and there, but hey, fresh air and a few thousand stars, that's a start. one of them took a liking to cowboy music, and insists that the only favorite animal she'll ever have is a horse. i myself feel like i belong in the mountains, and have a harder time going back to the high plains every time i have to do it. the weather is the main thing. i told my sister, who cares about the wooden indians, or the flag, if you've got the high mountains on both sides of the road, and it's twenty degrees cooler than what you've been suffering? i found the grocery store, and already i feel like i know a few folks who live around here, but i'll be the first to admit, my license plates are as texish as the next guy. back in roswell, there were aliens all over the place, but they were kind of goofy ones, not much in the believable department. but there was also a real live lizard at the i-hop, and that fella darted across the front door at just the right time, and he was pretty much from another world as well. the mountains are themselves another ecosystem, different from roswell, different from tularosa and alamagordo, or las cruces - they have their own issues. the deer come right up to our cabin, every night, every day, wondering if more apples have fallen from the tree. we ourselves will be heading back, on saturday; we're just temporary travelers, but we're taking in enough air to last, and we're making plans that involve figuring out how to live in a different kind of climate. right now we're in a cabin village, but we've been taking the tour around town, and i have the kids looking at houses. it's all kind of a pipe dream, but so what? you get up here, and you smell the pines after the rain, or even on a nice day, and you get the harmony of the pines with your lungs - well, time to go. somebody pooped in the hot tub.

Friday, August 07, 2015

couple of trips

i leave here walking at about 7 30. it's the coolest time of the day, but it doesn't take long - by the time i get to work, and it's only about six blocks - it's already hot. i go past some texas sage, and a house where they seem to be trying to get that model neighborhood beautiful-yard prize. their flowers are quite beautiful, and they're out there watering them several times a day.

this one guy has overabundant wildflowers; in may they were bluebonnets, but now they are just about everything else. he has fruit trees and they're dropping apples and such on his yard. the daisies or whatever they are take over the median, the sidewalk, all around the fence so i have to walk in the street, but i don't really mind; it's not a crowded neighborhood. two blocks later i come to the ten-line highway and cross, running. on the other side is the dorms, and i walk through the parking lot to get to work.

i got a parking permit but the spaces were too narrow, so i stopped driving to work; also, i got a ticket one day when i'd gone around looking for a big enough spot and then slipped into one, where i didn't see that it was thirty-minutes only. my complaint was nothing though. this friend of mine complained because they'd written him a two hundred dollar ticket for abusing a handicap spot, when he actually had a handicap sign, then they said it was expired, and it took a whole day of his running around, keep in mind he was actually handicapped. i however just started walking, it's easier.

these days the sun is beating down good & hard by the time i leave for home in the afternoon. ninety-seven or whatever, it's not that unusual, but it's hard on me as a kind of old guy when it's that oppressive. i walk back on the same route i take in the morning. the guy with all the wildflowers comes home with his family but i don't even look at him, i just walk by his house. actually i kind of admire the flowers and the fruit, especially the bluebonnets, but i happen to know he's not a nice guy, in fact he's the only guy in the state who hasn't been, in my experience, so i just keep walking. he has good flowers, though, i have to say. goes to show, if you really dislike a guy, does that make his flowers any different?

lots of pecan trees on this particular route. some of them are fixin to plop. a few of the apples have plopped too. you got this stuff, it's been a wet year, lots growing out there, even the cactus are popping up all over with their purple flowers, and starting more barrels i assume. the purple sage goes through its stages as well.
br> left here to go to dallas to pick up my niece, who was flying in from heathrow, an unaccompanied minor, thirteen, first time away from home. plane was three hours late out of lubbock, so we kind of got off on a bad start. there were problems before we even started, namely me being somehow not on the list, but that was a different story, the utter lack of planes at the airport was the worst sign, i was already late for picking her up when i got there, and the record of which gate it had landed was long gone. i thought maybe i could call over to customs and let them know i was here, but they had no way of knowing how to do that, didn't know if she'd be back over here, for her trip to lubbock with me, or still over at the international gate, going through customs. on the plane the flight attendant had told a story of being locked up in the plane all night, in mexico, some mechanical problem, you don't want to fly a plane with a mechanical problem. i couldn't argue with that.

on the ground, in dallas, one guy wrote me a couple of replacement tickets, but didn't know where to send me; finally sent me to an unaccompanied minor headquarters down a long hallway a ways. unfortunately he took a while, and the place was hard to find, and when i finally found them, they sent me over to the international terminal anyway. things were equally murky over there, but finally i found the niece, who had been crying and hadn't heard anything. we set about reboarding for what was now a flight a couple of hours later. we were too late to check her luggage, so they told us to carry it right on through and check it on the plane. but alas it had jam in it, so we were sent back. now we checked the luggage again, for a later flight, but now we were late and the last two flights of the day, back to lubbock, were both full. we sat and glared at the ticketing manager for a while. finally he let us on the first evening flight.

the dallas airport was enormous, everybody overworked, nobody having a clue where to send me or what was where. my brother wanted to file a complaint but i figured, what's the point, none of the particular people i talked to were especially at fault of anything, besides simply not knowing where to send me. i stayed in a pretty good mood; it was good to see her. i don't feel like i did anything wrong myself, though it might have been smarter to go directly over to the international terminal, before asking questions, on the assumption that she would have landed there. it's like getting lost in the woods, only slightly more common. it was worse for her, i'm sure.

back at home, a blazing string of four or five hundred-degree days have set us back a bit; we aren't sure whether to just swim, or lay low, and some of us have gotten sick. my workshop is over, and i've collapsed in a heap in the cool shade, but some jobs around the house remain needed, the recycling has piled up, in general, there's too much to do, to just sit. some flowers, outside, have begun a blazing path into shorter days, almost like they're on fire, take up every inch of the sun, turn their dried out crinkly colors, and still love sitting out there bathing in it, day after day. my wife turned her back a couple of days, and houseplants and landscaping died on both sides, but i was virtually unconscious, and even left a load of laundry in the washer a couple of days too long. we try to keep the place functional; it's harder with an extra puppy, and the kids are in the habit of making a lot of noise. the poor niece has to find her way, i guess. she knew things were hopping in texas, though, and that's why she came.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

these days i spend a lot of time driving on indiana avenue, in order to take a kid to a tennis camp, and then go out and pick him up when he's done. i start out on 23rd street, and the camp is on 112th, but i have to go out to 114th, turn right and go a mile or so, and then come back a couple of blocks. these days that's about the edge of town, though the city is growing way beyond 114th; there's a low field right there, and it seems like you have some countryside south of 114th there before you get to the walmart they're building. right when i turn there are wildflowers, bright yellow, that are growing taller even than my van, a large splay of them that i keep meaning to take a picture of. but the fact is, i'm turning right right there, and kind of have to pay attention to the road.

a friend pointed to an article which spoke about the old problem of the quakers: their refusal to fight wars leaves them (us) taking advantage of freedoms won at the barrel of the gun - freedoms we ourselves refused to contribute to getting. yes, this is an old philosophical problem, and it is slightly more current in my mind these days, since we have two quaker bumper stickers on the van (WAR is not the answer, and, Quakers: religious witnesses for peace since 1660). Occasionally trucks cut me off close, or i hear them speeding up to get beyond me, and imagine these as slightly hostile, impatient actions. in fact i think texas is more of a barrel-of-your-gun kind of place than your average place, and people are quick to point out that by and large everything good has come by shooting and killing for it, or at least that's what they believe. Signs and stickers saying "Come and take it" are common: I take these to mean, I dare you, bring me your guns, you don't like my good life, I'll fight for it and we'll see. It's like the revolution, in which texas became its own country, was just yesterday, when in fact it was what, 1864? might as well have been yesterday. it's not far beneath the surface.

i was surprised when, by and large, the reaction to the sandy hook massacre was to make it possible to arm the kindergarten teachers. i wasn't eager to have loaded guns in my kids' kindergarten, but it pointed out to me a huge cultural difference - to some people, the gun is always under the pillow, that's the way life is, that's what you want if you want to be free.

it brings up some interesting questions. first - is it possible to gain freedoms entirely through non-violent action? one could mention eastern european countries, like georgia and belarus, though i don't know really if they got their freedoms that way, or if you could call what they have freedom. we have what we call freedom; we got it, presumably, in 1776, and have defended it in subsequent wars, though i'm not sure if what we are doing today in iraq, or what happened earlier in, say, vietnam, could rightly be called "defending our freedom." it might better be called "killing in the name of helping people who we believe will be helping this country toward more freedom." but i'm not even sure we could say that accurately.

almost nobody disputes the war against ISIS. the kind of brutality, violence, and pure evil is unmatched in modern times. they cut off people's heads and take slaves from people they consider to be "infidels," which could be almost anyone, and the rest of us in the west dither around and try to decide whether to make our boys die, or use our drones, or train people or what. the steadily increasing unpopularity of war has made it so it's difficult to just send the boys in and run the place over. we quakers would by and large say, do what you're going to do, but don't go about killing people as it doesn't work and it's immoral. does that mean this brutality would just go unchecked under a quaker government? well, yes, it has happened in the past, as it did in quaker pennsylvania of colonial times, or when a war passed through a quaker village. the fact is, if the command is not to kill, or rather, one knows that the only way to break a vicious cycle is to not be vicious, then there's only one way to proceed in the big picture: don't kill. the quaker way is to just consider the morality of the action itself and not be coerced into doing something immoral just by basically the way someone else is doing things. i'm not sure the quaker way goes over so well in these parts.

a lot of texans have become convinced that they're in a kind of alamo world by themselves: the rest of the world, with the possible exception of their confederate brethren, have succumbed to a wild, lawless kind of anything-goes, take-what-you-can-get anarchy, where the people who work are the losers, and everyone else is essentially a taker. thus, 'come-and-take-it' signs and bumper stickers are almost a last stand of brazen defiance; the place is overwhelmingly anti-obama, but also pro-gun, pro-war, pro-self-defense. they don't go for this quaker kind of idealism, like you can just be good and hope everyone else can be good around you. they won't. texans are quick to fight that way.

the sun is bright; the days are very hot. the soil is worthless, though these wildflowers are doing well with all the rain we've gotten. police are all over the roads, presumably pulling over people who are doing 55 in a 40, and letting go those who are at about 43 in a 40. a lot of people just fly by me period, whether they are aware of the over-patrolling of indiana avenue or not, who knows? let's just say that as long as there's money to be had, they're out there getting it, chasing down the business, going to the next spot. i myself am determined to follow the law, stop at the lights before they are absolutely red. don't give them any excuse to hate me, more than they've already got. and anyway, war is not the answer. if they cut me off, i'll just keep on driving down indiana. i'm not into that kind of middle-finger escalation that too often gets people killed.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Monday, July 06, 2015

set out for oklahoma city on friday to celebrate the fourth with my daughter and granddaughter, who were coming down from kansas; oklahoma city was halfway, and everyone i talked to thought that was reasonable, to take two families with kids, and split the driving so that we would each do about five. people tend to put oklahoma down around here, but i've made up my mind to go into these things with an open mind. it's been almost forty years since i came through oklahoma city on foot, and back then, it was sprawling, sunny, not that great-looking, and i didn't even stop in the downtown. so i didn't know much about the place.

going both ways, it was midsummer in the high plains. the texas panhandle was most remarkable, since it took us an hour and a half to get up into the middle of it, then almost that long to turn right and go straight into oklahoma. it was flat and wide, and the sky was huge, and full of wild-looking clouds in every direction, with the sun beating down. you would look off into the horizon, and see maybe a herd of cattle on some flat ranchland off in the distance. but the ground was so flat that the cows would be in a single line out there, a small tight line of black, with a thin line of green and a huge sky above them. it was impressive.

up there in oke city, our hotel was right above a baseball stadium, and the game was scheduled for seven on the fourth of july. it rained a bit before the game, so it was slightly delayed, but they played the whole thing right down there below our window. oke city lost, unfortunately, to the omaha storm chasers, but it was fun to see all those people enjoying the game as the sun went down on the bricktown (downtown - fashionable) area of oke city. on our side of the stadium, the police had some activity, as they seemed to be running back behind the ihop to round up some guys who were misbehaving in some way. and this seemed to drag on for an hour or two, all during the end of the game, as we were kind of waiting around for the fireworks to start after the game.

and boy did they start. though the first hotel room faced south, toward the game, the other room faced east, toward some construction and an empty lot, and that's where they shot them off, going toward the hotel. a few specks seemed to hit the hotel window as they were going off, but the windows could handle it, and we were very impressed by the magnificent big-city-ness of the display in general. it was probably the best in the state, although somebody told me the casinos kind of go out of their way as well. the hard thing for us was that they started at about ten. there was a little past-their-bedtime behavior on the part of the kids.

back in texas, a ferocious storm is passing through, and we're laying low, with a store-boughten lasagna in the oven and everything getting dark. rain and hail were pounding us for a while, and the dogs watched us nervously for hints on how they should behave. fortunately, they don't panic in the storm, as long as we don't, and everything is ok for the moment. lubbock floods easily in this kind of weather, and it's best to just stay off the streets, no matter what happens. the place isn't really made for trees, so the trees tend to fall over, and the water just sits there, as they don't have such things as sewer or drainage; it's too rare. the floods are at some very major intersections which you learn after a while, but to tell the truth, i've been here a couple of years and i still don't know them all. so i leave the cars in the driveway and stay home, and give the rain a chance to drain away by itself.

these days, i'm always feeling like i have to recover from such things as a vacation. that's because i've been a single parent much of the time, and it's stressful even if we do nothing but stay at home. but i'm doing ok with the single-parent thing, and fortunately, it was ok to drive in 95-degree summer, flying across the plain, kids plugged into movies for the most part, and me just reveling in the sunny wide green plains. it's quite a wide place, impressive. nobody else holds it in such high regard, as it tends to grind on you in the long haul, but it really is a huge and open kind of place. and the culture is quite unique too, i might add. more about that later.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

set out for new mexico on a camping trip, well, camping and visiting parents/grandparents/sister/aunt, with the two boys last weekend, on the first weekend after school when it was possible. it was a long-standing promise to take them camping the minute school was out, but here we'd waited almost three weeks, after being rained out one weekend and my wife being gone for a spell that included the next two weekends. they were totally dying to go, so to speak.

but the trip involves a very long, maybe four-hour, trip up a very dry hill, to what i call the mountain, a 9000-foot town of cloudcroft, very wet and nice-smelling, and then straight down the other side of the mountain into a valley that makes ours look like a lush green fertile crescent. this valley, the tularosa, has white sands in it, but then we shoot up the organs and come down into las cruces, once more, a place that makes any rain look like a flood. when we got there, everyone was talking about how it had rained hard there, what, maybe a few days ago. they were still recovering from it. it was like, rain in late june, that's unheard of. i said, back in texas, it rained so much in the month of may, they just about called off the drought, said it was no longer such a problem. but back in texas, we have mechanisms to deal with the rain, for example like gutters, or low places called playas, that collect the rain until the sun comes along and gets rid of it.

right there on the road outside of cloudcroft, we saw what looked like snow, on the side of the road, and this was in fact pretty close to the solstice, the longest day of the year and the first day of summer. at the gas station they said it was actually hail, but yes it's true, it's icy and it looks like snow on the side of the road there. of course, cloudcroft is at 9000. they get a little of that every once in a while, and they don't care if it's late june. it's just life in the high mountains.

so we hung around and visited grandma and grandpa for a while, and my sister, and in the morning we shot right back up into the mountain and pitched our tent and kicked back for some hanging around in the high mountains. now unfortunately, the boys didn't quite know what to do: one thought the place would be packed with his friends, and the other had trouble with the altitude and just didn't feel that hot, but come evening we had smores and a fire, and there were a million stars, and i was happy, because i could wake up on father's day, way out there on the mountain. and i did.

the license-plate watching was fairly typical, except that i saw a hawaii, this time shooting the other way when i was out there in oil country somewhere. it might have been the same one i saw a year or two ago, how many could there be? but in general, you don't see a whole lot of new england ones out there in the oil fields, and most people besides the locals wouldn't choose those particular two-lanes, unless they happened to know just how gorgeous that one little patch of high sacramento forest is. it's a pretty well-kept secret, and that's because it's so totally surrounded by the dry stuff. so i saw mostly TX and NM, but before it was over i saw all the regional ones, AZ, CA, CO, OK, LA, UT and even chihuahua mexico. there was some other mexico one at one point but i really couldn't get close enough to see it without being a hazard - i was on mountain cliffs at the time - so i let it go. what can you do? you can't run your family off a cliff just because you're trying to read some exotic license plate. but i could have sworn some pretty interesting stuff drove by while i was unable to actually read it, and i might have had a more comprehensive list if i could have actually got out of the car at some point and read them.

so the boys were a little bored way up there, sitting around in the beautiful air, and my own reaction was, when they said, what can we DO? i felt like saying, you don't have to DO anything, just sit there and BE way up here, and feel what it's like to BE in such a beautiful place. but when i went to collect firewood, they didn't want to help, they were too tired, or too lazy. i indulged them, but then i kicked myself for it, because here they are complaining about nothing to DO. you got nothing to do? get up and make sure you can BE here just a little longer. i collected it all myself. and i had a grand old time, making a nice crackling fire, having smores and coffee, and whatever i felt like cooking.

down by the oilfields, it was sunday, on our way home, and we stopped at an i-hop for pancakes before we shot across the fields themselves. up on the eastern slope of the mountain, where the dry chinook winds come hurling down the slope and dry and heat everything up, there was this one exotic yellow tree-plant, sticking right up there (picture coming), and i pulled over at one point to take its picture. but my camera is not really so good at that focusing on a single boo-berry bush out in the wild desert plain, i'm not sure how good the picture came out. in the i-hop, one of my boys commented on how we'd very likely never see any of these people again. yes, it's possible, but then again, it's the only i-hop in hundreds of miles, and given that, i find it very likely that we will see them again, but it'll be a few months from now, and we won't quite recognize them. i'm beginning to really know all the places between here and there, and i've come to expect that none of them carry real cream for the coffee, but all of them have the flavored stuff, hazelnut or irish creme or whatever, only probably really old since mostly people don't like anything in their coffee at all. or maybe they use up the plain real fast, and they have to just let the whole batch run out before they replace it. in any case i spend the trip drinking coffee with exotic flovoring that i don't even really like. and then at white sands itself, they have pinon coffee which is not even real strong coffee, but at least it's a flavor i can tolerate. so you take what you can get, and when ya gotta pee, you just pull over, because it's just pretty much scrubland all over the place. the oil boys sure don't care.

got home, and our own town seems lush, and green, and very much the kind of place where it does rain once in a while. and, though it's become much more of a typical texas summer, that's kind of reassuring in a way. no snow down here, for sure.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

things have dried out and heated up in texas, but that's what it's usually like, and people are a lot more comfortable with this dry excessive heat than with the rains that pounded us in may. they are in the habit of going home and ducking out at about three; it's pretty tolerable the rest of the time, but the late afternoons are the worst in terms of pure heat, so what's the point? go home and take a nap.

but, with my wife gone visiting a sick mother, the question for me is how to get through the afternoon with kids who, basically, have plenty of energy all day long. they can watch a movie or two, even watch it again, or play sports on the wii as other kids do. sometimes they want to go out, but this can be either good or bad; once they wanted out in the heat of the day, and they wanted to dress up as well (for some reason, going to the park meant dressing up - long dresses, high heels, etc.) so we either fight about it, or i let them do as they wish. i'm tired. i'm inclined toward the latter. there is no point fighting stuff forever.

so there's a certain amount of chaos around here. they get into stuff, they move furniture. they rip open packages that mom sends, pop the poppies, spread the cardboard around. they create laundry. they have trouble keeping track of stuff.

i write poetry furiously in my free moments. lately i've been in connecticut, nevada, and pennsylvania. one of the joys of it is that, in my head, i can be wherever i want. i can pick up the computer and do research on some place, and then mull around about that place as if i'd been there, and make some comment about it, all compressed in a single haiku. to be able to make seven or eight in a day is not unusual now, but it is my month off, this is all i'm doing, and it's mostly because it goes so well with the hardships of child-rearing. i can't seem to get the discipline to write the autobiography or the novel, both of which are on my plate. but the poetry keeps coming.

lots of pictures coming - dollies, flowers, whatever crosses my mind. the girlies play with their barbies, and pose them everywhere, so that gets me to do the same stuff, but only when i have the time, and it's kind of interesting, to have this culture of barbies come through the house. elsa barbie, cinderella barbie, i feel like lining them up in different places and see what i can get. the girlies stuck them in a tree. one day they buried them in sand. i have these pictures somewhere, but i haven't gotten organized yet. the thing about barbies is, they carry a pretty good wallop, symbolically and culturally, and as a haiku artist you come to appreciate that after a while. if a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture of a barbie can give you a bonus, because they mean so much to so many people.

my parents are having a 65th anniversary today; they are having people to a celebration, and hopefully there are flowers and treats there for them while they enjoy this incredibly long marriage. my sister is watching over it. i am here, babysitting, unable to join them, but i will call as soon as possible, and congratulate them. it's really quite amazing.

in texas, on the ground, i am reaching out for help. having gotten the lice out of their hair, hopefully, and being frustrated enough to yell at them occasionally, i find that if i can pack any of them off anywhere, ever, that is useful. they respond to barbies, to books, new plastic, new things to do. they have imaginations. they stay out of the heat when they have to. our job is to get through the summer, after which point school can have at them again, and i'll get a break. at that point all i have to do is esl, teach, do my job, and it will be a relief. in fact that will start july 15. i can hardly wait.