Saturday, September 24, 2016

new story:
Eastern Elbow Time
comments welcome...enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2016

new story:
Shower of Fear
comments welcome....enjoy!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

a movie i made about new mexico:
on the mountain
just so i don't lose it! it features me on the banjo, but the name at the end, "32 acres," is not entirely correct. it's my version of 32 acres, maybe.
new story: House Party
enjoy! Comments welcome as usual

Thursday, September 01, 2016

of course i'm not afraid of putting my entire course online, in a blackboard shell, where you might have some advantages, like the students can doodle on the class board while you yap or text over to the grad assistant to ask what the heck you say, and of course this could offend you but it also opens up a whole new world, if you can just get used to it, because blackboard can record it, and some of these things are worth recording especially when we talk linguistics which we will probably not. most of my students of course are better at blackboard than i am, and i found out tonight it's all a matter of perception: what you think they see is not necessarily what they see, and what they say they see it seems to me, is not always all they see. it's all very virtual but we were stuck there for a while, couldn't do a thing.

then i'm also in this situation where once a week i go across west texas, through the rangeland, the oil fields, the vast empty quarter and up the mountain to the clouds here where, in my comfort, i will get on blackboard tomorrow. i have done all this, moved my family to the mountain, in order to save my wife's sanity, but i kept my job, which means i have to go back once in a while to check in back at the west texas headquarters. back there, if they though everyone could simply move to the high mountains and do their job, they'd have mass exodus, but a little nobody like me can apparently do it and still have my job, if only because i do it well and very few others can. so i teach my two classes, yesterday, and load up the van with a shed full of junk, and then go play the fiddle for a while, and about eight-thirty i take off heading west on a four and a half hour drive uphill and into the mountain time zone.

but it's pouring down rain and it seems to be getting worse, as i snake through the cottonfields of west texas, the peanut farms and occasional oil derricks, it's coming down like crazy. the roads are ok, but it is really pounding the car and when i come to those 'watch for water' signs i get real nervous but they've mastered the art, in texas, of raising the road just enough that the roads seem to be ok. you have this very flat countryside, nowhere for the water to go, bad and non-porous dirt, but apparently if the road is just six, eight inches up, that's enough. and that's what they have. i snaked across the new mexico line just as the rain was letting up.

but alas, the rain had come from the west, had been in lovington earlier, days earlier, and in new mexico, even though that road was fairly new, it was perhaps not six to eight inches above the ground. now, when i encountered a 'watch for water' sign i actually flew through a couple of feet of water, a puddle maybe thirty feet long and two or three feet deep. ouch! fortunately i was going about sixty five, and, though the car slid a little, it made it to the other side. just in time for another one, about the same length, same depth. you wonder if that water's going to get into your engine. it's hard for it not to.

high in the mountains i kind of got into a zone and pretty soon i'd passed some landmarks and hadn't even noticed. where the empty quarter road comes around this major bend at an elementary school, i didn't even see it. all of a sudden i was in the mountains, with rock coming up right at the road there, and the possibility of course of landslides, and more commonly, deer all over the place. they like the road. they like the late night. they don't always even think about making room for the cars.

and what do they think about the rain? here it is, still drizzling out in the mountains, and it still is, by the way, and those deer, mark my words, are still out there not worrying too much about the drizzle. lots of weeds growing on all sides, plenty to eat. they don't like the cars, but, in the end, there aren't a whole lot of them. you stop out there, for any reason, and there are millions of stars, more than i've ever seen in one place.

and it's back to the online class; i teach it tomorrow; i hope everyone will be there. i have students who will have trouble; i'll have trouble; that's the way it goes, but eventually we'll see it, we'll get together in a virtual environment, every thursday except thanksgiving. i look forward to it. thanksgiving, i'll be up here in the mountains, eating turkey, or maybe elk, and not getting online. and that, i'll figure, will be life as it's supposed to be lived.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

sometimes the high altitude gets to you. it's usually at the end of my walk back up to the house, which is on a ridge, slightly above the center of town. the center of town is 8700, i think, and our little drive is 8707, according to a car we drove in that told the altitude. tomorrow a football team comes to town. i wonder if it will matter. matters to me...

published my book of quaker plays, and it was kind of a mini-hit on facebook, with two friends saying they'd actually bought it. i saw no record of that, though, in the createspace place where it should record sales. i think maybe they wait until they actually print and send it, and it can take days. i'm a little aggrieved that i've been putting out books for years and get maybe a buck here, a buck there, if i'm lucky. i have to admit, though, i've enjoyed the luxury of not having to worry about it. what do you do when you actually need sales? i have no idea. keep cranking out books, maybe. turn to novels, maybe, which might have a higher price tag. i don't know.

then there's the banjo; i've picked it up again. it's harmonic ringing goes well with a 8707-foot, piney wet cloudy clime, and my back porch kind of has a little alleyway pathway to the center of town, so that i feel like i'm playing, sometimes, to a main street that hears the echo, maybe, better than the music itself. it's a kind of scottish place, cloudcroft, with the clouds sometimes coming down and literally hugging the place. or, from the back porch, we watch them roll in and collide with each other. it's a late-summer thing that some of them actually have water in them, and dump it on us quick while they're in the high mountains; surely they're the only raining clouds in the entire southwest. we go down to el paso, alamo, or maybe las cruces, and they've had none, none at all. we dry out for a while then turn back around, go back up the hill to our little aerie in the clouds.

in such an environment, i try to turn myself into a writer, or perhaps a musician, but mostly i make lots of cups of navajo tea and sit on that back porch and just watch the white sands go through their various different glows as the sun hits them differently. tonight i swear, i saw rain way out there, or i thought i did, though it's hard to tell how far away the rain is, and it's possible it was just an illusion. it does actually rain out there occasionally, especially this time of year, when anything can happen, and all the neon newts and gilas go scurrying around trying to catch their one opportunity of the year, or one of the few, at least. i think, probably, there are places drier than the tularosa basin, but not many of them. in alamo i'm sure they feel like they can climb the hill any time and catch some water, some rain, maybe a mountain hike or a cloud or two, but they very rarely do; more often, the hikers we meet are from germany, or the netherlands maybe, and speak with a european lilt but who knows where they live.

there's a steady display of hummingbirds right off the front porch, and they occasionally come right up to me, even when i'm playing the banjo. they especially like pink stuff, i think, so when the girlies bring a barbie out to the porch they're likely to fly right up and see what the pink is all about. they like to hover. in fact, i'm kind of fascinated by that idea of hovering - it's an advantage, i'm sure, that they use in many ways but i'm not sure they can actually escape danger with it. it's great to watch though. they just kind of hang in the air, moving slightly one direction or the other, or back and forth, their wings flapping furiously. seems they have big wings and not much body, so that's possible. and also that neon desert-kind of glow, that doesn't hurt either. it's their social life - hovering over our garden, white sands behind them, checking out the exotic bushes and the barbies.

and one other thing - they're living in the high mountains. they could have it sunny, warm, dry, like everyone else, but they don't. they're like us - they like it here - though who knows, when the snow packs in, they might be long gone. i'll try to get some pictures, but, they're pretty hard to catch with the phone i've got.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Quaker Plays for First Days



$7.28 + shipping at Amazon
All profits go to Quaker organizations

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

on the mountain

little movie i made
about our first days in new mexico

Friday, August 19, 2016

new story: Hunger
comments welcome; enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016





Tuesday, August 16, 2016

almost forty years in the central time zone, and now i've moved over to the mountain, where the sun sets peacefully on the white sands in the evening, with a pink and blue sky, and a purplish range of mountains beyond them. the sun is wiser now, having passed over texas, and chicago, and all that pain back in the east, and it's moving through the enormous skies of southern new mexico and on to arizona and california beyond. as far as the time itself goes, that's rather arbitrary. i try to keep the cars current to whatever zone we happen to be in, but only the phones are good at it; they change by themselves, and spare us the trouble. as we cross the line, between lovington new mexico and plains texas, we check the phones to see how long it takes them to figure it out. but it takes us longer, because we don't always change the car clocks right away, and they sometimes lag in the other state's time zone.

a couple of days moving vans full of junk to a house where we don't really need it, and i've become resistant to even going back and getting more. and yet, there is still some stuff in the shed, and i'm sure some of it was intended to come here. the garden tools? the navajo tea? it all went out to the shed, with the intention of being brought here. not everything made it here. what's left is locked up in this tiny-house shed, behind our house in lubbock, while we try to lease the house for the semester or the school year. i'm here, in new mexico, planning my classes so that i return to lubbock once a week and show my face, all the while following the regulations and living under the strict oversight that they provide to online classes. it so happens that they are very sensitive as to what goes up there, how it's done, how much contact the teacher actually has, etc. i am learning the ropes. i now want to be in lubbock as little as possible; my wife wants to avoid it altogether.

the cabin up here is packed to the gills. i started out with the idea of bringing everything we had deliberately saved, or had not thrown out. but we kept finding more junk in the house, and bringing it out. pretty soon it seemed like i'd filled the van with a shed-full of stuff, only to have a shed-full remaining, that i was leaving behind. and the stuff that came out of the house (and the garage, which is kind of junk squared) kind of covered up what i had originally set out to bring. so, the garden tools, the navajo tea, some of that stuff didn't make it.

new mexico is overall calmer than texas. texas i find highly political, as if everybody plans to vote twice in different shades of red. they even drive like they're political. i'd like to say they're fun-loving football fans, and by and large that's true, but whereas they'll always talk football with you, they won't start up with you if they sense you're liberal, and it doesn't take them long to figure that out. but it seems, around every corner, people are talking about it. nowhere does anyone hate hillary more, but they're not idiots, and they can see that trump doesn't have a clue, and is a destructive psychopath. so that makes everyone hot under the collar, in a nutshell. driving is no fun anymore.

then there are the students. they are always checking tinder or pokemon, and swiping their phones, so there are car wrecks everywhere. i sense that they aren't destructively hostile, like trump, they're just kids, doing what they want to, and doing it at any old red light in the middle of the city. several times i saw people just clop each other in ridiculous kinds of wrecks. you'd think they'd at least be watching the road in front of them. but apparently it's hard to swipe and hold onto the wheel, or something. and the real world adds a twist, at least in the case of pokemon. certain places are more likely to have people swiping randomly, instead of paying attention, and i think people there have a right to be a little aggrieved that some game has singled them out to be a place where people don't pay attention on the roads.

out on the wide, flat rangelands, where you can see for hundreds of miles, and it's all skies, or in some cases oilfields, you could do just about anything and still drive straight, but out there, i'm finding, life is so sharp, so colorful, so intense, i just want to see it. three quarters of the jobs out here in new mexico are truck driving jobs, and i want to stay home, besides being a bad driver, but, it's tempting, i'll tell you. it's much better than driving around lubbock, where all the new cars cut you off or at least make you look bad. my new goal is to stay up on the mountain, where it's fall already, and the air smells like pines and an occasional campfire.