Saturday, February 18, 2017

left home today determined to take a look at the triangle house, a ramshackle little place about halfway down the steep hill we use to get groceries down in the valley. the hill is a mile down, though the whole ride is about twelve miles, from 9000 feet to about 3500 feet, and the road snakes down the mountainside taking narrow turns, some of which have no rails, and some of which occasionally give way causing great stress and tremulation. rocks fall on it. there is construction on it. it's heavily patrolled, with most of it being safety corridor (double fines) and some of it construction zone (double fines again). so the stakes are high, and i try to go the speed limit. more so, since it's occasionally frozen and slippery.

so today i'm careening down this hill and a guy flashes his lights at me on the way up. watch out for baker, i thought, as baker the patrolman is often on this hill. i slowed way down and prepared to turn into the triangle house, and there he was, tucked back in the bushes near the house, checking out speeders.

having pulled in, i couldn't very easily pull back out, so i got out of the car, and said to him (his window was open), i was hoping to poke around this house, if you don't mind. and i did. it had issues, but i didn't want to hang around, especially, him watching me and all, and also, my car blocking his easy access to some degree. so i said, it has some issues, and he agreed again, and i left, and went on my merry way down the hill.

he's often around, in one of many pullovers on the hill. i assume it's the legendary baker, who has hauled in more traffic fines than any patrolman in new mexico, from what i've heard. but in fact i don't know baker from anyone, so i'm not even sure about what i'm reporting here. i think that was the guy, though, as it looks like the same one i usually see. he was nice enough to me.

so one of the house's issues is that he uses it to pull over speeders. but we actually like it that he's there, because these people that fly up and down the hill are a hazard to all of us. we talk about trying to remain focused on the steep hill; i'm on it twice a day, it's hazardous, and it's hard to stay under the speed limit. it's hard even to stay between the lines. focus focus!

there are ancient caves on both sides of the road. there's a huge wide tularosa valley, at one point, where the sun lands on the organ mountains way out there, or the rising sun behind the sacramentos glows on them. it's hard not to at least look at some of the scenery, winding little roads up into the mountains, for example, or the caves off in the hills.

down in the valley, it's twenty degrees warmer than here. not much drama, in terms of the roads themselves. people hear you're from the mountains, and they're kind of in awe of it. they have fallen into the habit, alas, of not going up too often. it's just too crazy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

little bit of weather came through, which caused me to not accept jobs on monday and tuesday, but lots of the jobs were crappy anyway. i don't take part-time ones, or autism ones, and for a long time i wouldn't take elementary ones, though i might change my ways on that one, as they say little kids are really nice. they just seem totally bonkers to me. and lots of the elementary ones are at holloman, an air force base which is actually another fifteen or twenty minutes beyond the thirty or forty it already takes me to get to town. i've been nervous about the road closures on the steep mountain i take every morning to get down to work - when it gets really stopped up, there really isn't much of a choice on how to get down - so, paralyzed with fear and stress, i took a couple of days off.

you'd think i'd use it productively, but, for the most part, i did poetry. i have a long list of things to do - go back to school to be a high school history teacher, write a book on self-organization, publish my memoirs, finish the newest collection of stories - my wife says, please write something that makes a little more money, and i've agreed, in principle, to try. what's the point of writing if it's all for nothing? but somehow the point of poetry is deep inside me, very expressive, and it's a work of several years, and instead of just being able to put it aside, on the contrary, i'm pressured by the deadline, which is april. i'm now at about seven hundred of them, with three hundred to go. it looks like i can make it. if i systematically sit down and crank them out, i should be able to do it. and this will be the first one that has all thousand of them new.

so this morning i went shooting down the hill with an old cajun cd on the music, and wrote louisiana haiku during the breaks. my job is basically babysitting junior high (today) kids, hoping they do their math assignment (they did, actually, for the most part, today). sometimes other people are involved; i co-teach with various people. i spent some time in a computer lab, and actually copied the words to a song. the kids were doing halo, probably, full aware that as a sub i would have a hard time manipulating them into actually doing what they were supposed to. Each of them will go home and do their history project alone, at night, almost all being computer-literate. but that time, when they were a bunch of wild boys in a lab with access to halo - to them, that was a good development. they like subs.

alamo is a hot and dusty town, even in february, but dramatic, tucked against these huge mountains that i live in. the sun and clouds cast shadows on the mountains sometimes, so that you see these huge shadow outlines on the dry side, and they move. the town actually got a lot of rain and snow recently, and this is a big deal for a town that gets what, four inches a year maybe. i watched the foliage, desert brush, for signs that it changed color even a little bit. but it all looked like desert scrub to me, the same color it was last week. i stay off the mud trails anyway, you get the sense that, if you go off the road into the red desert sand, you'll sink and not come up. sometimes i take the road that hugs the mountain, just because it's so dramatic and beautiful, and people don't seem to want to take it much. it's four lanes, so if you slow down to gawk at the mountain, it's ok, and it doesn't have much traffic. it also has the coffee shop, also tucked up against the mountain.

lots going on - with kids rapidly turning into teenagers, with my job basically being discipline all day, and with the weather so darn crazy you don't know what might come up the pike. that storm - they thought it would be twelve to nineteen inches, but it didn't turn out that way, i probably could have made it down the hill. we're only in february though, much more could be coming.

then, to top it off, today, an unexplained dizziness came through me. a class of reasonably bad kids started looking fuzzy and i was afraid to stand up. out in my car i heaved my lunch - bad. not sure what it was. now, at home, by the fire, i try to pull it together again. you sign up for these sub gigs one at a time. you never quite know what you'll get. today, though, one kid comes in, and says, "i like this sub. the other one yelled at me for nothing," something to that effect. it's all about when and where you snap. the sub i was with, he snapped early and hard, but he kind of eased off when he saw how much i was able to put up with. i actually got more work out of them, being relatively easy on them (not true in the computer lab), but at least i didn't have to send anyone packing. i don't like writing them up. as they get to know my line, though, it seems we get along better. and so, tomorrow, another day.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

new story:
comments welcome! enjoy!

Saturday, February 04, 2017

the sun goes down in the mountains; another day is gone. super bowl is tomorrow and i've promised my son i'd watch it. he likes the patriots though, i don't. those are the guys who let all the air out of the balls and got away with it, though i might have my story wrong here. to me, if the government is taken over by a bunch of immoral millionaire liars, why should i root for anyone called "patriots?"

on the other hand, it is a kind of north-south thing, and i dislike the falcons too, although it was said at one point that they have a quaker on their side. he isn't a quaker, someone pointed out, he's a catholic who played for william penn. well what does that mean? and besides he's a football player. this means that if he does what they want him to do, he'll gather up a violent froth and go after those patriots with a vicious fervor. i don't really support football at all, but i support my son, who needs good information to take back to his classmates, for example, a solid grasp of the rules of football which one best gets from one's father, when one doesn't want to admit that one doesn't have a clue, otherwise. he also wants me to take him hunting (like the other fathers do), but i've been dragging my feet.

actually my team is the cleveland browns, who didn't even win their first game until something like december, and are therefore in the very basement and will probably get another good draft pick, like jonny football, who will be wasted away or perhaps traded away. i thought of just switching my allegiance to the cowboys (so now my two teams would be the cowboys and indians), but, the fact is, i have very little love for football at all, though now my wife tells me that they are taking great pains to make sure children are not getting killed in the process of playing it. by great pains, i mean, they are changing helmets, or changing the game, or just making sure you can do it, and not have your brain turn into commas. i decided, a while back, that since the game was dangerous, and fatal, to so many, that i wouldn't support it by watching or doing anything else.

but now, my son badly wants me to watch with him, and even has the channel arranged so we can get it on his x-box (this has not always been guaranteed - we generally live without television). so i agreed to do it, as i have a longstanding promise to spend time with him whenever it is possible, and under his terms. if that's what he wants, ok, i'll be there for him, and i'll give a report too, as the super bowl is the number one advertising venue of the year, as well as the top showcase for the best commercials that exist, or at least the ones that are all geared toward people like me, paunchy, middle-aged, sedentary, semi-aggressive males. although, to tell you the truth, they probably prefer the ones with money, or at least the ones that don't let their wives do their shopping.

from the pure genius-in-commercial-making point of view, they actually have commercials that people talk about the following day, as in, did you see that doritos commercial? or, the bud ones were really good this year. you have people who just watch the commercials. you have other people who are basically football fans, but have been drawn in to the commercials over the years. you have people who just watch because everyone, absolutely everyone else, is.

now that alone is a commentary on today's society, a commentary as bad as electing you-know-who, or saying that violence against women and blatant lying are obviously not deal-breakers for most people, even a few of them who would call themselves christians. in fact there's a wide love of football throughout the nation's churches, and there are even a few quaker football fans, though many are like me, actively disdaining the violence. quite a few just tune in, watch it, have something to talk about among other guys, and don't really have a problem with the fact that the people actually doing it are killing themselves, supposedly. the game was made for television. we have lots of very comfortable living rooms, why not make a plate of nachos and sit down and enjoy it?

one element of it is, it's a kind of mid-winter festival. we've been cooped up a couple months already. the groundhog has given us his wretched news. the snow keeps piling in. but most of all, this house is too small to say no to a kid.
new story:
The Bottle Game
enjoy! comments welcome as usual...

Friday, February 03, 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017

embrace the tiger - but return to the mountain

'nother long week. i'm a sub now, at the high school, or junior high, or alternative school, or wherever they have work. they have plenty of work, but it's grueling. for one thing, i had thirty years without a single discipline problem, and now my entire life is discipline problems. and i actually kind of like the kids, they're kind of like my kids. but, when they see a sub, they get excited. they want to see what they can get away with. and, the tougher the teacher that they used to have, the tougher they are on me. i'm an old guy.

kicked one kid out today. it wasn't his first time, though; he was quite used to it. he was starting a mass rebellion, and he was working on everyone, but he was also talking back to me, and not minding what i said. i got sick of it and sent him packin'. once i told a kid i'd send him packin', and he didn't understand what i meant. send you packin', pretty obvious to me. but i have to give clear warnings. i'll explain it again if i have to.

once again my drive is a straight mile down through snowy mountains into rugged cliffs and down into the desert, a town which sits right up against the very mountains i live in. they just stop at the edge of this town, and tower over the town. some roads you take, you look square at them, like an enormous backdrop. the thing is, these mountains are in the east, so my guess is that mornings are quite cool and sweet in this town. afternoons are, well, sunny, but the whole place is. people don't have yards, they have rocks. but they have this view.

now i keep imagining, as i shoot down this mountain, enormous rocks falling right on the road right in front of me. it's bound to happen sometime, since it has already happened a half dozen times just in the three weeks i've done the road, only not to me, fortunately. i see evidence of it later. somebody has gotten out of their car, right on the cliff, and moved the rock over to the side. and it's a rock that wasn't there yesterday. and it leaves a huge rock mark on the road, where it was.

and i always imagine that these rocks are actually messages from the ancient people, since the ancient people occupied all those mountains, on both sides of the tunnel, where the dry mountains come up and meet the forested mountaintops, where they can get deer from above and plants from below, and a stream of fresh water comes down from the high snowy peaks. those people had caves, but they're long gone, and the only sign of their being there, is that these rocks are delicate, and in the extreme weather, they expand and contract, and come loose, and shoot down onto the road, where they might do some damage.

the only way to protect yourself is to be extremely sensitive, and to actually watch the hillsides, as you drive. if it comes with the car in front of you, so be it, you can stop in front of another car. if it comes straight down on you, what do you do? swerve i guess. but try not to swerve over the cliff.

will bring pictures, of the drive, of the mountain, of the schools i work in. there's an old chinese saying, embrace the tiger, but return to the mountain...i'm living that one. i think the essence of it is, live your life to the fullest, but keep your spiritual center. i have a more literal meaning, though. my high school is the tigers, and the junior highs are tigers and jaguars, and even the alternative school is the white tigers. it's pervasive, and the art that goes with it, well, that's on my phone. but i'll bring you some. and here's to the chinese new year, though it could be the rooster at this moment. maybe the tiger is out. but i'm living life to the fullest - discipline being what it is.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

home now, listening to an old version of "cold rain and snow" by molly tuttle. tony rice has another good version. i could listen to this song alone, all night, as it has everything i like - good bluegrass solos, a little minor key thrown in there, good lyrics, feeling sorry for yourself, all that kind of stuff. trying to work on my poetry and unwind at the same time.

subbing is like, well, babysitting when you don't quite know the rules. the main thing is to not let them catch the place on fire. sometimes it seems like anything else goes, though. today i had the bad kids, at the bad school, but they seemed very much like all the kids, at all the schools. maybe they had a history, had been through the wars, but how do you know that as a sub? they aren't going to tell that to a sub, generally.

a friend asked to report our most boring moment of the week, on facebook. i told her the most boring was when a class actually did what the teacher intended. but that was like one day out of maybe three weeks i've worked. in this one class, the students, all quite good, set to work on some project the teacher had set out...this isn't unusual, teachers print out stuff for students to do. what's unusual is when they do it. i guess it depends on the teacher. wise use of time would dictate that students would want that time to do what they have to do. no. sub means, socialize, go bonkers. that's what i've found.

the drive, straight down 6000 feet, not boring. the drive back up, not boring. rocks falling from the cliffs on the road, not boring. even alamo itself, a wide, dusty, sunny, plain little town with enormous mountains shading it from the morning sun, not boring. it's kind of a military (white sands), international town, but not a college town in any way. and it's thoroughly new mexico. i don't know what that means, exactly, but it's not on the border of no texas or colorado, that's for sure.

i have time at this job, and my mind is free. i've tried planning out some of my books, but that's quite hard. writing poetry, that's not so hard. i have to get into my groove, so i don't waste my time. i have to get them printed, for one thing, so i can edit them. that's not hard. then, i have to clear the space in my head. easy enough to say.

the mountain is cold, windy, starry, frozen - walks are iced over; the wind hits your face hard. down the hill, it's sunny, always dry, not much grass around. it's desert. people are used to it. they can leave stuff outside, and it stays there, not enough rain to really ruin it. we drive by with our cars all piled up with snow, but when we park, it all melts, and i can see them saying, if it wasn't for those folks from cloudcroft, we wouldn't get any at all. they come up here every once in a while, it's a perk of living there, you have access to the streams, the woods, the mountains - but they live completely out of it, in the desert. i'm getting to know their kids.

more later - it's a tough schedule, and i have to keep up with it.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

new story:
Looking for D.B.
comments welcome...enjoy!
the raging wind and the snow is no match for our tiny cabin, with plastic on the windows held on by mostly stickum. i've been using cardboard and thumbtacks to hold down the one that rages the most, but downstairs there's actually one that whistles. the teenager doesn't mind; he's delighted that he has headphones, and that now we'll open this enormous door in the back room that leads down to the basement, so he doesn't have to go outside to come up and get something to eat. his hunger is the only thing that drives him out of his cave; the heat is ok, and he has a puppy down there to keep him company.

up here the wind howls and rages and the snow swirls around. there was about five or six inches of it, and i couldn't get the car up the last hill, when i went out for fried chicken and milk and water. i also got the mail and some more thumbtacks. not going out again. car is parked down by the library, where it'll be fine until someone plows. there was just too much snow, and not enough car, there, when i was trying to get back. let the snows rage all over everything, and i'll try to get it back in the morning.

meanwhile we've been keeping our eyes on the women's marches nationwide, worldwide, mostly through facebook. i have friends at a number of them: about half a dozen in washington, a dozen or more in carbondale, new orleans, vegas, eugene, des moines. lots of friends at lots of marches. and they all have better weather than we do. my sister, who attended one in las cruces, said they got a thousand, and wondered what we were doing up here (our town only has about a thousand, and that's on a good day). nothing that i know of. i can't imagine anyone standing outside for a minute longer than they'd have to. it's raging, and blowing, and piling up, and raging some more.

an old mexican gentleman knocked on our door to tell us that the car door was open; on the street side, the side door had come open and was just collecting blizzard. i trudged up there on snow-filled steps - they are not in good shape - and he was right. the blizzard surrounded me. our own fence was not in good repair. now i'm back and by the fire, watching dark clouds and beyond, the sun shining on the white sands. my wife is reading the weather. only travel in an emergency. up to a foot in mountain areas. wind and bad visibility.

this is the day my mother died (january 21) a year ago, and though i'm not too big on anniversaries, it was a hard one to miss. a good day to wear gray, stay home, feed the fire. facebook popped up with her right away this morning; i've never been a big fan of facebook's reminding me of things i already knew. i called my dad and sister. my sister was at my dad's, taking care of him, but she was going for marches too, as it seems everyone was, all day, all over the world. everyone except us, snowed in & homebound, listening to the wind.

then, i should just be working on my writing, right? well, i should, but instead i made a movie. i've been playing with these pop-art style picture makers and just wanted to do a few dozen about the protests. unfortunately the only song i actually had, that i could put them to, was a bluegrass one made by my own band. they would surely disapprove, my using their music to make a protest video, so i stopped short of publishing it, or even showing it to anyone except my wife. and i kind of felt, that was enough, that was ok, it wasn't quite finished yet anyway, and didn't quite go with bluegrass anyway. there's a better song - might be on another computer - and i think i own it, and could use it, but it would be hard to get and transport. so i feed the fire. i've come to a point where i want to relax.

and, finally, my dad tipped me off about what's happening in leverett glacier, in antarctica. we all follow virtually everything that has anything to do with leverett, just as a matter of principal, so when leverett glacier becomes a thing, well, that's news we want to share with each other. so leverett glacier feeds into the ross ice shelf, and that's important, why, because maybe you can drive on the ross ice shelf, or at least you can get to the leverett glacier pretty easily. and once you do, that's the shortest path to the south pole. so in the race to get to the south pole fastest, those people who have chosen the 'leverett glacier route' are having and advantage, and it's big, it's a thing, it's a place where people are going.

it's a good thing to think about, on this winter-storm day, wind howling, snow blowing around like crazy. i'm glad i'm not walking to the south pole. out in the mud room, wet boots, snow suits, naked barbies, sticks, dog dish. beyond that, the wind and snow, blowing like crazy.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

when i left this morning there were five new inches of snow, and fog as thick as pea soup. i only have to go down two blocks to the highway, unplowed, but the highway is usually plowed and it's usually pretty well beet-heated all the way down past the snow line which was at about 5800 feet (?). my commute is roughly a mile straight down; up here at 9000 feet there's not only fog, but also heavy wind, and the five inches of snow that was added onto what was already there. the pine trees were gorgeous, all weighed down in the fog. but the road was clear right down to the tunnel and beyond. we consider the tunnel about halfway. beyond that, it's dry as a bone, usually, and very little snow. the trouble starts on this side of the tunnel.

did some more playing here and played banjo too. wrote poetry. this is partly because work is becoming easier (once they have tested you, they're ok kids), and because very little creativity is involved, as long as i'm babysitting, as opposed to actually teaching. i'm hanging around down the hill, watching the clouds swirl up on the mountain, as the whole town down there has stunning views of these very mountains - but, they have no traffic issues, no "stuck on the hill" mentality, no concept of the snow-ice combination that can make our very descent treacherous. i can call in, sure, citing the weather. but i don't want to, because they don't really believe that it's as bad as it is. they only come up here in the good weather, with the exception of those who work up here and come up regularly. in my entire school, i haven't met anyone from cloudcroft, and only one from even halfway up the mountain. they are familiar with it, recognize it as part of their environment, see the weather warnings on their television. but know it, i don't think so.

the puppy settles in on my lap after a while so i do all my typing on the arm of the chair in a somewhat twisted position. i can play pop art in this position and can do bog, though not well, and i'm kind of sick of bog, though i got sixth place by myself once today, somewhat unusual. the puppy pretends to take a nap and gets lots of petting in his thick white overgrown fur. outside the wind howls but the fog continues, and it's snowed a little more tonight although that is negligible i think. we check the weather forecasts but they change a lot; i can't see how they know from minute to minute, even, what's going to happen, so i don't blame them. but i check a lot. at six thirty in the morning, i'm on my way back down.

people are used to it here. and they come to prefer staying up on the hill, if they can. you can see why. it's all very dramatic, that mile drop down to get groceries, or work, or whatever, but after a while, there's only so much drama anyone really wants. and they're tearing up the road, not only toward the bottom, where they're widening a little, by ripping out part of the cliff, but also further up, above the tunnel, where apparently a piece of road just gave way. gave way, because of rains and snows and whatever. the weather does it. or maybe the beet-heat does it. it's a rough life, and you have to keep at it.