Monday, August 26, 2013

staying put

facebook asked me what was on my mind, so i put a picture gallery of the rim fire up there but didn't say anything. for a couple of weeks now we've been watching that enormous fire creep closer to my in-laws' village of twain harte, ca, and it's caused a bit of anxiety around our house as my wife basically pressures her parents to bail out but they don't. though i've visited the place twice, i don't know it real well, but i've been learning more of its geography as each new valley succumbs to the roaring flames of the advancing fire. the terrain is rugged. there is lots of dead lumber all over the woods that is burning right up.

twain harte is about 90 miles from yosemite, but that's the 90 miles that are on fire. the fire has crept into yosemite on the east, up above cherry lake on the north, down toward coulterville on the south, and, on the west and northwest, it pushes up against tuolumne city, miwuk village, soulsbyville, and twain harte. over 3000 firefighters have been working to contain the blaze, digging out open areas near roads, setting backfires, dropping flame retardant (?) from airplanes, etc. many people feel that on the west, near tuolumne city, they have it well contained, with the help of a four-lane highway which is still open. down in the woods by coulterville, they close old yosemite road and whole hillsides catch fire. the fire also moves up the mountain toward long barn and pinecrest where the highway is only two-lane and it could conceivably jump, with some bad winds.

all of which causes some anxiety in our household. trying to stay put in such a situation is gambling that the smoke doesn't overtake the valley, or the fire doesn't creep around and surround you, or that all roads remain open for when you do choose to escape. the whole extended family, as far as i know, is staying put.

meanwhile, it's first day of school here, at the college, elementary and junior high level, and everyone, all of us, are on our way back. went to an open house for the middle school where they explained that if we dropped the kid off at about 8, they would herd him into the cafeteria and from there to his first class. then we pored over maps of the gigantic school and helped him find where each class was. but, come first day, i drop him off at the front door of this massive school, and he panics. "but where do i -like- GO?" he says. he's forgotten. it's be all right, i tell him. go to the cafeteria. follow everyone else. it'll all work out.

but i remember his look of panic. it's kind of like my first-day-of-school dreams, which i've been having for what, about thirty years. you have a class, but you forget where it is. you lost so much sleep over the nature of the class, you forgot details, like, how to get there, or whether to wear pants. in some of these dreams i wake up bemused. i've been there before, and it no longer really bothers me. i'm confused about where i've been, or where i'm going. or even what i teach.

we check the maps, the updates, the facebook posts of people in the area. the mountain people are attached to their land, their steep hills and high pines, all threatened. the feeling that they'll probably survive it has taken hold and given them their tight community, knowing each other, sticking together. warily they keep an eye on a fire that can jump highways, shoot up valleys, swallow up whole hillsides. the smoke, apparently, is going mostly up over the mountain to reno, where they can hardly breathe. down here, traffic picks up and it's hot as usual. another football season starts. a faraway place barely registers, it might as well be syria. the little kids get used to school too. soon enough, it all becomes routine.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

when i was growing up in pittsburgh, in the late 60's, there was this bridge that came out of the fort pitt tunnel into a stunning view of the city, but if you by chance stayed left, or were forced left by traffic, you would shoot over what was called the bridge to nowhere, which stopped right above the north side. your car would go shooting over the bridge and end up on the banks of the north side. your car would be badly damaged but you would most likely live. people said that the worst part of this experience would be ending up on the north side, which at that time was in bad need of repair.

soon after i left they fixed up the bridge and built the first three rivers stadium down there on the north side; that was the beginning of steady renovation of the place. further up the river were three more bridges that simply crossed over to downtown, unlike the big one, which was more of a highway bridge that had never been finished. the big one had signs: "road ends, 1000 feet" in order to prevent the kind of occurrence i wrote about above. but the heck of it is, you could easily fly past those signs. people often didn't realize they were right downtown, and didn't intend to be there, and took the first exit to get out of there, and flew off that bridge. it happened about once a month.

these days one of the smaller bridges has been renamed the "andy warhol bridge" and it was covered entirely by knitters' knit blankets and colorings. i thought this was ironic in several ways. first, in my memory, these bridges were like rusted old iron things and they really, truly didn't go anywhere. pittsburgh is of course proud of andy warhol - in spite of his lifestyle, the murder(s) associated with his name, etc., at least he was a famous artist, as famous as anyone in the modern era. and he was truly from pittsburgh, they had as much right to claim him as, say, lubbock does to claim natalie maines.

what gets me is that it was the knitters.

Friday, August 16, 2013

coming soon


On Amazon

Thursday, August 15, 2013

the news cranks out wild stuff that i can hardly bear; back at home, rains keep coming though they say it's still not up to a normal amount, and with the humid air, and the puddles of water here and there, come a lot of bugs, mostly flies and mosquitoes. i thought the mosquitoes were mostly in a different part of texas, since it's so dry here, they just about have to wait for someone to spit. but if we're having an almost-normal year's rainfall, almost ten inches altogether (people really love it when we get an inch, they keep track, they measure the inch, it's almost like they feel it as it slowly works its way down into the grass) - then the bugs are going to move in, reproduce fast and make their presence known.

meanwhile it's gearing up for a new school year, and that means, police all over the roads, to prove a point, reckless drivers, vehicles that aren't double-cab trucks, and a certain amount of not-knowing-where-one-is-going. also a lot of furniture-moving, and house-fixing. our own house is due to be painted, which will make an enormous difference in our self-image, and one side of me just wants to hang around all day, fixing it up a little, growing a couple of scraggly vegetables. most of my vegetables got fried out by the sun; until i figure out how to make things thrive, it'll be a little rocky on the vegetable front. but what i really need is a band, to go out and mix it up with the texas scene.

i'm on a short vacation, but i should be preparing for the classes i teach soon; in any case i bumble around, try to get exercise, piddle away at my writing and shirk away from the intense hot midday sun. actually summer hasn't been too bad, except that the onions can't survive that kind of searing intensity, but it was broken up especially well by these gonzo trips out over the high plain into the sacramentos and up in the clouds. maybe that's why i'm in a fog now...everyone else seems to be ok with this relentless sunny fly-swarming swampy scene, while i'm basically plotting, how to shoot on back out of here. and i'm reflecting on the personal difference between feeling like a "texan" and feeling like a "new mexican".

now it could be that the bears out there, alone, could make it difficult, and could put a scare in us so that we wouldn't want to keep going out there, and camping high in the mountains, with only a thin nylon tent between us and the stars. the bears are mostly attuned to things like the smell of peanut butter, and aren't so concerned by property lines, or etiquette such as announcing your presence with "hoddy ma'am" or "howryall?" they just kind of come in and take what they want, and get somewhat offended that you might object or shriek when you look at them. i'm sure they're still up there in those high piney mountains, where we were, and where there weren't very many people, and i'm sure they have some awareness that it's mighty dry, mighty flat, mighty downhill all the way in every direction. but i think we can worry about that when the time comes. for now, it's back to the city: a slightly busier street, a certain amount of readjustment and settling in, and a slow shortening of the days, and a cooling off with the "monsoon season."

next year, i'm a grow some okra, and maybe some better peppers, planted earlier, and maybe figure out how to get my onions around so they don't get so much direct searing heat. i'll try to get the hang of this sultry season, short as it is, & get something good out of it, besides just the good feeling that it'll end before you know it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

dark canyon

ok so I went to new mexico again, this time with the boys, for three days, with the first and third being mostly driving there and back over vast, spacious arid plain. you head out through texas, go through brownfield, and down near plains you go through this town called tokio, a ruin really, and near there a crossroad with signs for seagraves and whiteface. these as far as i can tell would be windswept, small texas towns, don't even have a highway through them, though they might have a silo or two. past lovington new mexico you hit the oil fields; if you look away you miss the pecos river, which crawls through there near artesia, then on the other side of artesia the land gets really wide and vast, very dry, with only a town called hope between artesia and the mountains. there are vast vistas of endless hilly beautiful plains turning into foothills.

i used to consider hope (new mexico) to be the most desolate, isolated, sun-bleached wreck of a ghost town, ever since i passed through there needing to stop for something to eat or drink and it didn't have a single thing, not a gas station or anything. i have since found a gas station and now i occasionally see cars parked there as if someone is stopping to talk to someone, somewhere about something. the people there know where to stop, how to get what they want, and see more even than i do now. sometimes a storefront looks unoccupied but it's not. sometimes a place looks like it could be a real store but it's not. you have to know the place.

part of the trip, i'm passing through these amazing mountain passes with the boys, only one of whom looks out the window and cares about what he sees. he's seeing amazing mountains. the road snakes through these passes and the views are incredible except that you have to keep driving or you'll go straight off the cliff. some of the high mountains are rainy, or cloudy, and when i get way up there the "check engine" light comes on and i get really nervous. the boys claim to dislike the high altitude but the older one dislikes it mostly because he can't play his minecraft computer game. the younger one is watching with all eyes. we go down through the pass to alamogordo and through another pass to get to las cruces; we see grandma, grandpa and aunt margot, and we come back through white sands (see pictures below)...what a trip, i'm exhausted.

it's the third time i've been out there, and we've been looking for land to put a cabin on. this time, we go eleven miles back behind the highest mountains, to a place called dark canyon road, and there is the most beautiful house site i've ever seen. we can't actually afford it, because our house here has been mauled by a storm, but as i stand there, i realize, it's up against wild mountains, it has a beautiful valley in front of it, the pines smell good with the rain, i figure this is like heaven. it's the most beautiful place i've ever been in.

ownership of such places can be complicated, or require more money than a person has, but looking at it is an excuse to be there, and sometimes that has to be good enough. the boys are tagging along and the real estate agent wants to show one more parcel way back on this road. but it's a rutted road, hard on the car, rocky, unstable, and we're going way back into the canyon, or rather, two miles feels more like five. a couple of homesteaders have made cabins way back in there. we can't quite find that second parcel. it starts raining and i get even more nervous.

in the entire wide state of new mexico, there aren't many places that are really rainy, wet, green, lush kinds of paradises. we found one though. if we wangle a way into owning it, we'll let you know. in the meantime, we may have to go back up there just to camp.

white sands is a stunning place and this time, the sand is a little harder, sledding might have worked though we'd given up the sleds and didn't even bring them in. also it was late afternoon; we'd already eaten; the boys, having been in the car and at the grandparents a lot, still had some energy to burn. they tore up the hills and back down, and chipped away at some sand outcropping that was like a statue. the place never really gets old. its intense white sands reflect every bit of sunlight, and the wild grasses there seem to do well even though they have to be spaced out from each other for some reason. in one clump of grasses i found a lizard, bleach white the color of the sand, absolutely white, the most awesome and intense lizard i'd ever seen. i actually saw neon ones in the shawnee, i had no idea what advantage it was for them to be neon, to glow an unearthly glow, but this one was the color of the sands itself, and he thought he was hidden down there by virtue of not moving. of course i let him be; it's his place, and he's out mainly because it's evening and you have to take those temperate hours when you have them. when we get back the visitors center is closed; we get a little off the normal clock, when we're on vacation. i'm eager to get back up in the mountains. i actually count the hours i can breathe the high, cloudy, wet piney-woods smell and to me, being down in the hot arid desert is just like lubbock only squared or more extreme. hot, dry, very sunny, that's what i was getting away from. but i like that little lizard fella. he gives me inspiration.

everyone talks about the monsoon bringing more rain this year than usual. in texas they don't use the word "monsoon" so much but they also don't have so much of a single season, summer, where it rains at all. it does seem to rain more in summer than, say, spring, which is unusual for me. as we were leaving the mountains, coming back down toward hope, it rained again, and this was on the dry side of the mountains. they do have it, they rejoice at every inch. they clean out the dry areas so they aren't living in a tinderbox. all the able-bodied men join the fire crews, i suppose. maybe this would include me, if i were to move up there while i'm still able-bodied.

thought of some stories and projects while i was up there, but of course, in full-time childcare mode, there was no time. nighttime, i was cramped in the main bed with both boys; i wanted to open the window and breathe the mountain air, but it was actually too cold; we'd have all fallen. as it was, we woke up, ate junk food, and shot down the mountain and they said they actually liked the trip. they're always up for the grandparents, and the big white sandy mountain, as they call it.

so comes to an end, the summer; soon we're all back to school. it's hot here, though it rained, and people are back in town and our main street, flint, is filling up as it's a feeder for the university. the social whirl revolves around football; the stadium is fixed up, billboards with "coach kingsbury" can be seen around town, television that you see in the bars and restaurants is basically all football. this poor guy, he makes millions, he's at the top of his world, he's still single and can marry anyone he wants, but if he loses as much as half, he's finished. and he better save his money so as to get a car dealership. and, if he loses in lubbock, that car dealership should be in dallas maybe, under some other name. but nobody's talking about that. losing - who would even suggest it? though it's statistically necessary for about half of all teams, at this point, one week before the beginning of the season, nobody even considers it.

i hate to throw a mop on their smores, but i've kind of turned against it; i was telling this one lady, it's like cigarettes, they get you hooked into it before you realize it kills you. it's a scourge on a population of young boys, much like video games. I've got to find something better for my kids to do. i'm not sure the mountain gambit will work; even on the rocky dark canyon road, the one son complained, basically, because it was harder for him to play the game on his phone.

summer of 2013

Saturday, August 10, 2013

New story:


Enjoy! Comments welcome as usual!

prison bars

the problem with using news as a kind of resting point in your day, an escape from reality, is that the news is horrible, and it just keeps getting worse, although the mass killing and outright slaughter that used to be commonplace in wars is pretty much gone. what i mean is, you no longer have these holocausts in places like rwanda, or the balkans, although maybe syria is an exception, but much of the pointless killing these days is much more under the radar, and instead you have all this other stuff that just makes you feel like everybody is getting way too broke and desperate.

for example, these guys that go around grabbing wallets from open cars while people are getting gas. or they grab virtually anything that isn't locked down - what are we supposed to do, lock everything, all the time? or this new yorker article about police stopping people, taking their money, and their cars, even their homes, and reselling them, just because they can. all this money is supposed to go straight into crime-fighting. and it's supposedly all taken from people who were "committing a crime." or at least under suspicion of it, or maybe appearing to be similar to it, or, in some cases, generally related to some suggestion of a crime. in the modern world the banditry and general greed goes undercover and masquerades as all kinds of things, and the honest or average working person might just as well have "victim" painted on his forehead.

in a way i sheltered myself from some of the hardships of life, intentionally or otherwise, by being in education where you serve sheltered people who all have the money to sit there and listen. now the last bastion of any middle class in the country is really right here in texas, where they still have universities, still have a middle class, and people still go to universities in hope of getting what few jobs are left. i sound very bleak here but in fact our students, middle class for the most part, are not unaware of the general direction of the economy and the general closing-in of this bleak picture on the state. i'd always held out hope that, if the states totally tanked, there would always be canada or peru. canada because it seemed like they still had resources and a good spirit as a country, peru because it seemed like down there they avoid getting sucked up in enormous, costly pointless wars with other nations. but lately it's come to my attention that even these places are suffering the general malaise of the rest of the world. canada is digging up its oil and gas and opening up the arctic which is now all water, poor thing. south america reels from a story i could only read about, that to me showed a little about the repression fostered by years of catholicism; i couldn't even finish reading it. do i really want to live in these places? i grew up here, it was our mistake, when bush stole the election, to do nothing about it, but, now i feel like a frog among many in a large cookpot that is steadily getting warmer. how do you know when it's too much?

all this is blatant negativity and cynicism, i realize. but at times like this i'm unable to write, because i feel that any entertaining story, art, whatever, is merely an indulgence when the world begins to burn around us and the cruelty of the human race is so thinly concealed that it oozes out of the woodwork at every turn. why do i read the news? i'm not sure at all.

i struggle with the degree one ought to jump in and help or interfere with adult children's issues. in a sense i feel responsible in that i didn't prepare them for this world, i thought the u.s.a. would evolve positively, i had no idea everyone would fortress up and polarize into the well-armed and the masses, the insured and the broken. what can i say? i can't make it right. i'm just a leaf in the river, and even my insurance, which i worked twenty five years for, doesn't ward away a sinking feeling that even the medical is part of the monster.

alaska, or minnesota, way out in the woods, rugged winter country, but fresh air, and plenty to eat, and no shortage of water. those are the last possibilities as hope for the future, i figure, the lower forty eight can burn, those places will go on with their few people out in the rugged wilderness. down here in texas, it's kind of an abstraction, kind of unreal: we have thousands of people, active oil-drilling, hard traffic, and a radio full of hate. or maybe everyone has that. anyway we have the hard-burning sun, no water for miles, nothing like a sea or lake. we thought of going to new mexico again; i'm still thinking of it. one thing i read said that all of humanity has to stop burning fossil fuels now...what can i do?

put all this stuff in my novel, is probably what i'll do. you can't stay depressed forever. i put all i had into this one song, called prison bars, then made a movie. the movie took everything that i felt was really bugging me, the dangerous street i cross every day, the glass in the street, the crosswalk, white sands, the vastness of the territory. prison bars is really in the mind. you get out here, the wild wind, the flatness of the earth, a canyon here and there every couple hundred miles, not a speck of water anymore, and you realize, ah what the heck. time to get back up north, maybe. ya can't let it get to ya. the music, now that i hear it again, leaves something to be desired.

Monday, August 05, 2013

steer clear

so lately my son has taken to going for a walk with me, and this means a few times around this big wide park that is very grassy and pretty, very peaceful at night with a nice sky above. it's dry here, but there were lots of stars out so i tried to show him what i know, which actually isn't much. there's the big dipper, and the north star, so that's how you tell which way is north, any time that it's night. the problem is, what about day? you have to watch the sun to be sure it's going west. if it's just standing there above you, you have no idea where it's been. this brought up the question of the moon, which was inexplicably invisible. why, because it's not full, so it took its good old time coming out tonight? i have no idea. but i couldn't find it.

so he tells me about these kids that get on minecraft, or similar games, and have plenty of money, so they make donations and get lots of kits or armor or enchanted tools in return. and, if you don't have money, sometimes you don't have access to this kind of stuff and you feel like you're tearing around fighting losing battles with these well-armed wealthy brats. (welcome to life, i felt like saying, though i didn't, i decided to just listen). but then he tells me more, about these kids who make youtubes about this stuff, and crank out youtubes at the rate of one, two three or four per day, all about how you'd cruise around this virtual territory, and trick people, or kill them, all in a virtual kind of way of course, but these people get lots of "hits" or "likes" or "subs" on their videos, subs being subscribers, those who wait breathlessly for your next video and then, of course, watch it, after you've produced it. in fact he makes a few of these, but readily admits to being an amateur, but perhaps getting a little better with the online moviemaking software...he's eleven.

but then, in the annals of people taking these games way too seriously, is the story of kids deleting each other's videos, or changing the passwords on their youtube channel, or reporting each other to the admins. and he flings these words around, like admins, subs, etc. as if everyone were supposed to know them. but the scariest story of all, in my opinion, is that of the austin kid who made a reckless but still deadly threat as related to his league of legends game, though he put lol and j/k (just kidding) on his post somebody apparently took it quite seriously and turned him in. my guess was that it was a gamer who was taking it all too seriously. the kid spent a few months in jail before his parents got their doctor or an anonymous donor to come up with half a million for bail. his case will probably disappear into obscurity, when it is proven beyond a doubt that lol and j/k meant he wasn't serious, but what was serious is that if you make an enemy on one of these games, they aren't about to just go away. online there is no away. you're stuck with 'em, baby.

the world is small and getting smaller. sometimes i used to point out to my students that americans could be blunt and direct, probably because there was, originally, hundreds of miles of wilderness to disappear into, and nobody was forced to live with each other even a minute longer than they had to, one could just go a ways west and find a bit more land and set up a little wood box with a single door, and make sure that all the bears had better ideas than stopping by for some peanut butter. out here, in texas, people have two or three hundred acre parcels and they use them purely, solely for hunting, sometimes merely quail, nothing else, there isn't a darn thing out there worth dragging home though you could probably eat the wild pigs if you had to. so they got used to this idea that the horizon goes on forever, and you can see somebody coming for miles, and if all you wanted to do with your land was to go out there and shoot your gun up into its sky, then you might as well go on and do it because who else would even hear it, let alone care? this kind of wide-open mentality is now kind of ridiculed in the rest of the world which even makes websites whose sole purpose is to give the state of texas the long digit. but i don't think anyone is truly ready for what the new crowded world really brings us. the actual number of people on earth may decline; it already is in the developing world, the west and asia. but the delicacy required to live shoulder-to-shoulder with seven billion, five bilion of whom are hungry, all the time, may be a little different from what we thought when we were thinking "egalitarian," or, "democratic," or "one world"...

then there's the story of a-rod, who i've suddenly taken an interest in, for what reason my other son cannot fathom, since i've explained that he was a yankee, so i should at the very least not even care about him. but he is an intense competitor, one who would yell right before someone would catch the ball, hoping to rattle them and gunning for any edge that could turn a game. and we saw that once, on television, on one of the few games i've ever watched the indians play (this time against texas), at a friend's house one year. he rattled some pitcher who balked and that cost the indians something, i can't remember what, but earned a-rod my lifelong antagonism as his kind of mocking competitive laugh would get under your skin and stay there. but his association with the whole steroid thing will apparently cost him all his records, his reputation, his everything, all because what, he didn't know better than to steer clear of that kind of stuff? the new york times keeps mentioning how influenced he was by the fact that his father, at some point, maybe when he was eight, just walked away. no one to tell him to steer clear.

makes me wonder, when i'm the kind of guy who, if my dad told me to go west, i'd go east. so where did i end up, but texas.

Friday, August 02, 2013

high rolls continued

went out to new mexico again, this time to take one more look at this hillside my wife had her eye on, and to tell the truth i liked it too, there were woods there, and a mountain spring, and nearby a tunnel, and a couple of ancient caves, you're talking two thousand years here, what they call archaic and pre-archaic. right at the top of the hill, maybe eight miles straight up, you had the mountain town of cloudcroft, with lots of clouds and plenty of rain and that cool piney smell all the time. we'd just wanted a piece of it before we came home. lubbock is so hot and dry, and durn sunny all year round.

but going out there you go through this cotton area, and some bean-growing, and a place where prisoners are pulling railroad ties out of the ground even on the fourth of july. some foreman is getting triple overtime and sipping his lemonade in the shade, but those prisoners are pulling out railroad ties like there's some kind of hurry. anyway i come up against this enormous truck, and it's got something flammable in it, some ominous sounding thing like sulfur methobenzipropene or something and says danger danger. these guys always go the speed limit and slow way down when they fiynally get to their turnoff which is some dirt road off into the plains around oil country which starts before you even get to new mexico, but gets a little more serious just beyond lovington new mexico. so i've slowed down to the speed limit, my vision a little limited by this truck and its warning sign, and i see off to the side the former town of tokio texas which is now just a ruins, about six buildings with their roofs blown in by the wind and the weather, and nobody ever either rebuilt them, or bothered to remove any of the wood. but lo and behold there's a little trailer down in the lowlands there, beneath the main ruins, toward the highway, and the guy in the trailer is out in his yard with a number of kids, maybe mexican, and he's basically telling them to clean up, as far as i can tell. evidence of bicycles, tree swing, that kind of stuff, apparently there's life there, i'm sure there's free wood too, but you should start with the trees, don't burn that treated stuff they used to put in old post offices. and never burn a railroad tie.

get out to this hillside in high rolls, and yes, sometimes the mountains out there feel like one giant tinderbox. they have beetles infesting the trees, and that's scary, but just the dryness of what, eight straight years, that took its toll too, and lots of stuff has burned down. question is, whether this mountainside, with its spring, and a creek coming down one side, and a road down there, and a tunnel and a cave down yonder, would be safe if the whole region went up in flames. i'm not sure, i couldn't figure it out, i even lost the will to apply myself to the problem. i came home and i'd pored through ancient archaeology books about the pre-historic, pre-maize era archaic residents, and it seems they dragged a lot of grasses and seeds up to these caves from the lowlands, then they'd go out by the mountain spring, and wait for some thirsty deer, and bonk it and that would be their thanksgiving right there. on this land we found some wide shoulder bones of deer or elk, obviously a few had met their end there, and i wondered if the cats come down out of the mountains ever, or if they have bears. i went home without buying the land. the road down to it was maybe eight to ten thousand worth of dumping fresh gravel on an ancient hillside, and even then we'd have a very steep road, impassable in weather, but we'd always have a view of that tunnel, with cars and trucks entering and exiting at all hours. and the problem: noise coming right up the valley.

back in lubbock i've become fascinated with what i call the salmon yucca, a wild yucca plant that has salmon color leaves and these little pods, which i have no idea how to grow. i collect these pods in hopes that eventually something will come of it. its true name is western yucca, or so i thought until i looked up all the kinds of yucca and couldn't find it, ok i thought, how come you're ignoring the salmon yucca. it's fairly common around here, and the salmon color reminds me of spring flowers in illinois and spring fish elsewhere. but i'm just getting started educating myself, so as to grow what i want, as soon as possible.

out on those roads in new mexico you go past fields of preying mantis-oil drills, and white trucks with temporary license plates, full of tools and drilling supplies and going way too fast. then you get way out into the nowhere, and they don't even bother having fences that separate the road from whatever walks out in the desert, probably nothing. as i got up into the foothills there behind the high mountains of cloudcroft, there was road construction where a bunch of local guys were basically rebuilding an enormous road through the lincoln national forest. i say enormous because, though it was only a two lane, they had it torn up for maybe thirty miles and clearly were going to be working in the high mountains for the rest of the summer.

those guys don't ever want that to change, i don't think, and though the fire danger is high out there, they're all on the volunteer fire agaency, all quick with an axe, know how to build a firewall. i however would be an old duffer, relying on them to dig those holes in a pinch before the wildfire swallowed me up. i could do like the ancient dudes, and stick my head in the mountain spring, but even then, i'd be nervous about the cats, and i'd have to string fence up. in the end i thought, that's ok, but i sure love driving out here. coming back i wanted to stop at the bluegrass festival in weed new mexico but it was way up high in the mountains, an isolated town, very pretty, and this bluegrass festival was very traditional, very religious, kind of nice, but my check engine light was on in the van when i got there and i got real nervous, way out in the mountains as i was, and i was afraid to sit and enjoy all that bluegrass and gospel, while my car might be in danger. so i hightailed it back to lubbock, across the pecos, through the oil fields, and now i'm glad to be back home, working full time, and all stalled out on the stuff i write. more later; i have a lot of pix in the phone.