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.