Thursday, November 26, 2015
Monday, November 23, 2015
the high mountains have caves in them, ancient caves, because this is the spot where the valley splays out below, and on the other side, you have the high mountains, with deer and elk, and different kinds of natural things to eat on either side. the sun goes down back over the wide tularosa basin; the white sands there are hundreds of square miles and extend beyond the park and back up the valley, a shiny bright white at the sunset. the ancient caves have nothing left, probably; people have been examining them for years, but i don't know that; i'm not even sure i know exactly where they are. i think i can see one from that pullout, but i'm not sure, and it always seems to me that there are surely more caves in the area besides the two that the highway cuts right up between. but nevertheless, you have a stunning overlook there. the high mountains loom above you on all sides and beyond the tunnel; between them, you see the wide tularosa valley.
further up the mountain, you come to the ancient train trestle that crossed the mountains but went out of use maybe fifty years ago. one of those trestles was called an s-trestle, because it was in the shape of an s, and the train would curve its way around the high mountains going wherever it was going. the ruins of this trestle still sit up there in the high mountains, almost 9000 feet, with snow on them at a time like this, and make you wonder what it would be like to ride that train through the mountains, the high wide view of the tularosa valley extending off to your west.
this is part of my ride home; i leave las cruces, stop in the white sands to buy some navajo tea, and then shoot up that mountain on my way back to lubbock. from the top of the mountain, 9000 feet, you start the long way down, through the dry side of the mountains, to where it gets so hot and dry that nothing grows, in the wide open plain on the way down to artesia. beyond artesia you hit the oilfields, and then the ranchlands and the cotton fields that start around the texas border. in the small town of lovington i stopped for mexican food at a small place in a strip mall on the edge of town. it has a reasonable amount of people, almost all mexican americans, and serves good green chile enchiladas. the sun has gone way down by this time. new mexico is almost entirely behind me. my trip was based on the fact that my parents are getting very old, having trouble getting by day to day, and some wrong medicine sent mom on a spiral that took weeks to unravel. a worn out heart, trouble breathing, confusion, just general getting older. but in the course of running out there, a lot, i have found that spot high in the mountains, that four or five square miles of pines, 9000 feet, high above the tularosa valley and the penasco river watershed, the one wet place in hundreds of miles, and that place has offered me relief from what is otherwise the tough way of living in a harsh arid land, going day to day in the blazing sun with a pretty thorough lack of rain. in this one high place, 9000 feet, it rains and snows a lot, and clouds come along and sit up there, on the mountain, and everyone hangs around in the clouds watching the cars and trucks come through, and hit their high point before descending down into the dry. they talk about going through twelve eco-zones on their way down to get groceries; this is true; they get their groceries in alamogordo. they stay off the steep windy road in the bad weather, or they get four-wheel drive trucks.
nobody much really knows about this place; most of el paso, and las cruces, are happy living in the low hot desert, and don't need to get away all that much. in comparison to el paso and las cruces, lubbock is a lush green rain forest, but at least in lubbock, they've heard of the place. the highway that goes through it is a simple two-lane, but it's the road from my house to my parents', so this one high point, in the clouds, that's the place i've picked out as where i want to be.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
but of course, "like" is also endorsing their solidarity with france, and the people of paris, perhaps unfairly ignoring the people of beirut or of kenya, or, as one friend pointed out, the hundred per day that are killed by terror in congo. i myself have never changed my profile, to a french flag, to rainbow, to anything. i have never once changed my profile. and i have never "unfriended" anyone either. these are two things i plan to keep doing.
but to get back to the point, by "liking" the picture of a friend who has francofied their profile, am i not contributing to the pro-west "french lives are more important than lebanese/kenyan lives?" i don't think so. i am liking them even as i see them through the french-colored glasses they have put on me. they are saying "see me aligned with the people of france" and i am saying "i like you when you are aligned with the people of france." but i would like them if they were aligned with the people of lebanon or kenya as well. i would like them if they were aligned with nothing but their front yard.
i have two friends in paris. one is the only daughter of two good friends, who i have known for twenty years, who married a parisian and lives there. the other is a former student, korean, who is there for whatever reason i don't know; i didn't even know she was there at the time. facebook told me right away that the korean woman was safe; she was onto the facebook "safety" app and used it immediately. the first friend, however, who uses facebook less, took more time to realize that would help her worldwide acquaintances, and didn't check in with facebook until the following morning. but when i woke up to seeing that on my phone (that she had checked in) i was immediately more accepting of facebook and phones, as useful tools in personal emergencies. the world indeed needs to work together in the present circumstances. constant communication helps.
personally, my whole reaction to it is weary. i am glad my friends are safe. i am afraid for the world we live in and the world i am bringing my children into. i think we need to recognize that we, the west, usa and france, are bombing people every day and therefore we are at war and we should expect war to come and find us. i like to feel like it's not my war, like i have nothing against anyone, that i would not need to kill anyone, but plenty of killing is being done in my name, with my money, so i should not be surprised that someone is coming after me. in fact i am grateful that i live so far away from everything that i don't feel like a target every day, every minute, as my sister did in new york in the 9-11 days. let the world rush in on isis and bomb them to the stone age, in retribution for paris or whatever. i want no part of that war. i wanted no part of the invasion, the bombings, the drones, and the warfare that started it, either. i am weary of the protest against war after war after war.
in times like these, we have to stick by the people we love. we have to help them get through this without sending them off to the killing fields where pretty much everyone dies over religion or whatever it is that they are fighting about. we have to make sure that some people live to carry on, even if the earth is heated up beyond the point of comfort. that's what i'm committed to. i'm committed to survival, and my spirit carrying on, in whatever form. and to my friends. if they became my friend, in whatever way, i'm sticking with them. save travels, wherever you may go.
Thursday, November 05, 2015
on detroit, on the other hand, there's no light. you wait for openings in cars as they shoot by, twelve lanes of them, and fortunately, openings come on the westbound, around the same time openings come on the eastbound. you are technically jaywalking; there's no crosswalk, no light, no nothing. there is, however, a tiny island in the center. if you make it across the first six, you can rest before you shoot the last six.
time is flying these days; we went right past hallowe'en and into the high holy days of saints day, souls day, election day, you name it, the best weather in the year. cool blue-sky fresh-air days, color on the trees, in our own limited texas way, and there is plenty going on. i was invited to speak at the fourth-grade class, as a poet, read a doctor seuss-style poem and a little of my book, and the kids, wide-eyed, asked questions and went off on a spurt of writing it and producing it themselves. they were dressed up in costume that day; a couple of them were football players. one of the football players asked me if i'd won a contest; another kid asked me if there was a competition to write the longest poem. funny that they think it should be competitive, but i simply replied, actually i know the guy who wrote the world's longest poem, but it wasn't me, i don't even try. i told about the poem down the six-story building, the poem across the mississippi bridge, the actualists, life in iowa city. i was not a poet back then, i said, but i knew some of these guys, and have maintained friendships with them over the years.
hallowe'en itself was wild as one would expect who has three or four greedy kids around needing their chocolate and all excited by the general air of sugar-bath expectation provided by their friends at school. i can't imagine any parents saying to their kids, i don't care what your friends get you are NOT going out to get candy...every kid gets candy. it's the biggest day in the year. whether your costume is store-boughten, or home-made, bogus, good or bad, you get candy. that's how it's done.
fortunately our neighborhood is still hospitable to the candy idea. though about half the neighbors bail, and go to a hotel or to some faraway country ranch where they don't have to deal with it, the others dig in, decorate, turn lights on, and dutifully distribute to all the rowdy mobs who go up and down the street. we ran into lots of people we knew, out and rambling with the kids, as kids hauled in enough to make up for what we were giving away at home. at one house, a guy had set up his organ outside, with a large lit-up spider above him, and a web coming down above him. he had mastered some spooky hallowe'en music, and it was quite impressive. he wasn't above showing a little kid how to play the organ, either.
souls day was brilliant and clear, blue skies, fresh air, kids playing in the park. i believe it was the cusp of hallowe'en and saints day that they gave us the extra hour, saturday night to sunday morning, and we all took that extra hour and did different things with it, whether or not aware that it would be extracted from us in the spring. but, the cusp between saints day and souls day is what interests me the most. it's that idea that you go from honoring all the great people, the wonderful people, to honoring all the average ones, the ones who might or might not make it, who might go either way. this, to me, is the cusp one should celebrate, and sure enough, the weather was stunning, clear, beautiful. this time of year, you can't beat it, and that's true just about no matter where you are. november is the best.
there is plenty of show-your-color display out there. people are flying flags, marching bands are playing football games, people are driving around town showing off their true emotion. that's october; i think the trees bring it out. a stiff wind came through today, and hundreds of pecans dropped all over the neighborhood; i must have picked up about a dozen, just on my walk home. boston or detroit, it told my friend, doesn't matter, it's all the pecans. they're fresh. people leave them there, and don't seem to mind if you grab a half-dozen every time you walk by. i study the different kinds and i crack them as i walk; i've gained some weight on pecans only. they're fresh, and delicious, and once you learn how to peel as you walk, it's hard on your nails but gratifying at the same time. at the walk sign, crossing at boston, i sometimes keep peeling even with the eyes of the world upon me, i'll drop a few of the shells, accidentally or not, when they come flying out from my fingers. there are prickly pear cactus on the route too. i know just enough of the people so that i can almost for sure get both, pecans and prickly pear, if that's what i want to collect or cook. the prickly pear, you make jelly out of it. but you have to know how to do it. and, apparently, it takes special gloves just to get your hands on them.