Tuesday, May 31, 2016


i’ve never had a living room that looked out over mountains before, but i have one now, in a small cabin on a 9000 ft. ridge overlooking the white sands, and, beyond them, the organ mountains. i assume they’re the organs because, upon crossing the white sands, that’s what i encounter on the other side of them, a ridge of mountains kind of holding in the white sands, which are in a huge basin trapped between those and the sacramentos, which I sit in. adjustment to the mountain life is gradual. my wife is finding it hard to drive slowly down hairpin turns, and have trucks pile up behind her, angry and passing her too closely on their way, in a hurry, down the mountain. i find living with sketchy internet a little hard sometimes, but i’m also enjoying it. the kids always turn to screens in cases where they don’t know anyone yet, as is true now, so they’re kind of hanging around the house moping and waiting for meals.

it’s vacation for me, the one time of the year where i’m 100% off work if i want, and though i have a heavy writing agenda i consider my main job to be occupying them somehow, getting them out into the community and doing something productive. I don’t mind the naked barbies sprawled out over the dining room; i don’t mind them using or overusing my phone a little, watching whatever they want, which is usually, as far as i can tell, benevolent and appropriate. but outdoor stuff, mountain stuff, would be better. I need to find the stuff that works.

the dogs meanwhile love it here, though they find it necessary to bark a lot, both at the neighbor dogs, and at whoever happens by. we’re on a ridge, but we’re also in town, and people use our roads for all kinds of things. i keep the dogs in, if I want to spare myself the humiliation of having them disregard my pleas to shut up. They just feel like it’s part of mountain life, to be out there, making noise, and telling everyone who you are.

A couple times we took them straight out to the mountains, and they liked that; kids and mountains get along well naturally, and the possibility of bears is always there, but they feel that, as long as parents are along, they’re invincible. I’d like to keep that feeling going, and get them to help me explore some of the mountain paths. I’d also like to get them to be a little independent – after all, it’s a tiny town, and chances are pretty good that they can go places, on their own, after a while. it has great parks: one is down by the highway, but has huge trees all through it, a 9000-foot pine smell and a couple of sets of basketball courts. near it is a museum and it’s not far also from the ice skating rink. it’s got all the usual stuff that kids hang from, crawl up, slide down, swing on, and develop their imaginations with.

They made some cardboard dragons the other day, which were really glorified paper airplanes, and this was supervised by my wife, because, by the time they got them out, i was over the edge on my patience with their bickering, and didn’t want to be too controlling in a situation where following directions is crucial. so now it’s cardboard dragons and naked barbies, and some homemade play-doh, and, on the son’s part, streaming video television on my cell phone. it’s a kind of suspension, on the high ridge, while i get organized, figure out what they’d like, and get it organized.

i have plenty of work to do, and it wouldn’t be hard for me to just sit here, and let them anarchically make a mess until it was time to feed them. my wife is presently down the hill, getting mulch and supplies. the mulch will contain the dust, and help us in our quest to restore the magic garden which was kind of run down by neglect, in the time it took us to find and buy the place. she likes the magic-ness of the place. She tells me to be careful when I throw the ball endlessly, with the lab, because she doesn’t want the lab trampling the wildflowers. we no longer need a fire at night. high in the mountains, it rains sometimes, but it doesn’t get that cold anymore, though one afternoon after we’d got caught in a big drizzle, it was kind of nice to have it, to come home, start a fire, watch it, and let the dry wood smoke dry out the dampness of everyone’s clothes. it was a little different from our lubbock routine, where the air-conditioning, or whatever the house can muster against the heat, is our only refuge from days out in the hot sun, at times when it’s even possible to go out there.


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