Friday, June 24, 2016

i opened up the webcam to see if i could see myself walking down to the post office - but the webcam seemed to be showing that it was raining hard, and closer inspection showed that it was stuck at 6:00 am. apparently it was raining hard at 6:00 am. i myself was sound asleep, but when i woke up, i could see evidence that, indeed, things were pretty wet.

we are working out details of getting around and getting what we need with as little traveling as possible. if our town is 78 and rainy, and the entire southwest is 100 and dry as a bone, why should we move? we work carefully with the post office of the village to make sure they know who we are. we got a post office box and it looks like we'll be able to use it. let the post office, the fed ex, etc. drive around the desert and up the steep canyons. i've begun to think about ways to stay around here forever, and just refuse to budge (i guess vacation does that to you).

it's a little tourist village, less than a thousand permanent residents, rain and clouds often if not all the time. one idea would be to open a scottish apparel - kilts, bagpipes, etc. - store - though i wouldn't get much business, i could sit around this fine cloudy downtown doing what i want - listening to scottish music. i could also serve fine coffee, although i think one can get that elsewhere in certain parts of town. and, of course, i could stage a scottish festival once a year.

a more realistic possibility would be a print and copy shop, like a mailboxes. as it is one has to run down the canyon twenty minutes to the desert, where it's always at least twenty degrees hotter, just to get a copy. and in fact, we did that the other day. so i could save on my own gas, for starters, just by having a place with a copy machine nearby. this is one that could work, though it would require substantial investment.

i take every opportunity to drive through the mountain ridges, forty miles north, through the mescalero reservation, and go to ruidoso. now that's a beautiful drive. high green pastures, pretty well-taken care of woods, little gravel roads up into the mountain ridges - I don't think i've ever seen countryside so beautiful. i had an earlier plan to work in ruidoso - perhaps as a fiddler. but one thing i've learned is that 40 miles can take an hour, and at the same time be a little dicey. yesterday the tribal police came up behind me with their red sirens flashing, and the problem was, the ninja turtles were on the van dvd and had sirens of its own - but there was no traffic, and i think they could see that, so they just went around. something was happening way out there on the res - and i was glad it wasn't me. my own car handled the windy twisted roads very well - didn't see any elk, or deer, or mountain lion either. seems that depends on when you're driving.

it had rained up there too. it rained here at night and is most likely going to rain again. i think, in the entire southwest, we're one of the few people who get the rain the minute it falls. before they get to put roundup or whatever, in it. i think that's what i like best about it.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Do Unto: A short story and twenty others

Now available on audiobook
Try it!
left cloudcroft this morning for a forty-mile ride up to ruidoso, hoping to swim, van full of kids. that road goes northeast out of cloudcroft for quite a ways, then in the mescalero reservation cuts sharply northwest until it gets to seventy, the big road cutting up into ruidoso. that road cuts over apache peak, gives you a good view of sierra blanca, and goes past two large casinos before coming into ruidoso.

i'm fascinated by the mescalero reservation for several reasons. one is that they appear to be taking better care of their forests than we are, though they clearly had a couple of mountains that burned down and are starting over; these are near the main highway. so, their forest is prettier, healthier, more alive, yet the houses are a little dumpier, certainly not fixed up like the anglo ones. it could be that the anglo culture emphasizes putting the pretty stuff out front; i know most of the anglo families i knew were like that. most of the trucks driving through the area were newer, in good shape; they had money, money enough for trucks anyway. their lanes in some cases snaked up into beautiful mountain countryside, and you couldn't see what they had back there, it was out of sight, and i imagine some of those dirt tracks went back miles. it's a large reservation and covers mountainsides in every direction. why not take the best mountain vistas, covered with beautiful healthy forest, high in the mountains, and live forever? it seemed like paradise to me; i've never been in a more beautiful place.

our other trip is down to el paso; that is coming up this thursday maybe. to get to el paso you drive straight down through an enormous empty desert. at one point a road cuts off to the right, at a town called orogrande; this town has a single bar, and almost nothing else. but because that road goes off to the missile range, i imagine that bar is a pretty wild one. the soldiers come off the base...they have money, but they've been isolated for a while...the place just oozes wild times, even on sunday mornings. el paso itself is a huge and sprawling city, built around the little areas where there is not enormous mountain, where the enormous mountains squeeze the rio grande, and you can imagine that some folks like to be right up in the downtown, where you can literally look across at juarez, and others like to be back up in the mountain canyons, set back a little, enjoying the only shade in the area, that caused by the enormous mountain peaks. the downtown is old, sunny, charming. their minor league baseball team is the chihuahuas. we intend to try it out.

our routine, up here, is the mountains. we avoid the festivals, avoid the people, avoid the tourist traps. we have some high mountain air, and a great sunset, and we go for walks every day, along the ridge, or down to the meadow, but somewhere where it smells good. slowly, i'm beginning to feel high mountain pine as the default, the most natural thing to breathe. and i don't want to breathe anything else.

Friday, June 17, 2016

any time i get frustrated, too much kid-noise to concentrate, i pack up my creative projects and just blog. times are good - it's the one month i get off entirely from esl, and i can really work on my writing - but with the kids being around all the time, and sometimes very around, sometimes i get less than i'd like. today, i look out over the white sands, which are still a little hazy - earlier today, i noticed that probably the large fire in central new mexico had brought some smoke and haze our way, because we could no longer see the sharp whites of the gypsum fields reflecting in the morning sun. now it's late afternoon; the sun should be setting; but, we should also get a clearer color difference between the light blues of the mountains and the bright white of the sands.

once again we didn't make it down the hill for groceries. the walmart is two or three thousand feet down, twenty or thirty degrees hotter, and much sunnier; you really have to be prepared for that. i asked a local how they do it, and she told me, early in the morning, which made sense. and, as little as possible, obviously. our goal now is to be up here and stay here. 105 in roswell, 103 in lubbock, but 70/70/70 here, and we're loving it. when in doubt, make a cup of navajo tea and go sit on the porch.

suddenly, for some reason, i wrote a whole lot more haiku. they're easier these days; i need three a day, but wrote over ten today, at least three for the carbondale collection and the other seven for e pluribus. this will help tide me over on those dry times when i don't force myself to write anything at all - if it's not coming, just move on, i like to say. and i have absolutely no problem with making that tea, and just sitting and watching across the tularosa valley. my one weakness with the haiku, that i'm feeling now, is that, in 1974 or wherever, i was not very in tune with the actual physical things: the flowers, the vines, the trees. haiku wants me to know what blooms, where, and when, yet i kind of feel that i'm making claims about what blooms, on the roadsides of, say, nebraska, when in fact i went through nebraska several times, and still couldn't tell you.

i remember lots of other things about the countryside - the vast expansiveness of places like nebraska - the feeling i got of being a visitor in a wide and expansive country, confident in itself, comfortable, gracious, generous. i can express this kind of feeling and will. but to actually work in the physical details - i have some trouble with that. i simply can't remember them. even when i saw them, i didn't know the names of anything - didn't care - so that, now, i am left asserting that some kind of wildflower was out there, on the road - and it probably was, somewhere - but i have to figure out how i can make these empty assertions more grounded. for example, if i put a flower in a city, i have better chances of having there actually be one of them, there, somewhere - whereas, if i put it at a certain intersection, i could be so wrong!

two other things i've done here is collation, to the point of almost finishing, my autobiography (actually, to be more precise, i am probably still not close) - and typing some of the crinkly personal stories of my ancestors - so that my crinkly copies are not the only ones around. my goal here would be to have some authentic historical documents to mix in with my own writing, in a volume that would track the leverett side all the way back to the governor. i would mix in my own commentary on who they were, what they were like, the times they lived in. the one i just typed, the guy moved out to quincy illinois in about 1830or 40, set out to farming and pioneer-like activities, and then noticed that the mormons were just being evicted from quincy right as they lived there. but he barely commented on it; he was either so absorbed in ploughing, getting by, and raising various children, or else he was so political, that he knew that once starting to even mention it, there would be no other way but to go on about it, until it was fully explained. there was the story of how some guy stopped him and implored him to vote for van buren, but he'd made up his mind toward harrison, and chose not to discuss it.

then, sure enough, i got a biography of lincoln - actually my son checked it out of the library, hoping to get the true story of john wilkes booth's demise - but it didn't have it, and i started actually reading it, this being vacation and all, and there was van buren and harrison right in it. lincoln was around in those days, and also in southwestern illinois, and so there was a certain interesting parallel there. a sudden, intense look at the 1830s.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Saturday, June 11, 2016


tonight, my mother’s birthday (she would have been 88), we had homemade chocolate chip cookies – that was fitting. i don’t generally make a big deal out of such anniversaries, but i did remember this one – partly because the youngest of the family is turning eight tomorrow. now that’s a much bigger deal, when a kid picks up a year, and that will of course change the balance of power since now she’ll be jealous of them for an entire year, with the mild interruption of the holidays, until it’s her turn again. in a small cabin like this one, we become a little more familiar with the jealousies and tribulations that are part of life as a kid. and they don’t have a whole lot of other friends, yet, to dilute the passion.

for my walk at night I leave my cabin, at about 8900 feet, and walk straight uphill to the very top of the hill, which is probably 9200 or something, and it seems like there are more stars up there, but it could be that we’re just a little more out of the light up there. it’s a steep hill and it tests the degree that i’m out of shape. my knees, my ankles, my feet, all still sore from my barefoot-walking days. up at the inn, at the top of the hill, i simply turn around and walk down the hill on a gravel road that has a number of cabins tucked away in the forest – yet it’s a city street. it’s called “wren.”

on that road, which comes back into the center of town, where cabins are tucked away in the forest and many are dark and quiet, one woman (i think) has an unusual display – it’s like branches twisted around to make a kind of altar – and she has lights shining soft light on it. it’s like an altar, a crest, or a sign, all in one. kind of a wild place.

the town itself has less than a thousand – full time residents, anyway, probably a few more once summer gets started. people like us fill up the quiet and empty cabins, of which there are many, and also come up for the ski season. they refer to us as “texans” – which is generally what we are. the pressure is on for us to just move out here, so we can be normal, and never look back – which is kind of like what they do.

the other day the police shot an elk – it was a controversial incident, and made the papers in all the local towns. the problem was that she was a mother, and her baby disappeared, which was probably just as well for the baby. she was acting surly and threatening people who got anywhere near her baby – which was natural, if you think about it. the police felt bad about it, but it was kind of like the cincinnati zoo incident – people get a little too close to the animals, or even feed them, as the case may be, and bad things happen. their worlds don’t really go together.

i’m writing a story about that very concept, which you will see soon. I am also writing a quaker play about africa, redoing boxcars on walnut and finishing just passing through: true stories from out there, much of which appears on this blog. it’s a busy time, but I’m deluged by kids, and we’re also having an interlude in ability to get online. i’ll put this online in my little window of time online, and otherwise i’ll just stick to writing (one of my projects is copying my great-great-grandfather’s journal) – things i can do without getting online. on my little phone, i can still figure out that the cavs won, and the usual blather fills up the political arena. happy birthday, mom – it’s probably just as well, that you slipped away when you did.
new story
Goodbye Tiger Island
enjoy! comments welcome!

Tuesday, June 07, 2016


at a point where i no longer want to ‘go to town’ – in our case, now, it means going down a spectacular canyon, about twenty minutes, to a town that is twenty or thirty degrees hotter, very sunny, and tucked intensely against the mountains we are staying in. i want to stay and write, but the family has returned, making six people in the cabin, and opening the door to the back porch, which is empty and cool, lets in a handful of moths, and we have a couple of kids who still get nervous about moths, I’m not sure why. You can get rid of moths by turning lights on outside, if you have them, and then turning them off inside, and leaving the doors open. The air is fresh here, piney and wet, cool. i’d like to keep the doors open all the time, but now there are too many dogs. the dogs feel like they have to defend us from all the neighboring wildlife.

five deer crossed our path the other day when we were giving the black lab a walk. the lab tugged hard at the leash; she was dying to go chase those deer. Not sure what she was planning to do if she caught them, but there she was, in a mountain meadow, with a powerful itch, tugging at the line. i held tight; i didn’t want to lose her.

the ‘meta’ is my favorite place on earth, just a short maybe half-mile hike from our door. our path goes past a house or two, and on a rocky old road, but the ‘meta’ is the real thing, an open place in the middle of a mountain forest. no wonder those deer wanted a piece of it. lots of good things for deer to eat out there, and no end of beautiful days to go get it.

finally had to go to town today – we were after a birthday present and some other supplies – and so i did, and sure enough, twenty degrees hotter, sun beating down, and people, I swear, are much different down there. more serious, maybe, or having a harder time making it. a couple of them engaged me in conversation – i felt like i was making their day, just being so different. up here, on the mountain, a policeman pulled over, just to introduce himself, really – wanted to know where i lived. i told him. in a town of less than a thousand, what do you expect? I had a wide smile. Just leaving my door, we’re on a kind of ridge – we look out at white sands, we see a hilly mountain road cut up across the highway; we can see the clouds coming up through the high mountains, as the town basically sits in them. the cool cloudy breeze feels so good after two years of texas. on the hill, now, and feeling like i don’t want to come back down.

new story

new story:
your dead
comments welcome!