Wednesday, January 16, 2019

heavily stalling on two important things. one is some extra calendars which i need to send out. the second is enrolling, paying tuition and going back to school.

with the calendars, the problem is that i need to open my address book. half the calendars are my dad's photography, but the address book is full of mom & dad's friends too. both mom and dad died in january, dad last year, and mom two years earlier. this month, as our streets are iced over and snow sticks around in its brutal way, i'm kind of absorbed in grief. and can't get to the calendars. what i need to do is to send the remaining ones out.

going to school is a true precipice. on the one hand, i've been a straight-a student. i have one full class to go before my student teaching. certification would give me five years or more of full-time teaching, somewhere, if someone would hire me (unfortunately, i'm old). i've taught all my life. i can pass one class. i can even afford it.

on the other hand, i'm sixty-four. i'm tired of it. the teachers i know are tired of paperwork and a little bitter; i may be hanging around with the wrong ones. my aspiration is to be hired up here on the hill, where i wouldn't have to travel so far to teach. but it's a very small town, and it's like, as soon as they get wind of my politics, i might be in trouble. and my guess is, they already have.

the other day, i had jury duty. a room of ninety people, all my fellow citizens, none of whom i knew. the trial was for some guy accused of domestic battery, and possession of marijuana. i could have manufactured some problem like i can't convict anyone for possession out of principle, but i didn't really have a principle about that. instead i said i had extensive experience with domestic violence and strong feelings about it; i even related the story of my marriage gone bad. then i said i would have trouble with this guy if his lawyer exercised his constitutional rights and refused to have him testify on his own behalf. my reasoning here is, the natural way to sort this out is to talk to both people. that's how we decide who's gone over the line, too. having one person refuse to testify is inviting us to imagine whatever we want on his behalf. maybe his lawyer told him to do it. but what am i supposed to do, imagine what he'd say? his actions, to a degree, speak for him; he got a lawyer, he thinks he's innocent, or that they can't prove that he's guilty, etc. etc. but he's not going to tell us that in person? sorry, i won't be impartial.

there was one one older lady, my generation, in the crowd, who said she had trouble with marijuana laws. they got her for the jury, i believe, but i walked. out into the sun of a cold winter monday afternoon.

took off for the land, and came around a steep bend, where the road was iced over. my truck fishtailed, and on our side was the cliff, a long way down. a truck was coming down the hill, also sliding, fishtailing on the ice. he of course had the bank, with a little snow piled up on it, while i was on the cliff side of the road going up. quickly i tried to get control of the truck and continue up the steep icy hill, slowly, on the cliff side. the other truck put his wheels into the snow bank, but not too far. it was impossible for me to judge whether he was stuck or not; if he got out, it would still be a steep and slippery way down. it was impossible for me to judge also, if he had four-wheel drive or not.

so i'm crawling up the icy hill, on the cliff side, and right past him, while my wife was just about dying, and the kids in the back, having picked up on her panic, were panicking also. it occurred to me that, if he was stuck, he was way out on the mountain, with not many people around, or worse, stuck with his truck on an icy downward hill where nobody could stop. but i couldn't stop either, couldn't stop to offer my help or say hello, or make sure he could get out. i had to keep my steady pace up the hill on the ice - have to keep going forward, don't hesitate, don't stop, don't change my mind. trying to come back down would be suicide.

top of the hill, james ridge it's called, i find it really has its own weather, in this case, foggy, icy, rainy, and snowy all at the same time. both the valley beyond, sixteen springs, where we live, and cloudcroft itself were more reasonable. james ridge was a way-up-there, foggy mountain scene.

these days i'm quilting. trying to make a shalom kind of quilt, with a shin (peace sign) on a background. i've gotten a little fanatical with a pile of old jeans that have been sitting around for a while. all this in avoidance, avoidance of the things above. avoidance of opening my address book. avoidance of tuition.

such is life. tomorrow i'm back in the band room; it's where i started my subbing, two years ago.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

we left cloudcroft in the morning; it was already snowing. the hill was dicey, but when we got down to alamogordo, it was drizzling and it looked to be clear sailing for a while. it was good that we'd made it down the hill, a steep drop with no shoulders on the hairpin turns, where, if it's snowing hard or fast enough, it can get pretty slick. we were going up to las vegas new mexico, where a train would take us to kansas.

unfortunately, in oscuro, about forty miles up the road, a blizzard hit suddenly, and, not only could we not see anything, but the road was suddenly completely iced over. i ran off the road once; another time i swerved sharply and had to save the truck from going off again. trucks and cars were in the ditches, off the road. it was only eleven thirty in the morning.

oscuro is where the cutoff to the trinity site is. a completely empty road, across truly barren desert, that road represents new mexico better than most places. there is perhaps one or two people that live in oscuro, but the place always makes an impression on me.

when we got to carrizozo we stopped, traumatized. the following day the roads opened, and we went up to las vegas, and got on the train. the train was maybe three hours late; the blizzard had covered the albuquerque and santa fe areas, and made life difficult for a whole range of people in northern new mexico. one problem is that they need people to pounce on these icy patches with beet heet, and they just don't have them up there, for some reason. or, the people are completely outgunned by the expanse of area that they have to cover. in any case, whole swaths of road are just solid ice. i made it by virtue of going very slowly, and leaving lots of room between me and the car in front. my son never wants to drive; it scares him. ice scares him, and for good reason.

kansas, though, was good. we saw relatives; i was the grandfather. a pleasant chaos reigned as even small kids spread toys out in joy and educational inventory. the food was delicious. the host and hostess had that covered.

coming back, same thing. the truck battery had died, and it had a flat tire, but i got on the road in las vegas by about evening. it was a place called vaughn, this time, where the roads were ice-covered, slick as a whistle. i slowed way down.

las vegas itself was an interesting place, and i never even saw the old part of it. the train station itself was beautiful, with an old hotel and an old downtown nearby. capital of the southwest territory, biggest city in the southwest for many years, las vegas new mexico seems almost forgotten in time, but it still does pretty well; it has a small college, and it functions. the work on renovating the place.

this time, coming through, vaughn was the treacherous place. at the sign to fort sumner, you couldn't take that turnoff without turning your wheels on slick snow; better to go straight, and try not to use your brakes. at oscuro, though, the road was clear. now it was just an effort to stay awake, and make it back up the hill.

cloudcroft had gotten 29 inches the day i left. my wife was completely snowed in, and never made it to kansas; neither did the girls. a car was buried, and it too had a dead battery. big piles of snow lay in every direction; they had at least plowed the town. i came back; i started the car (like the truck, some security system had gone haywire and drained it; i'm not sure how, and i'm not sure anything had come along and set it off). now, another snow is coming. but i'm home, and don't have to go anywhere, and grateful. the wind howls outside, but i can rest a little.