Welcome to my World

Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Monday Memoir--Sort Of...

Monday’s Memoir

I’ve spent a good part of the afternoon trying to organize and separate a mess of papers pertaining to my family history and memoir writing projects. I have a terrible habit of scribbling things on pages of steno notebooks I carry around. They are each supposed to be for a specific project, like one for my Alaska Sled Dog stuff and another for my serious socio-political essays and diatribes, one for current to-do lists and projects, goals etc. and still another for odd tidbits that pop into my quirky memory and may trigger an essay or vignette, an entry into the life-calendar or the register of livestock I worked with and so on.  Even worse, I may find things on line or in reading old journals etc. and scribble them on some errant scrap of paper that just happens to be within reach. The result of course is a scrambled mess!
I’ve always made lists and notes and reminders, written pages of goals and resolutions (in earlier years I did them whereas I now do goals) and dissertations of philosophy and such. I laugh to read some dating back into the mid 1960s and seeing how much is still the same and where the changes occurred. I really make a fetish about trying to stay organized but I think I am a natural born slob, not to mention a packrat, a squirreler-awayer, and at times just plain lazy or rushed into throwing things into folders, boxes or a handy draw haphazardly. Of course that creates its own special punishment, for eventually you have to fix it. You are looking desperately for something you know you saw, wrote, found, or suddenly need and it has to be in that folder, this box or the third drawer there.
Out it comes. Piles all over the floor of like stuff—until you forget which goes where. Or you get distracted stopping to read something that looks utterly fascinating though you have no recollection of ever reading or even seeing it before! There are days I have the attention span of a kindergarten level gnat and anything can distract me, especially from a tedious and tiresome chore. I’ve fought that today and I actually did make some headway. Papers, notebook pages and haphazard jottings are roughly sorted into several categories which make sense to me although they would probably blow anyone else’s mind. And each is stowed in its own labeled file folder. Brave for me—for now!
The next step is to find several partial drafts of three related but dissimilar projects in my computer—probably on my main document storage flash drive-- and begin the task of putting these notes into digital form. Some will go on existing lists and tables, appendices of a sort to one or more of those three big projects.
You might ask: what are they? Well, one is a family history with quite a bit of genealogy and anecdotes that have come down through both sides of my family. There I keep finding new marriages and begats and property acquired and moves made, an occasional perhaps true story about something some ancestor or distant relative did and so on. That one doesn’t have a title. I began it the winter after my husband died, working on what I knew of his family first for the kids and grandkids and then picking up a start I had made for my two brothers and me after our mother had passed. I had a loose leaf binder for each of us with photos, documents and a fairly short narrative. I’ve had  my youngest brother’s since his death and looking through it realize the whole thing needs updates and additions.
The decision to write my own life story came along sometime during those processes. I have not gotten too far but it’s inching along. I’m about ready to get through high school in that narrative. For now it is called Shoving Smoke and Herding Cats which pretty well portrays the way I always seemed to have gone about life!
Then when I was participating in the Older Writer’s League (our self chosen moniker) at the Senior Center and involved with a memoir-based vignette and essay project there, I saw a different approach to sharing my memories. I have several friends who have written some humorous and poignant short tales from their life experiences and published them in collections and the idea has a lot of appeal. It would be a kind of prose companion to my poetry book, Walking Down My Shadows. For now the working title for that is Memoirs of a Rawhide Butterfly.

I went through those short works today and got them into a loose leaf notebook. There is too much—damn, but I am a wordy creature! There is also duplication and redundancy among some of the individual pieces so that will take more work too. I may get brave and try to format it for an e-book myself and then get it up on Amazon or somewhere. I will have a long learning curve there, especially since I want to put photos into it as illustrations for many of the stories. Anyway, that is ‘where I’m at’ right now and the excuse for not having a new piece ready to go—with photos. Next week I will do my best to have one for you!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sympathy for the "Snowflakes" --warning, a bit of a diatribe!

Sympathy for the “Snowflakes?” Not so much.

I have a very hard time finding any sympathy for the college students who have had hysterics and nervous breakdowns about the election.  They are, at least allegedly, in such a demolished state that they need “safe rooms” to go to, coloring books, puppies, teddy bears and many counselors to help them find their balance and the strength to carry on with their studies. Exams were waived and I imagine grading scales have been modified to accommodate a major dip in work completed and other normal factors. Goodness, we cannot expect these poor souls to work, can we? And we could not add to their tragedy by giving failing marks.

Why am I so hard hearted? Well, let me tell you a true story about a student I knew the 1960s. I know this person and every word that I am going to tell you is true. She came from an impoverished family and would not have been able to go to the state university nearest her home without the scholarship and grant she received. She had worked hard in high school and earned good grades which gave her this small foot up.

Just as she was ready to begin her second year, her family was evicted from their home and left essentially homeless. She was torn but knew if she did not return to continue her schooling the financial aid would be gone. Her parents and siblings bounced around in several substandard temporary dwellings for some weeks. Finally her father was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon after firing a shot at a car that drove slowly past where they were living. He was incarcerated until his trial and then sent to the State Hospital once it was determined his actions were the result of a nervous breakdown. He recovered at least enough to be back in society after awhile.

This student returned to her ‘home’ for a number of weekends that fall to help her mother and siblings store or get rid of the family’s remaining possessions and then sent them off to shelter with relatives in two different locations. During the same period, her fiancĂ© lost his job and had to move to another state to work; they parted ways after realizing the long distance relationship would be difficult for them both although hoping to resume it later.

This student continued her classes, usually sixteen  or more hours each semester. She did earn the only grade of 3 or C received in her college experience during the next semester as she struggled to find her emotional and mental footing after the extended period of trauma. Otherwise it was all 1s and 2s or As and Bs with the higher grade most often.  She had no counseling, no ‘safe room’ other than her room in an older—less expensive—dorm on campus. She had no car and walked everywhere she needed to go, taking a bus when she had to leave the immediate area. I know she had no puppies to pet; as to color books or teddy bears, I really cannot say. But she pressed on and managed to turn in all required assignments and pass all exams that year and the next two as well.

She graduated in four years and five intervening summer sessions with not one but two degrees, just a percentage point or two below cum laud status. Part of the time she also worked about twenty hours a week. The week after completing requirements for her second degree, she reported for work at the opposite end of the state, moving with the help of a friend. That job was the start of a career she stayed with for twenty five years.

I would never call her a hero or anything exceptional. She just did what she had to do in order to reach the goals she had set for herself. I am sure it was a difficult and painful struggle much of the time but in that era, you were allowed to fail if you did not measure up; you got very little in the way of ‘slack’ no matter what went on in the rest of your life. Nobody was too concerned about feelings being hurt or anyone taking offense at much of anything. You got tough or you did not make it. 

So no, I’d tell these pitiful excuses for young adults to put on their big kid britches, pull up their socks and dig in!  One election is not the end of the world no matter how  troubling it is to many, myself included. The fact remains, it is what it is and if you cannot deal with setbacks and trauma, then you may as well just give up and commit suicide or go into a sanitarium and live out your days as an aging infant, taken care of by those more competent.  

Monday, December 19, 2016

Memoir Monday--All About Snow

I suppose when I was little, snow was not anything major, cold, sometimes fun, beautiful and  mostly just accepted as something that happened. Kids tend to be that way.

The first snow I saw and really do not remember, although the photos trick me into thinking I do, was in 1944-45 when my parents were living in Cambridge, MA,  a suburb of Boston and Dad worked at Raytheon for a season. That must have been a snowy year. I had a nice snowsuit and appeared bundled in it in several shots. Oddly that snowsuit went through all three of us kids even if it was pink. The boys were too young to protest wearing it. It was warm and kept us dry!

Then we came to Jerome, AZ. For the first few years, it seemed to snow a lot and be very cold. Our house sat next to four big water tanks that fed most of the town's municipal water system. At least a couple of them were wooden, little more than huge barrels, and they leaked. I can recall a number of times when the fence on the west side of our yard was an ice sculpture. It was pretty but the whole yard was slick as skating rink. I am sure the temperatures must have been down in the teens and not above freezing for several days for that to happen.

It was probably 1949 when there we got a very heavy snow. We had to drive up the highway, 89-A, to see how Mingus Mountain looked. Dad figured our new 4-wheel drive Universal Jeep could make it. It did but only because they had plowed the road! The walls of snow on either side were probably close to eight feet high! On the level it must have been two-three feet anyway.
Of course out at Camp Wood, the very remote community north and west of Prescott where Dad taught the one room school for two years, was in the mountains and got its share of white stuff. There was where my one and only experience with skis occurred. I decided that sitting on my derriere in cold wet stuff was not fun!

By the late 1950s, a drought was in full swing and perhaps the initial phase of the last half century or more of climate change had kicked in. There was a lot less snow in central Arizona. I saw some while we worked with the stock but it was occasional and only one big snow that I recall. And on December 16, 1965, it did not snow much in the valley but that night when my friend Dusty drove me to Flagstaff to catch the train to go to California--at the time I was not sure if it was just a visit or permanent, but I did come back in mid January--the trek up Oak Creek Canyon was a real feat. He was a good driver and made it without scaring me once.

However, when I lived in Flagstaff for four years while going to Northern Arizona University, I got to see plenty! It was cold but even when I lived off campus the last two years, I walked everywhere and it did not seem too bad. One year though it really snowed round Christmas and New Years. That would have been 1967-68. I was again catching the train for California to spend the winter break and we sat in the depot all night. The trains were slow but the only thing running as all the highways were closed. While I was gone, more snow fell. It totalled about nine-ten feet but did melt some and settle between storms so there was probably no more than six feet on the ground at any one time!

My next encounters with snow--often and lots of it--took place the four years we lived in Colorado, settling in what was then a small, rural community called Falcon, about fifteen miles east of Colorado Springs. We had our first blizzard just before Christmas 1973 which almost kept Santa from appearing for the two Walton kids still at home.  Our last blizzard hit in March of 1977. The highway was already closed when my boss finally dismissed us at the Chidlaw Building (NORAD/ADC Headquarters) down in the east-central part of the city but Jim and I thought we could get home via Marksheffel Rd. We didn't make it and spent about eighteen hours in my Ford Pinto while the storm raged. Then we waited another eighteen or so at a nearby little farmhouse before we finally caught a ride home.  Jim and I both got carbon monoxide poisoning to some degree since I idled the car all night. The lee-side window was cracked but funes still built up. A few people did die in this storm and I did not fight when my position was cut later that year by a reduction in force. We moved to central California that fall. No snow there but plenty of fog.

Since then I saw real snow only a few times in Whetstone, outside of Huachuca City, AZ where I lived for almost twenty five years and a bit in Hurley. NM, the winter of 2008-09. Back in Colorado for two years I saw some but no huge amounts and since we have been back in southern New Mexico, it has been only skiffs. We had to sweep off cars and clear the drive of ice once that I recall. Usually it is gone by noon except a few bits in the shade.

Since that storm in 1977, I have been very leary about driving in snow and will not unless it is a real emergency. I like to see the cold white stuff on the mountains and wish copious amounts for Alaska for the sled dogs to enjoy but otherwise, I consider S**W one of the uglier four letter words!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Story Gift

This is for my friends and regular readers.  I've long had an odd habit of dreaming something so close to complete that just a little writing and editing made it into a finished tale. This is one of them. It also became the spring board to a much larger project which has been in the WIP (work in progress to non-writers) for a long time. I do not normally write fiction in first person but this tale needed that approach. It is a holiday story but not of Christmas, Yule, Solstice or New Years!.One perhaps for the dreams and the Druids,,, Happy holidays!

Here, it is May Day 1989. Where was I four hundred years ago?
Today is May first, 1589.The winter has been harsh in England, this season past, in the thirty first year of the reign of Queen Bess. Spring comes as a blessing, a respite. Finally we are freed of the oppressive snow and gnawing cold. The leaves are again green and streams leap and dance, full to the brink. Valleys and glens in the low-lying areas are briefly flooded as the mild weather melts the snow from the highlands.
As a fosterling in a western hold on the Welsh border, I do not have high expectations.  I know I shall not be May Queen nor even have a truly new dress, but I can still welcome spring and the Mayfest. I know there are those who scorn it as a pagan day, a sinful flaunting of the proper sobriety of good Christian folk…the May Queen, the Jack ‘o the Green and the rest. They term sin the licentiousness, the Balefires; even perhaps the May Pole and the Morries Dancers are frowned upon. But here, where the lady of the manor is Welsh and not too taken with the new religions, be they Papish, Knoxist or even the New Church of King Hal…we turn a blind eye to such grim rules.
So it is Margery, her ladyship’s youngest daughter, who will be clad in the May Queen’s white with flowers crowning her bright head, ridden in the blossom-decked cart pulled by several of the village’s sturdy lads who deem it a great honor to be her team. There are even flowers for my mouse brown hair and a dress of green, handed down from Margery’s elder sister, wed the summer past and gone south and east with her groom. And I, with the other young folk, can dance a ribband around the peeled log set in the Commons. There are no duties this day. As I join the gathering throng, I see it is Tam, the miller’s half-wild son, who will be Jack, clad in tatters and leaves, spikes and ringlets of his dark auburn hair thrusting out through his leafy cap.
Tam capers around the cart that the other youths draw, carrying Margery. Most of the time he is jut Tam, stern faced and solitary, the miller’s half-mad boy. But today, this one day, he is like one possessed, fey of eye and madly gay, flirting a tail of green-dyed horse hair as he leaps and cavorts. Even his eyes seem green… Are they not usually gray or at the most hazel? He stops and looks at me, peering into my face as if he had never seen me before. I want to draw back, to vanish into the crowd but after a moment he moves on.
“It’s just Tam,” I tell myself. “Only weird, wild Tam, playing a foolish Mayday game.” But as I hurry on, I stay as close as I can to Margery’s cart even though we are nothing like friends. She never lets me forget that I am poor kin, dependent upon the charity of her parents.
It has been nigh two years now that I have been here with them. Uncle Geoff and Aunt Mattie and their two youngest, Margery and little Jeff’ry now twelve and fostered away as the nobility tends to do. I am fifteen, tall for a girl. Margery is but a month younger, shorter than I but more full bodied with golden hair and blue eyes. My mother was Aunt Mattie’s baby sister. They say she married beneath her station and my da died at sea, leaving her with almost nothing. She went back to her old home in the Welsh hills, there to die three years later, leaving me alone. Two of the old family retainers brought me to Aunt Mattie, the nearest kin they knew. Since then I have been something more than a lady’s maid to Margery but much, much less than an equal.
I fell to thinking as we went along, winding about the village lanes, how different it was here. I could vaguely recall our home on the coast, a stone house in a fishing village of which da’s father was the head man. Then there was the crumbling manor of stone and timber, once the Big House on the Hill but even when we came to it, a crumbling ruin of all it might once have been. Here the Keep was mostly timber and stood at the head of the valley, well kept and proud still. Yes, it was different here, hard to learn to be nobody of any note or importance.
With my mind’s eyes turned inward I had not realized we’d reached the Commons. There was a scramble for the ribbands and then as the village band struck up the Maying tune, the dance began. Tam darted in and out among us, ducking the ribbands, twisting as agily as a hare fleeing the hounds. For a moment he danced backwards, keeping pace and facing me. This time he did not so much frighten me as strike a spark of matching wildness which I had not known I harbored. He was whistling, a thin wild wail of counterpoint to the band’s tune. He stopped for breath and smiled at me, teeth flashing bright in his mud-daubed face, nearly as vivid as his eyes.  Then he winked and danced away.
I nearly missed a turn, ducked quickly under a ribband held by the baillie’s stout son. Then I had to arch out and reach high to take my strand over one held by tall Jaime, one of the laird’s squires. Usually just being near him made my heart skip a beat and saw me go pink in confusion, but this time, all I could think of was Tam while Jaime seemed over-tall and awkward as a scarecrow.
I could not fathom what was happening, so I danced blindly on until the ribbands were woven almost to the ground, encasing the pole. The rest of the day passed in a blur and I cannot really remember anything until after sunset, when we gathered again to await the lighting of the Balefire. This rite was even more ancient than the Maypole dance, and here the May Queen had no role. This night belonged to Jack o’ the Green. It was his command that set the first spark alight on the heap of last season' straw and gathered wood. He was the first dancer to leap, up, through and over the flames. This was a dance for only the men and for only the boldest, strongest and youngest ones.
Margery still wore her white gown, a fresh crown of flowers about her brow and there were still many who paid court to her, but the fire was now the center of attention. The fire and Jack.  I was no exception, watching Tam’s every move in total fascination.
Gradually the blaze sank and as gradually, the leaping youths chose a maid and slipped away. Suddenly there was hardly anyone left and the light of the wild red flames turned dusky. I blinked in the darkness, saw that Margery was gone, and then felt a hand catch mine. Strong masculine fingers entwined with mine and a callused palm rasped against my softer skin. Out of the dark a voice said, “Come.”  It seemed a voice I did not know yet it also seemed I had waited all my life to hear it. Although I could not see at all, as if in the dark at the bottom of a deep well, that hand led me steadily and my feet found sure purchase for each step. We went up a steep path the wound as it went.
“Wait,” a caution said within me. “There is no such path as this so close to the village. You know not where you go or who is leading you thence!”
But my new wild self laughed in abandon and paid no heed. “I will go where I am led this night.”
A wind sprang up and the air turned cooler, scented with a salt-sea flavor. The leaves rustled in a manner more of autumn than spring. At least we came down a short way into a little dell. Then I could again see—my gaze discerned the outlines of tall, rough hills, dark against the star-strewn sky. Even the stars did not look familiar.
I stared upward, puzzled, and then in a moment found myself on my back, bedded in a sweet softness of grass and leaves that cushioned me well even as an unfamiliar weight bore me down against the earth. The wind sang wild in the trees nearby but that cry did not reach me, though I felt its stir as the air caressed my damp, bare skin. Somehow the green gown was off and laid aside.
A burning pain lanced through my body briefly but it was followed and replaced by a thousand shapes and shades of delight that finally melded into a crescendo of trembling, twisting power. It was if I was torn apart and remade in a second. My lover did not speak nor could I see him as more than a dim shape but I think he hummed a faint air, a harmony with the wind’s song, combining Greensleeves with Tam’s whistle.
In the darkest lateness of the night I slept at last, wrapped in a heavy cloak that was mossy and warm. Perhaps I dreamed. Perhaps it was all a dream...

When morning came, I awoke and found myself lying on my regular pallet in the anteroom of Margery’s chamber. I lay angled across it, still in yesterday’s gown and there were leaves in my hair. At first it seemed an unfamiliar tenderness lingered on and in my body but it faded as I rose and went about my tasks. May second was no holiday. If I thought of the night, it seemed as if it had been a dream. In my mind a shadow of a shadow lingered but I could never get closer to a true memory than that. Still, by midsummer I knew I was with child.
Out here in the western borders, it is no shame to bear a May Eve babe. Such a child needed no father, only a mother, and would never bear the brand of bastard or hedge-baby. Indeed they were honored as gifted and fey. Despite that, I was not left to birth my babe alone, for at harvest I was wed to Jamie and soon became the chatelaine or housekeeper under Aunt Mattie’s direction.
It was not until that first child, a girl, was old enough to herself go a-Maying having past fourteen winters that I chanced to learn Tam was also a May eve babe, born to the miller’s daughter who died in childbirth, leaving a son for her parents to raise. There was now nothing wild about Tam. He’d became the miller in the old man’s stead, a bit heavy in the middle as his gamper had been, and wed to a rosy-cheeked Welsh girl who bore him a half dozen dark and lively children. My Mary May was dark of hair but otherwise as fair faced as blonde Margery’s daughters. Mary May had gray eyes.
Aunt Mattie seemed old now, and after Uncle Geoff died, she quickly went stooped and gray, finally going off to a priory to end her days with the nuns. Jeff’ry is the new laird, wed to a thin, pale slip of a girl from far to the east. They say the old ways are dying out, but surely they will have a Maypole and later the Bale fires. My Jaime is grounded now after a young horse fell and crushed his leg. It grew back too crooked for the stirrup but he serves as Baillie while I am now housekeeper for Jeff’ry’s lady.
I sit this late April day making a May gown for Mary, hurried in my stitching since it is but two nights away. Below she is playing in the courtyard with Marjory’s two younger girls and the laird’s little daughter, Guinevere. Mary calls to her little sister Johanna, drawing the child into the game, Ring Around the Rosy. They are all laughing, sweet and innocent, until Mary feels my eyes on her and looks up, smiling. She waves a slim white hand and tosses a kiss. Soon some lad will be the target of that gesture.
“No,” I pray silently, not sure if I call on the ancient Lady of our people or the other Mary, mother of Jesus. “Not yet, not this year!”  I suspect it is a vain prayer. Time will not stand still. My daughter’s shape in her outgrown dress is no longer that of a child and as her ladyship’s brother, visiting for the season, walks by carefully ignoring her, she sighs. He is older, at least sixteen, and rumor has it he was banished from court for gambling and wenching, even beyond the extent expected of a young nobleman in these wicked days. He has the face of a petulant child but also a glamour the girls see, the reflected glory of the court and the capitol.
Ah, better Jack than a lecherous lout like that, and it will be someone soon. Someone for my daughter… I shake off my fey mood and resume my stitching. It may be small of me, but I am glad that Margery’s eldest girl is fostered along with her brother while the younger ones are barely out of swaddlings, and little Gwinnie is still small as well. Mary will be alone to represent the lasses of the manor.
I remember back fifteen years and wonder who will wear the Jack’s green and tail this Mayday. There’s a tinker who has come through, trading horses and he has a son, a canny black-eyed lad, too old seeming for his apparent years…but that would probably be too obvious. It may be one of our own, an ordinary lad you hardly see in an everyday way.
There will be a May Queen too, some girl from the village. It won’t be Mary but she will not be out-shown, clad in a new gown and well decked with flowers. After all, Jack never chooses the May Queen. Will he recognize a kinship with my Mary and lead her away into some distant hills after the fire dies?
In many ways I dread it. The experience left me forever with a dim longing and melancholy for what can never happen again. But I would not have missed it for the world. I have my daughter… And after all that, I think I made Jaime a good wife. I have given him two sturdy sons and a little daughter with his rusty-colored hair; I have mended his clothes and healed his injuries, seen him well fed and bedded, and sent him off twice to battles from which, saints be praised, he returned hale and whole.

Still, sometimes when the wind blows just so, my feet itch for a hilly path and I hum under my breath, a wild nameless tune. For a day or two I cannot abide Jaime’s touch and chafe sorely at the tedious sameness of my days.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Memoir Monday

Installment 1—The Summer of 1951

Do you ever have to kind of con yourself to get things done that you know you need to do, maybe even want to do but can’t seem to fit them in? That’s my problem. This time of year it is harder than normal since I get a seasonal spell of the blahs and have to work to pull up my socks every day and go walk with my dogs.  So I came up with a small gimmick to get myself back on a more regular schedule of posting to this blog and maybe a bit will spill over to my others. 
Every Monday I will post a memory from years gone by with some photos.  I know I have posted memoir tales before but I am going to approach this a bit differently. I’ll take a small slice of time and go into more depth with it. I’m not sure how this will work but here we go!

Gaye, summer 1951
lookout tower in background
The first summer that I can recall as a unit was the summer of 1951, between my second and third grade years. Before that, I can remember incidents and vignettes but time began to take on a different dimension that year.  That summer was unique and a special adventure!
1951 was the year we spent in the North Kaibab. My parents took a summer job operating one of the forest service fire lookouts.  I know there were at least two or three others, perhaps more, but we made our home for ten or twelve weeks at the Big Springs Lookout. It was not far from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon although outside of the park boundaries.
Big Springs Fire Lookout

The lookout consisted of a tall tower with a metal cabin on the top with big windows on all  four sides. It held an instrument like a surveyor’s transit and a spotting scope. These were used to get the exact location of a fire spotted by the person or people manning the lookout. There was also a cabin tent, about ten by fourteen feet or so which provided shelter and a temporary home for the fire watchers. The canvas was stretched over a frame and it had wooden side walls up about three feet. There was a wood burning stove for cooking and heat, if needed. I had a cot and I think there was a double bed my parents used. We had an outhouse, had water hauled in, and used Coleman lanterns for light.
I was allowed to go two flights up the tower by myself and climbed the stairs with no fear. I’m not sure why the two flight limit for a fall from even that high would have likely been very serious if not fatal but that was the rule. My mother scampered up and down with little problem although she was three to six months pregnant with my future sibling. There were no ultra sounds at that time so we had no idea whether I’d have a brother or a sister. I suppose the exercise and active life was healthy since she had the baby in November and both she and my new brother were fine!
A circular drive ran around the base of the tower and past the door of the tent-cabin. I remember drawing elaborate ‘floor plans’ in the dirt which became houses, castles and stables for my solitary games. I was used to playing by myself and never lacked a vivid imagination which apparently served me well.  The specifics of my games are forgotten but I know I had a good time and was never bored or lonely.
Some days when the fire danger was low—after a good rain, mostly—we could take off and go exploring. The family car was a Universal Jeep, not much different from those the military had developed in WW II and were then using in Korea. It had four wheel drive and could handle almost any dim track out through the forest so we visited many of the more remote view points of the Grand Canyon such as Toroweap and others. I am sure Dad took pictures, but for some reason I have not found even any negatives.
Mule deer herd, bucks' antlers
in the 'velvet' stage, actively growing.
We also saw the famous Kaibab mule deer. Herds came out to forge in many of the meadows or cienega areas (seep springs that create more verdant vales) and there were photos of them. They are larger than the average mule deer and have evolved into almost a sub-species due to their isolated location. The bucks have very large antlers and often they are rather deformed or oddly shaped with tines going at strange angles and very asymmetrical. Even the does were fairly large.
Every couple of weeks we went in to Kanab, Utah to get supplies since that was the nearest town large enough to have a real grocery store and other shops with necessary goods. I recall it as a pretty, neat little town with lots of trees and a clean aspect.  I am sure it is much larger and different now.

The experiences of that summer left a mark on me. I did not mind the primitive conditions nor was I fearful to be out in the woods, a number of miles from “civilization” and to this day, I can enjoy an extended period of such a life. It is nice to come back to all the modern conveniences –well some of them at least—but for several weeks, it would still be good to get away from it all! I did so earlier this fall with a stay at a sled dog kennel off the grid outside Fairbanks, Alaska. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Still In Shock?

Another one of my rants--but it is not pro or con on the Trump/Clinton matter. I am just upset at what I am seeing happen around me!

November was an insane month.. I was not as dismayed as many by the results of the election although I was very surprised.  What has shocked me was the eruption of violence and viciousness. That has frankly left me reeling! I have cut way back on my Facebook activity because many people that I have thought of as friends have become almost unrecognizable with their rants and vituperative spews of hatred! These are people who claim to be all for peace, love, harmony and being nice! I will freely admit that Donald Trump comes across as a jerk but this tsunami of rage and 'fear' and "we cannot let this happen" leaves me troubled, shocked and very concerned.

I am shaking my head and trying to understand. I am a far cry from "Christian Right" and certainly not what they are calling Alt Right. and consider myself mostly middle-of-the-road on most issues or more or less fiscally conservative and socially liberal but this over the top reaction in many places leaves me dumbfounded.  There has got to be a happy medium between the extremes of Left and Right, Red and Blue or however you want to label them.

The way I see it, both extremes, have been brainwashed by the portions of the media which cater to  those opposite ends of the political spectrum. They believe literally ""everything"" said on Fox News or CNN etc.  The candidate of the opposition is satan incarnate and will surely bring death and destruction and unmentionable horrors if they were allowed to take office.  Give me a break!!!

We have been bouncing back and forth between Democrat and Republican administrations since my first time voting in 1964 when I cast my ballot of LBJ. So far the world has not ended; some things have gone  on under both sides that I was not happy with and felt did not make either me or the whole country better off  but the sun still rose and set and basically life went on pretty much as it always had. This is why I cannot understand the hysteria that has blown up like a volcano.

There is no question that America is deeply divided--roughly 50-50 between the liberal and conservative camps. (Somehow Democrat and Republican do not seem to have much meaning anymore.)  To oversimplify, the former deeply distrust free enterprise and business in general and feel that people are incapable of taking proper care of themselves, each other and the earth itself so the government must step in and micro-manage almost everything. On the other side, the people deeply distrust government at all except the most basic local level and resist any effort to direct, control or limit their freedom of speech, action, reckless behavior or resistance to the current mantra of diversity/inclusiveness that the Liberals deem sacred.

It has become almost the classic rock and hard place--there is no middle except to get smashed flat between these two implacable resisting forces.  And that is where I am. It is not comfortable  I do not want to have to shut out friends who lean strongly to one side or the other but the noise is making my head and heart ache. I am truly sick of the extremes of political correctness and I DO NOT think anyone has a sacred right to never be offended. I am offended often and somehow manage not to need therapy, counselling, protection or --perish the thought--violent protesting to salve my wound!

I cannot help but feel that various minority groups and special interests are being used in a most callus way by the Leftist Establishment to create disruption and to deepen the fractures in our country as much and as quickly as they can. I can theorize the reasons but I really do not know--only know what I see.  They are making issues of non-issues and convincing many people that these things are really important when jobs, national security, the economy, the real environmental issues and similar matters are swept under the rug and ignored. In the dying days of the Roman empire, the government used "bread and circuses" (ie-lions versus Christians and gladiator-slaves fighting to the death) to distract the people. Now we have pro sports, flashy celebrities, and non-issues to do the same thing so WE fiddle while Rome--or our country--burns.