Saturday, July 31, 2004

Sexy mushrooms.
The desert is full of surprises.

The other Fremont culture...Las Vegas.

Desert storm at 11,000 feet.

Wild West

We're back from our camping trip along the Utah/Nevada border. We nearly bagged a 12,000 ft peak in Utah but turned back because of rain, hail, high winds and lightning. It was hard quitting so near the summit. Getting that far required a 5,000 ft. elevation gain over the final three miles of the six mile hike. That was hard to give up but around 11,000 ft, watching lightning strikes on the lower slopes, we decided that being on the ridge wasn't in our best interest.

When we got to Nevada, we picked a camp that turned out to be the site of an old Indian camp or village. The area as littered with broken arrow heads, tools and pottery shards. We even found a mono and metate (grinding stones). Judging by the type of pottery, they were probably Fremont Indians. They lived in the area from about about 500 AD until the thirteen century then, along with the Anasazi, mysteriously disappeared. We took GPS readings to map site and will pass them on to the BLM. Of course, neither one of us are into reporting things to the government but this kind of information helps protect wilderness.

As far as wildlife sightings, we saw a small herd of wild horses out on the basin floor. Also, a couple of mustangs crossed our path in the mountains but they didn't notice us. A local rabbit did... first. She tried waiting us out but suddenly panicked and nearly ran into me as she shot by. She scared me as much as I scared her. In camp, our hosts were Eddy Lizard who lived in the old fire ring and an owl who lived in a nearby tree and only stirred in the evening to hunt.

After eight days out, we went to Las Vegas. The Plaza, in the other Fremont district, always has a cheap-o deal going on (if you ask about it) so we got a room for $27 and stayed for three nights. Sorry. No titillating wins or losses to report. We did watch the Democratic Convention in the evening. I thought that was a win. Kerry did rather well, IMHO. Other than that, there was a heat wave in progress, with temperatures up to 109, but it didn’t bother us too much being desert rats in an air-conditioned jeep.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Weekend report

For most of the weekend, ash from the Waterfall Fire drifted through the air but the writer's conference was terrific anyway. It was great spending time with a bunch of other writers. And I came away with some new ideas for a project I'm working on. Also After Hours turned out really well, in spite of last minute problems. It’s clear the Printer's Devils have it in for me. But I managed to wrench a few copies out, which is enough for the moment.

We're leaving in the morning for a couple of weeks of camping in central Nevada. Lee's been planning the trip for several days now and has a tentative plan but we'll see how it goes. Wild lands are not predictable places.

As for Plonk? I think he’s been staying away because of the crows. They take over so, for now, no more Triflitos. Ah the drama!

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Triflitos and the Mystery of Plonk's Disappearance Solved.

"Triflitos, un cereal con alto valor Nutritiva" it says on the box. We have a bit left over from Mexico so I've been putting it out for the birds. The crows love it. I tried getting a photo for you this morning and sat with my coffee, camera, pen and favorite notebook, the one I've been looking for all my life. I found it in Mexico but I've since seen it here in the good ol' USofA. It's the perfect size, with a binding just big enough to slip a pen in., plus it's good paper that doesn't curl when you write on it and perforated pages thus sparing one from the age old dilemma... to trim or not to trim. Like I say, I've been waiting but crows are not dummies. They saw me sitting at the window. I might as well have been jumping up and down and waving red flags at them. I gave up and when I came back in an hour, they'd devoured the entire pile. Crafty pigs!

The heartbreak is that Plonk hasn't been by to enjoy la gran diferencia. I say "heartbreak" because Dwayne told me that Plonk is hanging out as his place. He's not off hatching a family. He's defected! The little bastard. I asked Dwayne to look out for him when we were in Mexico but I'M HOME NOW, PLONK! But no. He now prefers Dwayne's. They have a damn wild life park over there. I think it's the peanuts. I've got to get some peanuts. And the real bird baths. Yes, plural. So many birds hang out over there that it's become a local hunting ground. Eagles and hawks stop by and grab some unsuspecting feaster from time to time. They even have a squirrel. In the desert, this is a big deal.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't be feeding deer or any other mammal. It's not fair to them. They become tame then someone walks up and slits their throat. But Plonk! How could he do this to me? After I rescued him from rush hour traffic and gave him a new start in life. Some homing pigeon. Home until a better one comes along, eh Plonk?

But I should be working on my zine. The book sale is on Saturday and I'm going to be busy working at the conference right up to it. I've got the front cover printed. It looks great. Yesterday I printed out all the poems and selected most of the photos and worked them in. Today I have to do the paste up...mmmmmmmm...gotta go.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

After Hours

That's the name of the zine I'm taking to the writer's conference this weekend. I'm putting it together right now. Well, I'm taking a break from putting it together right now. I'm using things I've already written so I'm just doing layout. I hate doing layout. Doesn't agree with me. I'm printing it on some paper I bought way back when I had my letterpress. Been cleaning up my office and it just has to go. It's extra nice. Too nice. The kind of nice that creeps me out. It puts too much emphasis on an insignificant detail. The letterpress days were not that great all around and this paper has followed me around ever since, reminding me of it. In those days, I'd go to the office, do battle with type fonts, composing sticks, brass and coppers (for spacing between words)and after an hour or so, decide I needed a drink. As often as not, I'd get blinding drunk and call it a day..or night. I finally sold the damn thing, three presses in all, two huge cases of fonts, tools. My marriage ended (a good thing) and then my life took another turn for the worse and then a long, slow turn for the better. I'm still in that turn and hope to be for the rest of my days.

There's an old letterpress at the Brewery Arts Center where the Ash Canyon poets meet on Friday nights. The center said it still works we could use the it, if we want to. Bill Cowee and I got pretty excited about the idea. He'd like to do broadsides and I have ink or grease paint or some kind of gunk in my veins so it sounded good to me too. BUT, when I looked at all the tiny, tiny fonts...the press was used by a newspaper...and all the paraphernalia, it all came back to me. Fussy and tedious as doing layout in Word is, the difference between printing with a letterpress and a computer is the difference between sticking needles in your eyes and stepping barefoot on thumbtacks.

Yes, I know. Why Word? It's a really bad program to publish with. Well, after all this time, I still haven't gotten around to making the switch to something like Word it is. One more time.

Also, I made oatmeal raisen cookies for my son today and mailed them off to Fort Bliss. I hope they bring a little sweetness to his day.

Sunday, July 11, 2004


Damn! It's late and I'm rummy. I was answering a comment made to my last post but ended up deleting it and my reply. ARG! I'm going to bed. Asia, I hope you repost your delightful comment.

Ps. You are the latest recepient of the coveted Vlorbik Award. Imagine a standing ovation.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Bird Park Babies and Other Writers

A third generation of bird babies is currently enjoying my bird park. Compared to their parents and grandparents, they are a distinctly relaxed bunch. But back then times were hard. I put out only one seed tube and a pie plate full of water which I considered a bird bath. The birds felt otherwise. I surrounded it with (what I considered) beautiful rocks that I'd found in the desert. I waited and waited but no birds ever went near it. It took me half of that summer to accept the fact that they hated the damn thing. Okay! So I still have a few character defects to work out.

Last year was the beginning of the Golden Age. First off, I got rid of the rocks. That turned the evil configuration into a simple bowl of water. Crows started softening bread in it and even the earliest bird ran over for a drink after landing. And about a hundred sunflowers volunteered, growing to different heights depending of how much water each one got. Several produced their own seed but even the most spindly, dwarf provided a perch. For anyone under six inches tall, a lovely green maze replaced the moon scape. Birds swayed on the tiniest branches and called it good. And after Plonk arrived, I started pouring seed on the ground in ernest.

Speaking of Plonk, he and his wife haven't been around for a couple of weeks. They hung out at Dwayne and Thera's while we were in Mexico but came over as soon as we got home. I'm guessing right now they're busy sitting on some eggs. I hope so. I've never seen a baby pigeon. Have you?

But getting back to the third generation bird park babies. They are the first ones with parents brought here by their parents. You get the picture. For them, the place is a paradise that's been around forever. Sometimes after they've eaten, they just hang out as though the world is a safe place. Really lovely. Well, that's the big news. Now I have to get back to work. I'm throwing together a quick poetry zine to sell at the Juniper Creek Writer's Conference which is happening next weekend in Carson City. Also, this afternoon a bunch of us are meeting at Ellen's to stuff the packets for the event. I'm grateful I've found some other writers here. Otherwise, Nevada would be a pretty lonely place.

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Riverside Weddings and Stranger Angels

John, Anita and the boys. Posted by Hello
My son called tonight. He's leaving tomorrow, along with the rest of his National Guard unit, for a few months training in Texas, then they are off to Iraq. We just got back today from visiting them. All totaled, the drive was longer than if we'd gone from Guatemala straight through to Canada. We'd have done it if we'd had to drive from the fucking moon. It was great seeing them. We stayed a day and a half, which was about right. We took John and his wife Anita out to dinner, saw Touching the Void (excellent), went on a short hike and spent a lot of time watching their kittens play. They're a pair of homeless little brothers J&A rescued from the animal shelter. John's official deployment orders arrived while we were there and he read them aloud to the three of us. I'm glad we there to absorb a bit of that moment!

John has been in the Guard since 1998 and was supposed to be out this October. Of course, Bush is chasing down everyone he can to help bail him out of this bullshit invasion of Iraq. Anyway...John and Anita have been together since high school, class of 2000. They were co-captains of their high school cross-country teams, honor students, planted trees, helped coach and tutor kids. They are attractive, sweet, smart, healthy, kind and civic-minded. After John got back from six months overseas with the Guard, they moved to Montana. That was a year ago. They just got residence status and are enrolled at the university for fall quarter. They were also planning to get married soon, a nice, old fashioned wedding, but when John got his deployment notification they decided to have a quick civil ceremony and save the "real" wedding until after he gets home. They got married in Oregon, in our old home town, in the park, by the river. We were in Mexico.

I'm really bleary-eyed at the moment but I just want to tell you one quick story. It helps. I'm still rattled with fear over all this. John told me he and Anita went out to dinner tonight and at the table next to them two couples where having a heated discussion about Fahrenheit 9/11 (which I saw and liked very much). After the huffy Republicans left John leaned over, smiled and said, "Hey, you should straighten your friend out ." A brief conversation followed during which John mentioned he was beginning his deployment in the morning. Later, when he went to pay the bill, he found out that the guy he'd been talking with had already paid it. You may say a small act of kindness but it blessed the evening for them. Like a good omen it lifted their spirits and cheered their hearts. And mine. Thank you.