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crush


over the mound and up into autumn brown grass sky is an ocean of sand and unswept tears.  i am here and i am dead.  behind in these trenches are dug the unspent moments between scenes of youth.  i am dead until i return with all the carbine spent and casings hammered like nails in dead plank boards.  i am no hammer nor gavel; i am bankrupt beyond means to exchange lives for life.  there is no return nor untrod path back to a breathy lightness.  i am here and i am dead.  i sit under this only one tree lone and bare of leaves and bare and lone of bark.  it the only respite, a shade from the grime and smoke amongst the grime and smoke.  it is your tree.  our tree.  my tree.  i dig deep and deeper and deepest till the roots pass over my eyes, bone wisp hairs to call me back to moments in summer next to green grassy water where kisses fell like august rain on hot cheeks and butterfly eyes while pink lips whisper of how forever will unfold.  but that never happened.  you went away.  you went away into war and stayed there under the bloody boom and scream of levanthian brothers.  i saw our never born children grow up.  i fed them.  i cradled them.  i taught them how to string a bow but never taught  them of arrows for love had died and gone away with you.  i saw them grow up and grow out and move away, our children that were never born.  there never came a letter from that place you had gone off to.  only silence came to sit next to memories that when left alone like children turn themselves into a wintered howl. i am here and i am dead crawling under your tree to hold your hand.  it is not much but it is more than i have ever had, more than i ever hoped.  i loved you and you went away and i am content.  i missed you but i would have missed you more had you stayed and lived that dying descent while your heart never stopped crying for your cedar scented brothers and your mother’s land.  so now i am dead too and under this tree with you.  i can feel the inch of earth worm its way downward crushing.  i hold your hand.  i am here and i am dead so i might open my eyes one last time upon you.

chloroform


here on the surgery table under the tin capped incandescents there lingers the lungfuls of purpled dust motes.  outside there are too many. is too much.  but inside more so than all else so little left remains.  bone and sinew wrap in desperate defense protecting a muscle which when opened to the airy whispers and delicate caresses needs no ward.  there is no doctor who can file and crack and break away this barrier to lay in heaps the bone-tendon-sinew mass which now wraps around, strangling in child-acting-motherly embrace and lay it as heap to our side.  scalpel in hand might we auto-lacerate and sop up in buckets our flood of starved blood and let in with hungry gasps breathless reality to find under the flickering sun conductor to our cadence and trill to a new rhythm that time can only rest aside and wait while eternity ticks its ways down toward nothing.

Dunno


Here this morning under the dying Autumn sun the bus rocks over gravel slick roads and fluorescents flash steadfastly over the slated cherry slumbering eyes all while a metal bird chirps excitedly to the rear.  We call this something. A life. A routine. A ritual. An exit.  I wish I could tell my child this is all right. But how come?  Everybody is on a shoestring, hamstrung into a bus where we grit our way no different than those that once creaked and cracked and broke on once our ironic laden rennaisainced oceans. How come? Can you tell me the difference between this world and a death wrought on flowery treachery of servitude?  It matters little this that answer, the key to that lock-in-step thought is nothing next to this: that I am already free to think as simply as I breath and to embrace as humbly as I may even as this day that cools under the shade of this our modernity also warms contentedly to this the beat of our unimagined and simply real humanity.

And if you still cannot get off at the next stop then listen carefully to that tin brittle bird in the back because it is no bird as much as it is the creak and the grind of metal on metal, the scrape against casing that bullets you down to the dry well upside and inside out in Murakami form.  Time to get up and get out.  And remember your time now is no more than a monkey face and some wrinkles done beautifully under a mop of gorgeous hair.  Smile.

“My god, it’s full of stars!”


I left after work yesterday to drive out to Deer Park in hopes of finding clear night skies at its Denver-esque elevation of 5400-feet.  I had originally thought to join a star-party down in Goldendale this weekend but I bought tickets to PAX without realizing they conflicted with each other and so opted for my own star-party of one.  I arrived around 9:30 at night after driving the last some 10 miles up a side of a mountain in near pitch-black conditions.  Upon reaching the entrance to the site I mistakenly took a left instead of a right, which would have taken me to campsites, and instead ended up even further up the mountain near its very top.  Given that the stars were already out and rather risk driving up and down dirt roads that strangely had one side mountain and one side pitch black (I discovered the next day on my drive back that there are some very nearly sheer drop-offs at points so I think the decision to stay put a good one.)  I decided to park there and just unfurl my sleeping bag in the SUV.

And stars there were a’plenty.  While Sequim and Port Townsend obstructed some of the viewing to the north, by and large the entire sky was available to me.  It is really hard to describe that feeling when you realize the clouds in the skies are really the Milky Way, itself full of a hundred thousand million stars.  And just seeing the constellations and asterisms and how really they do stand out in the sky it is not hard to understand how our ancestors who came upon these patterns in their sky night after night would have eventually come to provide them names and histories unique to each of them.  I took a few breaks through the night to get some sleep but the stars were easily seen from inside and I kept just rolling over to look at them.  And most happily, I was able to see my old favorite Orion before sunrise as it currently rises out the East along with the Moon.

After watching the sun rise over the Puget Sound from atop the mountain, I then tramped my way down the side of the mountain, following the Three Forks trail that drops 3,300 feet over 4.3 miles where it comes out upon the convergence of three creeks, Cameron Creek, Grand Creek and the Upper Greywolf.  Note to self, that which goes downeth must eventually go uppeth.  And further note to self, it is better to first go uppeth and then proceed to go downeth than its reverse.  Regardless of the fact that I ended my hike drenched in sweat, it is wonderful trek that traverses conifers then the remains of the September 1998 fire and finally down into the very cool shade of deciduous trees.  And of course, a day is not complete without a couple of hours sleeping on the beach such as one might find at Dungeness Reserve on the way back from a jam packed night and day.

See all the pictures from my trek out to the Olympic National Park.

And an easter egg, cowboy-style.

Olympics Ad Infinitum


For those not in Seattle this past weekend you have my deepest condolences.  While Saturday stays at the top of the list for pure blue skies, Sunday showed itself to be a pitch perfect balance of stratocumulus clouds, water-deep azure sky and sun.  I jumped onto a ferry headed to Bremerton to see “Into the Woods”, well, in the woods over in Kitsap after spending the morning on the waters of Lake Union re-establishing that Water and I have a relationship best left left as wrote and read than redux’d [sic].

For those in the know Seabeck Highway is where it is all at; it comes out of Bremerton and moves deeper into the Olympic Peninsula where you cut west and south after getting past Highway 3, which runs north to Poulsbo and Kingston, to find yourself glad to have skipped the prosaic ironies of Hempfest in exchange for nature’s own high, dude.  While at times a seemingly innocent, even blasé, cruise through country suburbia, one but needs to keep their eyes a bit to the west to find oneself staring up into those kitten-adorable eyes that are the snowy crags of the Olympics.  Some names hold little mystery in and of themselves and there is no better evidence for this than Scenic Beach State Park, but even the snarky and occasional jaded me cannot but say that is a most aptly christened piece of land. And if you go by without stopping then you are, well, a stoopid [sic] poopy head.  Once at the park, I took it upon myself to lay on the stony beach for a few hours while watching the Sun arcs its way toward setting behind the mountains on the other side of the Puget Sound all while the tide slowly marched toward me feet.  And it really just does not get much better than that, dude.

See all my pictures from 21 August adventure of doing pretty much absolutely nothing Pacific Northwest style.

You Have Died of Dysentery


 

 

It is a good thing to sometimes remind oneself what is only 30-minutes-and-seven-dollars-and-change away from downtown Seattle: today I walked onto a ferry bound for Bainbridge Island.  For those not in the know, Bainbridge Island sits off of the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle where it is home to those lucky few who find themselves able to afford the greatly gentrified farmland of grass fed cattle and beyond-organically raised produce nestled between the pungent sea smell of the Puget Sound and etched into purple hammered skies of sunsets that is the Olympic mountains.

But not all is well in this Pacific NorthWest version of a French becolic scene; danger lurks just below the surface.  A danger more Oregon and less French resides here.  There is a very  real and very likely chance you will die in Bainbridge Island.  This death awaits anyone foolish enough to venture onto the typhoid-fever-cholera-measles-snakebite-dysentery ridden trail that is the Bainbridge Island shoreline trail, fully marked off with a sign that includes a rather misleading and jiffy pair of hardy backpackers who are blissfully unawares that their 50-lbs of REI-bought and professionally certified equipment will not protect them from what surely will soon become their and your death, too.  Do not tempt this trek but leave it to those who have Himalayan fortified hearts ready to handle the long and arduous 1.5 miles of treacherous trail full of turn-outs onto nausea inducing vistas of gently rocking moored offshore sailboats and blue herons waiting in deafening croning ambush along weather-grey stained docks and greener than the greenest green green algae lain over little bits of life waiting between tides.  Yes, I am sure you agree: you should leave Bainbridge Island and its terrors to experts such as myself.  And if on my next foray there know that if I do not return that I love you all and that I died doing what I love most.

See the rest of pictures from Bainbridge Island today.

Inanity: Found


There are times when even I must wonder about my own self and the security of my sanity in a world that to me seems best described as more wonderful imagined in the boundless confines of my cerebellum than in the infinite variety of reality.  To wit:

A week or so ago I was on one of my morning runs when I saw a bit of poster with the words “FOUND!” and a picture of handsome chap of a dog with a telephone number prominently listed below it.  Now you dear reader, I will presume, may already have digested this chunk of information and come forth with in no haste but to a rock solid and irreconcilably logical conclusion that I will shortly reveal I sailed right past.  I thought then at that moment how excited the child must have been to have finally had their best furry friend back that they then proceeded to replace all their LOST! posters with FOUND! posters.  And more so, they even left a telephone number so citizens such as myself might call them up to congratulate them and tell them how grand it is indeed to have found what was once lost.  And dear reader, and you are ever so dear are you not since you are indeed reading my blog, do not fret as I did not call said child, but if I had I would have shared with them my excitement for their reunion even while I thought to learn them a bit about how others might perceive them as off their rocker in sharing in such a public and indiscriminate a manner and even though I find such actions completely defensible in a manner reserved for universal logics and other such truths.  In a word, I would have called them up because they are, to me, a child after my own heart.

Forward to two days back when I saw a similar poster along GreenLake.  But this time I turned to my friend and mentioned that it was the second such poster I had seen.  And of course, in the intervening days since my first encounter I still felt oddly compelled to call them to congratulate them even though I felt admittedly awkward to do so.  More over, my only additional thought from the first encounter was that these posters were not for me but for all those other dog lovers who they feared would continue to fret about a wayward pet and wished to inform them that they could now rest assured that all was well.  Alas my friend, who it seems is a more mature and worldly person than I, informed me that such posters were put up by people who had found a lost pet and not by an owner who had been since been reunited with a lost pet.  Not till then had I seen into the mirror and realized there was another side, a juxtaposition of sorts of two roles.  To my mind it is such a subtle thing.  Both are finders.  One is celebrating the reunion.  One is trying to evince a reunion by leaving their phone number.   Sublimely deviated really are they not?

It is on days like this when my world seems so different than everyone else’s.  And the next thing I know people will tell their sky is really blue and clouds truly white, not the pin-striped skies and polka-dot clouds that I see.  In some ways I might learn to acquiesce myself of this view of the world but only as long as stop signs continue to taste like hot cinnamon firebomb candy balls.

Porta-potty: Locked and Loaded


Today was one of those days. You would think that maybe the gods would have let me pass unfettered, but sadly they seemed to have thought I needed to learn of hubris when they locked me into a porta-potty. Yes. Porta. Potty. Of the kind that is permanently placed at a certain trailhead off exit 45 on I-90 and named, ironically enough, for an Ira Spring, an avid photographer, who single-handedly helped to put trails in Washington quite literally on the map. I do not think it was Ira’s intent that I get locked into a porta-potty but nonetheless I did. There were some folks on the outside kind enough to state the obvious by quipping, “I am glad it is not me” as if me or anyone anywhere in this world is interested and frankly jonesing [sic] to get a few hours or even minutes locked away in a porta-potty with a large tank of human “remains” with only a crappy plastic toilet and hole in the floor to separate them. Thanks, whoever-you-were. But my favorite “helping elf” may have been the thankless bravado of one person who told my friend to “get out of the way and I will show how it is done” and then proceeded to basically shake with delusional veracity the crap out of the door for 30 seconds. I was impressed. Truly and deeply. At some point my friend and I thought to try and use credit cards to get the door latch to open. But credit cards were too big. But not too big, and ironic as it is, was my GameStop membership card that fit perfectly into the latch: so goes my video-gamer cred.

Epilogue. Yes, just as I freed myself and as obvious as it was to everyone that I had just emerged from the porta-potty after being trapped inside, the wife of ever-so-manly-and-shake-it-till-it-opens-stuck-porta-potty-man went inside. Yes; she entered the porta-potty, and as only fate can have it, closed it behind her. And like every good samaritan, after I kindly but firmly got her husband from shaking the door with his still delusional veracity, I slid my GameStop membership under the door and explained to her what to do.

See pictures of Mason Lake (sans porta-potty).

Sans Snark


This is not the kind of post I normally make; there are no snarky comments here today. Instead, I thought I might share my own story and in so doing inspire someone who may be considering a life change around your health. Take me and running …. and I appreciate that for many there are a variety of reasons not to; however, even I found some of my results startling. And whether it is running or walking or cycling or hiking or swimming or whatever sport you might enjoy, I believe the core truths are the same.

The first half of this story is exercise. And for me exercise means running. Running was for a long time best summed by a quip my HS coach made to me: “Ward, running for you is a race between the commercials from the couch to the fridge and back to get a twinkie.” How very true he was. Some 5 years back I was 300 lbs and about 44″ in the waist and with body fat somewhere in the mid 30s. I was more than husky, more than fat, I was clinically obese. I decided enough was enough and started to seriously weight lift and cardio 5 times a week which got me to 215 lbs, 14% body fat (BF) and skeletal muscle was 34% and visceral fat around 11 with a 34″ waist.

Enter a very bad of gout (my family is predisposed genetically to it and I further have a physical injury to the area that got inflamed that make my susceptibility to it even higher). Toward the end of two weeks, holed up in my house, I woke one night to sweats and a pain that was beyond anything I know how to describe to you other than in this manner. I recall vividly the few minutes where I sat on my bed while I considered going out to my tool shed to strap my leg into a miter saw and cutting my foot off. I seriously believed that that pain would be better than the pain of the gout. It was that very next morning that I got truly and deeply serious about my health which till then had been, by way of comparison, a mere hobby. No more; health become my life, Health is my Life.

I dropped another 25 pounds and got myself to 185lbs and 32″ waist. I was happy with the results. I stopped weight training about 12 months ago to prove to myself that with diet I can maintain myself at 185lbs. But my BF had climbed up a bit to 18%. Before returning to weights I decided to try to shed the BF and opted to up my running. Now I run 6-13 days in a row, 5-15 miles at a run. I am still 185lbs but my BF is 12% and my skeletal muscle is 42% and visceral fat at 7 and 30″ waist. How? Running and eating healthy. Even I did not think these kinds of results were possible with running alone. And yes, all of this running on Vibram FiveFingers. 🙂

The other half of the story is diet. Diet is now a four-letter word to me; it is much abused and very much maligned from its true denotational form. Diet is not something you do to lose weight, it is something you do to maintain your weight. And not even maintain your weight but maintain your health. (By the way, body fat—not to be confused with BMI which is another abused metric that is best ignored—and not weight is a key metric in your health.) Diet is not measured in weeks or months or even years, it is measure by a lifetime: your lifetime. I have naturally fallen into localvore habits and dietary inclinations similar to, albeit deviate in keys areas from, paleolithic diet through listening to my body and its reaction to the foods I consumed. Ironically, exercise became a key means of understanding the impact of the foods I ingested since I could measurably see and physically feel the difference the next morning as I went out for my morning run. I know now that salads are my best friend in the evenings. While I love gluten products I am better off keeping them to a minimum. I changed from cow to goat-based diary products because I went from feeling bloated and irritable to feeling refreshed. And I can tell you there is a marked difference between 1 glass of wine and 2 glasses of wine on how you feel after even 5 short miles, and better yet no glasses of wine unless very early in the evening. I know that omega-3s and vitamin D do wonders to my temperament and without them I feel a morass deep in my bones that is hard to shake. I went from a cholesterol level in the mid-200s to now the mid-100s with my HDLs making up nearly half of that number. I went from a resting heart rate in the 70s to the low 50s and high 40s. I look younger, some 10 years younger according to many, now at age 37 than when I was 32 when I looked closer to 40. And besides a vitamin D and omega-3 supplement to help balance out my nutrition this is all done without aid of other medicines. Food is my medicine.

I put numbers there for you to appreciate what making a lifestyle can achieve. But numbers do not tell the real story. There is not a means to measure happiness other than in the lift in my smile and the crows feet next to my eyes, nor can you see but only feel what is like to sit comfortably in your haunches, resting deep in your bones and knowing that life is all about living with yourself, mind and body … for what it may be worth so I share.

Sans Snark, All Smiles

Weeble Wobble


Me and my foe foo row ramma.  I dish and you dash and I know I got to go hoe and come on to do all that.  I have no idea.  No clue.  Notta respectability, neither nor all there or even some that.  But still I here while you but there.  And you ever so wanna correct me.  Because you got that standard stick and schtick and a sense that says there must be a sensibility to this sentence, a sentience to this my sentiment.  Might that I entertain?  And might more that you over contextualize this and this and then all more that?  You think you know me, do you?  You think you have the cliff and that ever so brash cleft to find in your own shadow my mingled mo’ matta?  You do not know me. And you sure as hell do not know him, any more than I know that whore of a bastard on 2nd street selling the smell of sunday streets slick with salaried succubus sweaty on her own way to salvaged service.  These are just words.  And still here you are, you who jingle and then jangle like Dylan and his bo’ dangle, a rhymeless tune to a hairless tongue.  I ain’t no nothing and I ain’t more than not these words.  You never will find me here anymore than in there, in your mind and its blind eye that from syntax thinks it snaps shut on semantics and so knows my synapses.  I wanna help you, really I do.  But you ain’t going to understand this, is ya?