Friday, August 31, 2012

Sublime or Mundane

I'm reading Peripheral Visions (Harpercollins, 1994) by Mary Catherine Bateson. She writes about how the doxa is all about entertainment. She describes the syndrome as an unending need for new experience and stuff. The youths get music and cars. We oldsters get doctors and meds.

Bateson posits how the whole thing fuels a superficial awareness that's blind to subtlety. By way of contrast she compares it (consumerism) to "practice." She points out how in the process of practicing, students become aware of subtle changes and nuances. She neglects to acknowledge the many who get bored, but her point is about attention to and appreciation of details.

I'm tempted to say, "Change is change! What difference does it make whether it's subtle or a two by four up side the head?" But one thing that's noteworthy is the difference between changes that occur within us and develop our understanding and empathy for others and changes in our behavior because we got a good nose-job or now feel superior because we got a new truck.

Each day as I pack and unpack Eggbert I notice things. (Remember the end of Eeyore's Birthday where he happily puts the limp rag of a balloon in and out the empty honey pot?) The experience, although not generally recognized (by me) as a practice, happens at least twice a day. Sometimes the packing creates more space (not a small thing....pun intended); sometimes the over-ripe garbage waiting for a dumpster detracts from the driving experience. Other changes are just plain interesting.

Speaking of over-ripe, the stove hose (image below) is a good example. Sticking out the way it does it's a problem. If it gets broken the stove won't work. I COULD detach it and stow it somewhere, but there's an o-ring inside the connector that's just waiting to get lost...and, as Grandfather was wont to ask of Peter, "And if the hunters hadn't come? What then?!!" So, it hangs there. And when I file it amongst the other stuff, I usually tuck the dangle into a corner or some such. During unloading it hangs up on stuff.

The other day as I was watching the grass grow, my gaze crossed the verdant expanse and saw that it (the stove hose) had tucked itself into a hole in the back (see image). This didn't result from practice and I'm a bit loathe to denote it as a subtlety, but I did notice it. I mean, I haven't bought any big trucks lately so to help me feel better about myself when stuff like this happens I pretend I'm watching a truck commercial on t.v. and think about how I'd feel if I saw MY truck there on the big screen (52 inches AT LEAST!!). I pump my elbow up and down, rotate my fist and imagine the envy of all the passersby if THEY knew how observant I am. And then I wondered....Would the envy of idiots enhance my self-esteem? Anyway, it just goes to show how you can benefit from doing something over and over (bbuuuurrrrrrp!).

Since then I've purposely placed it that way. It seems to be working. It'll be interesting to see if a sublimity will emerge.

So that brings us to mundane. I was raised on wine....with dinner. Around the age of sixteen I was hanging around with a family that had inherited five acres outside Cleveland (Ohio) and was doing the back-to-the-land thing. It was that era, you'll recall. As part of the "trip" he grew potatoes and made his own beer.

There was a rite of passage every time you came to visit. (Bateson is enamored of ritual too.) Upon entering the house you were handed a bottle of homebrew and a joint.

The weed was always good, but I wasn't a beer enthusiast. All I knew was it was so thick you could stand a spoon up in it. I'd coddle it all evening and when no one was looking, pour some into a plant.

Many beerless years later I found myself having to observe a Friday-after-work ritual that involved several six packs. I'd never "acquired" a taste for it, but that Lite was even worse than the dark stuff I'd had as a teenager. I practiced my coddling and between sets admired the office plants.

Then, in a subtle and nuanced moment; someone put a stout in front of me and said, "Try this."

I was trebucheted back to the days of beer and joints and heedless of consequence whupped out my silver cigarette case, extracted a thin one, lit up (inhaled!) and took another swig. I could do this!

Since then, more than 30 years have come & gone. (Yup, ah iz gettin' olde.) I've practiced with stouts and just for grins and the sake of change, porters. Yesterday I bought Obsidion Stout from Deshutes (Bend, OR) brewery. It's not bad but I like Sheaf Stout better.

It's the mundanities that keep us humping. We camped, Eggbert and I, last night in Malm Gulch about 40 miles West of Challis, Idaho. The steep, tawny-colored hills shined in the light of the full moon which rose out of nowhere, moved across a horizontal linearity and hours later disappeared behind a peak. The silence unsullied.

A lone bicyclist showed up this morning while I was fixing breakfast in my birthday suit. He said hello and went on. I donned my swim trunks. When he returned he allowed as how he and his wife hike nude and everyone goes skinny-dipping at the hot springs. So, no big deal.

Adventure through comparison. And my (formerly) fav cup
He then told of a petrified forest about a mile and a half up the road. I hiked in to see five, count 'em, five, chain-link-surrounded stumps on a hillside (see image). They vary from four to six feet in diameter and the tallest is about six feet. Not what I'd call a forest, but it COULD offer some relief from the mundanity....of the same old beer.

Jeez!! Fencing!
The vegetation is similar to the high desert of Wyoming and New Mexico (lots of sage), but with mountains. It was nice to be able to see a distance. And I appreciated not having trees whispering and soughing away.

The road up the Gulch only goes 1.9 miles from the highway....barely enough to get away from its noise. But traffic is light this time of year; school is back in session and the hills help block the sound. So three stars for Malm Gulch on highway 75 West of Challis, Idaho. Any more traffic though and I'd have had to give it a one.

And people ask, What do you DO out there?" I'm busy, I say. It's a circle after all, that encompasses the subtle, superficial and doesn't really have an Either or an Or. And although I'm enjoying Bateson I still consider Waiting For Godot the finest bit o' lit(erature) ever written.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Return of The Salmon

Photographs can't capture the grandeur.
The Manning Bridge - Originally a toll crossing run by a woman and her husband. 

A narrow spot -
About 300 feet across

The Bridge from upriver
Sunset Near Sand Bar , a rafting stop. 

I was well into my 16th year when I first read about the Salmon River. The article told of a mountain man, Sylvan Hart, who lived at  Mackey Bar. As with most of my wanderings, I figured I'd get there somehow.

I wandered the woods and had a great time, but disdainful of maps and uninclined to ask directions, I never found him. I spent three summers in and around The River and looked forward to stopping by again.

After Eugene (see: Voodoo Donuts 8/4/12), I headed eastward. I'd met a couple of surveyors on my way to the Fishtrap Writers' Conference who told me about Der Kleinschmidt Grade (see: Ah hung muh butt...8/14/12). One of the changes that occurred over the years was my aversion to maps. Now, after extensive perusal I saw that Der Grade made it an easy shot over the hill to Der River.

Things here too have changed, albeit only recently. Last year they started paving the road. For over 40 years it was a rocky, bumpy, single-lane dirt traipse (sorta like The Natchez Traipse) cut from the side of the mountain. They disdain guardrail so ya'll can still dump yer old cars off the edge. And they kept the single-lane designation. It's only true in a couple of places, but the sign was cheaper than adding a center stripe.

So anyway, the easiest route from Baker City, Oregon to Council, Idaho is over the Kleinschmidt Grade. And from there the Salmon River Road leaves off the highway at the South end of Riggins.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ah hung muh butt o'er the Kleinschmidt Grade

The dropoffs are sharp enough to make it do-able (doo-doo, that is). 
And unfortunately, the cat-hole suggestion as per the Nat'l For Svc, is out of the question; hits jus' too dang steep. 

Photos can't capture the distances. And although I gave it a shot with my MP3 recorder, the calling of the chukars (partridges) was too faint. 

On the Snake River just below Oxbow Dam


Were I of philosophical bent...

View from Camp -- It's Payette National Forest.

It was too beautiful to just drive by. But the only place to camp is in the road. And that's what we did (above photo).

That's the river in the center.

The temperature rises quickly, but the silence maintains. And no whispering pines, neither.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Earthbound Farms - How to lose market share

I buy organic when it's available. Earthbound Farms seems to have a major corner on the market in Northeastern Oregon.

Lately I've had problems. The Romaine Hearts were bitter and their Russet potatoes had rotten centers. I called and complained about the Hearts and they're sending coupons for more. More of the same, no doubt.

Coupons my be enough for most people, but I'm often 50 to 100 miles from a town. For the past week I've been camping around the East Fork of Eagle Creek in the Wallowa Whitman National Forest. The nearest good-sized town, Baker City, is at least 60 miles away. And that's over gravel roads on which top speed is about 20 miles per hour. Do the math. That's three hours, ONE WAY. And I don't cotton much to spending $75.00 or more for a motel so that means going back. And I like to limit my travel to 12.5 miles per day. And then there's gas. I paid $4.29 per gallon in Halfway the other day.

And what about compensation for the annoyance, the interest on the money sitting in their pockets while I'm looking at rotten product? Oh, and let's not forget the time wandering through a store finding the replacement.

And what about you townies? Every time you run out to shop you burn up more gasoline, wear tires and brake pads, take time away from loved ones (or more likely, quality time in front of the t.v.). I mean, how green is that?

So a coupon just doesn't cut it. Keep your coupons; send cash....quadruple at least!! That'll be $15.96 (4 x 3.99) for the potatoes. Oh, and be sure and add $62.40 for 120 miles round-trip at the IRS rate of 0.52/mile, plus $1,410.00 for six hours of my time at my regular rate of $235.00/hour for a total of $1,488.36. And if you're feeling generous, you can throw in  $75.00 for a massage. I'll need one after driving for six hours.

My advice: Buyer Beware.

Blauer als der Himmel

My last semester of college found me with an unfilled elective. I took an introductory course in journalism. I didn't find out until later how lucky I was, but the teacher had been an Associated Press (AP) wire reporter for over 30 years. She never disclosed how she happened to be slumming at UNM. Her knowledge and self-possession far exceeded her height of about five feet.

I had combined my liberal arts interests under the Department of Geography with a focus on Remote Sensing. My job prospects consisted of a Department of Defense position purported to include a six-month stint in a cartographic sweatshop in Arlington, Virgina OR I could interpret satellite images for the CIA. Neither held any appeal.

Somehow the Professor got wind of an opening in the Marketing Department at the University of New Mexico Press. Totally unqualified, or so I tho't, I ignored her suggestion to apply. After the third class & query, admitting I hadn't applied and reeling from her "Why not?!", I dutifully tendered my credentials.

My boss was a woman of genius under whose beneficent guidance I, over the next several years,  accrued a tool pouch of finely crafted skills.

Some years further, the drudgery of wealth accumulation having inspired an overwhelming degree of ennui, I, with supreme naivete, entered upon the business of art sales. (By this time I had garnered a small bit of fame by being one of six people in the nation to access Ross Perot's mainframe at EDS and the ONLY one to use it for marketing purposes.) Confident of my business acumen, I felt I would benefit from further education in the field of art history.

And that's how I found myself seated in a classroom of bored undergrads absorbing the wisdom of Professor Phineas T. Whitmore, III.

Of course, Dr. Whitmore's expositions covered all the greats: Hirst, Serra, Caravaggio The Lesser, Borgward & Stallone. But he reserved  his highest praises for Senor Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, or, as he's commonly known, Raphael. And whenever he cited da Urbino's work he referred to him as  "The DiviiiIIIIIiiine Raw-fee-el."

Now, after decades of viewing exquisite works of art, I was like, totally astonished when, while motoring on one of the Backcountry Byways I frequent, I beheld a glowing embodiment of Dr. Whitmore (III)'s attribution.

It was late in the day and the sun was at a low angle. Its golden beams streamed forth with the glory-bearing verisimilitude that is an inspiration to theologians the world over. I made a yooee, placed Eggbert well off onto the shoulder and approached with reverence.


The photographs do not, of course, capture the object's vitality, its efflorescence, its DiviiiIIIIIIiiiine GlowiiiIIIIIIiiiingness. But such are the limitations of the medium.

Days later whilst again traversing this section I observed that it was gone. I suspect a collector with more stowage available than I likely carried it off. Thus, this documentation accretes inestimable value.

Double click the images to largen and use the BACK button to get back to the blog (or it'll close Blogger). The final images are a couple of pages down.

Giclees' and/or Duratrans' available. Prices vary with
dimensions, but they're cheap.

other photos:   Search on Wahnfried Am Rio Grande (Flickr internet photo storage).
Mons Majora & Phallus

                                                        FINAL PHOTO FURTHER DOWN

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Reprovisioning in Baker City or Mr. Nose Does it Again!

Every now and then things come together in a way that makes me think I must not have been all THAT bad. I mean, as a devout agnostic, karma sort of hovers on the edge of my grab-bag, but when I find myself in a place like this, with an excellent reisling to boot, I occasionally ponder the whys and wherefores. Fortunately, Mr. Stomach usually comes to my aid. I then give up on the imponderables and ask: What's for supper?

It was early evening when the usual nick-o'-time Forest Access Road appeared. Up through barren hills we went; up, up until finally...forest. I kept going.

The map showed a campground and given the remoteness of the area I figured there had to be a flat, dispersed spot too. Compelled by In-say-shuh-bull Curtiosity (nod to Kipling), I cruised the 'burb-in-duh-woodz campgound. I was surprised to see how many (Yikes!) people there were. I looked out the back door (a smaller Forest Rd) where a guy on an ATV went by three feet away engrossed in scrutinizing the woods. I ignored him.

Back on the main drag, I soon came to The Spot. Included in the deal was a cute li'l babblin' brook. The vague odeur of cow occasionally wafted but there were few flies or mosquitoes.

In the morning I took my time. (A purely  relative concept here.) After coffee, breakfast, bath and katas, at around 3:00 p.m., I found myself commandeering The Egg. The road climbed a while then descended...WAY descended. I almost turned back. Mr. Nose said, "Keep going."

After many miles I came to a tight switchback with a view. It was here I looked down onto one of the sweetest trout streams I'd seen in weeks. After descending, a bridge hove into the lane and signage indicated the road might parallel it for a while. At the junction with its little brother, an even SWEETER stream, Mr. Nose said go East. I made the turn.

We climbed again. At times a bit above the stream, but always coming back. As I came to the edge of a sunlit meadow straight outta Nat'l Geographic I saw the sign.

2008 - A fine year
Near the end of the road I made camp.

Now to the point...

Knowing I was headed into the Eagle Cap Wilderness I had stopped in Baker City (E of Bend) for supplies.

One of the fun things about traveling is local wines. It's an excuse (as if we need one) to keep the cellar well-stocked.

The large supermarket was bit overwhelming so I sought an  advisor. Nearby was a woman stocking the dairy section. Upon inquiring as to her knowledge of the wine section, she launched into a discourse on merlots.

Concerned about giving offense, I hinted at my predilection for reisling. She shifted gears so smoothly I immediately abandoned myself to her guidance.

She allowed as how she and her sister-in-law, a Muscat fan, occasionally compromised with a reisling.  After I selected the Covey Run I asked her opinion. She assured me it was good.

And so it is. But all this is about an aspect of the lifestyle I want to discuss. I've been accused of having a high tolerance for inconvenience. While this may be true, I'm hardly a masochist. I mitigate the hardships, such as they are, when I can.

For instance, getting water is often a bit of an endeavor. In today's case I'm forced to hike down a hill, across a wide expanse of unshaded, burning-hot streambed to the trickle of pure, mountain stream.

The View From Camp
Having arrived at the water's edge after maybe 2.5 minutes and stooped to fill the 3 1/2 gallon bathtub, I am in need of fortification.

Now here's the "high tolerance" part....I've taken to keeping an open bottle in the stream. Today's selection is the Covey Run (2008) mentioned above. I fill a glass, then, with the fruit of the vine coursing through my veins I can now face the arduous haul up the hill.

And nothing goes better with a fine reisling than sitting on the bank of a cirque-fed stream watching the trout gaily water-walk (like Flipper...or Michael Jackson),  while  the sun sets over the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

Survived Another Water-Haul
Ever since I was a youth I've followed Mr. Nose. He has yet to let me down.

Churminz Ahead!!

The Spot (click to largen)

I'm sure you've seen it cones across the entrance to the site; or yellow crime scene tape.

Every now and then I find a spot that seems appropriate for some kind of warning. Occasionally, it's a case of the "tight squeeze" where there's not enough room for another camper to turn around. But more often, like most folks in the wilds, I just don't want to be disturbed.

Of course, it's not ALL about me. Out of consideration for others, I feel it's only fair to offer some warning. Having been raised by a pair (female & male) of unaffiliated nudists, I do all I can to uphold the family values and keep the laundry loads to a minimum.

Warning!! Warning!! Germans Ahead!!

Thus, when I chanced upon this flag in a thrift store in Whitehorse, the capitol of The Yukon, I knew I'd found what I needed. And even though I feel there's no place for politics in the woods, it is, after all, meant in good humor.

Bend, Oregon -- Bustling and Fun, But Not Much Art

In  addition to my preference for LSD, I like dry climates. So, after an entire day of humidity and overcast, my suicidal ideation was kicking in. It's a common symptom of desert dwellers, but one ignores the significance at one's peril. So I headed east, into the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains and to Bend.

Since I commonly break camp around 1:00 p.m., it was well into the day when I arrived.  I'd visited in the early '70s and now wanted to spend a couple of days seeing the changes. It being too far to the National Forest, I took a room at the Holiday Motel. Impressed with its curb appeal, I inquired of Mr. Mukesh Chopra about its history. He said they'd had it for 18 years and enjoyed a three-star rating with

The room was of comfortable size with a refrigerator, microwave and coffee pot. There was a large screen T.V. (I don't partake) and two wi-fi networks, both excellent. But what really sold me was the cleanliness. The place is immaculate!

The next day I followed Mr. Nose to the downtown. Disembarking, I inquired of a passerby as to the location of the art galleries. He hadn't any particulars, but assured me they were nearby. My intuition led me round the corner and down the block where I read on a window: Fine Jewelry and Art - Ground Floor. I followed the hall to the rear of the building where Ms. Karen Bandy said she would be opening in another seven minutes.

Floral Dreams II

Crossing the hall to Let It Ride, Mr. Dean Egertson, a purveyor of electric bicycles, gave me a tour and let me try a few.

Back at Ms. Bandy's studio, I savored  her abstract paintings and exquisite jewelry. It is THE place to go in Bend. As outstanding as her jewelry is, her paintings compete for one's attention. These three hint at her range. She also does wonderful images of animals.

                  Ah, The Beach At Last

The town has grown, but not the art scene. Other than Ms. Bandy's gallery, I found nothing of interest.

                                                                             Hat Trick

I may not have delved deeply enough, but in this part of the world, the arts seem disproportionately neglected.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

VooDoo Doughnuts - Eugene, Oregon

The Portal (checkout)

No sooner had she stepped from her oncologist's office than yerz trooly was presented with the idea of a pilgrimage to VooDoo Doughnuts. It seems the oncologist had heard of the famed outfit and regaled The Donut Queen with lurid tales.

I was on the East side of Idaho, but, as luck would have it, headed for the Fishtrap Writers' Conference at Wallowa Lake. So it was a simple matter to extend the destination to Eugene. Besides, as I fortuitously was informed in Lostine (Oregon), Eugene has a reputation for public.

Attempting to maintain my normally stately pace of about 12.2857 miles per day, I took about two weeks to cover the 300 miles, This average about 21+ miles-per-day. A bit high, but I was eager.

The Lobby
As I came in for the final approach a beside-the-highway-boat-launch served as a pre-town bathing spot. Time having had its way with my bod I took pity on passing motorists and donned swim toggs. I felt as if I was letting all the Eugene nudists down, but consoled myself with the idea that they might  appreciate my not impuning their tourism value.

As with cornstarch, the traffic began to thicken. I latched onto a passing whi-fee (u say why-phye, I say whih-phi) and confirmed directional intuitions. A straight shot!!

At the store I sidled up to a group on the stoop (photo at bottom). She wasn't impressed. By way of offering hope, I mentioned Irish Maid in Fort Smith. (Like Nurnberg, there's only one.)

The Head
$27.00 plus tip lighter, I staggered into the street. I fell into a chair to savor the multi-sensational buying event....and the doughnuts.

A man asked if I was a comedian -- he was waiting for one. He explained that he'd been trying to raise him on his cell, but it wasn't working. He disappeared, watching the screen as he faded.

Lobby Coffee Table
A delegation from a gaggle of youngsters on an opposite corner approached. Colin, who was attending Leftie (in his wheelchair), introduced himself. He'd done four years in the Marines and looked old enough to have finished high school,....maybe. He rattled off a list of duty stations, all state-side. I expressed my sympathies, but had to wonder if it explained his long hair (Do you use Purex?), intelligent countenance and articulate and quiet delivery. Leftie, whose right sleeve looked empty, received his cup o' joe from another member of the group with an eager eye, but was told he'd have to fend his own cream.

I offered. He accepted. I figured I'd save myself the discomfort of watching him navigate the door and crowds in his wheelchair. His com padres  waited across the street.

(Somewhat) Satisfied Shopper
I strolled the streets keeping a hopeful eye out for the famous nudity. Most of the stores were closed and all I saw was the back of a tall, red-haired transvestite (How could you TELL?) in short shorts who was tending a record store and boredly turned back into the dark. Nothing....In the Nood.

The packaging and mailing was a disaster. Next time I'll use styrofoam and dry ice. But as far as VooDoo goes, it's all about the visuals. The flavors are average store-bought. As the woman at the table said, "Maybe the one in Portland is better."

The Archives - La Grande, Oregon

As You Enter

I found a couple of places in La Grande, Oregon to recommend. Anderson's Shoe And Leather Goods at 1407 Adams Avenue and The Archives used book store at 315 Fir Street. Adams is La Grande's main street and Fir is one block away from Anderson's. They're both easy to find.

Mr. Anderson was in the middle of a job but willingly put it aside to tackle mine. When I inquired about cost, he proposed a ridiculously low price. I say ridiculous because the repair required hand work. And although he said it would be easy, to me it was an obvious case of "$25.00 for the hammer and $125.00 for knowing where to hit the thing." I willingly paid twice what he asked. So don't let him get away with undervaluing his work. It's almost unAmerican! And to top it off, he referred me to The Archives, the finest used book store I've seen, bar none.

When I walked in I admit I was a bit overwhelmed. Mr. Anderson had warned me, but I was unprepared for the magnitude. There are three large rooms and must be more as while I was there a fellow who seemed to know his way around came in, disappeared somewhere past the childrens' section and later (triumphantly!) emerged with several boxes of VHS tapes.
Mr. Walter Osterloh

Mr. Walter Osterloh's collection is organized by subject, but upon closer scrutiny I noticed eclectic anomalies that soon had me engrossed in checking each title.

I had a few things I was looking for and Mr. Osterloh quickly either found them or was able to say he didn't have them. (He kindly located them online and told me their prices.) I left with a fine copy of Waiting For Godot and a DeLorme Atlas of Oregon & Gazetteer.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Iconoclasts...Providing Perspective

Every now and then I meet a live one, one that stands out from the crowd. Such was the case the other day when I stopped into the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center looking for art and information on the upcoming pow-wow.

Now, one of the things I've noticed about the folks I'm generalizing about here is: They're much more open. Interrogation doesn't phase 'em the way it does some folks who after a few questions start acting as if they have better things to do. And so it was with Ms. Wynans.

We'd been at it for about ten minutes (just gettin' rollin') when I noticed she kept her hand to her throat and her voice was a bit hoarse, as if she maybe had a cold. Concerned, I asked if it was painful for her to talk. The next thing I knew she was telling me about her tracheotomy. And not only is she a cancer survivor, but she also teaches school.

Now this is unusual. I mean, how many tracheotomists do you know? And how many of them are in public relations and when they're not, put themselves in front of a crowd of youngsters on a daily basis?

And that takes me back to the title of this post. I AM biased, but maybe you too have noticed how women come out the other side of adversity more adroitly than men?

I know a couple of guys who've been to the hospital lately. While the trips weren't minor (we've reached that age, don'chya know?),  the fear and accompanying complaining was terrible!

By contrast, I've known a dozen women who've undergone major surgery, chemotherapy, lost their partners/husbands (divorce and/or death) and, although they didn't cake-walk through it, their flailings exhibited a level of aplomb -- something the guys never had a clue about.

As the conversation progressed, it became evident Ms. Wynans had NOT settled for the conventional responsibilities and materialism. "I mean," she said, "how BORING to do nothing but the same as everyone else." As one who likes to wring the life out of every moment, I watch for folks of similar attitude.....and they're rare.

As we talked she took a fan down off the wall. She'd found it at a garage sale and, since it was hot in the office, she began fanning herself. I admired the fan and after a bit asked about whether it was old or not. She began to play -- hiding behind it, parodying a geisha. Her smile conveyed delight in the moment and made her coquetry wonderful!

So there we were, probably an hour (or two?) into the conversation and laughing like a couple of children!! It's been three weeks now and I'm STILL cogitating over what it is that makes simple fun so delightful. So maybe you'll wanna skip the ruminations that follow, but here goes:

Play requires a willingness to be vulnerable and most are too afraid of what others will think. Some will play with their significant other, but sometimes not even then. But it takes more than courage. (Courage: perseverance when you know you SHOULD be afraid.) It takes "satiable curtiosities" about one's self and what one might become when given an opportunity to grow. And it needs a person who is sensitive to the player's individuals and appreciative of their human beings.

And our conversation had that feeling. And in the midst of this we touched on immigration. And she said I sounded like Luis Urrea. I didn't know of Mr. Urrea's work, but several days later something (subconscious?) saw The Devil's Highway  in the Halfway library sale. (I'd bucked hay there as a teenager and went to see if it had changed. Not much.)

The Devil's Highway talks a bit about some of the reasons for the mundanity. It's heart-breaking. It'd be so simple to change. And yet, everyone goes on swallowing what they're spoon-fed, doing what they're taught, what they're told.

Travel is fun. But it's people like Ms. Wynans that make it a real pleasure. Oh, the landscapes, sunsets and wildlife (where?!!) are enthralling, but I relish the moments when I encounter someone who gives me pause for thought. And it's amazing how the sunshine seems brighter and the moonlight more captivating.

Iconoclasts: Perspective, AND glimmers of hope.

12/24/15 - I'm getting the Solstice cards out and couldn't find Ms. Wynans' address. I went online to look up The Interpretive Center's and discovered her obituary. I had hoped to see her again in 2016. I wish you could have met her. She was amazing!!