Saturday, September 9, 2017

Welcome to the 'bers



The four month stretch starting with September is probably my favorite time of year. The end of summer heat, the refreshing chill in the air, in the past often a relocation to college or a job change, the changing colors, the gales of November, the first snow.  For most people it would also be a time for important family holidays but that was never my lot.

This year I started the ‘bers in the emergency room for the second time in less than year. This time it was a blood clot in my leg, superficial but large, so I’m on a blood thinner.  My doctor doubled the dosage the emergency doctor had put me on and I’m scheduled to see him again in three weeks. The leg has improved as far as the most obvious symptoms, but I’m still nervous about some other achiness and what might be going on inside.  I’ve always known getting old was not going to be easy for me and this is certainly proving it.  Most nights I leave the light on until I finally fall asleep reading.  Just before the clot happened, I had started making plans for and looking forward to a mid-October trip which is now up in the air because of the eight hour bus trip.

I’ve given away the beer I had in the refrigerator due to alcohol increasing the risk of bleeding while on the drug, and am looking at this as a good time to improve my diet and lose some weight—five pounds so far.  I don’t have much appetite and would probably be eating even less if I didn’t need to take the drug with food.

A couple months ago I rebought some favorite songs from long ago in my life and was struck by a theme in the lyrics.  I made a few notes then for a post I was going to call The Sounds of Solitude which I’ll include here.

Most of the songs predated my college time by a few years, but the memories I associate most strongly with them occurred while I was at college.  I think my first exploration into soul, jazz, funk, came with the music of War, and one of my favorite songs of theirs was Gypsy Man.  A couple bits of lyrics:

They call me a gypsy man
'Cause I don't stay in one place too long
I'm searchin' for a brand new world
To make and call my home

A gypsy man ain't got no home
But sometimes I wonder is it best that way

During my freshman year in college, our dorm or floor ordered t-shirts with individually chosen names on the back.  My Virginian roommate wore Southern Man, and I was Gypsy Man.  I later lost that shirt in a canoeing spill.

By my junior year, the music of the Marshall Tucker Band was blasting as people skateboarded down the hallway.  A prominent flute and some jazz-like creativity raised them above the average southern rock band.  I bought half a dozen songs by them; some lyric samples from several songs:

And the time has finally come
For me to pack my bags and walk away

Gonna take a freight train
Down at the station, Lord
I don't care where it goes

Can't you see, can't you see
What that woman, she been doin' to me

So I don't want you to think
That you're the first one
To leave me out here on my own
Cause this ain't gonna be the first time
This ol' cowboy spent the night alone

And from their biggest hit:

If I ever settled down
You'd be my kind
And that's a good time for me
To head on down the line

I'm the kinda man likes to get away
Likes to start dreaming about
Tomorrow, today
Never said that I loved you
even though it's so
Pack that duffle bag of mine
It's time to go

I'm gonna be leaving
At the break of dawn
Wish you could come
But I don't need no woman tagging along
Gonna sneak out that door
Couldn't stand to see you cry
I'd stay another year if I saw teardrops in your eyes

I guess the recurring themes there are pretty obvious.  I’ve never thought of myself as a big traveler and don’t really like it, but a couple years ago I learned of a grade school classmate who still lived in the small town we’d grown up in, and thought of the many people here who’ve never lived anywhere else. But rather than physically, my wanderlust has always been a more emotional and intellectual restlessness.  And though I’ve longed for love and on the rare occasions I let it happen, often tried to hold onto it too hard (while pushing it away at the same time), deep down I’ve never really believed in it as a long lasting thing.

Listening to all these songs again, and thinking of many other favorites from that period which showed the same longing, I wondered about my own version of the chicken and egg question.  Was I already naturally a romanticized loner in my teens drawn to music which reinforced that attitude, or did the music I listened to help to create that persona?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Sad Day (Tongue In and Out of Cheek)

It was time to buy postage stamps again even though I usually use only two a month. Last night I checked the USPS website to see if they had any I didn't already know were available. Nope--so it was either Henry Thoreau even though he looks like he's been airbrushed, or more Janis Joplin, or more National Parks. 

At the post office today, where available stamps are on display at the counter, I said I'd take the Thoreau. The young guy seemed to say, "People keep asking me what he's famous for and I don't know." Since my hearing is starting to go, I assumed I misunderstood and asked,"No one knows who he is?" He said, "I don't." Where to begin? I kept it simple and told him Thoreau wrote Walden, a classic book. No reaction.

At the library today, I picked up a copy of Social Security for Dummies. Can Medicare for Dummies be far behind? On the bright side, I also picked up Duluth's Historic Parks. That link has some sample pages to look over. I met one of the coauthors soon after I first moved to Duluth as part of a group which hiked all of the city parks, so I know she knows her subject.

And at the university today, it's housing check-in day and the neighborhood is overflowing with cute young women in cutoffs.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Don't Go Green!

Usually I'd be fine with the Go Green slogan, but on this map the 17 states in the darkest shades of green are more like gangrene, with the exceptions of a few islands of national parks and New Orleans. Even Texas shows more intelligence!

http://www.gallup.com/poll/214349/trump-averaged-higher-job-approval-states.aspx

With the exception of my years on the Yellowstone island and one year in Ohio, I'm happy to have lived all my life in the palest states on the map. As the old saying went, "Don't blame me, I'm from Massachusetts". But it's a few of the states in the middle group which will be the most important when it comes to 2020 vision. Here's looking at you, MI, PA, WI. 
 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Accepting Tender Resignation



I started greentangle ten years ago today and added Hard Wood to Whittle almost seven years ago. There have been many changes since in my life and the blogs, and there are now a lot fewer posts, readers, and comments, and I expect that to continue as I lead a more inward life and write with less frequency and less ability. Emotionally, my favorite period remains the early years’ frequent focus on animal rights issues with a couple regular commenters with whom I felt a strong connection. The creative quality of my blog writing probably peaked a couple years later, and certainly the opportunity to include four years of photos from Yellowstone made for an interesting period.

I used to do an annual post listing my favorite posts of the year, and back in 2014, after I had finished my Yellowstone period, I created a document on my computer of all my favorite posts from both blogs, perhaps wondering if some sort of book could come from it all. When I saw today how long ago that was compiled, I decided that I will go through the past few years’ posts and update the document. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of anything I’ve written since which would be included except possibly some of the Autobobography series, and then I read the last paragraph of the last post already in the document, which mentioned that I’d made a rough outline for that very series. So that will be a short new project for me.

I don’t feel that any drastic change has led me to spend less time adventuring or writing, just age and a continuation of the path I’ve been on all along. I am in the early stage of a possible new round of plantar fasciitis and since I can’t avoid being on my feet about five hours a day for my two part time jobs, I’m certainly avoiding any extra walking, but I’d already mostly stopped hiking before this foot flare-up.

I’m sixty years old and have never owned a car; I’ve already done a lot more walking than most modern people will do in their lifetimes, including over 700 miles in Yellowstone alone. The pleasure I got from hiking came from two main sources—first, the combination of getting away from the hectic human world and slowing into the rhythms of the natural world, and second, seeing wildlife. Here in Duluth, the wildlife which provided the strongest encounters for me were deer and bald eagles, but they were rare sightings, not like the everyday elk and bison and much more of Yellowstone. I’m certainly less connected to the natural world than I used to be, but I don’t feel any regret that I’m no longer capable of doing everything I once did. 

These days I mostly get away from the human world by staying in my apartment, which has always been a needed strategy for me at times. Although I’ve seldom disliked anyone as an individual and even enjoyed the company of many people in small doses, being around people has generally been an experience I felt I needed to recover from via solitude. No doubt there are many factors contributing to that, including being an only child and the type of childhood I had, but I also think the major factor is simply that I chose to live differently from most people and felt I had very little in common with them. The company of nonhumans always gave me more satisfaction and pleasure than that of humans.

I still appreciate the creative output of humans and I probably should have developed my own artistic side more deeply in my life. I feel content these days to stay home and listen to music, watch films and television programs (though I haven’t owned a tv since it went digital), and read books. At times, I also read my old journals; I’m currently on 1990, almost half my lifetime ago, and honestly enjoy reading my words more than most books, though I don’t think that would be a widely shared experience.

At that time, I had started working for the college in Boston which would become the longest employer of my life (ten years) but still hadn’t moved to the immediate Boston area. I was taking the commuter train but had already become actively involved in city life, seeing a Boston counselor, taking writing and other classes at adult education centers in Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge, as well as at Harvard Extension. I was talking with the manager of my favorite Harvard Square bookstore about a job there and to city residents looking for a roommate. It was the time of the Robert Bly version of the men’s movement and I went to some of those classes as well. I had just discovered a new New Orleans restaurant in Boston--Dixie Kitchen, run by future great singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier.  I’d often take a midnight train home from the city. That sort of questing is still part of who I am even in my physical inactivity—I bought a couple translations of the Tao Te Ching, important to me long ago, a few months ago.

Reading my own long ago words today provides a warm mix of memory and anticipation, knowing what was still to come during that fertile Boston decade of my life—moves and relationships, exploring more natural areas around the city, a new period of running, time spent with a group which got disabled people out for experiences in the natural world. I’m very glad I lived that life, and glad that I wrote about it so I can recall it more clearly, but I have no desire to be living it now. I’ve reached that point with my Yellowstone memories as well. I think it would take a lottery win for me to ever take a distant vacation again, but if that happens, I’d much rather see Boston or New Orleans again than Yellowstone.

Regardless of where I spend my time, I still care more about the natural world than the manmade one, and of course am disgusted by the current government’s contemptuous attitude toward nature and other species. But the only thing that surprises me is that it’s happening already. I’ve never had any doubt that this civilization would destroy everything else to continue, but it doesn’t even need to be happening yet--this is just evil and childish greed. Wildlife’s salvation still lies not in an election but in collapse.

I recently had a physical with no major problems. One test result estimated that I have a 13.5% chance of having a heart attack in the next 10 years, which frankly seemed low to me—I would have guessed at a higher risk. So we’ll wait and see if any of this is still around for the 20th anniversary.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Bring Me the Head of Donald Trump (Apologies to Peckinpah)

covfefe? Did he have a stroke? How could we tell?

This administration is the last gasp of a dying generation which wants to take future generations with it. 

covfefe? Did Melania finally let him hold her hand?

Except it's not fair to blame the whole generation, or old white men, or even rich old white men. Some of us clearly get it, and are able to think beyond our own greed and insecurities, and don't think everything is about us or this country.

covfefe? The stuff where his brain should be?

Not only is he likely unable to spell the spelling bee winner's name, he probably thinks she's a fake American.

constant negative press covfefe? Russian for bastards?

It's another loud celebration of militarism in Duluth this weekend. Yesterday, I heard and saw a long string of dozens of geese flying towards Canada. That's the kind of air show I prefer.

covfefe? The stuff his followers drink instead of Jim Jones's beverage? 

That would explain a lot about why he has any.

covfefe

Hillary needs to go away. It's a shame she didn't do it a year ago. We probably wouldn't be in this deep covfefe now.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

RIP Gregg

Overall, my favorite part of the Allman Brothers was probably Dickey Betts's guitar playing. But Gregg Allman wrote at least a couple songs I loved. My college roommate's future wife was named Melissa.

Crossroads, will you ever let him go? Lord, Lord.
Or will you hide the dead man's ghost?
Or will he lie, beneath the clay?
Or will his spirit float away? 
 


Finally free of the whipping post.

Sometimes I feel, sometimes I feel,
Like I been tied to the whippin' post.
Tied to the whippin' post, tied to the whippin' post.
Good Lord, I feel like I'm dyin'.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Wolf Wars



A moment of unnatural history: watched a gull carrying a rectangular piece of red and white cardboard, maybe part of a pizza box, fly up to rooftop. It looked like airmail.


Finished reading a new book a couple days ago—Wolf Nation: The Life, Death, and Return of Wild American Wolves by Brenda Peterson. It’s a good look at the overall picture, a mix of history and anecdote not limited to Yellowstone as many wolf books are.


It includes a focus on wolf hatred and the fact that giving control of wolf populations to the states amounts to giving that control to the ranchers and hunters whose opinions control state wildlife boards despite the opposition of the majority of the public.


That’s really what this post is about, inspired by a visit to a Facebook page of Gardiner (MT) and Mammoth Hot Springs (YNP/WY). Someone posted there about the reward for catching the recent killer of a well-known Yellowstone (since that post, various groups have listed rewards and donations which now have the total up to almost $30,000). 


Many of the local Gardiner residents proceeded to attack the idea of caring about the wolf and mentioned a Montana cop who’d recently been shot. This is standard practice anytime someone expresses concern over an animal issue—denigrate the concern by bringing up all the issues someone else considers more important, which is almost always some human issue.


Outliers like St. Francis aside, this often comes from a Christian background. Create a god, declare yourself made in its image, and give yourself dominion over all other forms of life. It’s hard to imagine a more arrogant, negative philosophy for interacting with the natural world. This is a major reason I have such a low opinion of people—because they consider themselves more important than anything else.


The other result of that thinking which struck me is that all those Gardiner residents think there’s some big difference between the person who shot the wolf and the person who shot the cop. I think they’re both products of the gun-happy, let’s shoot something culture of this country as a whole and of the states surrounding Yellowstone in particular—a culture which puts those states, along with other pro-gun areas such as the south and Alaska, at or near the top of the list of states in both death by gun and suicide by gun rates. The blue states are generally at the bottom.


During the years I lived in Yellowstone, I spent a lot of money in Gardiner and elsewhere in Montana. This event and these comments have finalized a decision which had largely already been made—I won’t be returning to Yellowstone. Not only because of the negative effects of overcrowding on the park experience, but because I don’t want to contribute another penny to the states which surround it. 

Adding this link to a post by a local with a description of a Gardiner meeting about wolves and poaching.

http://ricklamplugh.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-poaching-of-canyon-packs-alpha.html