Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Janis



I vaguely remember listening to an 8 track of Janis Joplin a few times when I was a kid, and even more vaguely remember liking a song or two but not others. I’m not even sure what album it was (probably Cheap Thrills or Greatest Hits) or who owned it—I don’t think it was me because I recall always hearing it at a cousin’s house. I doubt he owned it since he was younger than me; maybe one of my aunts who lived there though that seems even more unlikely.

In any case, even though music has always been very important to me, as an adult I never owned copies of any of her music. So it was a complete whim which caused me to borrow a new book when I saw it at the library—On the Road with Janis Joplin by John Cooke, her road manager. And that whim has led to reading a couple more biographies, buying several albums, watching dvds, and downloading videos. Forty four years after she died, she got a new fan. It’s only in part due to her music and more due to getting a sense of who she was from the books, so it might be more accurate to say I had a crush despite her often obnoxious behavior (always less painful when the woman is long dead).

It’s her mix of intelligence and pain and vulnerability and bravado and isolation, simultaneously rebelling and needing approval and attention, which fascinates me. Unfortunately all that came with an addictive personality/gene, so that sex, speed, alcohol, heroin, and fame destroyed her. If I was addiction prone, I would have been dead long ago myself. 

Although she was maturing in some ways in the months before she died, caring about her singing future and getting off heroin for a couple months, from what I read none of the people who knew her ever believed she’d permanently go straight and live a healthy life. Her speed addiction and weight loss in the mid-sixties scared her so much that she moved back to Texas and spent a miserable year living the way her parents wanted, but despite her eventual intentions to try singing again without the drugs, she was soon hooked again.

Photos and film of interviews and performances alternately reveal glimpses of a hurt little girl, an average looking woman looking attractive, and previews of a pathetic middle-aged drunk. Watching the press conference from her tenth high school reunion (attending was a very bad decision), it’s stunning to see her on the verge of breaking down and how much she was still devastated by old emotional wounds despite her later success.

As for the actual singing, sometimes it’s wonderful and moving. After her famous performance of Ball and Chain at Monterey, the film caught her skipping offstage. Singing was one of her few sources of joy and getting all the attention she constantly craved. At other times, as often criticized and as she herself sometimes worried about (never having much self-confidence), it’s shouting and screeching to be heard over the band. 

Some country/folk/blues material from the early sixties was released once after she died. Most of it is now unavailable—from the few I’ve heard, I’d love to get my ears on the rest of those songs recorded before all the posturing and years of self abuse. She introduced the earliest one I’ve heard by saying it was a song called What Good Can Drinkin’ Do that she wrote one night after drinking herself into a stupor. She was broken from the beginning, but it was no less a waste.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hypocrisy 101

The following twenty-one states have requested that a federal court overturn Maryland's gun control law.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

How many of them are usually blathering on about states' rights?

Friday, November 21, 2014

That's bigger than I expected

There are times when a man likes to hear that, but after you've been sliced open isn't one of them. I had some minor surgery on my arm this morning to remove something (nothing to worry about) that wasn't supposed to be there.

At the moment, I'm numb from the wrist up, but I think it's starting to wear off. So I think it's time for breakfast.


Fortunately, I have no obligations for several days.
 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Brisk, with Waves

Saw some patches of ice when I was walking to work this morning. Can't complain as it has been a lovely October. This winter might only be five months long instead of the usual six. 

I had a nice time visiting Marquette, the UP, and an old friend for the first time in ten years and made a new dog friend. It was fun to enjoy the small town feel compared to urban Duluth. Halloween decorations were big there, entertaining during dog walks. I saw quite a few people in costume today including a sheriff I definitely wouldn't have resisted if she'd taken me into custody.

I changed my primary medical clinic because I didn't have any confidence in my last doctor; haven't picked a new doctor yet. Fortunately I didn't need one after climbing and descending Ely's Peak the other day, despite doing it in running shoes on damp rocks and leaves. Today at work I was pulling books which hadn't been checked out in years--it was a little depressing because I was working on a section related to events of the 60s and 70s and besides living it, I had read some of the books I was pulling. There's just no resisting this getting old and irrelevant shit.

I always put hold requests on forthcoming books and popular dvds at the library. It can take months before my turn comes and then they all hit at once. Today there were three books and three dvds for me, and then I got two free books for review in the mail. I'm gonna be busy.

Beer's running low though so I'll make time to restock next week. There are always new ones to try, but I've sampled most of the ones I had on my list, and have decided on my five favorite breweries at this point--Bell's, Deschutes, Dogfish Head, Founders, and Sierra Nevada. Three of those aren't available in the Yellowstone area--almost enough to make me wonder why I redid my application when requested this week. Will I be carrying beer 1000 miles? Maybe a little.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What's Amore?



Leaves have turned a paler yellow-green and more dramatic colors and have begun falling, mountain ash berries are a brighter orange verging on red, and waves were high on the breezy day with a high in the low 50s. In a couple places I’ve seen the remains of a cone where a squirrel has been gathering nuts. 

I finished reading an advance copy of Amore: An American Father’s Roman Holiday by Roger Friedland. It’s a very personal book of reflections on two years in Rome with his wife and two young daughters, comparing and contrasting that culture with the United States with particular emphasis on love and sex, which will spur a lot of personal reactions and interpretations based on the reader’s biases. Along with individual motivations, he looks at the effects of religion and feminism.

I’m a few years younger than the author, sharing a similar romantic view of love, and negative feelings about the casual hookup sex prevalent in this country. “In the wake of feminism’s third wave, a new kind of female sexual player emerged: a guiltless, apparently dispassionate huntress out for a good time, a woman indifferent to, even contemptuous, of love.” More like a man, many would say, so I’ll be clear that I never respected that kind of man either, and have always been sad to see equality defined as identical, whether it was in the corporate offices where I spent time in the eighties or in sexuality.

I met that female player who was avoiding romance, even fell in love with her. Elsewhere in the book, mention is made of studies showing that even those trying to avoid love are secretly hoping to find it, and I saw that too, which made it even more painful that we couldn’t overcome our barriers. I even saw and heard two of her friends warning an interested woman to stay far away from me based on the version they’d been told about how I got that player to fall for me then ignored her. It was easier to not bother correcting anyone, but I got very tired of moments like that.

Lola was the root cause but not the only reason I left Yellowstone, and the main but not only reason I’m planning to work in a different part of the park in the future. She’s not why I won’t be going back in December though—I didn’t get offered a job. It didn’t come as a surprise and at first I didn’t care much, but then started feeling bad that it meant an extra few months before I’d see that part of the country again, and at my age a few months could be crucial.

I started looking into a winter job at a couple of the ski resorts in the area, and while I think at least one of them would be feasible for me without a car, Yellowstone’s wildlife remains the priority and I’m not sure about when I might be able to begin a new job there in the spring and thus was unsure about how long I wanted to stay at a winter job. Since all these jobs involve an advance contract with specific dates, the resorts are something I’ll consider again next year with more advance knowledge and research.

So it’s another winter in Duluth, feeling fairly confident that it won’t be as severe as last year. I’m still thinking about what if any change that will bring in terms of employment, but I know there’ll be no more amore here.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Still Waiting



Since I heard that a call was made to a former YNP supervisor asking about me, I’ve been eagerly checking the mail, hoping for a contract to start in December, but nothing yet. On the other hand, I also haven’t gotten the rejection email which comes if you’re not hired. If I’m not hired, it will give me more time to research and make a decision about a medical issue before I wind up isolated and uninsured. One good thing about this stretching out is that it’s now only about five weeks until I’ll fill out the application for next summer and I’ll know about that by the end of the year.

So far, there have been four book worthy Deaths in Yellowstone this summer—hit by falling tree, fell into canyon, drowned after illegally tubing, and suicide. The last two were employees. I would choose the falling tree, having just climbed the hill for a better view of glorious Grand Prismatic. With my fear of heights and frequency of falling dreams, my last choice would be falling into the canyon. I’ve walked the paved trail the girl stepped off before falling—on the day I hiked it, the trail was wet with loose gravel and I never felt confident of not slipping until I was back on level ground. The other two deaths were self-induced, one deliberately and one by deliberately choosing an unsafe illegal activity.

NPS has a Yellowstone Facebook page which had posts about all of these along with the usual subjects. The page is a fairly good source of information but maybe I should train myself to not read the comments, often filled with ignorance about Yellowstone, ecology, depression, and every other subject. Even worse are the people using it as a platform for their issues.

The search for the drowning victim led to a complaint about it being illegal to ride the rivers, the vague preliminary post about the suicide led to assumptions about toxic gases and murderers including the cover-up of the killing because it was done by a government employee. Another was sure the presumed murder would have been prevented if the park had better cell phone coverage even though the part of the park where it happened has fine coverage. Others don’t understand why all the dead trees weren’t cut down or why there aren’t fences built all along the canyon. Somewhere in there was a complaint that the wolves had eaten all the wildlife. And another guy wasn’t going to come back if he couldn’t use his drone.

Happily and surprisingly, there were far more responses applauding the banning of drones, and not wanting more cell phone towers, and trying to explain what wild and risk mean. One day, I saw a comment from someone I used to work with—we can quit anytime we like, but we can never leave.

My former roommate and another friend were among the winners of this year's YNP employee photo contest. You can see the photos here.

While I’m waiting to see my future, I’ve been constructively using my barely working time to sample some of the most highly rated craft beers and look forward to trying several from Founders Brewing from Michigan. With beer names like Dirty Bastard, Backwoods Bastard, and Curmudgeon, this could be the right brewery for me! And I’m really hoping to enjoy Deschutes’ The Dissident, which gets released this month, because I like the t-shirt so much that I ordered one without ever having tasted the beer.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lake 10, Military 3

I'd been dreading the noise level of this weekend even more than the 4th of July. It was time for an air show, another summer intrusion I hadn't had to put up with for the past four years. Fortunately, we're winding up a week's worth of fog and low overcast so most of the planes were grounded. A double blessing along with the highs in the 60s compared to the long stretches of mid 80s I got used to in Mammoth. Although I see that highs there the past few days have been in the 40s and 50s, and I saw a snowman on the Mt Washburn cam a couple days ago.

I heard the person doing the winter hiring at Yellowstone called one of my former bosses this week to ask about me, so there's still hope for December. I really need to get back there and try to generate a little enthusiasm. Here I'm on too much of an even keel, filling my time with many books and music (today I watched The Last Waltz and was struck by how young everyone looked and how many were now dead) and old tv shows to keep my mind distracted from the humbling emotional aches and physical pains of getting older and waiting to be dead instead of living. If I had unlimited funds, that might be more tolerable, but I'd rather keep trying to enjoy life while I'm still able. 

A couple days ago I was searching for new Yellowstone blogs and found a very open gutsy post about fear from someone working there last December. There was an aspect about her returning to Yellowstone which I could appreciate. I got woken up by a 12:30 AM phone call yesterday, and my first thought was that someone from Yellowstone had gotten drunk and was calling me. I didn't recognize the area code so I ignored it til morning in favor of imagining how the call might have gone if I'd been right. Turned out to be a wrong number.

As for those books, my latest recommendation is the forthcoming novel Station Eleven, a post-flu apocalypse tale which I decided reminded me of Ray Bradbury and the HBO series Carnivale. I also just finished rereading City of Pearl which I mentioned at the end of this post seven years ago--still enjoyed it just as much. Next up, Make it a Green Peace!: The Rise of Countercultural Environmentalism, which I got via interlibrary loan, one of the perks of civilization. 

Typed while listening to The Complete Norman Granz Jam Sessions, classic jazz from a few years before I was born. Now turned off to appreciate a thunderstorm, a much better noise than jets.               

Saturday, August 2, 2014

We have all been here before

When I was in Yellowstone looking for a place to live here, I found a photo on the internet of the house where I'm living now. There were some big trees in the front and the house was a dark green--along with the location and cheap price, that's why I took this apartment sight unseen. The two trees closest to the house were cut down this week because white siding is replacing the green. I couldn't see them from my window and thought they were just being trimmed until I walked out and they were gone. I think there was a crow's nest in one of those trees.

I was reminded of another apartment I had here with a small wild patch across the alley which got attacked one day by the electric company clearing wires. And the dorm I lived in at Yellowstone was a great worn out looking place which looked very western and funky until that got sided and looked like all the other bland dorms.  As always, change is bad and progress sucks.

A couple streets away, a main road is going to get torn up with hundreds of old trees along the way destroyed. Some of the folks who live there have started putting up signs and attaching clothes in the shape of people to the trees. Trees matter to people in Duluth, from the proposed golf course battle when I first moved here, to the harbor airport/state natural area pine forest battle which went on for years. 

I haven't gotten the official No yet but it's fairly certain that I won't be getting a job at Old Faithful this winter. It was always an extreme long shot in my case, but a friend who was sure he was going to get a job didn't either, and the person who was going to be his boss didn't even get that job. Yellowstone is a great place, but as we always used to say, employment there always involves a goat and a rope.

I know I'll be able to get something there next summer, and that application is only a few months away. But the longer I'm away, the easier it gets to not go back. I'm a little less fanatical about checking related websites, and a little more comfortable spending all my time in civilization not seeing wildlife. And as I get older and body parts keep weakening, the harder it gets to want to carry heavy bags though a couple days of buses and hotels, and put up with shared rooms and prescribed menus, and the more appealing it sounds to just sit in my room reading and spending hours on the computer. 

Fortunately, then I'll get an email from my ex-roommate with hundreds of photos of otters leaning into each other in a perfect pose at Trout Lake, and mountain goats on the Bunsen Peak trail, and a stashed fawn he almost stepped on near the Yellowstone River while mom was away, and I know that I need that in my life as long as it's at all possible.

In the meantime, I'll probably start looking for another part time job. I wouldn't be broke before Yellowstone next summer, but social security is still a few years away and I can handle working more hours than I have been for the past few months.      

It's been a wild summer out in the Rockies parks, with deaths from falling in Grand Teton, drowning in Glacier, a falling tree in Yellowstone, and lightning strikes in Rocky Mountain. In Glacier, a Texan shot a bear, and there was a grizzly/human encounter on a cliffside trail. From the description in that article, I never would have been hiking that trail anyway with my fear of heights, but if I had been there I probably would have been trying to squeeze by the bear rather than going down the cliff.

There was a beer festival in town last weekend which I was excited about when I first heard about it, but I don't drink in quantities that were ever going to give me my money's worth over a few hours so I wound up not going. Happily, my favorite brewery sent some people to spend a few days here making appearances at local bars and liquor stores and I was able to sample many of their beers I hadn't tasted before. I took advantage of related sales to stock up on a couple of their brews which get better as they age, Black Butte XXVI and Mirror Mirror.  

I was also happy I didn't buy a ticket for that festival because it turned out to be one of the hottest days of the summer. The next day it was foggy and rainy with temperatures in the fifties. I have been enjoying the weather here this summer except for the occasional humidity. 

I made a rare trip to the mall recently and as I was walking around the outside of the building (to avoid walking inside the building), a gull made a couple close dives at my head--I didn't see any reason on the ground so there must be a nest on the roof. I was reminded of walking around the shore of one of the islands in Boston Harbor and having the same experience.

My boss took a vacation recently which included New England and when she told me about it, I felt a little regret about a place I'll never see again, but at least it's another place I've been before.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Whether Report

This weekend I was reminded of another good thing about living in Yellowstone--this July 4th was the first time in five years I had to listen to explosions all night long. On the other hand, if I'm here this fall it will be the first time in five years I won't have horny bugling elk waking me up all night long.

I was happy with the June weather here--it was common for there to be a twenty degree temperature difference in Duluth depending on distance from the Lake and fortunately I'm in the cooler foggy zone. Now we seem to have hit true summer with a more similar high temperature everywhere in town. I'm not crazy about being back in the humidity after four summers in the dry high desert of Yellowstone, but I'm on the hillside just a few blocks from the Lake and there is often a breeze going either up or down the hill--fortunately my apartment has windows to catch it either way.

I filled out my Yellowstone winter application this weekend and expect to know by the end of the month if I'll be going back in December. My hope is to switch to working in the Old Faithful area from now on but it's going to be very difficult to do that in winter even though I'm willing to take any job there. With only two locations open in the winter instead of the summer's six, most of the winter employees are summer managers from other locations. 

Along with the pleasure of exploring a new part of the park and getting away from the negative personal history of Mammoth, the big pleasure of being at Old Faithful in winter for me is that no one has a car. Along with a certain degree of physical isolation from the outside world, it would be nice to be on that even social playing field again. During my last winter in the park, I spent a great day with a woman who early in the day made a remark about how I needed to go for it if I was interested in someone; I think by the end of the evening she understood that not driving made it impossible for me to go for anyone unless I were only interested in the casual sex which is the norm in Yellowstone. 

I will take a winter job at Mammoth if that is all that's offered (and there is no guarantee that even that will be offered) and hope for the best because if I find I'm not going back to the park this winter, I'll have to start looking for a more serious job here and I really don't want to do that. I shouldn't have any trouble getting a job next summer at Old Faithful when along with the new hikes, the big draw will be that it will be cooler since I spent my four Yellowstone summers in the hottest part of the park.
     

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Modern Medicine

After a rough year at Yellowstone, physically and emotionally, I was ready for a long period of relaxation and the chance to see some doctors. The health insurance I had in the park came in handy when I took a sixty mile ambulance ride in the middle of the night due to a kidney stone, but generally wasn't of any use since I didn't have access to anything more than basic medical care. 

While I waited for new insurance coverage here, I started doing some research and self-diagnosis. Considering age and weight and an almost complete lack of exercise last summer due to balance problems (maybe caused by the terrible diet I was living on then), and various symptoms, I leaned toward some stage of diabetes. I don't have a great record of diagnosing my illnesses--I think the only one I've really gotten right was plantar fasciitis a few years ago. Oh, and the childhood broken finger that was at a 45 degree angle. 

So when I finally got to a doctor here, the main thing I was concerned about was to see what my blood numbers were, and considering all those factors mentioned above, I thought I'd see if I could get my heart checked out. The doctor asked if I had insurance (not that we want to milk it, he said) and scheduled an echo cardiogram stress test which was fine with me, and a CT scan which was justified as a followup to a kidney stone I'd had six or seven years ago. I thought that was pretty ridiculous but went along with it.

I'd been eating better and exercising more for about a month before I had my first appointment, but was still amazed that blood pressure and glucose and cholesterol numbers were all better than the last time I'd had them checked a couple years earlier in the park. So another wrong diagnosis on my part. 

In the month between making the appointment and having it, I'd started having some strange arm pain so I wondered what the heart results would be. Being half naked and surrounded by four women working on me was pretty stressful, and I did some treadmill also. Other than feeling like the wand was going to get pushed through my ribs, there weren't any problems and the results turned out great--heart works, arteries clear. 

I started wondering about all the health warnings we get--I was overweight, getting old, ate lots of junk food, didn't belong to a gym or get enough sleep, spent a lot of years smoking and drinking--and still seemed relatively healthy. In the course of appointments, I several times encountered amazement that I wasn't on any medications. My theory is that for all the bad I did to myself, I was also a vegetarian for most of my life who cared about eating quality food when not eating junk, and never owning a car meant that I had always done a lot more walking than most people. I think I offset the negative.

I had a followup appointment a month after the first to go over results. CT scan results didn't find anything terrible either. There's a very tiny speck on a lung which would be ignored in anyone who had never smoked; in a former smoker's case, the protocol would be to look again in a year and then ignore if there was no change. Since I doubt I'll have insurance a year from now, it's good that I'm not the least bit concerned about this one--I rarely inhaled.

And I've got a big prostate which I've been told repeatedly all my life, and as with all men, it's presumably getting bigger as I get older. The doctor was more concerned about this and suggested a very invasive procedure, even as he said not to be discouraged because with modern medicine, normal was always changing. But my related symptoms haven't changed much in decades, and my PSA results were fine so I'm not too concerned about this either. In any case, I've decided against any further experimentation on myself, and realized that even with insurance and access to doctors, I'm still not going to get the type of medical care I want. I need a doctor who is more interested in listening than playing with the latest technology.

I thought back to a friend in Yellowstone and talks we'd had. Over the years, I've generally become a very reserved person, not given to having wide-open personal conversations with people, but in the past few years I had met a couple people in the park who seemed to have no walls and I was amazed how good it felt to have that type of conversation again. One was a woman who made a great hiking and dinner companion (I usually tried to get out of the employee cafeteria as quickly as possible, but shortly after we met, we had a two hour lunch conversation there.) and the second was a man who I didn't really talk to often but could always count on it being real when I did. 

At some point I'd said to him that I'd just as soon not know if I was dying or had cancer. (In fact, I even told the doctor here that I probably wouldn't want to have any major surgery due to my circumstances.) Months later, he reminded me I'd said that and wished that he didn't either as he described treatments and changes in his life following a cancer diagnosis. Although he's much more social than I am, and had known previous physical suffering, in terms of really close relationships we're each essentially on our own in life and we both acknowledged that a point comes when your best days are past and death wouldn't be the worst thing that could happen. I know my personality as well, and that for me on the subject of health, ignorance and denial is bliss, and knowledge would be hell. 

There's nothing suicidal about this (believe me, I've been there, almost done that) and knowing that my best days are past doesn't mean it's over. If I live as long as my grandfather, who didn't have the dubious pleasure of modern medicine for most of his century plus life, I've got almost fifty years left although I certainly don't expect or probably want that. But I do want some more on my terms, as long as I'm fully functional and independent.

I hope to get some more Yellowstone in six months, and should know before the end of the summer if that is going to happen.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Reading the Future

After receiving hundreds of requests to review something through an email address I have on Amazon (often a book review request from someone whose email made clear that s/he couldn't write or proofread), I finally accepted one last week and the book arrived today. It's a mostly photography book from an organization trying to save cheetahs, so I'll post that review on the other blog in a week or two.

I also signed myself up on NetGalley when I discovered that one of my favorite publishers, Island Press, offers advance copies there which aren't offered in the Amazon program. I actually have two of their books on order which are available in free early copies through NetGalley. I hope to get some good free reading in the future.

I've just started a bunch of medical stuff to see what condition my condition is in. All I know for sure so far is that my blood pressure is lower than it was the last couple times I had it taken in Yellowstone. I don't know if that's an elevation thing or if the changes I've made in the past month are actually paying off already. 

I've lost 10 pounds since I bought a scale last month, through a combination of changing what and how much I eat, and being able to walk a lot more with the lack of ice. Lots of salad, more veggies, more oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts (when I hurt my wrist I iced it with a bag of frozen blueberries--that's why they're a superfood!), no chips, pizza, juice, and a lot less beer (I'm just occasionally using up what was in the refrigerator). Ideally, I'll lose another 25 pounds just as easily and then see what I think. I was going to buy some dumbbells and start working on strength as well, but decided to put that off for now since I've been having some arm pains. Combined with other symptoms, I think it's a nervous system issue, but it could be circulation also, so I'll wait for test results before overdoing it.

I had a CT scan a couple days ago which left me with a bruised arm and a mild allergic reaction to the IV dye. I'm having a heart stress test Monday and hoping it won't kill me, since I wound up having some flutters the last time I had one 20 years ago. Just in case, I wanted to post this to say goodbye. If I'd been told a year ago that I was dying, I wouldn't have cared much, but it would be too ironic to find out I'm in trouble now when I'm finally starting to get back in shape, trying for one more stretch of good health and adventures.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

March Madness

Today's 50 degree weather filled the Lakewalk with runners, perfume wearers, and pocketbook dogs. It's not spring though--we may be getting an ice storm or more snow tomorrow. It's currently the 12th snowiest winter here, already about two feet over average. 

It's been a wild few days in my old neighborhood. Thursday there was a murder/suicide in Gardiner, five miles from where I lived in Yellowstone. I learned of it before going to work Friday. Names hadn't been released so I had to spend a few hours wondering if it was anyone I knew since the town's population is only about 900 and many of them have connections with the park. After work, I read and didn't recognize the names of the two residents involved, although the victim had worked for NPS for twenty years. I haven't seen photos, but even if I didn't recognize them, I'm sure I know many people who knew them, and that the little town will be dealing with this for quite a while.

Early this morning a 4.8 earthquake, the largest in 34 years, was felt in the area of Yellowstone where I lived. The epicenter was about twenty miles south of Mammoth, where they also had five inches of snow overnight. It will be very interesting to hear if the quake changes any of the geysers and other geologic features, as has happened after past earthquakes. If I miss the big eruption, I'm going to be pissed that I'm not there.

I've settled into my current routine of a very part time job which covers about half of my expenses, wondering whether I want to look for a second job or just enjoy the free time when/if more comfortable weather arrives. I want to spend a lot of time walking this summer--I suspect my health and fitness is going to wind up being the determining factor in whether I decide to return to Yellowstone next year. 

Meanwhile, I fill my sloth time easily, with a couple dozen current hold requests for library books and dvds, about a dozen books in my to be read pile, and a still growing music collection to enjoy. My latest discovery, a mix of country, gospel, and metal, alternating lonely sentiment and whiskey-fueled obscenity, can be heard here. Last week, I got a free (and much needed, since I had no intention of buying one) vacuum cleaner from the same Amazon program which has been providing me with free books since 2008.

Friday, February 28, 2014

How's the Weather?

The three months of December, January, and February have been the second coldest ever here--average daily temperature of 3.85, second only to 3.7 back in 1874/5. As far as the number of dates below zero, we've shattered the old record of 59 days--we're in the mid 60s now and with the forecast should hit at least 70 days. And this has happened without the record being broken for a single day--it got cold and stayed that way. The Lake has been almost frozen over.

As far as snow, we're in the vicinity of what we usually get for the full season, but with hardly any melting, it's almost all still on the ground--by far the most snow I've ever seen here. I went grocery shopping this morning. Usually when I'm waiting for the bus home, I can look across a parking lot to see if the bus is coming. Now there's a pile of snow about twice my height and as wide as a house and I can't see the parking lot at all.

It's been a wild winter out in Montana also. A friend outside Yellowstone told me it was -20 in the morning and +40 in the afternoon a couple days ago. Missoula is under a blizzard warning as I write this. In Billings, the city plowed residential neighborhoods for the first time ever. Before you ask, I have no idea how that usually works. Are residents required to plow their own streets or do they not get snow? I just looked it up--they average 57 inches annually, but warm winds usually keep it from accumulating.   

I don't know if I'll ever be in Yellowstone again, but I know it will be in me for the rest of my life. I went on a book buying spree to get my fix--In the Temple of Wolves (Lamar Valley in the winter), Yellowstone Has Teeth (year round life at Lake, an area inaccessible to most people in the winter), and the new edition of Death in Yellowstone which includes the bear deaths from my time in the park. Coming in May, Grizzlies on my Mind by a former ranger. Unfortunately, I can't read them right now because I have a time sensitive pile of library books and freebies to review including Bernd Heinrich's latest, The Homing Instinct, which is due out in April.

I was supposed to start my new job this week, but although I've been drug tested a couple ways, they haven't finished investigating my criminal past, so maybe I'll start next week. It's very part time and temporary which suits me well at this point.

Whether it be my age or the life transition or the cold, this is the first time I've ever had enough winter. I'm looking forward to seeing the ground, walking without more than one layer of clothing, and warm winds. A couple days ago, I contacted the company which does sailing trips on the Lake and got details about their different trips. On the subject of water, I did start writing Autobobography: Watching the River Flow, but I don't know if I'll ever finish it--don't have much inspiration at the moment. Maybe in the spring.