Sunday, December 28, 2008

Weather again brings difficulties

As part of the bartering for the land upon which, or rather under which, I will be building my house, I have to help out on the larger property as needed. Well thanks to the weather that help is sorely needed this week. Yesterday the winds were blowing so strongly that they lifted a very large portion of the roof on a hay barn, flipping that large section (20'X60') over onto the rest of the roof.

So today was spent taking apart that roof as best we could into sections which we then pulled off of the roof so that we could disassemble the rest into parts in order to build the roof once again. Tomorrow will likely be spent in much the same way. Then we begin the process of building again, which will likely take up all of this wonderful break in the weather, thus putting off my own efforts to build my underground house.

Such is the nature of things..

Still with some timber cut, other timber located, plans in place, a batch of muscadine wine begun life is not all bad..

Monday, December 22, 2008

Weather woes and small spaces

After those three days of great progress and no small amount of timber harvested, I found myself hampered by cold, ice, rain, mud, and all of the ills of winter weather. With the temps dipping into the teens (F) the smart person is reluctant to even leave the warmth of his bed!

Still there has been some progress, in the form of a grove of cedars of some size which may result in some change of plan in that I may create vertical shoring in the form of a wall of posts, rather than a few posts holding back dimensional lumber. This means taking more trees, but even so it appears that it may still be possible to do so without taking any live trees, aside from those very few I had to clear from the site of the house itself. The grove we discovered when just taking a jaunt around the property, surprisingly is almost exclusive standing dead cedars (with the other species of trees still living just fine). Many of these are many feet in diameter, including one giant which will become the center post and a focal point in my home.

But as I said, the weather has been truly unpleasant for the most part, keeping me indoors to a large extent. One consequence of this has been a conscious examination of what it means to live in a small space. While preparing for building my home, I am living in a caravan of less than 150 ft sq. Needless to say this is a challenge, even to one such as I who desires small spaces and little impact on the world around me. One of the challenges, and there are many, of this arrangement is that the ceiling is actually about 2 inches shorter than I myself am. So the cubic area is even less than is revealed by the square footage. Still it is my place, and I am making the most of it as my temporary shelter.

I am coming to see some of the challenges of the home to be built, though it will be four times the square footage and have ceilings much more in proportion to my own person. The challenges are perhaps not entirely unique to me, yet it would be tedious to go into them in detail at this point. Mostly they take the form of realization of the need for kitchen workspace, for hanging storage, and for general storage for those things used daily or at least weekly but which need not be underfoot.

The weather promises to warm above freezing tomorrow, but with that comes more rain, so I am doubtful as to the amount of work I can get done, yet I will hope for dry skies and at least some opportunity to begin to clear the timber of the grove, in which we will be creating a bit of an opening in the forest and some more useful habitat for the fauna.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Timbering day three

After clearing the site and taking the timber off of it, I have begun to harvest timber from other parts of the property for the construction of my u-house. So far other than the few I removed from the site itself, I have not taken any living tree, instead relying upon dead falls, standing dead timber, and recovering what was considered not worth taking when they cleared some land for pastures in recent years.

Today's haul was 11 timbers, including a wonderful set of oaks which had fallen on a fence, but had grown previously near laser straight for over 25 feet. Just one of these I harvested is 25 feet long by one foot in diameter. This wonderful, slow grown and beautiful oak will support part of the natural roof which will shelter me, but which being earth is quite heavy. Between this, two sweet gum trees, and a hickory taken out in a storm last fall, I believe that I may have all of my roof girders (the principle horizontal roof structures).

I was also able to get some great oak posts from the limbs and tops of these trees, along with a number of good sized cedars which are already well aged.

The photo shows only a small number of the timbers taken today, mostly the oaks.. the longest being the 25 footer..

Tomorrow.. perhaps more cedars from the same area, along with some of the remaining limbs which could be of use. Progress..!!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Of muscadines, bok choy, and persimmons

One of the great pleasures of my recent life has been the foraging of food otherwise ignored, forgotten, or simply unfound. After arriving at my currently temporary location, I discovered the grand herald of the southern summer, the muscadine, still clinging to the vine. While most of these were inedible, at least not palatable to me, there were a few still green that the frost had turned wonderfully sweet.. these tidbits immediately took me back at least six months to the summer if not years back to the times I collected these as a child along the banks of an exciting creek full of child inspiring wonder..

At the same time, I have been practicing other forms of what would otherwise be considered urban foraging, except that I am hours away from any place anyone would mistake for even remotely "urban."

I have been enjoying the persimmons which are simply inedible until after the first frost, as well as bok choy planted int he garden which is bolting but still very tasty..

I have collected dried black eyed peas, which would be ignored by the owners as undesirable (they collected what they wanted fresh), and I could collect black walnuts were I more patient.. ( I expect that next year I will be..)

This ignores many of the wild edibles of which I am still learning, such as green briar (a nice bit of vengeance that is.. eating the damn vines which leave me cut to ribbons..) and others..

On a tree once planted I am certain by one of the early homesteaders of this site, there stands a persimmon tree, which produces fruit which is simply not edible until the frost comes and converts the starches to sugars producing a delicious if seedy treat.

All of this in December, when the winds are howling, the cold threatening, and the climate simply unwelcoming..

So in these troubles times I ask, are you really taking in all that you could for a comfortable and even gourmet lifestyle?

I am doing what I can.. give me a year and I will be living a fine life than most kings throughout history, for less than the most modest welfare queen!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Clearing the site

Removing the timber, which will be used in the construction of course, was the first step to clearing the land in preparation for the underground home I am going to be building over the next several months.

Dropping twenty some odd trees in the heavily briared site was a tiring two day job, but the results are satisfying. Soon I will be clearing off the vines and putting up permanent boundary markers to be used for excavation. You can see two of the temporary markers on the left side of the photo. This side is the cliff side, which is not evident in the photo. You can see just a glimpse of the mountains and hay meadow in the upper right of the shot.

Definitely progress..

Friday, November 28, 2008


I was reminded this morning of a discussion I had with a friend a few years ago regarding success. If I say Jane is a successful woman, if you are honest with yourself you think of her as making money, achieving some social status, etc. You probably even see her in a business suit. If I say "John is a successful artist" you almost certainly think of the number of paintings/sculptures he has sold. Success is first off thought of in terms of wealth and "accomplishment" where "accomplishment" itself is understood in terms of wealth and power.

I know that there are a few who are simply contrary who will immediately say something about the "successful" people, such as Mother Teresa, who never gathered in wealth for themselves, but even in such cases we are focusing on celebrity, fame, etc.

With those exceptions in mind, we then start to think of others: artists, orators, writers, etc. who may never gain fame or fortune in their lives, but still seem to fit what we would deem successful.

So then, we can see that our initial notion of success is flawed at best. So then what is success?

In the conversation with a friend, I answered this question along the lines of the following: Success (in life) is living the life you choose to live, accomplishing the goals you set for yourself, being the person you want to be.

These travels for me serve as rungs of the ladder of success. Building my own home will be another such rung, and a very significant one at that.

But do not feel a need to follow my path. Seek your own, examine what it means for you to be successful in your life and simply do it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Second Stage

Well I have arrived at my next temporary home, with my temporary home (my caravan), in the backwoods of some quite old mountains in the central US.

The trip here was eight and a half hours of stress pulling a caravan which outweighs my truck. This alone was a challenge, but doubly so for someone who had never pulled a trailer so large before. Still I arrived safely after only minimal issues. The caravan is leveled and held by the leveling jacks, with the water and electric to hopefully be connected tomorrow. I must make some changes to the facilities here where I am parking the caravan for the winter, as it is set up for larger and newer mobile abodes than the one in which I will be staying..

A brief word about this caravan. It is 33 years old, but wears her age well. Though not in perfect shape, she is in damn good shape for the age and should serve as a snug and comfortable home until I can get the first home of my own design and construction built. One of the surprising aspects is a bed larger than any I have slept in previously. To those who do not know me in person, this means that I will fit for a change.. I am well over the average height and so tend to find most beds very uncomfortable as they require me to curl up into a ball, else dangle my feet off the end, which puts great stress on my back. So this better than king size bed in this caravan is a great source of personal pleasure.

Another element is less appealing at first blush though much more so upon some contemplation. This is the ceiling height. The ceiling is about 2-3 inches too short for me so that the only place I can stand straight is directly under one skylight. Obviously this adds challenges, but as I said after a brief contemplation I found that this is a benefit in truth. Having a home where I cannot stand erect forces me to get outside and enjoy the natural world all the more. As I am hoping to use this time to lose weight and gain some endurance in my hiking, the short ceiling is a lemon which makes great lemonade.

With this Thanksgiving time now behind us, I hope to get the caravan in order, and begin a time of rest from the efforts and stress of both my previous location and of moving itself. I will also be marking trees and standing dead wood for use as beams, posts, girders, and filler for my timber frame underground home which I will be building as soon as possible.

There is much to do preparing for the building process so I hope to accomplish much if not all of that while the weather is less than ideal for building. I will be intermingling that effort with examination of plants, wildlife trails and other aspects of the specific locale I will be inhabiting for some time to come. With luck I will spot many possible wild edibles, places where snares may be placed (if I choose to employ these), and places which will serve as prime spots for contemplation and writing.

A final brief note on the latter. The last few months have allowed me to once again enjoy teaching and being in an environment thriving on seeing truth and wisdom. This is a rarity not to be ignored or overlooked. As a result I am once again inspired to work on some projects which have been in the back of my mind in the fields of morality and perhaps philosophy of language. I believe that some of the work I have in mind will serve to clarify some key concepts which cross the border between philosopher and layperson, and which can help us to better understand the foundations and nature of morality itself which we already use on a daily basis.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Last night I finished my stint as a guest lecturer in a bio-ethics class. The evening ended on a high note, with appreciation and thanks given by the students, wholly unexpected by me in a class which is mandatory for most of them.

Though it was much appreciated, the thanks was entirely a bonus to a wonderful experience, a reminder of what I once enjoyed: teaching.

With the promised increase in racial tensions and special barriers to be erected against folks who look like me, promises made by the president elect, I must savor this last opportunity.. I fear that we are entering another dark age where skin tone, genitalia, and political bent are all put above ability, merit, and truth.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Building a dream

One of the purposes of this most recent set of travels is to arrive at the place where I expect to live for at least many years, if not the rest of my life. I had thought that this would be one location, but that has come under some scrutiny due to some difficulties with one of the owners of the land. So I am now looking at my second choice, which to be fair was a very close second anyway.

What this means for me is that I get to build the underground home I have wanted to build for some time now. I suspect that what most folks think of when they think of an underground home is something like a cave, or a dark damp basement. The plans I am developing will be neither of these.

As is my wont, I have read all that I could on the subject, and the most helpful as well an enjoyable book on the subject is The $50 & Up Underground House Book by Mike Oehler. He built his first U-home in 1971 and is still living in an expanded version of this same home, and expansion which cost $500.. making the home's total cost $550.. I have never even heard of any other home being built so inexpensively and yet still retaining efficiencies not found in the most expensive of homes today. Imagine cutting your heating and cooling costs by 80%!...

His own home still retains great views, and lots of light thanks to some ingenious placement of windows, and some ideas which ran/run counter to the expected, yet result in many great advantages, which elminating many of the major negatives which can come with some u-home designs.

Mike himself is obviously quite a character who very clearly expresses his opinions, not all of which even I can agree with, and thinks about building and living in ways long forgotten or overlooked by most of us. His writing is as charming as it is informative.

If you have any interest in building, in energy efficiency, in self-sufficiency, or even in green house growing, pick up his books The $50 & up Underground House Book and Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book.. both are a joy to read, easy to understand, and serve as a fine example of what we each can do if we start thinking for ourselves rather than just go along with what is expected.

I have just finished the basic layout of what I suspect will be the final design of my own U-house. There is a certain point in the design process when it feels that everything is coming together and the basic design feels like a final version. That is where I am. This does not mean that I cannot or will not tweak the design, only that I have a wonderful fairly detailed design from which to begin.

Easier traveling

Thanks to the $2.00 or 50% decrease in the price of gasoline over the last few weeks, traveling has again become somewhat affordable. A tank of gas now only costs under $50 for my truck.. not bad since for quite a while there I could not even fill it before the automatic cut off on the pump would shut off at $75 or $80...

With the cult of Obama ranting and raving about how the high price of gasoline is the personal responsibility of George Bush, and since this drop in price preceded Obama "election" much less before he has assumed power, one would expect these same cultists to be heralding Bush for the largest drop in the price of gasoline in history..

Has anyone heard any such praise for Bush? (Not that I like him) Or are we just seeing yet another example of the blatant hypocrisy of some folks?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

On suicide and going to prison

With the announcement of Obama claiming victory, and with his purely evil health care insurance company subsidy, paid for by the poor who must choose between eating, clothing, and shelter, or paying this extreme health care subsidy directly, or else suffer the threat of prison, I am facing a difficult set of choices.

I will not go to prison.

I cannot afford to subsidize the health insurance companies with my income (It is FAR cheaper for me to pay for my own health care voluntarily and directly rather than to get insurance).

So my choices are very limited under the Obama attack on the poor, well under this particular portion of the Obama attack on the poor (the dramatically increased tax rates, the dramatic increase in government intrusion and regulation, and the dramatic decrease in the already diminished liberty all harm the poor the most) are as follows:

1. Go to prison.
2. Leave the country, hoping that I am allowed to leave and that the US does not enforce its claim to always and forever own everyone who has ever lived here. Yes this really is the US position on citizenship, you cannot voluntarily give it up no matter what you do.. You are ALWAYS beholden to the laws and taxes of the US government in their eyes.
3. Hide and hope that I do not get caught of if I do get caught being responsible for myself, then

4. Suicide.

Of these I know which option I want, but I no longer have a clear path out of the country. So I am left with the other three choices.. I will not go to prison leaving only two..

More and more the fourth seems to be the most appealing, and in fact the most rational.

I suppose I have until Jan 20th or perhaps a bit longer to decide.. :)

Please DON"T Vote

In the US today there is a great frenzy of activity and open calls for increased violence against innocent persons. There is a celebration of coercion, theft, and violence that is formally sanctioned by those in power, and a percentage of the population. We call this celebration of such evils "Election Day"

When you vote you are stating that you do not believe that anyone else is equal to you in worth. You are stating that you hold yourself so very high that you are infinitely better suited to decide how others should live their peaceful lives.

If you do vote you should realize that while you do not give up any right to complain you do become a hypocrite the moment that you do complain about ANY action taken by government, or about who gets into power. By choosing to vote you are granting your consent to not merely one candidate, but to the very system itself and ALL Of the actions taken by that government. You are saying that the imprisonment of innocents is morally good and justified. You are saying that the killing of innocents by that government is morally good and justified. You are giving away not merely your freedom and that of everyone else who comes under the heel of that government, but also your integrity.

Remember that if you do decide to vote today, you are pissing all over your friends, family, and everyone else. Have the courage and integrity to do so directly. Tell them that you think that they are not smart enough nor worthy enough to live their own lives, so you will decide how they should live.

Tell then that you do not respect them enough to no cause them harm. That you do not care for them enough to let them make their own decisions about what peaceful actions that want to take.

Tell them that you so despise them that you are giving your consent to the thugs who will steal their property, and threaten them with violence or imprisonment.

Or you could choose to be just, moral, responsible, thoughtful, reasonable, respectful, compassionate, caring, logical, principled and pragmatic and refuse to vote.

Please choose the intelligent peaceful and responsible route and do not vote.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Time passes

Time simply passes too quickly when it is all accounted for and every moment is planned out.

This is self evident to anyone who reads this terribly out of date blog.. Somehow I have lost two entire months simply because it was all planned out for me. Well that and an unfortunate back injury which has taken a great deal of energy and time from me..

I'd rather not go into all of it publicly but the general idea is that I have been in pain for most of this year and finally had it checked out to find out that I was very near the point of needing surgery (this is not entirely out of the picture yet) .. I am currently in a form of physical therapy and adjustment to try to rectify the problem

Progress is nonetheless being made.. I've completed a few of the major projects I have been involved in here, and since I am feeling somewhat better, I have been able to begin to make up for lost time... Not that this is appreciated by some "clients" (pronounced: "family")

There has been a series of unfortunate events which have for the time being removed the original destination and time line from the realm of the possible.. Perhaps I can eventually find that path again, but not at this time. What this means for me is that I am currently spending the few free moments I have working on a new house design. The original, which was the result of many months of work and thought, was very much specific to the original location and its rather unique constraints. Currently I am not certain that I will be permanently building on a new location, or whether I will live out of a caravan for a year or possibly more (these two are not mutually exclusive it turns out, btw.. )

The exciting or perhaps merely interesting (both to me) part of this change of plans or detour, is that I get to plan on an underground house, which I believe is not really an option on the original path.. This is actually the ideal house for me, I believe. It is certainly the house I most want to design and build.

Since I am still trying to keep to my strict budget and build the entire home and all utilities, etc. for under $5000, with an ideal goal being under $3000, I am of course challenged in the design. I am not including my own labor in those figures, and I hope to salvage much of the material so as to keep the costs down. I believe that it is possible to show how an average person can dramatically decrease their cost of living with a few simple choices and a bit of personal effort.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mass Merch Hell

I had thought on some previous trips that I was simply spoiled, or that I had developed highly specialized tastes in food and drink to the point that I was in danger of crossing into the area of the foo-foo or snobbish realm. Sure I enjoy aged cheeses like 5+ year old Gouda, and yes I truly enjoy good wines and the like, which may sound a bit foo-foo or snobbish, but what I came to realize tonight is that what I truly enjoy is well crafted food and drink, just like I enjoy well crafted furniture, art, or architecture.

Tonight's realization came as I looked through the aisles of the "good" liquor/wine store in this lovely midwest town in which I am currently staying. I realized that I was annoyed not only at the 20% increase in prices, and the general decrease in selection, but also in the specific nature of that decrease in selection. What was on the shelves, and this holds true for all stores here from grocery to kitchen supplies, and even to the very types of stores which are available here. What has clearly happened is that folks in this area have no idea how to create their own goods, or being I believe overly generous they believe that there is no market for well crafted local goods.

What you find on the shelves here are the most common mass produced products. Oh sure there are a few left overs from the micro-brew days, but that is as far as it goes here. I had hoped to find a nice hard cider tonight. But after a great deal of searching all that I could come up with is the most popular and most tasteless brand which is available nationally..

I understand that not everything will exist everywhere, and I am actually very okay with that. What I see as a real problem, and one which I suspect from my own travels, is very prevelant across the country, is that craft made products are disappearing or as in the case of the midwest completely gone.

So since mass produced generic crap was all that was available, I left the store with one of the less respected mass produced wines (considered a bulk wine producer) because if you have to drink mass produced er.. stuff... you might as well pay as little as possible for it..

Still I am unhappy with the product (no surprise) and less happy that I could not find something local and interesting.

We travel not to see the same places we have seen or eat the same food we can eat at home. We do not need another Applebees or some other vile bland carbon copy place anywhere in the world. We need local people doing the local thing, creating unique foods and new experiences.

Friday, July 25, 2008


I have just returned from a quick turn-around trip to Tulsa to see a friend I met at the Atlanta Fish show back in 2000, who I have not seen in at least 5 years. I am beginning to believe that Tulsa is a city into which you cannot ever set foot in twice. Am of course referencing the Heroclitus notion of never stepping into the same river twice. I have been to (not counting the times I drove through) Tulsa several times and I have never seen the same Tulsa on any two trips. On one I saw old regal ladies (referring to houses here..) which were well maintained, manicured parks and an almost metropolitan feel. This last time, I saw a run down town barely holding its own, if not in outright decay. And these two are merely the two clearest extremes, not the only examples.

Never before have I seen such a different city with each visit Still, I have to admit that Tulsa never fails to be interesting despite being in Oklahoma.

While in Tulsa I had the pleasure of meeting another of the very few artists whose work instantly inspires and evokes hope. He is thus far "undiscovered" but I predict that this will not remain the case for long given the nature of his abstracts and color choices. Much of the work I truly enjoyed was layered abstracts with allusions which would fit well in progressive collections, or on progressive albums. Not sure what the artist (whose name I will give later) would think of this reference, though he too saw the connection to the artwork on one of the old Asimov book covers and one of his own pieces (though this was not the inspiration).

The rest of the short trip was spent in hopefully mild banter with a rabid leftist who briefly sang a union song, only to be reminded that it is solely because of unions that GM may cease to exist... :)

The time spent with my friend I went to visit went well. It is very good in this time of change to be reminded that some aspects of my life are stable even in troubled waters, or upon challenging paths. This particular friend shares a passion for the music of Fish and Marillion, a true rarity it seems. This music has helped us both in important times and we have been fortunate enough to share two concert experiences, though the last in two separate locations.

One of the more unexpected elements of this trip was the presence of what I can only call smog or haze all across southern Kansas and north central Oklahoma. Never was I without the grey haze that one expects to see in population centers, but not out on the desolate prairie. I am not sure what to make of this, other than to be saddened by the loss of perhaps the only redeeming quality of this flatland: the open clear skies with endless horizons..

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I cannot claim to have gotten any rest, but I have been busy

I've spent the better part of the week I've been here working on demolition, design, and some remodeling of my mother's home. The short list so far includes removing a hearth, scraping down three popcorn ceilings, completely removing the sheetrock from the library ceiling, removing all of the bookcases in the library, adding new door knobs (lever/paddle type) to several rooms, replacing several light fixtures, hanging a new ceiling fan, and painting walls and ceilings.

I've also designed a mantle and hearth-shelf with wood storage underneath for the fireplace (obviously) and a new coffered ceiling for the library along with completely new custom built in bookcases. Tomorrow will bring the installation of the ceiling, which will be a chore, but result in what I believe is a truly elegant if unexpected ceiling in the space. The objective is to turn the space into an English library..

Several other folks have asked for help, advice, and my services while I am here so with luck I will be able to add at least a little to my nest egg for the homestead to be built in a few more months..

In the meantime I am planning a side trip to Tulsa next week, and hopefully this weekend go see the caravan I will soon own..

Thursday, July 10, 2008

First of many stops

Well I have left Texas, perhaps for the last time in my life. I cannot say that it was all good or all bad, but it was a time of some contemplation and remembrances. I have spent a greater portion of my life in Texas than I have spent in any other place. I truly appreciate and enjoy the entire Texas mystique and myth, still it was time for a move.

So now I find myself in the center of the contiguous US... I will spend some time here in KS working on the homes of relatives and friends before moving on to the next stop over. During that time, I expect to make at least a couple of side trips to see other friends, so the travels continue even within the larger picture of the larger trip/move.

For now I am exhausted and tired of moving boxes. I sincerely hope to unload about a third of what I still had when leaving Texas, here in KS. With any luck by the time I reach my new homestead come next spring, I will have managed to reduce my possessions still more, to the point of having only the essentials. "Simplify, simplify, simplify" shall be my motto for some months to come.

TO all who have been wondering, rest assured I have arrived safely and will get to some sort of routine in a few days when I have recovered from this first stage of moving. I hope to tell a bit about the journey up here and post a photo or two once I am rested.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On losing weight.

Some have noticed that Fish is a lot lighter in the new pic. I mentioned this to him, to get the following diet plan:

"Lot's of sex and lots of stress. You should try it"

All I need now is a "diet buddy" :)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Colorado cruising, Boulder bravado, and other Fishiness

I am back from heading out to Colorado to see the Fish show in Boulder as well as paint the home of a friend who I had not seen in at least 11 years.

I headed out on Sunday with a good friend to drive to Denver in one day, about 15 hours of driving though quite a few varying landscapes. The panhandle is as flat as a pancake griddle, but in my book less appealing..

Fortunately New Mexico brought us volcanoes and antelope to gaze out as we passed at 70mph. Once in Colorado the limit increased to 75 making short work of souther Colorado as we drove up the east side of the Rockies. We arrived just as the sun was setting on a very long day of driving. I met with Alice, a friend I had not seen in what we figured to be about 11 years. Good to see her after so long. Her husband and I hit it off and she has done well by her kids. I am quite pleased for her.

Monday brought us run arounds as I tried to find a mere 13 gallons of Manor Hall paint with which to paint her house. Apparently no one in Denver has ever used more than 10 gallons of paint at a time! Pittsburgh Paints needs to drop every single one of their dealers in the Denver area!

Tuesday came early as I was already painting as of 6:30 am. Sam and I managed to complete the house in two days, which is near a record for me for a house of that size. Alice and Rich are pleased, so all is well.

Wednesday after finishing up the house, Alice took me up into the mountains above Boulder to meet a frienf of hers and to give him an estimate on doing his house. Lovely location, with only one truly high side to the house. Thursday we were back up in the mountains for a quick trip to Estes and general tour of Rocky Mountain National Park. The wind was unbelievable, so we only managed a very short walk up to a lake, through some remaining snow, and then back to the car where a short while later we found ourselves in the middle of a snow storm.

We arrived back in Boulder at the Sink around 4:30 to grab a bite to eat before the pre-gig meet and greet with Fish.

Sam arrived after we had eaten and with minimal fuss we switched over my bags so that he and I could head over to his Aunt's place after the show with the idea that we could leave earlier in the morning that way. A rushed good bye to Alice and her kids, and back into the Sink for the pre-gig. Spent some time with other fans finding out that many drove up from various parts of Texas, with Sam and I being the far reaching Texans coming from Austin. With little warning and less fanfare, Fish arrived sitting down at our table. Apart from one obnoxious "fan" who tried to monopolize Fish, even to the point of Fish telling him to shut up and let him (Fish) ask a question, it was an almost surreal experience. Fish and I got into a great discussion about his greenhouse and various veg that we are growing. I was fortunate to have about an hour and a half of his time, interupted only by other fans getting autographs and having pics taken. Time came for him to take off to get some dinner before the show, and so I took the opportunity to pick up the tickets I had bought weeks previously on the net. Returning from getting them, coming downhill, I passed Fish coming uphill. Or I would have passed him except that he stopped me to comment on a gardening topic, and then the show. Another handshake and we went our ways.

A quick bite of dinner for Sam, one beer for me, then we took off to walk the CU campus before heading back to wait for the doors to open at the Fox theater. After many contradictory instructions from the theater folks, the doors finally opened. A quick run to the merch table I picked up a couple of shirts, a 13th Star cd for Sam, and a Return to Childhood DVD and CD for myself. I spent more than I normally would, but then it is the merch which is paying for this tour, and it will be the merch which will determine if there is a return leg in North America.

The show was beyond expectations and defied predictions as to the set list. Fish played almost all of Clutching at Straws, an album that I never expected to hear live, as well as the new CD. Friendly crowd, and inspiring performance led to a night which will always rank as one of the best I have experienced. More than a concert this was a happening. an event, a shared experience.

After the show we headed to Morrison CO to rest for the night, then slowly got on the road in the morning for a drive which seemed at least twice as long as coming up. Thankfully it was uneventful, and about 16 hours later I pulled into my drive, and quickly headed off to bed.

Now begins the last dash of packing for the initial stages of my 9 month rambling in the process of moving. It seems likely that another trip out to Denver may well happen as well, so stay tuned..

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The first nail in the coffin..

We frequently hear that old cliche "the last nail in the coffin" and it certainly has its place, but some recent events got me to thinking: "What about all of the rest of those nails?"

A group of which I was a part until recently has a few members who appear to be dead set upon killing the organization through bullying, intimidation, and by shutting off all discussion of issues. Now you are probably saying to yourself: "yeah, what's new" and you could not possibly be blamed for thinking this way since this sort of behavior shows up all too often especially given the move to organizations being predominantly on the internet. Still, we should not be so jaded as to be unwilling or unable to recognize such individuals exist and are a very serious problem for any organization in which they are allowed to run wild.

But that said, I would not call the existence of such persons the first nail in the coffin, because after all usually mild control used by the administration will keep such bullies in check. No, the first nail in the coffin for any such organization is when the administration opts to support such individuals and their behavior. This is the first and perhaps strongest nail.

Such is what has happened recently to one of my favorite organizations. One individual in particular took to using personal attacks and insults which were overlooked by even the ones attacked for the sake of the organization, but sadly also by the administration whose sole purpose for existing is to prevent such activity. Still, mature individuals can live with a bit of this uncivil and uncouth behavior, though of course we should never be asked to do so.

No, the problem arises when the administration then lashes out at the behest of such uncivil dishonest individuals at those who dare to not kowtow to those individuals. The moderator who chooses not to moderate, but rather to be the weapon of the uncivil and dishonest, is the first nail in the coffin of any such forum, and eventually the organization if no changes occur.

The one remarkable element of this particular case is that the reasons cited, and the posts which were used as excuse for this use of force, simply called for civility as a necessary element of honest intellectual discussion. It was not the insults and personal attacks which the moderator took issue with, but rather with the requests for calm, civility and honest discussion.

The organization? Kitchen Gardeners International. The immoderate moderator? Roger Doiron. The idea upon which this organization was started was a good one, the behaviors endorsed, celebrated, and promoted abhorrent. To all of my fellow gardeners, whose love of growing one's own food is strong, do not be fooled into giving to this organization, for if they will actively lie to founding members and engage in direct personal attacks, certainly their objectives are not those shared by all who have a love of gardening.

This first nail, is but one of many to come, and I can only hope that a honest, civil, reasonable group of individuals survives to take up the idea of spreading the love of kitchen gardening but leave behind all of this nastiness, dishonesty, and antagonism to civility which now is so celebrated by this organization, its founder, and the sad scared individuals who choose to attack others instead of discussing issues like adults.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

One step closer

This weekend I will experience the shift of mine to yours... I am adding some of my stuff to a garage sale of a friend. It will be interesting to see what is valued by the near random sampling of people who happen to come by.

Most of my clothes are boxed up now, trinkets gone through, and wheat separated from chaff.

So what will I really be leaving behind? Well the easy and just shy of glib response is "my past," but this is too quick despite the degree of truth in it. I am leaving behind myself in some ways. I am leaving behind a comfortable, relatively easy (by my own standards) life, full of fine wines, very nice scotch, even wonderful bourbon, aged cheeses, delicacies I never imagined I would enjoy. I have managed to find myself wined at the finest homes worth more than I ever thought to earn myself, yet without me they would not be the homes that they are. They would be less regal, less comfortable, and less an expression of the spirits of the homeowners. I leave behind customers who are much more than customers, even though perhaps not quite friends in the conventional sense yet still quite important.

I leave behind the hidden spy holes into lives I will never lead nor fully understand, but which I can still appreciate. I leave behind much of the association with the movers and shakers, though I was never really one with or of them.

I leave behind the rugged beauty of a landscape which shapes the people even more than the people shape it. I leave behind the sweet and savory prickly pear, the crooked and stately live oak, the heat and heart of the the real Texas, the only place I ever felt at home as a child, as well as much of my adult life.

I leave behind an era of my life. I leave behind my business time. It was here alone that I truly tried my hand at business, to some degree of success. It was here that I was convinced to create a corporation, and here that I abandoned that corporation as inappropriate for me, to discover that my business is my own knowledge and experience. I created my remodeling and design company which has provided me great rewards, only some of which has been financial. Most times the rewards came in the faces of those who saw their dreams and desires given life in their own homes, sometimes even better than they dreamed. This is not a trivial thing to leave behind me, but I leave knowing that a great deal of joy can be found in my footsteps on this limestone laden land. Leaving more than footprints is good.

I am not crowing about my accomplishments, merely examining the reflection I see looking back at me. Mostly good, but not without flaws. That is what I leave behind but what do I take with me?

Experience, knowledge, and hope are the easy answers, but surely there is more. I take with me a greater understanding a appreciation for the land and the seasons, which I believe can only come from living where life is not easy. I take with me the beauty of the struggle to live, to survive where life is not given half a chance.

I take with me the friendships I have been privileged to enjoy from the happenstance of time and location, combined with the intention and deliberate nature of each of us. The individuals may stay here for now, but they remain with me as well. My door will always be open to them, and I expect that they will one day join me again even if not in location. These ties will not be broken by the miles or by whatever flag is waved on the pole.

On the same note, I know that I am severing many social ties which are more like anchors than buoys. People to whom I am polite, but who add nothing to my life, yet I still feel the social pressure to tolerate and associate with. I leave behind the expectations of specific others in this regard, while realizing that new expectations will arise, though hopefully less binding ones.

As is clearly evident, I have not central point in this posting, rather I am simply revealing some thoughts I have had about this decision and this choice. While I am clearly of mixed emotion on it, rest assured that I know that this is the right move for me now. The mixing of emotion comes from the respect of what I have experienced, the love of the land here, and the appreciation of the people who have helped shape my life while here. This is merely a glance back, probably not the last, at what it is that I am not choosing at this time. It is a grateful look at what has been, at part of what has made me the me of today.

It is the beginning of a thank you which may never be fully spelled out, but is none the less for that.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Reducing the load (Pt 2)

How many clothes do you have? Have you really thought about this? When was the last time any of us actually went through every item we own with a critical eye?

Well this is how I spent a portion of my day today. I have never been a fashionista, or a clothes horse, but even after getting rid of a good amount of clothes over the last couple of years, when I went through my closets and dressers, I found that I still have many more than I need. So, as many as possible are going away to hopefully serve someone else well.

With this, packing is progressing fairly well, though slowly. I have ended up with more books than I really wanted to move, but I just cannot see getting rid of those I have packed to move with me. I still have probably three or four boxes of books left to pack yet, but they are essentials which I will access even during the transition time.

On a different note, I have begun using up my Freebird's credits.. two shirts and five burrito's later, I still have almost two burrito's worth left to spend before I leave. Strange to think that I will have to leave behind Freebird's.

The schedule for the last of the work here in town is starting to come together. as of now, I believe that I have four jobs to knock out, plus some work on the house I am living in right now before I leave. Not a bad load given that I will be in Colorado for a week in the middle of June.

So for today, no profound insights, not epiphanies, just the mundane aspects of leaving behind one place to start out on a new path. They say that the waiting is the hardest part, and right now this seems to be true. I would almost rather be on the move, than wait for that time to come.. Still, I have learned, or at least I am trying to remember, that wishing time to pass is one of the most foolish wishes we can make. So I will appreciate where I am while I am.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Reducing the load

The first step on this particular journey is to reduce my possessions. I have alluded to this, but I am going to briefly explore some of the steps taken. Today for instance I went through my CD collection and reluctantly removed all of the jewel cases, choosing to put each insert and CD into a large CD folder. At the same time I chose several CD's which I could live without and set them aside to sell. What surprised me is that with the CD folder, I honestly saved only about 20-30% of the space that CDs with jewel cases takes up. Still, it is admittedly more organized and easier to move this way.

I am still going through my books trying to filter out any that I will not use in the future. This is a real challenge as there are some books which I suspect that I will read when I get to that point where I have more time on my hands and no idiot box with Tivo to distract me. Still, some the more esoteric philosohy books, all of the russian language books, and some of the sci-fi can go by the wayside now.

I have separated the clothes in my closet into those which I can discard and those which I should keep. This was far easier than either of the other two things. I should be able to cut the clothing mass in about half. Fortunately I just do not need much in the way of clothing since I am not one to follow the trends.

I am planning on leaving or selling all of my gardening equipment and buy new when I get to my final destination. These things are just too bulky to transport all across the nation. So too with most of my work equipment. I will keep some of the smaller and specialized tools and equipment, but most of the saws and other larger equipment will all go into the sell pile.

The kitchen supplies will be limited to many cast iron pans and dutch ovens, in fact more than I truly need, but I will confess a love of cast iron both for its use in cooking as well as the general aesthetic of the material. Besides, they last forever and do not lose their value! Other than this, a few special glasses, a few utensils, and a four place set of dishes I picked up 7 years ago which is still packed all nice and neatly in the box. Anything else I need I can pick up inexpensively either on the road or when I get to where I am going.

What more is there? I am sure a great deal and the next couple of months will reveal the form this other takes..

Great news!

I just got off the phone with the current owner of what will be my new caravan! It is a 1974 Golden Falcon of good size (not sure exactly how long) which currently rests in Wichita Kansas. This works out great as it saves me from hauling a trailer up to Kansas. This I suspect saves me close to $100 in gas alone!

So though I will not take possession for a couple of months, I have a portable shelter which will play the role of home for the next clost to a year at least..

Friday, April 18, 2008

Brand new travels-radical changes afoot

After quite a long hiatus, I am back to blogging about traveling. To make up for this, I have a few very interesting events which will change this blog permanently.

The first is that in just over two months I will be traveling indefinitely. Yes you read that right, I am going on the road, leaving behind any semblence of a home. No longer will I have a Texas base, nor will I have any other base for the foreseeable future. This came about from a lost lease and the desire to leave the US, the former playing a far larger role than the latter.

The first step in this process, after the initial shock wore off, was to start shedding my possessions. I have learned a little from my last two major moves, that it is very easy to accumulate too much stuff, and moving in more than one trip in the truck is a serious problem when the distance is great. When the ultimate distance is unknown as it is now, this is a fatal problem so I must shed enough of my possessions that I can fit the remainder in the truck.  This is an ongong process and one which has caused me to make the ultimate sacrifice: I am selling and giving away many of my books. Some people have photo albums and mementos to record the passage of their life, I have books. Still, there are only so many I can take.

The next step was to find a travel trailer (caravan! I really do prefer the British term!!), motor home, or some other sort of portable living arrangement. I hope that I have done this. I have not see the caravan yet, but I have talked to the owner who is a friend of a friend, and it seems like it will be more than sufficient. To make matters even better it is already at the first stop on my travels: Wichita Kansas. Okay, that is really the second stop..

The first stop will be in Colorado. I had already begun planning a trip to Colorado to see the Scottish poet and singer Fish, when I was told that I was going to lose my lease. I am fortunate to know some folks in the area, and so I will be staying there for about a week, doing some work to pay for the trip (and hopefully more, like a website for my portfolio) and enjoying the company of friends left too long unvisited.

Then I am off to Wichita where I will stay for some indefinite amount of time, doing work for friends and family. Once I decide to leave, I may well be heading to Arkansas, or Indiana, or perhaps somewhere else.. that decision will wait until it is necessary to make it.

What is my ultimate goal? Well this is a broad question, and the answer no less so. I expect to relocate out of the US to a wonderful farm in Canada, but I am not forcing the issue. I hope to gain a more free wheeling spirit while on the road. Letting myself go where the winds take me or where I see something of interest will be a welcome if uncomfortable learning experience. I keep going back to a phrase I first listened to from a philosophy professor at WSU, then heard from the source (Kris Kristoferson, via Janis Jopin (via David Soles)) Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. Over the years of studying liberty and justice, I have come to believe that there are two ways to be free, to be in control of all (this might not be freedom after all) or to be without that which others value. I have chosen this latter path for myself and this journey upon which I am about to embark is a major reflection of this.

If nothing else I shall learn and experience. I promise to try to be as free as possible and to welcome opportunites as they arise, whether in person, from this blog, or from any other source. So with that I welcome comments, suggestions, ideas, or whatever comes to mind.

In the coming weeks I will explore the changes I will have to make in order to be prepared for this unique and exciting journey.