Monday, October 29, 2007

The Outer and Inner Wilds

These pictures are from the top of Mount Osceola in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As you can tell, the leaves have gone past their prime, particularly this high up (Osceola tops 4000 feet). The views were wonderful, nonetheless, taking in a wide swath of rugged terrain from the Southern White Mountains and the Lake District to the Presidentials to the north, where the highest peaks disappeared into distant clouds. From the picture of Chris and Anne, my fellow hikers, you can also tell that it was cold up there! We were pretty well decked out from the start, but of course the 3+ mile hike up got our furnaces going and we were quite comfortable until we finally stopped got to the top. The fierce winds up there promptly had us grabbing for every article of clothing we had stuffed in our backpacks, and even so, after we finished our peanut butter sandwiches and snickers bars, we didn't linger for very long. Even on the nicest of days, weather in the Whites can be challenging.

On another note, I just watched the movie Grizzly Man. This is a documentary film put together by Werner Herzog from footage shot by Timothy Treadwell over the course of several summers he spent observing and filming grizzly bears in Alaska. Timothy had a unique and very intimate relationship with the bears he spent so much time in close proximity to, and ultimately he was killed and eaten by a bear, along with his girlfriend. I'm still not completely sure what I think or what I want to say about this film, which is certainly some testament to its power. It is a very moving film, and startling as well, bringing out many conflicting feelings and ideas through the course of its hour and 45 minutes. Even as I had to acknowledge that I thought Mr. Treadwell was seriously unbalanced and courting disaster, there were many scenes of uncanny beauty and powerful, genuine displays of emotion and love. Ultimately, as is the case with many Herzog films, this was more a film of the inner wilds of the human mind and heart, here shown through the fierce search and self-deceptions of a very troubled but genuine and kind, if not completely harmless, person. Complexities abound. Highly recommended.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Did I see you on TV?

Well, here I am watching the start of Game 2 of the World Series, reflecting lucking into a ticket for Game 1 last night and watching the Red Sox thoroughly demolish the Colorado Rockies by the score of 13-1. I think it's fair to say the fabled momentum of the Rockies ran into a brick wall. Tonight, of course, is a whole new ball game, metaphorically and literally. Anything can happen, but it's hard to look at the Red Sox lineup and come away without confidence.
My cousin Nik's husband Eric got a couple of tickets through his work, and was generous enough to bring me along. All he got in return was a short night's rest on the cushions of my old, shabby couch. I suppose I'll be in his debt for quite a while.
The game itself was a blast. Not the kind of game you'll see highlights of for years or decades to come, no last minute heroics (Carlton Fisk waving his long ball fair), no fights, no pitcher's duel, just a sound beating. Beckett was lights out from the start and we had the game well in hand by the third beyond reach by the end of the fifth. But there's a great energy to a post-season game like this, and excitement and a lingering sense that anything could happen, even when it clearly can't.
I think the most entertaining thing last night was the comically intoxicated guy sitting to my right who mercilessly heckled the Rockie's right fielder Hawpe all night. "Hawpe, get a job!" "You're a loser, Hawpe!" and some language I'd rather not repeat. Then, in the eighth inning when Hawpe caught a routine fly ball, he yelled "Nice catch, buddy!" in what sounded like a genuine tone of voice. This guy also continued to heckle the Rockie's pitcher Francis two innings after he had been replaced by Morales. Ahhh, the Boston Fenway experience.
Now we're down 1-0 in the second inning, J.D. Drew is on first and Varitek is up, and I'll leave it at that.
Go Sox.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dribs, drabs and one bad poem

I've just begun a full week's vacation, and in the modern 5 days on 2 days off workweek that means 9 days. And with no travel plans or any kind of obligation, really, that seems like a lot of time on this side of the fence. Of course, on the other side, next weekend, say, it'll seem like it's coming to it's conclusion all too soon, and I'll be frantically trying to relax with superhuman zeal in order to stretch the time and feel ready for another couple of months before my next break.

No travel plans or obligations doesn't mean I don't hope to accomplish something. Many of you who read this know that I have been working on a novel for a couple of years, and that after a very productive first year and a completed first draft I have lost a lot of my forward momentum. Revising is a bear, and my full work schedule, distractable nature and writer's block has made what I hope is a temporary mockery of my writerly aspirations. However, I have been brainstorming and plotting a little more productively lately and have re-started my second draft in a more promising and exciting way. This week I hope to really get a large, significant chunk done on my second draft and leave the week with it progressing fluidly and a daily writing habit back in place.

I was thinking of trying to incorporate some of this ongoing project of mine into this blog, but I'm not really sure how I would do that in a meaningful way, and especially in a way that readers would enjoy. Everything would be in a constant state of flux anyway; it's not like I would even have it in some kind a state where it would be readable in a serialized format. I am hoping, however, as a way to mix things up a bit and keep myself from burning out and stalling, to work on some writing exercises and maybe some short fiction and even poetry along with my ongoing work on the book, and if any of these things bear fruit maybe I'll share them. Or even if they're no good, maybe I'll share them anyway just to give you an idea of what I'm doing. Or maybe I'll get sidetracked yet again by birdwatching or fiddling or cross-country skiing or rehabilitating 1950's muscle cars or whatever and forget all about this.

Other than that, I'm still working on my little course of study on farming and permaculture, and am almost through with the book on cheese.

As a goodwill gesture, I'll give you a poem I worked a year ago for inclusion in my book, ostensibly as the lyric to a song that a character was singing. It's pretty bad, I think. It was an attempt to write something in the style of Schubert's more fantastical songs, such as Der Erlkonig (whose lyrics were by Goethe), but has nothing of the tension, dread and imaginative voicing of that work. Anyway, here it is:

Who rises high o’er the barren fields?
To search the sky, heaven’s vast shield?
‘Tis the moon, Selene, her eyes alight
Night’s wave of stars within her sight

Searching, searching those deeps, so high
Through thousand eons in the sky
The darkened earth both cold and warm
Turns endlessly in her arms

Through thickest forest and shadow hills
His steed rides ‘cross the night’s bone chill
A hundred beasts fly in his wake
His face a blackened helm of demon’s make

Spied dreaming Selene, her wide white face
And spurred his horse to pace
Her steady flight o’er shriven ground
The hunt commenced without a sound

The starlit void misled her gaze
Her eyes lost, through infinite maze
Turns hallowed sight to fallow earth
And hollow hope for lover’s search

Beyond forest, ‘cross barrow downs
Within lost, rising, encircling mounds
A pool of silver, deepest glass
Spied dreaming face of love at last

She slowed her flight to match the turning
Face below, eyes yearning, burning
Eyes met, pale stone bridge of desire
Born of inner heart, red fire

Iron hunter leapt into the air
And climbed each incandescent stair
He drew his bow and arrow wide
As he drew close to end his ride

But lifting from the unguous murk
Of lake’s bottomless mud-black lurk
A shambles rose, with one great eye
Saw haloed goddess in the sky

Rose to break its highest ceiling
And shattered highest love’s reflection
She blinked, and cried a broken sound
Selene’s long bridge of love came down

Who rises high o’er the barren fields?
To search the sky, heaven’s vast shield?
‘Tis the moon, Selene, her eyes alight
Night’s wave of stars within her sight


Friday, October 12, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me

For today is my birthday that is what I've been told
What a wonderful birthday I am one more year old
On the cake there'll be candles all lighted for me
And the whole world is singing...
Happy Birthday to Me!

Thirty-eight years old today.

Live long and prosper!

Love to all,

Monday, October 08, 2007


Though the pleasures of Spring and Summer have grown on me over the years, Fall is and always has been my favorite season of the year. Winter I enjoy for the spectacle and surreal beauty of snow and the bracing energy I feel walking around, fully bundled, in the cold dry air. Spring I love for the newness of its life and for the cacophonous migrations and dense, complex music of birds. Summer is that lazy break, staring at the sea while hot winds flow and juicy vegetables grow. But Fall I love mostly for itself, its inner spirit and the air that surrounds and seeps, the smell and spooks of October and the knowing maturity of November, the leafy colors that turn, red, orange, yellow, brown, black, with the even pace of my own steps until I'm waiting, ready for that first fall of snow.

These pictures were taken during a camping and hiking trip to the October Mountain State Forest, of the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, with my friends Anne, Chris, Michelle, Karen and Katy. My apologies to Chris, Michelle, and Katy who are unforgivably not pictured, as my picture taking skills seemed to lack some consistency this weekend, and many of my shots were hopelessly blurred.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Dark Star, Star Trek and Burma

I'm sitting here in my apartment, listening to, of all things, a recording of the Grateful Dead from 1970 that I just downloaded from Itunes. Listening to, specifically, that night's wonderful, slippery, genuinely moving workout of their psychadelic classic 'Dark Star'. This makes me think of my freshman year in college, when I used to wander the basement corridors of Barrett Hall listening to endless renditions of this and of Dead favorites seeping out from underneath doors and through windows, candles lit and smoke drifting til late late in the evening hours.

What is this song about? "Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes.Reason tatters, the forces tear loose from the axis. Searchlight casting for faults in the clouds of delusion. Shall we go, you and I while we can Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds? Mirror shatters in formless reflections of matter.Glass hand dissolving to ice petal flowers revolving.Lady in velvet recedes in the nights of good-bye.Shall we go, you and I while we can Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?" I have no idea, but it's opening imagery, the evocative paradox of the title, and the drifting, empty melodies serve to suspend me in some beautiful, forgotten corner of distant space.

And what about outer space? A nice segueway- with my crazy-busy month earnings I bought myself a present - the complete third season of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation', and was pleasantly surprised to find myself genuinely moved to tears by the first epsiode I chose to watch, 'Who Watches the Watchers?'. In particular, a scene where Captain Picard brings a member of an intelligent, pre-industrial race of people up to his ship. Her people have been accidentally exposed to his crew and begin to believe that they are gods, and he has an interesting, discourse with her explaining who they are and where they came from in order to prevent them from descending into superstitious nonsense. I know it just cements my reputation as a geek, but there's nothing like watching a bunch of good-willed fellows exploring the galaxy and making friends with aliens to make me feel good about my fellow human beings, hopeful for their redemption, their inner beauty and their better instincts.

Which brings me to Burma, Myanmar, which has been much on my mind lately, as my sister Meghan and her husband Todd are over there experiencing, well, what exactly I don't know. Internet service has been largely cut off, and there are few if any foreign journalists there and limited ability for the Burmese to report on exactly what has been happening. Official government reports list nine fatalities, some web sites report probably thousands, a bloodbath. There is no undue reason as of yet to fear for my sister, she is not involved with the protests and she is careful and smart, and the Burmese, aside from their military and their leaders, are a very peaceful (and unarmed) people.

What direction now? What to hope for? A slow, peaceful transition to a democratic process of governence, of course.

May all beings have peace and joy in their lives.