Saturday, June 23, 2012


"In the end, for all our differences and conflicts, most women and men share the same food, work, shelter, bed, life, joy, anguish, and fate. We Need each other." Ed Abbey

And so it is Summer. And Joni and I don't have the girls for the next two months. Generally, we've spent most of our time sleeping, taking naps and then going to bed. It is quiet. We take walks together. Our newest dog, Little One, managed to find and kill another skunk on our walk last evening.

I spent the day today building a new dog run in the yard. (Get that smelly dog outside!)

We are using this childless time to make some weighty decisions. Joni's back has deteriorated over the last couple of years. She was able to manage much of her pain with an opiate but then she started developing cardiac problems from this drug. We've tried many other pain medications--done almost everything, but her pain, and level of functioning, continues to worsen. We are using this time to talk with surgeons to see if Joni might be helped by going under the knife. We met with one surgeon yesterday, only to find out that he can't do that particular sugery in northern Calilfornia.  Unfortunately, with our insurance, the only place Joni can have this complicated of a surgery is in two hospitals in Los Angeles. Joni will have to fly down there for those appointments.

We are doing the research and weighing the pros and cons. We are talking to all the utilization review people at two different insurance companies. Talking to case managers.

And so my trip just might be on hold. If Joni decides to have the surgery, I will have to fore go a hike this year to take care of her following her rather extensive recovery. Doesn't matter; it is all good.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Lazy Boy

"As a confirmed melancholic, I can testify that the best and maybe only antidote for melancholia is action. However, like most melancholics, I suffer also from sloth." Ed Abbey

Joni and I now have our very own separate Lazy Boy chairs. After nine years, we have finally arrived in that state of bliss where each of us can lounge in comfort. You see, we used to have just the blue one on the left. It was always an act of love to give up the "good chair" for the other member of the household. Now we each have our own ($20 at the thrift store---a major score on Joni's part).

Okay, so this isn't a training reference. I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm mostly just gonna suffer on the trail. At least I have a nice place to lounge while I contemplate the need to train.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sleepless in St. Helena

That which today calls itself science gives us more and more information, and indigestible glut of information, and less and less understanding.” Edward Abbey

I've been at work the last three days and haven't done much of anything but show up for work. I've been reading "The Hunger Games" which has kept me up much too late at night. The hospital maintenance staff, for some reason, has decided to use those leaf blowers on the parking lot, early in the morning, even though it is spring and there is not a leaf to be seen anywheres. I don't know why they have decided that 6:00 am is a good time to turn on these jet engines. Loud! Probably because there isn't anybody parked in the parking lot at that time. But who can sleep through such racket?

Part of me suspects that the maintenance staff enjoys the early morning solitude. The early start to the day. It is a most delightful time of the day in the Napa Valley, as the fog sallies up the valley and the air is moist, smells of the ocean and cool.

The building I stay in comes to life about 6 am. That's when doors start banging, showers are taken in the communal shower and the day shift takes the short cut through this building, past my room, taking the elevator which was invented when soft shutting elevator doors weren't invented. All of this to spare themselves a 100 yard walk around the building. The room I stay in is next to these elevator doors that sound like the drums of Mordor when they shut.

If I'm not sleeping, I know the patients aren't. It's hard enough to get sleep in a hospital, what with the poking and the prodding (lab draws start at 5:00 am) so that the doctors can get the information by their 7 am rounds. Healthcare is often more important to the practitioners than it is to the patients.

And so I'm quite exhausted. Feeling droopy. Ready to get home so that I can get some sleep. Back to Concow tonight---where Joni tells me we've had a chicken apocalypse. The coyotes ate 7 of our 11 chickens the other night.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Weed Whacking...

"One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain't nothin' can beat teamwork." Edward Abbey

Spent the day weed whacking. This end of Spring ritual which takes the better part of a few days work. The nice thing about California is, unlike most other places in the US, once you've weed whacked the yard, your mowing is done for the year. I mow/weed whack once a year.

Friday, June 8, 2012

On Foot

 “A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.” 
Edward Abbey

Down the canyon again, through the burned section, down to the tree. Training for this here 150 mile hike. Dogs in tow. Fun!

This is cheap entertainment. Good for both canine and human. No gym membership required. No special equipment needed other than a decent pair of shoes. All that is needed is a couple of workable legs and a set of eyes that can still see ruts, snakes and other perils.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


"The earth is not a mechanism but an organism, a being with its own life and its own reasons, where the support and sustenance of the human animal is incidental. If man in his newfound power and vanity persists in the attempt to remake the planet in his own image, he will succeed only in destroying himself — not the planet. The earth will survive our most ingenious folly." EA

It has been a bad year for the Mariposa lilies. I've seen a few here and there, but for the most part, very few have bloomed thus far. A strange year. When I look back at other journals, I see that since I've lived here, the Mariposas have bloomed as early as April 22. Another year they bloomed on Memorial Day weekend. So, perhaps, we are just a little behind this year.

I took a strenuous hike down the canyon with my dogs. My herd of canines. My pack. It is time to get serious about training for this here march I've decided to take. Gonna have to shed some weight; go on a diet. Quit my affection for the best, most politically correct burger, fries and shake on the West Coast: In/Out.

Two months until Abbey the dog and I head out.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Skunks and Meaning...

"The world is what it is, no less and no more, and therein lies its entire and sufficient meaning." Edward Abbey

The last day of school. Back at the farm.

I took the dogs for a walk before dinner. While walking a woods loop, the new dog I call "Little One" wandered off and started barking in earnest. Then she came running back. A bit of mist encircled her, and then, that lovely odor of skunk. She didn't get a direct hit; just enough to give her a bit of aroma.

I kind of like the smell of skunk. In small doses. When we got home, Joni juiced some hothouse tomatoes (and added basil). We soaked Little One in the juice, washed her off. Other friends had other remedies in mind. The tomato juice worked. All is well. All smell fine.

Which brings me back to Abbey and the quote above. More and more I agree with him that all we need, in fact, all we will ever have, is right in front of us. This planet, this life, this rock, this house, this skunk smell---forget the guru on the hill, the mystic in the Los Angeles Mall, the ever present search for immortality. All we need is here. Let's not screw it up.

So does that mean we don't need spirituality, a "heavenly Father", a Nirvana, Jungian synchronicity? Questions. I'm not ready to abandon a greater possibility---but I do think that it distracts from living our life here. Now.


"Truth is always the enemy of power. And power the enemy of truth." Edward Abbey

Well, that election had all the satisfaction of expecting a stay at the Four Seasons and ending up with a room at the Motel 6. What did we learn? That money and populism works in Wisconsin.

Locally, our Assembly District 1 guy, Robert Meacher, came ever so close to making it on to the ballot. Despite no money and very little name recognition, Meacher did a good job of defining what it means to be a rural Democrat. In fact, if the Greens in the district (who got 6 percent of the vote) jumped on board Meacher's common sense environmentalism, Meacher would have made the ballot. When are the Enviros gonna learn the lesson of 2000? And so now we have a choice between a very right wing Bosetti and a lesser right wing Dahle who is staunchly anti-choice. Both of them will sell their souls to Sierra Pacific.

Robert Meacher won in Butte County, thanks to some awesome writing by Jaime O'Neill and a campaign appearance by Meacher where he wowed the crowd.

Charles Rouse came in second in Assembly District 3. A good thing. We now have a soft spoken Anti-Logue candidate. Speak softly and carry some Rationality.

And we can take a whole lot of satisfaction that Sam Aanestad finished with only 14 percent of the vote. The one poll that was taken by La Malfa showed Aanestad and La Malfa  ahead of the Democrat Jim Reed about a month ago. After Aanestad got a bit of exposure on just how vapidly creepy he is, he dropped ten points.

And so we toil on in our silly corner of the State. When I was a young man, I had the opportunity to ask Petra Kelly, the great Green leader who helped found the Green Party in Germany, some sort of high falutin question that had no basis in political reality. I forget now what the question was, but I will always remember her answer: "Are you kidding? You'll be lucky to stop Fascism in the United States, that's your battle". I think she was right.

I remain convinced that our area is evolving. We aren't as hatefully right wing as our reputation. We just need to keep showing up and speaking out.

Onward shipmates!

Saturday, June 2, 2012


"There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California." Edward Abbey

I love California. Especially northern California. Good ole Ed made fun of California a whole lot; he used to call it "Californication". But I love it here. And I intend to stay here.

Mountains and Napa Valley wine. San Francisco, which is a city that is unlike any other--where you can hang out in bars that the two Jacks (London and Kerouac) used to get hammered in. You have the beauty of the ocean. Fresh seafood! Towering Mount Shasta. Mt. Lassen. The Sierra. Deserts. Agriculture. Fresh citrus. Bigfoot. Gold towns. Ghost towns. The Pacific flyway. Gary Snyder and Jerry Brown.

Almost all the great writers I admire have lived here: Jack London, Gary Snyder, Ed Abbey, Jack Kerouac, Hunter Thompson, Wallace Stegner, Wendell Berry, John Muir, Ken Kesey, Michael Pollan, Joanna Macy--to name a few.

I split my time between the excesses of the Napa Valley and the backwardness of Concow. Enophiles and Foodies versus Rednecks. It is a life of extremes. My off grid ridge versus the estates of movie stars and nutrition bar entrepreneurs. It is a rich life. It is a life of extremes. I like it.

But how is the training coming? Slowly. Steps today; I'm sore.


"Little boys love machines; girls adore horses; grown-up men and women like to walk." Edward Abbey