Everybodys Doing It

EverybodysDoing It1638Bluebird Yellowstone

 

It’s that time of year again. It’s warm out. The rust bucket has been sitting in the driveway all winter and it wants to get out on the road and burn up some of those petro dollars. Places that you’ve been dreaming about all through those long snowy, cold days are softly calling your name and you need a break.

In my case there wasn’t any softly calling business going on. It was flat-out bellering with some high-pitched screams thrown in for good measure. So very shortly I am going to load up my faithful vessel, the 20′  “Bokeh Maru” my new, kind of salty, land yacht, and set sail for points North. Yellowstone, Idaho, parts of Montana are on the agenda and I will join all the other lemmings in their trek to the cliffs edge and get back to work again. I know you guys are tired of me hanging around the house so I get the message. I’m out-a-here for a while.

Just like the Bluebird of Happiness in the image above I’ll be on the road again and just like Jack Kerouac, Charles Kouralt, and Willie I got places to go and people to see. Don’t wait up, I’ll be late.

I will try and post intermittently while I’m off but it will depend on where the Wi-Fi is, and whether I’ve got anything to say, so take some time to search through the archives to see if you missed anything. I’ll be thinking of you.

CloudMaker

CloudMaker4115Cloud Formation Front Range Northern Colorado

 

When Spring slowly morphs into Summer, like a young girl easing into adulthood, there is a certain amount of drama involved. Spring is an awakening and as the days pass and the maturity of Summer beckons the weather patterns change. The gentle spring days with their warm sunshine and gentle rains begins to alter as the new experiences of longer days and the other influences affect her. There is an anxious volatility now and an expression of anticipation and anger and a desire to rush headlong into this new aspect of life.

This is when we get our late Spring storms. Everyday it seems there is a new formation that can range from slowly moving billowing cloud banks to the fierce and violent thunderheads that lash out with lightning and swirling winds and torrents of rain. Tonight we have something in between.

This particular cloud is undecided at the moment. Not sure if it should develop into a full-blown tantrum or simply pout a little before gently dispersing into the night sky. Without the sun to heat it to the boiling point it’s a good bet that this little bit drama will suffice for the day. But there is always tomorrow, when each new day brings new beauty and new experiences. I can’t wait.

 

 

Huge Problem

HugeProblem2660Setting Sun – Coral Sands State Park – Utah

 

Well, our intrepid field researchers have found another huge problem in the Southwest corner of our country. What looks like a pretty, calendar-worthy shot of the desert hides the fact that there is a huge freaking problem developing that could have a major impact on many aspects of our lives. The Institute, being in the forefront of identifying non-threatening, minor situations and blowing them completely out of proportion for our own personal gain has found yet one more problem. Just in time too, because the coffers here at the Institute have nearly run dry and we had nothing in the works that we could use to base a grant on, to get some of those tax dollars we work so hard to obtain.

In a nutshell what is happening is that sand, which are tiny particles of gritty stuff, have begun gathering in areas that are hot and hard to get to, and begun to pile on top of each other, over and over, until they make great big piles. That in itself wouldn’t be  a problem if they were quiet and kept to themselves but they don’t. They feel some inexplicable need to go forth and multiply and get in your face. Much like Moonies.

Yes they’re the Hari Krishna of the mineral world. Their agenda, besides world domination, is as yet unclear, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. In fact the insidious nature of their plan is their secret weapon. You might look out and see a small bunch of sand, as they like to call themselves, way off in the distance and when you look back at it several hundred years later, they’re right on your doorstep ready to cover up everything you own in layer upon layer of themselves. Soon you can’t find anything you own. When you look around for it you come to realize its all under there. Where’s the Lexus? you might ask. Under the sand, that’s where, and that’s where it’s going to stay because you can’t shovel fast enough to get it out before more of those little sand things, particles as it were, pile up and slide into where you’ve been digging. You can’t even stop to go in and get a refreshing cold beverage and some lunch and maybe watch the ‘Young and The Restless’, without the sand slithering in and erasing all your hard-won efforts. So soon you give it up for the hopeless task it is, but you’re still going to have to make the payments on that Lexus.

Yes sir, the bank doesn’t care if the sand covered it up. The don’t even care about global warming or the healthcare debacle. They don’t even care about puppies. They’re soul-less. They just want your money. So you can see how this could develop into a monumental problem, what with everybody throwing sand in their neighbors yards, as they try to dig out their own Lexus’s because where else are you going to put it. It’s everywhere, like dry hot snow. Soon there would be anarchy, social unrest, grit between your teeth, insane spending on eye drops. And eventually the breakdown of our social structure. Who wants that, besides certain radical, mean, religious orders that already live in conditions like that and are used to it already.

OK, so you’re getting the picture here of how this problem can cause you personally, a certain amount of inconvenience. But what can we do about it, you ask. The first thing you can do and the most important is to write a huge check made out to The Institute, please include your driver’s license number and home phone on the check, so that we can continue to carry on our important work.

The second thing is to NOT try the method being used by certain governmental agencies to try and contain the encroaching sand. As you can see in the image above, constructing an incredibly expensive buck and rail fence has done absolutely nothing to contain the sand. The sand has found a way to leak out from under the bottom of the fence and is already on its way to your home. Sand is notoriously tricky and can weasel its way around and into and over all kinds of stuff. It has been a colossal waste of the taxpayers money. That money could have been put to much better use by funding our organization, The Institute, so that we can feed and shelter the homeless and displaced people that have been the victims of desertification, help some of our indigent citizens with their Lexus payments, and fund a research study to stem this attack on our American way of life. And also to create a puppy shelter.

The third thing is send this message out to everyone you know. Resend this post in its entirety to your whole contact list. Have them send it to their contact list and so on. The more people who become aware of this problem the quicker we can find a solution to it and the greater chance we have of actually getting some additional funding by our crass but necessary panhandling tactics. We need the funds to carry on. Our efforts have saved the day for many folks who had no where else to turn, but we need your help. Besides money we have other needs you might fill. We’ve listed just a few below so if you can, give and give generously. Send these items or the plane fare so we can come and pick them up, and know that your generosity will be put to good use. Thank you and Bless you.

Items we are in Urgent Need of:

A Lear jet

A small island in the Azores, need not be uninhabited

Canned goods

A lifetime membership to Atlantis

A yacht, anything over 100′ with global positioning navigation and a security contingency for when we do our work in the South China sea

A large vacuum

As many Lexus as you can spare

Personal Hygiene products, toothbrushes, hair removal aids, chapstick, Sunblock

Water

A Eurail pass, The global one not the Regional one or the One Country pass

Any old gold you have that you’re not using, wedding rings, plates, Rolexes,

A Left rear Tail light to fit a 2002 dodge 1500 ram 4-wheel drive pickup

Unsigned Bearer’ bonds or stock certificates

These are just a few of the items we need desperately, there are many, many more. Please help. Give what you can.

 

 

 

Memorial Day 2014

DWIGHT DAVID NAVYDavid L Hollingsworth and Dwight Lutsey USN 1963

 

Every Memorial day I am brought back with startling clarity to that time when I was in the service. I was in the Navy. A lot of that time is just a blur of places, travel, events, people. But some parts of it are etched so deeply into my soul that I can instantly bring back every moment, every sound, every smell and I am transported back there. Completely. I can feel that hot sun, smell the salt in the breeze off the ocean and feel the presence of the best friend I have ever had. His name was David L Hollingsworth and that’s what everyone called him. David L Hollingsworth. It wasn’t required. It just happened naturally. When you saw him it was perfectly normal to say “Hey, David L Hollingsworth, What’s happening”. Even some of the officers did it and they didn’t like anybody especially enlisted men.

We were stationed on Guam in the Mariana Islands, part of the Trust Territory and overseen by the US government. The Mariana’s trench, the deepest place in the Pacific ocean, was just past the reef and it was always a test of will power to swim out over it knowing there were miles of water between you and the ocean’s floor. The time was 1963 through 1965. The war was Viet Nam.

David and I were Hospital Corpsmen in the Navy. We both went in as “kiddie cruisers”. That was when you went into the service the day after you were 17 and got out the day before you were 21, and we were stationed at Agana Naval Hospital there on Guam. It was also the home of Anderson Air Force base where many of the B-52’s that flew into Viet Nam were kept. I had just turned 19 when this picture was taken, so was David, still teenagers. Our peers were juniors in high school when we joined. We were attached to the psych unit of the hospital there and it was the place where many of those servicemen from the entire Southeast Asian theater, but mainly from Viet Nam, who had mental problems, or had physical injuries that affected their brains, or had fallen prey to the drugs that were so prevalent in Viet Nam, were brought to for treatment and care.

Our friendship started because of the way our names were spelled. His last name started with ‘H’ and mine with ‘L’ and the Navy would assign you to the various schools or duty stations by the first letter of your last name. All the ‘A’ through ‘G’s, were a group, all the ‘H through ‘O’s were a group and so on. Both of us being in the ‘H’ through ‘O’ group, we were sent to the various schools and Duty Stations together until we finally wound up on the island in 1963.

Being on Guam was very much like that opening line “In A tale of Two Cities”.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way –”

Living on an island in the South Pacific is not the Paradise everyone thinks it is. Yes it is beautiful, yes you are disconnected from everyday life, yes it is the getaway that you want, but only for a short time. After a while reality sets in. The constant heat, humidity, the unrelenting trade winds that drive you crazy. The boredom, the smallness of the island. You could ride a bike around it in a couple of hours. The tedious yet dangerous aspect of the work, all combined to make it a place you wanted to be away from. And right now. It was why we put in for every opportunity to get off the island, whether it was for extra duty, or leave, or any excuse you could think of, you wanted to be gone.

We all handled our time there in different ways. I bitched. I bitched about it constantly. I know it’s not the most flattering way to describe yourself but it is accurate. I hated it there. I couldn’t wait for any opportunity to leave and pulled every string I could to make it happen. I also spent my time thinking about the future, how long did I have before I could get off this rock, what I was missing by being there, everything I could do to make my stay there more miserable, I did. David on the other hand lived in the moment. He took each day as a new one, bright with promise. There was always something that made the day exciting, fulfilling, adventuresome. It didn’t matter that it was Guam, why sweat it, we were alive. A lot of guys weren’t. He was the most serene person I have ever known. I used to call him Buddha because of it. That and his round, bowling ball shaped head.

It was due to him that I was able to finish my time there and finally leave and come home. Come back to the world we called it. Every time I felt like I was going to lose it he was there and in a few simple sentences would talk me down and I was good for another little while. He never needed that. He was a rock. He could find something new and interesting to do when all the rest of us just saw the endless days on the calendar with the x’s marked through showing how long we’d been there and how long we had to go. David didn’t have a calendar, he didn’t care. “Let’s go diving”, he’d say. Or “lets get a beer”. We were lucky, we got out of there, we made it through, we lived, and we returned to the world. We stayed in touch.

I remember the first night I got the phone call. It was 3 in the morning. I was asleep with my wife. He was crying so hard that I couldn’t understand him. He had just recently gotten married to the love of his life, they were starting a family. He had finally finished jumping through all the hoops to become a doctor and had just joined a prestigious practice where he was an oncology resident. His life was pointed forward in the best way it could be, And he was dying. Dying from Hodgkin’s. It was the first of many late night calls. Nights were hard for him. I used to wake up in the middle of the night thinking I heard the phone ring. Sometimes I would lay awake waiting because I knew he was going to call.

We talked of many things. In the beginning it was usually about treatment. Then when it became apparent that there wasn’t going to be any treatment that would work we talked of other things. We talked about our time together on Guam, and the liberty we pulled. The women we knew. We remembered his visit to the house when I was first starting out with my family and he wanted to see my son. “So I can remember him like this when he is a man” he’d said. And we talked about the one thing that we’d never talked about when we were together and that was the future. David’s whole life philosophy was, if you’re not happy with your self or your life now, what’s going to make it better in the future.

I won’t go into those discussions because even now nearly 30 years later, they’re too personal and too difficult to set down on paper. For someone who was able to handle every difficulty life threw at him by being able to be positive in the present, the future was the one thing that terrified him the most. Not for himself so much but for the ones he would leave behind. It seemed like our late night calls went on forever and his dying lasted an eternity but they were really very short. He died in just a few months.

I was asked to be a pallbearer and we flew out to California for the funeral. Of course the airline lost my luggage and I showed up in jeans and a leather jacket to perform my duties. It seemed like everyone in the world was there. David made friends by the busload. All the doctors he worked with, some of the team from our service days, personal friends of the family, he had a big send off. He was just 41. One of the guys asked why I hadn’t worn a suit and I told him the airline lost my luggage. He said ” Oh, I thought you were just making a statement” which I probably would have if I’d thought of it. Dave would have thought it was cool.

So Memorial day for me is a sad kind of day. I think about all the guys that didn’t make it. Those that I knew and those that I didn’t. When you see a lot of death at a young age it changes how you think about it. You get callous. That changes as you get older though. The callouses rub off. Now I have to be careful how I think about those things because all the emotions I didn’t have or hid, as a young man, I have in spades now. It doesn’t take a whole lot to bring me to my knees. One of the hardest things for me is realizing that my best friend in the world didn’t have a future and if anyone on this earth deserved one it was him.

Usually you think of Memorial day as one in which we remember the ones who fell in the war, serving our country, and that is a big part of it for me too, but also as one who spent the most formative years of my young adult life in the service, in a place where nothing was permanent, where when you said good-by to someone you meant it, it was the relationships, the friendships that were formed and carried forward for the rest of my life that are the most memorable. David didn’t die in the war like so many others we knew, but it was where we met. And our bonds were forged during that time when people we knew were fighting and dying, and dealing with it was the basis of our friendship. I know it played a crucial part in who I became and who David became. It made us brothers. And when he died it didn’t matter that we didn’t share blood. The grief was the same. Every Memorial day I remember and so far the memory has never faded, we were brothers, once and forever.

Rest in Peace David L Hollingsworth. I could use your friendship again. I miss you.

 

Weekend Color

WeekendColor3296Columbine and Aspen

 

Listen I know you guys are busy. It’s the holiday weekend, you’ve got company. You gotta fix burgers, the charcoal won’t light because the air vent is rusted shut on the bottom of the grill and no matter how much lighter fluid you squirt on it, it just flashes and flares up about 20′ in the air and goes out. Aunt Pheeb and Uncle Skid are probably over and Aunt Pheeb’s been in the peppermint schnapps a little too deep and she is bound and determined that this is the day she’s going to erase that tattoo of the Mexican cutie from Uncle Skid’s backside, but she can’t find a place to plug the angle grinder in, and Uncle Skid knows that he better double buckle his pants and stay out of sight for a while.

Aunt Pheeb brought along their dog Arlo, who thinks he’s a retriever but is really a Chihuahua/pit bull mix and he just ate all the new Angel fish the kids bought with their lotto proceeds and they’re mad. They’re trying to string him up but he’s back under the Hudson so far they can’t get at him. He’s bitten the tips off of two of your new $700 graphite fishing rods they’re using to poke him out of there.

Uncle Skid is hitting on the next door neighbor and has promised to show her his tattoo if he can just climb over the fence. Her husband just came out and now Uncle Skid is running around with two fingers stuffed up his nose making muffled noises about how to stop the bleeding. Aunt Pheeb is laughing so hard she fell over that rickety lawn chair you weren’t going to use this year and knocked over the table with all the potato salad and stuff everybody brought and that was enough to get Arlo out from under the car. Some of the women are trying to scoop the potato salad and the jello surprise back into the bowls and keep Arlo from getting his feet in the baked beans. This is tough because Arlo always stands in his food bowl when he eats.

Your significant other has mentioned earlier that she didn’t want to host the party again this year after what happened to the gazebo and that firemen’s elbow, but you said “Hey it’ll be fun. We won’t invite Aunt Pheeb and Uncle Skid this time.” However you forget that it doesn’t matter if you invite them or not. They’re going to be there and now you’re getting those glances from her that say “Wait until I get you alone…you’ll never host another party again if I have to… etc”

I realize that these are just a few of the minor things that happen before the party gets in full swing but I though you could take a moment out of your very busy day to look at some thing pretty. It’s a flower. A Columbine to be exact, although that doesn’t really matter, it doesn’t make it any more or less pretty knowing its name, and you won’t remember it anyway the way you’re draining that keg, it’s just something useful to call it. They often grow around and in front of Aspen and that has a tendency to make them even prettier, so stop a minute, go inside to your computer room and put the chair under the doorknob and check it out. Take a moment to reflect on the fact that there are other pretty things in life besides your family. It’s going to be a long weekend.

P.S. I think it might be a good thing if you lock Arlo in the tuff shed for the rest of the afternoon now that’s he gotten a taste of those baked beans. You’ll thank me later.

 

 

Miss Rocky Mountain Elk Queen

SpringCows4595Cow Elk – Rocky Mountain National Park

 

We are pleased to present for your viewing pleasure this spring’s crop of beautiful young cow elk. Elegant yet chic they are shown here in the swimsuit portion of this years competition for Miss Rocky Mountain Elk Queen. Taking a day off from the frenzied preparations of the completion they decided to have a day at the beach. Frolicking daintily along the shoreline they stop for a brief nibble. Careful girls, Watch that figure. We are.

The contestants have been chosen from herds all over the park and will compete in the various challenges to see who will be crowned Miss Rocky Mountain Elk Queen. The competition is fierce this year with all the contestants very evenly matched. Some were weeded out in the grazing competition which is always the toughest event for these slender ungulates but the talent contest was the one that really separated the cream of the crop from the rest of the herd, leaving only these few to race for the finish and that elusive crown.

These six finalist still have the evening gown competition and then the toughest of all, the interview. They all look like pretty smart to me. When asked what they’d do if they were crowned this years winner, let’s hope we don’t get too many “And I would like Whirled Peas” comments during the ‘Originality in Thinking’ portion of the interview. The judges are on to that one. The lucky winner will get to wear her crown and sash to all the major park events and will tour throughout the park as the Good Will representative for all the elk in the Rocky mountains. Good luck girls!

Look them over closely and see if you can spot this years winner and soon to be crowned Miss Rocky Mountain Elk Queen. I’m glad I’m not a judge otherwise we’d have 6 new Queens. OK girls, it’s back to the Visitors center for hair and make-up. Tonight’s the big night. Good Luck. You’re all winners in our book.

First Rose of Summer

1st RoseSummer2564Wild Rose – Rocky Mountain National Park

 

Springtime in the Rockies. The snow is pretty much gone except up above tree line and on some of the deep north facing slopes. Wildflowers are blooming everywhere they can grow and it just, just, might be Spring. The days are staying in the mid-60’s. The nights can still be cold and there’s rain. A  lot of rain for us. Everything is greening up and in some parts looks like we think Ireland would look like if we had ever seen Ireland. All we know is it’s supposed to be green there and it sure is green here, so, there you are, must be green like Ireland then.

Now is flower time. And the first rose of summer is the wild rose. Small delicate single petals instead of the multi-petal domesticated roses we grow in the tended garden. They come out as soon as the snow is gone. These are the ones that you’ll find growing around the foundations of some of the old log cabins and barns you find around here. Were they planted by the hand of some rancher’s wife who longed for the beauty of these delicate flowers or did they just arrive in some mysterious way to fill some spots that needed beautifying. I think maybe both.

Anyway they’re pretty and I like them. They don’t last all that long but some say beauty doesn’t. I don’t know I’m just thankful Spring is here and the first rose of Summer has arrived.