A little foray

November 9, 2022 Comments Off on A little foray

My trip to Mexico and parts south didn’t happen, but I did enjoy a marvelous 7-day pedal from the sierras down to LA and San Diego counties.

The first day was easy-hard, a 45-mile hilly pedal from Wofford Heights to Lake Isabella, then along the Kern River until the twisting, narrow, 13-mile descent through the canyon to the outskirts of Bakersfield. The hills are rolling and far from difficult, but the drop down the canyon is teeth-gritting as the road is extremely narrow with little to no passing room. Traffic was light and there were no close calls, so it went by beautifully.

Camping at Lake Ming was great. I got the best site in the campground, parked under a massive spreading tree that made my tent look like a speck. The campground was mostly empty and the sunset on the river shimmered and hung in the air for what seemed like hours. I sat on the river bank and marveled.

The next day, a 40-mile, utterly flat ride to Buena Vista Lake, was easy and relaxing and pleasant. My route followed the Bakersfield bike path such that I was on streets for less than ten minutes the entire day. The police have “cleaned up” the encampment of unhoused people along the dry riverbed. I got to watch a special police crew in a 4-wheeler harass and shake down an old man and woman, the last remnants of what had been a very big community. It’s so funny that the “cleaned up” river is still an empty waterway, drained by the insatiable thirst of the Central Valley as it cultivates items that man cannot live without, such as almonds, which take about 1.1 gallons of water to produce each nut. With 8% of California’s total agricultural water supply devoted to these life-sustaining nuts, it’s well worth it, and so much more important than living space for free people.

Lake Buena Vista was also mostly empty, a testament to the wisdom of traveling through the Central Valley on a weekday in late October, when temperatures are bearable and people are doing something else. My neighbors were a family living in their RV. The teenage son sat in a folding chair, bored beyond belief, playing with a remote-controlled car.

Day Three was going to be one of two character builders. At just around 40 miles it wasn’t long, but it was uphill all the way from Taft to Maricopa, and from there it was really uphill as you have to cross over from Kern into San Luis Obispo County, then slog the last four miles up a broken rode to Ballinger Canyon Campground. I was nearly out of water and a nice guy gave me a bottle as his buddy regaled me with the story of the time he and a gal rode their mountain bikes for fifteen miles and how it almost killed them. “I was better looking than you,” he added, setting the bar as low as humanly possible.

At the campground I fell in with a group of dirt bike riders, some of the nicest people I’ve ever met on any tour. They fed me, gave me plenty to drink, and offered up the warmth of their campfire while telling me a whole slew of stories and sharing some profound wisdom. One of the guys, the eldest, told me about estrangement from his son. “You can’t beat yourself up about it too much,” he said. “You have to accept that it’s their path, and it’s the one they’ve chosen. They can’t live your path. You can’t live theirs.”

I will remember those words a long time.

I will also remember the fresh tuna steaks. One of the guys had landed a 110-pound bluefin off the coast of San Diego a few days prior, and their cooler was filled with giant cuts of toro and maguro on ice. With a little black pepper and a dash of olive oil, the grill was soon sizzling with some of the best fish I’ve eaten in years. Although the party continued until late, I crawled into my sleeping bag around seven due to Character Building Day Two, which was the ride from Ballinger Canyon to Ojai.

Not too long, at 60 miles it was all uphill the first 20 miles, after which it was extremely uphill for about six, and then downhill with rollers all the way to the 10-mile descent, which I cut short at Wheeler Gorge Campground. I’d had to don long wool pants and a heavy jacket as rain and cold had set in with a vengeance. At the entrance a guy in a lawn chair, camp host John, was sitting next to a blazing fire. “Could I borrow your warmth for a minute?” I asked.

“Sure!” he said, taking in my appearance. “Would you also like a hot cup of coffee?”

I nodded mutely, drained from the ride and the wet and cold, and he vanished into his RV, returning with a piping hot cup and ushering me into one of the empty chairs. I stayed with him and his wife for most of the night, talking and laughing around the fire, until they finally gave up and invited to a marvelous dinner of grilled chicken and vegetables. The proverbial kindness of strangers is far from proverbial, at least in my experience.

The next morning John insisted on driving me to town for donuts, and I agreed because 1) downhill so not really cheating and 2) donuts. Topped off with sugar, fat, and hot coffee, we said our goodbyes and I continued on to Ventura and then to my campground on PCH at Leo Carillo State Park. The next day was Sunday, which coincided with Phil’s Cookie Fondo, so there was a continual stream of riders for much of the pedal down PCH. After taking a long break in Long Beach to see my grandkids I headed south, intending to meander as far south as I could, but heavy rain and bad weather forecasts left me sodden and bereft of the kind of motivation you need to tackle something like that.

Instead of doing the obvious, which would have been to persevere, I threw up my hands and declared defeat, secretly glad at having an excuse to turn around and head back to LA, the roof, and the warm bed that awaited. In retrospect, I’d been more or less constantly on the move for almost two-and-a-half years, working remotely and very remotely and sometimes super remotely. I’m not one for stasis, but a dash of stability might be in order. My divorce has been final for months, and although traveling solo is one thing, being alone is something else entirely.

The alarm rang and I didn’t hit snooze. Back to life.


American redemption at Gravel Worlds

October 11, 2022 Comments Off on American redemption at Gravel Worlds

Against a stacked field of pro European road riders, Team USA showed why the “unroad” racing in America exemplified by the BWR series and the Lifetime Grand Prix are the finest gravel training grounds on earth.

In perfect conditions featuring an ideal mix of cobbles, dirt, and pavement, US riders Griffin Easter and Michael Garrison pulled off stunning upsets in Veneto, Italy, dominating the world’s top pro riders with a shocking 46th and 76th place, respectively.

“American gravel can go up against the best and win because the fields here have such depth,” said BWR organizer Eddy Marckx. “Our race is the most unique cycling event in America, all seven of them, and they’re each the most unique in their own unique and amazing way.”

Phlimm Phlamm, director of the biggest and richest US series, the Lifetime Grand Prix, agreed. “Next year you can expect to see an American rider in the top 30, no question, and if our elite riders can ever pass a drug test we may crack the top 20.”

Sally Snuffles, noted notary public, pointed to the features of US gravel racing that make it a proving ground for world-beaters like Easter and Garrison. “Look at the results for the Quadrupel Krown of Grafull. Even though the leaderboard isn’t posted anywhere on the Internet, and it’s likely that at least four people are battling for the $35 purse, we can be certain that every one of those retired pro road competitors is going to come back someday and beat Mathieu van der Poel. Our races are that amazing and competitive and unique.”

Teddy Tuba, longtime gravel racer from way back in 2019, attributes American success to tradition. “Here in America we are old skool. We ride hard, play hard, drink hard, puke hard, rehab hard, binge eat hard, and pay ridiculous entry fees hard. Them Euro weenies ain’t never going to beat us. USA! USA!”

America’s top gravel racer, Keegan Swenson, did not participate in the event. According to a spokesperson, he was still recovering from “Crushing the pro elite road field at the world championships in Wollongong,” where he left the competition choking on his dust, narrowly missing a podium spot by 73 places.



The dog of small things

October 8, 2022 Comments Off on The dog of small things

I got into photography when I was a kid, shooting in black and white with my dad’s Olympus on Ilford film, then developing the negatives and making the prints at a little camera store around the corner where you could rent darkrooms by the hour. My principal subject was my dog Fletcher. I’m not sure how he liked the photos but when he saw the camera come out he knew it was time to go out into the yard and play.

In my 30’s I began taking photos for my job. I was one of the first people I knew who used a digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix. My mentor, a horrible photographer who was also my boss and mom’s husband, had the typical parochial view of photography: Take beautiful pictures.

Of course all his work was anodyne, lifeless, antiseptic, infinitely edited, perfect. There was nothing that could put you to sleep faster than one of Ted’s slide shows and later, digital photo galleries. He was like Wynyon Marsalis, a genius trumpeter who knew nothing about music. He had art inside himself, which was a good place for it.

This approach to photography was savaged indirectly in an essay I recently read. It didn’t critique travel photography per se but it pointed out the pointlessness of trying to newly interpret any major travel destination with a camera. The thing that has made digital photography ubiquitous is the same thing that has robbed it of its interpretive qualities. When you can take a hundred shots in a second and edit them to perfection in a few more, you are no longer in the sphere of art, which is the sphere of chance, and you’ve landed squarely in the sphere of the Philistines, also known in college as the School of Engineering.

If a picture is simply a carefully designed interpretation of light that leaves nothing to chance and is infinitely tweakable, why do it? Or rather, why give one twisted fuck whether or not it’s beautiful? Since the only role left for the camera is to document, why not simply snap the pic and move on? You and your camera have nothing to say besides an aside to the selfie: This is my amazing body and face, and here is where I was, looking at this perfect thing.

So I decided to cast off Ted’s crippling camera-ism, as represented by all of social media, and strip my phonamera down to its most essential function (besides tracking my every move and thought and purchase). I would allow myself no more than a second or two, snap the photo and move on. No edits and no filters of any kind. What I see is what you get.

It’s harder than you think, snapping and moving on. Your whole body will scream “No! Take more!” and when you sit down to review you will positively shudder at the unflattering images, which shudder will morph into an irresistible urge to hit the edit button. So deeply has Ted’s fake perfectionism worked its way into a lifetime of picturetaking that it’s virtually impossible to break the habit. And indeed for the butterfly I took about fifty pictures.

Old habits don’t die in an outing.

Otherwise it worked out fine. There is plenty of random unfocused capture of subjects that aren’t even proper subjects. No ugly artifacts or distracting items were harmed in the taking of these photos, the collation of which I’m calling “The Dog of Small Things.”

You see, there are a host of tiny oaks that have begun growing since I began watering the trees. Though my brown thumb is omnipotent, I’ve carefully not killed anything and have simply given regular water to what’s already here, and oddly enough, native plants know what to do with sunshine and a little extra water.

In addition to the oak babies, I sprinkled some Sequoia seeds when they began to spill out of a green cone I’d brought home. They once grew all over these hills. Why not in the yard? In 1,500 years or so I might have some really impressive shade to sit under.

I also took pictures of things that no one can see but me, for example the leafy mulberries that may not look impressive but which have doubled in size and which now throw out ridiculous amounts of shade and cover for the birds. Or the dead apricot that holds the seed feeder, a perfect perch for the finches and jays, the nuthatch and occasional house sparrow. Or the shrubs that are now busting out all over with golden berries–this time a year ago they were almost dead. Or the things that were hewn to the ground, now making a fine recovery. These photos of things that are invisible are the best of all.

A more satisfying series of pictures I’ve never taken, unblemished by fake colors that were never there, unamputated of ugly appendages that were, free and naked and running wild beneath the soil and sky, a prayer to just moving on, motherfucker.



Getting used to all the silence

October 7, 2022 Comments Off on Getting used to all the silence

After getting divorced and moving away from Los Angeles to a small town in the southern Sierras, things got really quiet. I deleted Facebook a couple of years before leaving LA, and deleted Instagram after one of my bike tours; I don’t remember which one.

The only social media I had left were the comments on my blog, and I finally turned those off, too.

Once I’d left the center of the fake world I’d created, of course people stopped calling, texting, emailing. A couple of fishermen pinged me now and again, not because they liked me but because they were hoping I might provide some entertainment/gossip, or simply so that they could tell people they were “still in touch.”

Even the tiny cadre of people I’d considered friends never called or reached out, which made sense because they weren’t friends. I woke up one day not too long ago and realized that I’m almost completely alone. Over the course of a day I talk to one person, and on a very busy day I speak with two, that’s if you don’t count the brief exchanges at the store or the odd work-related phone call.

They say that being lonely is incredibly bad for you, but I don’t think that’s true for being alone. You can be lonely in the middle of a city of ten million people, but being alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lonely, at least not for me, and at least not when it’s by choice.

The biggest benefit to being alone is not having any responsibility for how people react to what I say and do. At first it was a shock, the withdrawal of reactions. But now it is completely normal and relaxing. There was a time when I would have moved to a new place and immediately made friends, tried to be part of the community. Though I’m no recluse, I now avoid any unnecessary contact or communication. People are so noisy. Why would I want more noise?

Because I already have plenty. The scrub-jays, acorn woodpeckers, titmice, ravens, quail, doves, hummingbirds, honeybees, and house finches make a racket all day long, but unlike human racket, it’s very pleasing. The wind blows or soughs, and that’s pleasing, too. Even the ugly barn next door makes odd creaking and groaning noises when the aluminum joints expand in the heat, and the raucous barking of dogs at odd times, the high-pitched calls of coyotes, or the crackle of logs in the fireplace mixed with the purr of the cat, all these noises are noises enough.

I don’t need to hear much else.

What’s more to the point, I’ve become maladjusted to social environments. We went to a brewery last week and it was very uncomfortable simply being around people. No matter how much I tried not to listen, snippets of their conversations wafted in, annoying, empty, vain, vapid exchanges fueled by booze and the kind of loneliness no one wants a slice of. We left quickly.

As someone who has written in this format for more than a decade and been addicted to the chatter generated by his writing, the biggest silence is the silence of readers. Once in a great rare while someone will email me but other than that the biggest payback of writing, which is to hear the praise and the criticism, has vanished. This is of course its own topic, the idea that you can write publicly with little or no feedback from your audience and still maintain interest in it without the dopamine, but after a while I can tell you that the withdrawal goes away and I find myself wondering how I ever survived all that distraction in the first place?

There is still some feedback in the form of viewing stats but that’s optional and it’s anonymous and it’s machine-generated. It’s not noisy and it doesn’t scream “You’re awesome!” or “You suck!”.

When you pull away from the noise you realize that you’re not that important, and that the only people who really care about you can be counted on a few fingers. That your life isn’t the architecture of the 0’s and 1’s you’ve curated online, and that opinions, including your own, are like armpits and assholes: Everybody has ’em.

And of course the less you speak the more you think before you speak. Scarcity creates value. Silence makes you understand why people once spoke so little and why words once had so much heft, why the right word moved armies to peace and the wrong word to war.

Silence also has a way of reflecting back the enormity of the universe and its central message of utter coldness, utter randomness, and its unblinking stare of pitiless infinity. It’s not for the religious, the certain, or the faint of heart.

There was a time when I would have tried to tie this in with cycling first and the South Bay second. There. I just did.


Turn left for Antarctica

September 29, 2022 Comments Off on Turn left for Antarctica

The other day I was wondering if there were any convenience stores in Antarctica. Because if there are, it would sure make a bike ride to the South Pole easier. I also wondered if maybe they had built a bridge from Argentina or New Zealand, which would also greatly increase accessibility.

Turns out there is neither, which put a temporary damper on my plans.

And there are lots more hurdles to overcome, such as -136 degree weather, and of course the $80,000 price tag of getting squired all the way to the South Pole on skis while pulling a 160-lb. sled. Even a simple cruise for a few days to set foot on the ice continent will set you back $10k or more.

As tough as all that sounds, there’s an even bigger obstacle, which is getting to Bakersfield.

Bakersfield is the first place I’ll have to stop on my trip out of Kern County. I’ve tried all the different ways to the coast and there are no easy ones from here. They say the hardest step on any trip is the first one, and it’s true. To get to Bakersfield I have to take a winding canyon road that follows the Kern River, then take the main canyon road a final thirteen miles, two narrow lanes that absolutely do not have room for a bicycle.

So you have to pull onto the tiny 1-foot strip to the right of the fog line to let trucks and cars pass, then hop back into the lane before crashing, while making sure that you’re not also hopping in front of a car that’s barreling down behind you. If only there was an invention that could be attached to a helmet or handlebar that would let you see what’s happening behind you.

And before even getting to Bakersfield you have to consider the Bad Idea Fairy Theorem, i.e., is this simply another mad idea that struck me late at night, a manifestation of crazy that under the bright light of midday will be revealed as a super terrible idea that should be disposed of immediately? Seems so, but it’s pretty bright outside and the idea hasn’t dissipated. I mean, lots of people have been to Antarctica before. It’s actually a trendy destination. So what if I get most of the way there on a bike instead of on a plane?

I know, I know. Bakersfield.


The old lessons

September 28, 2022 Comments Off on The old lessons

These are the ones you are constantly having to re-learn, which calls into question whether in fact you ever learned them. One of my favorites is Lemond’s line, “It doesn’t get easier, you just go faster.”

I love this because it’s untrue and thus must be committed irrevocably to memory. It does get easier, and you don’t necessarily go faster. In fact, you typically go slower, until you give up cycling altogether in a process known as “death.”

But it does get easier, really, it does. And it gets easier in two ways. First is relatively easier. The second half of the 12-mile dirt climb up Old State Road is the sandiest, switch-backiest, and hardest. Many times in the last couple of miles I’ve seen human footprints, usually with a dog’s, marking out a pleasant 4-mile walk for someone who lives up in Alta Sierra.

But I’ve never seen the person, or any person, ever riding, running, or even walking on the road.

Two days ago I had climbed the 155 and was taking the dirt descent on OSR when I saw the tracks again sans dog. They were fresh. “Oh,” I thought, “the guy is out for a walk.”

I descended for about three miles, still seeing the tracks, until I actually came upon the guy. He was mostly bald, chubby, and mid-40’s old. But here’s the thing. It was already a 6-mile run for him, eight if he’d begun back in Alta Sierra, and it is a damned hard section to run up or down. He waved, and to make matters worse he was running fast, by which I mean faster than I’ve ever run, which sets the bar low.

Still … the longest run I’ve ever done was twelve miles but it was on the bottom section of OSR, yes, in the dirt and uphill, but I turned around about a mile into the really steep and sandy section. Just the fact that this guy was out there running was impressive, let alone his pace, which was humbling. So I started following his footprints in earnest, almost crashing numerous times as I did, disbelieving, as they continued on and on and on.

Finally, when it would have been about a 20-mile run, the tracks ended. I forgot to mention that it was already hot. This guy’s run made my ride relatively easier because it reminded me that running is way harder than riding and that I’d had to screw myself up for an 8-mile climb whereas he’d had to screw himself up for a near-marathon. My ride got relatively easier just thinking about it.

I took the next day off, tired from the crazy climb up the 155, and this morning shouldered a pack that I’d loaded down with about ten pounds of water, and rode up the 155 again. It was so much easier than two days ago, and yes, I went faster, fifteen or twenty minutes faster. This is the second way it gets easier: Although Lemond is right about trained athletes trying to improve their times, he’s wrong about old doofuses trying to dislodge themselves from the clutching embrace of the recliner.

The first time in a long time that I’d climbed the 155 it was bitter hell with a dash of gall and wormwood thrown in. There is a huge difference between something so hard that you barely have the strength to turn your legs over, and having the fitness to ride the same route where the discomfort is pace rather than the sheer effort of not toppling over. It really was easier because strength fatigue is different from fitness fatigue.

Which brings us to the old lesson.

Whether it gets easier and whether you go faster isn’t the point. The old lesson is that you have to get out and do it, period. I thought about that guy pounding out twenty miles on the hardest road I know of. I’ve no idea if he was going faster or if it was getting easier, but it didn’t matter. He knew the old lesson; he’d laced up and done the run.

If I ever see him again I’ll stop and thank him for the reminder.


The exoskeleton

September 27, 2022 Comments Off on The exoskeleton

Everybody has one. It’s the form of your life that everyone else sees, including you when you look in the mirror. The exoskeleton is formed by community, #socmed, clothing, job, family role as father, grandfather, son, daughter, mother, and it’s formed by the lattices of language and culture that harden into your external shell.

The exoskeleton is you but it is not you.

You are the internal skeleton. The actual bones and muscles, the genes, germs, neurons, memories, mores and morals, consciousness and unconsciousness, childhood experiences, gray and white matter, the cells, the mDNA, the ideas, emotions, and pattern responses to the external world. It’s this internal skeleton that we want to believe is the real us because it is the real us, but more often than not, it isn’t.

The older you get the harder and the more you the exoskeleton becomes. We ride the same loop five days a week, watch the same teevee shows, follow the same #socmed feeds, spout the same narrative about our lives, do the same mind-numbing job, swill the same alcohols, exchange the same banal pleasantries, jab the same barbs, smear the same gel over the bald spot, chimp repeatedly at the sinking or rising Fidelity balance, blink stupidly in the mirror telling ourselves that we’re not that much older, stupider, uglier, weaker, closer to death.

And we believe it because the exoskeleton has a hardness approaching HRC 70 the older we get. Nothing gets through. Nothing scratches the diamond-hard exterior, and so the inner skeleton slumps and rots. At the end there’s nothing but a mausoleum in the exact shape of you, a perfect Egyptian sarcophagus made up of your external life, with the inside nothing but dust wrapped in rags. This is a happy ending, with pallbearers and mourners weeping over a beautiful and beautifully polished shape containing all the simulacra of you.

But it is not you. It never was.

I’ve been unfortunate to die early. My exoskeleton was smashed. The outside forces holding it together were unbound and it melted away leaving a soft and exposed exterior that cut easily, bled more easily, and feels pain all the time. Like the skin on my feet, though, each abrasion hardens what’s inside.

The vast increase in pain has led to a vast increase in the ability to withstand pain. As the new adage goes, “The more you do, the more you can do.” The things that once hurt are barely even perceived, and the new failings, the real ones, are greater, vaster, more profound than you ever imagined.

It is hard to see yourself without the comforts of the exoskeleton papering over the blotches and to know that everyone sees you naked, and that everyone who wants to take a shot can, and that the only defense you have is internal. It’s hard to walk upright without the hardened shell because you have to develop muscles, tendons, ligaments, the whole inner structure to hold the meatbag together. Without the exoskeleton, though, you also stop caring about how the thing looks. You start caring about how the thing is.

Things that once marked success now mark disillusionment. Things that once heralded happiness now proclaim sorrow. Things that once looked like failure now look like bravery. And things that once looked like hopelessness now glimmer like starlight, brilliant unless you look at them directly, scintillating only if you look off to the edge.

The edge of the known, the known edge, that’s where you have to look beyond, that’s where things shine brightest, that’s where it takes all the strength you have, not the strength of the exoskeleton, but the strength that’s inside.


Big descent

September 23, 2022 Comments Off on Big descent

One of the biggest climbs in California is right near my front door. It’s the 8-mile climb up the 155 from Wofford Heights to Alta Sierra. It is such a miserable climb that I have only done it a dozen or so times.

But the crazy part is the descent. You hit the 40’s, 50’s, and low sixties in seconds. Disc brakes overheat, and the turns, if overcooked, are lethal. As much as I dislike the up, I dislike the down even more.

The other day I descended and felt pleased that I had again failed to crash or die. Back at home I sat down on the porch and soaked in a little post-ride self-satisfaction.

That’s when I saw him, a little gray-and-white cat just barely out of his kittenhood, scrawny and stringy and hungry with the rail-like appetite that comes when you’re on the edge of starvation. He was feral and he coiled in the dirt for a minute, eyes on a pair of mourning doves pecking at the ground.

Unlike our fat housecat Pepper, who the birds completely ignore, this one had their undivided attention. He made an ineffectual pounce and they flew away. He slunk down the hill out of view while the jays and finches continued eating from the feeder. One jay sat on a branch looking towards the house.

At that moment the cat leaped up from behind the little bluff, a solid four-foot jump, lanced the jay with his claws and pulled him off the branch. It happened so quickly I barely registered it. With dinner secured the cat carried the bird down the hill to eat it.

I felt sorry for the jay and sorry for the cat. And I thought about the cunning and skill of the little feline. Failure meant no food for an animal already running on empty. My amazing descent down the hill didn’t seem so impressive anymore.



The trap

September 18, 2022 Comments Off on The trap

Welcome! Vacancy!

At one of the campgrounds I stayed at someone had tied a fly trap to the trunk of a sequoia. It was like a roach motel for winged bugs. You pulled up on the stopper and it released some kind of fly fragrance. The flies would come to the narrow opening, crawl in to get the goodies, and then, due to the shape of the opening, be unable to get back out.

Stuck in the plastic bag, surrounded by the delectable smell of fly yummies, they would fly in a frenzy among their frenzied friends until they died from starvation or from heat, as the bag acted as a greenhouse. About one-third up from the bottom there was a dotted line that said “replace when full to here.” The bottom of the bag was packed with fly carcasses.

I spent a few minutes watching the helpless prisoners, doomed to die in the terrible ecstasy of the fly fragrance. They desperately tried to get out of the bag but could not. As horribly, outside the bag countless more flies hovered.

These flies knew something wasn’t quite right but they too were attracted by the eau d’ fly. Every few seconds a new fly would alight on the rim and hesitate. It smelled so good. But all those other flies were trying to get out and couldn’t. But maybe they were just faking it so they could keep all the goodies for themselves. And then there was the matter of all the dead ones. But perhaps they had simply overdone it, overdosed on the obviously delectable but not exactly visible manna. The pondering fly was certain that he wouldn’t make the mistake the others had, and he distrusted all the flies shouting “No! Don’t!” If it were so bad why were there so many inside?

The fly would get nearer and nearer the opening and I wanted to shout “Don’t do it! It’s certain perdition! No! No!” But the fly would hop into the slot and be trapped, like his friends, to face a most awful death.

“This,” I thought, “is absolute proof that flies don’t communicate.”

But the more I thought about it, the less certain I became. How is it any different from global warming? Scientists and people suffering its effects are screaming at the top of their lungs “No! Don’t do it! Certain death!” but we plunge madly ahead into the narrow opening from which there is no escape.

Or drugs, alcoholism, motorcycles, McDonald’s, badly fitting pants, tattoos, or subscriptions to the Times? We all know that these things are terrible and terrible for you but we cannot help ourselves. The smell is just too strong, regardless of how many stinking bodies are piled up at the bottom.

I thought about all the people I know living miserable lives in pursuit of money, success, security, and comfort. The only difference between them and the flies is that theoretically they can escape.

Yet in reality they can’t. The fragrance is simply too sweet.



New tree

September 16, 2022 Comments Off on New tree

I awoke industriously and made a pan of stovetop biscuits. They are easy to make. Flour, milk, baking powder, salt, and a stick of cold butter is all you need, plus an iron skillet. I cooked them in the pan and ate them with marmalade. Kristie gets mad when I make such things.

Gf Anger Module

I used to bake every day, but I still cook every day from scratch. I don’t write every day, and I was reminded that this is an error by the TV.

My TV is the ongoing daily show at the seed feeder, the hummingbird feeder, and the bird bath. You can watch the show all day and never get bored. But this evening I remembered that the basic unit of life is the day.

Birds, trees, insects, people, we all live day to day. When the day is done, we are done. We stick a fork in it, sometimes, like this amazing piece of street art that I noticed, literally sticking a fork in it.

How? And Who?

You can skip a day here and there, eating for example, but essentially we live day to day. It’s good that the TV reminded me because I have fallen out of the habit of writing daily. And since I had given up on taking a walk because it was too late in the day, I took a walk.

On that walk I took a new trail and found a new tree, an oak with a spectacular trunk. I share it with you here.

We live day to day, and if we’re lucky, we do it again.

As Bob Rogers used to say, “Enjoy your world. It’s a great place to be!”

And I’d add, “As far as we know, it’s the only place.”



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