Thursday, December 17, 2009

After a long sea voyage, and surviving a large whirlpool -- I will be returning to my blog (in theory). A little writing every day will make a difference or so I am told. Best wishes to all this holiday season.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy New Year!

After digging around in the vein I spoke of last time, Tyree and I followed the streambed down into the valley. We crossed exposed beds of what I think are porphyritic rhyolite with small veins of common opal. The bedding seemed fine grained almost sandy with phenocrysts of different colors and unknown origins. Of course, I am guessing. I had a year of geology almost 30 years ago and some help from friends and books. To be certain would require tools I don't have yet.

When the canyon floor opened and became part of the larger valley, we cut cross country towards some white outcrops south of the quarry and the mine. Given the exposed beds in the canyon and where I hiked near the mesa, I guessed I would find more opal. THe sounds of my steps alternated between crunching on gravel, skishing in sand, the whispers of the sparse brush against my legs, and the snapping of small twigs beneath my shoes. The silence was magic. Occassionaly a gunshot, occassionally the sound of motors, occassionaly Tyree's panting. As I walked the air brushed my face. There was only the wind generated by my movement. Cool as it brushed across my face. Slowly the silence enclosed me and freed me. Step by step across the valley floor, I moved away from the fractioning of the office. Step by step the pressure built into my neck and shoulders gave away. The movement, the desert freed me. I could feel the clarity and focus coming on. It was not however a transparent eyeball moment. No oneness with God and/or Nature.

As I made my way up into the white outcrops, I followed two veins in my mind. Two veins, I needed to work and balance. The first is my job, and the duties tied to it. I read something recently on the American work day. Granted it was a comparison to European and Scandanavian work days. The article suggested that the American work day has gotten longer. Yes, we have a forty-hour work week, but the expectations for productivity has risen. Each individual is expected to accomplish more in a shorter time. It stretched the concept of forty hours way out. I have seen work consume people to the point that all they have is work. The work never goes away. It is with us every minute of evey day. There is not balance. I hit a similar point adn it stopped me dead in the tracks. I thought I was depressed and got medicated. I couldn't sleep I got medicated. But I was wrong. I was dead. Jones Very wrote a poem called The Dead. "No sap doth through their clattering branches flow,...
They borrow words for thoughts they cannot feel,
That with a seeming heart their tongue may speak;
And in their show of life more dead they live
Than those that to the earth with many tears they give.

For me, the space of creativity was erased. I don't mean the creativity of writing, gardening, or cooking-- the non-job stuff, but the necessary creative structures I need to keep my work fresh, honest and valuable. Instead a fracturing, a repetition of days, mindless meeting with puffed up people who speak to hear themselves speak who meeting after meeting say the same thing, tired of millspinning, a sense of futility based on an imagined workload of paper shuffling and a servile relationship to an office desk. The mining of this particular vein brought me up through the white outcrops to the highest saddle and out on to a headland looking towards a dark mountain. TO my left, the canyon area I had hiked out of; to my right, a heavily used jeep trail leading southwest; behind me on the right the quarry and the mine; behind me on the left an old opal mining area (Fire opal two hundred feet below the surface). Here Ty and I stopped for food and water. The job vein became productive as I watched two different Mad Max clans of motorcycles, ATVs and support vehicles charge up the heavily used jeep trail. One broke left and the other broke right. As quickly as they came, the sounds of their passage were gone and all was left was a brief cloud of dust.

Breaking free from the culture of desk sitting will be key from now on. Need to use the mobile technology to find other places to function. Set specific times to work at the desk. Set specific times to work away from desk. A wireless laptop and a cell phone makes me assesible if I am truly needed. To be outside the routine will free me. I will be able to see what has to be done, what can be done, and what will be done.

Mining the second vein took me out of the white outcrops and to a road leading up. From where I stood I could see the drill holes of the quarry. I could not tell what was being mined, but it did not look like opal. SOme kind of reddish brown rock. I heard more vehicles, whistled Ty close and knelt down, partially hidden from view. I watched two pickup trucks gingerly move up a jeep road, pass the turnoff for the quarry and north towards to area I thought the mine was in. I waited kneeling until they had passed out of sight, then hiked up the trail above the quarry. Near the top, I found a place where they had dumped rocks, nothing deteminat about the rocks themselves, but beneath them, washed out from under them, fragments of a red opal, almost bright blood red. I poked around, and couldn't find anything substanial, very thin veins and lots of fragments. I climbed out on to the red outcrop that had been quarried. The two pickup trucks were heading further north. Feeling clandestine, I moved quickly to cover
and down the trail. Part of it was a feeling of being mysterious--childish--but calming-- a wanderer of the wasteland. Tyree and I headed cross country towards the probably site of the mine. We moved quickly through the mesquite. THree ATVs appeared abruptly. Ty came close to me. We waited. THey got off and investigated a shaft in gray rock., then moved off to the south. We headed northeast. The pickup trucks had turned around and were moving south towards us. Tyree and I were caught in an open area. The people in the trucks waved. I waved back. We moved quickly into the hills where the mine was marked on the map. All I found was an area where someone was pulling out the soft shiny gray stone -- some streaks, easily fractured. Outcrops of it scattered across the valley. Still not sure what it is --

The second mind vein carried me from the mine to the steep road leading back to the car. We crossed beds of rhyolite, pieces of opal. THere was a group of cars stopped at a level space beside the steep jeep road. The people were scattered about, working veins with hammers. I stopped to talk, to see what they were finding and to share what I had found. THere was one guy about my age, the rest were 60's to 70's. I spoke to the guy my age. Made some small talk. He had some chips of honey colored opal. Told him I had some green. He said he had never seen any, I showed him the green striped chunk I dugout. He turned to me and saud "What club to belong to?" U said, "I don't belong to a club, I am out here on my own with my dog." He looked at me, then back and the dog and said "Be a good companion to your master there." THen he turned and went back to work.

After I climbed up and out, Tyree and I headed hhome. I stopped along the way to climb a basalt hill. I found a seat facing northwest, out towards the two mountains I had been hiking between. As I looked out over the plain, watching the sun slip behind some clouds, I wondered if any one else had sat there and looked across. I looked down, to my left two abstract pertoglyphs. Wow.

THe gist of the second vein was to follow my instincts as I had been for a couple of weeks. THis blog will be one of the means -- working out ideas, working on language. Once I cared about Language, how words worked, how to create images and sound, but I became lost. ANother means will be the research: find the textures, the vouces and structures I need to create what I want. Third, to map the valley by foot, hikes its edges, across, map its terrain while mapping my own.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A couple of weeks ago, I wandered out into the desert outside of Barstow with Tyree. We parked at the head of a canyon. My goal was to hike down a jeep trail which ran along side the canyon, cross the valley and visit an old quarry and a little further on an old mine. It was the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend. I expected more motorcycles, ATVs and such. There was quite a bit of human traffic on the main jeep trails: packs of motorcycles and ATVs driven by kids --groups of 10-15 were norm, though a group of 25 cruised by. A couple of hunters, too whose periodic shotgun blasts punctuated the day. I knew all of these would be there -- prepared myself.

Given my frame of mind, I was looking for a little peace and illumination. Of course, a burning bush or some golden tablets would have been welcome.

Ty and I followed an old jeep trail which headed up the side of the canyon and towards the top of a hill. It ran out quickly at the top. My options were to double back, cut down to a 4 wheel drive road I had driven down once, or take my chances cutting down the steep side of the canyon. In Typee, "There is scarcely anything a man is in difficulties that he is more disposed to look upon with abhorrence than a right-about retrograde movement--a systematic going over the already trodden ground; and especially if he has a love of adventure, such a course appears indescribably repulsive, so long as there remains the least hope to be derived from braving untried difficulties." I never want to be retrograde-- and, well, am usually willing for an adventure. Tyree and I slowly angled our way down to the canyon floor -- approximately a thousand to fifteen hundred feet (but I suck at reading topographical maps). We hit the canyon floor with minor difficulties, Tyree would periodically check to see if this steep scrambling was necessary. We hiked down stream. We crossed numerous veins of common opal: some white, mostly a light green striped with some eyes of a translucent brown. I kneeled down to work a vein of light green, put my hand on a boulder of white opal-- well the side of the boulder was an exposed vein about 1/4 inch think, bright and shiny. The only sounds were my hammer and chisel; Tyree's panting when he came close to get some water. I would pause and listen. Silence. Pause. A plane. Pause Silence. Pause. ATVS or Motorcycles. Pause. Silence. Pause. Shotgun blast. No relevations. A large fly -- 1/2 inch long; reddish hear, black and white striped body would buzz me every time I hammered. Guess the vibrations in the rock annoyed it. When I stopped, it would fly away. I hammered, got buzzed (by the fly), paused, and stopped. I packed up and headed downstream. There not six or seven feet away: a petroglyph, serious rock art. Mountain goat/Question mark/Antelope -- hell--what did I find. Revelation? Clearly not so ancient; at least not the question mark. On another rock close by a stick figure. No revelation. Although the question mark certainly suggests a choice--> We create revelation --> the fly buzzing as I worked the vein could lead to a discussion of work and silence, but I am not ready to go there yet.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I have been trying to write a post to follow my first one. The writing takes place in my head rather than on paper or here. Part of what disturbs me about the incident of the last post -- is my own sense of the need for spirituality or belief or faith or something. I wanted to stand up, I wanted to embrace a spiritual something beyond me.

I think of Hawthorne commenting on Melville after they talked in Liverpool when Melville visited Nat there. Hawthorne said to the effect that Melville devled deeply into spiritual manners. I won't say I am Melvillian in my search. But I am interested in the security that belief provides. Key to my own conceptions/doctrines are the belief that each person's relationship to belief belongs to them and them alone. No one can dictate belief or how to belief. It is why I have never felt comfortable organized religion. I don't believe that I can be told how and who to worship. To be told I have to believe one man's version of Jesus kills me -- just kills me. When I see what has been done in the name of organized religion, I can't believe.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Last week I attended a memorial service for a very bright, generous and capable young woman. The friends who spoke at the service highlighted wonderful details about her which captured my own sense of her. We celebrated her life and how she managed to touch each one of us. The closing prayer changed that moment. The Reverand stood up and demand we come forward and be saved. We need to accept Jesus Christ as our savior and we needed to do it right then. He said it did not matter if we were Catholic or something else. Only Jesus, his Jesus would lead us to salvation. It was terrifying. I watch around 40 people clammer out of their seats and go forward. He kept calling and calling. Finally, he asked them if they accepted Jesus as their savior. They responded. He stood in front of all of us and said Jesus took these two young people so he could save 40 others.

The cost benefit discussion disturbed me. It frustrated me. This blog will heopfully serve as a means to communicate; to articulate for myself and for others. I turn to Melville and to Montaigne as my guides. Sounds pretentious doesn't it. But both men have served as mentors and as solace ---