Stay tuned (patiently) as we occasionally throw updates on here about what steps we're taking to get to our end goals, DIY tricks and life-hacks, child-rearing tactics (strategery), etc.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

THOUGHTS: The Complexities of an Old Year

Here I am, whittlin away the last few hours of 2011, sitting in my kitchen, listening to Maserati, and blogging about complexities, of life, of friendship, of the afterlife, all the crazy stuff that happens between our births and our deaths. Pretty typical if you know who's blogging, I sppose.

This past saw many triumphs and setbacks. My family and I moved to Alaska! Triumph. We left a lot of stuff in Colorado. Setback. I didn't wind up in the Army! Triumph. I don't have any benifits. Setback. I'm making more money than I've ever made! Triumph! The cost of living here is easily double than Colorado. Setback.

I could go on and on, but the point is that it's tiresome to paint that sort of image in your head. The easiet thing to do is the hardest thing to do. Children have this "gift" that adults like to see as innocense. They see things for what they are and define them accordingly. When we become adults, that goes away. We make things more complex. For example, a kid sees a doggie. An adult sees a male German Sheperd/Black Lab mix. A kid sees a big truck! An adult sees a 1982 Ford F-350 with a 4" lift and 35s. A kid sees an airplane! An adult not only sees a 737-800 with an eskimo on the back, but goes even further to become opinionated about the name on the side. The kid says "you like her." The adult says "I do, but I can't say anything. It's inapprpriate. She and I have different things going on. I don't know how i'd even bring it up."

When the hell did we become dumber? At what point do we stop seeing things the way they are and start seeing them as this weird webs of a bunch of unrelated factors?

Everything has an essence of what it is. Trees. Trucks. People. People have that simplicity, too. See it. Work hard to work less to see it, and if you need a hand, ask someone under 5.

Monday, December 26, 2011

RADIO: The Monday After Christmas

Tonight, I'm excited to bring forth some El Ten Elven, Tortoise, and an awesome long song by Crippled Black Phoenix. This show is dedicated to my best friend who's going to make a tremendous journey starting Friday, moving back to Colorado. She's scared and brave at the same time, and I'm very proud of her for being strong. I'm sure you'll hear about it on the air, but check it out, and relax. Tell your kids to go to sleep. Digest the ham and turkey and enjoy the silence now that the inlaws are gone (hopefully). If they're not gone, tell them to go to sleep, too.

Friday, December 23, 2011

THOUGHTS: The Power of Music

I'm sampling my playlist for next Monday night's show. If you haven't tuned in yet, you should make an effort to stream it. Monday nights at 9 Alaskan Time. (That means for the few of you followers who live on the east coast, 1am Tuesday morning.) Lots of good music to help you fall asleep or just put you in the contemplative mood.

I was driven to name the show after my blog as I've found myself pondering and streaming constructive nonsense with much of this music as my soundtrack of sorts. Through the darkest thoughts and revelations to the grandest of adventures, this music has been there, opening up my head and my soul, and helping me to receive not only divine inspiration, but to accept difficult truths about myself.

Growing up, my dad would frequently play the grand piano in the front room. A fan of classical music, he played pieces that were very complex, yet, somehow, very expanding of the mental box. When you consider the intellectual clout necessary at the time to map out with dots and lines how an entire orchestra of instruments is going to portray a certain thought you have, it makes you (in most cases) nothing short of a genius. With piano, it's even more the case as an instrumentalist as, with a single tool, you're given the task of conveying that orchestra's message to the listener.

Suffice to say, when I was young, I was blessed with having this wealth of knowledge poured into my head through my ears. Not knowledge as it's typically understood from books and school, but knowledge in it's most raw form, the knowledge of how someone felt at a certain point in their life, a knowledge whose meaning excedes the capacity of vocabulary.

I've tried very hard to keep my ears open to this special language as I grow, but every adult in some way accidentally figures out how to lose their innocent penchant for simple absorbsion of feeling. What once was love or hurt or happiness becomes a tangled and twisted mess, usually including words like "complicated" or "confusing" or "misunderstood". The farther we get from our childlike compulsions of simply knowing a thing because it exists, the harder it is for us to understand that thing as adults.

I've found music to be a tremendous tool in pushing my nervous and wary psyche back towards that innocence. Through music, I'm driven to tears or excitement simply because somebody who I never met told me so without words. With music, I am re-learning the most basic things, what rocks are, what cold is, what wet is, what yucky is. What God is. Why becomes less important with music, for the simple fact that it exists should be all we ever need to fully accept it and understand it.

Keep your ears open, for they'll take your visions, your touches, and drag them with your sounds directly to your hungry soul, and when they get there, smile. You'll understand.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

THOUGHTS: The Good Through The Bad

Most of our lives we are told, when something bad happens, typical cliches that encourage us to believe that when the hardships end, the good times begin again. It's a tried and true belief, time honored, where we aren't necessarily absolved from responibility or hard work to fix it, but we are simply inspired to hope that, eventually, our loads will lighten, and our freedoms will prevail.

A smaller segment of the population believe something I've only recently found a glimpse of myself. They believe that the hope and joy of eventuality actually manifests itself during the bad experience. Many different belief structures and thought processes have spoken to this conclusion, but, too often and like many other learned disciplines, it's not something we really understand until we have the one truly bad experience and realize, through faith or simple rationalization, that things just aren't as dramatically terrible as they seem.

My own personal epiphone happened in my very recent life, where my wife and I, experiencing a uniquely challenging adversity, decided to take steps back into our own psyches and repair our own damage. To the outside world, and even to ourselves at some points, it seems like all hope is lost, like our family is irreparably shattered, that out son will grow up angry at having a broken home. The illumination that my wife and I both had independently is that we're doing this to save our relationship, to foster love and nuturing in each other and our son, to chase the dreams that we've had alone for far longer than we even knew of the other's existence. It makes us excited! Happy! Motivated! Calm. Considerate. Caring. Loving.

The good doesn't come after the bad. It comes along side it, quietly sitting in the shadow waiting to be noticed, and confidently protecting you when you acknowledge that it's there. All you have to do is posess the courage to see it, and the weight of your burdeons will be cast off.

See the beauty that is every day life, and look for it when you can't see it. It's there waiting for you.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

CHRONICLES: The BattleWagon Chronicles on KRBD

Monday night, on KRBD, Ketchikan's local public radio station (krbd.org), I started my radio show. It was an incredibly gratifying experience. I got to sit in a studio, virtually uninterrupted for two hours, and listen to all my favorite music. The neatest thing was that during the show, so many people were online with me chatting it up. It was fantastic.

I think, even though I'm not going to be reading anything from this blog (unless people demand it), I'm still going to call it the BattleWagon Chronicles. It will (hopefully) allow me to push people's mental comfort zone to include some very moving ambient and indie rock music, give them a chance to meditate and comtemplate the good parts of their lives and the bad.

Right now, I'm sitting at my kitchen table listening to a song called "Fartyget" by a band called pg.lost. This is a song that damn near makes me cry every time I listen to it. For some reason, the melody, the buildup, the crescendo into the high pitched, desparate, wordless wails of the vocalist coupled with the almost fairy-tale-esqe guitar chords and the crashes of the cymbals, it keeps building until just after it's pushed the emotion from wherever you've been hiding it.

Phew, that's the longest sentence I've typed in a while. Good band. Look them up, or tune in this coming Monday, 9-11pm Alaska time (11pm-1am in Colorado), and check it out.

I'm also filling in every other Saturday for another show called Howling Gales. This is great, as it gives me a chance to play some rock and alt. country, like Radiohead and Uncle Tupelo. Very fun, indeed. Plus, on this show, I'll get to talk more, do some more cool stuff. Noon-2 local time.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

CHRONICLES: Sunsets, Moons, and Movies...

Today was a pretty good one as far as astronomical observations go. This afternoon, around 2:45, I snuck out back at work to grab a quick picture of the sunset. I looked out across the Tongass Narrows and Gravina Island at the setting sun. It was, as it typically is here in Alaska, a beautiful sunset. The clouds seem to radiate down from the heavens here. I know they call Montana "Big Sky Country", but this is pretty consistently spectacular.

After the sunset, before I left for home, I was informed by one of my top 10 friends that the moon was spectacular, and that the poet inside me would appreciate it. Here's the attempt to capture the essence:

I gently opened the door, almost as if I was nervous to disturb the fragility of the night sky. Slowly, I crept out, away from the building and the trees, the would-be objectors to an otherwise clear sky. Then I began my search, gazing out over the mountains accross the ocean, following the horizon until, finall, my eyes fell upon it.

Not quite full, the moon shone brightly over the trees, playing up the facsimile of snow-covered branches as they lied to my eyes, simply basking in the silky silver light.

Jupiter, the great god of planets and gods alike, stood honorably at Luna's side, protecting it from other stars as they slowly began to reveal themselves to the ever setting sun...

...and...

...then I came home and watched "The Iron Giant" with my wife and my son. All in all, a spectacular evening.


Monday, December 5, 2011

PROPHESY: Chaos and Evolution

Looking out the back of this sailing ship, I could see a whale diving underneath the waves. The captain was standing above, preparing to make some speach about how great he was, at least that's the feeling I got from the rest of the crew.

I rounded the corner, from the aft to the port side, climbing some thick netting to get to the next deck. When I there, the boat disappeared.

Damn! I shifted again. Where the hell did I wind up this time?

I see a campus or a compound of sorts. It's a cool, breeze, cloudy ay, yet it still feels very warm. I see palm trees... and desert. I hear gunfire in the distance. I see young women in burkas. I feel the wind pick up.

A bell rings, and people run toward the east wall with giant open canvas bags, ready to receive he wind-driven grain. Fascinating. I didn't even know this was a process. Suddenly I feel bad for not having my own bag, like somehow, someone was depending on me.

The wind died down, and there was a knock at one of the compound entrances. I couldn't tell what they were saying, but the men knocking were yelling and angry. It really unsettled me.

I quickly set out to the compound's grass lawn, a safe distance away, should the men, who I assumed were armed, make their way through that door.

When they did, I watched in shock, yet had been starting to put together what this place was. The attackers all had white t-shirts and jeans, dark skin and hair. They carried AK-47s. They chased around women in burkas, traditionally dressed Jewish men, anyone who didn't fit in with them. Then I realized what this place was. It was a safehouse for the open mind. We all had gathered here out of mutual respect. It was a sacred place of peace.

What the attackers didn't know, what anyone attacking the truly faithful doesn't understand, is that they were setting us free, granting us a love more powerful than even we understood.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

PROPHESY: The Basement

We were in our spare bedroom. We called it our office, but that wasn't accurate. It was a house for all of our crap that we had yet to unpack from our move. We had just finally cleaned it up enough to get to the closet, where she was moving the carpet off the trap door.

The trap door was large, professionally built. It was framed to be a noticable fixture before it was covered with carpet and forgotton about. I watched anxiously as she pried it open, and we both reeled from the smell of forgotten air, tainted with decades of Alaskan must.

The ladder leading downwards on the far side looked promisng, and she elected to go first. I held the flashlight, and she slowly climbed down the first few steps. Suddenly, she yelled, and I heard her fall. Judging by the time of her yell, it must have been twenty or thirty feet.

Worried, I poked my head through our threshold and looked into the gaping yet somehow well-lit expanse below. Immediately below the trapdoor was a balcony. I could see stairs leading off this balcony to my right, and around the room in front of me. The main floor, where she had fallen, had a beautiful art-deco style tile pattern, and the walls were adorned with light fixtures and painting from the same area. When I saw her, she looked more excited than hurt, her eyes conveying a sense of calm and joy that betrayed the big, bloody scrape on her face. She, and now I, both realized that we had quite literally fallen into a magnificently unexpected treasure.

But the immediate situation had to be addressed. How do we get her out? I had to make sure someone was here to keep an eye on my boy. Just barely walking and very curious, he'd share her fate in the basement if he was allowed close enough. My friend was here. Suddenly, I remebered him coming over earlier to help with the clean-up. I grabbed the boy and began walking around the house looking for my friend.

Rats, he must have left earlier. I left to inform her, and she seemed content exploring for the time being. I set off, running to the grocery store, where my parents happened to be. They watched the boy as I then ran to the theatre to meet another one of our friends.

While I was explaining to her the magnitude of our situation and what needed to be done, she came around the corner, anxious to show me something. I followed her, in utter disbelief, as she was in a hole in our office closet not twenty minutes ago.

We rounded the corner into a large hallway with three very large, red doors. They seemed like barn doors, mounted with rollers on pipes above them. Very inconspicuous decorations, considering the condition of the theatre. She walked to the middle door, and slid it open. There was actually a cavern behind this one, plenty tall and wide, but only a few feet deep, ending with a pair of beautiful art-deco style stained-glass doors. There was also a little push-button panel on our right, with five ivory buttons.

She typed in a sequence, and it sounded like five notes in a song. The doors opened. We walked into another compartment similar to the first, except we were now on a ramp leading downward. I put I together. This was the main entrance! This must have been a retreat during prohibition! Awesome!

She typed in another set of notes, the next five notes in the same song. We continued onward, two more compartments, each one closing the doors behind us as we entered the next room. The walls and floor were red and dimly, warmly lit in each compartment as we approached the main room.

Finally, in the fourth compartment, she punched in the wrong code. All of the doors behind us opened. We could see up to the big barn door in the theatre. Looks like we'll have to try again...

Monday, November 28, 2011

ACTION: Mad As Hell for the Nth Time

Today, my good friend Todd over at pst-solutions.com forwarded me an article to read:

http://www.infowars.com/senate-moves-to-allow-military-to-intern-americans-without-trial/

My first reaction was to email Senators Murkowski and Begich, my representatives to the United States Senate. Then I helped spread the word, something I'm continuing to do through this blog.

Then I processed the real ramifcations of this proposed Senate Bill 1867. In the name of "security", our elected officials would grant the unprescidented authority in the president to detain American citizens and hold them without a trial.

Some argue that this measure will help keep us safe. I argue to those that there is no point in such safety if we sacrifice the rights we created to make us the most free nation in history.

Imagine what could come next? I see (and granted I realize I have a penchant for the dramatic) either TOTALITARIANISM or COMMUNISM, us giving away everything to those who would keep us "safe".

I can't speak for anyone else but myself, but for my own sake, for my family's sake, I hope and work to ensure that we have choices and abilities to defend what we hold dear, and S. 1867 would go much, much farther than being a simple inconvenience to protect those choices. It's another step in taking those choices away.

Call your Senators. Help us take our country back. This is a moment we cannot afford to waste.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

CHRONICLES: A Quick Update

We have been blessed today with some blue skies. Last week, we had a few inches of snow, but yesterday it rained and washed it all away. Today, with grace and a chill, the sun has shone through for a few hours, the small Alaskan window between dark morning and dark evening. Even now, the sun has begun it's quick descent towards the hoizon. It's 2:45 in the afternoon.

Still, the lack of sunlight and outside civilization seems to draw Alaskans closer together. We celebrated Thanksgiving Day with a handful of similarly disenfranchised friends, separated from their families either by geography or opinion, neither of which is easy, but both of which easier to cope with by having the non-blood extended family of a close friendship.

Malcolm continues to grow. The boy, who by my estimate is near three feet tall and thirty-five pounds, is walking, talking, climbing everything in sight, and laughing at ridiculous things, things that we adults have forgotton were funny. Well, most of us, at least. He laughs at faces, at things falling, at noises, at the cat's reaction to him petting her and saying "nice". It's very neat to have the tangible reminder of what little it takes to make life enjoyable.

Leftover turkey fills the refridgerator, and I am still not sick of eating turkey sandwiches. I think one of these days, I will make a turkey-noodle soup for dinner. Lyss made a home-made stuffing from scratch for the feast, and it was absolutely joyeous and delicious. Paired with her shell and cheese and her pumpkin pie cheesecake swirly thing (also made from scratch), we had a feast fit for royalty.

To paraphrase Mr. Garrison Keillor, that's the news from Ketchikan, where the woman is strong, the man is good looking, and the child is well above average.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

PROPHESIES: After The End

I heard the knocking.  It wasn't at my door, but it was early enough and quiet enough that I had to get up to see who was outside anyway.  I saw my neighbor talking to the gentleman, and I wondered, because of the hour, if everything was alright.  I returned to my room, a large, empty, dark loft with wood floors and one big window on the far side of the stairs.  I could tell it was going to be a long morning.


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I prepared for the drop.  Our plane was flying low enough that I didn't need to wear an oxygen mask or anything.  I was a little miffed that I was unanimously voted to go first.  Sure, Earth was a place I used to live.  At one point, I was comfortable there.  But I had lost friends.  I lost my family.  Things were different.  What few friends I had left were on this plane with me, ready to jump to an unknown fate.

I sat in my chair on the front of the load.  We were going out together, the load and me.  Someone had to make sure it landed safely.  The bay door opened, and I zipped up my black leather flight suit, ready to go.

I don't remember much between me leaving the plane and me hitting the ground, but I survived.  We set up camp in a small house.  My old friend, she checked me out to make sure I wasn't messed up on the inside.  We tried to find a quiet corner of this old, small house, but we were thwarted by others in the group, focused on the mission at hand.

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I swam downstream.  It wasn't difficult.  The river was raging.  I had to keep my eyes keen for the culvert on river right, the portal.  I had almost passed it twice, and wound up backtracking, swimming with all of my energy.  I finally got to it, dragged myself into it's mouth, and lay there panting for air.

After a few minutes, I started crawling deeper inside.  After fifty yards or so, I felt a blinding shock.  The next thing I saw was an old, dusty road, and men with gas masks.  I watched as cars drove by.  Old beat up cars. I wondered how they could run without oxygen.  Apparently, they had been converted to run on CO2.  I felt the sunlight.  It must have been 80 degrees.  The buildings in this ghost town were either derelicts near destruction or completely encased in glass or plastic to keep the oxygen inside.  The few people here were hardened.  Tough.  What was this place?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

THOOUGHTS/CHRONICLES: Small Town Goodness

I was raised in a small town. It wasn't tiny by any means, but graduating with eighty-five other people, by most standards, that's pretty small.

Small towns work very differently than cities do. In small towns, the general consensus is that cities are too fast-moving, too big, too corrupt, too crowded, too expensive, etc. Small towns are very proud of themselves, of their school sports teams and their elected officials, their arts and their new buildings. However, the thing that really sets small towns apart is that they're also highly critical of themselves in a passive and quiet way. There are a few public dissenters, but those people are nut-jobs, right? Everyone quietly talks about how messed up things are before they politely smile and move about their business.  In cities, people don't put as much value in etiquitte as they do in direct confrontation. Skip the pleasantries, get stuff done.

I moved from my small town to Denver and stayed there for almot seven years. I loved it. I liked that there was so much stuff conveniently located nearby. However, I missed the small town serenity, which brught me here to Ketchikan, Alaska.

If you all have been reading the news at all, you know about our small town's big problem. It turns out that a certain public official has done some very bad things. The irony for me is that when I moved to the city, I was always wary of somebody not being a good person. It was, after all, the city. Sadly, after moving to a small Alaskan town, I've met people, some very good people, and others, back-stabbers who've hidden under the guise of that ettiquite we small town folk seem to value so much. I've seen very personally more dishonesty and disgusting behavior here in a year than I ever saw in Denver.

Maybe it's time we stopped lying to everyone and to ourselves. Maybe it's time to take responsibility for the things we do, and to hold others accountable for their actions. I understand that small towns, especially places like Ketchikan, very isolated from the outside world, people need to depend on each other, but I refuse to accept that dependence negates trust and writes our neighbors a blank check to do what they will at our expense.  Teamwork is rooted in trust.

These things have been a disappointment, and it's disappointing to be sure. However, those things are greatly outweighed by the good people who are also here and in other small towns who are great friends, loyal and honest, especially when you don't want to hear what a putz you've been. There's always hope. There's always light.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

THOUGHTS: Dreams and Mornings

I've been waking up the past few days with shadows of very vivid dreams, dreams I can't remember after only minutes of being awake. it's so bizzare. It's like details of my subconscious life are being brushed aside and replaced by the sound of an alarm, the smell of coffee, the taste of cinnamon toast. While the morning routine brings me a certain amount of comfort, I feel like I'm robbing myself of a good story, or a strong emotion, or an insight into what I'm thinking and how.

Dreams are power. They allow us to face fears or escape from them. I remember the first and only time I realized I was dreaming. That was also the first and only time I've ever flown in my dream.

I can't help but wonder, though, if our minds are this powerful in our sleep, while we aren't focusing our thoughts, why are we held back in our waking hours? Why do we limit ourselves so much with clutter and incidental bullshit, instead of enjoying the simple focus and joy of a child?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

CHRONICLES: A Day In The Life...

After a very short night of sleeping, I managed to fade in and out of sleep for a couple of hours before my alarm not-so-gently prodded me to get out of bed and get to work.

Raising a kid is hard. Toddlers are little Tasmanian devils in disguise. One moment, all their toys are put away and they're sleeping soundly. The next, there's a mixture of toys, a bottle, a sippy-cup or two, and a bunch of Apple Jacks all over the carpet. The only reason you notice is becaue they're now in the kitchen banging pots and pans on the floor.

All this, of course, after a full day's work, and solo while the wife is making final preparations as the assistant director for "Anything Goes", which opens Thursday or Friday. She's even been sick the past few days, which makes more for me to do.

Fortunately, we've got good friends here now. Our friend Jen Tucker watched Malcolm yesterday afternoon while Lyss slept, and our friend Heidi Poet, who coincidentally wound up in my top ten list of all-time favorite people, has been accompanying Lyss to rehearsal almost every night.

It's such a relief to sit here in my kitchen, sipping a cold beer (which will be followed by another cuppa joe, I'm sure), while Malcolm sleeps in the next room and Incubus's "I Wish You Were Here" plays in the background.

Today, I scraped by on a cup of coffee, a cigarette, another two cups of coffee, a bunch of water, another cigarette, and finally, some time with my son before I put him to sleep. No matter what happened, that's a good day.

Monday, October 31, 2011

EXERPT: "Armor" by John Steakley

     We're not a part of Fleet any longer. In no way. They're mad about it. Fuck 'em.
     We traced the rumor about "Lewis's" rich-kid past to- surprise- Lewis himself.
     We have a growing colony. A government. Holly and I are on what the call the Council of Elders. But they don't cal us much.
     Lya is pregnant with her second. Her first is a girl with her looks and Holly's brain.
     Karen is not pregnant and won't be. Yes, we're still together. But we are not, repeat: not, happy. But I guess we'll keep at it anyhow.
     I never saw Eyes again.
     The Antwar continues.
     What about me? Besides the fact that I'm getting fat and thoughtful? Not much else. Both traits are, understanably, fulfilling.
     What I eat is everything. What I think about...
     The past, of course. My life and what it's meant and what it will mean from now on. And Felix. I think about Felix a lot.
     And about the Masao and what he said, about there being no protection from what you are and all. And I think I may have something to add:
     There is no protection from what you want.
     Hell, they keep searching, which is dumb enough. But when I think about the certain look in that Rep's eye, in all their eyes when they drop by to question again and again. And when I think about all of it- from Golden, to Banshee, to Sanction...
     When I think about it, I wonder.
     Dammit, I cannot help but wonder:
     Are you there, Felix?
     Are you there?


Sunday, October 30, 2011

CHRONICLES: Akin to a Colorado Fall Day

This morning, I got up and ran a quick errand to the store for coffee and some other things. Malcolm and I went. (Side note, I taught him to say "good to go"... "do do doe"). It was just beautiful out this moning. It's the closest to a Colorado autumn day that we've had since I've been here. The sun was poking through some clouds, and there was a gentle breeze blowing up the channel. It's around 45 degrees out (always).

I got back home, put the coffee on, and concentrated on putting Malcolm down for a nap. When he went down, I got dressed to go out and have a smoke. I took a stroll down to the dock, where I checked out his ancient wood boat for sale. It's gotta be around 35 feet long, made of wood. It's got several inside compartments, I'm guessing maybe room for 6 to sleep in. I may have to all the owner (it's for sale) and see if I can get in there and crawl around a little bit. I'm assuming it has a full galley and no woring engineering, but she's a gorgeous piece of construction. And the bonus is: she's still floating.

The smell of coffee, the chill of the morning air, the sun warming only what it looks upon, talk of football, the sound of bacon frying and jazz... I love fall Sunday mornings.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

CHRONICLES: The Craft

Today I went to the high school to attempt to help Lyss with set-building and coordination. She's Assistant Director for the First City Players production of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes". In reality, all I wound up doing was chasing Malcolm around the high school auditorium and keeping him out of everybody's way.

It reminded me of doing Jeff Daniels' "Escanaba in da Moonlight" last summer. Being my first production, I had no idea what the whole process really entailed. Memorizing lines, yea, sure, and then reciting them in costumes, right? Maybe with a little flair? Oh, man, I was sorely mistaken. There was that stuff, then the days of building sets, blocking, trying on costumes, learning how to put on make-up for the stage, learning to save people who blew their lines, learning how to save myself when I blew my lines, learning how not to flinch when I had water dumped on my face, how not to laugh when my head was shoved between some other dude's ass cheeks... taking the set down... moving the stuff back to storage, the labor, the laughter, the drinking, the smoking...

But, opening night, my mom was there. She had come up for a visit with my brother. During the ass scene, through this guys legs, I could hear my mom laughing in the audience, above everyone else's laughter, I could hear my mother. All the sweat, banged up knees, soaking wet clothes, all of that justified in on person's laughter.

Since then I've had a new appreciation for the craft that Lyss has been practicing for years and years. Seeing all of the goings on today took me back to that happy time.

Friday, October 28, 2011

THOUGHTS: Birthdays and the Opposite Thereof

Tomorrow is my brother's nineteenth birthday. He's a freshman at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado. That's where attempted to go to school once. He's having better luck with it than I am, which isn't saying much I suppose. He plays football and is held accountable by it, whereas I just had to go, and I didn't go to class as often as I should. But I'm digressing...

I remember the day in fourth grade when my dad picked my sister and me up from school and told us we had a brother. I was stoked because, as I remember it, my sister wanted a girl so badly, and I wanted a brother. I won! I had all of these flashes in my head about how cool it was going to be to have a little brother. Now, almost two decades later, I'm just as enthusiastic about him in my life, even if my ideas of what we do together have changed drastically.

Almost six years ago, my son was born. Similarly, I had flashes of what we would be doing together, of all the things I would teach him, how we would grow together, me as a man, he into a man.

I had no idea that almost five months later, he'd be gone. Just like that. Gone.

My aunt, who recently lost her own son, had posted online today that "time heals all wounds", that whoever said that was full of shit.  I'm inclined to agree. Wounds may heal, but we carry the scars for life. They give us character, remind us of the duality of life.

I think of my brother, my first son, and my second son, the boy sleeping on the couch right now. I think of how much happiness and sorrow these people have brought into my life, how much of a rollercoaster this hs all been for me, albiet a rollercoaster that's taken years to run its course. Then I realize that it's not a rollercoaster at all. It's simply life. It's a series of events, some to be celebrated, some to be mourned, but all to be remembered an revered.

Time does not heal all wounds. However, we have it in us to look at those scars that define us, to acknowledge them as part of us, just like the good people in our lives are part of us.

Life is only beautiful when you see it for what it truly is: scarred, precious, happy... forgiven. Have the courage to see yours for what it really is.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

THOUGHTS: The Great and Mysterious

For years, I have been captivated by the idea of a secret society. When I was a kid, I used to see my grandpa Gibb's Shriner regalia all over the house. I believe I was all related to the El-Jebel Shrine. Later, driving south of Colorado Springs, I passed the Al-Kali Shrine and it had renewed my interest in the secret offshoot of the Masons. I wanted to know more.

All the while, I had grown up watching movies like Star Wars, being absolutely taken by the Jedi and their ideals, their stance as being protectors of the free universe, yet secretive and exclusive in their admission of younglings and padawans.

My journey to satisfy this hunger has taken me in some very interesting directions, and not just in a secret-handshake club sense. It helped me find a faith, the type that isn't boxed in to a requirement of a belief. It pushed me to develop a moral code, the type that grows an learns from experience, both self-inflicted and uncontrollable.

Even now, I'm still looking for answers, hammering away at this tiny keyboard, knowing that by putting myself out into the universe through words, that the answers may come back from places I never expected. The secrets of the universe reveal themselves to those who have the courage to stand into the wind and open their eyes.

The Great and Mysterious is out there, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

CHRONICLES: Another Typical Day

It's chilly outside, and The Stinky (Malcolm) is finally sleeping on the couch. The house is warm, and the flickering christmas-type lights Lyss has hung in the kitchen make the room flicker as if it was candle-lit. It's a very cozy place. The one thing it lacks at this particular moment is a good friend and a bottle of good whiskey. That shall soon be remedied, methinks. If there's any one thing a winter in Ketchikan makes, it's cozy nights with friends... and whiskey.

Lyss is off at rehearsal. Her job for this upcoming First City Players production of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" is assistant directing. It sounds like it's plenty of work. She stays as busy with this as I do at work, from what it sounds like. As much fun as I had working on "Escanaba in da Moonlight", I don't think I can bring myself to do another show in the future. I think I'm put off by the possibility of not having as much fun, not making the audience laugh as much as I did last summer. It was a beautiful moment when I could hear my mother laugh through Seth's legs while my head was wedged up his ass. Sigh... the things I do...

The bosses are out of town camping out and being men, which leaves a skeleton crew at he shop during the day. Still, we've been very productive, especially since the wind storm last night broke so many windows. It's been great to get going on things. Today, I helped Craig install a glass shower door, and tomorrow, I'll likely help him finish the job.

As for right now, I'm enjoying my quiet time, sipping my coffee, and thanking the Gods for not being in some place cold and uninviting as winter settles in over southeast Alaska.



CHRONICLES: Burr

It has been raining hard all day. I remember, living in Colorado, I always looked forward to a good hard rain, especially when it acompanied huge claps of thunder and the occasional very close strike of a lightening bolt. I even remember one evening stroll when I lived on Capitol Hill, about this time of year if I can remember correctly, when it was snowng hard. It was that snow that keeps the sky pink and lit up for hours after the sun has gone down. Walking through this snow, this evening, I saw the clouds above me light up with lightning. When the thunder came seconds later, the muffled sound it made was different than anything I'd ever heard.

Anyway, I digress. Here, it rains. And the wind blows. Hard. It's shaking our double-paned picture window. I can hear more rain hitting our wall than I can our ceiling. It's pretty amazing! I love the wind!

Tomorrow, I have a glass install to do with Mr. Craig. The weather shouldn't be too tough to negotiate. It's an interior piece of glass, a fixture for a shower. I'm looking forward to changing my pace from graphics and printing. I'm much better organized when I feel mental clarity. The last blog I wrote really helped that, though.

I'm looking forward to dozing off to the sound of this incredible rain storm, and I'm looking forward to seeing what a southeast Alaskan winter really looks like.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

THOUGHTS: Experiencing Forgiveness

I have done some shitty things in my life.

Seriously, I know it's odd to start a blog like this, but let's be honest with each other. I've surfed the internet while on the clock at work. I've petended to be sleeping to avoided talking to someone. When I was in eighth grade, I watched two of my friends break into a house and didn't say anything about it. I once tried to fake a dislocated shoulder for sympathy. I killed a duck once with a rock.

I've lied. I've stolen. I've blown off really good friends, and forced myself into the lives of others. I've taken advantage of people.

Every once in a while, after a big come-to-Jesus with myself or somebody else, after the following days/weeks/months/years/decades even of awkward silence or weirdness, something will come out of the woodwork and remind me of what a selfish bastard I've been... and how far I've come. I've used the word "forgiveness" liberally in the past, usually to describe how someone's forgiven me, and how that's a huge and inspiring thing... for a while. I rarely feel the need to forgive others as I eventually and self-depracatingly figure that karma owes me a kick in the butt, that they were probably decent before we got involved in whatever capacity.

The part nature of the word "forgiveness", the real essence of it, is something that continued to elude me for the longest time, until recently, when I was reading an article called "A Pattern So Vast" by Kate Tucker, the Associate Minister of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Minneapolis. In this article, she talks about forgivness, and the healing power of being able to forgive one's SELF. I think for some, it's too easy and not as deeply considered as it has to be. For the dark places some people go, a simple self-forgiving usually translates into justification, and the pattern continues.

However, I was thinking about the concept. I mean, REALLY trying to wrap my head around the idea that the only person who needs your forgiveness is yourself, and, conversely, you're the only person you need it from. I looked up after reading this article and saw this Buddhist quotation I had put up on the board for my wife and I to read every once in a while. "You, yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."... and forgiveness.

I've gotten on my soap box about how God (or whatever you choose to call the light behind all things) practices infinite forgiveness with all of us, God's children. Whether we stole a candy bar once when we were six or murdered millions of Jewish people when we were competent adults, God would see whatever good there is in us all, celebrate that, and wrap us in that warm and secure love for eternity. That's forgiveness.

But that's forgiveness from God. That's easy to talk about, and almost as easy to believe when you're here in a very real earth, in a time where there are many challenges. And even with an unwavering belief in this, it's still hard to find the courage or justification or even, simply, the reasons to forgive yourself.

Then, as if a warm sip of coffee warmed my stomach after hours in the cold, something hit me. I remembered three words I had written in a phrase below the quotation on the dry-erase board in our kitchen. Three words that the main character in Robert Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" says so often in the book:

"Thou art God."

I felt as if somebody was in the room saying it to me, and for the first time, I believed it.  Not in the sense that I'm God as I believe it. I believed it in the sense that I finally realized that, having an essense of God within me, as we all do, I had the power to forgive myself.

I felt more content than I have in a long time. It was a beautiful moment.

I hope, if you're reading this, that you know you're loved. Loved by yourself. Truly loved. This person that loves you, when they forgive you, it's the key to unlocking the happiness you never thought attainable before.

Thou art God.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

THOUGHTS: One Big Non-Sequitor

You may be thinking, because of the title, that I'm going to whine about things in my life that I haven't accomplished. Well, I was thinking more along the lines of simply talking about how I keep forgetting my dreams, that usually they're vivid and I can at least remember a big chunk of them and how I felt about them. Lately, though, I only remember bits and peices, scenes, and don't even have a feel for the context. Maybe it's just because my sleep patterns have been slightly altered. I don't really know.

It's cool in Ketchikan this morning. Forty-five degrees and rainy. Fall is settling in, and bringing along its honesty, a toolkit of autumn weather, and with those tools, will engineer a way to keep people inside with their families and good food, or, tragically, cold and wet and hungry before the gluttonous holiday season.

I know that was a non-sequitor, but that's my mood this morning.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

THOUGHTS: Moving Beyond The Past

When I was in high school, I had several odd jobs. I washed dishes at a Chinese restaurant. I pulled weeds at an outdoor lab school. I sold popcorn and ran ancient projectors at an ancient movie theater. Everyone in my generation knew that theater, too.

The Unique was, well, unique. Built as the Salida Opera House in 1890, the theatre had dressing rooms, room for an orchestra, and, with the balcony, seated over six hundred people. As the place changed hands and went through various incarnations over the years, it found itself in the hands of the Groy family. When I worked there, John Groy owned it. He also owned a small theater in nearby Buena Vista called "The Pearl", and the only drive-in for almost 100 miles around, "The Commanche".

The Unique was a magnificent place. The ceiling was huge, and a sound system which featured "surround sound" didn't really do it justice. There was no heating system, other than the huge propane "jet engines" that John would put in the very front, just in front of the old stage. The running joke was that you always had to go in the winter with sleeping bags and blankets.

At some point, after I left Salida, the Unique was shut down by the people who eforced fire codes. I don't know details of what happened next, except that it was sold by John to a gentleman who couldn't pay the city for it (how the city of Salida came about it is a mystery to me, although an old friend and co-worker said it was practically robbery). Well, as opposed to trying to procure funds to save the building, the practical solution, unfortunately, was to tear the auditorium down.

A few days ago, my dad sent me a picture of the pile of rubble. As saddening as it is, I've found myself involved here in Ketchikan with a theatre company diligently raising money to build a performing arts complex. It's a circle, and it shows me that the past is past for a reason, that it was a tremendous experience, full of fond memories and happiness associated with my teenage years. Kind of an obvious metaphor, I suppose, but at least I'm writing about it instead of just thinking to myself, "wow, how weird is that?"

Sunday, October 16, 2011

CHRONICLE: A Quick Walk Across the Street

I live off a road locally referred to as "Tongass". It's actually Alaska State Highway 7, which is ridiculous because it doesn't go anywhere. It's also officially called Tongass Highway in honor of the surrounding rainforest and marine channels.

At any rate, I crossed Tongass and walked up the hill in Refuge Court, where they're developing land for houses. At the very top was a lot for over $67,000, almost 20,000 square feet. The view was petty neat.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

THOUGHTS: The Other Side

Malcolm has a strange gift, it seems. Maybe it's not a gift as much as it's an awareness that all children have, that we lose as we get older through sociological growth and regression.

In our front hall, we have a large, framed picture of Malcolm's brother Tiberius. Tibbs would have been five years old next month, yet he didn't see his first birthday. The other day, Lyss was getting ready to leave the house and Malcolm saw the picture. He looked at it, and his perception was very plain. "Bye," he said. "Bye," like he knew that he wasn't going to see Tibbs again.

A day or two later, we went to a gathering at a friends house. On her wall were vintage pictures from a collection her grandparents had. Malcolm looked at one of these pictures, one with three men and a toy airplane. His response was the same. "Bye."

What is it about children that we don't understand as adults? Obviously, we must have understood it at some point when we were children ourselves. Somehow we get programmd to believe that these things aren't possible.

I've heard and read stories where children have been able to see ghosts, to pedict their own deaths, to predict the deaths of others. In a way, I'm envious, but I choose to be more blissfully ignorant of such things, maybe it's because life is simpler without such paranormal and taboo things in it. Still, I remain in awe of the concept, and I will continue looking on with a reverene and fascination.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

CHRONICLES: A Dark and Rainy Evening

Ketchikan is a very unique place. The other day, through my job, I had to do a walk-through of the local Trident Seafoods cannery. The place is a powerhouse. They have the capabilities of canning one and a half million cans of salmon every week. I can't remember all of the statistics the guy giving me the tour was rattling off, but it was pretty amazing. It putsinto perspective how much of the local economy is based on fishing.

The days have been getting shorter. In Colorado, they seemed to lose a minute or two every day. Here, because of our latitude, it seems as though we lose five or ten minutes a day. It's almost as if you ca actually feel the tilt of the Earth swinging away from the sun. (Yes, I know that the angle stays relative to itself and the position of Earth changes as I circumnavigates the sun...) Still, it's a little unsettling that it feels like a month ago, it was light an hour or two later than it is now, and it's been dark for an hour or two already. We haven't even fallen back into standard time yet.

Last month, Ketchikan received almost thirty inches of rain. When I spoke with my dad on the phone, he made the point that we had three or four years worth of the rain they receive in his part of Colorado. It would be interesting to see what would happen if our precipitation switched places for a year. They would have floods and mudslides and overgrowth of grass and no fires. We would have dirty clothes, empty salmon spawning streams, lots of fires, and lots of shipping water up here.

Still, it's very calming being so near the ocean. Every day I spend here helps me understand the attraction the ocean has to so many people. As we're on the Inside Passage, we don't really hear the constant breaking of waves and the like. Still, it's quaint to see the gentle rise and fall of tides as your day slowly moves on, as the Alaskan worker keeps on task diligently.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

THOUGHTS: The Line Between Peaceful Resignation and Defiance

My whole life, for the most part, has lent my confrontational abilities to be quiet, contemplative, and secure. I've convinced myself that doing so makes me the better person, stronger for having the maturity to not instigate or fight back. This has done volumes in serving me well to a degree. Situations tha could have become fights, brawls, friendship-ending knock-down, drag-out battles rooted in misunderstandings and miscommunications have been calmly placed on a back-burner, while the real issues have been addressed with resolve.

The caveat to this train of thought is that in doing so, one could constue the actions here as avoidance, cowardice, and pensievity. The truth is, in certain situations, this assessment is true. There are times when the truth must be sought through the heat of battle, when it cannot be obtained by taking the road around such infernos of emotions. These are times when that fine line between deciphering which road is the higher one is almost impossible to see.

Erring on the side of caution is a wonderful idea, but I have to question it. If one is to always err on the side of caution, are they not liable to err too much, to err themselves into a complacency where the risk involved with standing up to an issue has the potential to reward you even more?

Next time you're in a situation where you feel like youe more noble for sitting it out, for thinking about it and returning with a response when the seas have calmed a bit, consider this: you may be adding fuel to a fire by refusing to jump into that fire and plug the leak. Sometimes we have to immerse ourself in our conflicts to really address and correct them, and there is nothing less noble by taking this path.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Went outside in a hard rain, and then suddenly the rain stopped. Literaly like someone flipped a switch. Bizarre!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

THOUGHTS: Music and Reflection

It's amazing how powerful melody and rhythm can be when put together. I was journalling and writing a friend a letter tonight, and I had some post-rock from a band called "The Darning Needle" playing in the background. One of the two guys in the band used to be my production manager when I worked in Denver, and he had told me about one song he had written for his grandmother who had passed away just before then. It came on, and it took me back to a place in my life where I was just starting this BattleWagon Chronicles.

Music, to me, is a memory trigger stronger than a smell or a photograph or visiting a place. Sometimes it's happy, sometimes it's a very dark place. I was taken back earlier to a happy place in high school by having an "Usher" song pop into my head. It reminded me of cruising around in my friend Stephen's Mazda 626, drivin up and down F Street in Salida, going to 7-11 to get nacho's and Mountain Dew.

I found that when I want to immerse myself in a contemplative emotion, I have to do little else than put some headphones on and listen to the type of music that I feel will put me in a better place. Nothing beats finding an Alaskan beach, quiet, the moist fall air in my lungs, and some of "The Helium Arch" or "Maserati" or "Radiohead" gently pouring its way into my soul through my ears.

I dig music.

CHRONICLE: Tatoosh Island

Saturday morning, my friend Steve took me fishing north of here toward an island called Tatoosh. We loaded up the Golden Rule and left Knudson Cove, tired and mellow for different reasons. We hopped north of the Revillagigedo coast and started trolling maybe a mile off-shore. The poles got dropped in the water, and we enjoyed the creature comforts of this fine boat. The Rule, a thirty foot metal-hulled Almar, is complete with a dinette, kitchen, bunk, and head, and features a nice deck out back for fishing and the like.

Twice in our outing we spotted pods of humpback whales bubble-feeding. This is fascinating. The whales swim in slow circles, releasing air bubbles forming a large column around a school of herring. They gently make the circle smaller until the school is densly packed, afraid to swim through the bubbles. When this is accomplished, the whales then open their giant mouths and swim upwards, into the fish, and breach the surface of the ocean. What we see from the boat is a huge mass of seagulls diving for fish in the moments before giant gaping whale mouths jut out of the water. It's pretty spectacular.

After catching one (and only one) silver salmon, we trolled to Tatoosh, where we navigated inside a narrow channel. Steve wanted to show me some virgin cliffs, ripe for the climbing. It doesn't look like a very difficult peice of property, and the whole experience has done a lot to motivate my climbing sensibilities. I miss being outside, truly being lost in it. It may be time to get out soon.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

THOUGHTS: Some Weird Astronomical Timing/Respecting the Natural Flow

Weird how some events seem to converge at certain times. People who don't know each other, somehow feel very similar things at very congruent times. Even if the things they feel aren't related, somehow the scope of their emotions and the type of their emotions seem to ramp up at similar times. Some would accredit this to fate or astrological timing. I don't care much to figure out why, as it takes my focus away from immersing myself in the simple fact that it purely IS.

I sit here pounding away on a tiny keyboard with my sore thumbs after having put in an arduous day at work digging holes and pouring concrete.  My house's emotions were somewhat spun into a negative place through my own ignorance, which has happened before. That was addressed. Then I had a conversation and a text-ersation with two very close friends on separate issues, issues which I was helpless to change except by lending an ear (or eyes) and some very gentle words of encouragement.

Life experience has taught me not to dwell on my own shortcomings, to quietly and affirmatively listen to those who need to be listened to, much like a barkeeper in a small hole-in-the-wall does to the wayward patron. Listen. Keep their glass full, and they'll keep the cup full of thoughts and emotions, a cup more fruitful when shared than when imbibed alone.

We all fall victem to ourselves and our surroundings too often. More often than not, it's to ourselves in our reactions to our surroundings or our actions. What we frequently fail to realize is how much our own head chooses our path for us instead of just letting us go with the natural course of things.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Dark Side

If you're at all a follower of the Star Wars saga, you've likely heard Master Yoda say things like: "fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to the Dark Side." Yes, he's said many other things, but because of my mood this evening, this one has jumped to my mind. However, like a mathmatician, I've rearranged the wording to answer my own mood. If fear leads to anger, than one could assume that the root of anger is fear. And since I'm in a grumpy mood, I could assume that it's really because I'm scared.

Then again, Yoda may just be full of crap.  Who knows?

At any rate, I find myself in a conflicting and admittedly selfish mood this evening. The ebb and flow of life has presented upon me several congruent issues, things which some would consider great joys, others which some would refrain from even discussing, and still more that are simple, clear-cut, black and white as day and night, yet, for some reason, has left a small and menacing trace of itself in my head.

I suppose I should do as I've preached on this blog before and just let things be as they are, take them at face value, acknowledge their part in me and my part in them, and move on, instead of letting my mind sever and reconnect and break and repair, over and over again, my understanding of what is. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? And if life was ever truly broken, then none of us would be around to figure out why anyway.

Huh.

...I think I may be on to something.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

More of the Political Game

A few days go, I got caught up in the local nonsense. It's interesting to live in a state that only has one representative to the U.S. House of Representatives. It's also weird that when I've contacted one of my U.S Senator's offices, I've gotten a call back from that Senator, albiet after a month or so. In Colorado, the closest I ever got was seeing a representative in a "town hall meeting", which was unfortuntely little more than a speech given in too small a venue to make it seem more intimate.

Alaska feels disconnected from the rest of the country. In a way, it's because the people here are proudly defiant, and in another way, they're shamefully dejected. Either way, people feel like they're on their own up here. For having such a vast quantity of so many natural resources, there is also a lot of federal interference in the procurement of those resources. The timber industry has been annhiliated here. There was a huge pulp mill not one mile from where I live now that employed hundreds of people just over a decade ago. Many of those who lost their jobs blame Washington for the more strictly watched and counter-productive rules and regultions in timber.

Alaska trips me out.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

PROPHECY: The Dark Bridge

I was running. It wasn't for fear or hurriedness, but for the sake of doing so. I was jogging. Jogging through dark, moist, warm tunnels past friendly people. I was home. I ran through some long corridors until I happened into a large, cavernous room. A hole in the roof let the morning sun shine in. I ran across a large bridge, and I thought to myself how wonderful this bridge was, that if Ketchikan had bridges like this, I would have take up jogging eons ago just for the sake of crossing this bridge again and again.

At the opposite end of the bridge was a very old direlect bridge. I stopped and looked at it's rusty look, the copper and bronze construction giving it a very steam-punk feel. The darkness of the cavern seemed to make an exception for this antique. The boards accross the main span had rotted or fallen out years ago, but I could climb on top of the metal truss and cross it. The rock island on the other side seemed to be a mossy oasis. Children were playing there under a happy mother's supervision.

I climbed up and crossed, finding myself not on an island, but on a rock slap, similar in size and shape to a large cargo pallet, suspended from the cave roof by two ropes. The children and mother had vanished. Suddenly aware of my precarious situation, I watched as one woman simply jumped off, across to the adjacent cliff less than a yard away. Easy, I thought.

As I prepared for my own small jump, I then found myself laying on the slab. I felt weird. Something wasn't right. I was still upright. One of the ropes had come undone. A single rope held the slab aloft, and I was laying on it, vertically, hanging by that single rope. I reached up, wrapped my arm through the rope hoping that if it did break, only the rock would fall into the dark gorge below me...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Malcolm the Captain and the Blustery Cove

Today was an interestin day meteorologically. Big word. Twenty points to me. We had a high tide of nineteen feet this afternoon, which brought all of the boats in the city harbors up to street level. there were flooded parking lots all over the place. According to all of the tide books, Thanksgiving will bring us a nineteen point two foot high tide. It's very neat to see.

Tonight my phone beeped at me to let me know of a weather advisory. We're expecting fifty mile per hour gusts of wind tonight as a front moves through. Some gusts could get into the seventy mile per hour strength, and in channelled areas a few miles north, eighty five miles per hour. If you think about it, that's almost hurricane strength!

I had to come home a few minutes early today to tack some tar paper onto the side of the house that needs siding. It sounds and feels like I did that just in the nick of time. Our kitchen window was just starting to lak a little bit where the wind had previously tore some of the tar paper off. The disadvantage to renting a house is being unable to fix your own stuff. Still, I was glad to get out and put that tar paper up at least. That made me feel productive.

The Political Game

The politics here are unlike politics back home in Colorado. For starters, we're a much smaller state, demographically, with lots of industry. To put this into perspective, because of the revenue the state gets from fishing, oil, and lumber, the state is running a budget surplus, even factoring in the infamous Permanent Fund Dividend, which granted each Alaskan around $1,170 this year. (No, we get it next year. You have to be here a full year to qualify.)

Locally, the closest city is Ketchikan, seat of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough. Here in Alaska, we have boroughs and census-designated areas instead of counties like most of the lower 48. Alaska doesn't have a lot of boroughs. In fact, a very significant portion of the state is unorganized, meaning it falls directly under state jurisdiction. Some nearby cities, like Sitka, Juneau, and Yakutat (I use nearby in relative terms, they're hundreds of miles away from us here) are consolidated into City-Boroughs, much like Denver is a City-County.

Like cities elsewhere, Ketchikan has a city council and a mayor. The borough, however, has an assembly and a mayor as well, unlike counties down south, which have commissioners. Borough residents here often feel cheated, as so much of their commerce and taxation takes place in cities, regardless of whether or not they actually reside in them, and they can't vote for politicians that make the rules for those taxes. Hence the move nearby to consolidate into City-Boroughs.

It's very intriguing to me how the machine works up here. I hope to elaborate on the state and federal sides of things later. For now, I hope you learned a little bit, and I'll keep writing as often as I can.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Still Going

It's funny to me that, as a process, the blogging has become increasingly difficult. Without internet connection at my house for months and months, it's been hard for me to get excited or even motivated to sit down and hammer out something meaningful or useful on my smart phone, even with a hard keyboard at my disposal. The closest I've come in a while has been documenting my ferry trip on the M/V Columbia, which was a wonderful adventure, but an adventure that has been a tiny ray of light in a world deceptively seeming much darker than it truly is.

With a boy growing every day right before my eyes, a community around me that is compassionate and caring, and friends and family near and far who are constantly doing things to enrich their own lives and mine by proxy, my limited usual focus on those things which would be considered "awe inspiring" has seriously condensed the contents of this blog. This limited scope, conspiring with the self-inflicted unmotivation of actually blogging about anything, have left this blog empty, a shell of what it was when I was actually living in a 1994 GMC Safari and adding thirty posts a month to this.

I like to say that I'll keep writing, that I've had some huge life-changing experience that has me going further in potential blogging, but until the thumbs hit the keys on this tiny phone, I haven't really shown anyone anything of note, other than my own stagnation.

Suffice to say, I've finally managed to produce a blog about nothing, a blog that needs to change for the better, and I can only hope that typing this out and focing myself to read it shocks me into knowing what I'm capable of as a writer, an explorer, a friend, and a seeker of a larger and undefinable personal truth.  Hopefully the few of you still reading this can relate somhow in your own lives to that feeling and cut me a little undeserved slack, and, hopefully, that's rewarded with some head-out-of my-own-ass determination to make this a more interesting blog.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Humility, Gratitude, and the Force

I know sometimes it seems as though I'm beating a dead horse when I have my quaint epiphanies about life, things I've discovered, how much it's changed me, et cetera.  Truth be told, I do feel lots of things, some monumental in their scope and nature, and while it does effect me, I don't take with me the lasting implications of those events nearly as often as I should.  I suppose, in many ways, because of the course my life has taken, I don't believe I've really had the spine for it. It's very hard to take stock of the things you have and apply things you know you should have but push you outside of your comfort zone.

I have been humbled by my own poor decisions more times than I care to meet. Somehow, maybe out of sheer loyalty to my friends and family, I have been graced to have somehow plucked good people out of the world and dropped them into my life for however long. Sometimes they've only been around for a year or two. Sometimes a week or two. Others I still communicate after almost a quarter of a century since we've first met.  The friendships I've found are usually lasting friendships, the kinds that include memories of good and of bad times.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Adventures on the M/V Columbia

Two nights ago, I set out for Ketchikan on the largest ship of the Alaska Marine Highway System Fleet, the M/V Columbia. At over four hundred feet long, she's a large ship, and she seems to have a very thorough crew, including one young man who wears his hear and sideburns in accordance to styles of the early twentieth century. He has the suspenders to boot. He doesn't say much, though, despite more than one attempt to solicit conversation.

At any rate, despite waiting for two hours in Bellingham in the eighty degree muggy heat to board, we still left on time. On our way out of the harbor, Mt. Rainier rose to great prominence over the Washington terrain. We gently motored south, out of the bay, and turned north around a point to starboard, heading for our destination.

I confess, I went to the Columbia's cocktail lounge straight away, mostly out of curiousity, but also to have a drink with my new friend, the ship itself. The lounge, a product of the late nineteen-seventies, was dimly lit, adorned with cherry or mohogony tabletops and red, leather-esqe cushions in the booths. From the ceiling hung hundreds of clustered globe-lights, the sort you would see in bathrooms over a mirror, except dimmed considerably. The centerpiece of the lounge was a large tube television display that showed the same radar readout that was displayed on the bridge.

After the lounge, I returned to the Solarium on Deck Eight, the Bridge Deck, the top of the ship. I set up my bed, and then sat at the rear, putting my feet up on the rail, and enjoying the view. The sun slowly set to our port side, and under the cover of the Solarium roof, the electric heaters came to life. Still tired from my marathon drive (Denver to Bellingham in less than twenty-four hours), I made my bed and fell asleep.

The next morning, I rose with the first hint of sunlight. It was only four-thirty, but the coffee was brewed down in the Snack Bar. I got a hot cup and donned a long sleeve shirt and my favorite hat, a beanie my dad had given me over twenty years ago. Again, I returned to the rear deck, enjoying my black coffee and the view that made the taste as sweet as hot chocolate. After half an hour or so, the sun was showing through, and dolphins of a type unknown to me began surfing the wake off the port bow. They looked similar to the famous bottlenose dolphins you see in movies, but I'm not as familiar as I could be with the dolphins of British Columbia. As people gathered to enjoy the show, I returned to my bed, propping it up to enjoy a book lent to me by a friend back home.

As I began to read, I looked up to notice a thick fog had rolled in. Just as I had done so, the ships fog-horn blew, and I felt confident that the experienced crew, not I, the Chechako, were piloting this heavy metal beast through the narrow passages around the thousands of islands that make up the Alexander Archipelago.

I went to refill my coffee, and then returned to my book. With the fog hiding the wonderous distractions of islands and wildlife, I decided to sit, write some of my experiences here, and then return to my book.

I read for a few hours, and then the fog lifted, and the sun shone brightly in front of blue skies. Humpback whales were lobster-tailing off both sides of the ship. Passengers all flocked to the top decks with their cameras, hoping to catch a glimpse, but the time the word was out, the whales were too far off.

I went to the balcony as we motored slowly, passing Bella Bella and the BC Ferry Northern Exposure. It looked like a cruise ship next to our luxury liner of days past. Still, comparable in size, and sailing in the opposite direction, we waved at our Canadian counterparts.

I proceeded downstairs two deck to the prosser's desk and found our place on the map. Then I went up one deck to relax and take in Gulliver's Travels with Jack Black in the theater lounge. It makes me anxious to see my family.

I went out to the port starboard sie as we passed a tiny lighthouse bearing Canada's flag on it's pole. The captain blew the horn, hoping to solicit the lonesome keeper to the deck for the a wave. After nobody appreared, the captain got on he PA and declaired that he must have gone to CostCo. My theory is that if he took a job with that much isolation, he probably doesn't want cruise ships and ferries blowing his horn every time they sail by. He was probably in his living room avoiding the nonsense.

The sun gently set behind us as the moon rose off the starboard. Being nearly full, the moon was a sight to behold.  This huge, orange orb seemed to hang just oer he mountains, as if ptiently waiting to answer a prayer or light the way for some wayward traveller.

I returned to the Solarium where I promptly fell asleep, though early (only six-thirty). I slept long and hard, and woke up with the sun barely scraping the black of the dawn sky. I shot up, folded my blankets, and went downstairs to check the radar, filling my coffee along the way. I found our location, sailing north past the inside of Mary Island. We had made it back to the United States! I grabbed my stuff, turned my cell phone back on, and quickly updated my Facebook page to "State of Alaska". I had been updating it with every city I had passed through since Rawlings, Wyoming.

Now with only one more update to go, the excitement slowly started to build. I can see Revillagigedo Island, my home, and I can see Gravina and Annette Islands. I was almost there!

The PA sounded, and those disembarking had waited in the stairwell, anxious to get down to the car deck and leave. For many, this was simply a stop on the way to Wrangell, Petersburg, Juneau, Haines, or Skagway. For those of us from Ketchikan, we were home. I loaded up in my van, and carefully backed it out in the ferry bay and then proceeded up the ramp to dry land. Ketchikan was beautiful. The sun was shining and warming. I was home.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Police!

How long did I live in ny van? Yes, yes, I usually parked in places that were legal parking ares but sometimes I didn't. I never got approached by the police. Even in January, here, I stayed in the same spot and didn't even see a cop.

Tonight was different. I'm sleeping soundly when I wake up to a gentle tap on the window. "Sir, you are aware this an 8 hour parking zone?" "Yssir, I parked here at 10:00 tonight. I was hoping to sleep until the morning.  I have a ferry to catch in the morning." "Are you taking the vehicle with you?" "Are you kidding? My wife would kill me if I left all of our stuff in Bellingham." I proceeded to show him my ferry ticket, which included passage for a vehicle. "Thanks. Just wanted to make sure."

Interesting plce, Bellingham. The finest need to make sure people who have parked for an hour in an 8 hour zone aren't going to abandon their vehicles and tear away to Alaska. The state of things isn't THAT bad is it? Or is it?

He left, and now I'm going back to sleep.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Latest Cross-Country Trek

A few days ago, I flew back to Denver to visit with friends and family, load up some straggling odds and ends, and drive my old BattleWagon 2 back to the Great Wet North. The ominous circumstances that surrounded this trip began early.

For example, in making a trip to pick up some stuff from someone who I've had a sort of falling-out with, I managed to destroy my alternator. It didn't simply stop working as they often do. I destroyed it. My brother and I heard the serpentine belt come off. Then we smelled the burnt, greasy metal. When we pulled over to investigate, smoke seeped out of the engine compartment. Once the hood was unlatched, we noticed flames coming from the molten-metal hole where the alternator used to exist. The core was resting on a hose that belonged to the power steering pump system. It was in disrepair, to say the least. What did I do about it? Walked over to the local general store/cafe and bought myself a beer, of course. It was a nut brown, and it struck me as bitter and hoppy, but it had alcohol and carbonation, which worked for me.

Thanks to the good graces of very noble and generous family members, it was taken care of, reanimated from the realm of junk-yard living spaces for the homeless. I left the next day.

What followed was a whrilwind of friends, meals, video games, chores, playing with my "nephew", holding my "neice -or- future daughter-in-law", calling everyone who wanted a ride somewhere up north, and finally settling on picking up a hitch-hiker as a last ditch effort for some company.

That plan was solid gold. Met an interesting young man named Vincent, a starving 24-year-old artist who spends time wherever he lands. His mission was to get from Boulder to Olympia to see about a girl. He gave me some money and one of his water-colors, called me "wise" after a theological/political/state-of-the-world/late-night-on-caffiene conversation.

The radio was dead, so I listened to several choice items from my phone's tiny database of music, including Radiohead, Caspian, Band of Horses, and The Helium Arch, a one-man band built by Bob Niles, my former production manager at my last straight job before SignPro. Maybe that contributed to my afore-mentioned "wisdom". I don't really know.

Don't drive on sidewalks on college campuses. They have a habit of making you think they're actually roads.  They're not.

I left Denver at 10:15ish yesterday morning, but I mentally checked out the night before in my head to find ride buddies on craigslist. Because of that, I missed tacos with a good friend of mine. Because I had to leave yesterday, I missed a get-together with another good friend of mine.

I got here around 9:00 this morning. That's 15 minutes shy of 24 hours to drive amost 2,000 miles. Last time it took me 21 hours before I passed out, and I still had almost 300 miles to go. I think I established myself as a D.P.B.A.: Driver, Pretty Bad-Ass.

Attention people of Seattle: the left lane is for passing cars in the right lane. In order to pass (or overtake, as some call it), one must drive their car FASTER than the opposing car. Seriously, I drove for miles behind some jerk in an '81 Corvette because he couldn't slow down or speed up for two seconds to move over. All he did was give a thumbs-up to some other guy in a '68 Camaro... at least the Camaro driver was in the slow lane. Sigh.

What else do I have to rant about? Let me think. Oh! People of craigslist: if you commit to going on a trip to Seattle with a stranger, even to the point of spelling out how you're going to pay for your share, asking what beers would help best to ease tensions, saying you're excited for the adveture with a new buddy, maybe... I don't know... DO IT!

Last, but certainly not least, attention all douche-bag kids: you know exactly who you are, and that's what makes you a punk. You parents, while sometimes they may just blow it at parents, they don't suck. They will wind up bailing your tough-guy self into your thirties and then. Some, apparently. Just because they let you take your time in figuring your shit out doesn't mean you have to. Get off your ass and do something hat doesn't involve how awesome you think you are (douche-bag), and when you're done, try, I don't know, maybe letting your parents know that the things they've done for you were noted, appreciated, and returned whe they need to be bailed out...

...

...unless, of course, your parents are douche-bags, too. Then screw them, prove to them that you're better you OR they thought you ever would be.

Wow, what a tangent. Boat times coming up. "It was more of an exposure."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Got the blog back on the mobile justice! It's gonna be a good day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fondness

One of the neatest experiences in my life was being lucky enough to have one of my best friends tattoo me in honor of one of my favorite people. When I lived in my BattleWagon, I got a tattoo of a rose and fudge stripe cookies. My friend Monkey designed and tattooed it himself. Rose was my grandmother's name, and she always had fudge stripe cookies at her house.

The other day, I was in the store, and I saw a pack of the cookies. I snagged a quick picture and thought of all the good times. We're lucky to have the people we do in our lives. It's good to see that sometimes.


Alaskan Summer Evenings

After a beautiful, sunny day, I came home to a sleeping toddler. I'm still recovering from a cold, and the wind and clouds picked up, so I got comfy with the tyke and popped in The Empire Strikes Back, and enjoyed a quiet evening. I still have this view out the window, so it's not a loss by any means...


A Slice of Heaven in the Morning

This is the way to start a morning in Alaska... or anywhere else, I suppose.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Random Update

Alaska has been good to us so far, even though I haven't had the means with which to explore as often as I would like. I understand those things are in my future, and like anyone else, I'm patiently waiting and working hard to get those means. It looks like September will bring a road trip through five states and international waters. I'm excited for stops in Moab, Utah and pretty much every hole in the wall done we see on the way.

It's been cool here. Rainy, foggy, amazing. I hear horror stories of friends in Colorado just melting in the 100° heat. I'm happy here.



Monday, June 13, 2011

Looking for a New Direction

You're probably thinking it's about time I admitted it to myself, but I feel like it's time to move in another direction with another blog. I loved this one, and then I lost my name, moved into a real place, and the cause somehow became foreign to me. Granted, I did wind up in Alaska, and I have had a great many experiences with the BattleWagons along the way that were life changers, but now my change of life will have to be a little bit deeper.

What have I learned? I always thought it was about exploring the human condition and pushing the envelope, but it turned out it was more about pushing my own boundaries. I met other people who lived my life style, or who lived more impoverished than I, voluntarily or not.

I also learned that I miss the adventure of not knowing where I was going to sleep that night, or if I was going to be harassed.

If I could do it again, I would, and I still may. I don't think this mission of mine ever ends, nor should it.

Maybe next time, it'll be on a boat.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fog near Goonies Cove

The cove where Lyss and I have wound up is called Ward Cove. Because of the direlect boats and the remnants of the old pulp mill, it has that feel of the movie Goonies. She has said so much, so now it's Goonies Cove. On the inland side of it, where Ward Creek comes out of the island and meets the ocean, there are relatively high mountains that surround it.  On this foggy, rainy day, the tops of these mountains are covered by clouds. It's pretty spectacular.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Here Comes The Rain Again

You know you're an NPR junkie when you listen to Will Shortz's puzzle and the guest that calls and has to play is blowing it, and you're frustrated! WTF?

Yesterday, we volunteered at KRBD, the local public radio station. I'm hoping to spend enough time there that I get a show at some point. I'm hoping the same for Lyss. It would be good for us.

Today, we were thinking of hiking near "Wolverine Lake" or more correctly called Cornell Lake, a reservoir a few miles from town up Ward Creek. I call it Wolverine Lake because the dam and the area look like the secret area where Logan a.k.a. Wolverine got the atimantium grafted onto his bones in the X-Men comics. It's really pretty, but I think about it in this cool, carnal, manly. I really want to go there and howl like I have claws coming from the back of my hands.

But... it's raining. We'll see if it clears up. If not, only 5 more episodes of Space: Above and Beyond...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday

Today looks like a busy day for me and the family. This morning, I need to round up all the trash for a trip to the dump. Then I need to volunteer for KRBD, Ketchikan's NPR station. After that, I'm going to try to get some design work done (finally) for friends outside of work. Then, I'm going to come home, put laundry away, and we'll see if I have time to get a hike in or not.

First things first, though. Malcolm needs to eat.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Catching Up...

Wow... I haven't posted anything in a very long time. And there's been so much to post! I apologize. Truth be told, I was really disheartened by the jerks who stole my original domain name, www.battlewagonchronicles.com, and used it to market stupid bullshit. It's my own fault, though. I didn't renew it in an instant, and, for better or worse, they bought it. So... I bought a shorter name, BWChronicles.com. So here I am... back in Alaska... with my family.

I got back here a few months ago. I drove up, straight from Denver to Yakima, Washington in 22 hours. I had a full little BattleWagon, Lyss's CR-V "Mabel", with no room for anything but me and Harry the cat. I slept for 8 hours at a rest stop, and then I went the rest of the way to Bellingham to catch the ferry.

From there, I took the M/V Malaspina to Ketchikan, a two night, three day adventure that plopped me down in an icy and cold Ketchikan at six in the morning on a Sunday. I started working the next day, and then picked up Lyss and Malcolm from the airport the next day.

Since then, I've been working my ginger butt off, trying to save up some money to pay back those who helped us move. The BattleWagon II is parked at my parents house, full of stuff from the HomeBase in Denver that I'll need to bring up at some point.

Beyond that, we've had some time to get out and see some stuff as a family, and I'm finding a new appreciation for doing the things with Malcolm that my parents did with me when I was a kid.

The photo here is a hero shot of Malcolm in the place I got one of my best pictures from nearly a year ago. We're happy here, and I need to spend more time doing the things I love... writing, adventuring, getting hyper and excited to be alive. I've had too many reminders lately of how quickly things can change. Co-workers gone suddenly. Friends with babies on the way. Babies learning to crawl, walk, talk, and smile on cue. Friends losing marriages. Siblings graduating from high school. Parents with an empty nest. A new state, new laws, new benefits, new draw-backs. Revitalized love for a family that I was emotionally away from. Renewed love for a family I'm geographically away from now.

Life is short, and I've erred in selling myself short. It can't carry on. It wont .

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sunrise

A few days ago, I caught this sunrise over the cove. I took this picture from the kitchen window of the new HomeBase here in Ketchikan. I'm excited for summer. It'll be great to have so much daylight to mess around with. I'm looking forward to working and home improvement and exploration and stuff.

Saturday Morning Inspirations

It's quarter to 8 in the morning, Alaska time. I've been up for almost for hours. I took advantage of the time to finish reading Robert Heinlein's "Stranger In A Strange Land". What an amazing commentary that book was on narrow-minded people, faithful followers of this faith or that one, with hearts full of hatred and awkward taboos. After reading the ending this morning, I feel compelled to consider myself and everyone, everything around me God. Thou art God. It's a very Universalist concept if you grok it rightly, that we are all God, all part of an interconnected web of life, part of the Force, and the list of religious references goes on.

I watched the sunrise this morning, wondering what was in store for this day. The sun climbed out from nerving the mountains on my Revillagigedo Island, slowly painting the narrows and the hills on Gravina Island with orange and red hues of alpenglow. The cool contast of the haze and snow-caped 3000 foot peaks offered a larger-than-life-sized analogy of the yin and yang that God and Mother Nature must have created together.

Sigh... I love Alaska.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Rain

Winter in Ketchikan is an adventure. When the rest of the country is freezing, we have a low of 44°... and rain. Last week we had four sunny days in a row. But now, rain. I love this place.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Back At The Cabin

I found myself standing on the deck of the cabin again, the place of the relaxation of the previous summer. This time, I saw it through the unforgiving eyes of a Ketchikan winter, a beautifully powerful chill and slate gray clouds garnishing the view.

The cabin thus ceases to be a simple place of rest and relaxation and becomes a solitary refuge against the elements. The wood stove is now the heart of the cabin.

I look forward to warm food on a warm cabin.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Frigid Nature

Tonight, I sit on the forward lounge of the M/V Malispina, one og the larger ships in the Alaska Marine Highway System. It's one hell of a storm we're chugging into, although the waters aren't nearly as choppy as they were earlier today.

It's 7:30, and it's been dark for a few hours already. Last night, I sleep on the solarium at my new friend Matt's insistance. Had I been ten years younger and making a summer voyage, that would have been amazing. I'll hope to talk my brother into making that trip later.

I'm waiting to connect top a network as my phone will incur international roaming charges since I'm technically in Canada right now. That's okay. I'll land in Ketchikan in roughly twelve hours, in plenty of time to meet the family there. They're flying in on Monday.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Figures...

...right before I leave I get a snow pile worth respecting.

Final Days of HomeBase

As the end of my time at the HomeBase in Denver draws to a close, I look at my scantily decorated living room, highlighted by a sleeping baby. Life is beautiful. I'm not downed by the things that I'm leaving, but I'm recharged by the things I'm hoping to create for myself. A move of this kind, to Alaska, to a new and unique future, is as fortuitous as we allow it to be.

The blog will stay in good hands, continuing to be authored by me and also by Bart Schleicher, a promising young photographer who is poised to continue sharing adventures and enriching this blog and my life.

The sun and my son are both rising, and the day must begin. The adventure rests in the near future. The world holds endless wonder for those who are willing to seek it out. We shall not fear.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cats

I've often wondered how in the world they cram themselves into such inconvenient places. Then again, these are animals that play with plastic bags for fun...

Finally

Snow has fallen in Denver. It was bitter cold last week, and the result as a few sweet inches of heaven. I love snow.