Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

2012 was a good year. One of the very best of the year's events was the arrival of Iris, our first granddaughter, on April 18.

What a great pleasure to be with her tonight in Indiana on her very first New Year's Eve.

Happy New Year, everybody, from me and Iris. (And Radar.) May 2013 be your best year yet.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"In Praise of Hands" by Stuart Kestenbaum

Anasazi handprints

It's not just the people
who live in the city

who've lost the thread
that ties them to the woven

world of stones and earth,
fields alive with pollen and wings.

Who among us understands
how oceans rise and fall,

currents swirling around the planet
with messages in bottles

floating on the water.
When the tide is out

we can go to the shore,
dig clay with our bare hands

and make something beautiful from it,
a vessel with thin walls

that holds a canyon.
In both hands, like an offering,

we can hold the memory
of eroded stones and earth,

eons contained in this empty bowl.
We can fill it with water

that reflects the sky that has
witnessed everything since

time began, we can drink and be blessed,
clouds gathering over us.

"In Praise of Hands" by Stuart Kestenbaum, from Prayers & Run-on Sentences.
© Deerbrook Editions, 2007.

Anasazi pottery bowl, prehistoric

Anasazi ruin, Canyonlands National Park

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Family Post: Holiday Greetings!

Holiday Greetings! I hope your holidays are going well. Ours have been great, if just a bit unusual.

On Christmas Eve morning we went to an annual pancake breakfast. Pancakes, scrambled eggs, and fresh venison sausage from the October hunt. A delicious Christmas tradition.

During the day we packed, then went to our Christmas Eve Service at 11. By the time everyone said goodbye it was Christmas.

Everyone else went home to bed and visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads. We hit the road, driving through the night to the Spokane airport. We were fortunate to have good roads all the way, though we hit many patches of heavy fog. At 6 AM Christmas morning we were airborne. We hopped to Seattle, then took a puddlejumper to Portland, and finally headed in the right direction for our destination.

And there we were, in Chicago. We spent seven years here before moving West, and Kim's brother and sister and their families are here. And it's a great city to visit. On Christmas night Kim and her brother and the boys went to the United Center to see the Bulls get trounced by the Rockets. There were only four tickets, so I watched it on TV during those moments when I could keep my eyes open.

The next day we caught up on our sleep, and then the whole family caught the Blue Line down to the Loop, something we enjoyed doing when we lived here.

Some of us enjoyed stopping at the Nike store on Michigan Avenue, four floors of sports glitz.

And we all liked ending up at "The Bean" in Millennium Park.

Isaiah complained about all the pictures I was taking, so I made the comment that we were "tourists just like everyone else." Isaiah said, "We aren't tourists!" And he's right.

Isaiah was born here--the Blue Line goes right past the hospital where he came into the world-- and this is where the boys formed their earliest memories and started school. Many times over those seven years we hopped the Blue Line and explored the Loop and the lakefront. So we aren't tourists, we're pilgrims, coming back to the scenes of our former life.

We'll be here until Saturday when we head south to see family in Indiana. Chicago certainly has its attractions--but, let's face it, nothing like the newest member of the family, Granddaughter Iris.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Let It Burn

Made it. Never doubted it. Hope you didn't either. Wonder how many End of the World's I've lived through now. Doesn't matter. Dawn came. Some have said each night is a death, each dawn a rebirth. Here, it was one more day and one more snowfall.

Hard not to think of "Fire and Ice." Again. Robert Frost's end-of-the-world poem.

"Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice." 

"...for destruction ice is also great and would suffice." Easy to believe as winter lays it's cold hand on us. But some said the world would not end, but be reborn. And the world didn't end. But it ground to a halt at it's farthest tilt from the sun...and lurched back into a return trajectory. Solstice. Salvation. Light. Fire.

"From what I've tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire." Yes. The fire is coming. Bringing a new world with it. Let it burn.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Youth Sports Post: Family Basketball

If it's winter outside...

It's basketball inside.

Walking out of the cold and dark into that big, warm, echoing gymnasium and hearing the squeak of shoes on the shiny floor takes me back to the glory days of all the games in all the winters of my youth. I have to confess that I wasn't good enough to be on the team then. I was a Pep Band guy. But we had teams that went to state, and I was with them all the way.

My boys, though, are athletes. Jeremiah made JV as a Freshman. He's not a starter yet, but he has his moments. Our local photographer, who takes photos of all the high school sports, was kind enough to send me this photo. (I just realized it's a family portrait. That's me taking video, and Kim beside me, up on the top row in the background. And Isaiah is on the bench.)

Isaiah's on the bench because of his ACL surgery. He's recovering well, and hopes to play soccer in the spring. For now the coaches have made him an assistant, so he gets to go to the pregame coaches' meeting, and take stats during the game. They're also teaching him about the game from a coaching perspective, something they feel will help him when he gets back out on the floor next winter.

He would much rather be playing, and I wish he could, but it still does this father's heart good to see both my sons sharing the same bench and doing their best for the team.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Climbing Everest

This is Everest. Maybe you've imagined yourself exploring its slopes. Well, I discovered on the NPR website an interactive image that will allow you a taste of what that would feel like.

According to the website, David Breashears, a photographer for GlacierWorks, has been photographing the Himalayas using a process of stitching together 400-plus images to form "gigapan" images containing over a billion pixels. One of those images--containing 3.8 billion pixels--is on the NPR site.

It's pretty amazing, and easy to interact with. Just follow the green squares. But it's just the beginning. From the website:

Breashears and his team allowed us to embed this teaser image on our site. But, he says, this barely scratches the surface of where the project is headed. "It's hardly even a demo," he tells me over the phone. "It's missing 99 percent of its functionality, which is audio and video and the ability to access other curated content."
When complete in a few months, this will serve as a completely interactive tour of Mount Everest. You will be able to go into the Tibetan monastery, get to know the sherpas who work with the GlacierWorks team, or learn more about glaciology and the history of climbing.
"You'll be able to choose, and it'll all be there in an image," says Breashears. "But the image starts the narrative."

Click here if you'd like this first taste of an Everest adventure. Then, maybe, like me, you'll be looking forward to that Tibetan monastery and getting to know a few sherpas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Internet Angel

No, it's not a Christmas angel. It's the Internet Angel.

So we're finally up and running at home. I look forward to getting back to regular posts, and to catching up on yours.

Much more to come.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Don't give up on me. I'm still here.

We almost got internet service at home today, but the guy didn't show up. This is the second company we've tried. The first didn't have line of sight from the house, and said they couldn't run a line from the garage, which does have line of sight. This guy says he can run the line. Good. Now just show up and do it.

So I've been running in to the local library to get online, but each time I'm rushed, and have actual work to do online, which I suppose should take priority over this blog.

And I haven't fished in ages. I've been a bit under the weather--flu, chest cold, cough, that sort of thing--so the icy river hasn't seemed as inviting as at other times.

Meanwhile, winter has come, with its challenges and beauty.

And I'm in a new place, a good place, watching the river by day and listening to it by night, hearing the eagles on their tall snag and the geese in their backwater and the deer wading across at dark, picturing the flow and anticipating, always anticipating...

Monday, December 3, 2012

The View From Coal Creek

It's happened. Our friend Erin Block has a book out. Congratulations, Erin! Thought I'd help spread the good news. 

"The View from Coal Creek is a reflection on fly rods, fishing, and life seen from the vantage of a canyon in Colorado, but these are props in a larger story about life, love, and tradition. Erin Block is a young, powerful voice carrying the torch and passing on lessons, values, and history of this great, literary and vibrant sport."

December 2012, Hardcover, Limited Edition
$44.95 Retail Price -- SPECIAL $39.95

December 2012, Softcover $21.95 Retail Price -- SPECIAL $17.50

The Spinning Wheel Lady

This is Betty Roberts and one of her inlaid spinning wheels. She's a remarkable lady who builds these wheels, of her own design, from scratch, by hand.

Her shop is a treasure trove of modern and antique machines, woods of every variety, and drawers of rattlesnake rattles, dried flowers and insects, and other objects she uses in her inlays around the wheels. She's an expert on the flora of the mountains and plains, and gives flower tours of the area. Did you know there are numerous orchid varieties growing in the mountains?

She raises her own sheep, and cards and spins the wool. You should see her go on one of her wheels. And she can crochet, and knit, and she has a big loom she weaves on.

She's able to support herself with the orders that come in from all over the world. You can see a brief description of her work and achievements here. And you can visit her fan club yahoo group here. 

She also happens to be a flint knapper. I got this knife from her a few years ago. That's an obsidian blade set in a bobcat jaw and displayed on a piece of saguaro cactus rib.

I've also collected a few of her arrowheads, and some of her jewelry.

She was born and raised here, and is a true pioneer woman who has hunted and fished all her life. If you ever meet her, ask her to tell you the story of how she took an old man with a heart condition out for his last deer hunt, and on the last day of the hunt took the shot on the only deer they saw, because he didn't think he could make it. She brought it down with a lung shot, then paced off the distance: 500 yards.

She lives on the river, and gives me frequent fishing reports when her regulars start showing up to fish for steelhead behind her house. The last time I saw her she asked if maybe I could use wool to tie flies. I said, Yep. So the other day she brought me a bagful of raw wool, died wool, and various spun wools. She threw in some peacock feathers for good measure.

So I'm thinking about flies. There are lots of things I can use this wool on. But I'd also like to come up with something special, a design that incorporates the best of these materials. I already have a name for it. I think I'll call it "The Spinning Wheel Lady."