Thursday, August 27, 2009

in the now

so...to all of my friends that i have not been calling and keeping in touch with or whatever, just know that it is not personal, i have simply been caught up in the here and now.
working doubles and gardening, etc. have been taking up almost all of my time and when i have down time i have been taking it for myself.
you'll hear from me soon enough...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

work work work

all work and no play is no fun!!!!!

Work, ugh. How to escape it?
I was amazed to figure out the other day that I am working more hours per week now than ever before in my life. How the heck did that happen?
I suppose I should be happy to have so much work and people begging me for hours considering the current state of the job moarket elsewhere.
So, now, not only am I holding down the fort a few evenings of the week at Hills & Hollows as well as baking pizzas on Friday, but I am working a steady 2 days housekeeping at boulder mountain lodge and will be starting to work a few laundry shifts there as well next week.
of course, before ya know it, the end of the season will be here and there will be virtually no work to be had, so it is time to save save save.
I don’t want to have to work much at all this winter – to simply concentrate on art & music for a few months, and it is looking as if I will be able to do so.
H&H will close for about 6 weeks mid winter, so I know that I will definitely have that time completely free if I want it.
I’d like to do a bit of traveling at that point, explore the 4 corners area a bit more or something. Time will tell how it works out.
It feels good to know I already have a fair amount of the art supplies I will be needing.
It will be interesting to see how space issues work out as well. I had a place to myself last winter but this one will most likely be shared with my girlfriend (we’d discussed separate places but the latest thought is to try to share the space and not get on each others nerves even though there is not much space.)

I have not been able to get out onto the slickrock like I prefer lately. It is driving me a bit batty. I SHOULD be getting the work schedulre set so that even though I will have 4 double shifts, I will have weekends off with every other Friday off as well.
Wish me luck with that. I just hope I will have energy to get out after working 45 to 50 hours over 4 days!

I’ll get a short break the first week of september when my mom comes to visit, which will be good.
Then I will simply have to rough it out for a couple of months.
Like I said, wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

i am a desert creature (part 1)

Edward Abbey…sigh…
Love him or hate him, he just gets under your skin.
I remember thoroughly enjoying my first experience of reading his work when I was given a copy of The Monkey Wrench Gang back in the late nineties, way before my days out here in canyon country. I’m definitely needing to reread it having come to know the many locations which occur in the book.

I recently read “Down the River”, a collection of his essays, and loved it.
Yes, there were points he would make here and there that made me cringe, but I find myself increasingly in tune with his thoughts.

Having roamed a bit of this landscape, however small in ratio to its entirety, I’ve come to understand the type of possessiveness that comes along with finding special spots, living in harmony with this landscape, and having to deal with outsiders and weekend adventurers coming in and treating it as nothing more than a vacation spot.

Heck, I’ve even had some thoughts of my own of particular ‘rules’ that I think should somehow abstractly be enforced out here. One being that if a person does not know what cryptobiotic soil is, they should not be allowed into the canyons or onto the benches.

In between those reads, I also read his classic work “Desert Solitaire” as part of my Arches National Park Interpretation information package when I volunteered at the park for a winter season a couple of years ago. While I was lucky enough to be working there during off-season and did not have to deal with gargantuan amounts of visitors, I came to understand the impact that has occurred due to the improved roads, etc. within the park.

I also came to an understanding of the fact that if those roads and trails had not been created, the impact could very possibly be much greater as visitors would not have been funneled into particular areas, but would have been seeing the park in a more scattered, higher impact way, crushing everything underfoot.
I got to spend many a day exploring the park off trail and practicing treading lightly.
It led to some amazing moments. One in particular was a moment when I crossed over a drainage between petrified dunes above courthouse wash only to come upon a group of bighorn sheep napping in the sun, truly a moment that is meant to be earned and not gleamed through a car window.

I don’t think I really had the depth of understanding of the wildness of canyon country until I moved to Boulder, UT and started to explore the wilderness of the Escalante Canyons. Few marked trails here. Memory and landmarks serve as guides as one creates a mental map of the landscape. Anthropomorphic rocks here….pictographs or petroglyphs there, or maybe a majestic tree, such as a ponderosa pine unexpectedly appearing far downstream from Boulder Mountain somewhere along a creek bed.
Being able to go merely a few miles from home and be immersed in wilderness is an experience that cannot truly be translated into words. Instead, one must truly get out there and experience it for oneself. Even experiencing the drive into Boulder over Boulder Mountain from Torrey or over the Hogsback from Escalante is an experience that one must have directly in order to really understand. Pictures do not due justice.

There have been moments when I have thought of attempting landscape art out here, but every time I do it, I almost immediately have to stop. My hands cannot translate that immense granduer.

I’ll leave that to some of the local artists already doing it, such as Scotty Mitchell. Her work is amazing. I’ll stick to the abstract, to collectiing and grinding sandstone in order to somehow express this place and what it is doing to me.

That process in itself grounds me, creating an ever more intimate relationship with this landscape. I discover where Wadis existed in the original Navajo Sandstone Erg, when the now petrified dunes flowed across this landscape in a desert larger than the Sahara. In those special spots, varying colors and textures show themselves exposed after millions of years. Special places where water and mud were gathered and trapped creating punctuation within the landscape. Then there are the layers of iron concretion where once again water was trapped in the sand and created a gathering place for iron bleached out of the surrounding sand by water percolating through the pressurized sand for untold years.

I am always awestruck by the magnificent organic forms that this process creates. Some are focused on the Moki Marbles – those infamous marble like round iron concretion pieces that the dunes release to gather in low spots. To me, those do not compare to some of the other forms I have seen – lingams and yonis, miniature versions of the landscape, small dish-like and fin-like forms, you name it….
Sometimes I will arrange them in artistic ways on top of the basalt boulders which remain from the days when the Aquarius Plateau/Boulder Mountain top flowed with lava.

I recently attended a geology talk at the Escalante InterAgency Center given by wayne Ranney, co-author of the wonderful book Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau.
I had a short discussion with him after the presentation in which I asked his opinion of how the Aquarius Plateau was formed and why there is so little information available about it. I was told that there really have been very few studies and that he only had one paper on Boulder Mountain.

In his opinion, which I think sounds rather sound – especially alongside his theory of headward erosion of the Colorado River Basin (see his work in order to read more about this)- what we may be looking at with the top of the Aquarius Plateau may possibly be what is left of the original Colorado Plateau before the canyons were cut. The estimation he stated to me of the age of the top is 8 million years old. Boulder Mountain and the Aquarius Plateau are not included in the Laccolith formations such as the Henry, Abajo, Navajo, and LaSal Mountains. It was a completely separate occurance, as far as I can tell from my studies thus far. Of course, I am no geologist, just a desert rat with an obsession with the stories of how the lands I roam were formed, someone seeking an intimate relationship with the land I live on.

There is so much exploring out here that it will take a lifetime, or two, or three, or maybe more. I don’t think that this land will let go of my soul. If anything, I will one day be a part of it left for others to discover during their own wanderings.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

cool weather.

spring continues to be rather cool. it has made watering the garden easier but the tomatoes are not happy and growing much.
i will be posting pics of the garden soon.

Katherine and I managed to get out of town for 4 days last week. We went down to gallup NM (what a hole!). She wanted to check out an education job fair for teaching on the reservation, but as soon as we were in the area we knew there was no way we wanted to live there.
but i DID get new truck tires for my Eagle (whoohoo!). We camped in Comb wash both on the way down and back and took different routes heading south and north thru NM and the reservation. also camped a night in Cibolo National Forest.

things are going well. busy with work and gardening....

looks like we will be staying in Boulder and hopefully becoming more involved with teh new Red House Farm (more on that later).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

busy-ness

tourists flood the store.
beautiful sunny days in the 80's.
gardening.
hiking.
web design.
art.
reading.
writing.
baking pizzas in the wood fired oven.
figuring out what happens in august.
from rising until going to bed,
it seems i am going nonstop.
a day of rest would be good.

Friday, April 24, 2009

So, finally, a bit of an update....

The season is getting into full swing, a lot of tourists coming through now.
We're busier at the store, etc.
The art show at the Anasazi State Park went well. My art looked amazing in the room and i had the perfect number of pieces to arrange it all. Only one piece sold - to a local.
Since taking down the show I spent a Saturday in Springdale (with Katherine!)showing my art in a both at the Earth Day festival. I then dropped off 6 pieces of my sand art at the Manzanita Gallery, just outside of the south entrance to Zion National Park.

Also, Katherine found out that she has been accepted into the Sustainable Communities Masters Program at NAU in Flagstaff,AZ, so it is looking like we will be moving there in August.
This is a very exciting thing. We've been watching documentaries and I've been reading up on earth homes over the last few weeks.
She is currently in Logan UT finishing her Utah Conservation Corp training, but will be returning to southern utah next week.
I can hardly wait for her return!

It is feeling like it will be an adventurous season.
I am not quite sure how I will manage money-wise in terms of both meeting expenses and saving for our move, but I trust that things will work out.
There is really no telling what we will find in terms of housing or what I will find in terms of work, but so far, in this life, things have had a tendency to flow smoothly for me with only a few bumps along the way.

My only other worries in terms of money are about the Eagle. It is in ned of new shocks and tires. badly. Considering the amount of travel I will be doing this spring/summer in order to go visit Katherine in the field, it needs to be taken care of sooner than later.

I've got a lot to be happy about, even with the coming challenges. I look forward to how it all grows and develops, and it is amazing to know that I have such and amazing and wonderful partner to share it all with.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

a bountiful, beautiful life

Turned 38 yesterday.
no biggie. each year gets better. the way it should.
I'm currently feeling more blessed than ever.
The new growing love in my life is beyond measure.
Love grows, my art spreads wider with a show at the museum here in town and beginning to show my work in Springdale next month.
All I can really say is that i feel that it is going to be an amazing year.
beyond that, i am a bit beyond words right now.
hopefully I will post more soon.....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

an amazing awakening

The sun streaming through my window, parted by the blinds, brings a new day.
I awaken slowly but surely from magnificent dreamscapes.
My passages across this marvelous landscape of sandstone and canyons has finally entered my dreamworld.
Ah, but this is not the main source of my happiness, no, not now.
It is not forgotten, but made so small by this wonderful glorious new chapter in my life.

Love.

I breathe deep, recalling caring and vital words of emotional exploration.
Now, there is a landscape that makes even the most lush landscapes of the world pale in comparison!
I have been patient, waiting for months, years, for a willing and intriguing explorer to join me. Is it possible that the day has finally come?

Somehow, it is becoming a nexus point for all of my inner focus and all of the ‘work’ I have been doing over the years. All of a sudden there is focus – I can see – awareness returns with a force previously unseen.
My every word, thought, action become larger, more intensified and imbued with more meaning. My responsibility grows a thousand-fold.

Here I am at the entrance to a lush, verdant valley of emotion, sharing, bonding.
I can make out landmarks ahead that are not yet clear, yet call to me. Intuition guides my gaze, I may not be able to think of these things to come, but I can feel them.

The late days of winter as spring approaches have become the most intense times of transition. For each of the last three years, this has been a time of transition and rebirth.
First, the rekindling of an old friendship matched with the adventure of a new one culminating in my first exploration of the slickrock wilderness – that which led me to my new life here in Southern Utah.

Next came the transition from a period of service (my Arches volunteer period) and living in a town that still had so many amenities to a time of living in the middle of nowhere – Boulder UT- a town of little amenities and great wilderness.
Each step was a leap further from the somewhat vague and virtual world of urban life in Chicago.

Now, after battling demons all winter long which made me want to run back to some sort of ‘cultural center’, I find myself in transition again, yet not of outer place, but of inner.
Yes there is a move of housing, of living space, and that is an element of this new transformation. But the most important part is the discovery that letting go and surrendering to life will bring forth the greatest of gifts.
I could not have asked for a more wonderful spirit to have come into my life. All of a sudden, here she is. I remember the first time our eyes ever met and how intrigued I was, how I had that notion that has come before when I have first met those who have played the most important roles in my life.
Now it appears that we shall be building something wonderful together, something that will inspire us both to rise higher, to fulfill our dreams, to take greater care with both ourselves and each other.
The fact that we shall be planting and tending to a garden is a perfect symbol for this new venture. Great care must be taken, attention be paid.
My heart and head both say to me time and again “Trust this, it is beautiful”.
And I know it is true.

With the arrival of spring comes new life, and it sure is coming!
Whether it be this new bond, an emotional relationship which just keeps expanding, or my new set of artwork to be shown through most of march and April, or the movements of a new season in the desert, with new creative opportunities and work possibilities.
All of these things are making me feel alive and glad to be here.
This is a very refreshing and invigorating thing considering the freak-outs of winter and all of the questions which I have had.

All I can really do is thank ‘that which is beyond names’ for this great gift.
I feel blessed beyond belief as my fears and anxieties dissipate and are replaced with boundless hope.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

amazed

so, recently i have been amazed in ways both good and bad.
there is no way to control other people's mouths. information flows freely, whether positively reinforcing or not.
the perceptions of others tend to stray from reality a bit too - or at least don't seem to match. there are misunderstandings, which then get spoken as truths to other ears.

I've been doing some work...of a sufic nature, and have found that it is misconstrued. I completely understand why and am not surprised in the least.
truthfully, i probably should not be writing about it here, and definitely should not give details as i know these words will most likely be read by the other party at some point.

Something quite common in sufi activity is the inability to understand or the misperception of those who are outside of the realm of the conscious activity that is taking place. It may appear that one thing is being done when the activity and goal of the sufi-minded is completely different. At times, this can even be construed as doing something wrong when in fact the work and goal are based in love and compassion. There is simply not always a straight line.
This is exactly what is occurring in my own life. i cannot express anything further than that about this particular activity which am involved in.

What i can write about is how the events of the past month have been acting like a mirror and revealing much.
i've been brought head to head with all of my issues and answers have been coming from random people and events.
It brings an increased level of awareness and is revealing how much inner work i have been doing and the level of integration that has actually occurred.
I'd been a bit half asleep about it over the last year during my transition to life in Utah, but once more, things are becoming increasingly clear.
I actually have a new person in my life i can thank for this. Somehow, I'm feeling a freedom of self now that i had yet to feel here.

Over the last two weeks, massive shifts have happened in my life. Inner shifts & a new, very deep and natural connection.
For many, this can be confusing as they are not used to experiencing these types of shifts in themselves or others. Then there are those that completely understand it as well. These are where the surprises happen and others reveal their inner natures and levels of awareness and maturity.

I've also been discovering the difference between those that intellectually believe and try to practice loving-kindness,and those that simply live it.
My tendency to be open when it comes to love, to freely express, if even only through my eyes (and i mean the eyes literally), to be raw, can be too much for some. It is visceral. It is real, and it can be intense, and some do not know how to accept that because it is thought that it is something being worked towards, or something always gentle, when in fact, there can be a great ecstatic passion held within it. There is also the tendency for many to believe that there is always a desired outcome or a 'return' expected from these activities. When that is not the case, it can very easily lead to confusion and misperception. This is one of the huge differences between the tenets of Buddhism and Sufism (from what i have digested over the years)
Suffering, Passion, and all of the more visceral emotions should not be viewed as something to be avoided.It is not about removal of oneself from the world, but to be in it, yet not of it - meaning to not be mired in those emotions and passions, but to let them flow freely and deepen spiritual and life experience. They are things to be experienced freely, without friction and resistance. The key seems to be to bring awareness to these things. As soon as we parcel up things we get into trouble and tension arises.

This is where the more tantric and alchemical concepts come into play. How we interact with anything that comes into our lives is our lesson. Transmutation is key- turning lead into gold, base into the refined. There is nothing in existence which does not serve the Divine. All things are possible roads to a closer and more intimate relationship with the Divine. There is an extreme subtlety to this, one which cannot be well understood by those whose foundations are built on an overly separated black/white, good/evil belief system. The problem is, that when one is steeped in morals and rules which are etched in stone, that are followed without a deepening understanding of the concepts they represent, there is not a possibility for a deeper maturity to arise. What one tends to do in that situation is basically to say they do not trust God, because they do not trust themselves - who are an aspect of God.

If one cannot face that which they fear or think may test their faith, then how can that being even begin to say that their faith has any strength whatsoever? It is a false faith, a childish one in which the pre-adolescent need for parental protection is continued into adulthood and simply projected onto an abstracted concept. It is stopping on the stairs of the temple rather than entering the inner sanctum, so to speak.
This, I would contend, is not a mature or evolving and intimate relationship with the Divine/God. It is instead a refusal to take personal responsibility for one's spiritual evolution and growth. It tends towards victim mentality. It is the life of a beggar, not a humble, wise one, but a weak one. one who has not even tried.

There must be that great trust. One must at some point come to terms with the idea that God/Life/the Divine provides. We mistakenly sometimes perceive this to not be true simply because it does not provide what we desire. Instead it provides what is needed. It is simply a matter of surrender and being able to perceive and bring awareness to the gifts one is given.

So, there i go spouting off again...saying what is on my mind and in my heart.
take it as you will.
Each person, each soul, has their own path that they must follow, and this is just one small portion of mine.
I wish you all love, peace and awareness on your own journeys.
May all be revealed.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

jae's visit

Jason (Jae), my old roomate from Arches came thru and stayed for about 6 days and, man, did we go out on some good hikes!

first off was Lower Calf Creek to the falls.
Kandis came along for this one and we had the canyon to ourselves except for passing a couple near the entrance when we were heading in.
I didn't take my camera on that hike for some odd reason though.

the next day we did a loop drive east on the Burr Trail & north on the Notom Road and then back over Boulder Mountain.
I'd been wanting to head through the Waterpocket Fold for a long time, and i scoped out a lot of spots to go do some hiking this season.

Waterpocket Fold

jae

the following day we went on a late day hike starting at the Mail Trail trailhead by the airstrip to the north rim of Calf Creek Canyon.
While there, we spotted a Bald Eagle flying past us overhead, which i managed to capture hanging out at the Lodge's bird sanctuary the following day.

Bald Eagle

the next day, which had blustery snow off and on, we went out to teh Wolverine Petrified Wood are and drove the whole loop. we also stopped and checked out an abandoned uranium mine along the way.

Jae

abandoned Uranium Mine

excellent intense profile

Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood

Lovely Chinle/Bentonite hill capped with wingate

the next day, before he left, we spent the morning in the north end of Dry Hollow.
I managed to finally find where the water seep starts (in a SERIOUSLY overgrown area full of thorny russian olive) as well as a granary in a side canyon.

the seep:
Dry Hollow Seep

Granary/Moki House

steep pitch!

it was great having him over and i think he met half the town haha.
there were a few good dinner parties and good time spent in the hot tub.
I'm sure he'll be back for more hikin this summer, and i've gotta find some time to go visit hom over at arches soon too.

Friday, January 16, 2009

so far so good

As the crusted snow acts like some great mirror reflecting the glory of the sun, brightening this high desert winter and making one nearly go blind without a good pair of shades , I’ve been seeking out those few spots where the sun has burned through, warming the sandstone and melting away that gorgeous white and blue blanket.
Setting foot back on that slickrock after too many days of it being hidden by the snow feels refreshing, invigorating.
I find new colors, some flecked with amazing amounts of mica, sparkling like tiny little stars under that blazing Sol.

Although I’ve been missing those hills canyons and benches, I’ve been quite busy in my ‘cave’. New songs, new paintings, grinding sand and painting with it, figuring out how to ‘outline’ my book…all of these things keeping my mental, creative and spiritual energy flowing.

It’s been really quiet out here – yet at the same time, there is a more subtle noise, something unspoken, something invigorating.
A foreshadowing of spring fever, if you will.
I feel a bit like I am in a dream world. So many elements of my life seem a bit surreal these days.
Well, when doesn’t it?
reading a mixture of Robert Anton Wilson (Quantum Psychology), Tom Robbins (Wild Ducks Flying Backwards), Hazarat Inayat Khan (Mastery), Terry Tempest Williams (Red), as well as a book by David Darling on Teleportation has got my mind churning.
I always love how I come out of periods like this with a period of ‘digestion’ and integration.
Then a new chapter starts.
I feel some very interesting undercurrents.
How to behave towards them? Well that is something I am figuring out and sometimes feel like I should not be thinking about but rather letting unfold and acting naturally about.
Winter evolves and I feel like more is revealed as that snow melts away a little more each day.