Archive for June, 2016

The Crossroads

June 28, 2016

The legend lives on from the blues men on down of the big choice they call the ole crossroads.

The crossroads, it is told, is where a man’s mortal soul can be sold for a life of good fortune.

Somewhere out there in the delta, in the sweltering heat of Mississippi where the cotton grew high and the ancient blues twangers sang their mournful 12-bar tunes about how hard life is and how much much harder it could be when the love of a woman is tasted but then gets lost somewhere between trouble and tragedy, and the tragedy is turned into song. . . out there where Miss’ippi mud is blacker than New’Awlins coffee, and the blues pangs clangin’ off them ole guitar strings is thicker and stronger than bad whisky. . .

that ole crossroads where they say the devil would hang around waitin’ for the blues man to come walkin’ along, desperate for some kind of simple twist of fate that would set his heartstrings and his sixstrings into a new direction, where he could catch a ride to Memphis or NewYawk and sing them blues into the big microphone and get satisfaction for his pain, get some monetary compensation for sharing his pain with the world, to the tune of . . .Crossroads

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yd60nI4sa9A

As I was a-growin’ up down there in Miss’ippi, snotty-nosed clueless white kid in the suburbs of Jackson, late 1950’s, my daddy might have driven right over them very crossroads, out there in the piney woods backwoods near where Robert Johnson and Pop Staples had cranked out their doleful blues tunes. My daddy might have clunked over them crossroads in the old Ford station wagon as he was driving the backroads doing forestry work, but if he did I never knew it.

Wasn’t ’til later that I found out about them blues, encountered them blues for myself while tasting for my own young self the sorts of pain that this life can deal out.

Years later, when I was wandering in the college scene in the late ’60s, I got a little turned around and confused and encountered the blues, found myself romanticizing some pain that was in my head and a little too caught up in the mary jane and the avoidance of the pain, but still managed somehow to gain a degree, for what its worth, in political science or English or some useless crossroads thereof.

I say useless, but not really.

It’s good to learn to read and write, and to research etc blahblahblah. Now I’m working on a fourth novel, like a thousand and one other boomer fools.

But As I was sayin’, One thing led to another and then after college I was in Florida for awhile, selling insurance and then advertising with many a night misspent in topless bars and what not, followed by a few nights in Pasco county jail and the night I got out of jail I saw a movie that had been made in the mountains of North Carolina and so I, still running from my troubles, went up there, landed in Asheville, been there ever since, not in Asheville but in the great green state of North Carolina.

 North Carolina Is My Home

After a few more false starts and dead ends I finally found, by the grace of God, salvation and the love of my life, from whose womb birth was given that brought forth our three children and this wonderful life, which is, as it turned out, so richly lived, even without all the money that I coulda shoulda woulda made had I made better choices.

Now after 35 years of building houses and other structures I suddenly found myself turning a corner toward the big 65 when I found myself not yet ready to throw in the towel  and just settle into the social security dole which supposedly I have contributed to all these years and therefore earned, so I went and got myself a job at Lowe’s home center, which is at the crossroads between two great industries of this country–retail and construction–not a bad place to be in America.

Crossroads

Now at this late stage, looking back on it all, it seems I’ve been, like many boomers, and like many so-called millennials will be by the time they get to be my age, underemployed. Hey, I’ve been underemployed all my life, but that has turned out to be no big deal.

It’s been a good ride, thanks be to God.

And the big 65, which I’ll turn here in about three weeks, is really nothing special–no magic number, so I’ll keep paying my dues–which is to say, working– for a few more years because this life is, as the Beatles said on Abbey Road. . . the bread you make is equal to the bread . . . you take.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVYjQScC1DY

Or something like that.

And so my advice to all you millennials and gen-Xers out there who are over-educated, underpaid and underemployed is this:

Find a job, any job, and just stay busy working, learning, progressing toward your destiny. Don’t wait for .gov or Bernie or anybody else to bail you out because this world really does not work that way.

Get busy, stay busy, work every day you can, and your destiny will find you by the time you’re my age and you will find that . . .

Life is good. Make the best of it. Don’t wait for a handout and don’t blame anyone else for your troubles.

But you can sing the blues if it helps you to deal with the pain. And you may find yourselves, along the way, at a crossroads or two, but don’t sell your soul.

Glass half-Full

California Water

June 26, 2016

There is a fair wind that blows eastward off the Pacific. It renders the state of California a most agreeable place in which to live and prosper. In the middle of that state’s long coastline the San Francisco region is kept– perpetually it seems– pleasantly cool in summer and moderately warm in winter.

And so, a most amicably crisp climate cloaks the Bay area with weatherilogical favor.  Sharp, brilliant sunshine is tempered  from time to time by the marauding presence of this deep dark fog; it rolls up from the ocean like some kind of commandeering trade midst on a mission.

Tumbling across the coastal ranges, these magnificent, mist blankets drape down into the Silicon valley like an overly ecstatic angel investor. As far as precipitation, it doesn’t seem to amount to much, but surely it helps to periodically clothe the Bay area in a perpetual curtain of mystery, and the Peninsula in a cloud of digitally enhanced inspiration.

Such fairly weatheric environs does not however, assure sufficient water for the millions of people who live there. And so, many and many a year ago, the powers that be among Bay Area movers and shakers put their heads together and devised a plan or two to bring water from the far (160 mile far) east so’s people could have water to drink and bathe in and live in.

Over there on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains they found a deep valley in which a cold river flowed so luxuriously. It was on the northwestern end of the Yosemite area. A river ran through it; Tuolemne River. Men put their arms and legs and picks and shovels and machines together and built a huge dam there. Beginning in 1919, they labored on the project through 1923; but one delay or another kept dragging the project along. Finally, they got the thing going, delivering water to the coastal regions, long about 1934. They named the reservoir Hetchy Hetch.

So Hetchy Hetch catches water for San Franciscans.  From the air, I think it looks something like this:

SierrWatr

Down in the deserty California southland, similar projects had already been undertaken, but on a larger scale because that arid region requires more massive hydrous acquisitions, and from farther regions. About 1905, San Fernando valley-dwellers and their Los Angeleno neighbors set their sites on the Owens Lake, which is found beneath the eastern slope of Sierras in southern end the Owens Valley, about 233 miles northeast of their dry metropolis-in-the-making.

An engineer named Mulholland was the ramrod of their hugely ambitious aqueous project. By the time of its completion in 1913, 3900 workers had labored on its very long mountain-valley-through-desert 233 mile course. According to Wikipedia, the Los Angeles Aqueduct project

. . . consisted of 24 mi (39 km) of open unlined canal, 37 mi (60 km) of lined open canal, 97 mi (156 km) of covered concrete conduit, 43 mi (69 km) of concrete tunnels, 12.00 mi (19.31 km) steel siphons, 120 mi (190 km) of railroad track, two hydroelectric plants, three cement plants, 170 mi (270 km) of power lines, 240 mi (390 km) of telephone line, 500 mi (800 km) of roads[15] and was later expanded with the construction of the Mono Extension and the Second Los Angeles Aqueduct.[16

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_Aqueduct 

History shows, then, that Californians have, to say the least, gone to great lengths to get their water.

Owens Lake, the original low-hanging-fruit that initially attracted thirsty southern Californians, had pretty much dried up by 1926, provoking the water-seekers to set their sights and sites farther afield, farther north up into the Owens River of the Owens Valley, all the way up to an endorheic basin called Mono, where Mono Lake languishes in the dry heat. By 1941, the slakers of Los Angeles had extended their aqueous acquisitions to Mono’s sparsely hydrous resources, which now seem to be going the way of the Owens buffalo, as a visit to the Mono Lake Committee will confirm.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono_Lake_Committee   

Last Friday, I caught a view of Mono Lake as we began our flight home to our most-hydrous misty Appalachian domicile, after our son’s wedding in the San Francisco Bay area.

Mono Lake, being an endorheic, 13-mile-by-9-mile, big-but-diminishing pond is surrounded by salty, dusty particulate deposits which appear as white beaches around its perimeter.

However, the most notable feature of my Friday aero-view was a long plume of smoke drifting eastward from Mono Lake’s western shore. I later learned that a fire, which had begun at a marina, has been raging away on that Sierra slope for several days.

SmokLake

I hope they can stop that fire.

And I would like to propose a toast: to all the Californians– best wishes for responsibly sufficient water conservation activities in the years to come. Cheers! May you live long and hydrate.

Glass half-Full

stuff

June 24, 2016

stuff comes in

GoldnFreight

stuff goes out

Rubbish

some creatures stay

SFCoit1

some go away

BirdFligt

Glass Chimera 

Our Urban Companion

June 15, 2016

City city, rising high

all strung out across the sky

what artist’s smearings could interpret

thy jagged profile, so raggedly imperfect?

SFStrung

Since your swift gold rush run was done

and your thrashing railway web’s been spun,

have you embossed yourself in gold-tinged filagree?

Did we who trod the prairies plod thee?

(Aside)

Oh lookee here.

Yonder cometh the world traveler

Methinks

he hath the fat and hungry look:

Pigeon

Pigeon pigeon, strutting like a dude

with bold entreaties for some food

how long hast thou been loitering without fear?

You got a permit to solicit here?

Who gave you permission to hang around?

acting like you own this town.

‘Though you resemble your country cousin dove,

thou huntest not, but just beg and grub.

I surmise that in some faraway jungle

thou was chased away by some uncivilized uncle;

and now, thy feathery incandescent suit

cloaks with grandeur thy wand’ring grubby pursuit.

Oh ye little urbanized beggar

art thou a diner at this establishment, a regular?

Hast thou honed and perfected y’er plodding pleading game?

Hast thou an identity? Who gavest thee thy name?

Every city whence I travel

thou are there on the sidewalk, in the gravel,

sometimes poking in the parks where it’s grassy

other times pecking pavement, bold and sassy.

When I get to heaven wilt thou be there too?

Groveling and grubby down near my shoe.

But perhaps thou wilt there soar free.

Did He who form the eagle form thee?

Fare thee well my gentle companion,

with winged flapping in flight-paths random.

Cherish every encounter and generous friend

until in yon celestial city we do meet again.

Get along now!

You can’t be grazing here like a cow.

We shall see what will be

between you and me in eternity.

TreeTrail

Glass Chimera

Our Given Rivers

June 14, 2016

Oh, give them a river.

Cut it

cut it right out of the earth

RivMesa

with water that bleeds out from the granite,

then circulates life back into heart of this planet

Make it bleed out upon dry ground;

let it gush pure and clear and clean,

gurgling, spurting, splashing

gashing great ravines through this ancient rock.

RivCut

Slash them rock basins;

slice them with your gentle flowing waters

your cascading waters your

raging waters

and these trickling streams . . .

they irrigate our farmish means

RivGreen

and they spring forth with human dreams.

Your rivers we desire;

they’re more manageable than the fire.

RivrCity

Allow them not to vanish.

Banish not

banish not our watery dreams,

Dry them not

Dry up not our springs and streams

Perish not

perish not our ponds and lakes,

our flumes, our fates,

these precious, flowing life-givers:

our trickling and raging rivers.

WatrColr

Glass half-Full

Oh, Give Them

June 13, 2016

Oh give them some land to work with

and some water to make stuff grow.

Give them some tools to turn the earth over

and push all that dirt around,

productively.

Teach them to Plow it and disc it and

tend it and harvest it

and ship the Fruits of it out so folks can

Eat.

And give them some Water; we need

water.

Oh yeah let ’em eat drink and be merry.

Yeah, let ’em do all that

in this our promised land.

Let ’em slice it and dice it and

multiply, divide it.

PlotTown

Let ’em add this that and the other

and subtract what they think they don’t need,

let ’em Seed and Feed.

PlotSqr

Let the wise lead,

and hope they’ve chosen wisely.

Let the simple be fulfilled,

and not by their leaders be killed.

At the Wonder of it all, let us be thrilled.

Let us carve the earth and marvel at it all–

what we’ve done and what

we’ve made.

SouthBay

But hey, please don’t let it go to our heads.

Instead, help us

Try to keep it in perspective with

some eyes on the big picture,

eyes on the prize

not obsessing with the size

of all this stuff.

Give us some Air to breath

and help us put on some wings and fly

AirLand

Oh yeah

but help them limit our negative effects; let them

temper their intrusions, boost our inclusion.

We need to regulate it and yet we need

to deregulate it help us

figure all that part out that

delicate balance

sensitive valence.

We gotta prioritize it  and sensibly control it.

Let ’em have a firm hand, a steady hand,

but, yeah, a gentle hand.

Let them take care in what they do with the earth

and the air.

Let them share;

and yes, be fair.

Yeah, let us be fair to one another,

and make sure there’s enough to go around

for everybody. I’m not making this up.

Let them prosper and proceed

with their plans

but let them pray

today.

Yea, Let us pray.

Hey God. . .

Glass half-Full

The Lady is at Work

June 4, 2016

LadyWork

She heard America singing;

through two centuries’ labors they came a-ringing–

the song and the opus of bringing

a newborn project in a newfound world

‘neath a loud stripey flag ‘t’was unfurled.

From ship to wagon to cart to railroads,

sending out them precious mother-lode payloads

over seas and lands and bridges and field rows–

he hauled ’em in, she bailed ’em out

through highways and byways they sent forth the shout.

Up with the work! and down with the grit

she dug and he hammered; she welded; he shipped it.

Turn up the earth, mine and weld and wield it ’til it fit–

a new land, a new time, new way of doin’

rolling on wheels where used to be horsehoin’.

They rolled up on the far edge of our vast continent,

on the heels of a gold rush at the shore of containment.

Along came the Okies, then Hollywood raiment–

not bein’ done yet, we slid into Silicon valley,

so much bigger and brighter than the old yankee alley.

Now what’s up with that and where do we go from here–

let bruthas and sistahs step to the music we hear

enduring the pain, dodging the rain, overcoming the fear,

we gotta discover what to do to pick up the slack

so we do not regress, do not turn back.

Maybe we will and maybe we will not–

forge a way past our lethargy, this entitlement and rot

what it is we got to do I know not what,

might have to grab that destiny from some ogre or grinch.

Let’s get this ship turnin’–hand me that wrench!

Glass half-Full